Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Why gay men love Tammy Faye!

I'm mourning the loss of Tammy Faye. Not because I'm religious - I'm not. Not because she was larger than life - she was. Not because she was a camp classic - that's a given. I'm mourning Tammy Faye because she was a televangelist/religious personality who didn't discriminate against gay people. She embraced them and shared her love with them.

Tammy Faye didn't play it safe when it came to gay people. On her PTL show she embraced gay men who were dying of AIDS - she didn't call it "God's wrath"like her contemporaries were doing. She was there to hold a hand and offer comfort.

Later Tammy hosted a show called "The Jim J. and Tammy Faye show" with openly gay (and flamboyant) Jim J. Bullock. It was hilarious to watch him make off color remarks and her go "Oh Jim!". They obviously got along great and I thought it was hilarious. (No one else watched it was gone in a flash)

She also appeared on "The Surreal Life" a reality show where "D-list" stars live together in a house. She got along with people like porn star Ron Jeremy and anger prone Vanilla Ice. She was very accepting and motherly to all of them. By the end they were all sad to leave her. She had that supportive way about her.

Tammy befriended 2 gay filmmaker Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato. They made a documentary about her called "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" . She did lots of interviews with the gay press to promote it - always talking about love and acceptance.

Perhaps the thing that says the most about Tammy Faye Bakker is how her son Jay Bakker turned out. He rebelled against his father and family, became an addict, got lots of tattoos & piercings. He eventually cleaned up and decided he also wanted to minister but to people like himself. He started preaching in bars to the punk rockers, goth kids and tattoed outsiders.

Jay started to get a decent following and religious organizations started to fund his church. Jay met with a gay person who said they didn't attend church because they weren't welcomed there. Jay then had a revelation that this anti-gay stance the church has is un-Christian and morally wrong. Christianity should be a place of acceptance for all people.

When Jay told his congregation of his change of heart, it didn't go over well, it also didn't go well with the people funding his church. They pulled all of their money. Jay tried to spread his message of tolerance on speaking engagments but congregations didn't want to hear his message about accepting gays. (You could hear the crickets chipring at one African American church) Jay stuck to his beliefs, pretty much lost everything and had to start over.

When Jay told Tammy about what was happening she hugged him and told him to keep doing what is right. Despite everything Tammy did raise a nice boy and a good man.

I'm sad to see Tammy Faye's big heart disappear from this world.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Why "Chuck and Larry" isn't funny for gays

A new movie comes out today with Adam Sandler and Kevin James as straight firefighters who pretend to be gay to get domestic partner benefits. I haven't seen the film but supposedly it's full of stereotypes and is offensive. I don't judge movies before I see them but in this case I'm offended by the very premise of the movie, let me explain why.

Four months ago Janice Langbehn and her partner Lisa Pond (with their 3 children) were going to take a cruise from Miami to the Bahamas. (They have been partners for 18 years.) Lisa was stricken with a brain aneurysm in Miami.

The University of Miami, Jackson Memorial Hospital did not recognize her or their children as part of Pond's family. They were not allowed to be in the emergency room and Janice could not make decisions for Lisa's care.

When Lisa was taken to the emergency room a social worker at the hospital told them they were in an "anti-gay state" and needed legal documents before Janice could see her. Legal documents were faxed authorizing Janice to make medical decisions for Lisa. She still was not invited to be with her partner or told about her condition.

The last time that Janice was able to see Lisa was when "Last Rites" were delivered. Lisa Pond died without her family being around her. If they had been legally married there would have been no question that Janice could have held Lisa's hand while life slipped away from her.

This is just one situation - there are about 20+ benefits that gay couples do not get even as domestic partners that they would get with legal marriage.

So forgive me if I don't think a comedy about straight guys wanting to have a gay marriage to get the "benefits" is funny. It's insulting and sad.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why Sprint should be careful dumping customers

The news today said SPRINT is letting go of a thousand of their customers for calling in to customer service too much. No I'm not kidding. In their ultra competitive industry they are choosing to let customers go rather than service them.

This led me to ruminate on the service I have received as a cell phone customer. I had my first cell phone from AT&T - I had no real service problems with them. I was lazy and just kept my service with them years after my contract was up. (despite many offers to change).

Then one day I was at a AT&T cellphone stand at the Sam's club and picked up a brochure. I decided to call the customer service number and ask what kind of pricing I could get to extend my contract. The agent on the other end of the phone gave me pricing but it was exactly the same as in the brochure.

I said "I've been a customer for years, paying on time, never leaving or negotiating another price and you're offering me the same as if I walked in off the street?". The agent said "yep". I said "well I think I may cancel my account because that is ridiculous" Then she said the magic words, the words no customer service rep should say to someone threatening to leave. "that's your choice Sir!" I was shocked "you mean to tell me that you don't care if I leave you as a customer?" and she said "That's your choice Sir" - so I said "Cancel my account starting today".

Thats exactly what I did. (I didn't have a cell phone for 2 years until I was stranded out front of a friend's house and they couldn't hear me ringing the bell)
I wound up getting an account at Verizon after doing some research. Their service has been pretty good until recently.

I got a call at home from a Verizon sales rep offering me a new chocolate phone if I agreed to a 2 year contract. The phone would be $40. There was nothing wrong with my phone at all - it just seemed time for a new one. I signed up over the phone and received the phone. This is where all the fun began.

First the chocolate phone is a real lemon. It sucks in about every way possible. People can't hear me, it dials people when I don't want it to, the ringer turns off in my pocket, the camera is horrible, it doesn't register when you want to delete messages etc etc etc - it is the worst phone. (its cute - lots of compliments)

Next thing I know I get a bill for $150!!!!! They said I didn't return some paperwork they had sent so I was being reverted to the 6 month pricing. (I didn't receive this paperwork.) I was told I had to go into a store to sign the paperwork. (This is after I was verbally recorded agreeing to the deal via phone and unwrapping the phone with a warning saying I was agreeing to the deal)

I went to the store and they told me I had to do it via phone. They connected me via phone and I told them the phone doesn't work anyway so I wanted to forget the contract then. They said no deal it was past 30 days so even though the product is horrible I cannot return it. To get the $150 charge off my bill I had to argue with them on the phone. They wanted to credit me only a partial amount, kept telling me my Chocolate phone's value was such a special price etc. I had to keep saying "It doesn't work and You're getting a 2 year contract out of the deal and I'm getting nothing. I'm getting a bad phone!"

They finally credited me the $150.00 but did nothing for my inconvenience, aggravation or frustration. (I wish they'd choose to dump me!)

In the meantime I'm getting mail from AT&T every day trying to get me back as a customer. They wouldn't have lost me in the first place had they done the right thing. These cell companies should know the value of losing a customer and trying to gain a new one.

All these cell companies need to realize - how they treat their customers will come back to them twofold. When I boycott a company they are dead to me - I recently changed my landline service from AT&T (formerly Ameritech) to my cable company. I have had Ameritech my whole life but thanks to AT&T's purchase they no longer have my business. They won't get me back. Why?

Because their Customer Service rep said "That's your choice Sir".

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Are you always tired? How I came back to life!

I'm not someone who falls asleep at the movies or on transportation. A movie can be really boring and I'm still sitting there taking it in. I don't sleep on transportation either - I didn't even sleep on a trip all the way to Australia. It just isn't me. Then something strange started happening....

I'd be watching a movie and I suddenly couldn't control my sleepiness. My head would start to fall forward even when I was engaged in the movie or a play. I feel like I didn't even see a couple of the movies or plays I was at the theatre for. Then on transportation I started falling asleep. Any distance in the car would suddenly have me nodding off and snoring for a moment. I fell asleep on a plane and was making so much snoring noise that two young girls took my picuture! embarassing but true.

I kept thinking it was my crazy sleep schedule. I would often say up late to midnight then get up early (or later on when I wasn't working sleep in late). This even started to affect my work life. I would be sitting looking at the computer and my head would start to fall forward. I could just stare at the computer. I even got in trouble because I got sleepy in a meeting at work (with the lights off) in the conference room. I think this contributed to me resigning my position at my previous company.

When I took trips with my friends they were alarmed because I stopped breathing in the middle of the night and would gasp for breath. (My mouth would be very dry in the mornings & I would have a slight headache) My friend noticed the gasping when I stayed over night at his house, he told me "I think you have sleep apnea". I had told my Doctor about being tired but once I mentioned sleep apnea he sent me for a sleep test.

The sleep test is a unique experience. It was in a nice hotel off of Michigan Ave where one entire floor of rooms are set up for sleep studies. They put you in a normal hotel room except there is a camera in the corner watching every move you make, they hook you up to a bunch of wires all over your body and then watch you sleep. After awhile (a couple hours?) they woke me up and told me I needed to use a machine to breathe so they hooked a machine up with a mask over my nose and mouth. Then I was back to sleep again. They woke me up very early (Like 5am or something) and sent me home. The report showed I DID have sleep apnea and I needed a machine to wear at night to breathe.

I received the CPAP machine in the mail. It is a machine about the size of a small loaf of bread with a big hose like thing attached (remember those old hair dryers?) and a mask to go over your face. (some go on both nose and mouth, mine is nose only) I didn't want to use it at first, I don't like things touching me while I'm sleeping but I was getting more miserable with the situation. I started using it on and off. I started noticing that when I used the machine I didn't have a headache and I had more energy. (Finally getting the REM sleep that everybody needs - the restorative sleep) It's weird to have it on at first and you do kinda look like a science fiction monster.

I eventually got used to it and started to use it every night. My whole life started to change. Suddenly I felt good again. No sleepiness, no dry mouth, no headache and an abundance of energy. I even started working out again because I didn't feel so tired anymore. I could go to the movies and pay attention again, Every car ride wasn't nap time. It was very much like coming alive again. I realized that I had not really been sleeping all those months - it was like putting in the bare minimum of fuel in a car and running on fumes.

Now I take my machine everywhere and I'm not embarassed by it at all. I took it to my friends beach house when I slept on the couch, I take it home with me when I visit my parents and I even take it on flights with me. (Airlines know them well) Since I've had it I have even started to meet others with the problem or everyone seems to know someone. (Even Rosie O'Donnell uses a CPAP to sleep)

I wanted to write this blog because had my friends not alerted me and I hadn't told my Doctor this would have kept going on and on. It was ruining the quality of my life and I didn't know it.

If you think you are having any of these symptoms please tell your Doctor right away. Now when I take a nap it's because I want to, not because I have to.