My Inspirations: Bianca Del Rio

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Who is Bianca Del Rio?

Bianca Del Rio is the winner of the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. A self-proclaimed “clown in a dress,” Bianca showed incredible talent while on-screen during the show. In her introduction on the show, Bianca describes herself as “an insult comic like Don Rickles, in a dress, and prettier and not as old.”

Bianca originated in New Orleans and became a premier entertainer there in 1998. She has also worked in New York, with Lady Bunny and designing costumes for broadway. She is incredibly talented and at the premier party for Drag Race she crafted and assembled an outfit onstage in less than 5 minutes.

How did I discover Bianca?

I have watched Drag Race for all 6 seasons, but in those 6 years Bianca has been the biggest standout Drag Queen in terms of inspiration to me. Bianca is what I call “the most fully realized human being I’ve ever witnessed.” Now, I understand that when Bianca is on TV, there’s a certain amount of editing that takes place and best sides are shown more often than not. With that being said, Bianca showed more emotional intelligence than most people I’ve met in my life.

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What about Bianca inspired me?

Bianca has shown great strength in terms of conscientiousness, which is one of the big five personality traits. Wikipedia defines this as “A tendency to be organized and dependable, show self-discipline, act dutifully, aim for achievement, and prefer planned rather than spontaneous behavior.” Bianca showed all of these traits throughout the season of Drag Race, but also shows this in her live performances as seen on YouTube. Insult comics need to have a competitive yet interactive relationship with their audience, which takes serious self-discipline and real passion for the art.

During the show, Bianca talked about how it’s weird for someone to go around always saying “I love you” to everyone they meet. I used to be one of those kinds of people, but hearing Bianca talk about why it doesn’t make sense to do that got me thinking about it. I’ve come to realize that you can throw around the phrase “I love you” all you want, but the more you make it common in your own vernacular, the less special it can become to the people you really mean it to when you say it. Since then, I have made a point of reserving this phrase for the people in my life who have earned the right to hear me say those words to them.

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Bianca also managed to balance her “angry, hateful, cunt” image while also becoming a mentor to the other competitors on the show. Specifically, Bianca was something of a mother/father figure to both Adore Delano and Trinity K Bonet – sharing a waist cincher with Adore and encouraging Trinity to break out of her shell. Bianca has talked about how she’s repeating the things that were said to her when she was starting out and growing/learning. Many things Bianca has said to her competitors that have helped them grow all echoed things that have been said to me throughout the years by various people. Hearing Bianca say these things on-screen helped solidify many of life’s lessons inside my head. In this sense, Bianca has really helped me to grow and become a stronger person.

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Specifically, in seeing Bianca on TV – from entering the workroom for the first time, through the demonstrations of expertly executed comedy, to the finely crafted costume work, I was given someone to look up to and strive to become. In final 4 months leading up to my cross-country move in 2014 from Wisconsin to Vermont, I endeavored to hold myself to as high of a standard as possible. This continued into my current job, and I express to both my bosses and teammates that I am always striving to be like Bianca Del Rio. In other words – I continue to strive to present myself as professionally and organized as Bianca.

Through the magic of YouTube I can see Bianca without the filter of national TV requirements. It is there that I can see just how strong of a character she is and how solid her comedic art is. In watching Bianca on YouTube, my takeaway is that I need to stay true to myself above everything else. Continuing to “do you” as my boss tells me, is what’s going to continue to take me to greater heights in life.

In short, Bianca has taught (or reminded) me:

  • To always hold myself to the highest possible standard.
  • To use language as one of my most powerful tools.
  • To combat more difficult times with the magic of comedy.
  • To take a mature, professional approach to my life endeavors at all times.

What does it mean to “Master One’s Craft?”

Many of my other blog posts link to this post for this reason. Bianca is the prime examples of the phrase, “mastering one’s craft” in my opinion. Ever since I started school, from Kindergarten all the up through my college years, the whole point was to find some skill or talent or interest, and constantly strive to perfect yourself in that aspect. In my eyes, Kai is the perfect Beyblader. Charlie Epps is the perfect mathematician. The Tie Guy executes perfect men’s fashion sense. Armin Van Buuren is the perfect DJ. Chad Michaels and Raja have perfect professionalism. So on, and so on, and so on.

I may not have found which craft I want to master, per se, but Bianca’s level as America’s Next Drag Superstar is a good guide to how much I want to master my own life.

Still taking in how amazing tonight has been. Thanks again, @thebiancadelrio!

A photo posted by Lukas Condie (@lukascondie) on Jan 22, 2015 at 9:40pm PST

Getting to meet Bianca was an experience of a lifetime. It was humbling to know that she took the time to read what I’ve written here, and that she enjoyed it. She added something that I’ve been working more into my life as well: Trust your instincts. They are there for a reason.

I’ve also come to notice that many things I’ve learned from Bianca have also been said about people of my age by Dr. Meg Jay, who has published a book and featured on TED talks.

Thank You, Bianca for being an inspiration to me!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

What Makes Me An Environmentalist

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I’m going to open this with a direct quote from this Vermont source:

“We believe that the scientific community is right. Climate change is real, is caused by human activity and is already creating devastating problems in the United States and throughout the world. We believe that the United States can and must lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. No. We do not believe that it makes sense to build the Keystone pipeline or other projects which make us more dependent on oil and other fossil fuels.”

What is an Environmentalist?

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For the context of this post (and how this all relates to me), here’s my definition of the word, EnvironmentalistA person who is concerned with or advocates the protection of the environment.

Please note that definition came from a simple google search of the word.

How am I an environmentalist?

This is a complex identity for me since it encompasses so many different thoughts and feelings, particularly in terms of the list of issues I care about in this umbrella subject. As the post title implies, these are the issues I care about. Other people who identify with this term might have a different set or organization of environmental issues that make up the core of their viewpoints.

Climate Change

Taken right from NASA:

“Climate change” encompasses global warming, but refers to the broader range of changes that are happening to our planet. These include rising sea levels, shrinking mountain glaciers, accelerating ice melt in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic, and shifts in flower/plant blooming times. These are all consequences of the warming, which is caused mainly by people burning fossil fuels and putting out heat-trapping gases into the air. The terms “global warming” and “climate change” are sometimes used interchangeably, but strictly they refer to slightly different things.

I believe that climate change is real, and is being magnified by human made things. There is so much to this issue that it’s hard to fit into just a few paragraphs for a single blog post. A recent example of how massive a problem this is can be found here. I feel that climate change is the villain behind California’s major drought. A recent ThinkProgress article explains how to read online writing about climate change.

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Pollution

From the WWF:

Pollution may muddy landscapes, poison soils and waterways, or kill plants and animals. Humans are also regularly harmed by pollution. Long-term exposure to air pollution, for example, can lead to chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer and other diseases. Toxic chemicals that accumulate in top predators can make some species unsafe to eat. More than one billion people lack access to clean water and 2.4 billion don’t have adequate sanitation, putting them at risk of contracting deadly diseases.

Pollution was my first exposure to environmental issues. I was talking about this in Elementary school, and the Power Rangers even did a few episodes related to what pollution is and why it’s bad. Having been in a state that is fierce about cleaning up pollution and a few that clearly don’t care, I can really see the difference it makes just in a first world country. I can’t even begin to fathom what it would be like to be surrounded by pollution in an area less wealthy than the United States. Because of that, I want to go somewhere to see for myself just how bad it is. In theory, I feel like this is the easiest issue to tackle to fight for the earth.

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Fair Trade & Organic Products

This is something of a recent issue to me. This particular issue also has a couple sides to it.

I’ll start with Fair Trade:

“Fair Trade goods are just that. Fair. From far-away farms to your shopping cart, products that bear our logo come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated. We help farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities.”

I had first seen this on coffee products, but now it’s on so much more. The concept of people helping to better each other instead of just looking for profit is something I can put my heart behind.

I am working on improving myself when it comes to buying fair trade, and learning about the impacts this has in other parts of the world.

As for organic products, I’m going to start with Wikipedia’s definition:

“Organic foods are foods produced by organic farming. While the standards differ worldwide, organic farming in general features cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”

This sounds wonderful, it really does. BUT, I have been shown quite a few things about the term “organic” in recent years and need to look at it a little closer. Mayo Clinic starts to break down what constitutes something as Organic.

Again, this all started in a good place, but I think that the concept has been stolen by corporate America. Here’s where I see company greed eroding the value of the word organic.

Finally, this article finishes the job of breaking down the myths behind the word organic. With all of that being said, I no longer buy organic products for the sake of buying organic. For a short time, I was hooked on “Organic Milk” because I could taste a slight difference in it, but after a little bit of time (and money!) it started to taste more like a corporate scheme to make me spend an extra two to five dollars on milk with each gallon.

Again, organic is a lovely concept but at the end of the day, there’s only a few select “organic” products that I’ll make a point to buy. This article from ThinkProgress is the final nail on that coffin.

Sustainablity

From The EPA:

EPA efforts in the area of sustainability practices and approaches include labeling green products and promoting green chemistry and engineering, managing materials rather than creating waste, using green infrastructure to manage storm water runoff, and supporting the sustainable design of communities.

I think this is the core of all the other issues, because something not being sustainable leads to pollution, which in turn leads to climate change. The other effect is that fair trade and organics suffer when something isn’t sustainable. Working someone to death in a sweat shop to replace them with someone else isn’t an idea I’m comfortable with, but it’s all too common in the world right now.

One of many pollutants I know of is plastic bags from grocery stores, which I’ve used plenty of times myself. I love the trend to use green bags, mine come from Milwaukee’s Pridefest. California recently banned the use of plastic bags statewide, and I hope Vermont does the same thing.

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Scientific Faith

Some people call science a religion. While I know that it’s actually a mass of proven facts, and methods to discover how things in the world work, I guess you could say, I’m a believer. It should be stated that I use the word faith in this phrase very differently than it’s more common religious notation, and this article explains what that means. There’s a few OKCupid questions that help me state my position pretty clearly: Science is where I do put my faith in, and I feel that it should be taught alone in schools, and religion should be taught at a Church, Synagogue, Temple, or wherever your faith is practiced. I do acknowledge how this can be considered an extreme position. Having faith in science is one of my core practices as a Unitarian Universalist.

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On a side note, my identity as an environmentalist is one of the lesser reasons I moved to Vermont.

Speaking of Vermont, VTDigger did a great post about putting your environmental actions where your mouth is.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Thoughts On: Pacifism

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Pacifism: opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes; refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds; an attitude or policy of nonresistance.

That’s the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of pacifism. There’s actually quite an extensive commentary on different specifics of the philosophy of pacifism as a whole. Urban Dictionary opens it’s definition with:

“A political or religious ideology that stresses peace over violence or war. A central tenet of many Eastern religions, and also surprisingly widespread in modern-day Europe.”

What bothers me about Urban Dictionary (since I’m almost always a huge fan) is that it closes the definition with:

“…those adhering to pacifist thought do not consider the alternatives to the war, and instead, as is typical, provide baseless or biased rhetoric as to why it is better to die like a dog than fighting on your feet.”

This particular phrasing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The Wikipedia entry is a little more hopeful, referencing that pacifism is a common belief in many world religions, including some denominations of Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and many others. Broadly speaking, some form of pacifism exists in many people’s faith system.

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What is a Pacifist?

In doing the research for this post, it’s come to my attention that the actual definition of the word pacifism and my interpretation of the word are two somewhat different things. “Mother Google” seems to be telling me that one who identifies as a pacifist is on the extreme end of non-violence and non-confrontation.

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I just want to put it out there that this is not me. It used to be a long time ago, but I have come to a different way of thinking since then. The key change in thought here is the gravity of extreme non-violence. Opposing violence and war purely for the sake of opposing it is on the extreme end of pacifism. Let’s take the Oxford Dictionary definition of a word commonly associated with pacifism, nonconfrontational:

Tending to deal with situations calmly and diplomatically; not aggressive or hostile.”

This is something closer to what I can get behind and refer to myself as. This article (you’l need to subscribe to view the full post) from Philosophy Now really starts to hit home for me. I believe that whenever it’s possible the best course of action is to diplomatically resolve any issues between two parties. That being said, there’s a quote from one of my favorite childhood games (Amazon Trail 3rd Edition) that says another belief of mine accurately: “There are evil people in this world. You did what had to be done.” This is spoken by the Jaguar guide after your character fights against a ruthless historical figure who left much bloodshed in his wake. Having seen evil people in the present time and space myself, I fully believe that it’s not justice to let these evil people rise to leadership in the world and rule.

The Stanford Encyclopedia has more wonderful reading on the discussion of what makes up the term, pacifist. It also goes far more in-depth than I can do here on this blog post.

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With all of the above being said/written/presented, I’d like to point out that my views, which are based in my Unitarian Universalist principles and morals, is that the first choice in any conflict should always be peaceful negotiations. If that should fail, one should not be afraid to stand up for what is right and bear arms to defend oneself, or whatever it is that one is fighting for. For example, if someone were to break into my house brandishing a gun, I think the right choice would be to have one of my own to defend myself with. I do think that trying to reason with someone who is so far over the edge of sanity that they are using violence on innocent people is not a successful path to take. It is for that reason that I identify (at least a little bit) as a pacifist, but I also plan to learn how to use a gun and own at least a single one in those times of emergency.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Current Reading List

I have for a long time been wanting to get into a regular habit of reading a book every month or so. I remember reading new books all the time while I was a student, and I feel like it’s a habit that should have carried over into adulthood. For the last three years, I have had a book list on Amazon (and partially Audible) that I kept meaning to purchase and work my way through.

What finally sparked me even more this year was Mark Zuckerberg’s post about his 2015 goal of reading a new book every two weeks, and I think now is as good a time as any to jump on this idea. To set specific parameters for myself, I am challenging myself to order my first book by May 1st of this year, exactly one year from when I arrived in Vermont.

With that being said, here is my current book list that I plan to work my way through:

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Gun Fight: The Battle over the right to bear arms in America.

I have seen this book crop up a few times in the discussion over gun rights and gun control in my newsfeed.  I get the impression that this book is one of the more neutral books in the discussion, and it will present more facts than other sources. My goal in reading this is to expand my knowledge about current gun laws, and to get a better idea of how to go about owning a gun.

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The Awkward Human Survival Guide

I have been a huge fan of Adam Dachis ever since I first discovered him on the Lifehacker podcast and website. As the “gay techie” of my circle of friends, and as one who has encountered plenty of awkward situations before, I am looking forward to reading about Adam’s take on life in these moments.

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The Unitarian Universalist Pocket Guide

As a budding UU, I think this is going to be a great place to start in figuring out what the next step of my spiritual journey is going to be. There’s a absolutely wonderful church here in Vermont that I want to become a member of, but I have some mental roadblocks holding me back. Perhaps this book can help.

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Looking Queer: Body Image in the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Communities

This is the book that’s been on my list the longest. As a gay man who has bitterly struggled with his body image, I want to hear from the voices of others who have fought and overcome the same struggle.

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Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking

Another one I discovered some time ago. The barebacking culture and subsequent discussion with the Bareback Brotherhood has been an interesting one to listen in on, so I wonder what Tim Dean has to say on it.

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Money’s On The Dresser: Escorting, Porn, and Promiscuity in Las Vegas

I have been a huge fan of Chris Daniels since I first saw him in film previews in 2011. Just like how RuPaul has been quoted as saying, “Anyone who can step out of the house with a pair of heels and some lipstick on their lips is my hero” and a twist of this one is something I believe in. I have so much respect for sex workers, which includes porn stars, and since Chris is an award winning one I want to hear his story.

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Dressing The Man: Mastering The Art Of Permanent Fashion

Recommended by The Tie Guy. My guess is that this will tell me what it takes to bring my own fashion up to the next level.

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Lethal But Legal: Corporations, Consumption, and Protecting Public Health

As someone who is continuing to grow more distrustful of many major companies, I feel like this would be a good insight into just how much damage they are actually doing.

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Steve Jobs

I wanted to round out my list with a biography, since I haven’t read one in over ad decade. As an Apple Enthusiast, this is a natural choice.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Thoughts On: Breakthrough Moments

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One of the biggest things I enjoy about life is the moments we spend making ourselves better people. Sometimes these moments are small, other times they are massive. It’s the massive moments in our lives that we refer to as our “breakthroughs” and they can be very humanizing and humbling to experience.

I have gone through a series of these moments in my own life, and I look at life knowing that there are many more yet to come. On this blog, I have written about people and characters who I consider to be my inspirations, and two particular people who I’ve based much of myself on have had breakthrough moments that gave me real hope for life.

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Back when I was in high school, I modeled myself greatly after Kai Hiwatari. Kai had his (first) breakthrough moment in the first season of Beyblade in Episode 45: Breaking The Ice. It was there that Kai realized that his thirst for power had corrupted him to the point where he was isolated, and the people who called him friends proved their place in his life by defeating the source of his power-lust, a.k.a. Black Dranzer.

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Kai had an emotional breakdown on the middle of Lake Biakal in Russia, where he was defeated by his teammates-turned-friends, the Bladebreakers. Kai was so distraught by his loss of his old, power-hungry self, that he was willing to drown himself in the lake in shame. Thankfully, his friends reached out and pulled him out, saving his life. From then on, he knew to be grateful for their influence in his life.

Seeing this moment on TV lead to a moment I had in high school where I saw how important it is to have close friends who you can trust and lean on in good and bad times. Until I was 18, I considered myself a serious loner who didn’t want to have a circle of friends, but rather to be by myself – always growing and learning on my own. I had a select group of people who I considered myself to be close with, and didn’t want to expand on that. Seeing Kai open himself up to having people in his life inspired me to open my life up to having other people in it. To this day, as an introvert I still struggle with letting people in, but I have gotten much better at it.

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My next breakthrough came on June 17, 2006 – the day I officially came out of the closet. I had been fighting and struggling with myself about accepting who I am, and that was the day I got the courage to speak up about what was going on. Most people who knew me before that day and after could see the enormous difference it made. I was more outgoing, I was happier, I was free. For a good year or so, it felt like a birthday, since I’ve evolved so much as a person leading back from that beginning point.

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Breakthroughs aren’t always a happy experience, surrounded by love and friends and family. 2011 was the year of my most difficult breakthrough, and what I consider to this day to be the lowest point of my life. I had put all of my thoughts, attention, and effort into moving from UW – Parkside to the rustic city of Waupaca, Wisconsin. In particular, I fought as hard as I knew how to purchase the Red Mill of Waupaca, and live there. In the end, my efforts were in vain, and I allowed myself to fail out of college in my attempts to move to Waupaca. That dream began with the happy memories of childhood vacations, but for a long time that area (which was my very first “happy place”) was a reminder of how drastic of consequences failures can be.

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What made that breakthrough particularly painful is that I felt alone in my experience. I was dating someone who at the time was in the process of graduating college, nearly all of my friends were graduating, and here I was, failing out. I also had no person or character on TV to turn to to feel solace with, and go through the emotions with. While my boyfriend at the time was supportive, there was a sense of isolationism that I just couldn’t handle at the time.

Some time passed, and I found a television moment on a TV show I grew to love that I connected with on that moment. On the Third Season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, contestant Yara Sofia had made it to the final four where they competed with three different looks for the “Make Dat Money” Ball. Overwhelmed with emotion after being placed in the bottom two, Yara had a total meltdown onstage, disappearing into tears and pain of failure.

Watching that moment, my heart went out to her. I felt her emotions about losing a major dream and was able to finally process my own feelings about losing Waupaca. In the end, it goes to show that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” which is what I took to heart from the whole experience. Life moved on.

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2014 was a big positive for me. I was inspired by Bianca Del Rio (whose voice I still think in!) to pick up my life and go to a place where I could be a better person. I moved out of Wisconsin to Vermont, and began to journey to go back and finish college. I continue to aspire to be as strong of a person as I see Bianca to be in my mind.


With all of this being said, the bottom line is how important it is to have breakthroughs in one’s life. I got to thinking about how major of an impact these moments have as I was listening to early episodes of the podcast, What’s The Tee? The discussion arc of this concept began with Becoming The Observer of Your Mind, continued into the episode Personal Breakthroughs, and some final thoughts were discussed on It Gets Butter.

One of my views on life is how many things are cyclical. History has a reputation of repeating itself, and therefore I have auras that I have more breakthroughs coming in the next few years of my life. The ones I’ve had now have shaped so much of who I am and what in life I can handle, and I can only imagine the kind of growing and elevating I’ll be doing as the next years of my life come to pass.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

What Makes Me An Ally

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What is an Ally?

Ally is defined by Merriam-Webster as: to join (yourself) with another person, group, etc., in order to get or give support.

My experience with this term has been in the context of a “straight ally” or a person who identifies as cisgender and heterosexual but who supports the equal rights for anyone who doesn’t identify with both or either of those two terms.

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What makes me an Ally?

There are three main reasons why I call myself an Ally – first and foremost being that I prefer to be a friend with someone before any other titles or identities. Romantic relationships work better (in my opinion) when the two (or more) start out as friends, and build from that baseline. Friends are what define us, they are there for us in our best times, and in our worst times. Very often, it’s during the worst times that LGBTQ Allies are called on for support. I haven’t faced a large sum of stigma for being Gay, but in the times that I did my allies were always the first people to pick me back up.

Broadly speaking, my friends are my allies; they are my support circle that I turn to whenever anything happens in my life, positive or negative.

Second, I am willing to connect across boundaries. Within reason, of course. When I look at the world, I see many varied and diverse humans, and the more connected we can become with each other, the better. It’s one of my core beliefs as a Unitarian Universalist to listen to as many people’s life stories as I can, and learn from them. It’s very easy to become friends with someone whom you have plenty of things in common, but even more rewarding when you can be a friend and Ally to someone with whom you don’t share as much commonality. This is where personal labels are troubling, because there’s a ton of prejudice that comes with them. My best documented example of reaching out to someone who is very different from me, but we are sincere friends can be read about here.

Finally, I make a point to try and put other’s needs before my own. This one is also a complicated point, as I’ve been taken advantage of by this fact in the past, so there’s a balance here that needs to be achieved. The spectrum here ranges from picking up extra shifts at work to cover holes, to lending money and material things to friends in need, to letting people sleep on the couch in my living room, to giving life advice when asked.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

What Makes Me An Independent Progressive

I want to open this post with a video.

What is an independent?

As shown above, independent is quite an umbrella term. I want to start by talking about independent media, as discussed by David Pakman, who we all know I’m a huge fan of, as seen above.

I can relate to all of what David means when he says that corporate dollars have taken over what many refer to as “mainstream media.” David in particular now uses the term “corporate media” when describing outlets such as FOX, CNN, MSNBC, and others. I’ve noticed how money plays such a critical role in having something become mainstream or “go viral.” Like David’s commentary, I feel that media bought and paid for by corporations has become very fake and or biased, at least from a political perspective. Because media funding is coming from big business, the media is being forced to put their company backers and their reputation before true reporting. This is a problem on both sides of the political spectrum. Regardless of where I stand politically, I can’t really take in the vast majority of things I see on cable TV networks. Here’s a taste of the national media sources, based on what people follow and don’t follow.

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The next issue David talks about is the difference between News Reporting, News Opinion, and Entertainment. Corporate media blurs the lines between all three of these. For the longest time, even I was blinded to the differences. I used to see the two political opinion show hosts I follow (David Pakman and Rachel Maddow) as political reporting, when in fact they are opinions and not strictly reports. And yes, Rachel Maddow is part of the corporate conglomerate that is MSNBC – I do see that. What I enjoy about Maddow is that her show (in my opinion)  falls on that blur between news opinion and entertainment.

It wasn’t until a friend of mine began working for a local news station that I watched regularly, that I started to understand what actual news reporting is. Of course, local news channels aren’t independent, they are franchises of their corporate versions, but for the most part, I feel they get much closer to actual reporting. Watching FOX 6 in Milwaukee is a different experience than watching the national Fox News network. Generally speaking, there’s not nearly as much effort to make local news pieces controversial. In my lifetime, I’ve noticed the subtle things that media will do to make events seem more controversial than they really are, in an effort to hook as many people as possible to them. I have been trying to train myself to speak objectively in as many situations as possible, and this blog will become virtual proof of that, assuming I ever get around to not talking about myself and my own life on here.

Another media platform that is sometimes overlooked is radio. While 40% of the world’s population has internet access, more people have access to an AM/FM radio, which is where the radio industry originates from. Now, many radio stations have obvious corporate backers, and independent radio stations have risen up. The David Pakman Show  started out as a radio program. RuPaul and Michelle Visage got their start in radio, which (in the long run) led to me finding other role models I identify with. This is part of why I get so excited about Podcasts, which I feel is my generations way of bringing radio back into the mainstream.

The bottom line is that I want my time and consumption dollars to be spent on media that’s not funded entirely by corporations that are using the media to further their own interests. In my opinion, corporations have large sums of capital that they can use “for the greater good” but in my experience, what the standard major company considers to be their interest doesn’t line up with my own interests. For example, ExxonMobil is a mega-corporation that historically has been among the worst for LGBTQ people to be employed at (example here). They only very recently relented and gave the tiniest recognition to their employees, and only because their hands were tied. With that in mind, I don’t want to be spending money that goes into the pockets of the executives who run their company by these kinds of principles, which of course boils down to the issues that I care about.

independent_voters_in_2013

With all of that being said, the biggest area that I see myself moving away from the mainstream is in politics. United States Politics, in my opinion (though there’s plenty of evidence to back this up!) are becoming very polarized and turning into an “us versus them” type of mentality. Again, I’m going to let David Pakman and his guest Peter Coleman start this discussion:

This is an older reference, but it’s a sign that political independence is a growing movement in the United States. The extreme form of this movement shines in secessionist groups. This listing (from a site based right here in Vermont!) points out that there are plenty of people in the United States that are seriously trying to make states secession happen again. While the concept of a secession is too extreme for me, I am growing frustrated that terms like “Democrat” and “Republican” conjure up corporate sponsorships and massive money being spent on politics, with money seemingly drowning out people’s voices.

What is a progressive?

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I use the term Progressive to describe my political orientation, because I feel like it paints a simpler image than the term Liberal, which is very similar. At the end of the day I use this word both because of where I stand on today’s political issues, and based on which issues are important to me.

I use the above banner somewhat ironically, since I’m not officially affiliated with them, but rather just entered into Google the name of my state and the world Progressive. But, there you have it – there are enough people in Vermont who use the same political identity as me that they have organized themselves together. It’s complicated to explain my identity as a progressive without going into detail about issues I care about, so that’s my next step.

When I think of typical political terms like Democrat, Republican, Liberal, and Conservative, my brain defaults to what has become some very extreme examples. Because of that, I tend to have an immediate bias for or against something or someone as soon as one of these terms is used to describe them. I feel like this is a bad train of thought, because I begin to filter out and ignore pieces that I perceive that I won’t agree with, based simply on a single word. The same bias that many non-conservatives accuse Fox News of having I’ve displayed myself. This was wrong of me, I admit that.

It took discovering friends of mine who have different political affiliations for me to realize that using terms like this as umbrellas to encompass anyone who uses them is wrong. Considering that I refer to myself as an Ally first, and knowing that umbrella terms are problematic, one would think I would have realized this earlier than I did.

I do feel that there is a large group of conservatives who consider themselves to be “morally righteous” and this is a problem among liberal and progressives as well. This is another article on how online liberal-identified people are becoming monster-like. A recent contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race received death threats online after being eliminated from the show. These threats came from self-identified “fans” of the show. Now, if you call yourself a fan of a show about men putting on wigs, dresses, and make-up (yes, this is a giant over-simplification!) and you feel the need to attack someone for doing so, there’s only so much credibility you can give yourself and your beliefs. Fans of the show very rarely fall outside the politically left-leaning area, which is what made that controversy so much more disgusting, because the amount of hypocrisy there is scary.

No matter what my beliefs are, I never want to be so entrenched in them that I am unreasonable about listening to other people. As a Unitarian Universalist, my core belief is to learn from as many other people as I can about life, be it positive or negative things.

That all being said, I also believe that much of my generation is politically ignorant (kind of like how there’s a pervasive cultural ignorance). I also believe that there’s a growing trend to just post-and-click online and not feel connected to the politics that are going on around us. This article sums up why. I don’t talk politics very often with other people, but when I do they rarely seem to recognize most of what I’m even talking about. It’s a minor goal of mine to spread more awareness of our political system and the issues that our country faces today. While I can continue to advocate this through this blog and my social accounts, it’s more important to talk to friends and family about what’s important to me. Even better, I feel it would be healthy to get involved in what’s going on to make the “real changes” that I dreamed about making when I was young.

What issues are important to me?

As I continue to expand my blog, each of these bullet points will eventually link to full posts explaining my stances.

  • Queer Equality, specifically
    • Marriage Equality & Recognition
    • Parenting & Adoption
    • Workplace Equality
    • Transgender Equality in the above three categories
  • Feminism
  • Environmentalism & Climate Change
  • Moving away from the political binary (Robyn Ochs gets credit for me recognizing life binaries)

I am in the process of educating myself of the following issues, and as I do they are becoming more important to me:

  • Marijuana Prohibition
  • Gun Ownership
  • Capital Punishment
  • Economic Policy
  • Vaccines

I’m sure I’ll be adding more to this post as I learn and experience new things in life.

I am not alone. From Think Progress: America’s Hidden Progressive Revolution.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

What Makes Me An Apple Enthusiast

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This is a more direct and obvious aspect to me, as the above image was my primary online avatar for over a year.

I’m not going to open this one with a talk about what Apple is, because let’s be real: everyone knows what Apple, Inc. is.

My first exposure to Apple products was in 1998 during a summer computer camp called Kids Byte at Marquette University. There were brightly colored Mac Computers that we would use to design movies, and we would use Apple software to film and edit our own videos. Considering that I was in Middle School at the time, I had no idea how much Apple products would become a staple in my life a decade and a half later.

My next exposure to Apple computers and products was at my first college, where the theater majors were very Apple savvy, to the point where non-Apple things were snubbed. I had just transition my music library into iTunes, but didn’t quite realize that it was an Apple thing, since I was doing it on my Windows Laptop.

2012 & 2013 were my “conversion” years to Apple as a tech company. I refused to get an iPhone until it could hold all of the music in my library (which was about 35 GB at the time) so it took until the iPhone 4S before I tried it out. I fell in love, and transitioned to a Macbook when my old laptop’s hard disk failed, and I lost nearly everything I had saved electronically at the time.

Since changing over, I have a much better organization to my electronic life, particularly my music library. Not that I ever expect for my Macbook to fail, but if it ever does I’m far, far better prepared to handle it than when my laptop’s crash permanently destroyed 99% of everything I’ve worked on electronically up to that point.

2014 brought my getting Apple TV, which had a major impact on my Netflix viewing habits, my ability to watch the video version of David Pakman, all of my video podcasts, and thus changed my TV habits for the better. I also switched back to iPhone, having done a brief stint with a Samsung Galaxy S4 when iOS 7 came out and before I understood how to use it properly.

Another thing about how much Apple has been an influence on me: Apple’s podcast suggestions led me to discovering both David Pakman and Armin Van Buuren, both of whom I’ve written about on here.

This article gives a nice slideshow about different tech products that Apple introduced to the world that created a sea change in the tech industry.

Here and here are examples of how Apple is also working on becoming a force for positive change in the environment. While Apple is nowhere near perfect in terms of harming the environment, the fact that the company is working to leave less of a footprint on the planet is something that the environmentalist in me agrees with.

Speaking of progressive and liberal politics, it’s been discussed that using Apple products can be a sign of political leaning as well. The implied political leaning has proven to be true in my case, even though my usage of Apple products has had zero impact on my political beliefs. Instead, my political beliefs have played a very tiny role in convincing me to use Apple products.

This is a famous infographic describing a “Mac” person versus a “PC” person:

Mac Person vs. PC Person

Click on it for a larger version if you need one. Many things mentioned in the graphic resonate with me.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie