Tuesday, December 29, 2009
So here is a quick update on the Christmas Clues.
The clue that said I have 265 feet but can’t walk and I will be appearing on the David Lettermen show tonight, is a print of the Flat Iron building in Manhattan. I’m born and raised in NYC and my husband knows how I long to go back but can’t right now, so he surrounds me with things New York.
The clue that said Santa had one of these leftover from a shopping trip and is giving it to you, is a bag from a store called Caldor that went out of business in 1999. It was my husband's and my favorite all around fun store and I miss it until this day. I even worked at one, in the Toy department when I was in high school. I talk about it all the time, as I don’t feel any current store matches the feeling I got going in it. I had been moaning about missing it during the weeks before Christmas as I do every year.
The clue that said when little boys are good Santa bring back things that have been lost, is a ceramic keystone cop hat. When I was a kid, I got this kit. It was a ceramic keystone cop decanter and paint. I painted it and was really proud of it. I did some nasty things with it when I was a teenager, but cherished it always. About five years ago, we moved into our current home and the decanter showed up, but the hat that is a separate piece got lost in the move. For five years, I’ve looked at it and missed the hat. We ransacked the moving boxes but never found it. My husband saves packing peanuts because he mails a lot of things to his family who lives in a different state. He finally got to the bottom of the huge bag of packing peanuts about two weeks before Christmas and there was the ceramic hat still wrapped in bubble wrap. I found it in my stocking Christmas morning. It was magic.
The clue that said there was only 14 of these made and you are getting one this Christmas, was a complete set of Planet of the Apes movies from the 60s and a short run TV series in the 70s I think. There were only 14 episodes made and only 13 aired. The set was in a giant ape's head replicated from the movie. I’m a huge Sci-Fi fan and collector of old things so it is perfect.
So, that’s it for those of you who have been asking. There were other gifts but as I’m a fortunate guy and I’m conscious of those who are not, I’ll keep them to myself. I can honestly say though that the best Christmas present I got this year was to have my husband by my side making my Christmas and my life magical.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Let us talk about something you already know if you are able to be honest with yourself. The war to achieve equal rights for Gay people will not be bloodless. It will take riots on the scale of what the United States experienced in the 1960s during the Black civil rights movement. Sometimes a country has to be forced to do the right thing by humanity.
In recent days, there have been additional setbacks to the current Gay rights movement in the United States. The healthcare reform bill included four provisions to provide rights for same sex couples. Before passing the bill on Christmas Eve, the senate stripped those four provisions from the bill. It is now unlikely they will be restored in the final version. This was done by a democratic controlled senate that LGBT people helped elect. It is betrayal similar to what was seen in New York when equal marriage was defeated this month.
A democratic senator has recently submitted an immigration reform bill. It was supposed to include provisions for same sex partners to get green cards to enter the country and remain with their US citizen partners, a right that is afforded heterosexual married couples. The bill does not contain this language. Same sex partners, where one is foreign-born will continue to face separation under US law. It is again betrayal by a democratic politician that the LGBT community helped get elected based on promises made to us. Blaming republicans is no longer a valid argument that can be used to give the Democratic Party a pass on Gay civil rights. They are cowards.
There are other troubling signals from the US government worth mentioning. Uganda has been in the news threatening to pass a law that will allow the execution of homosexuals. Our president has been silent on the issue and representatives for the administration have indicated they do not intend to get involved in another country’s affairs. If you laughed out loud reading that last line, you are not alone. Lastly while equal marriage is law in Iowa and becoming law in D.C., its’ opponents have announced campaigns to overturn these laws by attempting to have them go to a public vote. Equal marriage has lost each time it has been fought on that battlefield. There has been no leadership from the White House on this issue.
There are many approaches to getting equal right in America. I am frequently challenged by the outdated one of being patient and not too radical to win over Middle America and not offend people who may someday vote for us. If Gandhi had the same fear of civil disobedience that the LGBT community seems to have India would still be under English rule. If that strategy was applied to civil rights for Blacks, they would still not have them. If that strategy was applied to convincing the south that Blacks should be free in civil war times, Blacks would still be slaves thought of as less than human. It concerns me when Gay people believe we have to win people over. It implies there is something wrong with us that we must convince heterosexual society to tolerate. What is wrong is that we are fully human, born Gay, and are being denied equal rights by governments that claim to be the bell ringers of freedom. Their clang grows hollower each day that passes without LGBT equality being realized.
Back to my original premise that this will not be a bloodless war. Our blood is already being spilled in the streets of America. Our youth is homeless with high rates of suicide and harassment. Gay men are discriminated against, beaten and murdered. So far, ours is the only blood that has been spilled. We have gained a reputation of being weak and not willing to fight back. We are targets. It is time to change course and inflict damage, whether by civil disobedience, withholding financial support or rioting in the streets. America and its’ leaders must get the message that we have the courage of our convictions and there is a new type of Gay freedom fighter, one that is willing to bleed, fight back and draw blood.
Equal civil rights make a difference. One of these differences is on a psychological level. Prejudiced people are now forced to keep their mouths shut and refrain from words or actions detrimental to Black people because of the legal and personal consequences. While they are still prejudiced, they have been forced back into their hole and are not allowed to publicly discriminate against Black Americans. This is the same mindset that must be forced upon anti Gay people. It will only be possible once we have full protection under the law. There will always be people who hate Blacks, as there will always be people who hate Gays. That is why legal civil equality is so vital to LGBT people. Until we get it, we are less then our fellow citizens in the eyes of the law and a target in the eyes of bigots. This can no longer be tolerated by our community. We are dying each day. Equal civil rights is an urgent issue and must be understood as such. It is not something we should be comfortable waiting for. A change in LGBT strategy and leadership must occur, or we will wait endlessly for our country to do the right thing by us as human beings.
(If you click on the title of this post it will take you to the story of the beaten Gay man pictured above.)
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wooden nickels, candy from a stranger, or even kicking the tires on a used car implies a relationship of mistrust. A relationship where the person or people on the receiving end are cautioned to investigate or steer clear of the giver. It is sound advice, but sometimes ignored in the most obvious of situations.
As I write this Hanukah is in its last day and Christmas week is about to begin. Both holidays are chock full of spiritual significance rooted in the belief of a creator who cares for and loves the creation. This makes these holidays particularly difficult for the LGBT community as religious leaders openly preach of God’s hate for LGBT people. Some try to qualify this hate by saying our sexual orientation is a sin, and God hates the sin but loves the sinner. Their flawed belief is of course that we can be separated from our sexual orientation and choose another more pleasing to God and them.
Do they really love us but hate our sexuality? The tactics they use suggest not, as does their hate speak. Hate is never a solid foundation for truth to stand on. It blinds them to the fact that we are as much born with our sexual orientation as they are with theirs. In fact, many of them are self-hating homosexuals that live in dark secret. Occasionally they will be revealed when their need to express their true sexuality forces them to engage in same sex behavior, often in public places or by paying for it. Then we see their lives crumble and footage of tearful apologies to spouses, congregations, and God. This is the life they wish upon those of us who have the courage to live life in the open. They hate us because we are the light that shines on them revealing their flawed theology, hypocrisy, and hateful motivations.
Despite this, many LGBT people fear they may be right. We believe the lies and it affects our lives. Follow my logic and believe in a creator for a moment with me. A God creates humanity, heterosexual and LGBT, scripture says God was pleased with the creation and desires a relationship with it. Not as a bully with a big club, but as a loving entity desiring to aide us through this phase of existence. It would be illogical for this creator to hate us, and not know what we are. When you create something, you know what you made, you know its capabilities, and limitations, and in those, you find its beauty. It would also seem logical that when the creation rejects a relationship with the creator, a void of emptiness would be left that nothing could truly fill. Logic would also dictate that those who caused this separation would be on the creator’s naughty list. Those who believe the lies are the victims, but we are victims with a choice.
Why accept such life changing information from people who hate you? Has it been repeated so often it just seems like truth to you? This holiday season I invite you to bite some wooden nickels, kick some tires, and stop believing angry strangers who hide shit inside a candy wrapper.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I think maybe leaders are born and not made. I run into both kinds, natural and manufactured. The born leaders seem to do it naturally and with ease. They engender a trust from others that makes people want to follow them. The manufactured ones seem like fish out of water to me. They seem to rely on fear as opposed to respect while hovering above the fray. The good ones rarely use fear or force as a tool, and when they do it is done sparingly, measured and justly.
In history we can find examples of both types. Hitler, George Bush, and Stalin would be a few who ruled by title, fear and force. Jesus, Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln ruled by example, charisma, and logic. I include Lincoln because I don’t believe a good leader has to be a perfect person. That’s something the media has brainwashed modern day society into thinking. Exposed human frailty is a sign of a confident leader, projections of perfection are not.
Leaders, who have positively impacted society, lead from ground level, by example, and with compassion. They make hard decisions that benefit humanity, even if humanity through a lens of ignorance finds them unpopular. Lincoln freeing the slaves and taking the country into a civil war shows this clearly. Good leaders are calculating, but put their own ambitions and popularity secondary to the public good.
Leaders, who negatively impact society lead from sky level, believe they are better than those they lead, and make decisions that will bring them personal gain. The welfare of the public is secondary if considered at all. Saddam Husain is an example of this. Ruling by fear, and leaving his people in poverty while building palaces to live in.
Most leaders who rule by fear come to a bad end. Unfortunately many that lead from the heart do as well, most at the violent hands of the misguided. While writing this, I thought I would mention a few strong and good contemporary LGBT leaders that are active today, but I came up short on names. I think they do exist in communities but I really can’t think of one on a national level that isn’t self absorbed, motivated by power,popularity,political gain, and who consistently sacrifices their own needs for the good of the advancement of LGBT people. I think maybe Harvey Milk was one of those types. I invite you to mention a few you may know if you leave a comment. Unfortunately I think we are fresh out of Milks.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sexual orientation is but one dominate trait in a Gay person. When taken separately it reduces our humanity to one dimension. I would argue it purposefully hides our humanity and makes us a group easy to discriminate against and harder to empathize with. It is a tactic of people who want to encourage the status quo and promote bigotry.
If we search history, we find examples of this same tactic used against other minorities. It is a way of vilifying an individual or minority group by creating fertile ground to grow hate and fear. During the time of slavery in this country it was used to justify ownership of one human being by another. Slave owners argued that Africans where animals wild in thought and nature. Therefore they did not deserve rights afforded to white humans. Biblical examples were sited to reinforce their argument and demonstrate God’s approval of slavery. Twisted scripture and a denial that the customs of one time period in history should not dictate the customs of the future are a common weapon used to discriminate.
Tiger Woods is a more recent example of dehumanizing. The media and thereby the nation, is focused on his alleged extramarital affairs. He has been reduced to this one personal problem and the fullness of his humanity discarded. Forgotten are his feelings, pain, charitable works, and contribution as an athlete. His humanity has become invisible. This makes it easy to mistreat him, judge him and hurt him. If he stood before us could we treat him so inhumanely, so hurtfully? I think it would be harder as we would have to see the hurt and shame on his face, and take into consideration his fullness as a man.
Dehumanizing Gay people is one of the main tools of bigots whose goal is to deny LGBT people rights and maintain the status quo of a heterosexist society. By reducing us to our sexual orientation, it becomes easier to promote fear, twisted lies, and to vilify us in the eyes of people ignorant to who we are as human beings.
We allow this and own some of the responsibility. Each person who remains in the closet is one less Gay person to demonstrate our humanity to society. Each time we hide who we are, we forfeit an opportunity to let others know we have more in common than sets us apart, that we are more then our sexual expression, that we have a unique world view and societal contribution to make because we are Gay. Each time an opponent of our equality reduces us to our sexual orientation, and we fight the fight on that battle field, we miss a chance to change the dialog and redirect the conversation to the appropriate issue of one human’s denial of civil rights to a fellow human.
Being open about who we are does many positive things. It educates people who have bought into lies. It reveals our humanity with our hopes, dreams, frailties and desires. It makes it harder to demonize us in the eyes of our neighbors. The thoughtful among them will be hard pressed to ignore the similarities that exist. We are their neighbors; we own homes, have children, go to work and fall in love. Our openness sheds light on the dark lies told about us and the motives of those who tell them.
We are not a perfect group of humanity, there is good and bad among us as there is in heterosexual society, but we are not one thing either, we are multidimensional people. Being open about who we are helps those LGBT people who feel alone to know they are not, who are in search of role models to know they can be found. Hiding ourselves and allowing the battle to be waged on the single issue of sexual orientation is a disservice to our civil rights movement and the fullness of our collective Gay humanity.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Hope this letter finds you well. Here is my list this year. You may notice a few repeats from last year, I know you have your hands full, but maybe this year?
1- Every Lesbian, Gay man, Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersex person whose friends and family have rejected them to be invited into a home to share the holidays. (If you can manage that just ignore the rest of the list, I’m all set.)
2- Equal Rights
3- An end to discrimination
4-A President who keeps his promises and transcends his own beliefs to do the right thing.
5-LGBT people who get involved.
6-Matthew Shepard back.
7-Cure for HIV
8-A new direction for LGBT civil rights organizations
9-For LGBT people to know they are accepted, cared for, treasured, and loved by whatever created us.
10-Unity and acceptance among the many different and beautiful types of LGBT and Intersex people that make up our family.
P.S. (If you have room on the sleigh, can I have a FleshJack, the one with the butt opening?) :o)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Perhaps harder then caring for others, is being cared for by others. The nature of humans is to be both care givers and receivers of care. Denying either part of ourselves diminishes our humanity. Pride, hurt, unhealthy feelings of invincibility, and isolation are some reasons we don’t allow others to care for us. Humans by nature need interaction with others to maintain physical and mental health. There are numerous studies on the effects of touch and hugging as they relate to our ability to thrive in life. Most bear out our need for human contact.
Receiving kindness from others put us in a place of vulnerability. It attacks the notion of independence that is drilled into our heads from birth. However, receiving care from others really has very little to do with being independent in life. I would argue that when a person becomes comfortable receiving, that person has also become a healthier more independent human. It is from a place of confidence that we are able to receive with a joyful heart.
Life is not meant to be lived apart from others. It is meant to be lived in commune with others. There are few animals in nature that don’t travel in packs or flocks, of the few that don’t most are predators, wounded or dying. In my experience, at the heart of a person who is unable to receive friendship, caring and kindness, one will find deep hurt and or mental illness. It can be a vicious cycle. As people continue to be hurt by the society we have built ourselves, more people close up and bury the innate ability to show and receive kindness, those people then hurt others and it all begins again.
The process of demonstrating kindness to others and receiving kindness back is like recharging and discharging energy. Energy that strengthens a human’s journey through life and reinforces the universal truth that we are not on a solitary pilgrimage through life, but on a path meant to be traveled together. When an individual or group of individuals is hurt and ceases to demonstrate or receive kindness, humanity as a whole becomes more callous and less likely to thrive.
LGBT people are a good example of this. Battered by un-accepting families and discriminatory societies we tend to be clickish and callous. Acts of kindness are often viewed suspiciously and new comers not welcomed. Within are own communities we practice discrimination and turn on each other. Left with a void we turn toward temporary fixes like sex, money, and drugs in our pursuit of happiness. If we have not lost our ability to be honest with ourselves we know that nothing takes away the bitterness and emptiness that is created by living life with clenched fists as opposed to open hands. Denying the natural part of you that is meant to receive from others, and thereby recharge your humanity, is a selfish act as well. It shuts down the person who is in touch with their true nature as care giver, forcing them to deny this innate characteristic. It is like the sheep refusing to be lifted out of the thorns by the shepherd, it is unnatural.
We are all shepherds and we are all sheep. Restoring a proper balance of each quality within ourselves returns us to our basic nature, fills a void and makes for a happier healthier human. The shepherd part starts with taking a chance, demonstrating leadership and acts of kindness to a community that is starving. The sheep part will follow afterwards as is the natural order of life. When you unclench your heart to give to others it is also opened to receive.
Monday, December 7, 2009
If you believe as I do that we bear the image of a creator, then it would follow that we are endowed with the creator’s characteristics and qualities. One of those innate characteristics is that of shepherding, or caring for others if you will. I think people that express this side of themselves are happier and healthier people. I think this; because I believe the closer we follow our true nature the better we work in unison with the universe. I think the opposite is true as well. The further we drift from our true nature the less we are in harmony with the universe, each other, and ourselves.
There are many things that occur in life that lead us to close up, become callous and stop caring. I’m not sure we really do stop caring about others. I think the instinct remains and we expend energy suppressing it, just a thought. Hurt and rejection are probably the primary reasons we stop reaching out to help others around us. As we go through life we build walls that are reinforced with each hurtful experience, but it is we who build the walls. It is also we who can take them down, and actually choose not to build them at all.
I want to delve a bit into Christian belief to illustrate some points about caring despite being hurt, self protection and resolution. Let’s take Christ for an example of caring despite deep hurt. Nailed to a cross, He forgave those who did it. In His mind and heart he hung on that cross to reunite a world with its creator, an awesome example of caring despite being hurt by others. One could argue that the deity side of Christ made this possible; I would argue that he was fully human as well when He made the choice. We too can make the choice to put another brick up every time we are hurt of let down, or we can choose to not let it affect our hearts and continue to care because there is so much need to do so, particularly in the LGBT communities. We make ourselves victims of hurt or victors despite it.
Self protection is different from building a wall. To care for other we must first care for and about ourselves. Jesus instructed his apostles to not cast their pearls before swine. He meant this, if you continued to not be received well despite your best efforts to care and bring love to others, then move on because there are many in the world who need this caring and will receive it. I believe this and though I find it hard to move on, I do it when I have to. A word of caution, when you care for others, help others, and love others, you don’t always know the impact you have, so don’t mistake a poor response or no response for rejection. Sometimes the response you get from another person is all they are capable of at the moment.
Jesus also told His apostles to shake the dust from their feet as they leave a place they are not welcome in. In biblical times it was a way of bringing resolution to trying your best and still being rejected. It still works whether you do it physically or mentally as you decide to move on. I once went for a job interview helping homeless teens. During the course of the interview I mentioned my husband, and as if a switch flipped I found myself in a hostile room of people. When one interviewer asked me if I had ever molested a child, I stood up announced the interview was over and left. On the street just outside the doorway I banged my shoes against the side of the building to shake off the dust and I never looked back.
Despite some experiences like this I’ve never suppressed my inner shepherd. It’s my nature and it’s also yours. The gains I get from caring will never be suppressed by the rejection and hurt I receive. There is something mystical and filling about being in harmony with nature and living closer to the image of the creator in you. Equally there is something hollow and life draining when we suppress our nature to care for others,as we tend to fill it with things that don’t quite fit. Kind of like putting on clothes that are the wrong size, never really comfortable…
HOT BUTTERED RUM - a beautiful song sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter
When chimney smoke hangs still and low across the stubbled fields of snow
And angry skies reach down and seize the sorry blackened bones of trees
In the dead of winter when the silent snowbirds come
You're my sweet maple sugar,honey, hot buttered rum
When dreary Christmas decorations line the streets and filling stations
And dime store Santas can't disguise their empty hands and empty eyes
In the dead of winter when the tinsel angels come
You're my sweet maple sugar, honey, hot buttered rum
When gloves and boots and woolen parkas bring cold comfort to the heart
And bitter memories freeze the tongue and words of love are left unsung
In the dead of winter when the cold feelings come
You're my sweet maple sugar, honey, hot buttered rum
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Being passionate about LGBT civil rights gets quite intense at times. The setbacks of the past few months have been frustrating and carry a good share of anger. I believe strongly in an internal place of happiness within that can be made untouchable by external events. If happiness is based on external sources, it becomes a fleeting thing tossed about with each passing event. Happiness based internally varies little as it is based on your core being, how you decide to process your perception of events, and the way you choose to respond.
A key theme here is choice. Just as we go shopping and decide between brown spicy mustard and mild yellow mustard, we can also choose happiness and peace over frustration and anger. Imagine owning a place within that is impenetrable to outside forces, you alone have access and allow or disallow access to the world. We all have that place but many of us are out of practice getting there. It begins with an understanding that we have control over our emotions, perceptions, and responses. Is the glass half-empty or half full? To find my place, I begin by consciously focusing on the moment, and really is there anything real beside the present moment? The past is no more, the future is not yet, and the present is now. By focusing on the moment, I slow my brain and body down to rid myself of external stimulus that keep my thoughts on a treadmill. I do this until I have quieted my mind to the point of no thought. It is sometimes hard to get there, but with practice, it becomes habit. We are creatures of habit; it just depends on which habit you want to form.
Try it and see. Start my telling yourself right now I am reading the words on this page, then observe and silently think the next thing and the next thing you are doing, until your focus and thoughts are only on the present moment. Your brain will want to take off and go a million miles an hour again because that is how we are trained in the world by the constant bombardment of stimulus, but you control the brain, it is not the other way around. It is in this slow place of quietness where the real you lives. It is here where you make choices on how events will affect you, or not. When you get good at it, and it becomes second nature, you will be able to choose the emotion and reaction you have in the moment as things occur around you. In essence you will always be connected to that place of peace and it is from there you will operate in the world.
Here is the real benefit to learning how to access your place of no thought. If you read me, you know my belief that all thoughts are creative and the experiences we have are products of our thoughts. Therefore, thought is cause and experience is effect. Thoughts carry creative energy for bad or good. I was told of an experiment that involved two bowls of rice. Each day the subjects of the experiment were to approach one bowl and send it positive thoughts and ignore the other bowl. At the end of the experiment, the rice in the ignored bowl was decaying and rancid, the rice in the bowl receiving positive thoughts was white and fluffy. This illustrates my point on the power of thoughts. When you find your place of no thought, it is the best creative time to introduce a thought that will shape your future. The quiet place is fertile ground for a thought to grow and at some point in the future manifest itself into reality. My husband is often amazed at how I mention things and they seem to find their way into out lives shortly thereafter.
Happiness begins with acceptance of the current moment and realizing the past does not exist anymore. If we believe that the whole universe conspired to manifest the current moment so it is as it should be, we find relief and peace. If we understand that in the present moment we can introduce creative thought that will shape our future, we find hope in that our lives are under our own control. We also find that the power of nature is waiting to be channeled through us and aid us in this creation. If we have a belief that we are all created in the image of a God who is a creator by nature, then bearing God’s image we too are endowed with the characteristics and ability to create.
For the next several weeks, I will be trying to stay away from civil rights issues as I choose to focus on the lighter happier side of life during the holidays. After all isn’t this what the civil rights battle is about, being able to have a happier life? Imagine with me the day we get equality and can stop fighting and stay in our happy places. Are we not fighting for the right to be at peace?
Friday, December 4, 2009
Does it ever bother you that a convicted killer jailed for life has the right to marry but you don't?
Does it ever bother you that you can fight in a war and die for your country but not get married in it?
Does it ever bother you that we spend tons of money staying at Marriot hotels and they give your money to the mormon church to campaign and take away your civil rights?
Does it ever bother you that CNN will cover the balloon boy story and captivate the country but not an LGBT protest for equal rights?
Does it ever bother you that silence and lack of leadership from people in Washington you voted for,on our equal rights, ensures more murders like that of Matthew Shepard?
Does it ever bother you that you can’t visit your partner in an emergency room because you are not considered family?
Does it ever bother you that hate groups like "god hate fags" have more protection under the law then you do?
Does it ever bother you that people who spread hate,non acceptance,and lies about us in the name of God, help cause Gay teens to have a high rate of suicide?
Does it ever bother you that the catholic church hides pedophiles all over the world but is allowed to dictate the morals of America?
Does it ever bother you that if you are wounded in a war fighting for your country, and your same sex partner visits you, it can be used against you to throw you out of the military?
Does it ever bother you that some in the LGBT community think the only right we are fighting for is equal marriage?
Does it ever bother you that carrying your same sex spouse on your health care plan means you will pay more taxes then your heterosexual counterpart?
Does it ever bother you that you pay the same amount of taxes as heterosexual people but have fewer rights?
Does it ever bother you that you contribute money to LGBT organizations like the HRC and they continue on a strategic civil rights plan that isn’t working?
Does it ever bother you that the LGBT community won't not can't, stop spending money with anti gay corporations because we like their products?
Does it ever bother you that you can’t find the time to write a letter, call a senator, send an email to the White House or join a protest supporting the battle for equal rights but you can shop for hours?
Does it ever bother you that most of the LGBT community watches from the sidelines and hopes other people will get them their civil rights?
It bothers me.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I hate angry mornings. I hate demoralizing mornings as well. I got both today. In my head I know the fight for LGBT equal civil rights must be fought in our nation’s capital, but it’s my heart that hurts this morning over the abomination the New York state senate committed yesterday. The lack of out cry from my community, the lack of media coverage, and the lack of a statement from a man we put in the White house speaks volumes as to the state of our civil rights movement.
Let’s face it, we are loosing ground and will continue to do so until we change strategy. I’m not even sure why we can’t get married as it’s a civil right and my understanding of America is that civil rights are distributed equally. If that is the case, then DOMA is unconstitutional, and why are we not at the steps of the Supreme Court? Admittedly I’m not a lawyer but choosing to fight this battle on a field and using a tactical plan of the enemy’s choosing seems stupid. There has not been a civil rights movement that has had permanent success without legislation from Washington and a Supreme Court decision. In that case we need history to repeat itself.
My prevailing emotion today is sadness. I wonder if I will see equal rights for my community in my lifetime. With our current leadership I’m doubtful. I also see a battle looming in Massachusetts where I live now as 2012 approaches. This will be the first opportunity to put my right to marry on a ballot again. I know if things don’t change it will happen. It’s demoralizing to have your neighbors decide your rights, isn’t it.
Later on today or perhaps as late as tomorrow, I’ll get the wind back in my sails and resume doing all I can do to help my community achieve equality. Sometimes it is hard to know how bad LGBT people want it,when the community as a whole seems more interested in pop culture, fashion and sex then civil rights. Maybe I’m wrong but it feels that way sometimes.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The other day I wrote about age discrimination in the Gay world. Today I want to write about Drag Queens. When I was first exposed to drag queens I found them distasteful. I thought there was something really wrong with a man who wants to dress as a woman and perform in public. If they are Gay men, then they should dress as men I reasoned. I also believed that they were some of the worst parts of the Gay world, and were partly responsible for giving Gays a bad name. The media seemed to back me up on this because most coverage of Gay events always went right for the half naked guys and the drag queens as an example of how outrageous Gay people are. Furthermore, I couldn’t understand why anyone wanted to date them and I felt disdain and disgust as did the group of Gay men I called friends.
I was stupid and a bigot. Being new to being out, I was still trying to conform to the acceptable social guidelines of heterosexual society. I was responding from a place of shame, self-loathing and less then full acceptance of my own sexual orientation. To state it plainly, out of my own doubts and ignorance grew my bigotry to this segment of Gay people. As I grew into my orientation and humanity, I learned to approach those different then me with a curious open heart. Looking within I determined that I was practicing discrimination because someone chose to express themselves in a way different then me. I realized I could not ask the world to accept me as a Gay man until I grew up and accepted all parts of my new Gay family.
Discrimination is a choice we make whatever the root cause. Mine was ignorance of the different and being uncomfortable with who I was born to be. As I matured and exposed myself to all facets of my Gay family I saw the beauty in its diversity.I chose to do some work on accepting and understanding who I am and I chose to end my bigotry and discrimination. I made the choice. I grew into a better and stronger Gay man as a result of this decision.
A long time has passed, and it is now quite natural for me to have friends who represent the diverse parts of the Gay world and to champion and defend them. They often return the favor. I admire the courage and ability of a person to be so comfortable with who they are that they will do drag and put it out there for the world to see. They are some awesome people and one of the most colorful parts of the Gay world. I could not imagine life without them. When you choose to have an open heart and an open mind the person transformed the most is you.
Sadly I still see the segregation of the Gay world grouped by behavior or characteristics. It is a cancer that stunts our growth. It reminds me of things I read about the black community during their civil rights struggles. Some black people who wanted to blend in,criticized other black people for being “too black”, and standing out so as to make white people uncomfortable. Was it not the white people who had the responsibility to do the accepting as they were the ones doing the discriminating? Is it then not the Gay discriminators among us who have the responsibility to end this divisive thinking and embrace all members of the Gay world? We don’t have to replicate society in thinking different is synonymous with wrong. We create our worlds for good or for bad. What we do in the moment right now as an affect on what our future will look like. Our minds are powerful creative forces so the thought that one person is helpless to change the world is illogical. Diversity and this is proven repeatedly in history, is synonymous with strength. This is the foundation to be laid if the Gay community is to thrive in the next decade.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I have a dilemma today. I want to write about Gay people who are HIV positive and who purposefully infect other Gay men. The behavior appalls me but the person doesn’t. So I write from that perspective. I also write from the perspective of one who has lost some friends to AIDS, watched some people die from it, and now watch some live with it.
I don’t understand fully a person who purposefully infects another person. I believe it comes from an angry, self-loathing place turned outward. I’ve heard the argument that everyone needs to take care of themselves, so if a person is willing to have unprotected sex then it’s equally their fault if they become infected. I disagree with the logic. If I have a loaded gun, and I know that gun is going to kill someone who doesn’t know if it is or isn’t loaded, and they ask me to point it at them and pull the trigger, do I not have the responsibility to tell them it’s loaded and to not fire the weapon? I think I do.
I also understand the argument that AIDS is no longer a death sentence. Well for some that is true and for some it is still a killer. Either way your life will change. If you are one of the lucky ones who can take and tolerate the medicines, your medication has now become your life long companion, as has its side effects. If you are a person who can’t tolerate the medicines, your life span has been drastically reduced. Given these truths I’m astounded by the relapse into unprotected sex among the Gay male population. Perhaps the disease has been with us so long we have forgotten what its face looks like, or maybe some of us are too young to even know the devastation it caused and still causes in parts of the world today. All we see is a red ribbon, so nice, antiseptic and clean.
If you are one of those guys who is HIV positive or has AIDS and you purposefully put other men at risk, what happens to them is your fault. The responsibility rests with you to practice safer sex, so it’s your choice to be condemning someone to a life long illness or to a shortened life and a horrible death. It is a horrible death, I’ve seen it multiple times and I wonder if you saw it, would you still do what you do? If your answer is yes, then there is something very wrong with you. Your humanity has been badly damaged by your own anger and hurt over being infected, or by some other hurtful cause. I can’t change your mind but I hope I made you think, and I hope I made some guys who put themselves at risk aware that you are out there preying on them..