Thursday, July 26, 2012

Agreeing to Disagree

A month ago Clark and I were talking about our favorite fast food places and I said, "I love Chick-Fil-A, but I won't eat there because of all the money they donate to anti-gay causes."

Clark sighed. "It annoys me when people do that," he said. "It's the same logic that people use to say that public school teachers shouldn't be able to donate money to political causes, because their money comes from tax dollars. It doesn't make sense. You're paying for a service, not for a political belief. What they do with that money is their business, not yours."

I countered that I see the two as different situations. In one, you're seeking to legislate what individuals can or can't do with their income; in the other, you're choosing not to give money to a corporation because you don't want them to use your money to hurt people. Clark acknowledged my point but maintained his position. Part of building a relationship is learning to show your partner enough respect to allow him space to disagree with you. Clark and I have both been working on this a lot lately. It goes against our natures as stubborn, opinionated people, but we're worth the effort. :)

Like Hawkman and Green Arrow, Clark and I sometimes disagree on political issues. Unlike Hawkman and Green Arrow, we rarely resolve our disagreements with maces and arrows. 

At any rate, it's been interesting for me to see the Chick-Fil-A situation explode in the past week or so, and to find myself on a different side of the controversy than I would have expected. If you haven't been following along, I'll get you up to speed: Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy was asked point-blank whether the company opposes same-sex marriage, and he answered, "Guilty as charged." He cited the company's traditional family values as the basis for their opposition. And then the shit hit the fan. Facebook memes calling for people to boycott the company spread like wildfire. The Muppets backed out of their partnership with Chick-Fil-A. The mayor of Boston wrote a letter refusing to let Chick-Fil-A open a restaurant in his city. And, of course, Jon Stewart made fun of Cathy.

On the one hand, I'm happy to see that there are so many passionate supporters of gay rights. I see the country getting closer and closer to a point where equal rights for all people is an obvious conclusion. At the same time, I'm a little uncomfortable with the vitriolic nature of the response to Cathy's statement. As supporters of gay rights head toward becoming a majority in the US, we run the risk of bullying those who disagree with us into submission. I want to win the fight for equality by convincing people that I deserve the same rights they do, not by making people who disagree with me feel stupid. (Full disclosure: My natural tendency in arguments is to try to win by making the other person feel stupid. Thankfully Clark is patient with me while I try to overcome that tendency.)

I'm okay with the Muppets pulling their products out of Chick-Fil-A's kids' meals. That's their way of voting with their wallets, just like I do by not eating at Chick-Fil-A. I'm a little less comfortable with the mayor of Boston's response, just because he's representing an entire city of people and I'm not sure his statement accurately reflects the feelings of every Bostonian. I suppose elected officials do that all the time, though, and Bostonians will get their chance to re-elect him or not based on how well they think he has represented them. When Jon Stewart called Cathy an asshole, that definitely crossed outside the bounds of my comfort zone. I love The Daily Show and Stewart makes fun of people all the time, so I guess what makes me uncomfortable is that I don't think Cathy is actually being an asshole. He made a public statement of his beliefs. I find his belief system to be narrow, ignorant, and closed-minded, and I disagree with his conclusion, but I believe he has the right to express that belief. To be fair, Stewart is not threatening Cathy's right to free speech. The law ensures that Cathy can say whatever he wants, short of hate speech, without being incarcerated or hung for it. But in order for our society to really thrive, I think we need to go beyond acknowledging the legal right to free speech and get to a place where we actually show people respect even though they disagree with us.

In other words, a successful society requires the same kind of mutual respect that a successful relationship does. I knew there was a reason my discussion with Clark was relevant to the rest of this post.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

An Agnostic Fobsvithe

(My friend Theric writes one blog post per week about religious topics and calls it a "svithe" [because he's dedicating one seventh of his blog to God]. Religion is not such a big part of my life, but it is a topic I'm interested in, so I'll write a Fobsvithe now and then.)

Last night Clark and I decided to go see The Dark Knight Rises. We'd been planning on seeing a matinee today, but he suggested we go last night instead since we were up and he was too wired to go to sleep any time soon. We checked online and saw that the last showing of the night was at 11:40, which gave us about half an hour to get to the theater--plenty of time. When we got to the mall where the theater is located, though, the doors were locked. We waited outside until someone happened to be coming out, then ran to the box office to get tickets, only to be told that the last show of the evening had actually been at 11:00, and all the websites and apps saying there was an 11:40 show were wrong.

Disappointed, we headed back out of the mall, only to run into a friend of ours. Friend was also hoping to catch the 11:40 show, and was equally disappointed by its non-existence. We briefly considered going together to another movie at the dollar theater, but I could tell that Friend was distressed and needing to talk, so I suggested that instead we go to Denny's for midnight snacks. We ended up talking for a couple of hours about some of the issues Friend is experiencing, and both Clark and I shared some similar experiences we've had. In the end Friend thanked us for the "therapy." I was happy for the chance to get to know her better and to be a sounding board for her.

On our way home, Clark--who is more or less agnostic, like me--said, "You know, it's possible that us being there tonight was an answer to Friend's prayer." I conceded the possibility, as the same thing had occurred to me. This is why I'm agnostic rather than atheist. I don't really believe in God, but sometimes I would like to. I would like to think that there's some kind of higher power directing my life, leading me to places where I can do good for others and leading others to places where they can do good for me. While we talked last night, Friend said something that I had said several years ago, more or less word for word: "I've experienced too many small miracles in my life to deny the existence of God." I no longer feel so strongly, but I will say that I've experienced enough happy coincidences in my life to make me believe that there just might be some kind of something beyond what we can see, something that connects people and makes serendipitous things happen.

Tell me, my atheist friends, if there's no God then how is there an angel on the Justice League? Explain  that one.

My default when describing my religious position is to call myself agnostic. This is certainly accurate--I don't know whether there's a God. But "agnostic" defines what I don't believe in. If I focus on what I do believe in, I prefer to think of myself as a humanist. I believe in people. I believe in the goodness of humanity. I believe the ultimate measure of whether an action is right or wrong is what impact it has on people--if it hurts people it's bad, while if it helps, it's good. I suspect that most "miracles" that people attribute to God are actually produced by human beings, whether it's a person deliberately doing something kind for me or simply the meaning that I (as a human) attach to a happy coincidence. Whether my suspicion is true or there really is a God using people to do his will, I figure my responsibility is the same: I will do my best to make life better for those I come in contact with, and I'll be grateful when they do the same for me.

That is my religion.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Secret Origin

This may come as a shock, but I'm just going to come out and say it: I'm gay. Also, I used to be married to a woman. A pretty awesome woman, in fact, who goes by the blogonym of FoxyJ. Back when we were married, I was very open about being gay and heterosexually married. I blogged about it regularly. I published a couple of personal essays about it. FoxyJ and I were featured in a Salt Lake Tribune article about it, and then on a Fox 13 news segment. Recently, I've watched my friends Josh and Lolly Weed do more or less the same thing, except like a hundred times bigger. (FYI, I was a member of Club Unicorn before it was cool.) This post is not a rebuttal to the Weeds. They've made no arguments for me or anyone else to rebut. They've simply shared their experience, and I'm glad that they have--for their sake and for the sake of others in their situation. This post, rather, is me sharing my experience.

As you already know if you know me (and I don't pretend that people who don't know me read this blog), in the past few years my life has taken a very different direction from where the Weeds are. I also took a two-year break from blogging during that time, so I haven't really told the story of how I went from gay and heterosexually married to just gay. FoxyJ has shared some of her thoughts on our divorce, and I would encourage you to read her perspective. I remember and interpret some details differently from how she does, but that's natural for any two people sharing their own accounts of the same event, particularly two ex-spouses telling the story of their marriage and divorce.

Basically, it comes down to this: I love FoxyJ now as much as I ever did. The love I have for her is very much like the love I have for my sisters. I enjoy spending time with her, I feel a connection to her due to our shared history and common interests, and seeing her happy makes me feel happy. Just as I would with my sister, I get upset when I see her being hurt. I'm still rather upset at that bastard who married her knowing he was gay, then divorced her ten years later because he couldn't live in that marriage anymore. (This is the part of the story where I shock you by saying, "And I am that bastard." Except you already know that.)

In a lot of ways, our marriage was very nice. I got to live with my best friend for ten years. We had ongoing jokes that lasted the full ten-year run, we enjoyed watching movies and reading books together, we made three brilliant children together. Our personalities were very compatible and we had very little conflict. But there's a reason straight men don't marry their male best friends, and women don't marry their sisters. The love that one can experience with a best friend or sibling is not the same as the love that one can experience with a lover. It's like oxygen and food--both are great, but you can't very well say, "I have plenty of oxygen, I don't need food."

So in order to survive in my oxygen-rich-but-food-deficient marriage, I needed to ignore my need for food. It helped that I was very good at this. Due to a combination of my personality and the circumstances in which I was raised, I grew up with a well-developed ability to ignore my own needs in favor of the needs of those around me. I also grew up in the Mormon church, which taught me that my need to have a loving relationship with a man was not valid, not real. I knew very well how to "turn it off." The problem with turning off unwanted feelings, at least in my experience, was that I needed to turn off all my feelings. In other words, in order to survive, first in the Mormon church and then in a heterosexual marriage even after I left the church, I had to make myself numb.

I wasn't fully aware of this until February of 2011, when I developed a huge crush on a friend. I'd had crushes on guys before, but never quite this intense before, and never under quite the same circumstances. I spent a week away from home getting to know this guy--he didn't even know I was gay at the time so nothing happened--then returned home to a stark contrast. It was like going from technicolor to black-and-white. I'd felt more alive in that week than I had ever before. And I knew then that I couldn't live the rest of my life in black-and-white. It wasn't a matter of deciding to leave my wife for this guy. There were several reasons why I knew nothing could happen between us, and still nothing has happened between us. My decision to end the marriage was a decision to actually live, now that I'd had a taste of what that could be like, rather than continuing to accept inner death as a valid way of life.

As I watched Josh and Lolly's Nightline interview this morning, I was struck by something Lolly said. Something to the effect of "It means so much to me that Josh is willing to sacrifice something so big for me" (Sorry, Lolly, I'm paraphrasing because I don't have a transcript in front of me.) I feel bad that I got to a point where I was no longer willing to make that sacrifice for FoxyJ. Perhaps it comes down to what exactly it is we think we're sacrificing. In Josh's mind, he is sacrificing something he wants but doesn't need. I once believed that as well, and when I did I was perfectly willing to make that sacrifice for the rest of my life. Once I came to believe that it was my happiness that I was giving up, I was no longer willing to make that sacrifice. Don't get me wrong, I understand that in any loving relationship there need to be times when one partner sacrifices his own happiness for the happiness of the other. But I don't believe that a relationship that requires one partner to permanently sacrifice his happiness for the happiness of the other is a healthy one. And I don't think in the long run either partner would be happy.

So I made a choice, and here I am. There have been difficulties along the way--going through a divorce, trying to minimize the impact on our kids, navigating an evolving relationship with FoxyJ and watching the hardships she's had to endure, dealing with the financial consequences of the divorce, figuring out this new relationship with Clark--but I have not regretted my decision. I've felt frustration, anger, and absolute despair more in the past year and a half than I had in my entire life before that, but I've also felt pure joy in ways I had never experienced before. And as my old friend Lehi says, you can't have one without the other.

Monday, July 16, 2012

In Defense of Smallville

My brother Svoid and his wife Yodame came over for dinner last night. While talking about my recent move to Smallville and about how it really is a pretty cool little city that is relatively progressive for a small Utah town, Yodame said, "You don't give the city enough credit on your blog." I protested that when I talk about Smallville on my blog, I'm really talking about several little towns here that all blend together, not necessarily just the specific one I live in. And, to be fair, I haven't talked a whole lot about Smallville yet, apart from characterizing it by its small-town conservative culture, as opposed to the more liberal, big-city culture I come from.

But I'm beginning to wonder if even that is accurate. Yes, people in this part of Utah (and most parts of Utah outside of Salt Lake City or Park City) tend to be conservative politically, but it's not really fair to let that one factor define every single person here. One of my major assumptions about conservative Smallvillites (and one of the premises of this blog) is that they are opposed to homosexuality to some degree or another, whether it be in the form of campaigning against same-sex marriage or simply being uncomfortable around gay people. Based on my limited experience, though, that's proving not to be a universal truth. 

Perhaps the problem is that my interaction with Smallvillites is relatively limited. I work from home and have yet to get to know my neighbors, so mostly I interact with the Smallvillites who are involved with the play I'm in right now. And yes, I recognize that theatre people (even community theatre people) tend to be more liberal and open-minded. But still. Among the cast and crew of the play are a lesbian couple, an active Mormon who has a Human Rights Campaign sticker on her car, and a man who grew up in Utah but got away as quickly as he could only to return twenty years later in order to care for his parents. I don't go around announcing that I'm gay, but I wear my HRC shirt and my Pride shirt and my Planned Parenthood shirt, and I don't hesitate to mention my boyfriend when he's relevant to a conversation (e.g. "Oh, your husband does that? That sounds just like something my boyfriend would do.") And I haven't yet perceived any change in the way people treat me. No one has shunned me. No one has told their children not to talk to me. If anything, I suspect that some people who oppose same-sex marriage go out of their way to be friendly to me because I'm gay, because they're aware of the stigma attached to opponents of same-sex marriage (and Mormons in general), and they want to show that they're not homophobic. Would I prefer they not be donating time and money to ensure that I never marry Clark? Sure. But even if they're hurting me on a political level (and to be clear I don't know for sure that any of them are), I appreciate that they're kind to me on a personal level.

On Saturday I was talking to a fellow cast member who I'd recently friended on Facebook. I've liked her since I met her during auditions, and she's always been friendly to me, but she comes across very Mormon, so I really didn't know how she'd react once she figured out I was gay. She admitted that once I friended her, she'd gone back several months and read several of my status updates and had concluded not only that I'm gay, but that she knows who Clark is. (She suspects he is a mutual friend of ours; because it's not my secret to reveal, I neither confirmed nor denied.) She said she thinks it's "cute," and we talked a bit about our shared admiration of certain attractive men. Not a single word of judgment or disapproval.

So does this mean that all this secrecy about Clark's identity is unnecessary, that his fears about the consequences of coming out are unfounded? That's not my call to make. Clark grew up in Smallville and I'm new here, so I trust his sense of what we can and can't do. It's entirely possible that even people who are kind to us in person could say or do something that--intentionally or not--lead to negative consequences for Clark's family life and career. And like I said, my test group of Smallvillites is not a representative sample of the population since I'm only associating with theatre folks. Nonetheless, I'm happy to see that my faith in humanity, my sense that most people are good, kind people, regardless of politics and regardless of location, has not yet been proven wrong.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Saga of the IKEA Dishes

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, FoxyJ and I discovered that IKEA carries inexpensive, colorful plastic dishes for kids. Our kids loved them because they're fun, and we loved them because they're indestructible. Sometimes S-Boogie and Little Dude would fight over who gets what color, but eventually that got old and now they pretty much don't care what color they get.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Clark and his then-wife Lana did their own experimenting with multi-colored children's dishes and in their case, the constant fighting over who gets "pinkie-doo" and who gets blue was simply too much. Clark and Lana banned multi-colored children's dishes from their home forever.

Who knew such aesthetically-pleasing dishes could cause so much trouble?
So when I got divorced, I bought my own set of IKEA dishes so my kids would feel at home in my house, and when Clark got divorced he continued the practice of using regular dishes for his kids. (Actually, he uses paper plates more often than not, which makes the environmentalist in me want to go chain myself to a tree, but I make a point of not saying anything because it's not my place to demand that others live according to my value system. In other words, I don't want to be a nag.)

Our different approaches to serving children's meals became apparent while we were dating, but it didn't become an issue until we moved in together. While unpacking, the question of where to put the IKEA dishes came up. I didn't care where exactly they went, but I wanted them low enough that kids could access them--to encourage self-sufficiency. Once Clark realized how little drawer and cupboard space there was, he became frustrated that we had to dedicate part of that precious space to dishes that he foresaw creating nothing but trouble. It annoyed me that he was so upset about me wanting to use the dishes for my kids--I wasn't insisting that he use them for his kids. At the same time, I understood that so long as the dishes are in the house, he'll have to deal with his kids wanting to use them, then fighting over the different colors. After a tense exchange, Clark said, "Put them wherever you want. I don't care." (In case you have never interacted with an actual human being, "I don't care" in this case didn't actually mean that he didn't care.)

Ultimately, I decided to put the dishes on a low shelf in the pantry. This kept the drawers and cupboards free for less controversial kitchenware, and met my requirement of allowing kids to get their own dishes. Clark seemed okay with the solution, but still I cringed every time I heard his kids fighting over the "pinkie-doo" bowl.

Then, this afternoon Clark came home from IKEA with two new sets of plates, bowls, and cups. He laughed and told me that he'd cursed IKEA when he saw that they had new designs, because that will just give the kids something else to fight about. I'm tempted to joke here about how I won this battle, but I don't want to turn this into a win-lose situation, even jokingly. In reality, Clark did not lose--he recognized that having these dishes for my kids is important to me, and found a way to make it less of a problem for him and his kids. And if I have to go buy two more sets of dishes so that each of his kids can have their own "pinkie-doo" bowl, I will. Because that's how we roll in the Kent-Fob home.

At least we don't have multi-colored power rings to fight over.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Eighth Child

As I've mentioned before, Clark and I have seven children. The Kent children (pictured below) are Becky, Wisp, Charles, and Kimberly. The three Fobs are S-Boogie, Little Dude, and P. Bibby. But I am beginning to suspect there is an eighth child living residing in our home as well.
The Kents
Consider the evidence:

  1. Last week P. Bibby came upstairs from the basement playroom crying. I asked what was wrong, and she said there was a ghost in the basement. (The fact that the older children were down there possibly wearing blankets over their heads and claiming to be ghosts is not relevant to this story. You need only to know that a very reliable two-year-old says there is a ghost in the basement.)
  2. For several days last week there was a pair of blue pajamas lying on the living room floor. Finally I got tired of walking past jammies on the living room floor, so I picked them up and asked Clark where he wanted me to put them. "I don't know," he said, "they don't belong to any of my kids." The pajamas are size 5, which is right in between the sizes Charles and L.D. wear, and they are the style that cover your feet and zip all the way up (or "snuggieboos," as they are known in the Fob family). Clark insists that his children have never worn snuggieboos, and FoxyJ assures me that L.D. has not worn snuggieboos in a couple of years. 
  3. When all seven children were here for the Fourth, S-Boogie put her dirty clothes in the laundry basket in her closet, which would be the logical thing to do, except that she shares a bedroom with Becky and Wisp, and we're trying our best to keep Kent clothing and Fob clothing separate. So once I realized what S-Boogie had done, I fished her shorts, shirt, and panties out of the Kent kids' laundry basket, and sent the clothing home. FoxyJ sent the panties back, explaining that they do not belong to S-Boogie. Clark says they can't belong to his girls because they are the brand Wisp wears, but the size Becky wears, and he and Lana (his ex) intentionally buy different brands for the two girls in order to tell them apart. 
  4. There is a secret garage under our garage. There's a big door that opens into the back yard and a small door that opens into the basement storage room, but both doors are locked. The owner claims his father's Porsche is stored in the secret garage, but I am beginning to wonder. Wouldn't a secret garage be the perfect place to hide the bodies? 
So my current theory is that we have some kind of Lost Boys thing going on in our secret garage, with murdered children appearing to my two-year-old daughter and leaving clothing around the house in order to lead us to their hidden bodies. The only other plausible explanation is that the Martian Manhunter is living in the secret garage--as everyone knows, Martians can change shape at will, in addition to becoming invisible and/or intangible, so he could easily jump from a size 5 boy's snuggieboo to size 8 panties, then slip in and out of the locked secret garage without us noticing. Whatever the case, I think Clark and I need to demand a decrease in rent if we're going to be sharing the home with someone else, whether alien or dead. 

Would you rather have this man living below your garage, or dead children?
Bonus: The title of this comic is totally apropos for this post, is it not?

Friday, July 6, 2012

In the Middle

This is only my second post here and already I'm violating one of the major premises of the blog: I'm not currently in Smallville. Instead, I'm at my ex-wife's house in Middletown, a not-quite-so-small town about twenty minutes from Smallville. I come here every weekday afternoon to watch our kids while FoxyJ works. I'm grateful that my job is flexible enough and that FoxyJ is gracious enough to allow for this situation to exist--really, how many divorced fathers get to spend time with their children almost every single day?--but today I'm thinking of how, just like many other aspects of my life, this puts me in an odd middle position, neither here nor there. I don't live in this house anymore, yet I spend time here every day. FoxyJ and I aren't married anymore, yet we see each other every day. We're friendly with each other--another thing I'm grateful for--but at the same time there's an uncomfortable distance between us, the result of the hurt I caused by leaving her.

And then there's my new home with Clark. In theory our moving in together symbolizes the start of a marriage-like relationship. But, of course, we're not actually married. And not just because same-sex marriage isn't an option in Utah--we've talked about going to another state to get married at some point in the future, but we're not at that point yet. Our relationship is complicated by the fact that he is not ready to tell his kids that we are in a relationship, largely because there are a lot of other people he's not ready to tell, and it would be unreasonable and unrealistic to expect children to keep a secret like that. We talked about this ahead of time and decided that for now, as far as our children are concerned (including mine because they can't be expected to keep a secret from his), we are friends who are renting a house together so that we can help each other out. When either set of children sleeps over, Clark and I sleep in separate bedrooms and we are, for all intents and purposes, housemates. And, as it turns out, the Kent kids have been over more often than not since we moved in last week, so the facade is starting to feel more real than the reality. I'm in this weird middle place where we aren't really housemates, but we're not really spouses either. 

I suppose the benefit of being caught between two realities is that  twice as many superheroes might come to your rescue.
I don't mean to complain, but rather to point out that life seldom fits into neat little boxes. I suspect that just about anyone could write a post about why their life is somewhere in the middle, an actual reality that falls between two imagined realities. When I get frustrated with being in the middle, I remind myself that I chose to be here, and I count the reasons that I'm happy to be here. I like Clark's kids and I enjoy having them around. I like seeing him be a father. On Tuesday night we had all seven kids over, and although it was a bit of a madhouse, I was happy to see my kids having fun with his. And then there are the moments when children are not within sight and Clark reminds me with a touch or a kiss that we are, in fact, more than housemates. So I'll enjoy my evening here in Middletown with my two-year-old (her brother and sister are in Vegas at Grandma's house), even though Clark is home alone in Smallville and this is the first night in several that he and I could have been alone together, because I chose to be here. The time alone with my daughter is equally important, and as much as she loves her Pooh-themed bedroom at "Clark's house" (she hasn't yet caught on that it's also my house), it's good for her to be in the comfort of her own home. And really, I take some comfort from being in the middle--after all, this is where I've always been.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Secret Identities

A few weeks ago while jogging with my boyfriend, I tentatively told him, “I’ve decided that I want to do something, but I’m afraid you aren’t going to like it.” I then proceeded to tell him about my idea for a new blog about the two of us forming our life together as newly-partnered gay parents of seven children in a small conservative Utah town. I had already put together a blog banner made up of Simpsonized versions of the two of us and our children—his four and my three—and had come up with a clever blogonym for him that played on his real name without outright revealing it. I explained that I was feeling the need to write publicly again, and that the coming changes in our lives, with us moving in together and attempting to form a blended family, promised to provide something for me to write about. Basically, I wanted to create a gay blog mashup of The Brady Bunch and Jon & Kate Plus Eight. (Though now that I think about it, perhaps modeling our new family after Jon & Kate is not such a good idea…)

As I suspected, he was not entirely comfortable with the idea. What it comes down to is this: He is a private person, and I am not. I have no qualms about revealing my secret identity. Although I blogged for several years as Master Fob and later Mr. Fob (when I decided “Master” was too presumptuous), my real name was never a secret—the blogonym was just part of the game. At the time, I was in a heterosexual marriage and I published a couple of essays about being a gay man married to a straight woman. My then-wife and I appeared in a newspaper article and later on a TV news program, garnering some degree of the fifteen minutes of fame our friends Josh and Lolly Weed are currently experiencing. My boyfriend, meanwhile, is only out to a small percentage of his family and friends. Part of it is that he comes from a small town in Utah and many of the people in his life who he has come out to have not taken it well. Part of it is the fact that, while I work virtually for an international company that is quite gay-friendly, he works here in Utah where he has no guarantee that being gay won’t get him fired. But really what it comes down to is that he simply doesn’t share private details of his life with the people he associates with. He doesn’t tell his coworkers or casual acquaintances about his family life unless they ask, and even then he only reveals enough to answer the question. He believes in keeping personal matters personal.

I disagree with him on this—I believe that by sharing private parts of ourselves publicly (within appropriate boundaries; I’m not going to talk about our sex life or anything), we open the doors to more intimate relationships and a stronger sense of community—but I respect his point of view and it’s important to me that he know I won’t violate his trust by sharing details of his life that he doesn’t want shared. And so we talked about what I can and can’t say, searching for the middle ground where I can do this public thing that’s important to me without disrespecting his need for privacy. He doesn’t want his children, even with anonymizing blogonyms, to be the subject of a public blog, so they won’t be. Instead, fictionalized representations of them will be occasional guest characters on the blog. I dumped the Simpsonized avatars because they would be too recognizable to anyone who knows his family, and I let go of the oh-so-clever blogonym I’d had in mind for him. In its place, I’ve decided to call him Clark, because he’s my Superman, and because his secret identity is important to him. Which you would think makes me Bruce (or Lois, to use a less slash-fictiony metaphor), but the more I thought about it the more I felt like my existing blogonym, Mr. Fob, works just fine. The name originally comes from the name of my writing group, the Friends of Ben. But another, more widely-recognized meaning of “FOB” also exists—Fresh Off the Boat, referring to foreigners. Having grown up in Honolulu and generally being more “big city” in my worldview, I do feel like something of a foreigner here in Smallville, Utah. But thankfully, Clark is Smallville born-and-raised, so I’ve got someone to show me the ropes. And what gay man wouldn’t want Superman as his own private tour guide?