Why I Came Out..

I came out two weeks ago today. I had kept quiet about my sexual orientation to most of those around me, for 25 years. 

Why did I keep quiet? Looking back, it was because I was afraid of the negative reactions I thought I’d receive. 

I would see things saying, “Being gay is wrong.” I’ve never wanted to do anything wrong, so I tried to live a lie that society says is right. 

Over the years, when famous people would come out I would think, “Why are you telling us this? Is this really our business?” Their declaration was hailed as brave. I wondered why others thought it was brave, especially when you think of soldiers coming home from war, or whatever other actions people think of as brave.

A few friends have told me that I was brave for coming out, and it’s a nice compliment even if I don’t feel that way myself. 

One comment I received opened my mind up to the reason why people come out. The reason is because, by telling it, maybe you can help someone who is struggling so much that they resort to self harm or by taking their own life.

I stated earlier that I was scared of the reaction my news would have on those close to me. Thankfully, I received nothing but positive messages of love and acceptance. It feels wonderful to not have to hide who I am, but I feel bad for misjudging those around me. 

I hope those who are still struggling to come out will be able to share their truth with those close to them when the time is right, without fear of judgment or hate.

To my family and friends, thank you for your love and acceptance.


March 30, 1992: The Night The Silence of the Lambs Made Oscar History 

I remember going to the movies to see The Silence of the Lambs like it was yesterday. 
A month (or so) before the filmed opened, I had seen Jodie Foster in The Accused one night on HBO. The film earned her her first Best Actress Oscar. 

A couple weeks after I watched it, I saw a commercial for The Silence of the Lambs, and I was trying to think of who the dark haired woman in the movie was. They showed a close-up of her face, and in my head I said, “That’s Jodie Foster from The Accused!”

The Silence of the Lambs opened theatrically February 14, 1991. Two days later, I went with my sister and two other friends to see it, and I still remember seeing the title of the film on a marquee over the door of the theater. 

Watching the film for the first time has stayed with me for 26 years. 

At the time, I didn’t follow movie award shows closely, but on January 18, 1992, I watched the Golden Globe Awards for the first time. The film received five nominations, and earned one for Jodie Foster as Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. 

On Sunday, March 29, 1992, I was looking through the Sunday paper’s “Showtime” TV listings, and noticed a section talking about the Oscars that were to take place the next day. It had nominees listed for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress, with critics picking their favorites to win in each category. The Silence of the Lambs was their favorite in each category, but they said the Academy would probably give the award to other nominees. 

I asked if I could watch the ceremony Monday night, and was told that I could even though it was a school night.

For the next few years, Oscar night was the only night of the school year that I was allowed to stay up late on a school night. 

So, on Monday, March 30, 1992 I watched the Oscars for the first time. Seeing Billy Crystal being wheeled out onstage wearing Hannibal Lecter’s mask was awesome. After watching Jack Palance (City Slickers) and Mercedes Ruehl (The Fisher King) win in the supporting categories, it was almost time to get to the good stuff. 

The Silence of the Lambs went into the ceremony with seven nominations. It lost Best Sound to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Best Film Editing to JFK.

The film quickly rebounded, when Ted Tally won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

After that, Kathy Bates (the previous year’s Best Actress winner) presented the Best Actor Oscar to Anthony Hopkins. I remember squeezing my mother’s hand right before his name was announced. His performance as Hannibal Lecter is the second shortest performance (David Niven win for Separate Tables is the shortest) to win for Best Actor. 

The next win for the film was for Jodie Foster as Best Actress. It was her second win in three years. She also became the second actress (Luise Rainer was the first) to win two Oscars before the age of 30.

The film went on to win the last two awards of the night, Best Director (Jonathan Demme) and Best Picture. It became the third film in Oscar history (It Happened One Night and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest were the first two) to win the “Big Five Academy Awards” for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay.

Olivia and Joan: Sibling Showdown at the Oscars. 

February 26, 1942, Oscar night. This year saw (for the first of two times) sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine competing for the Best Actress Oscar.
Olivia was nominated for her work in the romantic drama Hold Back the Dawn. This was her first nomination for Best Actress. Two years prior, she received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for the role of Melanie in Gone With the Wind.

Joan received her second consecutive nomination in the category, for her role in the Hitchcock thriller Suspicion. She was nominated the previous year for Rebecca, another Hitchcock film.

If we’re to believe Joan (the younger sister), the relationship between the two of them was never a close one. She seems to blame their rivalry on their mother, Lillian who, according to Joan, had always favored Olivia. 

When Joan began acting after Olivia had already established herself at MGM, her mother (allegedly) told her that she would need to find a different studio to work for, because MGM was “Olivia’s studio.” She also had to change her last name, and decided to use the name of her step-father, George Fontaine.

When Joan’s name was announced as the winner on Oscar night, she froze remembering all the childhood fights they’d had. Olivia, who was sitting across the table from her whispered, “Get up there!” Her winning the Oscar further strained their relationship. 

Fast forward five years. Olivia won the first of her two Oscars for her role as an unwed mother in, To Each His Own. Joan went backstage to congratulate her, but Olivia just walked right past her. 

During an interview, Joan spoke about Olivia saying, “Olivia has always said I was the first at everything. I married first, had a child first, and won the Oscar first. If I die, she’ll be furious because, again, I’ll have got there first.”

Joan died on December 15, 2013 at the age of 96. Olivia released a statement thanking fans for their outpouring of love after hearing the news of Joan’s death. 

Olivia celebrated her 100th birthday on July 1, 2016. She is the longest-lived Bes Actress Oscar winner. 

Forty Years Apart: Disability Shines on the Oscar Stage. 

The Oscars have honored several actors for portraying characters with disabilities. However, the two performers I’ll profile actually lived with the disabilities they portrayed on-screen.

This is Harold Russell. He enlisted in the Army the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On June 6, 1944, he was shooting a training video, when a defective fuse detonated in his hands. He lost both hands and given hooks to serve as hands.

During his recovery, he was featured in Army film about rehabilitating war veterans called, Diary of a Sergeant.

The film caught the attention of Oscar-winning director William Wyler, who was casting his latest film The Best Years of Our Lives.

The film, released in 1946 tells the story of three men adjusting to life after the war. Russell was cast as sailor Homer Parrish opposite stars Frederic March and Dana Andrews.

The film was a huge success and was nominated for eight Oscars, including a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Russell. 

Since he was a non-professional actor, the Academy didn’t think he stood a chance of winning in a competitive category, so they decided to award him an Honorary Oscar, for bringing hope and courage to other veterans. 

Later in the ceremony, he shocked everyone by winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. He remains the only performer to receive two Oscars for the same performance.

In 1986, forty years after Russell’s triumph, the film Children of a Lesser God was released.

The film tells the story of James Leeds, a teacher at a school for the deaf who falls in love with Sarah Norman, a former student at the school now working as the school’s janitor. It is based off the Tony-winning play of the same name.

William Hurt starred as James and newcomer Marlee Matlin was cast as Sarah. She had previously played the role of Lydia in local production of the play, which caught the attention of the film’s producers.

While still an infant, Matlin lost her hearing due to a genetically malformed cochlea.

The film received five Oscar nominations, and won the Best Actress award for Matlin. She remains the only deaf performer to win an Academy Award. She is also the youngest actress to win in the category. 

God is the Answer!

When asked why they doubt the existence of God, I have heard (some) atheists say that, “Science explains everything.” I’m here to tell you that in my case, medical science was wrong!

I was born two and a half months premature, and had complications after birth that ultimately resulted in my cerebral palsy diagnosis.

In the beginning, the doctors weren’t optimistic about my survival. When my father asked what my chances were, the doctor told him to wait by the phone for the call that I had died. 

Dad then asked if he could go back and see me to say goodbye, and after the doctor advised against the idea, he pushed the doctor out of the way and went back to see me.

Thankfully the call announcing my death never came. 

My faith tells me there is only one explanation for why I am still here. 

It’s because of God!

Donald Trump, Nobody’s Perfect, Not Even You!

I cannot shake the feelings of anger I have about the words, and actions of Donald Trump.

Hearing him trash all demographics, while campaigning to be the next President of the United States, is shameful. Watching him mock a reporter with a disability is beyond sad, and ridiculous. 

He wants to be our leader, but does he mean everyone, or just those he feels are as perfect as he thinks he is?

Mr. Trump, the bottom line is no one is perfect, not even you!

I have Cerebral Palsy, and seeing a grown man make fun of that reporter’s condition really ticked me off. 

Growing up, I was teased (never to my face) about my CP. Whenever I heard about a teasing incident, I shrugged it off, because I had God and five people at home who loved me just as I was. 

We all have things we’d like to change about ourselves, but I’ve learned to love and accept that my condition is part of what makes me, me. 

Would I have chosen to be born with Cerebral Palsy? No, I wouldn’t, but thankfully, God didn’t give me the choice. It’s been an amazing gift, and I have to accept anything that might be considered an imperfection. 

Here are a few examples:

  • 1. I have small feet. 
  • 2. My eyes drift and I have no idea that they’re doing it.
  • 3. I have an incredibly irrational fear of heights. It’s to the point now that I can no longer sit in chairs without arms, unless the chair is against the wall.

Number one and two are things that I can deal with. Number three is something that’s out of hand over the last few years, and I can’t seem to get over it. 

I will continue to be happy with my life, because I know I matter to a lot of people. Any issues that annoy me vanish when I think of the love and support I receive on a daily basis. 

I wonder if Donald Trump ever looks in the mirror, and likes what he sees? Or if he has a conscience, and realizes that what he says about people is hurtful and unnecessary? 

Are his ramblings just an act? Is he really so full of hate and anger?

I’ve mentioned some things I don’t like about myself, so, go ahead Donald and tell us what you don’t like about yourself. 

The Accused: Seeking Justice, Not Blame. 

Twenty-eight years ago, The Accused was released in theaters. It told the harrowing story of Sarah Tobias, who is gang-raped in a local bar. 
The film was based on the real-life rape of Cheryl Ann Araujo, that occurred at Big Dan’s Bar in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1983.

Araujo went to the bar to get cigarettes, and after refusing to leave with two men, a third man grabbed her from behind and put her on a pool table, where several men took turns raping her. She heard other men cheering on the assault.

When the case eventually went to trial, the defense lawyers grilled Araujo about her personal life, suggesting that she deserved the attack. 

Four men were convicted of aggravated raped, while charges against two other men were dropped. 

Shortly after the trial, Cheryl and her family moved to Florida to make a fresh start. Three years after her ordeal, she died in a car crash at the age of 25.

Like her real-life counterpart, Sarah Tobias is portrayed as having asked for her attack, by dressing in revealing clothes, and by dancing seductively around the jukebox.

The “blame the victim” defense is ridiculous to me. I understand that they have to come up with something, so how about just saying, “My client is a scumbag who exerted his power over the victim.”

I’ve read articles about the burglary and rape of an 80 year old woman, and the recent rape  and murder of a 9 month old baby girl. These horrible stories illustrate that it’s never the victim’s fault. 

I hope that anyone who has been a victim of rape, or any other type of sexual abuse will tell someone they trust and be able to seek justice!