Yes. I am. Positively Speaking.

By Timber

I have struggled with writing this blog for some time. I didn’t know when the right time was going to be to do it. There have been many factors influencing my decision. My partner, family, friends, work, theatre, etc. It’s been a bumpy ride and very challenging spiritually, emotionally, socially and physically. As I sit here in the middle of a snow storm next to my roaring fire in the comfort of my own home, I am mostly content. It feels safe here. The dogs are relaxing, the birds are quiet and I have the house to myself. I can almost feel like I am strong and nothing is changed. Nothing is different. Everything is going to be okay. But, four innocuous words, put together, could change that in an instant. You see, I have a secret. But I don’t like secrets. They cause way too much stress. No, it’s not that I’m gay. That’s no secret to anyone. I mean, HELLO!!! Do you know me? The secret is even larger than that. It is earth-shattering, in some aspects. It is a heavy burden to bear. And I’m finally at the point where I don’t know if I can, or should, keep it in the closet any longer. This is my secret. And, it is very scary for me to share it with you. I don’t know what it will do to my social standing or my friendships. There are select people in my life that already know. My partner, first and foremost, my family and some of my very close friends. And they have all been overwhelmingly supportive. I am hoping that there are more people like that out there. I’m sure that others already know because of the way that gossip spreads through the “grapevine,” but I want to be sure that people are hearing it from the horse’s mouth.

You see, the reason I am giving away my secret is because I am an activist (if you hadn’t already noticed. . .tee hee). I want to educate people and I want to make people aware that this still happens. Let me give you just a little bit of background and we will kind of take it from there. I sit here and think of vipers like Dave Agema, the Michigan National Committeeman. “Folks, they (gay people) want free medical because they’re dying (when they’re) between 30 and 44 years old,” the paper quotes Agema saying last week. Funny. . .I’m almost 40 and I’m not dead. And, Dear Mr. Agema, I pay for my own health insurance. I pay all of my co-pays and even the costs that my insurance doesn’t cover. One of the things that the Affordable Care Act has done for me is to ensure that I don’t have to shell out 5 figures per year (yes, that much) because an insurance company might not want to cover my “pre-existing condition.” Perhaps Davey-boy thinks that I got what I deserved because I’m gay. Perhaps, he secretly rejoices with each new diagnosis of HIV because that means there will be one less queer in the world. Think again, Dave. I did not become HIV positive because I was promiscuous or because I was an IV drug user. As a matter of fact, I found out completely by mistake. That story will be told later. But, what I CAN tell you is that I got this disease because I loved and trusted someone. I was in a long term relationship. However, that person did not have the same respect for me and completely and totally betrayed my trust. The person lied to me about his status and there was ample opportunity to tell the truth. It would not have changed the way I felt about him, but it might have changed some of my behavior. That is the thing that I have struggled with the most out of all of this. I loved someone. I became HIV positive. The sense of betrayal is overwhelming at times. A friend of mine said it to me the best: The measure of a man and his heart is not the love he gives simply to feel validated and “loved” in return. Your heart is unconditional. . . But a human being that loves, that really understands being a living breathing man, doesn’t take advantage of that – he protects it and cares for it and nurtures is like the precious thing it is. He stole that and abused it and bent that into something twisted just to steal what he could, out of fear, of other’s love and affection. He put you all in harm’s way to protect himself, and he used love as his weapon to do it. It is the most awful sin a person who claims to be human can commit.  (Thank you, Amber Meyer) I found out the results on February 13th, 2012. How’s that for an early Valentine’s Day present? When I talked with my partner (who is negative, thankfully), I asked him how this was going to affect our relationship. He said, “I don’t understand what you mean. This is “For Better or For Worse, In Sickness and In Health.” Isn’t that what we decided? I love you for who you are, not what you have or don’t have.” I cried. But don’t you dare EVER tell anyone that! I will deny it with my last breath! I have an image to maintain, here. . . But, for the record, I am healthy. I have been seeing a doctor since I found out. I am on one pill a day that keeps my viral load undetectable and my T cells have been steadily climbing since I started. I am back to a normal level. I am sick less often and my energy has started to come back. And now, I am ready to fight. I am ready to educate. I am ready for whatever the world has to throw at me. I am here. I am LIVING!! And I am not going to die anytime soon. My doctor told me to expect to live to a ripe old age (80+), that is, if I quit smoking. My thoughts are along the same lines, but that is unless I push an old woman out from in front of a bus and I bite the dust saving her life. Although, it would be my luck that she would sue my estate because she broke a hip. . . If you feel that this blog would help someone, please share it. If it moved you, please share it. And remember, as I have said before, we all know someone who is HIV positive. And now, you know me. And this is what living with HIV looks like:

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Recently, I have been turning toward the Beatitudes. I have looked at them from every direction and wondered why more “Christians” haven’t taken to them as a way of life. The one that really struck me today was Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

All my life, I have been a peacemaker. (Well, okay, there was one period of about 5 years where I tried to stir up as much drama with my family as I could. . .but let’s not dwell on the past) I don’t like it when people fight and I just want to see people get along.

I seem to have been born with a highly developed sense of compassion and empathy. I used to (and still do) befriend what my mom lovingly termed, “The Unlovables.” These were the kids that got picked on in school because they were different. The kids that had no friends. I was constantly asking questions as to why people were being treated so badly and my heart regularly broke for them. I also have to admit (much to my chagrin) that I got a little teary at the end of Dangerous Liaisons when I watched it in high school. My heart broke for Glenn Close’s character. Yes, she brought most of it on herself, but did she really deserve to be treated so harshly by the very society that created her? Where was the compassion? I know, I know. . .it’s silly.

There have been many inspirations for me over the years: Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King, Jr. And more recently, there have been some inspirations from closer to home: Liz Welch of the ACLU Montana, Gregory Smith of the Pride Foundation, Caitlin Copple, Jamie Greer, Edie Windsor just to name a few. These are the “Children of God.”

I have seen some very negative posts lately. I have even created one. And if you saw my last post, you will also know that I have issued an apology in the interest of being a peacemaker. I do not presume to know the mind of God. I would be leery of anyone who says they do. However, I listen to the “Still, small Voice” inside and I know what God says to me. And it may not be the same thing that God says to you. Does it mean you are wrong? No. Does it mean I am wrong? No. Just different.

Christians are not bad people. They are people, just like the rest of us. They make mistakes. They fall from the path. We have to remember to hold ourselves to the very standards that we are comparing them against, like “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” I would also refer to Luke 6:42 “Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou beholdest not the beam in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.”

A moment of clarity came to me this morning in a Biblical argument with a misinformed person. The Bible is a tool to show YOU how to live. It is NOT a tool for YOU to show ME how to live. It is for me to use the tool myself. But, I digress.

Psalm 34:14 says, “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” Pursuing peace and negotiating it is a tricky business. But even the ACT of pursing peace is the act of departing from evil and doing good. We need to be mindful of that.

The Old Testament was tribal law, meant to hold the Israelites together during the time when they had no home. The Old Testament is included in the Bible to show Christians where they came from and what their history was. Jesus brought the New Testament to show a better way to live. It is a new covenant, replacing the old. Jesus was/is the Son of God. A child of God. A peacemaker.

I will continue to be a peacemaker. I will continue to support people that are peacemakers. I will continue to fight for people’s rights and to fight injustice where I see it. That is part of what being a peacemaker is.

Perhaps I am not on the forefront, helping to change and write policies and laws, but that doesn’t mean I am ineffective. I am on the sidelines, changing people’s minds and hearts. I write because I can, because it is a talent given to me by God and I have been charged with using that talent. And I will continue to wield it as a peacemaker. I am a child of God.


Helloooo!!! Here I am!

I’m back!!

So, I know it’s been a while since I have written a blog post. Things have been very crazy in my world and they are just starting to settle down. I have been, somewhat, politically and socially active, but I haven’t really had the chance to write.

Fortunately, with most of this behind me, my time has opened up and you are going to be able to enjoy my snarky sense of humor!! My goodness, how I’ve missed all of you!

I have recently been involved in a court case. I’m not going to go into the details just now. That is for a later couple of blogs. I am also writing a book about that. Suffice to say, it wasn’t me that was in trouble. However, there are some things that have really opened my eyes as to the issue of equality for LGBTQI people here in the State of Montana.

I was told to shy away from the relationship aspect as the courts tend to be somewhat paternalistic in regard to LGBT relationships. It is better not to mention them. Why is that, I wonder? Just doesn’t seem really fair. And, that means that trials and hearings tend to move down a different path. Yuck. It’s glaringly obvious that we need marriage equality.

There are things that are taken for granted and things that are just naturally assumed for straight marriages, but those things are not just assumed for LGBT relationships. This is a problem. It’s just another area where we are left outside and we are somehow “different” and our relationships are somehow “different” than other people.

There are many reasons to promote marriage equality and this is just one of them. But, having it so close to home reminds me of how far we have yet to go.

My partner and I have tossed around the idea of heading down to Colorado, or possibly Washington to marry, but then we decided that we are probably going to hold on and fight for our home state. It may take a while. We want the legal recognition, but we also want to do this where our home is.

Montana has taken a step in the right direction by striking down language that would make us felons, but at the same time, there’s a long way to go. In the meantime, we will probably go through the proper legal channels in order to secure some of our rights. Although, with what we’ve seen in the news lately, that may not  necessarily help. But here’s hoping.

Anyhow, since I’m back, I’m prepping a few other blog posts to go up. Hopefully, you all will enjoy!


Violence, Tragedy, Loss and Fear

In the wake of the most recent events (we’re talking hours, here) ride a few very dubious entities. Tragedy, Loss and Fear. They are having a heyday skiing on the tears of a community ripped apart by Violence.

In Newton, CT, this morning, a shooting happened at a school. The numbers are still coming in as to the staggering amount of loss, but suffice to say that the number is near 30, with the majority being children.

My heart breaks with this news. For those of us that will probably never have children (and certainly most who have), we are outraged by the fact that people could have such a cavalier attitude toward our innocents. Why did this happen?

We may never know. And this tragedy will spark many arguments: gun control, mental health, blah blah blah. This is not what we need to be talking about right now. There are more important issues at stake here.

Namely, how do we combat Fear and Loss now that Violence and Tragedy have already made their appearance and done their damage? What we SHOULD be concerned with, is how are we going to help put this community and this nation back together after this Columbine-like incident?

There are parents, families, friends and teachers that will never be the same. The will be very afraid. They will be devastated. They will be hurting. They will be VERY angry!

Let the experts figure out what happened. What we need to do, in our communities, families and schools, is to educate, love and respect. We need to insure this DOESN’T happen. Now, regardless of your argument about guns, that is not the root of the problem. The root of the problem is how we treat each other and recognizing the warning signs.

What is this world coming to that we can’t even have a simple disagreement without coming to blows? What is teaching people that it’s okay to walk into a school and open fire? Where has our compassion gone? Is it video games? Is it violence on television? Is it guns?

No. And people are going to throw a fit over what I believe the answer is. . .but I’m going to tell you anyway. I believe it’s because we have become latch-key parents and guardians. It’s because we are no longer actively involved in what our children are watching, or playing. It’s because WE ARE THE ONES WHO TEACH OUR CHILDREN THAT VIOLENCE IS OKAY!!!!!

Shut off your technology. Shut off the violent TV programs and don’t buy the violent games. If your child sees something that you think is disturbing, then TALK TO THEM ABOUT IT! Get the hell outside and hug and play with your children. Invite your neighbors over for a barbecue. Go visit an elderly family member. CONNECT (not via internet or phone) with the flesh and blood people in your lives! Touch them, don’t text them!

Truly be involved in what goes on in people’s lives. Know your children’s teachers by name. Know their grades. Know how much and what kind of homework they have. Know who your kids’ friends are. Know their parents. Know what your children are watching on TV and reading (on the internet, or in print). Monitor their phones and read their text messages. It’s okay! You are their parent, not their friend.

Incidents like this ARE NOT okay. It is time for us to stand up and fight what’s wrong. It is time to get involved. It’s time for us to actually teach our children and not leave them to electronic babysitters. If you’re going to be a parent, then by God, BE ONE!!

THIS is how we will fight Violence, Tragedy, Fear and Loss.

The Joys of Parenting

Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to be a father. I even asked for a baby doll for Christmas, much to my parents’ chagrin. However, I actually GOT said baby doll. Her name was Tina! Funny how I can remember that. I took her everywhere around the house with me. Made sure she “ate” and changed her diaper. Mom used to watch me with her and she had decided that I would make a fantastic father, someday.

In church, on Sundays, Mom would often take nursery duty. There weren’t that many infants in those days, but she would bring me with her to “help.” Little did she know that my “help” really WAS help. She used to delight in telling people that little babies/children and dogs really love me. Whenever someone was fussy, into my arms they went. And, they quieted down very quickly.

I spent many years believing that I would, someday, be a father. I got married at 19 partly because of that. Now, never you mind that I had come out at 17 for the first time. My desire to be a parent far outweighed the fact that I am gay. And, I knew that the only way I could ever have children was to be married. This was a direct result of growing up in the church with a minister for a father.

Shortly thereafter, I got divorced. A marriage that lasted 9 months, legally. And, I came out again. All of my hopes of parenthood were dashed and I was preparing myself to never think of children again.

Fast forward some years later. I worked my way out of the “pink haze” and I became an adult. (In maturity vs. age – there is a HUGE difference!) I was spending my time around couples of all genders and sexuality. And, there were children. Who knew?

Again, hope flared. Albeit, briefly. I began to look into adoption, but here in the State of Montana, you are more likely to be able to adopt as a single parent, than as a gay couple. Hopes dashed again.

I met a young man at the theatre where I do some music direction and acting. He was a foster kid and really was one of societies throw-aways. He had been in the foster care system since he was 4 years old and was fast approaching 17. We struck up a friendship and then became a bit closer. I was a mentor to him. Eventually, he started calling me, “Dad.” And a family was born.

Fast forward just a few months later. Around the same time I met the young man, I met a single mother with a wonderful daughter. Come to find out, they were our neighbors across the street. We had only just moved in. Well, my partner and I used to spend a lot of time sitting on the front porch. Very late one evening, we send a text to “Mom” saying, “Kid is home. Isn’t she a bit late?” From that, became a surrogate parenthood of a teenage daughter. As a matter of fact, while I sit here writing this, she is staying at our house while her mother is out of town and I am fretting like any other parent because I am waiting for her to come home, the snow is starting to come down and she just got her driver’s license this summer. . .I digress.

Anyway, I read an article that gave me even more hope. Read it here: Foster Parenting

It would appear that in Los Angeles, they are trying to court LGBT couples to become foster parents! Something that we might consider in Montana. Think about it. . .so many children need stable homes. And, how many of us have had the desire to become parents, but lack the funds to adopt or have surrogacy, etc? (By the way, adopting from the foster care system is usually subsidized BY the foster care system! Or at least the costs are greatly reduced.)

So, my point in all of this is, “FAMILY” is defined many ways. There are many opportunities for us to become parents. There are many ways to help children out there. And, there are times for us to be positive role models to young people.

Let Me Introduce Myself and Our Democratic Republic

Hello all! My name is Timber Venard and I received the honor of becoming a contributing writer with “From Eternity to Here.” I feel very blessed for this opportunity and I hope that you will enjoy what I write. Thank you, Greg!


My blogs tend to be a little tongue-in-cheek, but I like to sandwich good information with humor and sarcasm. There really IS a point to the things that I write. So, bear with me on the journey and let’s see where this takes us!


I was born into a Christian family. Let me restate that: I am a preacher’s kid! Oh, my poor parents were screwed from the get go! I wasn’t a bad kid, but yes, I am gay. And we all knew it from a pretty early age. Although, that brought its own trials and tribulations over the years. Perhaps, someday I will tell you about them all!


I am a HUGE activist for the LGBT community regarding equal rights and marriage equality. I am hoping to use my superpowers (my writing skills, of course) for good! But, occasionally there is wickedness/evil that shows up in my editorials (insert evil laugh here). I also run my own VERY small blog called, Timber’s Morning Coffee. If have have the time, or the inclination, please check it out!


So, for our first topic of discussion, Democracy, our rights and our responsibilities.


We think that because we live in a democratic republic (notice I didn’t say, “Democracy”), we assume that everything changes simply because of a vote. This isn’t quite the truth. I recently read an article in Advocate Magazine regarding the comparison of civil rights work in China vs. the United States.


In some foreign countries, they believe that we have so many more freedoms and that they are all granted by the government. In many ways, that’s very true, but in other ways, that is completely false, and we have fallen into the same trap of believing that we are going to get whatever we want, simply by saying so.


President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civ...

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, look on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


WAKE UP!!! Yes, there was a good coup for LGBT civil rights in this last election, but it doesn’t stop there. All of the rest of the States and the Federal Government still have plenty of work to do in recognizing the equality of LGBT people. And, where does this start?


With you. With your voice. Knocking on doors, making phone calls, writing letters/blogs. Being visible in the community.


You see, we can’t just vote in our own civil rights. The point of a democratic republic is that we elect representatives to vote FOR us. This means, as our representatives, they need to listen to their constituency. Although, that’s not a guarantee that they will.


At this point, it is going to take thousands of little victories in order to gain the BIG ONE! Each city that passes a non-discrimination ordinance (C’mon, Helena!!) is a step in the direction of equal rights. If we can look back to the racial civil rights, look at what a slow process that was. It didn’t just happen over night. From the Emancipation Proclamation to the first desegregated schools it took well over 100 years.


Because of information technology, some of these things can happen faster than before, but it’s still going to take the same amount of work on our (the average citizen’s) part.


I, for one, have a good (choke. . .republican) friend in the Montana Legislature. He has slowly been changing his views on civil rights for the LGBT community because he has gotten to know me and my partner. We are real people to him. And yes, he and I will be having several discussions regarding our views on civil rights. I may not sway him, but perhaps I can get him to think and maybe even compromise.


That’s the point. We are not going to win the battle in one fell swoop. We are going to win it one heart and one mind at a time. Settle in, kids. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but it will definitely be worth it!! And, if you don’t get involved, how are things ever going to change? But, if you DO get involved, then we will send you a plaque and a voucher for a toaster oven! (I’m shooting for the cruise!)


Not really, but you WILL get to say that you were in the forefront of changing American History. How often do we get to say that we were a part of making history? Usually for me, it’s just making things covered in glitter and feathers and although some of those things are EPIC and should be in a museum, they don’t further my equality as a human being!