A Prayer Answered

I have a couple of co-workers that I've been eating lunch with almost everyday for the last few months. We've gotten to know each other pretty well, and we definitely pick on each other and joke around a lot.

We're actually a motley lot. It's me, the white lesbian, and two black women, one older and the other just a tad older than me. The older woman is strongly religious and has no problem saying so. In fact, she's seeking ordination in her church as a preacher. She's been denied ordination before because she speaks what comes from her spirit not from doctrine.

The two of us obviously have our disagreements on many matters, yet I also think we're oddly respectful and appreciative of the differing views. I'm not sure exactly how she views me as a lesbian, and I'm not sure I want to know. Sometimes when you like a person, it's better not to know some things, especially if it can hurt your feelings.

Anyway, this woman and I have some spirited discussions on religion. One day I was particularly disgruntled with the human race and feeling awfully pessimistic. For a while, I was debating de-friending probably 75% of the people I knew on Facebook just because I was tired of the falseness and insensitivity of others. There was a point where I used to tell myself that everyone was in my life for a reason. I felt I was born into a highly conservative Southern Baptist family for a reason. Part of me thought that certainly it had to be to open people's eyes and hearts to difference and hopefullly help them grow to be more tolerant and accepting. That was on a good day. But the day I was talking to this co-worker, it was a bad day. I said, "What's the point?"

This woman does a lot of work with convicted felons, and she told me how she went through a period of time similar and she asked God to take a certain group of people she was working with out of her life (if I recall correctly, it was rapists). She wasn't careful in what she asked. God did take them from her life and in place of them, she now works with pedophiles. Yeah...exactly! From the frying pan into the fire. But she's working with a group she never would have willingly worked with before and the ones that most people can't stand to be around. She feels God did it for a reason but also to teach her to be careful what she asks for.

We laughed about this, and I thought about it for a long moment. I finally looked at her and said, "This is what I'll pray for then. I won't remove anyone from my Facebook page. I'll simply say to God 'Whoever is meant to stay in my life should stay. If I'm meant to know them and they know me, they'll remain. If not, if they or I serve no purpose in each other's lives, then they'll leave of their own accord.'"

The other co-worker (the one who is only a little older than me) was having lunch with me today. It was just the two of us. She confided in me, though I had my suspicions, about her son probably being gay. She admitted that she wasn't handling it well. She loves him, but can't let herself think about it too much. We talked for a while, and she felt like she was doing everything wrong. She worried because he won't talk to her about it (I didn't point out though why would he if she can't deal with it). I finally looked at her, as I remembered my own experiences when I came out, and told her, "He won't because he doesn't want to hurt you or disappoint you. I know I dashed my mother's dreams of what she thought my life would be like, which was to be a replica of her, and I knew nothing I EVER did would fix that. I could be rich, smart, beautiful, successful, and have the most amazing partner and kids, but I'd still never be good enough. He knows he's destroying your dreams, and it's killing him."

I got choked up and almost started to cry. I think it got to her too because she paused and looked down, nodding her head in understanding. She just looked at me and said, "That makes sense." I don't know if anything I said will help her in relating to her son, but I was ecstatic that she felt like she could talk to me and maybe get a different perspective on it.

So, I guess I got evidence that my prayer was answered. There are people in my life that need to be there, and there is a purpose for it. I have to have faith that there are others in my life that are there for a reason. All I can do is continue on, speak my mind, share my life, and hope something, somewhere gets through to someone. If it's not meant to, then that's okay too.


Question of the Day...

Earlier today, a thought occurred to me and I asked a question on my Facebook page:

Why is it that some people think it's sad that other people come to important self-realizations (for instance, coming out), yet those of us who have achieved our own self-realizations are happy for those who have?

A few weeks back, Ricky Martin came out as gay, and there were some "Well, good for him!" comments and some "DUH!" comments too. LOL! Others were like "Too bad, he was cute" or "He's too sexy to be gay."

The other day, one of my favorite actresses Crystal Chappell more or less came out as bisexual. In an interview, when asked about two recent roles as lesbians and if it was hard for her, she said, "I did not have to do much to prepare. I am equally attracted to men and women and I like both genders, so it is not an issue for me. You are attracted to who you are attracted to and fall in love with who you fall in love with. This is who my character is - a gay woman. It wasn't difficult to understand or portray her."

I did my own personal, inner happy dance for Crystal. And if I'm honest, I did one for Ricky too. When someone, especially someone who is gay, bi, or trans, comes to this self-realization, I'm happy for them.

I find it interesting though that our heterosexual counterparts don't share and/or appreciate the importance of our self-realizations. In fact, some are downright saddened by them. I wondered why and it hit me (I guess you could call it a "realization"): as members of the gay community, we don't have the assumption that 90% of the world around us is like us. Heterosexuals have the odds on their side to assume and presume heterosexuality in those they admire and even find attractive. A straight woman goes to the movies and sees a good-looking actor on the screen, and she can lose herself in the fantasy that she's the object of his desire (or at least that she'd simply have the right body parts for such desire from him). Nine out of ten times she can be guaranteed that she's right.

However, when that one time in ten comes to pass and the fantasy is destroyed, it's saddening for the heterosexual. It's considered a loss.

Now, in the gay world, it's an obvious gain for the same reasons. The fantasy that had long been denied and impossible is made possible (at least in our minds!). Having a lifetime of denying the possibility, of sitting in darkened theatres thinking "there's no way this person, this actor, I admire could EVER be gay," places upon the gay person a sadness in assumed heterosexuality of our heroes. Rarely do we get to bask in the knowledge and awareness that this beautiful, popular, powerful person is "one of us."

Until they come out, that is.

When they do, we're excited and happy for them. We rave about their courage and pride.

We also know how vitally important self-realization is to the human psyche. I'm not convinced that heterosexuals get that (okay, some of them!). Knowing ourselves is the focal point of happiness. To find our place in this world is crucial to us. It's hard for heterosexuals to understand what it means to not have a place. They can't fathom it because they can go anywhere and be known and accepted. They get to bask in the assumption, along with 90% of the rest of the population, that those around them are EXACTLY like them.

So why is it that some heterosexuals see a person's self-realization as being gay as a sad event while we, the gay community, cheer it?

Because they lose something they thought they'd always have. And what is that "something" you might ask?

The safety and security of presumption, of course.


Food for Thought

For the last few days on Facebook, there's been a group that I've seen many, many people I know join. This is what it says:


As a columnist for the Huffington Post said, "Amen? Really?"

Most of the people that have been joining, granted, are the ignorant, backwater people I grew up with back in (I refuse to say, "back home"...it's NOT home!) in Alabama. This isn't what bothers me so much. I know they're backwater and ignorant, so their views don't surprise me too much. I admit though, a couple did surprise me. It has shocked me even more to see it coming from gay people and black people who really should know better than to propagate hatemongering.

The part about this that gets to me is the obliviousness and obtuseness of it all. The cold-hearted "so fucking what?" mentality. It doesn't matter to these people that it incites hate. If Obama was actually killed, they'd rejoice. This is Christian? Really?

Then last night, I had a bit of an epiphany. I was thinking about this issue and I saw the connection for these right-wing ideologues between "so fucking what if my hate of Obama encourages someone to assassinate him?" and their so-called Christian beliefs.

They really and truly believe that Obama is the Antichrist. Now, I don't think most have thought enough about it to put two and two together in such a logical fashion because that would require logic, and I honestly don't think most have the capability. If there was an ounce of logic, they would buy the bullshit Fox News feeds them in the first place. These people are the slaves of ideology. They are the wet-dreams of evil-minded idealogues because they mindlessly follow wherever the blame winds blow. Someone has to be to blame for the ills in their life. Someone has to take the fall. All the business and industry is leaving your poor, backwater county??? Blame the fags and blacks and all tree-huggin', God-hating liberals. But never, ever consider the fact that for DECADES you've refused to increase taxes to improve your schools or hell, even educate YOURSELF. Why would progressive, forward-thinking employers who are fighting to survive a tough economic climate want to hire YOUR ignorant ass that refuses to change? They're trying to get OUT of the fucking box not relish in staying in it surrounded by those who are like-minded.

So, back to the whole Antichrist thing...such a mentality is a freakin' breeding ground for stupid, mindless followers.

In spite of the language you see me use here, I was raised a Christian (and yes, still consider myself one...now I just speak it the way it is), and I spent quite a bit of time before coming out in studying Revelations and being into the whole prophecy and Antichrist thing. The Church has easily succumbed to the belief that the Antichrist will be a single man who is charismatic and handsome and who gains almost a cult-like following.

Have we ever considered that the Antichrist isn't really a person, but a belief system...an ideology, that gains a frightening, cult-like following? Something where brother turns on brother and neighbor on neighbor. Brother here is not a familial relation but could be ANYONE that is "one of us." So, gay people and black people turn against their own. Makes sense, right?

This ideology, like Satan himself, devours all in its path and festers on the darkest parts of the human soul. Humans relishing in the hurt, pain, and loss of other humans. Humans insensitive to the suffering of others. Humans more interested in American Idol results than that injustice is being dished out on fellow humans. We're indifferent and callous. Then we turn around and say, "Amen."

The wolf in sheep's clothing.

The evil we do not see coming because it's already here.

It has existed among us, as the Antichrist has existed among us, since the beginning of time because IT IS US!!!


Getting It Out

This has been sitting with me for easily over a week. There have been so many other matters on my plate that I haven’t had time to really deal with it or address how it was making me feel. However, I can’t seem to shake the heavy feeling on my heart, and I feel like if I don’t say some of these things, they’ll continue to weigh me down. I haven’t blogged or wrote from the heart in a while. I haven’t put my feelings to paper, or computer screen as the case may be, in so long it feels strange to lay it out in the open. I blogged quite regularly several years ago and became pretty proficient on political/gay issues, but when Tennessee passed the anti-gay marriage amendment in 2007, I pretty much shifted gears and gave up.

However, when the news story from several weeks ago popped up about a young woman in Fulton, MS named Constance McMillen, a lot of old feelings and latent frustrations got stirred up. See, Constance made the news and all the rounds on Facebook and Twitter when the world found out that she wanted to go to the prom with her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo to boot. You would have thought the world was going to crash down! The school refused to let her go to the prom with the person she actually liked and dress in a way she felt comfortable. They even went so far as to cancel the prom all together and essentially turned the student body on this young woman. Such actions by the school went directly against her constitutional right to associate freely and express herself as she deemed fit. Last time I checked, the freedom of association and expression are still constitutional rights. Not only that, but the school was grossly negligent in protecting Constance. They put her safety at risk because they were uncomfortable with having a gay student openly attending prom with her same-sex date, and God forbid, dressing like a boy in the process! As a former teacher, I find such behavior by school teachers and administrators despicable! Well, the courts agreed saying that her constitutional rights were violated, but they still didn’t insist the school have the prom. There’s that pesky freedom of association thing again! True, the community of Fulton and the students of her school have a right to not associate with her, but seriously, whatever happened to the good ol’ days where kids just picked on and isolated the strange kid in school. *rolls eyes* The Fulton community though took it further than that. Prom did happen, though it was a private affair. Constance and a handful of other students, including the learning disabled students, were sent to their own prom while all the “normal” kids went to another prom across town. Of course, Constance didn’t know this. My problem with this whole situation was the utter disregard the school, parents, and community showed for one of their own. And, yes, Constance IS one of their own, whether they want her to be or not. For all their talk about being God-fearing Christians, they happily and dutifully sacrificed one of God’s own children on the altar of their bigotry and fear.

Christians are quick to say “oh, we’re not all bad” or “don’t lump me in with them” to avoid being labeled as a bigot. While I know not all Christians are bad or hateful towards those different (some actually embody Christ-like attitudes), and I do want to be clear that I know some good Christian people, I call it as I see it though. The Church is only as good as the people who represent it. If the Church wants to be known as haters, then accept the mantle of the title. If not, then do something about it. Being a Christian doesn’t mean coddling and awarding the wayward, but calling them to task. Of course, the flip side is that some good Christian will likely tell me that’s what they’re doing to Constance or to me or to any other gay person in their midst. They’re giving the “tough love” of Christ by judging us with love, not hate. This is at least the story I got from my mother. She told me when I came out that she worried about how the world would treat me for being gay then treated me as exactly how the world would treat me. See, it wasn’t her doing this to me or even the world or the evil that resides in her heart, but it was me. It was all my fault. All the pain, suffering, heartache, fear, loss I’d ever experience from this moment on (i.e. from the moment I came out) wasn’t from any wrongdoing of others but from my choice to live outside of God’s laws. So, really, I’m just getting what I deserve.

It is at this point in my thinking where I start to feel sick to my stomach and can’t seem to get past the deep-seeded anger and frustration I have toward the Church and toward those “good” Christians out there. Many of these good people have been friends of mine since I was a kid. These are people I went to school with, went to Sunday School with, went on dates with, and yes, even attended prom with. I find out all these years later that my being gay was no real surprise for my classmates and that they knew but didn’t care. At first, I thought “Oh, that’s nice that they didn’t care” but then it hit me…why the hell not? Why didn’t they care? They SHOULD have cared! This part of myself that I hid out of fear of what others would think was obviously a very big part of me, yet they didn’t care to acknowledge or know me. Not the real me. Am I really surprised now that these same people don’t want to know me? They didn’t want to know me then and were content to ignore a facet of my personality that was so vital that I felt the need to hide it. Just like the kids in Constance’s school, the parents in the community, the teachers of the school, and the members of the school board were content to ask Constance to put aside her own dreams of her high school prom so that others might have their dreams met, I was ignored so that others could be comfortable. This is still asked of me, even today.

There’s no telling how many friends I’ve lost over the years because I’m gay, or people I didn’t get to know – and they didn’t get to know me either – because I’m gay. I know of several who have defriended me on Facebook and some who will never friend me because of it. As I said, everyone has a right to associate with whom they want. However, be honest about it. One person did defriend me specifically because I’m gay and because I’m not one of those “good” gays who sit down and shut up. I speak my mind and my words aren’t always pleasant or politically correct. However, I find it amusing that these same people have no problem with the numerous posts about getting laid (or wishing to), getting drunk, partying all night, etc. Yet, me simply putting the word “gay” in my post is enough to send them over the cliff of acceptability.

I’ve been accused of being angry, and I agree that I am. I’m angry at the denial of personal fault on the part of friends, family, and others in the institutionalized oppression and repression of the gay community, and of me specifically. I’m not some abstract representation of a group that is somehow so unfathomly strange to the average person that we’re stereotyped and caricatured, but I’m a real human being that laughed at your stupid jokes in school, listened to you cry your eyes out when some guy broke your heart, and stood by you when others put you down for the way you dressed or the car you drove. What didn’t change in the 10, 15, 20, 25 years that I’ve known some people is that I continued to believe that if I stood up for you, that one day you’d stand up for me. If a person isn’t actively making an effort to stop the oppression, then you’re a part of the problem. If you read this and get defensive and think “how dare she!”, then perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror at your own role in tolerating hatred and bigotry. You don’t have to call me a dyke or attack me directly to be a part of the problem. The old saying of “silence equals death” is true. Doing nothing is an act of acceptance.

After the “fake” prom happened for Constance, there was a question posed over at Pam’s House Blend as to whether Constance should get the hell out of Fulton, MS or stay to fight for change. Thinking about this question and reading about what happened to Constance rehashed some old feelings for me. On a good day, I’d say who cares what these bigoted backwater idiots think. Hold your head up and live there if you damn well please. That part of me is the hopeful part, that little piece of my brain that says if they know us, they can’t hate us. The other, more pessimistic, side of my brain and heart is turning 40 years old this year and knows damn good and well that haters never change. It doesn’t matter if they know us or not because they don’t listen and they don’t hear. They talk down to us and at us as if we don’t have the common sense to even know our own hearts and minds. I’ve known people like this far too long. I grew up knowing I was gay, even though I didn’t have a word for it, but I knew I didn’t get all jittery and giggly over boys. Yet when one of my best female friends (and no, it’s no one on Facebook!) left notes in my locker I felt like I was floating on a cloud. I only learned many years later that this wasn’t a shock to anyone. That makes me question everything I thought I knew about high school. Was I simply tolerated and put up with? Was I mocked behind my back? Were the dates I did have with guys just an inside joke that I wasn’t privy to? And honestly, why would I want to subject myself to that again and again and again now as a fully-aware adult? I wasn’t the only gay kid in my graduating class. Statistically, it’s not possible. Wonder where all of the others are? Far away from here. Unlike me, they didn’t bother with trying to reach anyone or changing hearts and minds. For their own sanity, they escaped the small minds and dark hearts of the world they grew up in.

I wanted to believe. When I came out, I was young and naïve. I wanted to believe that because I’m a good person that I could move mountains and change the world for the better. Nearing 40, I now know it was completely pointless. At one time, I wanted to open my heart and hear the voices of the people who didn’t “get” me, thinking it would somehow change things…if I could just understand, if I could just get some insight. It’s the infamous adage of “know thy enemy” that I clung to so desperately. The thing is that most people don’t reciprocate that notion. They don’t want to hear or open their own heart.

And at 40 years of age, I have come to the conclusion that I really don’t give a damn if they do. I know who I am. I know where I stand. I know some things that will never change for me. At this point, I don’t have to listen to the lies. This post started over the story of Constance and the right to assemble, associate, and express oneself freely in this country. Her classmates chose to not assemble and associate with her or support her right to express herself freely. So many of us have experienced this both in and out of high school or as adults in work, church, and our families. We’ve been alienated by peers and elders while being told that we should rise above the pettiness of others and be “bigger” than them, to show more tolerance and understanding than has been shown to us. To what end, I ask? Personally, I’m too old and tired to be the one reaching all the time, to make the very human connection of understanding and tolerance and compassion for another, when the same won’t be shown to me.

I don’t have time or patience for false sincerity or fake smiles. I grew up gay in the South where being false was a way of life for everyone, even the straight people. We’re famous for smiling in your face while stabbing you in the back. I’m not sure why I expected anything to have changed. I can’t speak for Constance and whether she should stay in Fulton. I know for the time I stayed in my small Southern town as an openly gay person, it was some of the most oppressive feeling I’ve ever known. Even going back now, it makes me feel sick just to drive down the highway into town or go past the high school. I didn’t feel free until I saw there was a whole world out there that didn’t see me as evil and that there are some good people in the world. The thing is, one shouldn’t expect to find it in the small world they come from. Goodness doesn’t live there, Constance. Goodness lives in you and in the good and right that you surround yourself with.