Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reid Mihalko

As the custody case progresses, we arrive at the intersections of free speech and family law. My ex’s case against me is based entirely on this blog, which raises questions about the blog’s continued publication. My attorney and I have been collecting letters from writers, publishers and others who can attest to the blog’s social and literary merit.

My friend Reid Mihalko offered to contribute a letter. You’ve heard of Reid—he’s the guy who started the Cuddle Party—and you may or may not know that he is the World’s Handsomest Man. (Seriously, I was there when a weeping George Clooney handed over the baton.)

With Reid’s permission, I’m posting his letter here. He movingly demonstrates the value of opening our lives truthfully, as I’ve tried to do in this blog about my life as a parent and pervert.

Testify, brother Reid.

Dear To Whom It May Concern,

I am a sex and relationship educator who has known Jefferson for two-and-half years. Jefferson and I met at a sex-positive event as peers. We were both presenters over a week-long educational as well as recreational event in Maryland. There, I had plenty of opportunity to watch the man behind "Jefferson" as he taught workshops and socialized with peers and non-peers. Getting to know the man behind "Jefferson" has been a rewarding experience for me from the get-go, and Jefferson's positive and caring approach towards people and towards relationships, including those with his four children, have been evident since the beginning.

What I have most admired about Jefferson's writing and teaching as "Jefferson" is that he has the courage to lead by example, something I find too little of happening in our day and age. By sharing his stories about sexuality and not hiding that he is also a caring parent of four, he provides a role model for parents who balance care for their families with care for themselves. Taking care of their own emotional health is vital if parents are to offer their best to their children. Because of our culture's history, too many parents have been lead to believe that they must sacrifice their sexual selves in order to be good parents. Not only is this not true, it can create a dangerous loop of diminishing returns.

Jefferson's writing, while shocking to some readers precisely because it places sexual expression side-by-side with caring parenting, models balance and self-care. The balance in One Life, Take Two is shown thru Jefferson's juxtaposition of erotic writing with the day-to-day stories about being a single father. These may not be the exact balances other parents are seeking - maybe another parent needs to be a successful artist and a good parent, but culture cautions them that they must have a successful corporate career to be a good provider—but Jefferson is modeling balance none the less.

Jefferson's writing on parenting helps his readers to understand that he is simply human, like them, and trying to do his best in all his relationships. Jefferson's writing on his sex life helps his readers see that sex doesn't have to be dirty and shameful. Jefferson's sex writings are made more important because he shares with his readers his parent's journey in the same blog. By having both "lives" presented together, Jefferson models for others to see that you can be a fully alive sexual and sensual being and also be a caring parent and responsible adult. These things are not mutually exclusive though our culture sometimes leads us to believe so.

I've been personally moved by Jefferson's writing about his family. I've met and work with in my sex and relationship education work many divorced parents who recreate the mistakes my own parents made. By refusing to communicate effectively, many parents jeopardize not just their relationship, but also their abilities as parents. Children are attuned to the hostilities between their parents. I can tell you, from my own life experience, that this affects children well into adulthood. I admire Jefferson's honesty in documenting his divorce, his difficulties with his ex wife and his deep love for his children. These struggles are not uncommon in many people's relationships, and to have anyone writing openly and honestly about such things only helps others know that they are not alone and that they can share openly and responsibly, too.

Keeping things "hidden" heals no one, especially when communication is the key to healing.

Jefferson's ex wife is not alone in being confused or even angry about the sexuality of her former spouse. Relationships are a lot of work even when they're meant to stay together. Being parents adds another layer of deep work, emotional presence and commitment. The graceful transitioning of a relationship from marriage thru divorce and into healthy co-parenting and the living and celebration of love and sex and new relationships are things nearly none of us learned from watching our parents or get to see role modeled in the media and world around us. When someone's sexuality is unfamiliar to another, it can be even more difficult to process the deluge of complex emotions and learning curves. Luckily, there are many support groups, publications and therapists available to help people come to terms with these issues. I am happy to provide some guidance on resources if it helps to bring peace to this family.

Thank you for allowing me to contribute my thoughts and feeling to something I feel passionately about.


Reid Mihalko

Make an ANONYMOUS, TAX-DEDUCTIBLE contribution to Jefferson’s legal defense by visiting the Sexual Freedom Defense and Education Fund at:

Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund

Please remember to specify that your donation is earmarked for the Jefferson Legal Defense Fund. The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund affirms that these earmarked donations are tax deductible.

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