Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tragedy's Impetus

I’m pissed.  I’m sad, and I’m heartbroken, and I’m pissed.

And I’m angry, which is better (or worse, depending) than pissed, because true anger begets action, often against the source of said anger.  That is the good news.  Or will be, but more about that later.

Another child has taken her own life in the face of blatant, willful, and even hateful ignorance, and it makes me angry beyond belief.  If you have not heard about the suicide of Leelah Alcorn, you should stop here and read this.  I mean it.  Stop what you’re doing and take a minute out of your day to see what consequences are born out of hate and fear hidden behind a fa├žade of love.  Then come back here, and be angry with me.

For those of you that are familiar with Leelah’s story, you understand the source and depth of my reaction – of the reaction of so many, both inside and outside of our community.  It was her death that flipped some switch in me…that gave life to an idea I had no clue was even percolating in there.  And it will be good, and it will honor her and others like her…and that’s for another (later) post.  Sorry.

What I want – what I need – to write about now is the dogma and belief system behind the treatment that led to her thinking there was no other way – the Religious Right.

{Before any of you get cranky and shut this window down, I’d like to say two things: 1) It states very clearly in my blog description that I purposefully address uncomfortable topics; and 2) How can you ever hope to learn from other people’s perspectives if you refuse to acknowledge them?}

You’ll note that I referred (and will continue to refer) to this group as the Religious Right (or RR, for short), because I believe this movement to be distinct – politically and spiritually – from Christianity at its heart.  I know many people who follow this path who are genuinely beautiful individuals, who actually follow the tenets of the faith they profess.  These are not the people to whom I refer. 

It is the fearful, angry, elitist, judgmental faction of this belief system.  The ones who believe they are right and everyone else is wrong, and that’s the end to the story.  Period.  Who have the knee-jerk, over-the-top reactions to anyone or anything that challenges their beliefs or supposed deity-given rights…who choose cognitive dissonance over learning and growing as human beings…and who believe they have the authority to say how others should live their lives.

To give you some perspective on my own background, I was raised Southern Baptist – at church every Sunday morning and Sunday night, every Wednesday night, at Sunday school and youth group and so on.  As an adult, I toyed with many different aspects of spirituality, both Christian-based and pagan, and at one point even converted to Catholicism.  What I eventually came to truly believe is that every love-based religion has a piece of the puzzle right, but none of them have the whole thing put together correctly.  They need each other to make the complete picture, as it were. 

One way I have tried to explain this viewpoint to others is likening God/Goddess/Creator/Great Spirit/Light/etc. to a fire on top of a mountain.  There are many different villages at the bottom of this mountain, none of which know about the others, but they can all see the fire.  They call it by different names.  They have different ideas and stories of how it got there, passed down to their children and their children’s children, and so on.  They have different beliefs as to what makes it relevant to their own lives and beyond, and what it means to creation at large.  But it’s all the same fire.  It’s just interpretation.

I have often wondered what it was about the RR and the more fundamentalist followers of Christianity that bothered me, and that ultimately turned me away from the religion itself.  Was it just that I’m a lesbian, and it’s based on the myriad internal (and some external) scars I still carry from how I was made to think of myself?  I thought so.  And I thought that’s what Leelah had to have been going through, as well.  To some degree, all of that is true.  I do carry the burden of my scars, and I can make an educated guess that the same weapons were hurled at Leelah – especially after reading her tumblr post that was timed to release after her death.

But that’s never felt like enough to me (although it certainly could be) to create the visceral reaction I often have to those who come at me from a fundamentalist position, regardless of the subject matter.  So what was it?

Today, as I was engaged in some of the more mindless aspects of my job, it came to me.  Smacked me upside the head like a brick bat, and I’ve been struggling to put it into words ever since.  Now, I think I’m ready.

When you are part of a group that believes it has the right answer to all the questions, the right method of discerning truth, the correct interpretation of what life is all about...that necessitates that you believe every other answer – every other viewpoint – is fundamentally wrong, because it is counter to yours.  Then to believe you are chosen by God to spread this message of your-way-is-the-only-right-way...

That is the most dangerous position a person could ever take.

I want you to go back and read the above paragraph again, and really take in the words.  This is what the RR and the fundamentalist Christians of the world are doing.  They believe that they know exactly what God (or the Creator, or what have you) meant by the writings of inspired followers (some of whom never met Jesus, but that’s a whole ‘nuther talk show) from centuries ago, which have been translated into several different languages by many different leaders who used them for their own personal or political gain (see: Constantine). 

When you approach the world this way, three things begin to coalesce into a rather formidable issue.  To wit:
1)   What you believe is right, and what others believe is wrong.  You want to help them, so you try to convince them to believe what you believe, because that’s what’s right.  You do not try and learn from their belief system or allow for their own perspectives to have merit in their own right, because they run counter to what you were taught/believe.  This includes scientists, evolutionists, and anyone outside of your own culture.
2)   You fail to see the connectivity of humanity and nature.  The earth is a dead thing to be dominated.  Plants and animals are here for your use, and serve no other (or indigenous) purpose.  They have no value as a piece of creation, and are beneath regard and respect of humans.  They are only property, to be used as you see fit.
3)   Because of the first two factors, anything that runs counter to your beliefs becomes a threat to your belief, because there can only be One Real Way to do things.  This creates an atmosphere of fear, which is an energy directly contrary to love.

Leelah’s parents were adherents to this belief system, as told to us by Leelah herself in her detailed post, and as shown by the example of their public response to the outcry against their daughter’s death.  Do you see?  Can you understand the connection?

She didn’t fit into the scheme of what they believed, so she was wrong (it couldn’t be them).  Because her identity was wrong, they tried to ‘save’ her from it, through like-minded counselors within their own culture that had no training or knowledge of transgender issues.  There was no acknowledgement that humans are only interconnected, spiritual beings in shells…that it made no difference that her shell didn’t match her spirit – she was still their child.  Their fear of judgment of their daughter – by God, friends, and family – and of them as parents, I can reasonably assume, drove them to react negatively to her gift of expressing herself honestly to the two people who are supposed to love her unconditionally.

It is this elitist, separatist attitude that is at the heart of what often pushes me (and so many others) away from this religion.  Which is sad, because it doesn't have to be that way.

In the immortal words of Gandhi – “I like your Christ.  I do not like your Christians, they are nothing like your Christ.”  The few Christians I count among my friends embody the true teachings of Christ (not Paul – totally different regime, but again, for another post), which are based in love.  This is what religion is supposed to be – an avenue of discovering and spreading love, not hate.

If only Leelah’s parents had realized that…had realized the truth of our Oneness and how temporary this human shell really is…and had been able to see the beauty of their daughter at her most vulnerable and frightened moments…perhaps this wonderful life would still be a light on this planet for others.

All we can hope, all we can work for is that her death was not in vain.  That such a horrible tragedy can be gleaned for the lessons and positive change it might effect in society, and in people’s personal outlooks.  But first those on the Religious Right front are going to have to loosen their strangle hold on their fear, and let the love shine in.

Leelah wanted that for us all.  It’s time.



JCA

Silence



Words

There are too many
And too few
To express this need

They have not the color
Nor proper texture
To bring my thoughts to bear

And yet
They are all I have

So here we sit
Without even one

To bridge the yawning silence

That stretches languidly between us
Like a cat beneath the sun

Quiet
Poised
And dangerous


~JCA



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Identity, Career, and Choices

There is nothing in the world I would rather do than write.

I love to learn about new things and new cultures, to study in-depth on all things dorkdom.  I adore reading all different genres; especially discovering new or new-to-me authors.  Time with friends - laughing, postulating, relaxing - feeds my soul.  Coffee makes me giddy, and not just because of the caffeine; and sleep is a phenomenal luxury in which I love to luxuriate.

But writing...

Writing is my very breath, my fuel.  It envelops me in a way nothing else can - even painting, which I also am quite fond of.  The way simple words come together to evoke complex emotion...the twists and turns of phrase that can create something out of nothing are tiny miracles that dot the landscape of my heart.

Poetry was my dominant form of writing for much of my formative years, and remained such until perhaps a half-decade ago.  However, it was primarily a way for me to process and deal with my more negative emotions and experiences, and so became prohibitively difficult to sustain in the face of self-acceptance and true happiness.  The positive effect of this (aside from the obvious self-acceptance and true happiness) was that I discovered a talent and love for fiction writing.

There is very little like it, truly, and I have found in discussing the process with other writers that the frustratingly wonderful aspects of composing fiction are ubiquitous in the field.  You have not lived until a character that *you* created grabs ahold of your story arc and gleefully runs the other direction with laughing abandon.  It's like living with a host of imaginary friends in your head on a constant basis, all vying and jockeying for position and storyline participation and their very existence.  They have secrets they refuse to reveal until they are ready, and entire sides of their personalities that will pop out unbidden at the worst times.

Let that sink in for a minute - these are people, characters that are created in your head, entirely made up of your own thoughts and imagination.  And they hide things from you...trick you into believing things about them that are not true, and do things you never could have predicted.  It's surreal in the most wonderful way.  And I'm not just nuts here - this is an extremely common occurrence for many creative writers.  Of course, that could just mean we're all nuts, but I'm kinda okay with that.

In any case, back to writing being my life.  As some of you reading this may know, I have one published short story out there in the world, which was a result of winning a spot in an anthology a few years ago.  Though it was not marketed all that well, and sales were therefore predictably dismal, it did give me the immeasurable benefit of working with editors and going through the process of edits, re-edits, re-re-edits, etc.  It also taught me so much about what I do and how I do it, and how to hone that skill into something marketable and (more importantly) enjoyable for my potential readers.

This story was published under a pseudonym, due to personal reasons for me wanting to prepare for a writing career apart from any familial associations.  Some time later, I decided instead to write under a different pseudonym, to feel closer to 'myself'; and even made business cards, a (now-defunct) website, an email address, and a twitter handle with this new name.  But something just didn't feel right.  I felt like the 'writer' part of me was this other personality, and the 'me' part of me was somehow just other.  Enter my recent revelation.

I was on my personal twitter feed, which I created with my recently-changed married name, choosing whom to follow.  Out of interest (and habit), I began clicking on all the different publishing houses, editing/quotes/writer's guild/writing help/etc. profiles, in order to get all the pertinent poop on the publishing and writing worlds.  It was only after feeling immensely accomplished at finishing this task that I realized I just did this - and posted a writing-related tweet - under my personal account, instead of a 'writer' account.

First, knee-jerk horror.  Then, slowly dawning realization - why do I feel the need to use a pseudonym?  Why should I separate myself into different pieces, when it's who I am that fuels what I do?  I'm not *just* a writer.  I'm not *just* an activist, lesbian, mother, wife, friend, retail worker, horrible housekeeper, nature lover, spiritual soul...  I'm all of these things.  All at once.  And the recent experience of legally claiming my married name lent new pride to the concept.

My name is my identity.  It's what people call me - for better or worse - and what the world references as 'me'.  So why should I choose something artificial to represent myself when it is my authenticity that inspires me?  My original issues with wanting to protect those I love who share (now only part) of my name dissipated with the advent of my complete self-assurance in who I am.  I do not ask them to change for me, but neither will I change for them.  I am who I am, and my name is a piece of that puzzle.

All this verbosity to say...I am reclaiming my identity, both in the social media and the writing worlds.  I will not hide pieces of myself to avoid conflict or discrimination, nor will I create some shield of pseudonym to hide behind.  I am all of me, and I will be seen as all of me by all of you.  Maybe this is prideful in the extreme, but I see it as only healthy pride. I know who I am, and anyone reading anything written by me from this point forward will know as well.

And now...I'm off to create.  Love and light to all of you, and may you each find and celebrate the oneness of being completely yourself in every way, on every front.  There is nothing more life-giving than this.

Not even writing.




Sunday, November 16, 2014

Weddings, Joy, and Sadness

I'm back!  Aren't you glad?  I know I am.  I let this little pet project of mine slide for a very long time, but I feel that now is the right moment to resurrect my passionate documentation (read: ranting).

Why, you ask?  Well, I'll tell you...because I got hitched!  That's right, boys and girls - marriage equality came to a neighboring state, and my partner of more than 5 years and I drove up to tie the knot.  Legally.  You have no idea how good it feels to say that.  Or how awesome it is to look at our real, live wedding license (which I totally don't do, like, every other day).  We'd been planning a big to-do sometime next year, but when legal marriage was a mere hour and a half drive from our home, we couldn't pass it up.  So we gathered up more friends and family than we ever thought would make the drive, headed up to Oklahoma, and did the deed!

But as wonderful and amazing as it was (and it was), there were two things that made it not quite perfect.

1)  A large number of my wife's family turned out, which was wonderful.  A large number of our friends did, too, which was awesome.  But my family?  It was just my brother and his wife and their two monkeys (their children, relax).  To be fair, I didn't invite anyone else in the family other than my parents, because I knew they wouldn't come.  I know some of you out there are shouting - "How can you know if you don't give them a chance?!"  Trust me.  I know.  But the thing that hurt the very most was the absence of my folks.  I didn't expect them to come, honestly.  The wife and I had had a frank discussion only a few days before with them wherein they expressly stated they would not be in attendance.  But I'd be lying if I didn't say a small piece of me still hoped they might change their mind.

Not for the reason you're probably thinking, though.  It wasn't that I wanted them there for me - quite the contrary, I was much more comfortable just being able to be myself and enjoy my day.  I wanted them there for them - so they could bear witness to not only the incredible love and support that surrounded us, but to the uninhibited, unadulterated joy that permeated that entire day.  To see me openly, vulnerably happy in a way that I don't think they've ever witnessed.  When you know someone disapproves of who you are from a fundamental viewpoint, it becomes almost impossible to be genuine around that person.  The weird side-stepping that so many in the LGBT community are used to doing with their families of origin, the consciousness of whether you're holding your partner's hand or forgot where you were and kissed them as you headed to another room.  That kind of thing.

And I realized looking back on our wedding day and viewing the pictures taken afterward, that perhaps they will always have a skewed view of who I am and what my relationship is like, because their very nature prevents them from seeing the truth of it.  I really think their attendance would have opened up something in them they didn't realize they had for me - acceptance.  But I cannot change them any more than they can change me...I can only offer them that which they cannot.  Acceptance.

2)  Driving back over the state line into our home state of Texas was a surreal and deflating experience.  Knowing that somehow this imaginary boundary that we crossed invalidated all we had just done in the eyes of the law was beyond the pale, to me.  That we could literally stand in one place and be recognized as a legally married couple, entitled to all that entails; and then take two steps to the left and be stripped of all those rights...  Surreal is the only word to explain it.  Our names were changed on the marriage license.  And if we lived in Oklahoma, they would be our legal names. But as of right now, our 'federally recognized' names are different from our 'state recognized' names.  Do you have any idea how weird and disconcerting that is?  We cannot change our driver's licenses, or apply for a SSN name change, because the state of Texas does not recognize our marriage.  Well, unless we fork out around $300 each to do so with a court order.  Ridiculousness in the extreme.

Some have been angered by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the marriage ban.  But I see it as a good thing, and a smart political move for our community.  As things were, SCOTUS saw no reason to intervene - all the circuit courts were falling in line, striking down bans and opening the gates for LGBT couples to be fully recognized under the law as equal citizens.  But with this advent of this latest ruling, it provides the necessary impetus for SCOTUS to act, and act quickly.  Two states have filed separate appeals directly to the Supreme Court, and a nationwide decision could be handed down as soon as next summer.  I realize that sounds like a long time - and from here, it does as well, I assure you.  But in the grand scheme of things, it's less than a year, and it will be a groundbreaking, paradigm-shifting, party-planning celebration.

Complete with free name change.  I cannot wait.




Sunday, September 1, 2013

What Price, Truth?




My family's present financial situation is bleak, to say the least - as I'm sure so many are today. With two kids and extremely limited income, we've been playing eenie-meeny-miney-moe with our bills for way longer than I'm comfortable with, and things are going to catch up to us pretty quickly.

And as I have yet to find anyone who will compensate me on a monthly basis for simply being so damn awesome, I've been in dire need of a paying job for some time now. Unfortunately, opportunities have been less than prolific, even with my blasting a resume from here to Timbuktu and back. So I decided it was time to take a different approach, and began Googling psychologists' offices which deal mostly in adolescents (my target demographic once I'm through school & licensed). I sucked up my courage - and my pride - and started cold-calling them in hopes of finding an open position somewhere for which I would qualify. Lo and behold, the very first one on the list just happened to have a clerical position open! Thrilled, I submitted my resume and waited (not so) patiently for a phone call, then arranged an interview and began my research of the firm and its members.

Please understand, I was so excited. Like, happy-dance-around-the-living-room excited. (Which is no easy feat for a semi-crippled voluptuous goddess, I assure you!) Not only was I going to interview for a position I knew I could do with both arms tied behind my back, but it would also provide a great observation opportunity relevant to my studies and future career. Sadly my excitement was not to last however, once I began to dig into the backgrounds of - and services offered by - the therapists at this location.

First, I noticed all the religious affiliations held and lauded by many of the psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors in this practice. Okay, no biggie. I'm cool with all religions, as long as they are cool with me. Drilling down a bit, I realized they were all with the more 'fundamentalist' types of Christian churches and groups, which worried me. But in the spirit of being non-judgmental (and a touch desperate), I decided I would give them the benefit of the doubt.

After all, this could be one of those awesome instances where the Universe places me in a specific environment in order to educate others about the LGBT community and the common misconceptions associated with it, right? I mean, it's happened before and been totally worth it. But then I got down to one specific counselor's bio that stopped me cold.

See, each bio listed that specific therapist's specialties, such as family & marriage counseling, ADHD, etc. On this counselor's page, however, was a specialty that literally turned my stomach. Right there in the middle of the paragraph were words I have fought against time and again. Words that have led to the death of too many young people, and the hatred of an entire culture:

"unwanted same-sex attraction"

Further research showed the links on their website connected to other anti-gay pages and sentiments. I felt numb. Sick. Here was a place that was finally interested in hiring me to do a job I'm damn good at, in a field I'm devoting my life to, with a salary that would ease so many of our troubles.

And they encouraged and openly practiced reparative therapy. 

You would think my decision would have been simple, swift and final at that point, given my beliefs and dedicated activism. But it wasn't - not by a long shot. Old demons that I had long considered exorcised rose up from the depths to torment me once more... 

This will feed your children, they said. 

Are you really going to let your 'lifestyle choice' keep you from providing for your family, they sneered. 

What kind of mother are you, that you'd put yourself and your own comfort level above your children's needs...

Selfish, sinful woman...God is testing you, and you're failing...You don't deserve those kids - you won't even take care of them when a way is practically handed to you...All because you want to be gay and pretend it's a valid lifestyle...For shame...shame...

On and on it went. My interview was scheduled for the next morning; and all night, this long-forgotten, internalized homophobia turned me inside out. I did not sleep. I did not rest. I could not get rid of the litany of judgment playing in my head, nor could I escape the guilt that was threatening to consume me. 

Finally, around 6am, I decided I would just call and leave a message for the woman with whom I scheduled the interview, informing her I had a few important questions to ask before I came in. Somehow I was hoping she could explain it away, even as I knew there was no other explanation for what I had seen. But as my one of my favorite authors (Laurell K. Hamilton) famously writes, "Sometimes hope is a lying bitch."

Yet leaving that voice mail gave me a modicum of courage...enough to hang on to that I began to fight back those demons - timidly at first, then with more and more strength as I remembered.

I remembered the reason I had come out for the second time at the late age of 30, with two small children in tow and a life in shambles. Why I risked rejection on all sides and the certainty of breaking my parents' hearts. I remembered why I was willing to destroy so much to live an out, open, authentic life:
My children.

I could not expect them to be honest with me and themselves as they grew into adults, if I were not willing to do the same for them. And once I took that brave move, facing my detractors head-on, I was motivated to help others on their similar journeys - to help them fight back their own demons. To walk with their heads held high in the midst of a suppressive culture. To not be afraid to stand up for what is right - even if it means sacrifice along the way, because it always does.

What would I tell my children later on in life if I took this job and pretended to be something I'm not? How could I expect them to stand up for what they believe, when I was giving in and allowing myself to be stifled and struck silent for the sake of the Almighty Dollar? And my future patients...what was I to tell them when they came to me for guidance, faced with the same type of dilemma? Give in? Give up? Realize we cannot win, and accept not only being openly treated as less-than, but submitting to it willingly?

Hell no.

The moment I thought those words, my stomach did another little jump - this time out of pride, not fear. This time because I felt the full weight of the emotion washing over me...crashing over me in waves of gratitude. How close I had come to betraying my own truth; to surrendering all the values and morals I have worked so hard to teach my children and show them by example.

Hand shaking, I picked up my phone and dialed that number one more time. It all happened so fast, but here's the gist of that voice mail (and yes, I had a cheat sheet for the orgs):

"Hello, Ms. 'X'. This is Jeni again. I left you a voice mail earlier, but have not yet heard back from you. To be completely honest, after doing further research on your practice, I have come to the conclusion that this position would not be a good match for me. You see, at least one of your counselors lists reparative therapy under her special services - treating 'unwanted same-sex attraction'? And I have to say, seeing that in a licensed, secular, for-profit psychiatric office is disturbing, to say the least - especially when it's common knowledge and public record that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Counseling Association, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychoanalytic Association, American Psychological Association, American School Counselor Association, National Association of Social Workers, and the Pan American Health Organization have all deemed this so-called conversion therapy not only completely ineffective, but incredibly harmful to the mental health of the patient. And as an out, proud, gay woman, I just cannot bring myself to take blood money from a practice that so willfully ignores every single authoritative entity in its field, to the detriment of its patients. I will not be attending the interview this morning. You just have a great day, now."

I hung up the phone, still shaking from the adrenaline. What did I just do? Did I seriously just tell off the one place that has called me back from my umpteen resume submissions and with which I essentially had a job in the bag?

I sure the hell did. And I'd do it again. 

How about you? 









Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Enough





So yesterday was kind of a tough day for me, as you can tell by 1) the content of yesterday's blog, and 2) the fact that I'm actually blogging two days in a row. 


Due to my mood and general state of fed-up-ness, I decided I would make a concerted effort today to avoid all 'those kind' of articles/blogs/websites/facebook posts. And thankfully today was hella busy, so it was pretty easy. But alas...on a night when I should be absolutely worn out, I find myself (yet again) horribly awake and alert.


I tried to read my new Esquire magazine. I tried to lay on the couch and watch TV, through about five different positions and 20 channels. I tried working on the six-string lanyard I want to make for my vape pouch. I tried just writing an entry in my personal journal, playing Chuzzle on my phone (OMG. So addicted.), and surfing facebook.


It was this last one that delivered me into temptation. In case there are more of you out there trying to avoid getting lost in online story/search tangents, do not open your facebook. It's the gateway drug of the interwebz, I tell you. The ganja of Google. A bong full of Bing. 


Just close down your laptop and move away, because you will be sucked into the vortex of endless, time-devouring cyber-digging. Don't say I didn't warn you.


As I should have guessed would happen, all it took was one story to get my activist juices flowing, and I was ready to open five hundred windows and start diving in.


But then a strange thing happened...when I opened up a new window in Safari, I actually stopped for a minute and looked at my default homepage. Now I don't know about you, but since I open new windows so much and am usually focused on a certain topic I need to research or look for, I rarely even glance at the default page that pops up. 


And that's kind of sad, because that page for me is LGBTQ Nation, one of the leading collective sources of nationwide LGBT news and other goings-on. But the sight of it had become so commonplace, I was just blowing right past it. 


Tonight, I didn't. 


I watched as the top stories scrolled by with their lead-ins and colorful photos. I read the teasers listed down the right side of the page, offering up the "Views & Voices" of our community regarding current events. I skimmed over the attention-grabbing titles of the stories filling up the rest of the page. Then I started clicking. 


Part of me wishes desperately I hadn't, because until then I really thought I'd been digging deep into the latest happenings - visiting all my regular pages to debunk and educate the ignorant and/or ill-informed. But I realized that by doing that, I was actually avoiding all the special-interest stories (man, I'm using a lot of hyphen-related words today!); personal, anecdotal accounts of what's going down on the front lines; and most of all - the pain, confusion, shame, and fear that is still plaguing our community every day.


See...I got caught up like everyone else in the joy and celebration of the Supreme Court decisions, and momentarily forgot that it made absolutely no difference at all to many people in our country. Certainly it didn't mean much for those in other countries, either. And for some law-abiding citizens, it only made things worse, calling attention to their orientation or gender-identity, and making them a scapegoat for all the different forms of hatred dreamed up by our detractors. 


All those feelings I thought I had put safely away began to bubble to the top. Those poison arrows were flying fast and fierce, and all I could do was sit and take it. Then I realized that there are most likely people out there that don't ever even come across these types of stories or read these kinds of articles.                   


I want you guys to kind of see what I see on a daily basis - both to help you understand why I do what I do, and maybe even fire up a little activist juice in you, too!

And yes, I realize I'm now playing the part of the gateway...the one leading you down the rabbit hole of cyberspace, chasing tangents exactly like I cautioned you against. But let's face it - between you and me, you weren't going to listen anyway, were you? 


Didn't think so.



*****

(The top link in the first five categories below is the LGBTQ Nation story; and the second, an outside article regarding the same information.)

Louisiana:

LA GOP councilman proposes flag law after veteran complains of pride flag

Louisiana Republican to introduce bill to ban LGBT rainbow flag from public buildings



Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia:

Lawmaker who wants gays flogged says Russian public needs protection

Putin: Law restricting gay rights in Russia is about "protecting children"



Durham, North Carolina:
Prosecuters: cult leader killed 4-year-old-stepson because he thought he was gay

Cult leader Peter Moses jailed for killing wife and 4 yr-old he accused of 'being gay'


Penalolen, Chile:

Chilean teen loses foot, faces leg amputation following anti-gay attack

Esteban Navarro, Gay Chilean Teen, Will Have Leg Amputated After Alleged Hate Crime



Indianapolis, Indiana:

Gay couples: Applying for a marriage license in Ind. could land you in jail

Prison Awaits Same-Sex Couples Who Try to Get Married in Indiana



Harare, Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe president says gays, lesbians who do not conceive should be jailed

Conceive or face jail, Mugabe tells gays



Sarver, Pennsylvania:
Police, FBI investigate swastika burned in yard of PA family with lesbian daughter





USA, Nationwide:
American Decency Association: Gays are 'disgusting, unnatural'

American Decency Association: DOMA Decision Just Like Pearl Harbor


'Ex-gay' activist: President Obama, Justices Kennedy, Kagan are secretly gay


Barton: Gays will 'enlist in the military just so they can have gay marriages'


Barton: DOMA Ruling Will Force Chaplains to Perform Gay Weddings...


Gallagher: Supreme Court DOMA Decision a 'Declaration of War'...


Keyes: Case for Gay Marriage Same as the Case for Slavery

     (original article by Keyes here)

Pulled Back From Suicide, a Gay Grandmother Asks How to Treat Those Who Shun Her


Catholic Cardinal calls gay US ambassador nominee a "faggot"


Middle school student branded with 'fag' slur on back of his neck by bullies



Pat Robertson (yes, he deserves his own category):

Pat Robertson says he vomits at the sight of gay couples

Gays will 'destroy' Boy Scouts to 'accommodate kids who want sex with each other'


Gays can change just like murderers and rapists


Cites Levitical Death Penalty for Gays, Warns the Land Will 'Vomit You Out'



*****

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. 


These articles are the type of thing I read daily, following the links to another page...and another...and another, leaving trails of comments and encouragement and education in my wake as often as possible.


Each of these pieces somehow sprung from the LGBTQ Nation website, and it's honestly a little disturbing how quickly I could find and link all these stories for you to see. I want you all to get a taste of why I get so frustrated and downright angry at times - it's hard to face this much hate and misinformation every single day.


Like I said in yesterday's post, I have no intention of giving up, now or in the future. 


And I am feeling better, thank you for asking.


But this isn't the way I want to leave the world for my children. I cannot settle for 'good enough' on this issue. I will not. All this hate and second-class citizenry...all these horrible people with their small minds and their steadfast refusal to believe anything that didn't come out of the mouth of God, himself... It's almost too much. 


Enough is enough.


And I say - it's more than enough.












Tuesday, July 9, 2013

On my off days...




I spend an inordinate amount of time studying and researching both the history of and current events related to the LGBT movement (in case you hadn't noticed). I pour over documents and articles. I visit websites that spew new and improved ridiculous justifications for their own internalized fears. I read about all the people out there in the world who know nothing about me, but still feel they are qualified to sit in judgment of my life - not to mention my afterlife.

As a side effect, I spend more time than I probably should arguing on these websites and in these forums against those who delight in their hatred of me...so certain are they in their self-righteous anger, that they're simply positive somewhere in heaven God is pulling out His sheet of metallic star stickers and headed their way. 

And most of the time it just rolls right off me, drowned out by the hope I cling to that maybe - just maybe - what I write to these ignorant, repugnant masses in rebuttal will actually be found and read by that one person to whom I'm really writing...that questioning, confused, scared individual who needs to see and hear my words of love and affirmation among all the ugly more than anything at that moment. 

So like I said, most of the time, it just rolls right off me...

Most of the time...it just...

But today is not one of those days. 

Today I am not reveling in my thick skin and acerbic wit as I traverse the pages of those who would wish me ill. Today I am not able to simply smirk my way through another news story connected to Focus on the Family, Fox News, Family Research Council, elected officials pandering to their 'sponsors' - or even uninformed, presumptively concerned parents. 

Because today is one of those rare times for me when it all becomes too much...

...the articles and anecdotes flying at me like poison tipped arrows; the fraudulent and outdated studies lauded and cited by the conservative masses, choking out the truth with their smoke screens; the unnecessary and undeserved hatred poured out the world over...

All this, coalescing into one thick, acrid cloud above my head...its oily black billows threatening to let loose the torrential twins of shame and doubt - the very mixture that nearly claimed my life once before. 

And I am appalled to find myself frightened. Not by these ignorant people themselves, nor the organizations they form, but of their relentlessness in this war (and make no mistake, that's what we are fighting here). Their tenacity and complete disregard for the truth or anything approaching it is astonishing, and it tells me that they will stop at nothing to get what they want. Nothing. 

Right or wrong, this kind of approach inspires fear, especially when their opposition (us) is a movement based entirely on respect, love, and tolerance. We will not sacrifice the lives or reputations of those we hold dear. We will not sell out to the highest bidder. We will not deliberately falsify information or use studies, statistics, or witnesses that are less than credible. 

How, then, are we to stand in the face of their foul winds? Face their arrows and choking clouds of bullshit? How can we successfully defend ourselves when we are unwilling to sink to their level? Can we seriously just sit back and cross our fingers, hoping that this will all end like some Lifetime movie, with all the ends neatly tied up and the bad guys vanquished?

These are the things that are circling in my head. These are the questions that bounce off my brain and monopolize my attention and my energy on days like this, taking my thoughts hostage and leading me down the darkest of dangerous alleys.

For those of us who fight this fight in some capacity on a regular basis, the unrelenting attacks and constant resurfacing of false, disproved, and outdated information can be a real beat-down. We get despondent, and burned out. Everywhere we turn, it seems like there's another person or group fighting against us, lying about who we are and what we're about. 

And often (at least in my case) this feeling of overwhelming persecution just serves to highlight those discordant situations of a more personal nature, with family, religious institutions, friends, and other loved ones. I mean, it's bad enough to have a significant portion of the world against a very integral part of what makes us who we are, but it's even worse to have that kind of judgment and persecution come from those we love and respect. This very personal kind of pain, added to the despondency I'm already trying to fight my way out of, is what truly pushes me over the edge. 

Every. Single. Time.

So what to do about the whole mess? 
First and foremost, we must never give up. We are not beaten until we forswear our cause, lay down our arguments, and surrender to the enemy. I don't know about you, but even on my worst days (like today), that is never an option. I will go to my grave fighting this fight, and I'll be damned if they win just by default.

Secondly, we have to learn to love ourselves. I know that sounds corny, but stay with me here - those situations with our loved ones or close co-workers or anyone else who matters to you may not ever get resolved. Yep - you read that right - the issues may never be resolved. So somehow, by whatever means we must, we have to let go of our attachment to the dream that everything is going to be all flowers and meadows and little rainbow bunnies all the time...that's just not real life. 

These anti-gay groups may never see the light, no matter how many times we shine it on them. My parents may never clear the hurdle of my sexuality, and learn to love me and my partner as unconditionally as they do their grandchildren and each other. Your sister or brother or cousin or uncle may never speak to you again, instead only sending those periodic emails reminding you that they and their Sunday School class are praying for your repentance and salvation.

I must remember I do not fight for them. I do not even really fight for me as an individual. 

I fight for those too scared or too beat-down to speak up for themselves. I fight for every child and teenager out there who knows there's something 'different' about them, and is just starting to realize what that is. I fight for the future world that my children will have to inhabit as adults. And I fight for my own little nuclear family - my partner, my children, and myself - that we be treated as equal citizens under the law, and given all the rights and privileges deserved as such.

So on these bad days, when I feel like I'm circling the drain and ready to throw in the towel, I have to remember what this fight is all about - not my own personal gratification or recognition, but for those who will come after, and those trying to get the guts to live as their authentic selves right now.

We cannot live our lives - I cannot live my life - attached to gaining everyone's acceptance and love. What matters most is that my children love me, my partner loves me, and I have an amazing little circle of friends that adore all of us. And if I can just remember to remind myself of this on a daily basis, these 'off days' are sure to get fewer and further between. 

I'm feeling better already.