It Was the Stone Age, But We Were Happy

Occasionally I try to remember what life was like back when we had no mobile phones, no email, no social media, no internet, and no home computers.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those “back in the good old days” rants. And it’s not going to be a screed about how Facebook and other social media platforms, texting, selfies, junk journalism, and the internet as a whole have led to the decline of civilization. (That’s Twitter’s fault.)

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50 Years After Stonewall: the Good, the Bad, and the Tacky

This year (2019), there has been noticeably more emphasis placed on Pride Month. One obvious reason is that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot in Greenwich Village, New York City.

Aside from that, I think this year is just the next step of an accelerating trend. This year more than ever, rainbows are on display everywhere, from store windows to the screen of the ATMs at Wells Fargo. For the past several years my former employer, Intel, has flown rainbow flags outside each of its offices, including some in foreign nations.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, it’s amazing to think about how far our society has evolved with regard to accepting and respecting differently-oriented people, particularly in the U.S.

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10 Ways to Make This Your Best Year Yet

Regardless of whether or not you embrace the practice of making new year’s resolutions, the start of each new year presents an opportunity to reflect upon what went well and not so well during the past year. 

Of course, any time is a good time to assess your life in its current state and make adjustments. You don’t have to wait until one year ends and the next year begins to consider what changes you would like to make and what new projects or adventures you would like to embark upon.

One reason many people don’t make new year’s resolutions is that most of them tend to fail – usually within a few weeks. So rather than making idealistic and overly optimistic resolutions, try evaluating your daily and weekly routines and consider what you’re willing to change. 

After all, your level of satisfaction with your life is determined more by how you spend each day than by the occasional big trips or special events you experience. 

In this article, I will offer ten ideas for how you can alter your approach to your day-to-day life in order to make this new year your best year yet. Some of these suggestions will resonate with you and some won’t, and that’s fine. I hope you find a few that will be valuable.

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The Adventure List: What it is and Why You Need One

By now, you have almost certainly heard of the Bucket List. That’s a list of things you hope to experience before you pass away or “kick the bucket.” Perhaps you even have one.

I do. I think they are a good idea.

But while the concept of the Bucket List is good, it has its limitations. You probably think of your bucket list in grandiose terms. Your list is probably filled with big-ticket items and stretch goals, like taking a trip to Japan, visiting every national park, or jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but the reality is that unless you are diligent in your pursuit of your bucket list items, you will probably run out of time, money, or ability to achieve all of them before you actually kick that proverbial bucket.

The time you spend experiencing your bucket list dreams will comprise a relatively small percentage of the rest of your time on Earth. And while major events are memorable and satisfying, your overall happiness is going to be determined more by how you live your life on a day-to-day basis.

As writer and cartoonist Allan Saunders said (and John Lennon later sang), “life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” And one of my favorite quotes is this one by Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

So how can you ensure that your life is enjoyable and fulfilling during all that time between each of your bucket list experiences?

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30 Years Ago: Remembering the 1987 National March on Washington

Today, October 11, is National Coming Out Day. This day could have easily come and gone without my remembering it had I not seen a post from someone else on Facebook. I’ve been “out” for so long that this day holds little meaning to me anymore, and I have done little over the past couple decades besides note its passing. I’m sure there have been a couple years I have forgotten.

But this year is different. Today marks the 30th anniversary of the second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. (The first took place in 1979.) National Coming Out Day was established in 1988, on the first anniversary of the 1987 march.

I was there. That was a momentous weekend for the LGBT movement as well as my own life. I haven’t thought about the march for years, but the memories have been flooding back all day.

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The iPhone is 10 Years Old Today

Ten years ago today, the first iPhone was released. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s only been ten years. And it’s hard to imagine that a piece of technology could change our lives so dramatically – mostly for the better, but in some ways for the worse.

At the time, the idea that one device could combine a telephone, a music player, a camera, and an internet communication device, all accessible by touch rather than with little buttons, was revolutionary. Today we don’t think twice about it.

Just think about how many aspects of our day-to-day lives are totally different now due to the smartphone. (While there are now more users and more apps on Android devices, most new capabilities came out on the iPhone first.) Smartphones also paved the way for the tablet (led by the iPad) which further bridged the gap between computers and telephones.

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How to Survive and Thrive for the Next 4 Years in Trumpistan

Like many of you, I was devastated by Donald Trump’s surprising upset victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As I write this article on Inauguration Day (January 20, 2017), I can’t help but feel extremely apprehensive about what the next four years will bring.

One thing that’s certain is that it will be full of surprises. Sadly, I suspect that there will be far more unpleasant surprises than pleasant ones. We are now in uncharted territory.

But life goes on. You and I can choose whether we will be happy or stressed, depressed, and miserable for the next four years. I choose happy.

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Death and Despair as 2016 Draws to a Close? No Thanks, I’ll Pass

A lot of my friends are distraught over all of the celebrity deaths that have occurred during the closing days of 2016 – and throughout the year, for that matter. Maybe you’re one of them.

Many of my friends are posting on Facebook that they can’t wait for 2016 to be over – often in much more colorful language than that.

It does seem as though there have been more notable deaths than usual lately. But I suspect that the obsessive attention being paid to this topic is partially attributable to social media (especially Facebook) and the overabundance of 24-hour news/entertainment/gossip websites that are hungry for more clicks (read: revenue).

In other words, the deaths of famous and semi-famous people are being communicated farther and wider and with lightning speed, and many people are amplifying the message by re-posting, re-tweeting, and piling on their own wailing and gnashing of teeth. In the past, a death was mentioned in the local newspaper the next day or on the 6:00 news. Then, lacking a means to chime in and spread the news, we moved on to the next topic.

People may or may not be dying more these days, but it seems like they are because we are hearing a lot more about it in our hyper-connected world.

I refuse to buy into it. I refuse to allow myself to become depressed by participating in the echo chamber of death and despair over people I don’t even know.

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On Holding Hands in Public

Last weekend, on Friday night at about 9:45, Jeff and I were walking several blocks back to our car after enjoying an evening of theatre in downtown Phoenix.

It was a pleasant evening, only slightly hot. There were only a few other people on the street, but the two people who drew our attention were a pair of young men, probably in their 20s, who were walking twenty feet or so ahead of us holding hands.

My first thought was, “how sweet!” It’s always nice to see two people in love. Of course, I have no way of knowing if they were still in the giddy throes of a new relationship or if they have been a couple for one year or five. But I admired how they felt comfortable enough with each other and with their surroundings to hold hands.

My second thought was, “how brave.” Granted, we were in a pretty safe neighborhood. For those who are not familiar with Phoenix, the blocks just north of the downtown area are rapidly being gentrified with attractive new apartments and condos. But it was after dark, and there are still plenty of homeless people in the area as well as some rougher neighborhoods not too far away.

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Today I Let Go of an Icon from My Past

Today I sold a souvenir from my past; something that represented a turning point in my life regarding coming to terms with myself and discovering who I really am.

Jeff and I are in the process of downsizing our possessions. You can read more about that here.

We are not planning to move to a smaller house anytime soon, but we are finally divesting ourselves of possessions we have been retaining for many years, even though we have not had any need for them in years.

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Why Are Some Same-Sex Couples Not Getting Married?

The Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015, which made same-sex marriage legal everywhere in the United States, was a huge, monumental win for fairness and equality. The decision made it clear that same-sex couples would be legally married anywhere they live or travel in the U.S., and it put an end to court cases and appeals that were still in process.

By the beginning of 2015, marriage equality had already come to 36 states, the District of Columbia, and numerous Indian reservations, covering roughly three-fourths of the population. That means that in all these jurisdictions, couples have already had anywhere from six months to ten years in which to get legally married. Many have, but many have not.

Marriage equality arrived in my home state of Arizona over eight months ago, on October 17, 2014. Shortly after that, I became an ordained minister and went into business as a wedding officiant. As of this date (June 28), I have officiated 54 weddings; 49 of which were for same-sex couples.

Yet, I’m surprised by how many long-term couples in my network of friends and acquaintances have not yet legalized their union, and apparently have no plans to do so.


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Should I ever refuse to marry a couple?

I am a wedding officiant.  I’ve only been doing this for about half a year, but I’ve married about 40 couples so far and I have 15 scheduled in the coming months.

It’s immensely rewarding.  It’s wonderful to be part of one of the most significant moments of a couple’s life and see them smile and get overtaken with emotion as they say their vows.

Most of the couples I’ve been marrying are same-sex couples who, in most cases, have waited many years to finally be able to get married.  Some of them didn’t think that day would ever come in their lifetime.  For couples who have already been together for 10, 20, 30, and even 44 years (my record to date), there’s little doubt that their marriage will work out just fine.

It’s fun to observe the special dynamic that exists between the two partners.  It’s a little different for each couple, but it’s there.  I can see it in the way they joke with each other, make decisions with each other, and even gently push each other’s buttons.  In every couple I’ve been privileged to marry so far, I’ve had no doubt whatsoever that they belong together.

But recently, I have encountered a situation that has forced me to ask myself a difficult question:  are there any circumstances under which I should refuse to marry a couple?

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I’m getting noticed as a wedding officiant!

Yesterday, I received this 13-page diatribe from some right-wing religious fanatic in Canoga Park, CA. In barely-literate scrawl which I imagine is typical of letters of this nature, he warned me that if I continue to marry same-sex couples, I could receive possible punishments of “cancer, sickness, uneasiness, depress, out of control, always angry, car accidents, physical injury, loss income, law suits, bad health, always in danger, family deaths, and worst, your future death.”

These were photocopied forms, with blanks throughout the pages for my name and my city.  This tells me that he is sending this love packet to many officiants.  I’m now listed on five LGBT-oriented wedding resource web sites, including, which is a subsidiary domain of  Of course, he could have just found me using a search engine.  I have no way of knowing how he found me, but it doesn’t really matter.

At first, I laughed this off, and mused on Facebook, “How kind of him to spend time writing my name and city into blanks on photocopied forms and spend almost $1.50 in postage to rescue me!”

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A friend’s early passing provides an opportunity for reflection

A friend of ours passed away a couple days ago.  He wasn’t a close friend, he was more of an acquaintance whom we always enjoyed seeing whenever we would run into each other at parties.  We were Facebook friends, so at least we had a spectator view of each other’s lives.

He was diagnosed with advanced cancer last July, and as it turned out, he lived only six months longer.  But he made the most of those six months.  While I’m sure he had private times of anger and grief, on the outside he was always cheerful, happy, and full of love for others.  He seemed to accept his situation with remarkable calmness and grace.  Perhaps he valued life more because he knew he had only a finite amount of it left.

My friend’s passing has hit rather close to home.  He was about the same age as Jeff and me.  While I have every reason to believe that we’re both in good health and will continue to live for a long time, of course life has no guarantees and that could change at any time, for any of us.

This event has caused me to think more about how I’m living my life on a day-to-day basis.

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