Today I am thinking about my Mom, because frankly, I miss her dearly. Mom and I have been through a lot together in life, and we always manage to keep our relationship strong. The love and appreciation that I have for her is something greater than I have ever felt in my life before, because she is always there for me, through the thick and thin. Unconditional is a word often used to describe the significance of love, because it truly represents just how important my Mom is to me.

Back in September of 2013, I decided to come out to my parents, and open up about my sexuality. Coming out as a member of the gay community to my Mom was one of the most difficult things that I have ever had to do in my life, but the end result was worth all of the stress and emotions that I had before.

At first, my Mom was shocked, frustrated, and emotional. All of these possible outcomes were expected, because I was upset myself, due to the fact that this wasn’t easy. I never had any doubt in my mind that my Mom wouldn’t accept who I am as a person, and continue to love me unconditionally. The bond that we have is something that could never be broken, especially by something that is becoming more normal in the world we live in today.

I have heard horror stories from other members of the LGBT community about their coming out experiences, and the stories angered me for years. I do not understand how you could treat someone that you love and gave the gift of life to with discrimination and abandonment. Never in my mind was this a personal concern. Growing up in the small community of Silver Bay Minnesota, it was sometimes difficult to fit in with everyone, because the area is predominantly white, and heterosexual. I never experienced much bullying growing up in my school, but at times I did experience name calling and blatant acts of stupidity from uneducated peers around me.

Flowers blooming in the Nevada desert. The beautiful blossoms remind me of my Mom! Photo taken by Brett Mensing

I would always go home at the end of the day, and tell my Mom about what the other kids would say to me, and how it made me feel. I can remember her telling me to be strong, and not listen to what they were saying, because we are all different and extremely unique in our own way, shape, and form. My Mom taught me what it meant to be independent, and strong when it comes to standing up for myself. None of us are perfect, no matter how hard we try to be. With these curves in the road, it gave me the strength to learn and develop my own personality, and realize that I am the only person that can make myself happy in life. I credit this chapter in my life to my Mom, because I love her to the moon and back, and always will.

Coffee and Conversation

Today has been full of events and excitement with people I love, and places that I have enjoyed visiting. As the sun began to rise on this subzero January morning, I prepared for my day with a hot cup of coffee, brewed in the latest and greatest Keurig 2.0. Coffee has been around for centuries, but the technology for the beverage has recently started to brew stronger over the past decade. I enjoy waking up with a cup of good Folgers in my hand, but have recently started to enjoy local brews from across many regions that I visit. On this specific Saturday, I had the chance to visit a new location for a cup of java; a place where coffee is life, and it comes from the heart. The Duluth Coffee Company has been around for years, but I have never had the chance to visit their location and see what all the hype is about. Deciding to take the time out of my busy, hectic Saturday was something that really made me feel warm and fuzzy for the rest of the day.

Coffee at Pelican Coffee Company in Duluth during a previous visit to the beautiful City. Taken by Brett Mensing

After shooting a story with Iceman Roger across the bridge in Superior Wisconsin, I decided to take a detour on my way back to my boyfriend’s house. He tends to frequent the popular coffee hangout, and wanted my to experience and taste the “grounds.” We both enjoy a nice cup of coffee, one with crème, and the other without. Upon arrival to the fine establishment situated on Superior Street in Duluth Minnesota, we were greeted with warm welcome, and happy smiles. As previously stated in my blog, Duluth is a City that I can see myself living in over the next few years, because it is close to home and is welcoming when it comes to accepting my sexuality. Walking in to the Duluth Coffee Company, I was holding my boyfriend’s hand, happy to be doing something out of the ordinary in my life, and taking the time to sit back and enjoy life while reflecting on things that pop into my mind.

As for each cup of coffee, there is no correct way to drink a cup. I find this to be true with people as well. We are all different, and are all brewed to our own perfection. Some of us might indulge in a light roast with crème, while others may enjoy a darker roast, without. As I began sipping away at my cup of coffee on this Saturday afternoon and engaging in conversation with my boyfriend, I started to think about how coffee and local coffee shops are similar to human beings. We all enjoy different settings, different roasts, and varied beliefs as to what tastes the best when it comes to life, and beverages.

I was excited to see that my boyfriend and I were not starred down while we enjoyed our coffee at this local hangout. I have recently experienced discrimination across the St. Cloud area, and it has made me feel upset and unhappy about going out in public with the person I love. It really makes me think about where I want to live after graduation, as I see myself latching on to this wonderful relationship that I have been blessed with as the New Year begins. I think about my future, and brew up fresh thoughts about who I am, and who I want to be not only as a person, but also as a boyfriend, friend, and journalist. I want to live in a place that welcomes me, and allows me to feel warm and comfortable to be myself.

Lake Superior at sunset. Taken by Brett Mensing

My visit to the Duluth Coffee Company is something that I will remember for months to come, because it was an enjoyable experience. I was able to relax, and reflect on the fact that coffee resembles who we are as people. We might be sweet, bitter, or strong at times. These feelings and tastes might not fit into our lives, but there are always other locations that may offer a more acceptable experience.


Finding My True North

For this blog post, I find it essential that I speak of an area that I can see myself potentially living in the next two years, once I graduate from St. Cloud State University. I am using this post to discover my true Northbound direction in life, and allow my mind to wander, and discover the many possibilities that I could develop as my life becomes more complex and complicated. Duluth Minnesota has always been an area that I could see myself living once I graduate, and hopefully land my dream job that would fulfill my short-term career goals as a Broadcast Journalist. Growing up one-hour further North of Duluth, in Silver Bay Minnesota, I like to believe that the area is still my homeland, and that Duluth would be a comfortable place to begin my professional life, and hopefully start a family one-day. In this post, I would like to discuss my beliefs, and how I feel that everything in life happens for a reason. Recently, I have been beginning relations with a wonderful man, Justin Chumich, who just so happens to live in Duluth, and be from the area that I grew up knowing so well, the Northland.

The past few years have been extremely difficult for me, in the relationship realm of my life. Living in St. Cloud for nine months out of the year, I find it frustrating to find someone compatible to spend my time with, while spending my summers back home in Silver Bay. Up until just recently, I have been a single man, giving up on the hope of finding true love, and someone who would treat me with loyalty and respect while also fitting into my hectic life as an aspiring journalist. I believe everything happens for a reason in life, and do tend to tie this to the belief in my God. I haven’t always lived life thinking this was true, but more recently, I have had many struggles and eye-opening experiences that have taught me to reflect upon my actions, and think about why they have happened. These actions have always led me to a happier place in life, and allowed for me to grow and strengthen my belief in God, and having someone that is watching over me as I swerve down the road we like to call life.

IMG_0518When I first began chatting with Justin back in December of 2015, I was leery of jumping into a relationship, and starting something with a man that lived in Duluth, two hours away from where I spend most of my year, in St. Cloud. As the weeks pass by, I am slowing beginning to break apart the wall that I spend my last year and a half building up to protect myself. I believe that Justin was a blessing sent to me from up above, because I couldn’t be happier with the relationship that we have started to build over such a short amount of time. Duluth is a wonderful, beautiful city that as previously stated, I could see myself living in once graduation passes by. I have been blessed to work with WDIO, Eyewitness News in Duluth over the past year, with the aspiration of getting my foot in the door that will hopefully lead to a job out of college. As I sit and ponder while writing this post, I believe that this entry fits well into the Life category, because the last few months have truly made me question where my true North is in life. I have taken “trips” to the South over the past year and a half, and am finally beginning to think that its time to take a journey back North, and start planning where I can see my life heading over the next few years. I am starting to think that this period in my life (early 20’s) is truly a time to think about myself, my life, and what I want to be not only as a person, but also as a chapter book that has just begun. I think that Justin has come into my life for the best, and believe that this is a sign from my God above, showing me that the area of Duluth will be a happy place in my life, for my career, my personal goals, and my relationship.

After having many magnetic forces that have fooled my compass over the last few months, I am happy to think that it is back on track, and those magnetic fields have been diverted after dealing with the struggle of finding true north once again.


Le Tour Eiffel

Today when I opened up my Facebook News Feed, I was surprised to learn that it had already been three years since I visited a country that changed my life, France. Back in my senior year of high school, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to France with our French Club, and spend two weeks in the country that many dream of visiting throughout their lifetime. After months of fundraising and preparation, our plane took flight from Minneapolis on a chilly spring evening, and ten of us were off to the foreign land.

The Eiffel Tower, circa 2013. Taken by Brett Mensing

I could write dozens of pages on this experience, but am choosing to center on my visit to the Eiffel Tower for this blog post. The photo that Facebook displayed as a blast from the past was my friends and I standing below the skyscraping Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. After all of the terror attacks that have been taking place in France over the past few months, I have really started to think about my visit once again, and reminisce about all of the life lessons that the two-week visit taught me. I choose to write this entry under the “Things I Remember” page, because I still to this day remember being so surprised about the size of the Eiffel Tower. Growing up watching TV and various movies and taking three years of French in high school, I had seen numerous pictures of the iconic monument, but never really realized just how big the Tower was.

When we arrived for our visit, I was breath taken by the 1,063 foot tower; amazed by the structural aspect of this ginormous attraction. I never realized just how much work it would really take to construct such a monstrous yet beautiful piece of art. The amount and size of the bolts and metal holding it together is something that I will never forget. Never seeing something built like this before, my mind started racing while thinking about the countless hours and lives that were lost while the construction took place. The Eiffel Tower serves as an important part of telecommunications throughout the country of France, but we often forget that it has a true meaning, beyond its glimmering lights that shine and twinkle every night across the City of Love.

This was one of the most memorable experiences from my trip abroad, along with the meal that we ate in the Tower for lunch on that bright yet chilly spring day in the city. The meal consisted of raw tuna for a hors d’oeuvre, calf for our meal, and a delicate chocolate mousse for dessert. The meal was extremely authentic, and not something that I would eat on a daily basis back home. But this was the start of my new beginning, and realization that life is a changing path that we must conform to in order to have fun, and life it to its fullest.

This post has allowed me to reminisce about my past, and think about going back to the City of Paris one day, hopefully for my honeymoon! I believe that after my visit to the Country, there is still a piece of my heart situated back in the land, a piece that will one day be put back in to place. I hope to visit my French family that I stayed with while on my second week of the experience. I recently contacted my French brother, Tom Vezier to interview him for a story I did for UTVS News after the Paris attacks back in November of 2015. It was nice to chat with him once again, but it made me realize that I must work to keep better contact with him, because it is important to have global connections in life.

Lights, Camera, Action! (and report!)

Once again, I am writing this entry to my blog late at night, due to an event that took place that I wanted to share. Tonight, I attended my 6th UTVS General Meeting in Stewart Hall. This is a meeting where all members and those who are interested in joining UTVS gather for a social hour, share a meal together, and are presented with a short explanation of all the programs that air on the UTVS channel. After the meeting, everyone is given the chance to try out for a talent position for UTVS News, which now airs Monday through Thursday at 5p.m. and 6p.m. I can still remember my first meeting, three years ago. My friend Emilio Ramos De Jesus ran into me at my apartment building where we both lived. He knew that I was attending St. Cloud State University for Mass Communications with a broadcasting emphasis. I was honored that Emilio invited me, so attended the meeting on that chilly fall night in 2013.

Flash forward to 2016, and I am auditioning once again to hold a talent position once again! Having the opportunity to be so involved with UTVS News over the past three years has been something I will always remember once I begin my career, and never forget as I move on to bigger and more intense obstacles in my career. As I prepared to try out this evening, a sense of calmness filled my body, a feeling that I have never felt while trying out. I told myself that whether or not I got a spot, that I can still be just as involved with UTVS News as I would be while anchoring.

Anchoring with Danielle Maroney, back in 2015. Photo by Lyanne Valdez

Nearly three hours after trying out, I received an email that included the attachment with final results regarding talent position for this spring semester. I was enthusiastic when reading the attachment! I was listed as an anchor for Thursday newscasts, alongside my friend and colleague Danielle Maroney. This will be the 4th semester that we have been anchoring together, and I don’t think I could be blessed with a better person to co-anchor with. We spend much time together outside of our Newsroom lives, so have what I believe to be a good chemistry together when we are on air. Danielle and I are both very passionate about what we do, so I enjoy working with her because we realize how hard things can be, but more importantly how much strength and courage it takes to produce and anchor a good newscast. I am excited to begin the new semester on Monday, January 25th. I will also be busy with reporting for UTVS News on Tuesday’s this semester, which I am excited to do as well!

Eastyn Rayce

Today I am thinking a lot about the past, three years, and how lucky I am to be an Uncle to one of the sweetest little dudes I know. I have one brother, whom happens to be 13 years older than myself. The age difference has never really affected our relationship as siblings. Brandon has been married to my sister-in-law Heather for the past eight years, and I love her dearly. She is a very smart, caring, quiet and loving person. My brother and his wife have been together since high school, and love each other very much. They have always wanted to have a family, but as many couples experience, the difficulty to conceive their own child was always a struggle.

Three years ago, after trying multiple years to become parents the natural way and also filling out endless adoption papers after giving up hope to have one of their own, Brandon and Heather surprised our family with the best news of all, they were expecting a baby! I could not contain my excitement over the next nine months, buying clothes and toys for the little baby boy that I would meet in just a short amount of time. Little did I know that this little baby boy would change my life so much.

Eastyn Rayce Goutermont was born on September 12, 2012. I will never forget driving down with my parents to meet him for the first time at the hospital in Duluth. My Mom and I cried the over the one hour drive, filled with excitement and happy emotions, thanking God for the miracle that finally arrived into our quaint little family. Holding the small little miracle in my arms for the first time brought tears to my eyes, as I began to imagine a future with this little guy. Babies are born every day, but it truly meant more to our family, because we didn’t know if my brother and his wife would ever be able to have their own children, and the reality had finally set in.

Over the past three years, being an Uncle has changed who I am as a person, and allowed me to show who I truly am and make myself a better person. Being nearly four hours away from him while in school isn’t easy some days, and that is why I chose to write about this story today in my blog. I think a lot about my family as I finish my weeks, and slide into the weekends. We are fortunate to have technology at the touch of our fingertips in today’s world, and that has proven to be a wonderful perk in my life. I try to FaceTime with my nephew as much as I can. Recently, he has become more emotionally attached to many of us in the family, and loves to chat with me, even over the computer. Although his attention span is smaller than a puppy’s, he likes to say hello to me, and tell me about his toys and what he has been doing in his everyday life. I cherish every minute that I get to spend with the little dude, and always will as we both continue to grow. Eastyn has one other Uncle, and I find myself in competition with him for the Best Uncle award! Over the winter break, I was thankful to spend a lot of time with him, having a sleepover at my parents, sledding down our big hill, and opening presents over the Christmas holiday. It is hard for me to believe just how quickly he has changed and grown over the past three years. I am excited to graduate college, and hopefully find a job in Duluth, so I am closer to him as he begins school, and becomes involved with activities and friends. This post has helped me with my emotions today, as I sit and think about the little bundle of joy that came into my life three years ago! I hope  you enjoy this insight into my life!

Beginning a New Chapter

To begin my blog, I want to discuss something that recently began to blaze over the Holiday break, but truly sparked nearly three months prior. Back in September, my iPhone buzzed with a new notification from my Facebook app. Glancing down quickly, I noticed it was a friend request, but not from anyone that was familiar in my life. Now with all flashiness and egotistic thoughts set aside, I am a nice, kind person that happens to work in the public service industry (television broadcast with UTVS News) and tend to get new friend requests from time to time from folks that I don’t personally know. Let me move on with a little kindling background information about myself before we set fire to the rain. I am in my Junior Year at St. Cloud State University working toward my undergraduate degree in Mass Communications with emphasis in broadcasting, 20 years old, and a proud member of the LGBT community. With the most important sticks laid out and ready to spark a flame, we can now get to the part about me settling into the present moment.

Over the past year, I have been a single guy, working to strengthen myself as a strong independent person, and enjoying life one day at a time while setting long-term goals. However, my relationship status quickly changed during the week of December 22. Back to the result of the Facebook friend request that you have probably been wondering about since previously discussed. Well, I accepted, and began talking to Mr. Justin Chumich. He seemed like a very handsome man, living in Duluth Minnesota (one hour away from my hometown of Silver Bay Minnesota), teaching kindergarten and enjoying life with wonderful friends and family. We began small chatting, asking about how we both were doing, and extending the conversation to a few flirtatious messages back and forth. However, as quick as the conversation sparked up, it was extinguished like a candle trying to survive in the wind. For the next three/four months, I did not communicate back and forth with Justin. Not having the faith in myself to commit to someone at the time, I stayed singe, and unhappy with that status once again as the holiday season began to shine so bright.

First photo with Justin, after becoming “official!” Taken by Brett Mensing

With the semester wrapping up, and finals coming to an end, I had many hours of free time to check my social media applications. As I was scrolling through one fine day, I noticed a picture that was posted of this Justin Chumich guy once again. Being an avid dog lover, I was immediately drawn to the image of Justin sleeping peacefully on a black leather couch with a Pitbull puppy on his chest. This image has been the spark of a new beginning, and a dog that will go down in history as my new relationship begins to shine bright inthe present.

The photo of Justin that sparked my interest! Taken by Megan Polling

Since seeing the image and messaging Justin back with a flirtatious chat about loving dogs, and how cute the picture was, we have been chatting and spending time together for the past four weeks. Justin recently asked me to be his boyfriend on January 11th, 2016. With tear filled eyes, I graciously accepted his offer, looking forward to the commitment and fun to be had as we continue to spend time together, day-by-day. Throughout my blog, I will continue to discuss bits and pieces of this new adventure, but must sign off for now, as I continue to settle in to the present moment.