Posted in Adam, Ali, Rife

Inked!

Hello friends! So today we are sitting in Starbucks as we write this (and file quarterly business taxes which are due tomorrow). Let me tell you babes, there is not enough coffee in the world this week, but I’m so excited to be able to relax for a bit and write this post. We had a sweet follower ask about our tattoos over Instagram, and we realized that we hadn’t really shared our body art or the meanings behind any of the pieces! We are all pretty inked up, so we’re each just going to pick some of our favorites to share and elaborate on.

Ali

I love my wedding ring tattoos. Even though legally we can’t all be married, I know that these two are stuck with me forever. I have a leaf for Rife and a bear paw for Adam. They both have three dots under them (past, present, and future), and let me just say, finger tattoos hurt. But they are my favorite. I got them tattooed instead of just wearing rings because massage therapists aren’t allowed to wear rings while working and I didn’t want to take them off. I also have a triad tattoo on my chest, a triangle made up of purple (Rife), blue (Adam), and green (me) lines.

If you know me at all, you know Firefly is my absolute favorite show ever. It’s more than just a story to me, but a way of life, and it got me through so many hard times. When I got kicked out I watched the episodes on my phone repetitively, remembering to “keep flying” no matter what. I got the words “you can’t take the sky from me” (part of the theme song) across my chest while I was in a very unhealthy relationship. It was my small, rebellious way of saying, you aren’t going to keep me down. I will make it out of this. I can make it out of anything.

The very first tattoo I ever got was when I was 18. It was an autumn leaf on my left hip and I kept it a secret for years. Desperately in need of a touch-up, it’s still one of my favorites to this day. I also have an elephant with sacred geometry on my thigh, “I’m enough” on my inner arm, and a half sleeve on one arm and a full sleeve on the other of a woodland scene. We’re still working on the full sleeve but I’m crazy excited about it.

Rife

The first tattoo I ever got were the words “rescue is possible” across my right shoulder blade; I got it as a reminder that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, for when my mental health was too poor to remember on my own. I was 19 at the time, and a lot of things have changed since then; I can look back and see how much I’ve grown and the trials I’ve overcome, and know that I can make it through whatever I’m struggling with at the time.

On my left shoulder, I have a clock with gears, a symbol of the grandfather that helped raise and shape me into the person I am today. I feel lucky to have inherited his methodical and tenacious mind, and his giving nature.

The mandala on my calf is a symbol present in a great many different spiritualities, as well as various fields of discipline, from science to psychology. Carl Jung said, “a mandala is the psychological expression of the totality of self.” For me, it represents the sacred and constant work of my journey as a person.

I have a sea-themed thigh piece and a mountain-themed forearm piece, both revolving around my deep love of nature. The more tattoos I get, the less important it is to me that they mean something deep or impactful. To me, my mountain tattoo is one of my favorites simply because it is an aesthetically wonderful piece of art, and portrays one of my happiest places.

Last but not least, I also have a triad tattoo identical to Ali’s, but on my hand. The triangle is an equal and stable geometric form, like our relationship: together we are strongest. It’s a philosophy I strive towards all the time.

Adam

I have fourteen tattoos total. I got my first one at 18 and I’ve been addicted ever since. The range of meaningfulness of my ink is wide and varied; from my son’s name in his mom’s handwriting on the inside of my upper arm, to these two four-leaf clovers (that look like broccoli) on my collar bones just because I was bored and wanted more work done.

My favorites change a lot. Right now my favorite is the mountain scene on my upper right arm. It’s the beginning of a sleeve I’ve been planning for a few years now, though I haven’t picked an artist to finish it for me yet. I plan to make it themed around the rocky mountains, where my wild heart first learned to run free.

I think I’ve actually been the opposite of Rife, in that my first few tattoos were nearly meaningless. As a teenager I was impulsive and had no real concept of the long term future. I lived most of my life in the present and treated every day like I may not get another. But as I’ve grown older, slowed down a bit, and run out of space to put fresh ink, the meanings of the tattoos have become more important.

Though I don’t necessarily regret any of my tattoos, there are a few I plan on covering up when I can. Some are linked to parts of my life I’m ready to let go of, some are taking up space that I’d simply rather have something else, and some are just not very pretty or well done and I’d rather have something that looks better.


As you can see, we’ve got a lot of tattoos between the three of us. Tattoos can be based on anything from a deep and life changing event to just something you thought was pretty. Please feel free to share your own tattoos! Post about them in the comments below or send us an email. Either way, we’d love to see them!

Posted in Ali

Geeky Queer Saga, Part I – Clexa, Xena, and Bill, Oh My!

Let me start out by saying there is no way I can fit all of the amazing queer characters from science fiction and fantasy into one post. I asked for suggestions from friends and had so many wonderful responses. So, this is part one!


Geekery and the LGBTQ+ community go together like polyjuice and butterbeer. Like Kaylee and strawberries. Like Jack Harkness and literally anything that can consent. Just perfectly.

Both groups have spent at least some amount of time as an outcast, being misunderstood. I myself and a very proud member of both. I once went to a panel at DragonCon called “Queer Characters in the Who-Verse” and almost fainted of happiness. My heart has found a home at Hogwarts, in the shaky, wandering walls of the TARDIS, and in the quiet, calm warmth of a hobbit hideaway. But my first love will always be in that beautiful, broken-down cargo ship, Serenity.


In today’s post I wanted to look at some of our favorite LGBTQ+ characters in sci-fi and fantasy. 

L is for the ladies….especially Lexa

Let’s just be honest- Lexa made the hearts of many a fangirl flutter and swoon. I myself fell for that mysterious, dangerous, warrior woman. Who could resist those piercing eyes, that smirk that said she could kill you in a second and she knew it? But can we just talk about this picture for a minute?


Holy balls. No it’s cool- it’s just the heda of the grounders, the commander, on her knees. Begging for loyalty. I’m fine.

Moving on. The thing I love most about this universe is that no one even gives a second thought to Lexa and Clarke being a lesbian couple. It isn’t a big whoopty-doo when Clarke starts out the season loving Bellamy and ends up in the strong, muscular arms of Lexa. There is no uproar from the camp while sky children proclaim “but I thought you liked boyyys!?” Thank. God. It’s like they learn in the future that sexuality is fluid, bi people exist, and weirdly enough, it’s not a big deal.


On the absolute other end of the spectrum is Tara Maclay. Shy, quiet, and much less covered in daggers, this Buffy beauty was one of the first lesbian relationships to air on television. Their first kiss was the first LGBTQ+ scene I had ever witnessed, and I distinctly remember my southern baptist preacher father walking into the room and demanding I turn it off immediately.


Doctor Who has always been amazing about their cast of very diverse and occasionally very queer characters. The latest edition is the wonderful Bill, who tragically falls in love with a multidimensional lady water-monster. (But let’s be honest, who doesn’t have an ex that sounds exactly like that?) And of course we can’t forget Madame Vastra and her human wife Jenny Flint.


Nomi Marks is a character from Sense8 (which I sadly haven’t seen yet), and she is one of the only trans characters I could find in sci-fi/fantasy television. Ya’ll, why aren’t there more trans characters? From what I can gather from researching, her actual transition doesn’t occur during the plot, but there is some mention of it later on. She is engaged to the lovely Amanita Caplan.


Bo Dennis is a succubus from the world of Lost Girl. She is pretty non-discriminatory in her love, verging on a near poly relationship with wolfman Dyson and the sexy fae doctor Lauren. I love both the queerness of Lost Girl and the sex positivity the show provides. Not to mention, werewolves. Sexy, sexy werewolves.


And last but definitely not least, Xena. From the series Xena: Warrior Princess, she is a badass lady who is not-so-secretly in love with her companion Gabrielle. Even though it was never confirmed in the original series, it is said that Xena’s sexuality may finally be brought to light in a reboot.


Honorable mentions: no nerdy post would be complete without the mention of a few beautiful Firefly characters. The not-so-straight member of the crew, Inara, makes her debut with a woman on the episode “War Stories” with the Counsellor, saying she only sleeps with women who are “extraordinary.” You see a little bit of this side of her in “Our Mrs. Reynolds” when the sneaky and sensual Saffron tries to convince her to “take her into her shuttle” and very nearly succeeds before Inara realizes she is a no-good rotten liar.


In the next episode, our boys! From the definitely gay ones (hello Lafayette from True Blood and Renly Baratheon from Game of Thrones) to the ones that don’t give a damn either way, (Jack Harkness flirts with anything that moves and Deadpool is well…. Deadpool) we have some wonderful representation in these handsome hunks. Stay tuned for even more glorious queerness to come.

Posted in Adam

I am a Crazy Dog Person

I have always been around dogs. When I was a baby my parents had a Malamute/Lab mutt named Shithead (his real name was “Mr. Magoo” but no one ever called him that). Growing up we had various mixes of Malamute constantly. Mostly Malamute/Wolf crosses. I can’t remember a time frame longer than a couple months where we didn’t have at least one dog, but we mostly always had two at a time.


I have fond memories of all the dogs my parents had, and I have since grown quite the soft spot for the Malamute breed, but when I finally got a dog that was really mine I didn’t get a Malamute. For reasons unknown, I got a Dachshund.

I was used to having dogs that were 80 – 120 lbs and often mistaken for wolves at first glance, but somehow I fell for a 12-week-old Dachshund puppy.


I named him Zim (his full name was Invader Zimmerman Strauss) and he weighed all of about 5 lbs when I got him. Right from day 1, though, he had no idea how small he was. His heart was easily as rambunctious, curious, and determined as any dog 20 times his size. His voracious appetite for life was infectious and I adored him.

Zim and I got 7 years together before his health deteriorated to a point where it was kinder to euthanize him than it was to try to hang onto him. It was very likely poor breeding that ultimately did him in, as he should have lived much longer. He’s the only purebred dog I’ve ever had, and will be the last. He will also be the only Dachshund I ever have.

After he passed I got his paw-print tattooed on my wrist, and while I’ve had many dogs since him, he was the first to truly settle permanently into my heart in a way that no other dog had before him.

[Click to enlarge photos!]

I’ve had small dogs, medium dogs, and big dogs. I’ve had terrier mixes, bully breed mixes, shepherd mixes, and mutts beyond recognition. I want to take my dogs with me everywhere. If they aren’t with me, I’m thinking and worrying about them. I like to hide treats for them to find while I’m gone, or leave the TV on so they have something to watch. I give each dog I know about 100 different nicknames and call them by them regularly. I let my dogs on the couch. I let my dogs in the bed. My love for them all runs deep and I happily count myself among the crazy dog people. I couldn’t imagine a life without them.

As of right now there are currently seven bodies on our couch (me included) and four of them are dogs. If you’ve checked out our About Us page, then you’re at least briefly familiar with Rory, Ryder, Aspen, and now Zoe. Between the four of them, there’s a total of roughly 200lbs of dog. Many people would call us crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

[Click to enlarge photos!]

I hope that I never stop being able to allow a new dog to make a difference in my life. The bonds I have formed with and the lessons I have been taught by the dogs that have come into my life are all uniquely important and beautiful. I remember and cherish every one of them and yet still somehow have endless room for more. I figure the least we can do for an animal so full of love and forgiveness is to love them back in every way possible, and I’m gonna keep doing it for as long as I can.

Who knows? Maybe after our lives end here on Earth, there really is a place that we go. If there is, then I hope to be greeted by every dog I’ve ever had, because I’m sure all dogs really do go to heaven and I can’t imagine a happier greeting for the afterlife. 

Posted in Rife

Hidden in Plain Sight Part II: Depression

My wife is happy by nature. She has always been this way, for as long as I’ve known her. Barring outside intervention, she is simply… happy. Content. Joyous.

The concept is entirely foreign to me. My mental health has often felt more akin to a war, waged against myself. It is said that neural pathways are strengthened by repetitive use, so that the same thoughts crop up easier and easier each time:

I am worthless.

I am not wanted.

I am not loved.

The script it gives me changes, the only consistency that I am always on the losing end. Sometimes I am able to combat these thoughts successfully. Sometimes I lose. Sometimes my heart will not see reason, can only focus on the loneliness of that moment.

I was diagnosed with depression when I was in college. I could tell you what the DSM (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual, the bible of criteria on mental disorders) specifies must occur for that diagnosis, but for me, it has always been this: an uphill battle, happiness like sand slipping through my fingers.

As I’ve grown, this mental illness has presented itself in many shifting forms: sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, numbness. I have had panic attacks on the bathroom floor, I have looked at oncoming traffic lovingly.

I have also felt endless love. Boundless joy. I have felt so entirely filled with these things that I dared to use the word recovery.

Friends, it’s okay to need help. It’s okay to struggle, to show weakness, to reach out. It’s okay to be imperfect. You are worth love, worth gentleness, worth care. When I struggle, when I am lost, I try to summon the same unconditional love I have for my partners and turn it towards myself.

Then I get out my toolbox and I get to work.

Sometimes that means stepping into battle. Reminding myself that my brain is lying to me, tearing down each and every one of those traitorous thoughts with cold, hard logic. I am not worthless; if I believe every living thing on this earth is worth love and care, I must also grant that to myself. I am wanted; I have two partners who have chosen to spend their lives with me. I am loved; there are many people who have told me so, and it is my responsibility to trust them.

For those times when I simply cannot win a battle of logic, I care for myself in different ways. I take a hot bath, I drink a cup of tea. I pull a dog into my lap and marvel at the love in their eyes. I remember all of the times I have felt hopeless or lost, and the ways in which those feelings gave way over time to happier ones. I remember that my mental illness does not define me, and I grant it the kind of gentle understanding I would give to anyone else who was struggling.

I tell it: It is okay to hurt, my love. It is okay to feel lost and alone. You have made it through this and worse, and you are still here. You are strong. There are brighter days coming, as they always have before.

 

Resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Suicide Prevention Online Chat
Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
Crisis Textline: 741-741 (Text HOME to begin)
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860

Posted in Ali

Hidden in Plain Sight: Anxiety and OCD

For as long as I can remember, people have always remarked on how happy I am. And it’s true; I am genuinely an incredibly happy person. I have never suffered from depression, never gotten discouraged for long when bad things happened. In fact, this was one of the qualities my ex hated about me. She would be angry or freaking out, and I would tell her that everything would be okay, and here are the reasons why! Yeah, that did not go over well. I love life, love the spring flowers, the autumn leaves, and the very sight of almost every book I’ve ever seen. I have my bad days like everyone else, and have my heart broken just like the next human, but all in all, I am wonderfully and wholly happy.

What people don’t know about me is that I have terrible anxiety and OCD. Not just the nagging, back of your mind anxiety, but the full-blown panic attacks, lack of sleep, and inability to eat anxiety. I can remember being a young child, maybe five or six, and pretending to have a stomach ache every night so I would be allowed to watch television until I fell asleep, desperately trying to drown out the horror movie in my mind.

Your parents don’t love you.
You hurt someone’s feeling because you did or didn’t do something.
What happens if everyone you love dies?
You make everyone sad and they’ll leave you.

Every. Single. Night.

This bled into my teenage and adult years, worsening as time went on. The story line of my racing brain changed with time but didn’t get any kinder or calmer. There are certain shows I can’t watch, or certain phrases that I can’t un-hear and will play in my head for hours after. There was a night a few weeks ago when Adam laid with me on the couch at 3am while I sobbed into his arms about something that didn’t even happen but that I couldn’t stop imagining and replaying in my head.

I am always afraid that I’ve done too much or not enough. It plays into my OCD so badly that I will make the same list over and over just to make sure I wrote it in the best, most efficient way possible. The OCD fuels my dermatillomania (obsessive skin picking disorder) until the skin between my fingers are dripping blood and I don’t even realize I’ve hurt myself. When my need for control takes over and I feel like the only thing I can control is my calorie intake, it drops well below 1000 while I count the calories in every single carrot I put in my mouth. I work out five days a week and will walk around the house aimlessly until I reach my step goal.

People don’t believe me when I tell them I have anxiety because I look so happy. They often say things like “yeah, everyone gets a little anxious sometimes.” I think about the night before, staring at the clock clearly stating that it’s two in the morning while my worst nightmares play out vividly through my head.

Anxiety is no small thing, my darlings. Take care of yourself and talk to someone if this sounds like anything you’re going through. Learn ways to ease the panic, see a doctor, take a walk in the woods. There is nothing wrong with the solution you find, whether that’s through medication or yoga. Do not let anyone shame you for seeking what you need.

Here are some of the things I do to help when my anxiety monster rears its ugly head.

  1. Crochet or knit. I have this huge blanket I’ve been working on for months. At this rates it’s going to be big enough for two king sized beds lined up side by side. It keeps my hands busy, and my mind focused on something other than my fears.
  2. Remember that there is nothing you can do about the past or the future. Most of the pain we experience in life is worrying about things that never even happen.
  3. Take a bath- for some people this is a great, relaxing experience, for other’s it allows too much free thinking time.
  4. Participate in consistent self-care; take days off, drink some tea, grab a coloring book.
  5. Two words: Weighted Blanket. Have something holding you to earth when your mind tries to fly away with itself.
  6. Plant something. There’s something about getting out in the sunshine, soaking up some vitamin D, and getting your hands in the dirt that soothes the soul.
  7. Hug a loved one. Sometimes I don’t even tell them anything is wrong, just wrap up in their arms and hold on tight.
  8. Set a bedtime routine. If anxiety is keeping you up, you don’t need anything else messing with your sleep schedule. Put the phone down an hour before bed time, drink some calming tea, and try to go to bed the same time every night.
  9. Teach your loved ones how to help you. Some people need their loves to tell them why everything is okay, and why your fears won’t happen. Some people just need tight squeezes and a safe place to cry. Make sure they know that trying to talk you out of your obsessive behaviors won’t necessarily help.
  10. Cuddle a pup.
  11. Be gentle with yourself.

Anxiety, like any other mental illness, is scary and hard. Know that there are people who love you, and that you are so, so important. Be patient with yourself while you figure out things that help, and take the time you need to take care of yourself. There is light at the end of the tunnel. For every night I’ve spent in an anxious blur, there has been a morning where I know absolutely everything is okay, and wonderful. You are not broken. Support yourself and support each other. And know that this beautiful world wouldn’t be as lovely as it is without you in it.

Posted in Ali

Queer Visability

The lesbian head nod. This was a right of passage I finally got after cutting off all of my hair, tattooing my chest, and wearing cargo shorts into Whole Foods. She was with her girlfriend, lazily picking through the kale, when I passed. Her hair was shorter than mine, she had a shirt that said “too queer for this shit,” and she nodded at me and smiled as I prodded every avocado in a three-foot radius.

This was a life changing moment for me.

I still remember the feeling of walking through the mall holding my girlfriend’s hand for the first time. I felt on top of the world and I almost wanted someone to say something so I could loudly and proudly tell them to suck it.

Coming from a small town where you did not come out, period, I did a complete 360 when I got to a bigger city. I traded my near waist-length hair and long skirts for a faux-hawk and seven different gay bumper stickers, one of which said, “sorry I missed church, I was busy practicing witchcraft and becoming a lesbian.”

When I came out, I came OUT. I went back to my hometown once in those first few years for a funeral and was told immediately by my dad, “for the love of all things holy, please act straight.” The next day I went to Pride in my new city with a rainbow painted across my forehead.

Being out was something I was incredibly proud of. After years of hiding in the closest, hating myself for who I loved, and letting everyone else tell me how to live my life, I was officially free to tell the world who I was. And as far as I was concerned, that was the most lesbian-y lesbian that ever existed.

Flash forward a few years, Rife and I had just gotten married. We went to a courthouse in Indiana because gay marriage wasn’t allowed here yet. We were sitting on the bed, discussing all of the logistics of his transition, and the doctor he would start seeing in a few weeks. There was never a moment we questioned him doing it. From the second he told me he wanted to transition, it was a done deal. His gender didn’t play a part in my love for him, and girl or boy I would always love him completely. There was only one single worry that ever crossed my mind: I was going to look straight.

I switched from saying I was a lesbian to saying I was queer, since technically my sexuality was now bi. And as the months went on, old people started smiling at us in restaurants again. There was a sweet old lady at our favorite breakfast spot that stopped on her way out the door to tell me how wonderful it was that I found myself a “good godly man” and to hang on to him.

Flash forward again to the wonderful life I now have. No matter which one of my beautiful boys I am out with, people see me as straight. My hair has grown out again, and even though I’m even more covered in tattoos, that doesn’t stop people from seeing what they assume about any strangers they see: they must be totally straight, normal people. We are far, far from normal, and we love every second of it.

 There may be many reasons why you want to be out and proud, or you may want no one to know at all, and neither of those is wrong. However, if there is a reason the world doesn’t see your queer side, and you really wish that they would, here are some things that might help:

  1. Connect with other queer people. Whether it’s in person, at meetings and support groups, or only online and anonymously, reach out to others who know the struggles that you do.
  2. If your family and friends can’t know, try to find just one person to be open with. There are no words for how freeing it is to finally say out loud, to someone else, “I’m gay.”
  3. Go to Pride. Put on your rainbow bandana, your “some chicks marry chicks” shirt, and strut your stuff.
  4. Stay connected to the community. Don’t feel like you are no longer welcome just because you’re dating someone of the opposite gender. This is how bi erasure happens.
  5. Put on the gayest outfit you have and go out for coffee. Go to the movies. Go buy some books. And be proud every time someone gives you that sideways glance of confusion.

Be proud of your beautiful, queer selves, friends. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you are anything less than the magical gods and goddess and gender-queer deities that you are.

Posted in Rife

Before My Name Was Rife: How I Knew I Was Transgender

-written by rife-

For the first two years of my life, I was blessed with only a very tiny amount of peach fuzz on my head. This is a curse bestowed on nearly all of the children on my mom’s side of the family; in fact, mine and my brother’s hospital photos are nearly indistinguishable, save for the color of the blankets we are swaddled in. My mom, presumably filled with visions of pink and frills, topped me with headbands and bows. She must have been so disappointed when, as soon as I could communicate, I declared a full-scale war on anything with fringe.

Not that I won, of course. I recall many aspects of my childhood as a precarious balancing act, me always aiming to please. We could pry apart all of my various childhood tendencies, but it would be a waste of time; for every doll you meet, there’s a matching nerf gun. The truth is, some things are only clearly seen in hindsight, and this has often held especially true for myself.

I suppose, as a kid, I must have been different. But if so, I never knew it growing up. Even now, I can point out a dozen reasons why that would be so: I was shy, I couldn’t figure out social situations, I was too serious, I was anxious, I was depressed. There are so many different ingredients that make a cocktail of a person, and it took me a long time to distinguish the different flavors of myself.

I thought I had it figured out when, just after my freshman year of college, I informed the world I had a girlfriend. My introduction into the queer community was in no way spectacular, but it was populated with people who, like me, knew what it felt like to be different. I started to allow myself to indulge in things I’d previously thought were forbidden to me: a men’s t-shirt here, a tie there. As a lesbian, I was afforded a great deal more social grace than I had when people believed I was straight. No longer carrying the burden of “attracting the right man”, I thought I was free.

It took a long time for me to realize that this, too, didn’t quite fit. I’d buried, deeply, a jealousy I couldn’t name or quantify: for square jaws, for muscular shoulders, for flat chests and stubble. My exposure to the trans community was brief, even as a collegiate queer, but a fascination began to form: one in which I would only allow myself to indulge on rare occasions.

Still, the process of realization was incredibly slow for me. This was not a truth I wanted to know. It wasn’t until Ali met me with absolute and unconditional love that I even began the arduous task of addressing what, exactly, I had been feeling all this time. When I finally, with her love and acceptance, admitted to myself that transitioning was something I very much wanted, all I could think was: “this is going to be so. hard.”

And, indeed, sometimes it was. Is. Those moments when I have to divulge intimate parts of myself to family, to strangers, or anywhere in between, and always bracing for impact. The knowledge that my body is considered relevant to people who will never need to know it the way my partners do. Trying to escape the shadow of the girl I used to be. But I consider myself lucky. I have a stable job, a safe home, and two wonderful partners who love me for who I am.

One day, this won’t be considered luck.

Hopefully, one day very soon.

Posted in Ali

How I Lost Religion and Found God

The Backstory

I was raised in that good ole, small town, religious atmosphere. Everyone you knew was a Christian, and if they weren’t it was okay, you were going to bring them a plate of spaghetti and the gospel after Wednesday night services. My dad preached, my mom had me baptized when I was in first grade. I went to church at least twice a week, attended a Christian school, and went on to a Christian college.

Scratch that. I followed a girl I was in love with to a Christian college.

I remember the first time my parents had asked about her, in that suspicious, slightly panicky way. They knew her well, as we spent almost every weekend together and every weekday talking on the phone after school. We had just returned from a church trip and I was sitting in front of my computer showing my mom all of the photos I had taken that weekend.

“And look at this one. Doesn’t she look cute?”

There was pure fear in her eyes.

Fast forward to college. I’m taking a couple theology classes, discussing different verses in their original Greek. I’m realizing that most of what I read growing up wasn’t actually correct. (Did you know there isn’t actually “hell” as we think of it mentioned anywhere in the Bible?) And on top of that I’m going to therapy. I have come to accept without a doubt that I like girls. So the only thing to do at that point was fix it. Spoiler alert: that didn’t work at all.

Following was a year of complete chaos. I was losing my faith, terrified of what that meant, and hating myself all while officially dating a girl for the first time. It was a year of secrets and fear and wishing I could just be “normal.”

The Breakdown

It’s two days after Christmas and my mom and I are wandering around in Macy’s. I’m home for winter break and therefore had seen the aforementioned girlfriend a few days prior. Not big on subtlety, she had left a hickey on my neck that I had been desperately trying to cover up with makeup since.

We were standing in the middle of all of the coats, and my mom reaches over and points to it. “So who gave you the hickey?”

I panic. I think of at least five different lies and try to decide which one she is least likely to suspect. And then I get a crazy idea: why not tell her the truth? Maybe it won’t go as badly as I think it will. So I muster up all of the courage I have and say, “I’ll tell you in the car.”

To say she cried the entire way home would be an understatement. There was complete sobbing, a lot of apologizing, and a few minutes of silence before the tears resumed. We sat in the driveway for a long time before she told me I had to tell my father. I walked in and hugged my little brother, cried on him like a baby for a few minutes, and then stood at the bottom of the stairs leading up to my parent’s room.

I remember every single step. I forced myself to breathe as I stared at each one, willing my feet to move.

We didn’t talk long. He gave me the ultimatum of “get help” or lose my family. Since I had already tried therapy, praying over and over to be different, and finally came around to accepting who I was; “getting help” wasn’t going to work. It was a terrible night, and I still can see the porch light fading as I drove my car and a bag of clothes to my girlfriend’s house.

The Breakthrough

It took me three whole years to finally escape the feeling that I was somehow inherently wrong. It’s hard to relearn and undo what you had been taught into adulthood. But with patience, lots of reading, and a few good cry sessions, I made it out on the other side. I met so many wonderful people – Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists – all who showed me religion does not make you a good person, your spirit does. I stopped living in shame and started loving out of joy instead of fear of an unknown and angry god. I read books about spiritualities that resonated with my soul and felt like home. I found home within myself.

The Beliefs

I still believe in a higher power: an energy, a life force. Every living thing: plants, animals, and people all have this divinity inside of them. I don’t believe you need to go to church to find god. I believe people are good, and that love is beautiful. I believe that telling people they will be eternally condemned if they don’t believe the way you do is wrong, and that taking care of each other is our duty on this planet. I believe each and every lifetime after this I will find my loves again, and that life is breathtaking.

For those of you in the same situation I was, things will get better. I know it’s scary, and you feel alone, but there is a light at the end of this tunnel. The rate of homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth is staggering. According to the True Colors Fund “In America, it is estimated that 1.6 million youth are homeless each year and that up to 40% of them identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.” That is an incredibly high percentage. 

There is nothing wrong with you. You are not evil, or corrupt. You are beautiful and divine, no matter who you love. It’s hard to know your worth when you grow up in an environment that tells you otherwise. If you are struggling, reach out. Whether it be to a trusted friend, a mentor, or even to us. Your life is precious and the world wouldn’t be the same without you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Resources for LGBTQ Youth by State

Posted in Adam

How I Knew… I Was Polyamorous

I should have known I was polyamorous many years before I finally put the pieces together.

Looking back, the only reason I think I didn’t figure it out sooner is I just wasn’t exposed to the idea. I didn’t know that polyamorous was a thing that I could be. Most of us grow up conditioned to think that committed, long-term relationships between two people (usually between a man and a woman, specifically) are the ultimate goal and the truest relationship model. We are taught that anything else is somehow inherently less true and less valid.

I was lucky enough to have parents who didn’t really contribute to that “normal” vs. “other” conditioning, at least not in any intentional way. We talked a lot as I was growing up of being open-minded, questioning everything, and actively seeking new experiences and perspectives in life. A phrase I remember well from my parents during childhood is “weird is wonderful.” It was said loudly and often, teaching me to embrace any “otherness” type feelings I came across instead of being ashamed of them. I am intensely grateful for that phrase, even to this day. That being said, I was still vastly unaware of many life experiences. As open and accepting as my childhood was, I still didn’t get exposure to anything other than monogamy.

So I spent years in the dark.

For as long as I can remember having feelings of romantic love, I can also remember there being a lot of it.

As in, I have long had feelings of a love more vast and open than I understood. It was always beyond what I could fit into the only relationship structure I thought there was: Monogamy. Unfortunately for everyone I loved during that time, I didn’t understand those feelings. I kept trying to build meaningful relationships with the only blueprints I had, but that meant trying to trim away at myself so that the pieces would fit. Of course, all the relationships I tried to build that way were destined to crumble. Not because I didn’t love them, but because I was trying to love them in a way I wasn’t capable of.

Throughout my teenage years I struggled through relationship after relationship, always following a (now) recognizable pattern.  They would start off promising – full of energy and commitment – but they burned too hot and too fast and quickly turned to ash. I didn’t understand it. I had so much love to give, but I somehow kept making people feel like they weren’t enough. When I tried to love them in the way that made sense to them, it didn’t make sense to me. I would inevitably feel like I wasn’t being true to myself, and once that happened, the relationship was in its last days. I never tolerated not living my whole truth for very long, and I was always gone soon after.

Fast forward a few years (and a disappointingly high number of failed relationships) later.

When I finally learned what polyamory was, things very suddenly started to make sense. I realized there were other people out there who had feelings like mine and who still had loving, successful relationships. This knowledge launched me into a trip of self-discovery.

Those times were filled with many late nights spent logging hours at a time on the internet. I clicked my way through Google searches, polyamory articles, and support forums. I read story after story about all different kinds of relationships. Everyone navigated them slightly differently so as to make sure the structure worked for them. While most of the stories and relationship structures I read about still didn’t quite feel right to me personally, just knowing there was something more was instrumental in my growth. The blueprints for different relationship structures were within my reach.

It didn’t take me long to accept this new knowledge of myself.

It did, however, take some time for me to figure out how to put it into practice. I was in a 7-year, monogamous relationship at the time, and coming out to my partner was a disaster. Neither of us knew what we were doing, mistakes were made, and feelings were inevitably seriously hurt. The relationship ended shortly thereafter. Sadly, that relationship was already failing and had been for some time by then.  So before you ask: No, polyamory isn’t what killed it. The mess that resulted from my coming-out surely played a role in its last breaths, but polyamory itself isn’t to blame.

Now that I’ve found Rife and Ali, things are brighter, but ultimately I’m still on this journey. The way I see it, the journey never really ends, but I am comfortable and happy identifying as polyamorous now. I am especially comfortable and happy in this beautiful poly triad we have. I’ve never felt a love quite like this – so safe and supportive and unconditional.

My only words of advice?

Don’t wait as long as I did. I’ve learned that lesson multiple times now. Waiting – trying to bury the truth you feel in your chest – never turns out to be the right choice. Whether it’s polyamory, sexual orientation, gender identity, or anything else – just go for it! Research, embrace, and try the things that feel right. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Posted in Ali

Inanimately Poly

There are so many small details that make poly beautiful. Of course there are the big things like having two partners, having two people to come home to, having more in-laws and family than you know what to do with. But there are also the little things: the three cups of coffee sitting next to each other on the kitchen counter, three pairs of snowy shoes slowly creating dingy puddles by the front door. There are three different handwritings on the magnetic dry erase board on the fridge, and the dogs get to lose their minds three separate times a day as people come and go and get jumped on by excited paws and wagging tails. It’s a beautiful life we live.

We all occasionally forget to inform the others of what seeds we’re buying and end up with multiple packets of basil seeds lining the counter in preparation for spring. When one is sick the other two promptly make use of every burner on the stove- heating soup, warming the teakettle, boiling water mixed with eucalyptus oil to help the whole house breathe better. Occasionally one of the fur babies will forget that the fence is a rather stern suggestion and there are three voices yelling their name as we stomp around the neighborhood, promising to never let them off leash again if they don’t return immediately. There are extra lines added to the “emergency contact” section on doctors notes, extra socks missing pairs. There is so much love contained in this small Kentucky house.

And then there is the bullet journaling. There are so many pens, highlighters, stickers, sharpies, extra paper, things to trace, things we’ve started and never finished. With three of us we needed an entire tote to dedicate to corralling all of our extra supplies. There are two boys to steal shirts and hoodies from, two boys to threaten people with when they make unwanted moves in my direction. There are photos on every wall, succulents tucked away in every spot that gets sunlight. The bookshelves are packed with the childhood stories, multiple copies of all the Harry Potters, and bent covered editions of Jane Austen.

There are two “we love you! You can do it!” text responses when I’m having a bad day, two separate streams of highly applicable GIFS to every life situation. The couch is often covered in as many blankets as the bed to keep us all warm on movie nights. (Ryder needs to be tucked in too.) There are extra dishes to be done, extra laundry to fold, and extra minutes spent looking for lost wallets or phones. There are three of us to negotiate dinner (and if we make pasta again, Rife might take over dinner entirely), three people to debate whether or not to get gas on their way home. Three “goodnights!” as we all tuck in to go to sleep. Three different angles of the same sunset we’re watching. Three different views on the latest news.

Whoever said that two is company and three is a crowd was wrong. At our house, three is a family. Three is perfection. Three is the number of beings who will spend their lives together, carving out their own piece of paradise on this beautiful planet.