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Posts Tagged ‘respect’

During a conversation with my husband the other night, we happened upon the topic of change. It came up because I’m going to Detroit Pride this weekend to join up with Free Mom Hugs. For those that don’t know, Free Mom Hugs, a group which also includes dads, gives free hugs, high-fives, fist bumps, and encouragement to LGBTQIA individuals who have been rejected by their families. I’m totally stoked about being able to show a bit of love to someone who may just need it, lord knows we all do from time to time.

I reflected on how this was not what I was raised to believe, and how people can grow and change.

I know because I changed.

I was raised in a very conservative home where I was taught, especially in church, that being gay, or at least, being in a gay relationship, was a sin. It was never really an issue, just one of the countless sins we were told about. I didn’t know any better until I actually met people who were “out” in high school and in my first year of college. Listening to their stories really made me question the belief system I had been taught. Why were people being judged and condemned for how they were born, for who they were, for who they loved? The more I reasoned, the more my views changed and I struggled with what my religion said vs. what I knew in my heart to be true.

My brother came out soon after. He had been raised with the same teachings, I know he didn’t choose to be gay. Why would God make him that way if it was sinful? Why would God make anyone gay if it went against what He wanted? It didn’t make sense. I started reading more and researching, not only personal stories, but articles and studies on religion to see what was actually being said in translations and realized that I didn’t agree with the interpretation that had been preached to me for all those years. I was soon completely convinced: people don’t choose their sexuality, it’s hard-wired from the very beginning.

With this realization, I made it a point to be an ally. We’ve raised our kids to be accepting of everyone. We’ve also been very fortunate to belong to a church where everyone is welcome, no matter what, with no agenda to “fix” people. One of our pastors even risked her job to marry two wonderful men a few years ago and we became an official Reconciling Ministries church the year after. The current pastor and his wife are all in, letting the rainbow banners fly. Our denomination is in a struggle right now to officially adopt a policy where gay marriages can be performed without penalty and I’m happy to say that there has some progress made on this. It looks much more hopeful now than it did a few months ago. We have wonderful new members who came to us because they have faith, but have not felt welcome in other places. There is still much to do.

Faith is important to a lot of people and it makes me sad that being gay is a reason for some to shut others out, no matter what the religion is. Do the homework, not just “research” from the conservative side, but objective research from real science. Talk to gay Christians, or gay Muslims, or gay Jews. You’ll find many. There are plenty of gay atheists, too, in case you’re not religious. Get their perspective, and really, truly, listen to them without judgement. Listen to religious scholars on the other side with an open mind and pray for understanding.

There’s another reason I think this is an incredibly important topic. According to The Trevor Project, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-24 and LGB youth seriously think about suicide three times more than heterosexual youth. (https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/preventing-suicide/facts-about-suicide/#sm.00001dqohxj19xof4dx2kuf9llet1) They would rather die than deal with the pain they feel from being rejected by the world, their places of worship, even their parents. That should say something to even the hardest heart. Think about that. Children would rather take their own lives than subject themselves to the humiliation heaped on them by those who think they are less than. As someone who has been on that precipice, that decision is born out of desperation, not attention-seeking. The methods used to change children are bogus, as proven over and again. Conversion therapy is cruel and it doesn’t work. You can’t “pray the gay away”, you can’t beat it out of someone, and you can’t change their mind. That’s not how it works. Again, do the research. Hear them.

LGBTQIA people are not broken, they don’t need to be fixed. Like everyone, they need to feel loved, they need to know that they are accepted, and treated with dignity and respect. I thank God, those long-ago high school and college friends, my brother,  and my sister-cousin, for being brave, for opening my eyes, for opening my mind. My life is richer and fuller for that, for the friends I have, for the love I am shown daily. I shudder to think of what my life could have been like if I hadn’t followed my heart.

Growth is often uncomfortable, because you often have to fix stuff, but the rewards are wonderful. When I see anti-gay protesters, so angry, waving their vile signs, it’s difficult to not be angry myself. I want to jump in and defend my friends and family so badly, but getting in someone’s face rarely changes their mind. Instead, I try to love. I try to set a good example. I try to stand up for what I know to be the right thing. I teach my students that using the word “gay” or “queer” as insults is not acceptable when the situation pops up, besides teaching acceptance of all as a norm.

I’m also still learning. As I mentioned, I want to be the best ally I can and I want to do it right. I make mistakes sometimes (I still have to make myself think of and say correct pronouns for the gender fluid, just because it’s a habit) but that’s part of growth and understanding and I welcome it, even when I screw up. I can do more.

So, Happy Pride Month. Much love to my family and friends who are celebrating and know that I have your back, always. May God bless you always.

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I realize that I’ve been quiet for a while. There have been many things that I’ve wanted to write about, but I haven’t been able to figure out how I want to approach them without offending people. Hopefully, I’ve chosen the right course. One of my favorite movie lines, I’m a total movie line geek, comes from 1776. While debating what provisions should be taken out of the Declaration, a frustrated John Adams exclaims, “It’s a revolution, damn it, we’re going to have to offend somebody!”

I wish I could be as self-confident as John Adams. I wish I could speak my mind and not feel so completely vulnerable and attacked when having to defend my position, but I don’t. I wish I had ultimate wisdom, like Solomon, and could tell people what was truly best for this country, but I don’t. I wish I could understand why people hold the positions that they do, but I don’t. I’ve tried to understand, I really have, but I just can’t. So, I’m letting go. I won’t be posting anything on politics for the remainder of this election season and I’m not going to engage in any political discussions. My life is composed of so much more than one day out of the year and I don’t like the anger I was feeling every time I heard or saw ridiculous behavior in the news. This is absolutely the last thing I have to say about politics in this election season.

Notice that I’m not advocating or vilifying any particular political party. That’s on purpose. I’m not going there. I don’t affiliate with any political party anymore. I was born and raised to think that Republicans were the Christian party so I voted that way for a while, mainly because I am pro-life, but then I began to realize that the other principles that many in the party stood for did not, in my opinion, work toward the common good. I’m still pro-life, and pro-child, too. I believe there’s a soul from the beginning. There’s a LOT of work to be done to educate, though, to make free birth control available, to support struggling women who want to keep their children but are in bad situations, and to support children who need it, but that’s a blog for another time. The short answer is that I won’t vote for someone because they say they’re pro-life. The big picture has to be looked at, character and policies must be evaluated, and I have voted for Republican, Democrat, Green Party, and Libertarian candidates if I thought they would do a good job. I’ve not always been happy with my choice. I must confess, though, that I lean toward the liberal side of things. I have friends and friends from many different backgrounds and walks of life: white, black, Asian, Arab,  gay, straight. I want their rights to be respected and protected.

I’ve been through several election seasons, but this is the worst I can remember. There’s a lack of class, dignity, and respect. It’s ugly and I can’t let it eat at me anymore. All I can do is hope that people see, really see, what they’re voting for. I’m doing my homework for my vote. Quietly.

 

 

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You can disagree with someone and not call them names.

You can disagree with someone, not understand their position at all, and not call them names.

You can be screaming in your head at the position of another person in an argument, voice your disagreement respectfully, and still not call them names.

You can disagree with someone politically and still be their friend.

You can disagree with someone politically and still love them.

You can feel yourself getting angry during a disagreement, online or in person, and walk away to calm down because you don’t think as clearly when you’re upset.

You can wait to type a response to an inflammatory remark until you calm down or choose to ignore it because that relationship is important to you.

You can make your stand and let your opinion be known without looking like a jerk.

You can ask the other person why they feel the way they do to try and understand their position. It doesn’t mean that you need to change your mind; it’s to gain a better understanding of where the other person is coming from. Sometimes it’s a crap reason, other times will surprise you. Listen and learn.

Check your facts before spouting them. Don’t get riled up before you do your research. It just makes you look silly. We’ve all done it.

Don’t hurt other people on purpose.

Love one another, whether you’re liberal, conservative, religious, non-religious, a religion different from yours, gay, straight, Wal-Mart shopper, farmers market shopper, recycler or hoarder.

Self righteousness doesn’t look good on anyone.

Change the world for the better today.

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So, the website, Ashley Madison has been hacked. Thousands of names have been released, pointing direct fingers at the cheaters, including Josh Duggar, eldest child of the now-infamous Duggar clan of TLC fame, among others. For those who haven’t seen the news in the last week, Ashley Madison is a website that matches up people who want to have affairs. Yes, the internet has made it even easier for cheaters to cheat. Yay. Not that it wasn’t easy for people to cheat before, but this website has contributed to breaking down families and enabling bad behavior.

Now, a website, as despicable as its premise is, is not to blame for people cheating on their spouses. Cheating is a conscious choice, a CHOICE, not an accident, and the person who did the cheating is in the wrong. But I have a huge problem with those who see nothing wrong with cheating and who create technology not only to enable it, but to make it easier. Really? Let’s think about this.

People go into marriage with the romantic, but stupid, idea that it will all be happily ever after, that things will be perfect, that he will settle down, that she will grow up a little, but that isn’t ever the case. Realistically, marriage takes work in order to be successful. It gets boring at times. Your spouse will annoy you. You will annoy your spouse. After almost nineteen years, I know I drive Marty Man absolutely crazy with my OCD about the house, the way I leave the hose out after watering the lawn, or my big dreams of the future. He drives me nuts in a variety of ways, including when he makes five graham crackers with peanut butter instead of nice, even, numbers like four or six. (Seriously, why not an even number???) When things get boring or frustrating, we grow together as a couple, by communicating and trying new things or by giving each other space. It took us time to learn that, we went through lots of growing pains and it brought us closer together, but many allow those situations to drive them further apart, sometimes into the arms of people outside of the marriage, and that’s a shame. Look at it this way. If you are legally married, you spoke vows of some sort, in front of witnesses, to love, honor, and cherish, not to sneak around behind your spouse’s back and have a fling because things get boring after a while. If you are in any kind of committed relationship, you owe it to your partner to be honest. Having an affair means lying, whether by omission or deliberately deception. You lose all credibility and intergrity in that equation.

If you are married and unhappy, there are some choices to make. If your marriage or relationship is simply unbearable or there’s abuse of any kind, you need to leave. For your health and safety, get out and get yourself some help while you’re at it. If there’s a chance of fixing your marriage, there are a variety of things you can do. See a marriage counselor, take time alone with your spouse, read some books about the subject, do some introspective soul-searching, whatever, but DO NOT CHEAT ON YOUR PARTNER! Cheating breaks every vow, every modicum of trust and respect that your spouse has for you. The effects can be devastating: broken families, unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and having to sneak around on a daily basis. Affairs always get found out, maybe not right away, but somewhere down the line, something will slip. Why would you want to give your life partner, someone who you claimed to love above all others, that kind of pain and suffering? I love what Dr. Phil said about marriage. I’m paraphrasing, but basically, he said that if you wouldn’t do something without your partner standing right there, you shouldn’t be doing it. That’s something that has stayed with me for years.

The point is this: don’t cheat. I am glad that Ashley Madison was hacked, if only for the simple fact that it strikes their myth of “discretion” down. People are being held accountable right now and, yes, there are people hurting right now. It sucks. How do you want people to remember you? That you acted with honor, dignity, and respect, or that you were a liar who broke your vows in order to satisfy a selfish urge in a moment of weakness?

I hope that the owners of Ashley Madison and other sites like it see the light someday. I hope that they understand the damage that they’ve done and try to make amends, but I doubt that will happen. The almighty dollar is worth more than our integrity these days. As long as people have weak moments, they will continue to seek satisfaction elsewhere, when they really should be looking inside themselves. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to be better than that, to put those sites out of business, to think twice about pursuing that person that looks so exciting, and to remember what’s really important: our loved ones.

Love each other.

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