Just Be You.

I was watching House of Cards, casually scrolling through my Facebook feed, minding my own gay business, when I see this:

Vicky Beeching tweet

Great. There goes freaking Vicky Beeching, making my mind work. After my initial internal, “Aaaaaaamen, girl, YES! Mmmhmm! #preach 🙌 🙌🙌” moment, my mind immediately went to the last few days, specifically the story of my fiancĂ© and the airport.

He returned from a work trip yesterday and I had the distinct honor and privilege of picking him up from the airport. It was a lovely, studly birthday present!

As I waited for him inside the airport, I thought about what I would do when I saw him.

Would I hug him? Kiss him? Hold his hand? Just smile and start walking along with him? What reaction would any of these things get from people around us? Would someone call us “faggots”? Would someone say it was disgusting? Would people start giggling? Shaking their heads? Would someone get physical?

And if any of this negative stuff happened, what would my reaction be? Would I say what first came to my mind? Would I respond with kindness? Would I act at all?

In the days and minutes leading up to him returning home, I spent far too much time (meaning any amount of time) focused on this hypothetical stuff and not on how exciting it was going to be to see him. Now I know this was silly, but it’s reality. It happens.

I was talking with a new (but already wonderful) friend of mine the day before the fiancĂ©’s return home and we were laughing about how much we worry about things that may not even come to pass. We talked about how part of it is societal and part of it is personality, but we both agreed to what I already knew by that point, and really knew the whole time: I should, and will, greet the love of my life in whatever way I want and let the potentially bigoted chips fall where they may.

So, what happened?

I saw him walking toward me. I smiled and waited. When he got close, I took the photo I knew I had to take of my “birthday present,” and I couldn’t help but hug him and kiss him and put my arm around him.

And you know what?

The world didn’t end. The sky didn’t fall. No one said a single damn thing, at least to us.

So fast-forward to me seeing Vicky Beeching’s tweet this morning. I think it’s essentially the main lesson from yesterday’s airport adventure and it’s what I knew all along. I think, deep down, most of us understand her point, although it’s sometimes difficult to put into action.

And for anyone thinking, “Well, it’s your own fault for caring about what others think of you,” chances are you’ve either never been part of a hated, marginalized group and/or you’re just lying to yourself in thinking that you’ve never cared what anyone else thinks of you. Whether we should or not, most people, at one point or another, care about what others think. And the people who shout, “I don’t care what others think!” from the rooftops are usually folks who really care about what others think.

Beyond that, though, for many of us, it’s not actually so much about what others think of us as it’s about navigating our lives peacefully and happily. My primary concern wasn’t feeling bad or shamed by someone’s words. My primary concern was that some jerk would try to start a fight. My primary concern wasn’t our feelings — it was our safety.

So if you’ve never really had to do your best not to worry about potential hatred for simply existing and living and loving, be thankful. Because even for those of us who are able to just let those worries roll right off our backs, they’re still worries that we have that others simply don’t. To know this is true, one only needs to look around in public and see how straight white couples tend to interact with each other, then look at how LGBT couples tend to interact with each other, especially in a setting that may not definitely be a welcoming space. I fully understand I’m generalizing, but I’ve seen it enough to know there’s truth to it. And certainly everyone has worries, but not everyone has this worry this often.

I’m thankful for this reminder to focus on our peace of mind and to not let anyone else’s crap get us down. Because it’s just that: crap. And it’s their issue to deal with, not yours.

Happy Pride, by the way! Let’s go be proud of who we are and who we love! Always.


To The “Christian” Preacher At My Mom’s Memorial Service

I was against this from the start. I was frustrated that no one consulted me about this from the start. And this is exactly why. You didn’t even know her. You got her age wrong at the start of the damn thing. And that was pretty much the most accurate or most appropriate thing you had to say for the entire afternoon. At least the part I stayed for.

You had NO right to turn my mom’s memorial service into recruitment for what must be — judging by your “sermon” — a conservative cesspool of fire and brimstone preaching hicks who believe that no way — NO WAY — aside from their narrow-minded piece of mental real estate right next to Westboro Baptist Church — is the right way.

How dare you.

You know, I was OK with you preaching. I was OK with you delving into Psalms. I was even OK with you suggesting that people become Christians. You know why? Because I’M understanding. I get that my mom’s family chose your little shack that you call a church to have a memorial. I get that you came along with the package. I get that you wanted to take this as an opportunity to recruit people to join your tens of congregants.

If you noticed, I just sat there, even when you started suggesting that people who weren’t smiling at the moment needed to be saved. At a memorial service. You know, for a dead person. Someone people cared about. I also just sat there when you screamed incessantly about how everyone else was going to hell and needed to accept jesus RIGHT NOW before they burned for all eternity. I especially love how stoic you thought you were, preaching this to a group of people you considered friendly, but who were really people you didn’t know at all, for the most part. And I just sat there — like a good social butterfly — for all of that bullshit, most of which, my MOM would’ve probably been pissed about.

But I have no clue what was going through your mind when you started talking about how America was “going to hell.” Do you know how many YEARS I’ve heard this? Do you know how many times I’ve heard about how doomed our country is? And I even sat there through that.

What I couldn’t stomach — what I refused to sit through — was you moving to how the country is bound for hell because of its “leadership.” Now, don’t misunderstand. You can say whatever you want about the president or anyone else on your own time. I don’t care what filth you feed your followers on Sunday. You can be as narrow-minded, backwoods, racist, conservative, anti-gay as you want. I don’t care. What I DO care about is my mom. What I DO care about is you taking a time of grief and trying to profit from it. What I DO care about is you using a time of mourning to score some cheap religious or political points with people at their weakest moment. And then, you shout something about Jesus being able to “hit a moving target” as I walk out. Did you want me to zig-zag or something? Unbelievable.

And I’m not some uneducated, never-seen-the-inside-of-a-church-or-Bible kid. No. In fact, I was raised in church. I’ve read the Bible. And I can probably interpret it better than you will ever be able to understand. And do you know what else? None of that matters. Why? Because this wasn’t CHURCH. This was a MEMORIAL SERVICE. This was for a FAMILY. This was not for you. This was not for your church. This was to comfort, not condemn. To show love, not hate. To offer help, not hurt.

Have you even read about Jesus? No, really. Have you? Even operating in your little religious world, the man you claim to follow would’ve been ashamed of you today. You didn’t offer a slither of hope. Instead, you offered hell to those who didn’t do what you said. You didn’t offer a slither of love. Instead, you offered a verbal lashing to anyone who didn’t believe you. You didn’t offer a slither of kindness. Instead, you kept berating. You didn’t offer a slither of acceptance. Instead, you assaulted.

And do you know what? If you are the kind of man that God wants in heaven, I don’t want to be there. I’d rather POLLUTE myself with kind, loving, tolerant people. You’re a poor excuse for a Christian and you’re what’s wrong with a lot of organized religion. You wonder why you are spreading your hatred in a little church that probably struggles to keep running water in the building? Look at yourself. Look at how eager you and your followers are to convince more people to join you. Look at the fact that I was willing to get up in the middle of a service to honor my mother and walk out because I didn’t want to hear anymore and I thought it’s what SHE would want me to do. Look at the fact that people CONGRATULATED me for doing so. Look at the fact that you didn’t even approach me after the service, nor did any of your little minions. Look at the fact that instead of sharing the love that Christ shared with others, you chose hate. You chose fear. You chose condemnation. You chose anger.

You may call it “telling it like it is.” I call it flawed.

You may call it “honesty.” I call it judgmental.

You may call it “truth.” I call it opinion.

You may call it “reality.” I call you a fraud.

You should be ashamed of yourself. And if you’re not, surely the guy you claim to represent is. You’re an embarrassment. And anyone who chooses to listen to you is, too. Thankfully, I know you aren’t representative of ALL Christians. But I don’t know if others do. That’s your problem.

PART 2: What I learned from this experience.

“Intolerance” & “Hatred”

Recently, a friend of mine with hugely different believes on marriage equality — and on gay people in general — provided a really great forum to people with varying opinions to chat about what “intolerance” and “hatred” meant. This friend compared being gay to getting a tattoo. To be sure I get this right, let me quote the original post:

“Let me try to word this carefully. If you happen to be a person who doesn’t care for/approve of tattoos, that does NOT automatically mean that you HATE tatoos or the people who get them. (Some of your best friends (mine, actually) may have this kind of art on their bodies.) All it means is that you don’t CARE FOR IT, end of story. So, tell me why, if you do not approve/care for homosexuality/gay marriage, you are automatically labeled as someone who supports HATE and is a hateful, discriminatory person? No one has ever called me HATEFUL or discriminate because I personally don’t care for tattoos on my body. They know that is is my personal belief; they don’t shun me, criticize me, or rally against me because my view is different than theirs, and neither do I. Those who use these kind of unfounded labels (usally pro gay marriage/homosexuality advocates) are only assuming that people who take a stand for their beliefs, based on the highest authority of all, the Bible, have HATRED in their hearts. I, as a Christian who believes in the teachings of the WHOLE Bible, believe in its (God’s) standard for holy living and marriage. I DO NOT, and never have come close to, HATING a friend/co-worker/aquaintance who lives the gay lifestyle. I love PEOPLE, not theirs, or my, sin. Saying all of that, how can these two scenarios receive such opposite reactions? Why is it that if you believe differently than another, you are instantly seen as a hate-filled bigot? No hatred here, friends. What IS here is a respect and obedience to the word of God, and not the homosexual lifestyle. So, call me a hater. I’m taking a higher stand, and looking to a God full of LOVE for mankind, yet one who still demands that his standards stay pure and unwavering. … So, is it Chick-fil-A for me today? Yep. A big box of nuggets, but please, hold the hate.”

It — and probably more so, the responses — really made me think about why many of us refer to this perspective as “hateful” or “intolerant.” After some thought, this was my conclusion…and I’d love to hear your thoughts:

“We both know where we stand on this and we both know where we’ll always stand on this. But I’m not going to speak in the third person here. And I’m not going to try to out-scripture you or talk about how scripture is out of context or any of that. No one will ever convince you otherwise. Some call it naivetĂ© and others would call it faith. We’re both firm in our convictions, regardless of what they’re grounded in. You believe yours are grounded in a firm foundation, as do I.

I, too, know how — in many ways — you’re a caring person. You’re still one of the nicest people I’ve met. In many ways, you embody what I think the Christian ideal would be. And in many ways, I believe you’re misled. But here’s why people toss out hate when even the nicest of Christians toss out ‘love the sinner, hate the sin:’

I looked up the definition of hate. It is: ‘To feel intense or passionate dislike.’ To you, Christians dislike the ‘sin’ of being gay. But to gay people like me, this is not a sin. It is a part of us. Something we can’t change. It’s not a tattoo or some form of addiction. It’s something we were born with. So to say you ‘hate the sin’ is akin in my mind to saying you hate ME. You see being gay as a sin that is separable from me. I do not. So while I KNOW you don’t MEAN it in that way, that’s what it means to me. As for the CFA dude, some of that money is going to groups that support doing some nasty things to gay folk that I don’t think you’d agree with either, so I’m leaving that alone.

Moving along to intolerance: ‘Unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs, persons of different races or backgrounds, etc.’ Frankly, I’m not even sure I have to provide examples on this. Just read above. In essence, by not supporting something like marriage equality because it doesn’t operate within YOUR religious framework, it IS intolerance. I don’t agree with pretty much most of what you said here, but I absolutely think you should be allowed to say it. And it pains me to think that you’ll be passing these thoughts along to children one day (even though I know you’ll be a great mother in so many other HUGE ways) just as I’m sure you hope I never raise children in a loving, same-sex relationship. But I realize we’re both just different people with hugely different beliefs and that’s OK in this country. I’d NEVER suggest you shouldn’t have kids or shouldn’t be able to get married or anything of the sort. You’re going to be a great wife and mother in so many ways and — even if I don’t agree with how you raise your children — it’s your right to raise them the way you want to with the beliefs you see fit. Yet your moral code (the Bible) — in your interpretation, because that’s what it is, regardless of what you say or think — does not afford me the same. Fortunately, we live in a society where that’s OK, because we’re not living in a monotheistic theocracy.

I think this conversation thread was great. It was respectful, all opinions that wanted to be heard were heard, etc. But just as I won’t change your mind and suddenly make you think that my love and care for Daniel is just like any romantic love you’ll have for any man in the future. Or that I deserve to solidify my love in the form of a civil marriage in this civil society just as you WILL get to do with any guy you want — yes, also in a CIVIL way (just religious as well for you). Or that I deserve to raise children in a loving, committed relationship in the ways that we see fit just as you WILL get to do. Just like I won’t change your mind on all that, you won’t change my mind in thinking that you — and everyone who believes what you believe — are wrong and are being hateful AND intolerant in a way (even if you don’t mean to or don’t see it). I don’t expect many — or any — people on this thread to agree with me. The difference between my perspective and yours is, that’s OK with me. My perspective is clearly NOT OK with you, regardless of any way you sugarcoat it.

I realize you’re an amazing friend to so many people and would do so many things for me…and I, you. But this is something that matters A LOT. And it’s something that — in your current frame of mind — you can never do for me. I appreciate the level of friendship you can provide, but never again will I have a close friend who doesn’t love and support ALL of me. And I hope you wouldn’t either. This is why people consider this talk hateful and intolerant. To you (Christians with this perspective), it’s abstract. It’s ‘sin.’ To us, it’s personal. It’s who we are. No changing.”

So again, I ask: Is my position to harsh? Too soft? Surely nothing is a cookie-cutter show of hatred or intolerance. So what do you think?

I’m Thankful For Being Gay

I’ve decided to list something I’m thankful for each day in November. I figured that – for a few of these – I’d need to explain using more than 140 characters. That brings me to today – Day 3:

I’m thankful for being gay. It has made me a stronger man, more capable of handling life’s challenges…and ignorant people.

I read an article earlier today – just before the first time I wrote this blog entry (it got erased) – about a survey that asked gay people what they think their life would look like without homophobia in the world. Most of the answers were obvious, but one was not. It’s something I think I’ve mentioned before: I would be weaker, because handling homophobic people has strengthened me and shaped who I am today.

Growing up, people try to tell us what’s “normal.” It’s not usually until adulthood that we realize what sort of people most frequently use the word “normal.” Scared people. People who need to label everything in an effort to feel safer. People who need an excuse to maintain their unwillingness to explore the unknown.

Some people would probably still say they hope for some sort of “straight pill” that would “fix” gay people. But we aren’t the ones who are broken. In fact, if you talk to a gay man who is finally comfortable with who he is, you’ll likely hear happiness in his voice. But try to talk to a homophobic person and you’ll hear fear and hatred. That’s what amazes me. If we just put our “thinking caps” on for a half-second, we’d see the truth: Homophobic people turn their fear into hatred because of pride and ignorance. People should have the courage to stand up for what’s right and the courage to sit down when they realize they’re wrong.

So no – I don’t want to be straight. I’m thankful for being gay. But simply being gay isn’t what has made me stronger. It’s being gay in this society. And while I’m not thankful for homophobia, I realize that the same group of small-minded and scared people who hate gays right now will just move on to another group they don’t understand in 30 years. And I’m thankful that the people like me, at the forefront of their attacks, can turn that fear and negativity into something productive. And maybe one day, I can help pass out the “acceptance” pills…