Friday, September 27, 2013

Counting My Blessings

Sometimes it is easy to forget how fortunate we are as LGBT South Africans.  We life in a country where our constitutional rights are protected, where we can legally marry who we love and where we can adopt children; we live in a country where we have all the same rights as everybody else.  And for this we should be grateful.  It is sometimes easy to forget that this is not the case for all LGBT people across the world and that in some cases just being gay can get you killed.  But I don’t want to dwell on negativity today.

Today I received some good news from my employer and this news just yet again made me grateful that I live in a country where I am no longer considered to be a second class citizen.  Today I was told that my employer will grant me full maternity/paternity leave when our precious baby is placed with us.  Being granted full paternity leave means that I will receive four months of fully paid paternity leave to make sure that our baby fully adjust and bond with us during a time that must be incredibly traumatic for any infant.  This is something not all gay adoptive parents have the privilege to get and I am fully aware how lucky I am.

For those of you who have been following our adoption journey thus far will know that adoption is not for the faint of heart.  It is an emotional roller-coaster leaving you quite winded and emotive at times.  It feels as if you are in a perpetual state of uncertainty yet you are required to be practical, optimistic and patient.  The latter is the one requirement I am struggling with the most.  Being the type of person who is proactive with most things in my life (I blame my profession for this) and somewhat of a control freak (I am working on this) the fact that I can neither control nor anticipate what is about to happen, especially when it comes to timelines, sometimes drives me nuts.

We have no control over when we will get a placement.  We have no control over which mother, if any, will pick us to raise her child.  We have no control over other people’s conservative life views and we have no control over or opportunity to help any prospective mother look past her own biases, which maybe homophobic by nature, and accept that a gay couple can raise her child with as much love and opportunities as any other straight couple out there.  In fact, we have no control over anything in the adoption process other than the few things we can control in our present childless life.  We have to place our confidence in our social worker and the adoption agency.  After all this is what they do and we have to trust in them and their judgment, competency and experience.

Next month we will be completing Phases II and III of the adoption process.  This involves psychometric tests, separate personal interviews, joint interviews, a house visit by the social worker and a panel interview.  It is quite daunting to say the least.  I mean, when I underwent my Top Secret Security clearance it was less invasive than this, but I guess when it comes to a child there is no such thing as too invasive, right?  It is a big deal and I wouldn’t expect anything less.  After we finish these two phases, by mid November, the waiting begins.  The waiting for that one phone call that will irrevocably change our lives forever.

Luckily we are already prepared (like I said, I am proactive and a control freak).  The nursery has been set up and is fully furnished.  Our house is baby proof and the pool is secure.  We have also acquired all the basic essentials that one would need.  The only things we are putting off buying are things like bottles, dummies and formula as we will only know what brands to buy about two weeks before placement.  So at the moment we are on standby for 2014.  Realistically I don’t think there is a chance in hell that anything will happen any sooner unless there is some kind of miracle.  And we all know how rare miracles are these days - especially small ones!

When I sit back and remove myself from this experience and examine it as an outsider I often wonder if my husband and I fully appreciate how lucky we truly are.  We have been together for 15 years of which we have been legally married for 7.  We have a loving and stable relationship, family who love and support us, employers who don’t discriminate against us and we are about to have a family of our own.  How many gay people can say that?  And better yet, how many gay people yearn for this.  Sometimes we forget how lucky we are but today I decided that I will remind myself of all my blessing and be grateful for them.

To follow our progress with regards to our adoption just click on #adoption to read all about it.

Till next time.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Putin’s Crackdown on LGBT Teens in Russia

*Disclaimer: These videos are not suitable for sensitive viewers.
Age of consent in Russia is currently 16 years old.  On this video one can see a 15 year old teen allegedly lured by an organized Neo Nazi gang of self-proclaimed "Pedophile Fighters" who posted a fake personal ad from allegedly an older man (named "Uncle Dima").

This teen was forced to give out his full name, address, school name, parent’s names and etc. They laughed about his sexual preferences, bullied him, poured urine on him and kicked at the end. We will never know what occurred after the camera went out. Naturally, all his personal details were released to the general public and viewed by millions in Russia. 

Infamous Russian ultranationalist and former skin head, Maxim Martsinkevich, known under the nickname "Cleaver" (or "Tesak" in Russian) spearheaded a country wide campaign against (primarily male) LGBT teens using a popular social network to capture, torture and ultimately out unsuspected male teen victims.

Over 500 online groups were created. As one can see, they operate under a broad day light. Bystanders either ignore or condone their actions. Police refuse to arrest them even though they are in violation of the existing criminal laws in Russia. And their excuse? They are fighting “pedophiles”.... Certainly, they are selective and lure mostly gay male teens. Being outed in a small Russian city often equal death, torture, suicide. These sick fucks then track suicides online and then brag about them. 

Something needs to be done to stop this insanity!

This video was incorrectly titled.  It should read "Homosexuals are beaten in Russian school".  It horrified me!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homophobia: When a Pastor Hates

During November 2012 I reported Pastor Oscar Peter Bougardt to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for hate speech (you can read the details here).  However, this was not the first time I heard of this homophobic Pastor.  The first time I read about him was in October 2011 when he publically said Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu “will burn in hell for supporting gay rights.  He also took a jab at Oscar Pistorius, earlier this year, and stated that Pistorius was cursed for supporting gay rights following the shooting of Reva Steenkamp.
Since October 2011 I have monitored this hateful Pastor and was horrified by some of the things he wrote on his social media forums.  His Facebook and Twitter accounts were full of homophobic utterances, the majority of which I viewed as being hate speech.  It reached the point where I not only felt aggrieved, victimized and personally violated as a gay man but also feared that the consequences of his utterances and his work in his community could lead to hate crimes being committed by members of his church against LGBT people in that community.

The matter was reported to the SAHRC and consequently the Pastor will now be brought before Equality Court on charges of Hate Speech.  Seeing as this matter is currently sub judice and seeing as I will be one of the witnesses testifying against Pastor Bougardt, I am not going to comment on this matter any further until the trial is finished.  However, I have decided to let Pastor Bougardt’s words, which he published publically on his social media, speak for itself.  Here are some screenshots from his personal Facebook and Twitter accounts that he published after the SAHRC informed him of his hate speech charges.  Clearly he does not take this seriously at all.
I have asked around and he is NOT being sued by any homosexual(s) for a million Rand.  Nobody knows what he is on about.  Perhaps he is trying to raise funds for his defense in the Equality Court.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Being Face Raped by Nature

I don’t always complain.  Well, actually that it not entirely true.  I complain all the time, mostly to my cats because my husband has selective hearing when it comes to things like that.  This is also why I am not completely convinced that he will survive the Zombie Apocalypse without my help.  It is important to note that when I do complain it is not always about random or minor stuff.  The things I complain about are important.  Well, at least they are important in my mind anyway.  Seeing as spring has just arrived in the Southern Hemisphere and I always bitch about it on my blog (you know because spring almost kills me every year) I decided that this year will be different.   Why you might ask.  The answer is simple, I decided to try and ignore it.  But as luck would have it, just because I am ignoring spring doesn’t mean it will ignore me.  Denial is an ineffective son-of-a-gun that way (see how I didn’t use a curse word right here.  I am so making progress on my potty mouth).

This year I think I may have discovered the allergy medication combo that works for me.  I mean really, it only took me about eight years to get it right and I should totally be getting a prize or something for this achievement.  I am also happy to report that I have not contracted my annual pink eye at the start of spring this year and even though I do sound like I have the flu, most of the time, I am not rupturing internal organs due to hay fever induced sneezing.  However, just because my allergies have calmed down this year with the aid of charmed pharmaceuticals, air purifiers and the avoidance of all things pollen related, doesn’t mean that spring has’t tried to kill me twice this season already.  It seems that if Mother Nature can’t torment me with pollen, seeds, grass and dust she will find new innovative ways to try and get to me.  The first attempt she made was with our pool.

Seeing as we may be “with child” soon hubby and I started taking measures to ensure that our house and garden aren’t deathtraps for children.  This is not something that bothered us before but when you have, or are about to have, children you understand that maybe other people weren’t so crazy after all.  The first thing we have done is to cover our pool with a net.  There are way too many children that accidentally drown in pools and all households with small children should have their pools covered.  It took me four hours one Saturday afternoon to put that Chinese puzzle from Hell over the pool.  Four hours without the help of anybody!  I have never cursed that much in my entire life but after it was done I felt pretty butch and damn proud of myself for accomplishing what I thought was the impossible.  However the next day it felt like I was ran over by a train and then trampled by psychotic donkeys, but at least our pool was secured.

However, having a net over your pool does have some rather obvious disadvantages.  Firstly, if you are not careful you can trip and fall and almost land on a bunny (I am still not forgiven for that just so that you know) and secondly, cleaning the pool becomes a bitch to deal with.  With the start of spring one of our evergreen hedges started the shed its winter leaves and all of it ended up in the pool.  Not being able to skim them off the water, due to the net, most of them ended up in our pool gobbler and weir.  Also getting to the pool gobbler and weir was now also difficult seeing as the pool net restricted access to both.  I guess you can see where I am doing with this.

So one afternoon I get home from work and as I walk past the pool I noticed that it sounded like the swimming pool pump was struggling.  I switched it off and then checked out the pool gobbler and weir.  Both were filled to the brim with leaves and needed to be cleaned.  However getting to them and taking them out was a problem as the net was cock blocking me.  To make a long story short, I ended up “accidentally” breaking the weir cover and some pool gobbler connector thingy (I don’t know it’s called) which I replaced the next day.  But not being very mechanically orientated I could not reattach the pool gobbler correctly.  Frustrated and feeling like a monkey trying to solve a puzzle for a treat hubby eventually found me sitting next to the pool gobbler looking completely defeated and poking it with a stick.  Apparently, and I take his word for it, I forgot to attach something called a washer (which looks like a cock ring, just smaller) to the system and that’s why it didn’t work.  After pointing and laughing at me he fixed it and all was back to normal on the pool front.  But then blow number two came.

Last week was hubby’s birthday, and as is tradition, I always send him flowers to his office.  Flowers I like to call hypoallergenic flowers.  You know the kind that doesn’t try to face rape you with pollen.  Pollen is nothing other than plant sperm and I do not like being sexually violated by nature.  It just wrong people and there should be laws against it!  As fate would have it, I was not the only one who sent hubby flowers that day.  Our hairstylists also sent hubby a spring bouquet the extravagance of which outshone my flowers much like a Dita Von Teese burlesque show outshines Candy the stripper from Teasers.  Unfortunately, our hairstylist temporarily forgot that pollen equals a slow snot filled eye infected death for me.  And their bouquet screamed pollen!

At first it wasn’t a real problem but as some of the flowers started to open and ejaculate their pollen into the air I felt like I was in Syria and the victim of a chemical weapons attack disguised as spring flowers.  It became so bad that when I parked my car and started walking towards the house I would smell something that smelled like incense, wondering when the hell be burned some.  It was only yesterday that I realized I actually smelled the flowers and not incense.  So this morning, after a somewhat rough couple of days, I asked hubby to banish the pollen face raping flowers to his reception area of his studio.  I still have to walk past them every day but at least it is not ejaculating all over the house anymore.  Flowers can be such sexually inconsiderate assholes!

So even though my allergies are sort of under control this season and having survived two attempts to steal my spring joy I have managed to prevail.  I am looking forward to summer and some lazy days lounging next to the pool with cocktails.  Luckily the worst of spring in our garden is almost over and I just have to make it through three more weeks of pollen.  That being said, winter also wasn’t too kind to me this year and I managed to gain 5kg’s.  During winter I can cover up my flab but with summer board shorts only covers so much.  So perhaps instead of bitching about spring and the torturous process that is adoption, I should focus on shedding that extra winter weight.  I don’t want to look like an albino whale lying next to the pool, now do I?

Till next time.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Adoption and a Kleptomaniac Cat.

I am glad to report that I don’t think we have driven our social worker insane just yet (she might beg to differ).  Being overachievers with most aspects in our lives, in this life event we are no different.  Like I wrote before, everything has now been done and dusted for phase I of the adoption process and we are now eagerly waiting for phase II to start.  Also, not being the most patient people on this rock we call earth the waiting has been somewhat, how do I put it, torturous.  Not having gone through this particular process before I did take some time to get to know some people who have. With some of the conversation I had I have come to the conclusion that the adoption process is specifically designed to test not only your true determination to have a child but also your emotional and psychological readiness to have one.  Let me explain…

Even before we met with our adoption agency hubby and I did our research.  We wanted to make sure we choose the best possible one and that we would not be turned away because we are a homosexual couple.  Luckily, one of our friends had recently adopted through PROCARE and I could not find anything negative about them on the Internet.  So by the time we actually had our first meeting with them we knew exactly what documents we would need and we had an idea what to expect.  At our first meeting we had 90% of all the documents that were required and after that meeting we also made sure we had the necessary funds to pay for the whole process and prepare for the baby.  The adoption process is not cheap.  What we did not count on was that there would be long waiting period between phase 1 and phase II.  We thought that because we were proactive and organized that this would also expedite the red tape part that is the screening phase.  But we were wrong.

We have found that after you have finished everything that is under your control you end up waiting for the next phase to begin.  During this period you also have some time to think and reflect on what you are actually busy with and it is then when all those questions and doubts start swarming through your mind.  Questions like:  Are we really ready for this?  What if we suck at being parents?  Our lives are about to take a 180 degree turn, are we ready for all the sacrifices that we will have to make?  Can we really afford to raise a child?  What if our baby does not bond with us?  What if we finish the screening and no birthmother chooses us?  What if we encounter discrimination because not only are we gay but we also have a child from a different race?  And the “what if’s” goes on and on and on…  Both of us even ended up dreaming about it.

You can sit around and ask yourself a thousand questions, and I promise you we did.  But in the end we did realize that even though we are, at times, petrified (which we heard was totally normal) we are just as excited and determined to have a child as ever, even if our lives are under a microscope and our future family is in the hands of strangers.  It’s natural to have some self-doubt especially when you are going to be a first time parent to a baby but hey, that’s why there are Google, prenatal/postnatal classes and family.  Between these three you are bound to get some great advice.  I am looking into booking some postnatal classes for hubby and I to go to.  Both of us know how to change a nappy and the correct way to bath a baby but getting a refresher course and also some baby CPR training cannot do any harm.  Besides I think all future parents should attend these types of classes.  Also, seeing as phase II of the adoption process is out of our control we also decided to start focusing on more tangible things, like the nursery.

Some people think we are mad for having started with the nursery so soon but I think it has helped us tremendously with the psychological preparation and with the waiting.  We have done some shopping around and about two weeks ago we bought a cot, compactum, rocking chair and curtains.  All of which are being delivered this weekend except the curtains, which we have already put up.  We are slowly getting the nursery ready, with the emphasis on slowly.  Our cats have also caught wind that something is going on and that it relates to the guest bedroom which we are now converting into a nursery.  Some of them are more perturbed by this than the others and their ways of acting out I also found rather queer.

Last weekend hubby and I decided to put up the curtains in the nursery.  Naturally all our cats came to observe, mostly because I think they expected one of us to fall off a ladder and planned on having a good laugh at our expense.  Unfortunately for them that did not happen.  We spent a good half an hour making sure that the curtain railing was level.  Hubby measured.  Re-measured and finally committed to drill the necessary holes.  It resulted in some foul language and several four letter words.  You see the bricks the builders used on that wall apparently were not of the best quality and hubby had an extremely difficult time which he freely vocalized.  Eventually the railing was up but then we realized something was not quite right.  The railing did not look level.  Then we realized the wall was skew which opened up a whole OCD can of worms.

To the eye the railing was not level so we had a choice:  We can adjust the railing to “look level” and live with curtains that wasn’t OR we could leave the railing looking skew (but know that it wasn’t) and also have the curtains hanging level.  This seemed like a choice made up by the devil and where nobody wins.  Eventually we decided that we knew the railing was level and left it the way it was.  In the mean time one of our cats decided to start acting out by starting to steal things from the neighbors and leaving it on our bed.  He clearly knows something is up and feels threatened in some way, and in cat language bringing us gifts that are not dripping with blood and guts will win him favor with us.

About two weeks ago our cat started leaving innocuous items on our bed.  Mostly gardening accessories.  At first I thought nothing of it and just thought it was stuff that he picked up in our garden and was playing with.  But as the items started getting bigger and looking less familiar I realized it wasn’t any of our stuff.  Some of the latest items he stole from the neighbor(s) were a garden hose spray nozzle, small gardening fork, a bra (which clearly was not ours), socks, a glove and a Barbie doll’s arm.  The problem is that I don’t know how to give these items back to the neighbor(s) without having to explain to them how I ended up with them.  So I just threw them back into their yard hoping that if it’s not theirs that they would think their pets are kleptomaniacs and not suspect ours.  Not the best solution, I know, but I don’t know of any cat psychologists in my area or how to explain to my neighbor(s) that our cat is the neighborhood thief.  I mean we raised him to know better! Don’t judge me!

So not only are we stressing about the adoptions our animals are also sensing something big is about to happen and are misbehaving accordingly.  I am not sure exactly how long the adoption process is still going to take or how long it will be until we start with and complete phase II, but in the mean time we are preparing as best we can.  This is an exciting, frustrating, emotional and harrowing time on so many different levels, as it should be.  After all this is no small step to take or decision to make.  We are taking it each day at a time, some feel longer than others, but we know that we will get there in the end.  Also, I think our cat might end up on cat Prozac.

To follow our progress with regards to our adoption just click on #adoption to read all about it.

Till next time.

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