Too cold to go out? ⛄Here are some things to do indoors

February 24, 2019

Winter in Iowa can be tough, but I fondly remember the excitement of snow days as a child when our teachers would pop popcorn, serve dill pickles, and spend much of the day reading to us. When I was in high school, in the evenings with bad weather, my friends gathered in someone's home to play cards until the 10 o'clock news came on and then we'd watch to see if the chyron said, "Wakefield Public Schools-Closed." If it appeared, we'd play cards all night long. Now I see winter as a chance to binge-watch missed television series and catch up on some reading. Need some recommendations? I've shared some good ones below.

There's plenty to do indoors when it's cold outside. Like...

Watch a movie!

Short films don't get enough attention, and I recently watched two very good ones. The first is called Thanks for Dancing, a very tender love story of two old men. One scene I loved was of one shaving the other. Delightful. In another scene, one line especially pulled at my heart: "All the days that come and go, suddenly there's not enough." Just before my favorite uncle died recently, I congratulated him and his wife on their seventy-two years of marriage. He responded, "It's still not enough."

Documentary films are also overlooked. The other short film I would recommend is Open Secrets, a documentary of gay Canadian men in their military during World War II. Courts-martial explicitly detailed their sexual activity in attempts to shame them as a deterrent to same-sex activity. One man commented, "I didn't know I was gay. I thought I was just being sexually naughty." Boy, did I relate to that!

Catch up on your reading

Nature or nurture? Are we born gay or is it a consequence of our environment? Religious fundamentalists often speak of homosexuality as a lifestyle choice, while those in the LGBTQ community argue that it is neither a choice nor a lifestyle. Some say that being gay cannot be innate because without reproducing, the laws of genetic selection would dictate that being gay would have been bred out of existence. Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection between Human and Animal Health by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers posits that individuals who do not reproduce benefit a society and promote its survival by their role as nurturers of the community.

In a short read along those same lines, the New York Times published a delightful story about two gay penguins in Australia who hatched and raised a chick. They proved to be better parents than many of their contemporaries. The story contains a link to a video of them caring for their chick. As a gay parent, I found the story very heartwarming.

Many young gay or bisexual people don't remember the lavender scare of the 1950s during which Senator Joseph McCarthy and his committee attempted to purge homosexuals from our federal government. The new book Ike's Mystery Man: The Secret Lives of Robert Cutler by Peter Shinkle focuses on the lavender scare and the untold story of President Eisenhower's first national security advisor, who oversaw the drafting of Eisenhower's Executive Order 10450. This book, which has increased relevance because of today's political environment, charged the heads of federal agencies and the Office of Personnel Management-both supported by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI-with investigating federal employees to determine whether they posed security risks due to being homosexual. Both Cutler and Hoover were later discovered to be closeted gay men.

I was invited to speak about Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight on WOSU Public Radio with Karen A. McClintock, who was also scheduled to speak about her father who had remained closeted for decades, which she wrote about in My Father's Closet. When I picked up her book, I knew it was going to be an emotional read for me. At times, I wanted to defend McClintock's father against her criticism, but I wondered, "Am I defending him, or am I defending myself?" I identified with him when McClintock wrote, "He was just a kid trying to find love in all the ways he'd been taught to do it," but my tears began to flow when she wrote, "Dad, I always wanted more," because I knew that my daughters felt the same way. The truth is I wanted more of them too. I never intended to break my vow to their mother or walk away from them.


News from the Doc

I've been invited to speak to the Gay Fathers of Toronto in May-I really look forward to expanding my friendships with the warm and welcoming men of Canada.

I will be speaking on the Cruising Polar Bears transatlantic cruise starting April 22 from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona via the Azores, Portugal, and several stops along the southern coast of Spain. Prices have been reduced.

Apparently, my essay "3 Essentials to Establish Lasting Self-Esteem" has struck a chord with many people! In the first 48 hours of posting it, nearly 3,000 stopped by my website to read it.

I have also written several new blog posts on "Ask the Doc." Take a look at them-and if you like what you see, sign up for my updates. Or follow me on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.