Stick To Your Principles (And Never Apologize)


I have declined from writing posts about this presidential election. My main reason is that I live in an area full of residents who practically worship our newly elected president. It has been almost five years since I came out as a gay man. After that, I never wanted to imagine that an elected official would try to overturn the successful efforts to say that the government cannot restrict me from my ultimate desire to marry someone who I love.

The United States of America has elected a man who has promised that he will overturn the landmark decision which ruled the Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional and pass a “religious freedom protection” act. I am in no mood to read article after article confirming those are indeed his intentions. Numerous social media posts have attempted to dismiss that our newly elected commander in chief could successfully roll back LGBT protections nationwide. Some of which have the audacity to scoff at my LGBT friends and think that we are “worrying too much.”

(Maybe you won’t “scoff” at me. But, probably have the temptation to dismiss the real fears of LGBT Americans as a result of Tuesday’s election.)

I would hate to jump to conclusions about anyone. But, the above comments are bound to come from people who claim to say they are “supportive” of me genuinely. To reiterate from my older posts, they know that I do not desire to marry a woman in some big church wedding. They are in complete denial of the fact that our newly elected commander in chief has promised to appoint Republican supreme court justices who will assist him in his efforts. These justices believe my lack of desire for a woman and a big church wedding automatically make me spawn of the devil. They say that such a truth does not make me any less of a human being who deserves love and respect. 

I am now laughably brought back to my memories of George Bush’s 2004 reelection. I was in sixth grade. We had a mock election. You can guess who the winner was. My classmates cheered when our principal made the announcement. Their expressions of joy, parroted from their parents, continued the bus ride home. My classmates stomped their feet and clapped their hands to the beat of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” They kept singing “Kerry will be defeated.” I certainly take this election much more seriously than I did back in 2004. It may be true that nothing has happened yet. But, there is no saying that it won’t now that we have a man in power who strives to overturn the progress we have already made. 

Donald Trump and Mike Pence have both promised to stick to the above principles. I, however, am sticking to mine. My LGBT friends should strive to do the same. Do not apologize for it. I do not deny that it can be hard to separate oneself from people whom I have known for my entire life. My sexuality may not define everything about me. But, I now know they are not worth my time if they refuse to change their mind about this essential aspect of who I am as a person. 

Most importantly, be careful who you decide to invite into your life. It doesn’t matter if you are casually cruising on Grindr. It does not matter if you are searching for that beautiful woman or tall, handsome man to call sweetheart. I am not trying to say that you should be afraid of meeting new people. But, know that people can disguise themselves as LGBT friendly. They hide behind that title before turning around and causing real harm to some of our most vulnerable citizens. It is now critical to be aware of your surroundings and protect yourself if anyone tries to hurt you. 

The events of this week are not going to stop me from sticking to my principles of not allowing people to hinder my right to be who I am. That does not go without saying that our nation has increased the potential for some very dark times. The only thing we can do about that is to keep fighting. 

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More Reflections On The Shooting At Pulse Nightclub


I still have not fully come to grips with the events at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Those sentiments do not just hold right for the shooting itself. It holds true for how our world has responded to the deaths of 49 innocent people and sending more to hospitals with serious injuries. People like Arizona pastor Steven Anderson, California pastor Roger Jimenez, and Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick have used this tragedy to promote their hateful agenda. We have much farther to go! 

Reading about such self-proclaimed “men of God” have brought me back to a post from back in late April. The post, titled You Should Be More Discreetexpressed strong opposition to those who have insisted on “discreet policing” me by saying that I have should have lived my gay life in secret to avoid offending people who thought that homosexuality is icky. I indicated that it did not just come from loudmouth pastors like Steven Anderson. It came from individuals who claimed to be okay with the truth. Marrying a woman in a big church wedding will never be the ideal life for me. 

Is this going to become a new trend for the future? Will misguided, angry and hateful people with bad intentions look up to the perpetrator as a martyr? Will they try to succeed in following his footsteps? My definition of a perfect world would be a place where the answer to both of those questions is no. Tragically, that is too much to ask. I have watched report after report. Like everyone else, I have one ultimate question that we will never know the real answer. Why would someone commit an act so calculated, violent and hateful? 

For me, the news reports are the worst things about this tragedy. I especially feel this way when I watch interviews with survivors who describe their horrific ordeal in detail. I can only view so many of those before I shiver and cringe after thinking about what would happen if someone were to open fire at any of the local businesses that I frequent. It is one thing to have to worry about such an event reoccurring at my local movie theater or grocery store. It is another thing to have to worry about it in a business that prides itself on being inclusive of the LGBT community. 

The events at Pulse Nightclub were one of the most brutal examples of how real anti-LGBT violence is. How can we LGBT folks overcome the fear of being targeted again? I am sorry to say that I don’t have a definite answer to that question . Even admitting the fact that I am gay runs the potential risk of being harassed, beaten or killed in some places throughout our United States of America. That does not mean I am going to lay in my bed cowering in fear of the things that make me stand out from everyone else. 

I cannot answer the above question by myself. But, I know there is power in numbers. I feel there is one more question that needs to be answered. 

1.) What will it take to introduce and pass legislation which will ensure that violent crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity are punished to the fullest extent of the law? Pennsylvania is just one of the states without hate crime laws without that specifically include either of those categories.  

http://www.phillymag.com/news/2016/06/21/pennsylvania-hate-crime-laws/ 

You can tell that this was not an easy post to write. I don’t think I, or anyone else, will be able to fully process our thoughts about the horrific tragedy at Pulse Nightclub. Like I said, there is power in numbers! We must all work together in reminding our nation that anti-LGBT violence is an epidemic. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You Should Be More Discreet!”


“Stop shoving your lifestyle down my throat! Keep it in the bedroom!”

I often wish that I could get paid one million dollars every time I hear people say that about the gay community. The funny thing is, it does not just come from people who think that “homosexual practices” are the spawn of the devil. It comes from individuals who claim to be genuinely accepting of the fact that I like men. Life has taught me one valuable lesson with regards to the angry and loudmouth homophobes who know their “activism” is truly hurtful. They don’t deserve my attention. I don’t see any point in angrily responding to people who clearly want such a reaction from me. I am quite annoyed, however, with well-meaning individuals who continue to utter many variations of “you need to be more discreet about your sexuality.”

I find it ironic that some of these folks claim to be okay with the fact that I am gay. I am physically and emotionally attracted to men. Someday, I desire to meet that special man and tie the knot with him. It has been hard to eliminate those folks who cannot accept that marrying a woman in some big church wedding will never be the ideal life for me. I come from a very religious extended family. Despite that, I strive to live as someone who conforms to no one else’s standards but his own! This statement applies to social media and in real life. Yes, the discreet police are highly irritating!

Let’s take a look at the Webster definitions of “discreet.”

Discreet:

1.) Not likely to be noticed by many people. (Simple definition.)

1.) having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech :prudentespecially:  capable of preserving prudent silence. (Full definition.)

2.) Unpretentious, modest.

3.) Unobtrusive, unnoticeable.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discreet

There is something I cannot help but notice when I read these definitions of the word and listen to those who insist that we must keep our sexuality “in the bedroom.” They are precise definitions of what we call unintentional homophobia. The whole concept of intent vs. impact comes into play when people “discreet police” me. People try to appear discreet when they know they are doing something that is against the rules. It does not matter if this regulation is in the official rule book or unwritten rules that one must follow to appear like they “belong.” They do not want to get caught in the act for fear of punishment or shunning. Regardless of what anyone says, I know that my sexual orientation is far from illegal or immoral. Therefore, I form the following impression when people say that I need to “keep it in the bedroom. They are still negatively influenced by the very individuals who think I am the devil’s spawn for showing genuine interest in the “homosexual lifestyle.”

What about my sexuality should I be more discreet? I do not understand what people are referring to when they insist on imposing such a standard on me. I get that we live in a sexually repressed world. I am also willing to acknowledge some of the reasons behind that. Sex and sexuality are topics that require a certain amount of emotional and physical maturity to understand and appreciate. This truth is something that many adults fail to understand. Let’s face it! We live in a world full of people who think that being gay is nothing but a childish joke. That is a joke used as a cheap punchline by someone who has yet to admit their faults and failings.

We also live in a world full of people who fail to realize one thing when they tell me, an openly gay man, to be more discreet. I kept it a secret for many years. By the time I entered junior high, I already realized there was such a thing as gay, bisexual and straight. My diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome caused me to struggle with the ability to understand my behavior and that of others. I knew that I was genuinely curious about the male body in the same way that most teenage boys were curious about the female body. At the time, I never discussed it with anyone. My adolescence, in that regard, was no different than the story of many other people who grew up and realized they were gay. I was curious about the male body and thought it was just a phase that I would outgrow.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane and go back to junior high. I cringe when I remind myself of one trend that began during that time and continued through to high school. It can be hard for any teenager to deal with the development of hormones. This is particularly the case when you are in a building with a bunch of mid-pubescent teens whose only exposure to (heterosexual) sex is through music, pop culture and pornography. Many of my classmates from junior high had the disrespectful tendency to push the topic on people who were just not ready to explore it. Therefore, they assumed that anyone who resisted conversation about that the graphic details of such a topic are a faggot or a queer. (One student used those exact words when they spoke to me.) So, back to the “discreet police.” I am supposed to sit here and keep and keep an essential aspect of my life secret so people can be their nosy selves and assume that I am gay? I don’t get it.

There is one thing I must reluctantly accept from time to time. Some places are just not appropriate for conversations about the most intimate details of my sexuality.

“He has a cute butt! I would bring him home with me!”

I can imagine the looks of disgust from parishioners after I, hypothetically, shouted that in the middle of worship. Even Episcopalians would frown upon that. It’s just not the best to proclaim a sexual interest in places that are specifically intended to look beyond the physical. That still does not change my refusal to allow people to pressure me into “keeping my sexuality in the bedroom.” I just highlighted several reasons why. I don’t like to be “militant” about this issue. (Those are not my words. I am just quoting it from people who have used it to describe the LGBT community.) However, I think it needed to be said and I could not find any other way to say it.

I thank you for reading and please feel free to leave a comment!

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“When You Say Nothing At All”


“Homosexuality is a belief! It’s not mandatory in that person. That person is not “Born That Way”, no matter what Lady Gaga says. That person is not born that way! It is a decision!”

Caiden Cowger

This is an infamous quote from Caiden Cowger’s viral, but hilarious train wreck of a video called “Obama Is Making Kids Gay.” Immediately following those first four sentences, Cowger goes on this rant about President Obama and that he is encouraging young teenagers to “become gay.” He even had the audacity to bring up his former friends from elementary and middle school and claim they were “not homosexual” when he knew them. To no surprise, his video received a plethora of criticism from LGBT advocates around the world. The Huffington Post even joined the party and wrote an article about him.

I am willing to admit that his comments did make me angry. This video was made two years ago, and I was still new to “the gay scene.” I still am trying to figure out what my sexuality means to me. Part of the long process is figuring out what to do about those annoying homophobes we encounter on the internet and in our everyday lives. Caiden Cowger is the type of homophobe who knows that his comments are bound to anger the LGBT community and our straight allies. He not only wants the attention because he profits from it. He wants the attention because it (supposedly) validates his hateful and divisive views about people who he does not find appealing. Lastly, we should not forget the delusion that his mindset is the exact opposite of genuine love and concern for your fellow man.

Personally, I did not feel the need to respond to Caiden Cowger. After all, many users have done so already. I honestly believe that he deserves the heated criticism for making such remarks about a “lifestyle” that he is still too immature to understand. This brings up one important question when I encounter people who spew rhetoric just like he does. How should I react to such a person if I should encounter them?

It was a warm and humid Wednesday morning. I was volunteering at a local church for Meals on Wheels. Chicken salad sandwiches were on the menu for those who wanted cold brown bag meal. It was my job to scoop the mixture onto two slices of bread and place them in plastic bags. Simple enough job, right? It is common for the workers to engage in small talk while we are preparing a meal. Sometimes, the conversation can turn political or religious. Just the other day, Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage equality was declared unconstitutional. I was ecstatic when I heard the news. The entire Northeastern United States has finally embraced marriage equality! However, my enthusiasm was not shared by everyone. The man sitting across from me began to talk about the potential severe weather in the forecast. I did not expect the direction of which it was about to turn. We will call this man Mr. Taylor. (Notice these are fake names!) The conversation went something like this.

Mr. Smith: “I can’t believe all of this nasty weather in the forecast for today. (Brief pause.) I think God is trying to tell us something! He is clearly not happy! Did you hear about that same-sex marriage ruling for Pennsylvania? Some federal judge ruled the ban unconstitutional!  (An older woman was listening to the conversation. We will call her Mrs. White. She immediately chimed in.)

Mrs. White: “That’s terrible! God does not approve! They should have let the people decide! I thought the Bishop was opposed to gay marriage! Why didn’t he try to stop that?” 

(Mrs. White is apparently a Conservative Catholic. A brief pause follows.)

Mr. Smith: “He is against it! Mayor Peduto probably asked people in those gay bars to voice their opinion and fool us into thinking that we want this in Pennsylvania!

(short pause, then he continues)

 You know what’s more disgusting? Protestant churches are now calling homosexual pastors! The bible says that homosexuality is disgusting, immoral and wrong!  My denomination ordains gay pastors, but our parish did not agree to call one. We don’t want some gay pastor shoving his lifestyle choice down our throats!”

Mrs. White: “Well, they will have to answer to God someday. You never know what the government will demand us to accept next. Polygamy? Pedophilia? Sex with animals?” 

(Topic of conversation changes.)

I must admit that I wanted to respond to their blatant ignorance. “Sir, you happen to be talking to somebody who is out of the closet! Shame on you for being so ignorant!” However, I forced myself to say absolutely nothing. I just sat there and I continued to make the sandwiches. After all, they were not directly speaking to me. (I doubt they even know I am gay.) I have made a vow to myself. I will never live according to the standards of other people. It does not matter if they stem from religious indoctrination, general ignorance or even both. I can only hope that Caiden will wise up and learn to respect people for who they are. However, my prayers have yet to be answered. Some may disagree, but I think I did the right thing. I will remember this experience in the future and remind myself of one thing. Sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all.

My letter to Steve Grand

(click above)

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