30 May 2010


June 2010: Multiple 20-Year Anniversaries

Well, here we are on the edge of June 2010.

I take the coming of June to represent the anniversaries of several almost contemporaneous events for me. In this case, the time in question is 1990.

Sometime in the second half of May 1990, I had had enough, and I finally came out as a gay man. Until then, I had proclaimed to a small—very small: onezies and twozies—subset of my friends that I was bisexual. I knew underneath it all that I was gay, but I felt obliged—for me, for them—to proclaim that I was bi, so that my infatuations with my fellow males of the species could be explained as a lark, a fling, an occasional digression, but that when push came to shove, I was one of the boys, looking for a nice girl.

But that was all bunk: I was never looking for nice girl. I understood that etiquette and protocol demanded that I was looking for a nice girl, but I was never, in my heart of hearts, looking for a nice girl. To the several nice girls whose time I wasted: I'm sorry.

I was in grad school at the time, and I was in our offices when a pouty young undergraduate who was working for my academic, not thesis, advisor at the time, went off on some shpiel about Congressman Barney Frank, and how "we" didn't endorse "his kind."

"What kind is that? Because I'm that kind." I went off on this kid about how I was a gay man, and how there was nothing wrong with being a gay man, and how he ought to keep his not-so-subtle insinuations to himself.

It was, as those of you who have been through any kind of "coming out" experience know, cathartic. Some enormous weight that I wouldn't even admit to myself that I had been carrying around was now gone.

Within the day, I had told my academic advisor. Within the week, everyone in our lab/office. Within a month, everyone that I thought was of importance in my life, including my family, via a trip to see my mom in Florida and one of my brothers and his family, who were living near Atlanta at the time.

I can still remember coming out to my mom. The reason I wanted to come out wasn't just so she knew who I was, but so that I could someday be involved with someone, to have a relationship, to connect. I really regret that those of you who object to people being gay can't understand that we have these relationships with others—same, as opposed to different, gender—that are exactly like your intimate relationships. It starts and includes a large sexual component, but it evolves into a knowledge of someone else who is there, who knows you and all your wrongheadedness (and even your better aspects) like no other, and who puts up with you for all your foolishness and your imbecility because maybe, just maybe, you bring something to them that they value. Because maybe, just maybe, someone besides your mamma loves you for just being you. In spite of you. And if you're lucky, your mamma will understand how much you love that one and how much he loves you. (I was lucky.)

In that same late May framework, I also finally went out to a gay bar. The Ramrod in Boston, to be exact. I had been in gay bars previously, but always in a fleeting, I'm not really here, manner. When I finally went to the Ramrod one Thursday night late in May 1990, I meant to be there. And I felt comfortable there. It's cheesy, but I felt quite at home there.

Did I mention I was thirty-three freakin' years old by that time? I know there are those who come out later, but by contemporary standards, that's a very late bloomer.

I also quit smoking cigarettes in the same time frame. I had the notion when I first went out to the gay bars, that if I was ever going to quit smoking, it had to be then or it would be never. I had seriously started smoking—buying packs as opposed to bumming cigarettes—when I was 13, so this year marks the anniversary of as long of a time of not smoking as the duration of time I smoked! Twenty years smoking; twenty years since not smoking.

When I got back. after the big trip to see my mom and my brother. to Cambridgeport, where I was living at the time, I finally started hitting the gym.

Somewhere in there, I also went to my first big Pride event on the Boston Common. I remember running into other grad students there who I had never came out to and who had never come out to me.

There are too many anniversaries to keep track of in all that, so I just adopted 1 June 1990 as when I came out at work and to family, when I started going out to gay bars, when I went to my first Pride event, when I quit smoking, and when I started lifting weights. Just easier, even if it is less precise.

Now it's 20 years later.

If coming out has meant anything detrimental to me, I am not aware of it. Above all else, coming out is an act of integrity, and we, as a culture, as a society, ought to value integrity, maybe above all else. Coming out was made easier by the fact that I had many life experiences behind me by that time, but more difficult that many of those experiences were based on lies or on hiding who I really was from others.

Those who frame the gay issue in a framework that suggests that gay people—non-straight people, to be as inclusive as possible—are as we are to insult that which created us all (that gay people are gay to insult God) are just wrong. I can say that unequivocally. I'm sure those of you who believe something foolish like we hate God or we're evil intrinsic can find some isolated text to justify your position, even as you ignore similar directives regarding mixed fibers and shellfish and the stoning of unfaithful wives and the like. That such is life is frustrating, but not sufficient of a reason for me to give up.

So, happy 20th coming out, quit smoking, started going out, started working out, anniversary to me!

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21 May 2010


How Did State Legislatures Spend Their Time Prior to Passage of the 17th Amendment?

It only takes a modicum of interest in the history of these United State to know that prior to passage of the 17th Amendment, state legislatures spent an undue amount of time trying to figure out who would be the U.S. Senator from that state, sometimes to the detriment of those legislatures fulfilling other roles assigned to them by their state constitutions.

Repeal of the 17th Amendment would accomplish at least two things: (1) It would tie up legislatures in electing U.S. Senators, as was s.o.p. prior to its passage; and (2) It would make the cost of electing Senators equal to the cost of influencing a very small number of people, 50%-plus-one of the several legislatures. Contrast that now with the situation where buying influence for election of a Senate seat is cheap in low-density, cheap-media states like Wyoming and the Dakotas but extremely expensive in states like New York, California, etc.

This whole "repeal the 17th Amendment" issue just reeks of big business looking for a cheaper way to buy influence in the Federal government while sealing the deal with legislators in the states, which is where a vast array of regulation actually takes place (in contrast to what some would have you believe about the over-regulation at the Federal level). It is very difficult for me to believe this is some grass-roots issue swelling up from frustrated citizens.

My TP friends: I believe you're being snookered.

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10 May 2010


James E. Lewis Outstanding Service Award

This morning, through little I have done or said, I was recognized at the ERAU Daytona Beach Commencement ceremony with the James E. Lewis Outstanding Service Award.

All I have ever done, to the best of my ability, is to do what I should do; nonetheless, I am extremely proud and gratified to have been recognized for outstanding service to the University.

Here's the blurb I wrote up when they told me they needed something for the Commencement program:
Dr. Tim Wilson received Bachelor's (1985), Master's (1987), and Doctoral (1994) degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the Embry-Riddle faculty in fall 2000, initially to teach the core sequence of electrical engineering classes in the Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering program. Since then he has taught courses in all his department's programs, undergraduate and graduate, with course offerings from Organization of Programming Languages to Certification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). His current research focuses on UAS, and on what it takes to get them into the National Airspace System. He and his collaborator, Dr. Richard Stansbury, recently completed a series of technology surveys and regulatory gap analyses on UAS for the FAA's Flight Safety group at the William J. Hughes Technical Center.

He previously served as Vice Speaker of the Faculty in the 2006-2007 academic year, and as Speaker of the Faculty from 2007-2009. In spring 2010, he was appointed Chair of the new Department of Electrical, Computer, Software, and Systems Engineering. He serves on the Board of Directors of the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals, and he is that organization's representative to the National Engineers Week Foundation's Diversity Council. He led the organizing group for Embry-Riddle's recent 2010 celebration of Engineers Week. In his free time, Dr. Wilson enjoys photography, gardening, playing the keyboards, and reading non-fiction. He is currently reading biographies of the presidents of the United States in order of service. Described by one student as a "font of useless knowledge," in spring of 2008 Wilson achieved a lifetime dream by appearing as a contestant on Jeopardy! Unfortunately, his useless knowledge wasn't sufficiently adequate, as he only came in second. He and his partner of fifteen years, Mack McKinley, live in Debary.
Yeah, I'm tootin' my own. Toot, toot!

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Dear Nadine

Dear Nadine [Smith, lead, Equality Florida],

Although I appreciate ever single action you have made on behalf of LGBT folk in Florida, I fear your path is WAY too conservative. McCollum's head should roll, and by calling for an "apology" you reinforce in those who would deny us our rights the concept that we are weak, something to be denigrated. In the future, please adopt a stance that speaks "gumption," not appeasement.

I remain, for now and the foreseeable future, your obedient servant,

Tim Wilson

04 May 2010


Who Should Be Concerned with Pissing Off Whom?

Heard a "bomb expert" on POTUS—that's Sirius/XM's politics channel—complain that describing the Times Square bomb as "amateurish" would only "piss off the bomb makers."

Wish I knew the identity of the so-described "bomb expert," since this one's opinion is that the bomb makers should be worried about pissing off me, my friends, the USA, the free world.

I know this is of a piece with standard police instructions not to resist being assaulted, robbed, etc. I think those instructions are misguided, to say the least. I say, better to die with a single finger extended than to submit to the indignities of being robbed or assaulted.

Or terrorized.

Or of being told of your uselessness by "officials."

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