“I’m going to exercise more and I’m going to watch what I eat”.
“I’m going to blah blah blah”.
It sounds like late December and we’re all optimistic as we don our gay apparel. The old year is winding down and we’re bubbly with anticipation for what lies ahead for the new year.
Well, it’s April and either I’m late with my new found determination or I’m early for 2018. Regardless, I’m ready for change and it all starts with me. I have to make it happen!
As a teenager, and even into my early-and-mid-20s, I was never really comfortable enough to speak out and express my views. After all, it was the conservative Reagan years and I lived in small town Kentucky.
Luckily, for me, I found my voice after moving to Chicago in 1994 and I feel that I’ve used that voice to raise awareness for issues that are near and dear to me (the LGBT movement, marriage equality, women’s rights, and more.)
On the downside of that, I realize that the same voice that can prompt a healthy dialogue and change can also be short and abrasive.
That’s something I’m finding myself guilty of more and more lately. I’ve always considered myself a “realist”. While I always look for the “silver lining” in life, I find that I don’t sugarcoat things like I used to do.
This comes across as harsh and I’ve been told that my “tone” is hurtful. It’s gotten me to think, “that’s not me and is this what I’ve become?”
It takes a good friend to stand beside you during these times, but if that person is a true friend, they’ll hold up a mirror so you can see the reflection of yourself. And, that reflection isn’t always pretty — unlike this beautiful photo of Miss ABBA in 2007.
I’ll be the first to admit my temperament changed for the worst after November 8, 2016, when the unthinkable happened.
I lost faith in myself and in my fellow man and now, it’s up to me to find it again.
That search may be near or it may be far. It’s not going to happen today or tomorrow, because it really didn’t start overnight.
If you know anything about me, you know that I idolize Reba McEntire and like millions of others, her music touches hearts.
While I knew who Reba was in the mid-1980s, I was in college and listened to Top 40 music (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Culture Club, Duran Duran) and dance club music (Erasure, Dead or Alive, Depeche Mode).
While visiting a gay Chicago nightclub on “country night” in the summer of 1990, I heard a song and I was captivated by the voice. It was Reba and I was hooked.
But, it’s more than the voice. It’s the heartfelt emotions and the messages she expresses that touches me.
I was optimistic with life in 1990 as “Climb That Mountain High” kicked off the first Reba CD I bought, “Rumor Has It”.
After my mother’s sudden death in November 1990, I felt Reba was talking directly to me with her fall 1991 release, the heartbreaking album “For My Broken Heart”. It featured two tearjerkers — the title track and “If I Had Only Known”.
Earlier this year, Reba treated fans with her first gospel album, “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope”.
I’ve expressed this before and I’ll say it again. I pray every night and I’ve done so since I was kid. However, I don’t believe in “organized religion” (if you do, that’s your prerogative and your right and I’m good with it).
I’ll speak in broad strokes here. For me and for America, we’re at a very trying, unsure time in our lives. I don’t care if you live in a blue state or a red state or if your candidate won or lost in the last presidential election, you really have to sense that the world is dealing with a lot of issues with few plausible answers.
I know that sounds preachy and it is. With that being said, it’s only fitting for me that the first song from Reba’s new album really hits home — now more than ever after what I’ve told you today.
Don’t worry, I’m not a “Jesus freak” (Okay, breathe! I love that term and I only use it for those right wing, conservative people that use God to justify “hate”).
I didn’t like my mother’s church because it focused so heavily on the fire and brimstone message of Revelations. Yes, that helped taint my view of “organized religion”.
But, there are so many songs on Reba’s new album that I loved as a kid in church: “Amazing Grace”, “How Great Thou Art”, “I’ll Fly Away”, and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, plus other new religious-themed-country tunes that only Reba can deliver.
These songs won’t take me back to church, but could give me a feeling of peace and tranquility.
If you’re still reading, I hope this touched you as much as it helped me to open up and express myself. Admitting you need to make a change is the first step in bringing on that change.
Here’s to the rest of my life and a new me and I’m ending this with a happy, upbeat message.
Make sure you watch the video and I hope it brightens your day, too.
Happy New Year (in April)!