Monday, November 30, 2009
I don’t know the age of invisibility in the Gay community but I think it occurs in the forties of fifties. It’s the age where you go to a club and are ignored if you are lucky and rudely talked about if you are not. Overall society is age and beauty oriented, but in the Gay community it is often taken to an unhealthier level. Younger Gay men seem to look upon older Gay men as if their time has past and they are unwelcome trespassers.
Occasionally there are exceptions, and it is refreshing to see the younger members of our community interact respectfully with older members, but you don’t see it much. It’s as if you reach a certain age and your welcome card is revoked to places like clubs, parades, and other social settings that one has always frequented. The thought of you cruising and being sexually active is repulsive. If you’re an older Gay man you should make us all more comfortable and stop trying to retain your youth, go away and stay at home. Sounds harsh, and it is, but it’s not too far from reality. Invisibility hurts,make no mistake about it. It will cause pain to the victim and eventually to its perpetrator.
It’s called age discrimination and it’s rampant in our community. Aside from younger Gay men that are attracted to older men and older men that are attracted to younger guys, not everyone is looking to jump your bones if you are young. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that is all there is to the older members of our community, and if they do happen to find you attractive, be flattered not offended. At some point whether you’re an adult film star or a college student, if you continue to live, you’re going to be one of those older Gay men. How would you want to be treated?
Do you feel invisibility approaching with each birthday, because it is unless we learn to value those who are older and let them live their lives fully as part of our community? What is wrong with an older couple who goes to a dance club or an older single man who talks to you at a bar or a party? At what age are they supposed to stop living, going out, and showing up for life? Be careful how you answer because that will be the age when you too will be asked to withdraw from life. Oh not directly, but by disdainful looks, exclusive gatherings and snide hurtful comments. Who are you to determine the definition of old and write the rules of life that pertain to it?
The worse part of age discrimination in the Gay community is the disregard for our history. We are in debt to older Gay men and women for the freedoms we have today.Freedoms that are admittedly not perfect, but more then we would have had without their bravery in choosing visibility over safety. I have many groups of friends of all ages. I enjoy each group for what it is but some of the best times I’ve had is when I get to listen to older Gay men tell their story and give their advice. I also don’t mind when they flirt with me as I do find it flattering.
I love to see older guys on a dance floor or at a party engaged in life as it makes me hopeful that I won’t one day fall victim to our community’s invisibility law. We ask the world to stop discriminating against us and with the same brains and mouths we practice age discrimination against our older Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters. Hypocrisy is wrong whether practiced by a church of pedophiles or by the Gay community against its own. We will all get older if we are lucky, and that includes the youngest among us. What sort of future we have depends on us changing the present we are now creating…
Saturday, November 28, 2009
The other day at work, I was having a conversation with a gay staff member. I think he is in his mid to late twenties. He was telling me that for Thanksgiving, he and his partner would be visiting his partner’s family. He told me that though they had never said it, he was sure his partner’s extended family knew they were gay and a couple. His partner’s parents know about them, and are accepting until it comes to acknowledging their relationship to the extended family. I asked him how the introductions go, and he told me he is introduced as his partner’s best friend. The relationship is not a new one so I pushed a little. I asked why that was acceptable. He said that they were still not comfortable telling the extended families because they are still “young” and being former military he just practices the same don’t ask don’t tell policy. As we talked, it became clear that he and his partner were concerned about the parent’s comfort level and not so much their own. Concerned to the point where they allow their relationship to go back into the closet when introduced to extended family. My advice to him was, you are never too young or too old to stand up for who you are and be visible. I do not think he was happy with this comment.
The conversation raises a few questions about coming out. I think coming out is a personal thing. I also think it is a necessary thing if a Gay person is to have a happy fulfilled life. It would be wrong of me to urge all Gay people to come out, as I do not know their situations. I know it would make some unsafe and at risk for bodily harm, job loss and maybe even loss of housing. To people in that situation, I still think you need to come out to have a happy life, but perhaps first you need to move yourself to a place where you will find support in doing so. Why choose to spend your life among people that will dislike or hurt you for being who you are born to be?
Some Gay people are never in the closet as their appearance and style make it apparent who they are. I think they are some of our bravest Gay family members, immersed in the thick of battle from the beginning. Then there are people who can pass for heterosexual. Sometimes those folks do not have it so easy either. I know, as I am one of them, so I can speak of my experiences. Being me has made the coming out process a continuous life long one. When I enter new situations, it is pretty much assumed I am heterosexual until I say otherwise, and I always do, as soon as the opportunity arises. It gets a bit wearing to experience the awkward pause when I tell people and it is always followed by them trying to reassure me it is OK that I’m Gay, as if it was up to them. It makes them uncomfortable in the beginning but it is not my responsibility to care for their comfort. It is my responsibility to be out and have them experience a Gay man and perhaps educate them so the next time they meet one of us it will be routine, or perhaps they will not assume everyone is heterosexual from the beginning.
This bring me back to the staff member I mentioned earlier. He and his partner have taken the responsibility for his partner’s parent’s comfort. In doing so, they are sacrificing who they really are. It is not a healthy choice and it certainly makes a negative statement about Gay people. In allowing themselves to be introduced improperly, they are on some level saying that who they are is wrong and shameful. If you are willing to have who you are hidden, to keep someone else comfortable, then you really need to examine how you feel about yourself. When my husband and I first got together, both his parents and mine introduced us improperly, we always made the correction and discomfort always followed, but there was never again a question as to who we are.
Lastly, I want to talk about age and the idea of being too young or old to come out.As I write this, I am thinking of independent adults in safe situations. Do not use your age as an excuse for not being true to yourself. I refer you to a ten-year-old named Will Phillips who refused to say the pledge of allegiance until Gay people have equal civil rights. His story does not end there. His teachers have not supported him. His classmates call him names. In a recent interview he spoke about the names he is called. One of those names is gaywad. While it makes him unhappy to be called names, I sense he wears it like a metal of honor, as do most people who are abused for standing up for what they believe in. Whenever you think coming out will be too uncomfortable, or will make those you love too uncomfortable, pause, and remember a little kid nicknamed gaywad…
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
1: My husband Patrick
2: My parents and their health this year
3 My dachshunds
4 My friends,in my part of the world and online.
5 My spirituality
6 My job
7 My community, GLBT,Intersex and those who support and Love us.
8 My right to marry where I live.
9 Our home
10 My Penis size (sorry couldn’t resist)
11 Being a Gay man
12 Lessons learned and those who taught me.
13 The knowledge that we, LGBT and Intersex people are
unconditionally accepted and Loved by what
created us, so I am free to love others in the same way.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I was listening to a radio program this morning and heard the host complain that LGBT activist have no sense of humor. He went on to say that the deeper they get into activism the angrier they seem to get. So as their anger increases, their sense of humor decreases. I think there is some truth to this. It may be a casualty in the battle for equal rights. If we become myopic and focus on only the negatives and wrongs done to the LGBT community, it is easy to see how one could get very angry and find it harder to enjoy life.
This past week I read of two murders of Gay men. Both were gruesome, one included the victim’s rape and the other the decapitation of the victim’s head. It was clear that both were hate crimes due to the men’s sexual orientation. When you read stuff like that it is pretty easy to get angry and to get sad, I know I did. Here is the thing, if we get so angry over horrible events like this, and don’t channel that anger into action, then eventually it will rob our joy. When we allow it to do that, the body count starts to pile up as the anger really robs us all of a happy life.
We should not fear anger when it is over injustice or spurred on by a righteous cause. It is a valid emotion that often gets a bad reputation. When channeled into constructive action it is a powerful engine and agent of change. When it becomes all consuming, it is a life destroyer. Each individual chooses which one it will be. Sometime we talk about emotions as if they are out of our control. Most times, emotions are in our control if we stop to make a choice about them. Unfortunately through many years of reacting, we put our decision making process on auto pilot and just react by instinct with little thought involved. We can take charge of the process again. Sometimes just being aware that we are on auto pilot is enough to take it back and intervene.
Loosing ones sense of humor due to the negativity and inequality shown to the LGBT community is personality homicide in my opinion. A sense of humor is vital to physical and emotional wellbeing. No matter what is happening to our community at any given time, there is time to mourn, time to grieve, time to remember, and time to move on with life. Many LGBT people don’t seem to understand how all these conflicting emotions can co-exist, yet they do in each of us. We are complex creations and just as our bodies have white blood cells to fight infection; our minds have self healing mechanisms. Some of those are humor, laughter and sex. I get messages from people who read my writing and the most common question is, “how can you write about discrimination one day, God the next, and something sexual the day after that?” I’ve also gotten messages on twitter from people that say I let them down. They go on to say that they started following me because of my statements on human rights or Love for the LGBT community,but drop me when I joke around or twitter flirt. Of course my response is we are all multidimensional, to believe otherwise is naive. Why do we have to be just one or the other to be taken seriously?
It always bothers me a little bit when I feel judged by another LGBT person. I don’t mind disagreement as I actually think it to be quite healthy and a way for us to fine tune our ideas. I do mind judgments from my LGBT family as I believe this is the core of our battle with a homophobic society. We want to be accepted and not judged by society so why do we judge each other?
Serious passions can be acted upon and serious work can be done, and we can have fun while doing it. I will always mourn the abuse, neglect and murder of one of my LGBT family members at the hands of a bigot, but it does neither my community nor me any good to let it consume me to the point where I cease having a joyful life. If you have been robbed of your joy, report it stolen, feel sad, move on, and run out to get some more. It will cost you more to do without it…
Monday, November 23, 2009
In the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday where we remember the people and things we have and are thankful for them. It of course is also a major eating holiday as are most this time of year. Year after year most homes have large amounts of food and drink left over from the holiday that lasts into the coming week. We even have safety guidelines as to when it’s too long to hold onto leftovers.
I wish we had guidelines to help prevent leftovers in the first place. I wish one of those guidelines was how to welcome others into our homes for the holiday. While millions of us will be huddled in our homes, gathering with family and or friends, millions will be alone behind closed doors with no one and no where to go. Perhaps they are as close as next door. We are creatures of habit, comfort zones, traditions, and exclusivity. While many of us will have more then enough food and space to accommodate at least one alone person for the holiday, we won’t. I don’t believe it is out of selfishness. I think it comes from an internal dialogue that includes statements like;
How do I explain this person to my invited friends and family?
It would feel weird to have someone new over for the holiday.
Suppose they expect an invitation every year?
They might be a little too different to get along with my other guests.
I’m a guest myself; I can’t ask to bring someone.
OK, how about if you are alone and know others who will be alone, maybe the dialogue might go something like this;
Suppose they turn me down?
I can’t organize something like a holiday dinner.
It’s easier to be by myself, even if it makes me sad.
Now get yourself one of those balance scales. On one side place all the above statements. On the other side place an act of kindness that makes one or more alone person a little less alone for one day, or maybe makes you a little less alone for one day. Perhaps even add in the possibility of new friendships even if they start by being a little uncomfortable and a little put out in the beginning. Which side weighs more for you? The side with fears and rationalizations or the side that calls for modest sacrifice and the imparting of a caring act to another LGBT family member? I hope on Friday morning we will all have fewer leftovers then we originally expected this Thanksgiving.
Friday, November 20, 2009
As the holidays approach I’m happy to have a husband and loving parents.I’m mindful that not everyone does. Some are hurting in the friendship department as well. We have a friend who has no one, so we have become her family. It’s not always easy giving up time during the holidays that I would rather spend alone with my husband, but it’s our gift to her during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. We all would like to have a place to go, a place to feel welcomed and warm.
I think most of us know some one or a group of some ones out there who don’t have a place to be this holiday season. If each of us could just invite one or two of these people into our homes or apartments it could make a wonderful impact on loneliness. If a group of people who have no one can be each others family for the season that would be wonderful as well. Loneliness seems to increase when the holidays come around as we all wish we were loved and a part of others lives.
I could have easily been a person, who has no one, so could you. I know it’s uncomfortable and I know some of those lonely folks are a little bit of work, but giving of yourself and sharing cost you. It goes with the territory. When you catch a smile on a lonely person’s face that you made feel part of your holidays, I think you will understand that both sides benefit. In the Gay community we are often without accepting loving family and friends. I believe it is our obligation to be family to those like us. Things that are loved grow and flourish. Why not adopt a Gay for the holidays. Really why not?
How many roads must a man walk down,
before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove fly,
before she sleeps in the sand?
And how many times must a cannon ball fly,
before they're forever banned?
The answer my friend is blowing in the wind,
the answer is blowing in the wind.
How many years can a mountain exist,
before it is washed to the sea?
How many years can some people exist,
before they're allowed to be free?
And how many times can a man turn his head,
and pretend that he just doesn't see?
The answer my friend is blowing in the wind,
the answer is blowing in the wind.
How many times must a man look up,
before he sees the sky?
And how many ears must one man have,
before he can hear people cry ?
And how many deaths will it take till we know,
that too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowing in the wind,
the answer is blowing in the wind.
The answer my friend is blowing in the wind,
the answer is blowing in the wind."
Thursday, November 19, 2009
It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely. I think we may be seeing the latest example of this in the catholic church. They won a victory in Maine when the equal marriage law was repealed there. The margin of victory was small, but still it was a victory. A victory that further galvanized the Gay community and helped us re-focus the battle to Washington and the court system. However, in recent days the church has initiated some actions that are reminiscent of a dictatorship out of control.
In recent weeks the church has made several more attempts to infuse money into states where equal marriage is legal. New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New York, that is still debating the issue, are all under attack, but quietly so. More publicly are the moves made against equality in D.C. and against the hate crimes law. In D.C. the catholic church has threatened to stop providing services in the city like, sheltering and feeding the homeless if the equal marriage law is in effect. Those who claim to have God on their side have decided it is OK to use the poor as a pawn of blackmail to prevent Gay people from having equal rights. Doesn’t sound very Christian does it? To call it what it is, the church hates Gay people more then it feels obligated to feed, house and clothe the poor. There is something very wrong with that is there not? Do I smell a public relations nightmare for the catholic church or do I smell their rotting morals seeping through a crack in their fake Christian façade?
Let’s take their recent stance against the new hate crimes law and the employment non discrimination bill working its way through the legislature to the President’s desk. The catholic church has argued that the new laws will prohibit them from preaching against homosexuality. They argue that preaching negative things about gay people and homosexual orientation, they of course call it lifestyle, could leave them open to legal prosecution as it may be considered a hate crime. In a nutshell they are legally arguing to continue to hate and spread hate about Gay men and women. Again, not a very Christian act is it? One has to wonder if the leaders of the church have completely lost their minds to make such foolish public statements of hate and blackmail.
These tactical errors have already caused a backlash against the church. For their leaders and supporters, it becomes harder each day to justify their actions as being based on faith in God. The general population is seeing this institution for who they are, a power hungry, oppressive, child molester hiding, hate based church that has trashed the foundations of Christian faith throughout their history. LGBT people should be demanding the media give more coverage to these issues and start holding this church accountable for its hateful actions. The Obama administration should also take a stand in regard to the blackmail of the city of D.C. Perhaps the church leaders corrupted by their recent victories have overstepped their boundaries with these recent moves or perhaps their heads have swelled and they have momentarily let down their guard so the world can see them for who they truly are. This can not be a missed opportunity for the Gay community. When a crack in the facade of the catholic church appears that demonstrates the putrefying foundation they stand on, we must widen it with scrutiny and fight to shine a light upon it.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Discrimination hurts is many unseen ways. I’ve been pursued by a recruiter for a new position in another hospital where I live. The position sounds interesting and would represent another step in my career. I’ve met the key players I would be working for and with. They all seem like nice people who have an open attitude to me being Gay. At the end of my first meeting I made a statement and asked a question. I said, “I’m a happily married Gay man, would anyone have an issue with that?” The best answer I could get from them was,the people I would be working with would not. It’s not a good enough answer for me as the hospital is owned by the catholic church, and is part of a larger owned catholic health care system.
I knew when I entertained the interview process that when it came time to make a decision it was going to be tough. As this recruitment has been going on for over a month now, a few things have happened that solidified my position in turning down the job. The first of course is the catholic church’s involvement in defeating equal marriage in Maine. The second is the recent ultimatum the catholic church has given Washington D.C. in regard to ceasing to provide services to the needy if the equal marriage law goes into effect. Given the catholic church’s past reputation for being anti-gay and these recent events, how could I work for them? I know that there are LGBT people who do. The people who want me to work there had a few of them call me in an attempt to convince me it’s OK. As I talked to them I found out it is OK in small work groups, but not if you want to have healthcare benefits for your spouse or domestic partner, and not if you are open and have a picture on your desk of your significant other. It’s OK if you are quiet about who you are. To me that is not OK.
So who is hurt by discrimination? I am today as I have to pass up on a decent career advancement. The people who came after me and wanted to work with me are hurt as I won’t be there contributing. The patients of the hospital are hurt because they won’t benefit from things I would have established there. Finally and perhaps most importantly the catholic church is hurt as they are missing out on me, and what I could have contributed to their organization, but isn’t that true of most people who discriminate? Bigots are often, in the end, hurt more then those they discriminate against. Still I’m a little sad today and I wonder what it would be like to be either heterosexual or live in a land where discrimination against Gay people doesn’t exist. They call it putting your money where your mouth is because it does cost you to match actions with words. I think however it’s a good investment in a person’s integrity to do so…
Monday, November 16, 2009
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. (Romans 1:26-27, NIV)
These verses were written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Rome, a church he had not yet visited. If we take theses verses alone and out of context they appear to condemn same sex relationships. This is what right wing conservatives do, but as I stated before a proper understanding of scripture starts with an historical perspective of what was going on at the time in the church at Rome. Also vital in understanding scripture, is consideration of the period’s culture, the apostle’s intent of the letter, how the meaning relates to other scripture, and finally Paul’s understanding of sexual orientation. After reading what I wrote, I would encourage you to read the whole letter to the Roman’s with my thoughts in mind.
Let’s understand Paul first. Prior to his conversion, Paul was a Jewish rabbi on a mission to persecute and stamp out Christianity. He was strictly trained, orthodox and legalistic in nature. He believed Christianity to be an evil sect, Christ to be a fraud, and both from satan and against the one true Hebrew God. Many Christians were jailed and persecuted for crimes against the Jewish faith due to Paul. His own conversion took place on the road to Damascus, legal letters in hand and on a mission to arrest more followers of Christ. Paul was feared by the Christian community. On the road to Damascus Paul saw a vision of Christ which caused his life to change, do an about face and become one of the most vocal and influential followers of Christ. Paul was imprisoned in Rome and executed for refusing to renounce Christ and worship the Roman emperor and Roman gods. I think it is also important to note that Paul had one or two splits with the other apostles over their teachings and one with a close companion of his; over feeling this person did not meet his expectations. He seemed to regret both toward the end of his life after his journey and interactions had made him a softer and less legalistic man.
So we have a reasonable understanding of Paul, now let’s look at the situation in the Church of Rome at the time of Paul’s letter. The Roman church was primarily made up of Jewish converts and a moderate number of gentiles. So the audience Paul is writing to had an understanding of Hebrew law, tradition and the teachings of Moses. Set in Rome the church was in close proximity to the many temples set up for the gods Romans worshiped. This is the problem for Paul and the Christian Church of Rome and the true purpose of his letter.
In the earlier verses of Romans I, Paul makes it clear that the church has fallen into idolatry and renounced God and Christ. He speaks of the building of god’s out of wood and metal in the forms of animals, birds and humans, and worshiping these gods. One can assume he was referring to the Roma emperor at the time as they were viewed as deities. Specifically Paul is addressing idolatry and something called “shrine prostitution”. Shrine prostitution occurs when worshipers of an idol pay prostitutes to have sex at the temple as a form of worship to the god. Shrine prostitution involved both same sex and opposite sex couples. Paul speaks of both and in later verses talks about all the negative, and in his view sinful practices that God turned them over to because of their idolatry. God did this by withdrawing his spirit from them which caused them to fall deeper into sin. In the verses we are studying, Paul states that men and woman exchanged natural relations for the practice of homosexual sex. Within the context of the letter he also criticizes heterosexual sex used in the worship of idols. So Paul is not addressing those who believe in the true God (Paul’s), he is not addressing those who worship the true God. He is not speaking of homosexual or heterosexual people in committed relationships. He is speaking to the practice of idol worship and temple prostitution where people were paid to have sex with anyone or anything even if it was not their “nature”, orientation. Given the historical context and environment at the time of the writing, Paul is talking about sex for money in the worship of idols. Paul could not possibly be speaking of homosexual couples, homosexual people who worship his God or homosexually oriented people in general. It would not be against the nature of a homosexually oriented person to have sex with a member of the same sex. To Paul it was unnatural to have sex for money as worship to idols. His litany of other offenses shows that Paul was being thorough and legalistic in trying to name every possible offense.
So what Paul rails against is idol worship and the practice of shrine prostitution. Being Jewish, and knowing his audience is primarily Jewish, Paul uses references to Jewish law like those found in Leviticus. As one continues to read the letter Paul goes on to state that those who believe in Christ are no longer bound by this law. So even if Jewish law stated all homosexuality was wrong, and I don’t believe the intent of Leviticus is to say that either, then homosexual Christians are free from that law. It is also important to remember that 2000 years ago the understanding of homosexuality was limited. Today scientific evidence proves that people are born with this orientation and it also exists in other forms of nature. Conservatives would argue that God never changes so what was understood back then and prohibited back then is still true today. I would agree that God does not change. It’s humans that evolve and God reveals secrets about nature as we are able to understand them.
Here is an example of God’s edicts changing as people grew in understanding. The Jews were prohibited from eating pigs and shellfish. Looking back now with the knowledge of today, we know that the diseases from eating these foods undercooked or spoiled had a higher risk of illness and death. God was imparting a survival technique to an unrefrigerated and at the time nomadic Jewish population, a people that would fined fresh food in short supply. In the New Testament the apostle Peter sees a vision of these foods being lowered in a sheet from Heaven. A voice commands him to take and eat. Peter tells the voice that he can not eat the animals because Jewish law says they are unclean, and hence will never touch his lips. The voice commands him and says.” What God calls clean do not call unclean, take and eat.” Peter agrees and eats. He then goes on to expand this premise into realizing the gospel is not just for the Jews but also for the gentiles who God has deemed it should be preached to. Previously, Peter had refused to preach to gentiles as he believed they were unclean due to Jewish law and tradition.
In addition,other parts of scripture are not always viewed as all or nothing as is Romans I. An example is tax collectors. The Bible speaks harshly against tax collectors, but it is not interpreted as condemning all tax collectors or the practice of collecting taxes by right wing conservatives. Here they are right, it is simply condemning the specific practices of tax collecting in the historical time when it was written. This is further evidence of Paul condemning the specific practice of paid prostitution as a form of idol worship and not all homosexual or heterosexual sex. It is inconsistent to pick and choose when and when not the Bible is to be taken literally based on human judgment, lack of study, politics and ignorance.
Another premise found in scripture is that God will never put a desire in you that is against something God deems wrong. If we are born with a Homosexual orientation then by scripture’s definition it can not be wrong as God created us this way.
Lastly is the basic premise of both the Old and New Testament that states we are created in the image of God. If we are created Lesbian,Gay men, Bisexual, Transgendered, Intersex, male and female,then God must be all those things as we are created in God’s image. You can’t have it both ways. Conservatives would have you believe God hates a great deal of his/her own creation and that God must be a white male, but scripture itself contradicts this as it clearly states God created them male and female. In the New Testament Jesus speaks of how God even cares for the birds of the air and the Lilies of the field. He goes on to state, “How much more then does God in heaven care for you who bear God’s image?”
We don’t know why God or Nature creates heterosexuals or homosexuals’. There are many things in nature we don’t understand, like why we have two kidneys. I suppose one could be upset by the function of the urinary track and write a letter saying that the second kidney was a sinful organ and practicing bodily functions that went against God and Nature. I think a fair number of people who would not take the time to study the working of the urinary track, out of love for God, and unfortunate ignorance, might run to have this feared organ removed. The thinking segment of the population would probably do their homework and conclude that like many creations we don’t know God or Nature’s intent for making a second kidney but perhaps we are not ready yet to understand, and if God created it, we best just accept it, and treat it well until we do, because it might be more vital then we know.
With Love, M.T.
Friday, November 13, 2009
In thinking about doing some verses from the book or chapter of the New Testament called Romans today I realized to do it justice I need to pull out my bible and re-read the chapter so I can get an historical context for the purpose of the letter. I’ll try to get to that this weekend and continue the series by early next week.
On another note I was asked by a new Twitter follower today for documentation that he is loved. As we tweeted back and forth briefly it became apparent to me that he was looking for proof of love in the world. I came to this conclusion because when I asked why it was easier for him to believe he was hated he offered this tweet as proof, “OK -- evidence of contempt, hostility, indifference, etc, everywhere present.” His question is valid and I don’t view it as an attack on my beliefs. Love ought to be able to stand up to questioning in the light of day or quite frankly it is bullshit.
I believe Love and hate do exist side be side in our world. I agree with the tweeter that there is an abundance of evidence for proof of hate, but there is also an abundance of evidence for proof of love. It really depends on your focus. Now for some, hate, abuse, and discrimination have impinged on their ability to focus on anything other then the negative. It is still possible if each of us puts effort into what we make out of our reality, so no one is off the hook. If you view the world as all hateful and negative, it may be because of your life experience, but it is still within your power to change your out look. You are not powerless, you may be weak, and you may need the help (love) of others but it is still your choice.
As far as examples of love, I’ll site a view from this week alone. There was a story this week about a ten year old boy who refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He refused to say it until there is equality and justice for LGBT people because in his ten year old mind the words don’t ring true until there is. When ordered to say it by a teacher, he told that teacher to take a hike. When the parents were called in and understood the situation they asked the school to apologize to their son and supported his decision. To me this is an example of love and decency from a ten year old boy and his family. They make me feel loved and I’m proud of them.
Also this week a story surfaced about another child dying of cancer. The feeling is he will die before Christmas so his family has decided to celebrate the holiday today and tomorrow. When asked what he wanted for Christmas, the boy said Christmas cards. The story circulated on Facebook before it made the national news. My husband went out and sent ten cards to the child. When I turned on the news yesterday morning it was reported that the Post Office had delivered over 80,000 Christmas cards to the boy the day after his story became public. These were cards from complete strangers who wanted to give a dying boy his last Christmas wish. If this was not proof of love existing in the world, I’m not sure what is? What else could motivate so many people to do an act of kindness for this child?
Finally there is me. I tweet a lot about love because I feel it and I believe it. I’m not necessarily speaking about my love when I tweet about it. It is more a combination of me and the belief I have that what or who created us, loves us as intended creations. I also believe with a little nudging we can love each other more. As the stories above prove, you don’t need to know a person or a group of people personally to feel love for them. That’s the best I can explain it. I know we are loved and I love, so You are Loved, M.T.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I’ve been thinking about tackling some of the verses in scripture that the right wing twists against Gay people. I think it is important to go through them and get an understanding of what they are said to say, and what they actually do say. I would have to explain them in context of what was going on historically at the time the scripture was written. Most of the New Testament comes from either the four gospels or letters written by one of the apostles. Paul’s writing will be the focus as his letters contain the scripture we need to look at. I believe that LGBT people armed with logic and knowledge about scripture is vital to rebuking those who spew hate in God’s name, a God I know created us as we are and loves us dearly. You will probably find that most people who use scripture against us are blindly following hate mongers and have very little knowledge or study of the verses themselves. All arguments used against our equal civil rights are religious based so better to be armed. Let’s start slow with a less controversial piece of scripture;
Passage 1 Corinthians 14:34:
34 let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law.
This scripture is in a letter written to the church in Corinth from the apostle Paul. On face value it would seem to say that women should not be permitted to speak in church and should be subjective to men. This scripture is used by right wing Christian denominations and the catholic church to argue that there should be no women pastors, teacher, or leaders in the church. They state that this is a directive from Paul inspired by God as written in the above verse of scripture. Paul they argue, makes it clear that woman are not permitted to have leadership roles and are to be submissive to men that are in those roles, but what does it really say? What was Paul thinking about and talking about when he wrote this.
When Paul wrote this letter, the church in Corinth had a few problems that had been reported to him. While services were going on, the men would be up front conducting them as was tradition. The women would be seated or standing in the back of the church watching the services. The complaint Paul received was about the women conducting conversations with each other during the services. The conversations had become spirited and loud so as to disrupt the services and bother those in attendance. The male leaders of the church had allowed this behavior to continue. It is kind of like when you go to the movies and there are people seated behind you who think they are in their own living room and talk through the whole movie. Paul was simply saying for this particular group, tell them to knock it off, be quiet and pay attention to the services. He was not espousing a Christian edict that woman should never be leaders or teachers in a church. There are in fact other examples in scripture within the New Testament where woman did teach and take on leadership roles over men. Paul and Peter praised these women for their efforts.
So we begin to see how one verse of scripture is taken out of context, and manipulated in such a way that allows men to remain in power over women in right wing conservative Christian institutions. When taken in historical context and within context of other scripture, the real meaning of the verse becomes apparent as does the weakness of the conservative’s argument. Later this week and next I will do the same with the verses that are used to say God hates homosexuals and homosexual behavior. We will look at them in historical context and within context of other scripture to see what they actually do and do not say. Love MT
(P.S. I let anyone comment on what I write but know this, I will remove any antigay comments that are left as I don’t need my Gay and Gay friendly readers to be disturbed by hate on my blog. Personally I don’t really care what disease you wish on me, but I’m protective of my LGBT community and am confident God loves us.)
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I have been asked the question as to why I did not jump on the Tweet bandwagon for New York's vote on marriage equality as I did for Maine. A couple of reasons come to mind. Maine was a chance to get out the vote and maybe make people think before they voted, or vote if they were not going to. I read an article in the Boston Globe just before the vote in Maine that thought upholding marriage equality in a New England liberal state was a done deal. I did not think Maine was considered liberal or think it was a done deal. I think the way the vote went was proof of that. However, there was a higher then expected turn out so I am happy about that. I think that in part, accounts for the 47% we did get.
New York is a different story. Most importantly, it comes after Maine and my thinking has continued to evolve since the Maine loss. I am clearer now on this being a Federal battle to be fought in Washington and with our Federal legislators. The New York legislature has been playing games with equal marriage and still is as I write this. No vote for the last two days. I will be happy for the New York Gay community if the state legislature votes in equal marriage but my happiness will be tempered. It will be tempered by the knowledge that some day it will come under attack and attempts will be made to put it to a popular vote. When that happens it will be defeated and thousands more of my Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters who married will be in Limbo as they are in California. History proves me out on this point; people cannot be trusted to vote for the right thing when it comes to the civil rights of others. If left to a popular vote we would still have slavery, no voting rights for woman, segregation, and a ban on interracial marriage. Lawmakers know this and that is why it took acts of the Federal government to make those civil rights changes. In some cases, those laws were still resisted on the state level until the army was called in to enforce them.
When our battle for civil rights is viewed in the context as being equal with other civil rights movements, it brings the fight and solution into focus. My people are not pawns in a political or religious game; they are real flesh and blood. Flesh and blood that is brought to new highs when a state passes equal marriage and then to devastating demoralizing lows when the rights are repealed by their neighbors. We need to break this cycle by taking the battle where it belongs and not putting so much emphasis and hope on what individual states do. Does this mean we roll over and play dead when our rights go to a vote? God forbid no! We still fight, but we fight the premise that it is acceptable for the majority to vote on civil rights of the minority. We try to get the media to ask the right questions. Earlier this week the news program Night Line tweeted the question, “Should Gays be allowed to marry?” Many in the LGBT community jumped on the tweet train and tweeted yes to Night Line. I did not. I stated to Night Line that the question is flawed. The proper questions are, is it right for our neighbors to decide our rights, and is it right for one group of citizens to be denied a civil right that other citizens are afforded. These are the right questions. I do not think it helps to encourage the media to keep putting out the wrong sensationalized information. We need to correct and educate, and if they refuse to accommodate, then we need not participate.
I will correct misinformation but I will not play along with it. It is a tool of our opponents to get us to put our energy into the wrong battles and to respond and play along with misinformation. I would no more enter a debate that starts with the premise that Gay is the equivalent of pedophilia, then I would that it is permissible for the general population to vote on my civil rights. I would also take to task my own community that continues to vote for candidates who break promises, give money to political parties that do not deliver and support LGBT organizations that do not understand the crux of our civil rights battles.
We need to evolve in our thinking and realize that we deserve more then dashed hopes, broken promises and crumbs of civil rights to scramble after like a pack of rats. I fear some of our community’s actions are due to a negative self-image engrained by years of oppression and discrimination. Look, you fight hardest for something you love, so unless we truly love ourselves and believe we are loved and not a mistake of nature, the battle is already lost. We are better then that, I know this in my bones, we are most certainly loved and deserve full and happy lives with equality under the law. We are special creations with a purpose…. M.T.
Monday, November 9, 2009
The other day I watched an interview with conservative Christian Pastor Joel Olsteen on The View. Joel has often made it clear that he and his church believe the Bible is the word of God and infallible. Christians often site specific verses in the Old and New Testament as their argument against homosexuality. The verses are twisted and taken out of context as is the verse they use for their argument that masturbation is a sin. I wrote earlier on that topic if you are interested.
During the interview Joel was asked about Gay people. Joel said that “Gay people are not God’s best”. When questioned further he agreed that Gay people are creations of God. Herein is Joel’s problem, as it is also the conservative right wing’s problem. On one hand God is perfect and infallible. On the other hand, He/She some how created something (Gay people) less then perfect. These are two opposing ideas of God that can not coexist. Logic would dictate that if God is perfect and intended to make Gay people as Joel Olsteen stated, then Gay people are part of God’s perfect plan and creation. Thus we can not be “Not God’s best” or God is no longer perfect as most religious organization believe and even the Bible states. Alternatively if God is not perfect then the verses they site against Gay people, as the word of God, are suspect as is the whole Bible. Therefore they are not to be believed literally or trusted.
So Joel has given us a glimpse into the lies that are told about us in a loving God’s name. He has demonstrated a willingness to even sacrifice God’s reputation to discriminate against the LGBT community. He admits God made us as Gay, but would rather go against the will of God, and not accept us as an equal natural part of creation. This is demonstrative of the right wing, and right wing Christian’s motives being hate based, and not faith based. It boils down to the same motives that are behind all forms of discrimination, hate, fear, ignorance and a desire for the majority to hold power over the minority. It is responsible for turning Gay people away from a God who created and loves them, so their crime against humanity is more self damming. As for my Gay brothers and sisters, why would you believe the lies that come out of this group’s mouth about your relationship with God? They have proven untrustworthy and contradictory. Consider the sources as there just might be a loving Creator out there waiting to embrace you as he made you to be in this world…
(Clicking on the Title of this Article will bring you to the Youtube video of Joel Olsteen on The View as discussed above. I encourage you to watch it. Love, MT)
Friday, November 6, 2009
Here are my suggestions. First stop the bleeding by withdrawing your financial support from the LGBT organizations that refuse to change with the times. I mean the ones that continue to be happy with crumbs and suck up to politicians at our expense, you decide. The Human Rights Campaign comes to my mind. They have become a useless lobbying organization. Within your community,seek out grassroots organizations like the ones sponsored by David Mixner, The one that sponsored the march on Washington seems worthwhile, but don’t trust an organization with your support just because they say the right things about LGBT rights. Look at their actions, their track record and what they are planning. If it looks like business as usual despite failure after failure, steer clear. If it resembles a living breathing organism that is changing with the landscape and employing radical tactics that past successful civil rights movements have used then keep them in mind for your support.
Keep in mind that this is a tactical decision. We must not villainies the LGBT organizations that are not producing results. This is a family disagreement and we are simply choosing to move on to more effective means of securing our rights then they are either capable or willing to participate in. We are fighting for their rights too, and they must remain loved by us. I would find no greater joy then to have those organizations change course, and support the new grassroots movements, but even if they don’t they are part of us. We must remember this always. A more unified LGBT community is a more powerful one. However, our desire for unity can not get in the way of our desire for a results oriented movement when it comes to our equality.
The same goes for politicians. We do not elect politicians to vote their personal beliefs. We elect them to do the right thing, and lead the country. We also do not elect them with the sole purpose of staying in office. Remember we are thirty-one and zero fighting for equality on the state level. As I write this,equal marriage in New Hampshire is under attack as our opponents are spurred on by their victory in Maine. Our battle is with the Federal Government. They know the right thing to do but won’t do it because they fear being turned out of office. They are cowards who do not have the courage of their convictions. Don’t support them blindly.Let them know your vote is no longer a sure thing. This is the only message they will hear, money and votes.
Know this, in the history of this country; no permanent civil rights change ever happened without an act of the Federal government. Blacks would still be slaves, women would still not have the right to vote, whites would still segregate the blacks, and interracial marriage would still be against the law if left to a vote by the people. It is morally and intrinsically wrong to allow one group or citizens to vote on the civil rights of another group of citizens. It is criminal that our Federal government stands by idly and allows this to happen to us. We are tax paying American citizens without a full set of civil rights. Hold these truths close to your heart as you decide how to become involved in the new LGBT movement that is taking root in this country.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I’m not in a business as usual mood today. The defeat of equal marriage in Maine this past Election Day has knocked that out of me, probably for good. I sense a change coming as to what the GLBT civil rights movement will look like. A change back to the past. Let’s take a look at where we have been, where we are, and where I believe it should go.
The Gay rights movement began forty years ago in New York when a group of bar patrons had enough of the abuses of New York City law enforcement and decided to fight back. In doing so they hurled bottles at the police and forced a retreat into the streets of New York. Blood was shed that day on both sides, but the message was clear, we have had enough! Since then the Gay civil rights movement has morphed into a political lobbying system that for the most part attempts to work within our current political system to bring about change. These efforts have been driven by organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign. There have been some more radical methods employed such as those by ACT UP in the midst of the AIDS crisis. Although I believe their methods met with successes they have not become the norm of our movement. So for forty years we have backed candidates who promise to help us, donated money to campaigns and GLBT organizations in the hope that in doing so the changes we desire will be brought about in a peaceful way within the current political system.
Proposition eight in California and more recently the vote on proposition one in Maine is proof that the methods the GLBT civil rights movement is using are outdated and ineffective. To date thirty one states have voted laws into existence that ban equal marriage, yet the leaders of our movement continue to employ the same tools, failure after failure. It has actually become an embarrassment. The night before the March on Washington President Obama agreed to speak at the Human Rights Campaign’s dinner. While Obama spoke and said nothing new, we were treated to the sight of those attending the dinner standing on tables applauding with hoots and hollers. It reminded me of a dog excited to get crumbs off its master’s table. It was a disgusting display. As further evidence that the GLBT leaders have been ineffective, I would offer the news coverage of both the March on Washington and the vote in Maine. Both items were barely covered by the major networks and national news providers like CNN. They were treated as an after thought. If ours was a Black American movement, it would have been the lead story. In addition, after receiving the GLBT vote, President Obama was silent about the vote in Maine and refused to use the power of his office to influence voters to uphold equal marriage. It begs the question,are we any better off under an Obama administration then we were under a Bush administration. Perhaps yes in small ways but definitely no when it comes to the larger issue of equal civil rights.
Along with the methods of our current GLBT leaders being ineffective, there is the matter of a flawed battle plan. Equal marriage will never have a permanent victory on a state level. Our opponents know this. We have been playing on their battle field,let me explain. I live in Massachusetts. Equal marriage has been the law here for the past five years, but it is still not safe. There is nothing stopping conservative religious institutions from pouring money and bodies into my state, getting enough signatures together to have the issue on a ballot and go before the people. It could happen and I have no confidence that the people of my state would vote to uphold my right to marry. Here in lies another flaw in GLBT leader’s battle plan. Our civil rights should not be voted on by our fellow citizens. We have degraded into mob rule while the Federal government stands by and does nothing. In the history of successful civil rights movements, no real permanent change ever occurred until it was federally passed into law ordering the states to comply. We are pouring our efforts into the wrong war. Our war is with the Federal government as it is our own government that has the power to permanently give us equality. It is our government that is withholding our rights and discriminating against us. When civil rights are given to one group of citizens and denied to another group of citizens it is the definition of discrimination. So where do we go from here?
First we must resolve that enough is enough and mean it. We must decide how badly we want equality and begin to employ radical methods until society bends and gives them to us. We must take a lesson from history and employ methods like the successful civil disobedience of the 1960s civil rights movements. We must be willing to be outrageous, uncomfortable and incarcerated to make our point. We must be willing to pull our financial support from GLBT organizations that are ineffective and from candidates that make promises and don’t keep them. We must turn our support to grassroots organizations that mimic the successful practices of past civil rights movements. We must be willing to withdraw from its fabric, our many contributions to society.
Let’s take President Obama as an example. We are not a fringe element of the Democratic Party. We were a key force that helped him get elected. He takes our vote for granted. He does this because he believes we would never vote for a republican or not vote at all in fear of one being elected. We need to disabuse him of the thought that our vote is a sure thing. Even if it takes sending a message by rallying the Gay community to sit and election out, or vote for a republican candidate. Suffering through four years of a republican president would be worth the pain if the Democratic Party got the message that our vote is no longer a given, we will no longer vote for your candidate by default, and we will no longer vote or financially support a candidate that breaks his or her promises to our community. We lived through eight years of George Bush and survived. On the important issues, are we any better off today under an Obama administration, other then the Matthew Shepard act? A candidate who believes our community’s vote is a sure thing has no motivation to deliver on promises he makes to us. Politicians are invested in staying in power, if we are able to threaten their ability to do so by withdrawing our vote and our financial support, promises made to our community will be kept. The question is about our resolve. Are we willing to change tactics, leaders and suffer pain for the future equality of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and transgendered people? If the answer is no, we are doomed to crumbs from the master’s table. If the answer is yes, it’s time to shift gears and take the battle to Washington and into the streets of America until this country bends to our will.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
This morning I woke wondering what happened to the country I learned about as a kid.I was taught that America stands for freedom, justice and equality for all its citizens. I was also taught that my country is the beacon of freedom to the world. Back then I was given examples like Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the desegregation laws of the 1960s as proof this ideology was true. It may have been true then but this morning it does not feel so true anymore.
I think the lesson taught once again is that when it comes to civil rights, it should not be left to a vote by the people. The efforts need to be focused on a Federal battle. The opponents of equal marriage have kept the fight on a state level because they know they can win on this battle field. A battle field where they can play on the fears and ignorance of uninformed people. Our mistake is to play their game on their board. If one looks back in history, any permanent civil rights laws were made so by Federal enactment. I live in Massachusetts where equal marriage has been law for over five years now. However, my right to marry is still not safe. It is perfectly possible for a conservative bigoted group to collect enough signatures and put my right to marry on a ballot to be voted on again and again and again. If there is a transition of power in the Massachusetts’ state legislature, it is perfectly possible the issue can be brought up to a vote again as well. I have no confidence that the voters of Massachusetts would uphold my right and preserve equal marriage. This is true of all states where equal marriage is law. No one is safe until the right is bestowed by an act of the Federal government whether it is the legislative branch or the judicial branch.
Maine has another problem this morning as over 40% of its voters, voted to uphold equal marriage. That’s a large percentage, and now represents a state split by the issue. What is needed to put this to rest,is a person or group of people who hold power in the Federal government to pass an equal marriage law that forces states to allow the civil marriages of same sex couples. It will take someone of the caliber of Lincoln to understand the right thing to do morally and who is willing to risk their political future to achieve it. Lincoln knew in his heart that slavery was morally wrong and went against the foundation of the constitution’s statement that all men are created equal. He knew by freeing the slaves he would be plunging the country into civil war, yet he did it anyway. He did it because in his opinion, his desire to be re-elected, and his desire to keep the country out of civil war, did not measure up to the moral demand to free human being from ownership by other human beings. He did it because he knew eventually slavery, if left to continue, would destroy the country. Unfortunately we are fresh out of Lincolns in 2009.
If civil rights for the LGBT community continue to be withheld, the days of greatness of America are numbered. When other countries like Canada enact equal marriage for the entire country and the United States stands by and allows discrimination to be the law of the land, it can no longer proclaim itself a beacon of freedom to the world. Our influence to plant democracy around the globe, and to promote human rights in other countries, is greatly undermined by the withholding of civil rights from a group of its own citizens, within its own boarders. For the LGBT community the fight must go on, but the battle field must change or we will face many election days like the one that just passed. So mourn today but fight tomorrow.
Monday, November 2, 2009
That the Voters of Maine will be voting on the civil rights of their fellow citizens on Tuesday November 3rd 2009 is repugnant. However that is where we are today, so let’s start there. Officials elected by the Voters of Maine, passed marriage equality into law a few months ago. This made all fellow citizens of Maine equal under the state’s civil law. It was a decision congruent with Maine’s reputation for freedom and equality. Since then the state and its people have been under attack by the Catholic Church to repeal this law and make discrimination the law in Maine.
Maine is a tough New England state known for protecting its own, and its mistrust of outsiders. It is time to use that good Yankee sense now as you consider this vote tomorrow. The Catholic Church has said to the state of Maine, we don’t trust your ability to elect officials that will vote your conscious, we in fact don’t trust your moral center. As a result this religious institution has mounted an unprecedented assault on the state of Maine to dictate its own morals and will, as to who should have full civil rights and who should not. The Catholic Church, known for hiding and protecting pedophiles, believes its morals are superior to that of Maine’s voters. In conjunction with conservative religious zealots it has flooded the state with money and bodies to take over its people’s will.
In the end the power still rest with the Voters of Maine. Do you want to be known for upholding the principles of the United States of America by upholding equality, or for trampling the very foundations of this country that all people are created equal? Would you be recorded in history as a state that could set its own moral compass, protect its neighbors by maintaining their equality or a state that fell victim to a hypocritical religious institution’s will, and voted discrimination into law? If you do not uphold marriage equality you will be left with a divided state that suffers the same legal issues and legal limbo as California, a state that let the Mormon Church dictate its conscious.
If you are a Voter in Maine, examine your heart. Do you think it is right to take away the civil rights of those who simply want the ability to legally commit to whom they love, as you did, to raise families side by side with you, and to contribute to the well being of your state? Is it right to say to a group of fellow citizens that they are less then human because of who they were born to be, and therefore do not deserve equality under the law? Would you want your civil rights put to a vote? Depending on what the Catholic Church wants, you could be next. Will you allow this religious institution to dictate your mind, get its way and then leave you with the moral and legal ramifications to deal with? It’s up to you Maine, protect your own, or allow them to be trampled by outsiders. It’s time to employ the sensibilities you are known for, and protect freedom by upholding marriage equality on November third. Are you up for it? Will you do it? Can you think for yourself? The Catholic Church doesn’t seem to think so…
(Clicking on the titles of this post will take you to "Protect Maine Equality .org)