Also known as “Dave Gets Deep,” this section includes reflections on art, life, and the human condition.

When I was 16, I came within a mile of killing myself.

A mile, or roughly two minutes.  At the spot where the impulse struck me, on Route 175 in Columbia, MD, the roadside was all gently sloping grass—no trees or telephone poles or even concrete safety barriers to ram a car against.  A mile further down the road, and I could have found any of those sturdy car-smashing targets—but before I got that far, I’d thought better of it.  But in that instant, in the car alone, after the boy I was in love with told me he wasn’t in love with me, that he thought of me as a good friend but nothing more than that… if the chance had been there, my teen-angst-ful self would have taken it.

Next month, in case you’ve missed any of my earlier from-the-rooftop announcements, I’ll be playing Bruce Bechdel in Fun Home, the musical based upon Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical “tragicomic.”  Bruce was Alison’s father; he was passionate about literature and photography and art and design, and he made sure the home Alison grew up in was pristine and fashionable and full of beauty.  He was also gay.  And four months after Alison came out to him as lesbian, he killed himself.

I’ve been talking a lot with my therapist about this show.  Playing Bruce, I told her, is like riding my bike riiiiiight along the edge of a cliff—trying to match its curves and twists without falling in and crashing.

Some days it’s terrifying.

But unlike 16-year-old me, I’ve learned to think, as I’m teetering on the edge of that cliff, about the people around me—my husband, of course, who is the best friend I’ve ever had; but also my sister and our parents, and a select group of other close friends—who aren’t afraid to see me hurting, or angry, or scared.  These are people who have seen me cry, and have let me cry, and have sat with me without fixing or masking or ignoring what’s wrong.  They’ve been with me in moments when the fact that they were with me was the only good thing I could see, and they stayed there until I could see more good things than that.

These are the people who’ve saved my life over and over again.

And one moment, on Route 150 in Beech Creek, PA, Bruce couldn’t think of anyone like that.

I hope you’ll come see FUN HOME because it is—and I give you my word that this is not an exaggeration—the best-written musical I have ever read.  I hope you’ll come see it because the story is funny and poignant and sweet, and the music is fun and glorious and haunting.  I hope you’ll come see us because the cast includes some of the most insightful, vulnerable, dedicated actors and singers I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.  I hope you’ll come see us because I feel as though playing Bruce at this moment in my life—I’m just 2 years older now than Bruce was when he died—is something that had to happen.

But most of all, I hope you’ll come see us because someday, someone else will need you to be there for them.  And they’ll need you to be able to see their pain and their grief and their shame and their terror, and not be afraid of any of it.  The edge of the cliff can be a horrible place to find yourself, and if you’re not careful, at the wrong moment, you can fall in.  But if you’ve learned the terrain—if you’ve been there before, with someone who knows the way, and who can grab your hand if you start to slip—it’s not quite as scary.

Will you join us?

To buy tickets for the October 7 performance, benefiting the LGBT Center of Central PA, please use this form.  (These sales must be completed by October 1.)

Tickets to all twelve performances are now available on the Open Stage of Harrisburg website and at the door.

If you’d like to learn more about FUN HOME, and maybe be a little less scared of the cliff before you visit, here are a few resources to get you started:

And even if none of those resources seems quite right to you, you’re not alone.  I’m here for you.

photo of David by Kris Rogers, August, 2017If you’ve been paying close attention to my website over the last several days—because clearly there’s nothing else going on in the world that deserves your attention*—you’ll already have noticed that a few of the page banners have been updated with new photos.

A couple of months ago one of my students glanced at my website landing page, then up at me, and back again, and commented, “You know, that doesn’t even look like you any more.”

I took it as a compliment—one year ago this month, in August, 2016, I started working with an amazing trainer from Performance Fitness Training, and added New York Fitness Clubs to my morning routine twice a week. Zach is the best kind of coach: patient, gentle, and supportive, without a hint of judgment or condescension.  My goal at the time was to get back to a place where I felt healthy—I was tired of feeling out-of-breath and sweaty when I got to the top of a few flights of stairs.  And with Zach’s help, I’m there: feeling not only good about myself, but good about the habits I’ve built up, and able to focus on the long-term good feelings even on those “I’d rather stay in bed an extra hour” mornings.

So last week I headed up to New York again to visit Kris Rogers, bass player and photographer extraordinaire.  His photos have been the highlight of my website and promotional materials since 2015, so it seemed only fitting to ask him to document the next step in the journey.  He and I spent a rainy but laughter-filled morning together (with Gabe, on an off day from his theatre internship, making snide comments in the background), and produced a paltry 981 photos, a few of which you can see in my Electronic Press Kit.  My husband has already gushed over them, but he’s a little biased…. I hope you’ll take a look through if you’re so inclined, and let me know what you think!


*The inhumanity demonstrated in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend, and our elected leaders’ cowardly response to it, are embarrassing and infuriating. I have found this guide helpful in considering how I will be a stronger force in Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression, Multi-Cultural work today, tomorrow, and beyond.  We can do better, y’all.

Like father, like son. But not really.

Sometimes someone crosses your path and you connect for reasons you can’t explain.  So… there’s this guy.  Gabe.  I’ll write more about him someday, I’m sure, but now isn’t the time.  (We have a class to prepare for.)

For today, on his 16th birthday, here’s our relationship boiled down into one 6-minute song.  Happy birthday, Gabe.  For what it’s worth, I consider you to be the son I never knew I wanted.

(And here’s a YouTube video of me performing the piece with some of Gabe’s friends at my 2017 Spring Studio Showcase.)

“More”

Out of nowhere you sat down beside me:
shoulder to shoulder, and somehow heart to heart.
I didn’t know what I had found in you when you found me—
only that moment was only a start.

Over coffee and under a deadline,
saving a grade and building a rapport,
moment by moment, learning how wrong I was to never want a son,
finding that now I just want more:

I want more days of laughter, more nights of hearts opened wide.
I want more miles of driving with you there along for the ride.
More chances to fail, more honest “I’m sorry”s,
More “you made my day” kind of smiles.
If a father could ever have chosen a son,
I’d have taken a pass until you came along.
The “how did we get here” and “what happens now” is unsure.
But with each day that passes with you in my life,
I’m just grateful I’ve gotten to know you more.

Sharing secrets and trading tough questions—
how to be human, how to be men—
mentor and mentored, each of us taking turns to teach and learn,
an odd kind of family, the best kind of friends.

I still want more days of laughter, more nights of hearts opened wide.
I want more miles of driving with you there along for the ride.
More chances to fail, more honest “I’m sorry”s,
More “man, I missed you” kind of smiles.
Any day that I see you’s a beautiful day,
and “I’ll see you tomorrow”’s the best thing you say.
The “how did we get here” and “what happens now” is unsure.
But with each day that passes with you in my life,
I’m just grateful I’ve gotten to know you more.

I want more days of laughter, more nights of hearts opened wide.
I want more miles of driving with me just along for the ride.
More chances to fail, more honest “I’m sorry”s,
More “can’t find the words” kind of smiles.
I promise, there’s one thing you can be sure of:
your life will know many who offer you love,
and someday you’ll find one you’d give up your whole life for.
Other loves will feel deeper, or newer, or stronger.
There are already those who have loved you much longer,
But nobody ever, as long as I live, I promise you this, will love you more.

©2017 David M. Glasgow (ASCAP)

I can’t.  I’m sorry.  Basta.  I’ve tried, but I can’t.

I just can’t keep the brave face on all the time.  I can’t have the right words at the ready all the time.  Sometimes I can’t keep the wrong words from spewing out of my mouth (or, more likely, my fingers) in a moment of anger.  I don’t always remember to check my sources, and I’m actually pretty lousy at assuming positive intent in difficult conversations.  Hell, sometimes I can’t even summon the courage just to smile at strangers.  Sometimes even a frickin’ smile, a 16-muscle acknowledgement of shared humanity, feels like too much effort to offer the world.

I can’t be the person I wish I were.  I’ve tried.  But I can’t.

Yesterday was one of those days when I felt like the “good guys” were profoundly outnumbered overpowered.  Students and colleagues and acquaintances that I know to be optimistic, hard-working people with good hearts and souls, struggled to peer out through a kind of sadness, of fatigue.  Snarky half-attempts at humor were delivered through lips-only smiles, while eyes pleaded for encouragement, for comfort, for strength.

At least, I know that’s why my eyes were pleading for.

I lay in bed last night for hours, staring at the ceiling and wondering how in the name of anything I could make a difference—how I could resist the oppressors, how I could be an ally to the oppressed in more than name and token.  But most of all I lay there feeling guilty because I. am. just. so. damn. tired.

It doesn’t seem fair—and to my friends in minority communities, this paragraph of privileged whining may be one you want to skip over—that nice guys seem indeed to finish last.  It doesn’t seem fair that playground bullies seem always to know when the teacher isn’t looking.  It doesn’t seem fair that hoarding power seems so much more effective than sharing it.  It doesn’t seem fair that privilege is blind and love speaks softly and the high road always seems to have way more detours than the low.

I lay there last night wanting to weep, but too tired even to do that, feeling useless and helpless and ashamed of my apparent inability to use my vast privilege for anything other than self-pity.

But this morning, with the rising sun struggling to break through the Pennsylvania fog and the finches calling blindly to one another in the January air, I had an epiphany of sorts.

A prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi asks:

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

I love that prayer.  But this morning I realized that there’s something missing from Francis’s list.  So as of today, I pledge:

Where there is fear, I will sow gratitude.

Because while fear paralyzes, gratitude empowers.  While fear excludes, gratitude invites.  While fear clutches, gratitude opens.  And while fear shouts, gratitude whispers.

So I will whisper gratitude.  To one person at a time, one appreciative moment at a time, I will use thanksgiving to drive out fear.  I will do so because it helps me to tear my eyes away from the violently fearful place the world is becoming, and focus on the world I believe is worth saving.  I will do it because hearing words of gratitude can make the difference between a sleepless night of self-pity, and a cared-for soul that is ready to speak truth to power.

There is so much to be grateful for.  And while I can’t always live by my best lights, I can be grateful for the times I do. And more importantly, I can be grateful for the people in my life who remind me of what those best lights are, and how love really does work in the world.  May our gratitude ripple outward and fuel the work that lies ahead.

Closet doorsI should start by saying, I totally get it.  When comfortable white liberals say that Trump voters are not welcome in their homes, or issue self-righteous screeds about how their outrage isn’t about politics—and perhaps especially when dudes who remind me of me in a lot of important ways demand the right to insist other people unfriend them—it’s a struggle for me not to nod my head and click “Like” and jump on the head-in-the-sand, I-don’t-want-to-deal-with-you bandwagon.  It would be easier for me to make it through the day smiling and feeling good about myself if I could just remove all of the “Red Feed” folks from my friends list and see nothing but news I agree with.

Except that’s (at least partially) what got us into this mess to begin with.

I’ve written before about my recognition, during my coming-out process, that as a white, US-native, able-bodied, mainline-Christian-turned-Unitarian-Universalist, upper-middle-class cis male, the “gay card” is really the only strike against me in the Privilege lottery.  I am—like most of the people I encounter in my small-town central-Pennsylvania daily routine—not accustomed to discomfort.  If I’m hungry, I eat.  If I’m cold, I turn up the thermostat.  If I’m lonely, I connect to the WiFi and see who’s online.  And if I see an opinion I disagree with… I shoot it down.  (Not always gently, I’m not proud to say.)

But in the back of my mind, I keep thinking about the note I received from an evangelical Christian friend shortly after I came out publicly at a concert in college (which is another story for another time).  “David,” she said, “I’ve always thought of gay people as dangerous perverts, as something to be afraid of and to fight against.  But now, knowing you’re gay… I know you, and that’s not who you are.  If you’re gay, then what I was taught was wrong.  And I’d like to apologize, if you’ll let me buy you a coffee.”

So here’s where I am now: I don’t believe “unfriending” is the solution.  I don’t believe sheltering ourselves from opinions we disagree with serves the common good.  I don’t believe my comfort is more important than the positive change I can achieve from participating in healthy dialogue.  And, most importantly, I don’t even pretend to believe that the answers I have are all the “right” ones.  I find it as rewarding to realize I’ve allowed honest engagement with other views to change my thinking, as I do when it works the other way around—when I emerge from a conversation feeling like I’ve planted a new seed in someone else’s mind.

I stepped out of one kind of closet more than 20 years ago.  I remember how cozy it was in there, never having to explain myself or apologize for offending people or wonder whether folks were judging me for touching my husband’s shoulder in public.  I appreciate every day that Mark and I share a nice introverted home in a lot outside of town, that serves as a retreat from society, a place of safety and rejuvenation.  And yes, sometimes I joke about staying here and ordering delivery for the next four years, as a kind of “vacation from reality.”

But there’s work to be done.  Conversations to have.  Hearts to connect with.  Minds to change.  And for those of us who have the ability to do these things, a closet is no place to hang out.