July 25, 2011

Tap Into Your Inner Healthy Chef!

There is a healthy restaurant nearby that is all the rage right now. Rage? Rave? Which is it?

I don't know.

At any rate, I haven't been there too much (to everyone's surprise) because the truth is, I want to try my hand at making that wonderful food myself--and should be making for myself.

My loving, wonderful girlfriend who is currently enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition right now (think it's cool to have something like that in common as a part of your relationship? You're darn right, it is!) suggested we try something she ate whilst dining at said restaurant. I said, you're right! Who needs to go there, when we can create it here at home together!

So in a way, this post is about her being the perfect impetus for things that are good and healthy in my life--she often gets me unstuck when I feel it, or helps me see things I need to do for more health and happiness.

What was my part in this wonderful dinner we shared together? The sauce. I had one suggestion to make it delish and it ended up being a perfect, fiber-filled dinner for a warm summer night. The ingredients were a combo of all we had in the house, things we had collected for another recipe that never got prepared. Try this yourself! Don't worry about having everything we had---just use what you have.

Just make sure there is TONS of color on your plate!

We just winged it (often creating the best results) and this is what we got:

Brenda's Creation (with Dillan's sauce suggestion): 

1) to do what we did, you need:

The Meal:
  • 1 bunch of fresh kale, chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh red chard, chopped
  • a few carrots, shredded
  • a handful of raisins
  • several summer squash and green zucchini
  • roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
  • raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbs of olive oil 
  • cooked brown rice (we soaked ours for 8 hours during the day, not knowing what we'd make for dinner. It cooked in about 20 mins instead of 40-45 when we were ready to eat it later.)
The Sauce:

       whisk together equal parts:
  • Miso paste
  • thai curry paste (or curry powder, we recommend the thai one, though. It had added ingredients that made for some lovely flavor)
  • Coconut Manna (I used this in another recent recipe Easiest Breakfast in the Freakin' World. It's a combo of coconut oil AND coconut flesh, retains all the essential amazing nutrients that a coconut offers)

 2) to eat it, you need to do this (remember to make MORE for leftovers for easier meal prep during the week):

  • chop or slice the squash and zucchini and saute it in a pan (blog post coming soon about ideal cooking tools/materials) for your desired texture
  • add the chopped greens and cover the pan. The steam will wilt these suckers down.
  • on a plate, add about a cup of brown rice, the saute mixture, a clump of shredded carrots, a sprinkle of raisins and both kinds of seeds.
  • top with the Sauce or mix it in with your rice
  • we added some nutritional yeast to it---this tastes a bit like cheese and is super high in B vitamins!! a great addition to veggie meals if you're trying to eat less meat (like I am)

Please POST COMMENTS with your results!!!!

When I Was a Boy/Girl

A few nights ago over dinner in a local restaurant, the song "When I Was a Boy" by Dar Williams came over the speakers.

I started singing aloud, remembering the lyrics fondly and I took my girlfriend's hand and said, "can you listen to this song when we get home? It's really so good." She said, "sure".

We got home and I pulled out the old CDs and gave her the lyrics. She almost cried. "So good!" she said.

It is. It's so good.

I love music--mostly everything and anything--but my favorite artists are singer-songwriters who put poetry and music together to express what many of us feel but can't express. We all experience music to be therapeutic, cathartic and healing. Classical, R&B, hip-hop, pop, dance---heck, even country has its merits.

I went through a phase when I loved Dar, through and through. One of her songs, February, is forever etched in memories about my first love. Over the past 10 years, I have hardly listened to her but when I took out those liner notes and read those words again--I thought, man. How poignant for my life today!

Even if the acoustic guitar and Dar's lilting voice breaks aren't your jam, give it a listen. I posted the lyrics so you don't miss a word.

I won't forget when Peter Pan came to my house, took my hand
I said I was a boy; I'm glad he didn't check.
I learned to fly, I learned to fight
I lived a whole life in one night
We saved each other's lives out on the pirate's deck.

And I remember that night
When I'm leaving a late night with some friends
And I hear somebody tell me it's not safe,
someone should help me
I need to find a nice man to walk me home.

When I was a boy, I scared the pants off of my mom,
Climbed what I could climb upon
And I don't know how I survived,
I guess I knew the tricks that all boys knew.

And you can walk me home, but I was a boy, too.

I was a kid that you would like, just a small boy on her bike
Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw.
My neighbor come outside to say, "Get your shirt,"
I said "No way, it's the last time I'm not breaking any law."

And now I'm in this clothing store, and the signs say less is more
More that's tight means more to see, more for them, not more for me
That can't help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat

When I was a boy, See that picture? That was me
Grass-stained shirt and dusty knees
And I know things have gotta change,
They got pills to sell, they've got implants to put in,
they've got implants to remove

But I am not forgetting...that I was a boy too

And like the woods where I would creep, it's a secret I can keep
Except when I'm tired, 'cept when I'm being caught off guard
And I've had a lonesome awful day, the conversation finds its way
To catching fire-flies out in the backyard.

And so I tell the man I'm with about the other life I lived
And I say, "Now you're top gun, I have lost and you have won"
And he says, "Oh no, no, can't you see

When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked.
And I could always cry, now even when I'm alone I seldom do
And I have lost some kindness
But I was a girl too.
And you were just like me, and I was just like you"

I feel like anyone, hetero or LGBTQ, can relate to the simplicity (and complexity) of what she's conveying in the song---about how we all began the same as kids and then become victims of socialization and cultural norms.

What gets lost? 
What is the cost of "growing up" to fit in?

Give things in your life some thought. When did you decide something had to go in order for life to be easier? Does that ease come with a price? Is there something in you or about you that the world needs to see and hear right now? Something that might be a surprise to some and a WELCOME surprise to MANY?

Oh, Dar. You progressive, incredible songstress, you. Kickin' butt and takin' names in 1995 with your vision of how things can/should be.


July 22, 2011

Get Those Veggies In!

In these dog days of summer (what does that even mean?), homecooking can be difficult--to say the least.

Who wants to turn on the stove or oven in this heat?

"The world is my sauna right now."
-Khrysti Smyth (my pal)

Well, to get the right nutrition, sometimes you have to do it--even when you don't want to. Here's something we whipped up last night that was fast, easy, healthy --and only needed a little "hot prep" to make it happen.

You'll need:

1) several small summer squash and/or zucchini

2) fresh dark leafy greens of choice (we used kale)

3) some olive oil or coconut oil for sautee

PREP: Chop up or slice the squash and zucchini. Tear up the greens into bite sized pieces (or chop with a knife) and put them in a pan with several teaspoons of oil. Saute over medium to low heat.

4) boxed Gardenburgers (you can make these homemade, sure. We don't have time for that right now in our lives. Boxed will do.) I prefer soy-free ones--I am not a fan of "fake meat" products.

5) a few slices of Ezekial bread--(I'll write a blog post on each of these foods and why they are good ones to choose)

6) fixins' (i.e. organic ketchup, sliced onion, sliced fresh tomato, lettuce)

PREP: Brown the Gardenburgers in a pan over med/low heat with a wee bit of oil. Toast your bread.

COMBINE: the fresh veggie sautee (a sprinkle of salt makes these killer!) and the burgers---add whatever else might make this quick summer dinner enjoyable and FUN!

July 20, 2011

The Easiest Breakfast in the Freakin' World


Here we go:

1) hard-boiled egg. (these take some time to perfect, allow yourself the time to learn the art)

2) multigrain bread, preferably fresh.

3) frozen spinach.

4) Gomasio (sesame seeds, sea salt and garlic powder)

5)  a small pan

6) coconut manna (coconut oil mixed with the flesh too--it's amazing)

7) fresh raspberry jam

8) 1 tsp of ghee (search for ghee on this site--I've written about it before)


Put the ghee in a pan and add the frozen spinach.

Toast the bread.

Slice the egg.

When the bread is toasted, add the coconut manna and jam.

When the spinach is thawed, put it on a plate and shake gomasio over it.

Sit and realize how simple and delicious whole food truly is...

Friends As Food

This is something I've been developing since April 2009. More to come...

For now:

My friends, my partner--several members of my family.

...the people who listened for hours upon hours when I lost my first love. I mean, HOURS.

...the friend who played tennis with me in blistering hot weather.

...the friend and colleague who helped me pack up boxes and drive me home when I was asked to leave a job I loved.

...the people who welcomed me back with open hearts, arms and minds---after not being in touch for over 6 years.

Much of my identity is built firmly upon friendships and relationships I formed since the age of 22--when I felt like my eyes were opened. I recently returned to NJ to visit those friends, say goodbye to two of them who are moving out of the country, and spend precious time with another one who has been so influential in my cognitive and emotional development these past 8 years.

I returned "home", different in so many ways, but unchanged as well.

I found myself making crowds of people laugh--"when did I become so funny?" I thought to myself---but then asked, "when did you STOP being so funny..."

I found myself looking people in the eye more, and smiling, and making decisions based on my needs. I shared from my heart. I asked them about their lives. I created space. I listened.

I cried. Several times.

I hugged.  I was hugged.

I was thanked. I was praised. I confessed. I purged.

I got validation that I've needed and wanted from people who heard a snippet of a painful story--but a snippet was all they needed to hear to be in my corner. Because they have known and loved me for so long.

How could two days be so meaningful? How could two days be so restorative and transformative?

I have learned something simple yet so complex in these recent two years---that your friends are like your food. You can seek out a good friend like you can healthy, nourishing food---as simply as you can surround yourself with people who feed you as much as a lump of sugar. Satisfying? Merely. Hardly.

Do you have friends like this? Do you find yourself filled to the brim with tears---in a good or bad way---after parting from their presence?

Ask yourself: do I feel safe, loved, challenged, encouraged and supported----with no ulterior motives---at all times in the presence of people I call my friends.

I have learned to be more discerning these past few years---and in going back "home" I realized that true friendship doesn't happen overnight and when you have it, you should treasure it.

I will be investing more time and energy into these precious friendships now and in the future.

Upon watching my beautiful friend Amy play the guitar, now pregnant with the baby we spoke about many years ago in our young adulthood, I had an epiphany. Amy is one of a few people with whom I credit the profound transformation I've undergone these past 10 years. Amy was there from the beginning---she was one of the first people I came out to. She is selfless, open, loving, patient, grateful and wise. She always has been since the day we met in 2001, when I was sitting in a cafe grading papers.

Upon moving away from her presence geographically in 2006, I also moved away from it emotionally. I distanced myself from someone so precious for too many years because I didn't value my own worth enough to allow her love into my heart and my life. I had been depriving myself of the very "food" of friendship that I craved. Ironic? Self-sabotage? Or just simply my journey.

I sat Amy down and shared my epiphany. I thanked her for her gift of selfless love. I wished her many happy days and weeks and months ahead during her exciting move with her beloved husband.

It felt good to experience the nutrition I'd been avoiding, the way we push broccoli around our plate as kids (or adults) but go for the fries. It felt good to take it in. To be thankful for it.

I have incredible, life-giving, soul-sustaining, supportive, deep, introspective friends.

I am grateful to (re)invite them into my life again, renewed, to nourish me and fulfill me---as I watch my sugar cravings dissipate, my hunger for any food be lessened---

for my heart is full once again.

July 19, 2011

The Social Experiment: Wendy's

This past weekend, my partner and I headed out of town for a bit of a "gay"cation.

We got hungry on the highway so, despite packing the delish dish we made the night before for lunch leftovers on our trip, we literally spent 20+ minutes hunting down a Wendy's. You're probably wondering why, seeing as how I am a health coach and all.

Well, you see, when you stop eating food like that on a daily, weekly and even YEARLY basis, you start to wonder what other people find alluring about it. I wanted to know. I wanted to see what draws millions of people through those doors each day. And I wanted a damn Frosty! It was HOT!

So we went, for the sake of science. I had eaten Wendy's many a time in my youth, so I remembered it vaguely. Because we eat homecooked/healthy food about 98.9% of each day, I thought it was totally ok to step off-track to experiment. My girlfriend asked, "what are you doing to get?" I said, "well, a Frosty, and maybe fries--I'm a little apprehensive about the meat, I mean--they claim it's real..."

I wanted to see if this fast-food chain did IN FACT serve anything resembling real meat in their food.

Here was my experience/data collected:

1) We enter. It smells funny--like a gym locker or something.

2) The menu is small, crowded and confusing. There are posters around touting the "health benefits" of the slivered almonds in the salads on the menu. Nice try, I think. I remember hearing about how the combo meals are a better deal, but I can't get my mind off the Frosty. People move fast through the line and I realize there's a system here they know well--and I don't know it. I feel---like an alien. I reflect upon the fact that eating healthy makes me an outsider in my own country...

3) I order a chicken sandwich, fries and a chocolate Frosty. Ahhhh. The nostalgia from my childhood. The "food" arrives and I have paid in less than 2 minutes. Even the ketchup pumps are the same from when I was a kid. I realize the sudden STRONG craving for a Frosty might have been intimately connected with the fact that we were heading toward New Jersey...the state where I was born and raised...interesting...this is called deconstructing a craving...and I do it with my clients.

4) We sit, unwrap the "food" and I bite into the "chicken" sandwich. A small string appears in sight, right where I bit into the "sandwich". I think somehow a rubber band got into my "food" and I pull on it---it's stretchy like a rubber band but thinner, lighter. I put it aside as my girlfriend watches in horror. I say, "I'm conducting research---this is science we are eating, not real food". It seems the sandwich is a cut of chicken breast---the thing I (and others probably) anticipated when ordering. Upon pulling the fine threads of gelly-like material apart, I realize----

oh my goodness. This is the material they used to construct the entire "sandwich. 

It's not an actual chicken breast--it is a conglomeration of fillers, preservatives, colors and goodness-knows-what-else to construct something resembling a chicken breast. 

5) The smell of the sandwich is now overpowering my senses and I can't eat something that smells like chemicals. I put it down and go after the "fries". Little more than freeze-dried potato powder browned to an overdone stale "crisp".

6) It is now that we are aware of the sound. This particular restaurant has installed large-screen tvs in several corners and if you aren't lucky enough to sit beneath one (like we are), there are massive speakers installed in the wall instead. My girlfriend aptly observes, "hmm. Large tvs with fast-paced commercials and sound during a meal--like in many homes today." We feel overwhelmed and anxious. We don't watch tv and certainly not during meals.

7) We get up to leave, as my girlfriend has now felt the effects of her "sandwich" and doesn't feel well. We take a look around at the families feeding this to their kids, feeding this to themselves---like the couple who drove over here to order baked potatoes. Those are simple enough to make at home, why come to Wendy's for that? :(

8) At least the Frosty was good; it's hard to mess up ice cream and milk. But you still can't suck the damn thing up the straw.

My social experiment didn't help me understand WHY people choose to spend their money on something that doesn't even taste good--but it helped me see how people who don't cook real food very often probably don't even realize that it doesn't taste real--and that it isn't real.

While it was a worthy use of my time to walk in the shoes of so many Americans, I'll stick to the shoes I'm wearing these days as a holistic health coach, thank you--very much.

July 12, 2011

A Tale of Two C/Kates---Part Deux

When we last left the Tale of Two C/Kates, you had met my client, Cate. She's a winner. Truly.

She ran the Boston marathon after sitting on a couch mere months before. She's changed her habits around grocery shopping, sleeping, eating---and now----HER JOB. Yes, that's right. As a result of our work together, Cate has removed herself from a job that limited her self-confidence and contribution to the world around her. She didn't complain about it for months, being a victim of her experience. In fact, when we first met, she didn't even name it as an issue in her life. She was trying to finish up her degree so she could move forward in life.

Funny---just 4 months later, she is a successful graduate and now---had a brand-new job. She just got herself out there, interviewed and POOF! That glass ceiling in her life is no longer there. AMAZING, yes?!

Now, I'd like to share a tale of Kate. The story I want to share about Kate is quite different from Cate's. I am inspired by Cate's tenacity, courage and intention to improve her inner and outer world through making lifestyle changes. She's going to make the world a better place because she is learning how to make HER world a better place.

Kate--she's also doing that. I want to tell you why.

Kate is my new personal trainer. I have resisted the gym for too many years--making up stories that I told myself and other people about how I could "get all my working out done outside. I don't need to pay a gym to do that."

Good try, Dills. Good.

Trouble with that story? I wasn't actually doing it. 

While my good nutrition accounts for about 80% of my fitness level, I definitely have/had some trouble areas that were becoming more troublesome as I am spending more time sitting or standing on my feet and less time running, biking, moving, etc. The biggest lack in my life? Strength and agility training.

I needed someone who possessed skills I don't have to properly move my body so I build muscle tone and don't hurt myself in the process.

Enter Kate.

Now, before I tell you about Kate, it's important to know I had one major reservation about asking for help in becoming more fit. It's connected to my identity and the last place I expected to find the support I needed was at a corporate gym. Why? Silly personal bias, I suppose.

How wonderful was it to sit in my eval with Kate a couple of weeks ago and tell her that my goals for my fitness included adding muscle to make me closer to the "right shape". She smiled and said, "I've never heard anyone say that--it makes so much sense." She didn't flinch when I said I identified as transgender and felt awkward in the bathroom with women--she just said, "I can see that" and she was 100% behind me when I stated specific areas to target with my weight training.

If you've ever felt weird, out of place or uncomfortable being your true self with a stranger in regards to your body and body image--imagine my relief. It wasn't easy to be on the other side of the table, so to speak, and be the person needing help adjusting an aspect of life that is very intimate and vulnerable.

Kate is an incredibly skilled personal trainer but more importantly, for me anyway, she is welcoming, kind, funny and inspiring to folks of all identities. She is upbeat, makes great eye contact and challenges me in my physical workout in a way that makes it feel fun and exciting. I hardly notice the "flaws" I've hated for years. I only feel competent and strong around her. Can you imagine this in your wildest dreams?! I never could have. I never imagined I would LOVE working out as much as I do with my personal trainer, Kate.

Her skills are a measure of her training. 

The way she makes me feel safe and comfortable is a measure of her character.

Want to know her better and get her support and warm, fun presence for your personal training needs? You can find her at Davis Square's Boston Sports Club location. Tell her you came at Dillan's STRONG recommendation. ;)

Celebrate GOOD TIMES! sans alkies

So this is for all yous guys who "celebrate" major life changes, accomplishments or disappointments by consuming large amounts (or even small ones) of alcohol.

For what it's worth and to the extent it's helpful--reconsider if you're celebrating or self-medicating the joys and sorrows of life away in an altered state. What is it satisfying for you? What might you be missing out on if you aren't present for the whole experience--the good and not-so-good parts?

             I know life is hard.             

Life is also beautiful:

Next time you overcome something big or feel overwhelmed, notice if you say, "WOW! I could use a drink!"

If so, think about that. 

What are you needing that the alcohol will or won't provide? What feelings are coming up? Would a conversation with a friend help instead? What's another way you can celebrate that doesn't involve alcohol?

I'm not saying that a glass of wine now and then is a problem. I would embrace it more regularly if it didn't affect my sleep in a negative way. What I'm talking about, and encouraging mindfulness about, is HOW it's being used in your life. If it's a crutch, fall-back, distraction, "treat"---than your relationship with it might be out of balance.

How can you make a shift with this in your life?

July 11, 2011

Simply Delish Summer Dinner!

It's summer. It's hot. It's busy. It's...all sorts of things.

Here's a quickie we whipped up for dinner, we were SO tired from a relaxing beach day--we just wanted to eat! (cue violins)

...in other news, I have a wicked sunburn--USE SUNSCREEN!

"It's HOT and We're Tired" KALE, COCONUT RICE & Protein-of-Choice Dinner

you need this:

2 cups pre-cooked brown rice (did you read my post about lessons learned from cooking Brown Rice?)
2 Tablespoons coconut Manna or 1/4 cup canned coconut milk

2 tsp dried shredded coconut

several big fresh raw Kale leaves
1 tsp olive oil or butter for sautee

protein of choice (we used 1 pound of fresh salmon from Whole Foods--but would baked chicken or satueed tofu work? For shizzle)

do this:
1) tear the kale leaves away from the stem

2) wash in cool water and tear into small pieces

3) place the kale pieces into a skillet with some oil/butter

4) sautee until crispy and/or wilted (however you like your kale) and set aside

5) in a 2 or 3 qt. pot toss in your brown rice and a splash of water, warm and stir in the coconut Manna or milk and let that warm together. Add a pinch of sea salt.
6) prepare your Protein of Choice as you wish. We baked the salmon in a large flat casserole dish with some butter.

Add all ingredients to your plate, season with salt, some light soy sauce--or nothing at all added--whatever strikes your fancy.

July 6, 2011

A Tale of Two C/Kates

I am writing to share a tale of two C/Kates.

Our first tale is about Cate.

Cate entered my life during the winter. She was doing a couch-to-marathon training expereince with trainers and we met while I was giving a workshop at Lesley University called 5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs. Following our initial meeting, Cate came in for a consultation and we knew we would make a great team. Every session since she became my client has found us laughing more than being serious, but we still get good work done. An incredible sense of humor is one of Cate's many gifts, but the one I want to highlight today is her tenacity, courage and fierce determination to learn how to get and keep herself healthier and happier. I mean, she ran the Boston Marathon this year!

Cate came to me with goals and an eager desire to learn about food--everything from how it's made to how it affects her body and the planet. She has learned a lot and soaks everything we discuss up like a sponge. Something I really appreciate about Cate is her willingness to grow beyond what she's been taught about food and eating habits and incorporate the recommendations I offer to expand her awareness and competency around eating and living well.

She's making these changes gradually and conscientiously--exactly as one should when they are making long-lasting, effective lifestyle changes. Her text messages make me laugh and beam with pride--I love hearing how she finds little ways each day to shift her thinking and actions toward a healthier life. 

Like this one yesterday: 

"I was parked in front of Dunkin's this morning. Thought about it and left the parking lot sans food."

What a Winner.

Here's how she made an adjustment to her nutrition on the 4th of July. She took an average everyday hot dog (I sent her this article from FOODUCATE to give her more info about hotdogs) and did this with it:

from Cate (her title was, "Cate Cleans Out the Fridge":

Here is my big kid dog:
-slit the dog down the middle without cutting in half, score on the back and throw it into a hot saute pan (just a few minutes on each side)
-steam asparagus and cut red bell peppers while dog is cooking
-let the dog crisp a bit on each side
-take the dogs out, throw red peppers in the saute pan to warm them a bit
-put goat cheese in the middle of the dogs and close dogs as much as possible
-cut watermelon for dessert
and Wa-La!
the cheese will soften and moisten the dog adding even more flavor. I didn't use a bun or condiments (being aware of calories and the waste of bread) Asparagus and red bell pepper on the side makes me think of a ball park frank or sausage with the fixin's but for a big kid!
For lunch today I had sauteed mushrooms, eggplant, zuccini, quinoa and left over sloppy Joe... sounds a bit odd but helped me clean out the fridge (sloppy joe).and get heavy on the veggies. The sloppy Joe was from a can but tasted tomato paste based so made me think of an Italian pasta dish. The veggies and quinoa made about three servings/meals and I used the meat in two servings - 15 oz containters (two lunches today and tomorrow).  So yummy and filling! So glad to be back on track with cooking!  


THIS IS WHAT MY WORK IS ALL ABOUT--showing someone how to gradually, over time, make small changes that add up BIG TIME. Her last paragraph is especially poignant because she was having a low last week, really digging out of some discouragement (like my own post about it a few weeks ago) and I reminded her that it wasn't the getting down that's the problem. As long as we pick ourselves up and keep going.

Cate is Great.

Next week, I will continue with the second tale of the second great Kate in my life...my personal trainer.

July 4, 2011

Gay Soldiers Can Shoot Straight

Do I think we need a military? Yes.

Do I agree with how our country utilizes them? No.

That's about all I will share on that, but I stumbled upon a story on CNN that hits home, and so I wanted to share it on this festive day which celebrates our independence from British rule so our founding fathers could instead enslave people from Africa, grow cash crops and make a killing with the profits...

(steps down from soapbox)

Andrew Wilfahrt. Do you know him?

I didn't, until I read this article. His father and mother sound like incredible human beings and I am glad Andrew had their love and support through his short yet PROFOUNDLY impactful existence.

Passing Privilege

Ok, kids. Gather 'round. Time for Dillan to share a ditty with ya'.

Today we're going to talk about PASSING.

Many of you will never have to deal with this in your lives because, regardless of your sexual orientation, you are gender conforming. What does that mean? Well, it means you dress, act and behave in ways that the larger society deems "normal and appropriate for the gender norms assigned to your sex".

Did I lose you?

OK, boys wear blue and they like trucks and sports. Girls wear pink, skirts, have long hair, like makeup and romantic comedies.

Check, check and check.

Those apply to you. You're good. You're "normal".

Not all apply? Oh, that's ok. Most of them apply to the outside observer, so you can pass. People won't suspect you might sport an "alternative lifestyle" (alternative to the "NORM", of course) so they will not target you on the street or in your daily life. They won't call you names or make comments about how your water bottle is the wrong color, or your hair is too short or the pronouns you prefer don't matter so they'll use whichever ones they want to anyway. They won't tell you that the sparkled shoes were the wrong choice because boys should wear sports jerseys or they won't call you a lady when you're wearing a men's tie when you're out to dinner with your girlfriend.

You pass, honey.

You can slide in and out of identifying however you want on any given day because most of the time, people will just assume you are straight.

You can choose where, when and how people know about your internal life--and you can control what experience you have as a result. This is a privilege.

This isn't about shaming or blaming (that's not how I roll)--but there is way too much oppression and power differentials in this country to not NAME the realities happening all-around us. To pretend otherwise is ignorant and perpetuates oppression, discrimination and intolerance.

Advocacy is the naming of privilege, power and difference in any and all communities where it is perceived--particularly by someone from a marginalized community or identity. Advocacy happens in good times and in bad. It happens when it needs to happen.

If you pass and benefit from privilege (be it white privilege, passing privilege, class privilege, etc.) you don't get to say when and where it's happening. You listen to the person naming it, and honor their experience. Confused? Go read Privilege, Power and Difference by Allan Johnson.

Know that there are many people every day who are affected by the norms in place in our society. For some, these norms create a sense of safety, a sense of their identity and "how to fit in" and they are hurting people who don't fit in and threaten their sense of identity. Our society is gradually moving away from these norms but it's not an easy road for the people who are paving the way to that change. If you are included in the norm, do your best to empathize with the people who are out in front, doing all they can to shift the paradigms to feel safer in their skin.

One final note about the passing piece; so I may illuminate a reality for many of my LGBTQ friends and community (we often refer to each other as "family").

Imagine being a woman, for instance, who is both gender conforming AND is attracted to women. She likes heels and makeup but doesn't like beard scruff against her face. In fact, this female-identified person is in a committed relationship to someone who identifies as a woman yet every day, someone asks her:

"So what's your boyfriend's name?"
"When are we going to see a ring on that finger?"
"Why don't you bring your boyfriend along?
"So how long have you and your boyfriend been together?"


Every day she has to make a choice: come out every single damn day of her life to every single person who ASSUMES she's straight, or be silent and life a half-lived life, unable to express her joy and elation about the person she loves.

Not necessarily an easier existence just because she passes...

What's your experience? How can you SAVOR it and create the opportunity for others to do the same?

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