Friday, March 28, 2014

An Open Letter to Pat Robertson

This piece also appears on HuffPost Gay Voices

Dear Pat,

May I call you Pat? I don’t want to appear disrespectful, but then again you say so many ugly things against gay people that I doubt my calling you by your first name will register any kind of disrespect. Hopefully calling you Pat will humanize you a little. So I’ll ask, Pat do you ever think about the things you say and how your words hurt or offend people? Do thoughts and ideas pop into your head and then come out of your mouth without you knowing it? Is your filter broken? 

Do you remember the TV program The Golden Girls? The character Sophia Petrillo? Do you remember when the series started how Sophia would say whatever she wanted with no filter? That was because she had had a stroke, Pat. Now don’t get angry. I’m not suggesting that you’ve had a stroke, but I am worried about you. Have you been to a doctor. Is everything ok?

You’ve been on my mind for quite a while. I’ve been meaning to write you, but just haven’t been able to get my thoughts together enough to put them into the words that I want to say to you. That changed this morning. Over my coffee I decided to pour over some of your most recent headline-making comments. What a way to ruin a good cup of coffee.

It’s people with attitudes like you who have turned me off from organized religion. I have lost that sense of community that comes from attending church meetings on Sunday morning because my experience shows more people like you with close-minded ideas and absurd obsessions with how gay people have sex exist in the Church than those who believe love is love.

None of us can speak for Jesus. Although you do certainly try. You said the following in your latest outlandish speech:

“What would have happened in Jesus’ time if two men decided they wanted to cohabit together, they would have been stoned to death. So Jesus would not have baked them a wedding cake nor would he have made them a bed to sleep in because they wouldn’t have been there. But we don’t have that in this country here so that’s the way it is.”

You don’t know what Jesus would do, Pat. He healed the lepers and welcomed the whores, yet you want to say he would've stoned me because I’m gay. 

Conservative Christians like yourself tend to pick certain passages of the Bible to point out the flaws, failures, and sins of others without taking into account that many times those words are the writer’s opinion and have been translated by a human being over the many centuries since they were first written. 

I grew up with so much fear and shame because of the Church. Do you know what that’s like? To be ashamed of who you are and the only feelings you’ve ever known? As an adult I’m still struggling to release the fear and shame that was pounded into me by some man from a pulpit. I’m a perfect person created in the image of God and God created me gay. I used to get so upset when reading your latest verbal antics because people seem to listen to you. You speak to people in your soft grandfatherly voice and they listen. It’s amazing how much like sheep people can actually be when they choose to listen without questioning. Don’t think that your words aren’t still upsetting to me. They are. I’ve just moved passed the anger stage into the saddened stage. 

We’re people, Pat. Human beings who love the same sex. And you think my homosexual relationship is “a meaningless exercise because it doesn’t go anywhere.” Well, Pat it does go somewhere. It’s an extension of love between two people, a connection. So what if my connection can’t produce children. I have never once in my life wanted to be a parent, but I have gay friends who do want to be parents. I have straight friends who don’t want to be parents either. I’m not controlled by Satan. I’m just a man who had the courage to live openly the life that God designed for him. You’re so afraid to even believe there’s a possibility that we’re all on this path to righteousness trying to be the best us we can that you want to throw your verbal stones at anyone and everyone that believes different from you.

I’m sorry you feel that way, Pat. I really am. I’m a great gay. I’m kind and generous. Yes, I have a moody streak that I’m certain makes my friends want to keep their distance, but I’m constantly working toward bettering my life. I talk to God daily. I’m constantly working on my personal relationship with Him. You might actually like me if you got to know me. Although I’m not sure you could see past your prejudgement of me to give yourself the opportunity.

My wish for you (and the rest of us), Pat is that you stop and think about what you’re saying before you say it. Your negative words penetrate the ear of a mother or father or grandmother who might have a family member struggling with the courage to be himself. If they choose to listen to you instead of support their child or grandchild then that child suffers. Your words instill fear and that fear ripples though the world. Stop and think, Pat. God loves us all. God created us all. Just the way we are. I’m not choosing to murder someone, Pat. I’m choosing to love someone of the same sex. Those two things are not even comparable and you should stop suggesting they are. And for the record, I was never molested. I come from a loving Christian home. The progeny of two parents who still love me and welcome me into their home even after knowing I’m gay.

We’re all God’s children. Fear and a lack of understanding fuels those who would rather throw stones at us that try and understand us. I’m proud to be the work-in-progress that I am. I’m truly uncertain why it matters so much to you if same-sex couples exist, get married, have children, but clearly it does. I’m sorry if you have sleepless night worrying about our affect on society. Maybe you should just take a sleeping pill so that your mind can rest. Maybe after a good night’s sleep you will wake refreshed and can move on to more important topics to discuss on “The 700 Club.”

Sincerely,

Michael Rohrer

Monday, March 17, 2014

A 'Pursuit of Happiness' Life Lesson

The below story was emailed to me. I do not own it. If I find out who wrote it I will give credit, but for now I want to share it. As one who has walked selfishly through life with his eyes closed--one who has begun to be very aware of his actions and surroundings--I was struck by the idea that if we stop looking out only for ourselves we might find an opportunity to experience life in a different way.

Once a group of 500 people were attending a seminar.
Suddenly the speaker stopped and decided to do a group
activity. He started giving each person a balloon. Each
person was then asked to write their name on it using a
marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and
put in another room.
 
The people were then let into that room and asked to
find the balloon which had their name written on it
within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically searching
for their name, colliding with each other, pushing
around others and there was utter chaos.
 
At the end of 5 minutes no one could find their own balloon.
Then, the speaker asked each person to randomly collect a
balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it.
Within minutes everyone had their own balloon.
 
The speaker then began,
 
"This is happening in our lives. Everyone is frantically
looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is.
Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people.
Give them their happiness; you will get your own
happiness.
 
And this is the purpose of human life...the pursuit of happiness."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Impolite Society: I'm Offended, He's Offended, They're Offended, We're Offended

The summer before my senior year of high school (way back in 1988) my friends and I adopted the catch phrase, “I’m offended.” It was used as a response to a shocking or outrageous statement. You can equate it on par with "Well I never." There was usually a dramatic intake of breath, a look of shock on the face, and then with the perfect inflection “I’m offended” was uttered. Today the response might be “Rude” or “Seriously." 

I recently watched a segment on CBS Sunday Morning about Larry Flynt. During the piece the following quote by Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist filled my TV screen and strongly resonated with me: “The fact that society may find speech offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it.”

Seeing that quote reminded me of the aforementioned phrase from high school and that got me to thinking. Are we too easily offended today? When a person has a differing opinion from our own and chooses to say so publicly are we (meaning all people) taking it so personally that we can’t refrain from lashing out and chastising the offender through our status updates, tweets and the comment boxes attached to every article that keeps the pot of controversy boiling for days after? I’m guilty of this. I lash out in haste with those updates and tweets rallying my like-minded friends and followers into “likes” and retweets, but what good does it really do? 

We offend each other. We say dumb things. We often don’t think before we speak or post or tweet. We aren’t concerned that our words might hurt people and we seem unaware that those words might carry repercussions. We’ve lost our manners in an effort to get what we want. Everyone else be damned.

A friend of mine keeps reminding me that the more vocal anti-gay people are with their publicly made anti-gay remarks the more gay-friendly people and those questioning their own beliefs on the situation are going to catch on to the ignorance behind the remarks. He’s right. I’ve seen it in myself. What used to be an angry outburst with an increase in blood pressure has turned into an eye roll and a head shake. 

I struggle with differing opinions. I struggle with feeling as though I can’t be friends with people whose opinions differ from mine. I’m learning that’s not true. I don’t have to get upset. I don’t have to cut off communication. I don’t even have to try and sway them to believe as I do. All I really have to do is respectfully disagree with what they think.

When Duck Dynasty patriarch, Phil Robertson made his anti-gay comments my Facebook and Twitter feeds became a messy banquet of Duck Dynasty comments both pro and con. Then A&E made their decision to suspend Mr. Robertson, and the backlash exploded like a frozen duck put in a deep fryer. I struggled. I hated what the man said but felt that his suspension was unnecessary. I felt as if A&E, the cable channel that carries Duck Dynasty, should have made a statement that the man and his opinions do not reflect those of the network and be done with it. His suspension outraged his supporters and gave this man and his opinion much longer in the spotlight that it deserved. 

Believe me when I tell you I understand the fight for equality, civil rights, human rights (however you choose to categorize it) that we in the gay community are fighting for. I do. What I question the most is this: Are we—the gay community and our supporters—appearing weak by fighting every battle of words that is waged against us? Are we trying to live in such a politically correct society that we’re attempting to create a sterile environment where no one is allowed to have their own beliefs, let alone speak them publicly? These are legitimate questions. Those who choose to publicly make anti-gay statements aren’t stupid. Everyone knows the internet exists. Nothing stays buried or hidden for long. There’s always a backlash. 

That leads me to Juan Pablo Galavis and his recent anti-gay comments. I don’t care about The Bachelor or Mr. Galavis, but he’s entitled to his opinion. Maybe he’s homophobic? He can even have gay friends and be homophobic. What I really hate is the apology that gets made after the fact. We’ve seen it too many times. Some publicist advises a very public mea culpa. I don’t ever believe the apology. I have  no warm fuzzy feeling now that Mr. Galavis has reached out to GLAAD in an effort to make amends. I tend to believe the offending statement is the real truth. It’s kind of like being really honest when you’re drunk. The alcohol gives you the courage to say what you really want to say. The next day if you’re lucky enough to remember what you said you might be excited that you finally said it or embarrassed, maybe even ashamed, that the words came out of your mouth. From my own experience, more often than not, those words have been the truth.

I don’t want an apology from people who make anti-gay statements and then say they’re sorry. The apology to me is fake, pretend. What I want is to stop taking the negative, anti-gay comments so personally. In 1949 Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the lyric “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear” for the song “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” from the musical South Pacific. That sentiment was true before it became a lyric in a song and it remains true today. Racists still exist. Homophobia continues to be taught. Haters hate. People are going to be people, and there will always be disagreements. 

When I say we should try not to be offended by every anti-gay statement, know that I’m looking in the mirror. I know I take it personally. The point is I don’t have to. And you don’t have to either. We all have to try to not let the anti-gay haters get us down.


Maybe it’s time to make “I’m offended” the humorous, snappy comeback to all those anti-gay remark makers. After all, a little humor goes a long way. Like the obnoxious sound of a duck call or the stench of a decaying rose. Too much? Too sarcastic? No offense intended. Humor is subjective. I’ll keep working on it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Baa, Baa, Black Sheep Have You Any Wool?" No, but I Have Some Shame

This piece also appears on HuffPost Gay Voices

You know the phrase, "Hit me like a ton of bricks?” Well, that proverbial ton of bricks fell on me recently. It happened over lunch with my best friend. I was talking to him about my latest mixed bag of thoughts on religion, family, and homosexuality when he posed this question: Do you think if your parents don't feel disappointed about you being gay then you lose your power?

I was confused. "My power?" I asked.

He explained “power” as my ability to stand out, that something they talk about, the thing that makes me special. Then he compared it to being the black sheep of the family. Ah yes, the black sheep. That family member considered wayward; a disappointment. The black sheep is the one constantly doing something that warrants those secret conversations held in gossipy, hushed voices. Disappointment in him is punctuated by deep sighs and head shakes. Said black sheep probably didn’t set out to play his role, but it’s the reason he stands out in the familial crowd. 

You know, I think I've been thinking of myself as my family’s black sheep for a long time. I’m not the alcoholic, the drug addict, the loner, the one unable to hold down a job, or the one who frightens people with his temper tantrums. I'm the gay one. At some point I decided being gay is my claim to fame in my family, and that my “fame” is cause for disappointment. I have so convinced myself that my parents are disappointed in me for being gay that I keep pushing them to confirm my suspicions. I seem unable to accept that they've told me they aren't disappointed in me or ashamed of me. You know what I think that might mean? I'm disappointed in me, and I'm trying to project that onto them. There’s that damn ton of bricks again.

So here's the kicker. All the delving into and questioning of my black sheep syndrome led me to realize I have shame about being gay. What?! Who am I? Where is the proud gay man I thought I was? The instances of low self-worth, low self-esteem and self-disappointment are products of shame. My shame. I've been so busy trying to place the blame on others for these feelings that I failed to see the person most responsible for them is me. 

In her book Daring Greatly, author BrenĂ© Brown talks in depth about shame. I’m now beginning to understand that my feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, and disappointment are products of my shame. I often think I’m not good enough. Well, that’s all on me. While reading Brown’s words I was reminded of that scary moment when I picked up the phone to call and come out to my dad, that moment when the number was dialed, but he had yet to answer. I knew I had to do it. I was ready to do it. Realizing I have to deal with my own shame is the same. It’s scary, but I have to do it. I’m ready to do it. I’ve started the process. It’s unsettling, but the outcome can only be better than the current situation.

It has become clear to me that for many years I’ve defined myself as gay. Defined myself. As if being gay is all there is to me. Believe me, I experienced the head shake and eye roll you might be experiencing right now when the disbelief at my own self-imposed limitations began to sink in. I’m more than just a gay man and being gay doesn't make me the black sheep or even a black sheep. I'm neither more odd nor disreputable than any other member of my family. I'm not wayward or a deviant. Being gay is just one facet to the multi-faceted person I am. How in the world did I allow myself to believe that being gay is the most important thing about me? Why did I ever start entertaining the idea that I’m my family’s black sheep? 

I am a man who had the courage to come out to his family and friends. I am a man who left what would have been a suffocating small town life to follow his dreams and move to New York City. I am a man who finally understands that it’s okay to ask for help and am seeking that help. I am a man who is discovering what his life can be. I am a man who now questions instead of just accepts. I am a singer, a storyteller, a red wine enthusiast, a lover of television, and sometimes I cut my own hair (don’t tell Truvy). These are just a few facets that contribute to the whole me.

I am the writer of my story, and I’ve been writing myself a shitty role. Beginning to acknowledge how shame feeds my feelings of disappointment and black sheepness has been interesting. I’ve been looking for someone to blame and using my being gay as a catalyst for my feelings of unworthiness in belonging on the branches of my family tree. I’m important to my family for many reasons the first of which is they love me. My being gay might get a few sentences from them here and there, but it’s not what makes me me. That is not my “power.” I realize I have to change the way I see myself and know that I’m more than the limitations I keep putting on me.

No parent or friend or therapist or book is going to be able to make that change. It can only be me. The aforementioned can be supportive and provide helpful tools, but ultimately I have to climb out of my shame box and face its by-products. I have to stop thinking of myself as the black sheep and find pride in the man who continues to examine his life in order to become a better person. A person who just happens to be gay. Now to secure that ton of bricks.



Friday, November 8, 2013

ENDA Is a Necessity Because Discrimination Is not an Option

It’s been nearly 20 years since I first saw the film Philadelphia. It was the winter of 1994 after returning to college from Christmas break. I saw it with my best friend. I remember it so clearly. It’s indelibly burned into my mind and my heart. We two sat in our seats as the theater began to empty, unable to move, tears flowing in steady streams from our swollen eyes. One of our classmates had been a few rows behind us. She approached and asked if we were ok. Her gesture of kindness has always stayed with me as well as that moment of sitting in the harsh lighted ugliness of that litter strewn theater with my best friend digesting what we had just witnessed.

We were newly out gay men. I had come out in the summer of 1993 so it hadn’t been quite a year since I’d been honest with myself and my friends about my sexual orientation. I was 22 and my college graduation was mere months away, my life loomed large in front of me. Anything was possible, and I wanted to take a bite out of it all. Being discriminated against wasn’t a thought in my mind. And AIDS? Well, AIDS scared the shit out of me. It still does even though I am very aware of how the disease is spread, the advances in AIDS research, and the drugs that exist due to that research. It’s no longer the death sentence it still was even in 1993 at the time of Philadelphia’s release.

That film had such a profound, emotional effect on me—the blatant discrimination, the fear of AIDS—that I couldn’t bear to watch it again. I’ve owned it on DVD for many years, a piece of cinematic history that was important and necessary. I needed to have it in my DVD library. As a gay man I had to have it in my library. But, I couldn’t bring myself to watch it again. Until now. A random afternoon, that maybe wasn’t so random, I removed that DVD from its place on the shelf. The faces of Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington stared back at me. I knew what I was getting myself into as I dusted off the top before opening the case.

Discrimination. It’s an ugly word. It’s defined by Random House Dictionary as the “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.”

Here we are in 2013 hoping the people who vote bills into laws in this country will vote to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). (Oddly enough, ENDA was first introduced in Congress in1994). It’s been nearly 20 years since “Andrew Beckett,” the character played by Tom Hanks in the aforementioned film, sued the law firm where he had been the “golden boy” for the discriminatory action of wrongful termination. He believed the partners learned he had AIDS then fabricated a story of his incompetence in order to fire him. Fear at its best.

It’s a head scratcher that there is even a need for ENDA today. If I’m good at my job, how does my sexual orientation affect anyone? “Charles Wheeler,” the head of the discriminating firm in the film Philadelphia is played to perfection by Jason Robards. He is the bulldog face of all the disgust and fear that is associated with homosexuality and, in this film, AIDS. I couldn’t help but see similarities between this character and current Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boenher. 

Boehner is a Republican Representative that most recently, for me, was the face of our government shut down. Now he’s the man who would block ENDA. Why are you standing in the way, Mr. Boehner? Why is it so important for you to block a law that would protect people from discrimination? I mean it is illegal to discriminate against a person due to race, color, nationality, gender, and religious beliefs—to name a few protections. And as for religious beliefs, why is it that part of the stall of this bill has to do with exemptions being given to religious organizations? If an employer can cite religious beliefs as a reason for discriminating against LGBTQ employees then doesn’t it make sense that those opposed to homosexuality will use religion to discriminate, whether they practice it or not? I’m just asking. I mean, isn’t ENDA a civil rights issue, a human rights issue? Why are we giving in to the demands of religious organizations at the expense of anyone's rights?

The partners in the law firm that wrongfully terminated Andrew Beckett are, to me, stodgy old men with antiquated ideals. They perfectly embody the stodgy old men with antiquated ideals who want to stand in the way of progress in this county. They represent, to me, many of the Congressmen who have to vote this legislation into law. That scares me. What does sexual orientation matter if an employee is a good employee? No one should live in fear of losing his job simply because of who he is attracted to. Sexual orientation should have nothing to do with a person’s employability. ENDA should be a moot point. However, it’s seems to be a necessity. Sad, but true.

In the opening credits of Philadelphia there are many striking images, but none as poignant as the Liberty Bell. That iconic symbol of American history represents freedom. Liberty means “freedom from tyrannical government.” Those who oppose ENDA are tyrants. They refuse to see the LGBTQ community as people deserving of protection. They seem willing to sacrifice those they see as weaker and less than. They’re as prejudiced, bigoted, and fearful as the partners in the fictional law firm in Philadelphia who found any way they could to get rid of their golden boy.


I’m thankful to work in an industry that accepts me and my sexual orientation. I don’t fear that I will be fired for being gay, but my heart aches and my blood pressure soars when I think of the gay men and women who do have to live in fear. Don’t we all deserve the freedom to be ourselves? No employer should have the right to fire an employee just for being gay. It’s un-American. And to all the Bible beaters against ENDA I say to you: Discrimination is not very Christian.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Being My Own Man: Discovering What I Learned From My Father

This piece also appears on HuffPost Gay Voices

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a man. I mean, I've got a penis so biologically I’m a man, but what does it mean to be a man? My dad says a man knows he's a man by how he feels within himself. I don't feel particularly manly. I feel much more in tune with my feminine side than my masculine.

I grew up in a small southern town somewhere near the intersection of stop sign and caution light. It's a place I jokingly refer to as “Podunk” or “Population 600.” It’s a beautiful place. Country roads lined by fields of corn or soy beans. Homes with big front yards. The churches are many and the restaurants few. My male role models in this Shangri-la-of-the-Country were church-going, outdoorsy types that I had nothing in common with. They’re hunters and fishermen; blue-color workmen. In my family, the men mark the seasons, not by longer days or the changing of colors, but by what animal it’s legal to hunt. They almost all enjoy the solitary peace of casting a line out into the water and waiting for a fish to bite. Most of them can fix a carburetor and many even do their own home repairs. These are the ideals of what it meant to be a man as I saw it, growing up in my small town under the tutelage of a dad who enjoys and can do all of the above.

There are some boys as young as 7- or 8-years old that you can already tell are all boy. I was not one of them. There was nothing masculine about me. I did not enjoy hunting of any kind. I didn’t like shooting a gun. I couldn’t shoot the arrow straight from the bow. As for fishing, the endless hours of sitting in a boat on the glassy waters of some lake hoping and waiting for a fish to take the bait, well let’s just say that bored me to tears. Of course none of that stopped my dad from taking me on a few of his hunting/fishing excursions. He wanted to teach me. He wanted me to enjoy what he enjoyed. I hated it. We found no common ground. I can’t begin to imagine his frustration when he began to realize he might be raising a gay son.

Moving on to sports. Well, that was a no go too. I didn’t like playing sports, and I didn’t like watching sports. I played basketball in junior high (because my dad wanted me to), which translated to me warming the bench, keeping my uniform neat and clean. I watched as my older cousins ran up and down the basketball court, scoring points. I watched as everyone cheered for them and patted their backs. I was not one of them. Full confession, I would have been happier being a cheerleader, cheering their victory, than to be sitting on the bench hoping I never had to be put into the game.

I was the boy who would much rather be inside the air conditioned house in the summer. Given the choice between playing outside or watching television I would always choose the latter, especially if it meant watching Santa Barbara or Another World. I didn’t want to mess up my hair or my clothes. I didn’t want to get my hands dirty. Even when it came to mowing the lawn (my job as the son in the family), I wore clothes that were too nice for the task.

My dad is a good man. He’s strong. He’s a provider. He’s a fixer of broken things, a disciplinarian, a caretaker. I respect him, and am thankful for him, but I have always felt like I would never be the man he is. 

Note to Self: Change way of thinking. 

I may not like to do the things my dad does or be able to repair the things he can, but that doesn’t make me any less of a man. I realized during this quest for understanding that I’ve been trying to define what being a man is, but being a man is open to interpretation. It takes all kinds of us. I’ve spent most of my adult life feeling as if I’ve failed at being a man, but that’s simply untrue. This Badge of (self-proclaimed) Failure is something I gave myself.

One of my best friends gave me his thoughts on what it means to be a man. He said, “I think being a man means having the strength to take care of yourself, the generosity to take care of others, the wisdom to ask for help when you need it, and the humility to accept help when it is offered.”

His words resonated with me. They have nothing to do with the images I’ve carried in my head since boyhood. They’re more about integrity, courage and responsibility.

I will never be a butch man, I am much more feminine than that, but I am a man. I’m a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend. I am a collector of art, a theatre goer, a lover of pop music, a drinker of red wine. I still don’t like to get my hands too dirty, I prefer to call a repairman, and I still love Santa Barbara (gone now to soap opera heaven). I take my responsibilities seriously and like seeing the tasks associated with those responsibilities accomplished. I love my family and my friends. I can be trusted and counted on. I strive to live a good life and to have the courage to change things that aren’t working even though change is difficult. I admit that my pride often gets in the way when it comes to asking for help, but ultimately I’ve realized it is a stronger man who will ask for help and a weaker who thinks he doesn’t need it.  


So what did I learn from writing this piece? Hobbies and abilities don’t make the man. It is our actions. I’m not the same as my dad and that’s okay. I’m me. I’m my own kind of man. One that’s smart enough to realize where he learned to have integrity. Maybe it is as simple as what dad said, and it's all about how I feel within.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Scandal(ized) and Loving It!


It's the age of binging. No, I'm not talking about on food or alcohol, although I’m sure somebody somewhere is binging on one or both of those things. I'm talking about on television. We live in an age where binging on television is the new normal. Not only is binge-worthy television more easily accessible these days, with Netflix, On Demand, online, and complete seasons on DVD, it is highly entertaining and addictively watchable. When you're fortunate enough to latch on to a series that makes you want to skip meals and sleep, choosing instead to watch the next episode, then you've struck television gold in your quest for your next great binge. My latest is Scandal.

The rapid fire sound of a clicking camera shutter snapshots images across the screen, giving me the sense that someone is always watching. The camera slowly pans the scene, alternating between clear and prism distorted shots. Scandal has a look and style all its own. For me, these stylistic choices mimic the idea that someone is always watching, but what did they actually see. I don't know what took me so long to join the masses in watching this series of sex and politics, but I'm thankful that I no longer have to shake my head apologetically or shrug my shoulders unaware when it comes to Olivia Pope references or articles written about Bellamy Young's portrayal of First Lady, Mellie Grant. I am now in the know and couldn't be happier to be an attendee at the gladiator party.

Let me start by saying Shonda Rhimes is a genius. She has created, with Scandal, a television show that appeals to me even more than Grey's Anatomy did when it was fresh and new. Scandal is a political drama with enough thrills, sex, romance, power hungry politicians, and yes, scandals, to fill a six month quota in just one episode. It’s never boring. I am constantly intrigued and never surprised when I find myself shocked. There's a level of anxiety that hovers in the room when I watch. The story lines can take any twist or turn during a given episode, but those twists and turns always feel right. The brilliant writers know how to give enough backstory to leave you wanting more, while answering questions you didn’t even know you wanted the answers to. They know how to shock you and they know when to give you the payoff. I am never sure what to expect, but being open-mouthed (jaw to the floor) is an expression my face has gotten used to.

When you watch a show called Scandal you expect there to be plenty of what the title suggests. You will not be disappointed. There are scandals that last an episode, scandals that span the season, and one major, overarching series scandal that looms over everyone’s head. However, the show is about so much more than the sum of its scandals. 

Kerry Washington's character, Olivia Pope is a “fixer,” a crisis manager. Her job is to fix the problem. And manage her client’s problem she will, even if she can’t manage her own. She runs Pope & Associates, a collective of lawyers, sleuths, and hackers who help her help the client. There's quite a bit of dysfunction between these characters, but the same can be said of any family. And that’s what the characters who work at Pope & Associates are, a family. For that matter so are the characters who work in the White House. All of their paths cross, their lives overlap. They know each other as much as they allow themselves to be known. Sometimes they work together as a team. Sometimes they work against each other. There is a desire among these characters to take care of one another, but there is also a willingness to hurt each other for the greater good. The question of who can you trust is always in the air and friendships seem only as deep as Olivia Pope's Prada bag. 

If the scandals make the show interesting, it’s the characters that make the show compelling. The storytelling is so engaging, the scenes so well acted, that the machinations of the political figures that thrive and breathe in Scandal's Washington, D.C. make me question what childish plots and crafty schemes our real life politicians keep hidden.

Scandal is delicious and just as good as all your friends keep telling you it is. It rightfully earns its People Magazine praise as "TV's juiciest drama." I don’t want to give anything away. I want you to experience for yourself the political intrigue as it unfolds in all its breathless, sordid detail. The search for your next great binge is over. Pour yourself a glass of wine. "It's handled."

This piece also appears on HuffPost TV