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Category Archives: Fear

My Fellow Americans

Last night, I watched Barack Obama deliver his farewell speech, ten days before Donald Trump takes office as the new President of the United States of America. I can’t believe I just typed that. The crowd chanted “FOUR MORE YEARS” and I wish it was a possibility. President Obama said:

“Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard. It has been contentious. Sometimes it has been bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.”

He kept things classy; when he said that “in 10 days the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy,” the crowd began to boo. He urged them to stop, saying that the peaceful transfer of power will occur, just as former President Bush did for him eight years ago.

President Obama said that he left the stage even more optimistic than when we started. “Let me tell you, this generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace, you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands.”

President Obama asked us to believe, but not in his ability to bring about change. He asked us to believe in our own ability. “I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written. Yes, we can. Yes, we did.”

Re-reading this amazing speech brings tears to my eyes once again. I am terrified of what is to come once Donald takes office. This is a man who has no idea what he is doing. He is appointing people who want to tear apart all the work that President Obama has done in his years in office. This is a man who is grossly unqualified for the position he is about to fill. Can you imagine Donald delivering the speech that Obama did? Neither can I. He can’t do it.

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I am trying to believe. I am trying to have hope. But it’s difficult to see when we’re losing a fantastic President and replacing him with a bloated orange sack of hot air. Donald got elected because he knew how to rile up a crowd. He could say the right things to incite a riot, and people bought into it. The American citizens elected Hillary Clinton, but the system elected Donald. And now we’re stuck with him for the next four years, unless an impeachment occurs and succeeds.

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I am a woman. I am a minority. I support LGBTQ+ rights, am pro-choice, and am everything Donald hates in a person. This is a punch in the gut to know that we’re going from such a classy President to one who is simply an ass.

Half of the country voted this circus peanut into office, but I hope that they realize their mistake and take President Obama’s advice. We have a voice. We have the power to change things. We don’t have to sit back and try to survive the next four years; we can speak out and take action and do our best to keep this train from derailing. We have to. America won’t survive if we don’t. I’m absolutely terrified, but I have half the country on my side, and together, we can and we will bring about change. In all sincerity, thanks Obama. Your shoes are impossible to fill and you will be missed more than you know.

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Fibro Feels Fantastic…

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia back in June, after going through my own personal hell thanks to a horribly herniated disc, a procedure gone wrong, and subsequent back surgery. The diagnosis came as a surprise, especially because I had always looked at fibro as one of those diagnoses that was used when all else failed. I thought of it as something people faked in order to get pain pills. I never took it seriously until it slapped me in the face.

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I’ve only typed a paragraph so far, and already my back is on fire and my arms feel like they were smashed with a hammer. Last night, I couldn’t sleep no matter what I did. Saturday night, I only got an hour of sleep, even though I was so exhausted, I could barely move. I’ve had weeks where every single day, I have a migraine or a cluster headache. I can’t vacuum the house without taking breaks, and there are far too many times when taking a shower either requires a pep talk or just doesn’t happen because I don’t have the energy.

The pain is ridiculous. It started in my ankle, and was in the leg that experienced pain when I herniated my disc and had sciatica, so I thought it was related to that. The pain spread up my leg, into my hip, and then over my entire body in the space of a week. I tried explaining it to my specialist, but they kept insisting that it was simply inflammation in my back that was pressing on the nerve and causing the pain. No matter how many times I said that the pain was different and that it was spreading, they didn’t change their minds and treated it as if it was either a reherniation or a simple swelling issue.

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I eventually got in with a doctor who listened, and she ran tests and determined that it was indeed fibro. There were tests to rule things out and tests to confirm her diagnosis. On top of that, I found out that I was once again anemic. Thankfully, my awesome husband went out the very next day to grab me some iron supplements to take and get it under control. It’s not quite there yet, but I hope it’ll get there.

I’m taking fun medications for my fibro. Cymbalta is one, imitrex is another. I have a fun muscle relaxer that sometimes relieves the pain and sometimes has no effect at all. The medications don’t even get rid of the issues, they just fix things so that it’s not bothering me 24/7. I get small breaks where I feel fine, but taking advantage of those breaks to be productive means that the activity takes a toll on my body and I end up right back where I started when I’m done.

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I usually love staying up late with my husband on Friday and Saturday nights, but last Friday, I couldn’t keep my eyes open once 8pm hit and I went to sleep as soon as it was possible to do so. I then woke up shortly after my husband went to sleep because my hands were tingling, my jaw hurt, and my legs felt as if I had just run a marathon. I can’t remember the last time I had a normal night of sleep, and it’s wearing on me.

My skin is overly sensitive, I get nauseous and throw up, I’m often confused and don’t hear or understand people when they are speaking to me, I’m constantly worried, and I feel totally useless. I haven’t been able to work, and AETNA (disability insurance through my company) denied my claim because the claim manager decided to completely overlook the diagnosis and treated my case as if my only issue was ankle pain. While it is in the appeal stages, I am not getting paid a dime.

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My husband set up a GoFundMe, and we’ve raised a little over $700 at the time of this posting. It has helped, and I’m so grateful, but we’re still in a scary hole. My son’s birthday is coming up and I can’t buy him presents or take him out. My phone was nearly shut off because the bill was so late. We now have a second car payment because one of our cars died and we had no other option. Things are a mess.

I’m afraid and I feel alone, even though my husband has been doing everything he can and then some to support me. I feel guilty for not working, even knowing I physically can’t cut it. I feel like a liar sometimes; there are a lot of people who assume that fibro is a BS diagnosis or a made up disease; I was one of those people at one point. This is a scary time in my life. I need to get this thing under control, but trying to figure out how is quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Rape is Rape

Brock Turner was caught in the act, sexually assaulting an unconsious woman outside of a frat party at Stanford University. Two grad students spotted Turner on top of the unnamed woman; they lay next to a dumpster and she was clearly not awake or aware. Turner ran when the men approached, and one was able to chase and tackle him while the other called the police. For his crime, which the victim suffered from immensely, he received six months in jail and 3 years probation. The judge, Aaron Persky, says that the extremely lenient sentence was because he believed Turner when he stated that this woman, who was so drunk that she could not fend off this man, gave consent for sex. He also stated that Turner was remorseful, even though he only admitted remorse about drinking too much and the “dangers of alcohol.”

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I’m going to get more personal than I normally do and share a bit of something that makes me uncomfortable. There was a sad moment in my life where I had to live in  boarding house. During that time, I was assaulted by a crackhead who thought her boyfriend had looked at my housemate and I in a sexual way. She flipped out and my housemate, her baby and I locked ourselves in my room and called the police. She ended up trying to run from the police and got hog-tied. I had to go to the hospital for blood tests because she was using needles, she caused me to bleed when she attacked me, and I had no idea if she had hepatitis or AIDS or what. Thankfully, I was fine.

My housemate was married, and lived right across the hall from me with her husband and baby daughter. We were all friendly and would sometimes share a drink together. We were also friends with a couple who lived down the hall in a larger, more apartment-style unit. One day, my housemate was away with her baby, and the husband was home hanging out with the couple. I was by myself, just finishing a shift waiting tables. I showered and went over to the couple’s place to hang out for a bit. Once they started smoking weed, I decided to go back to my place. The husband followed. I didn’t realize he was following me.

I unlocked my door and as I started to step inside, he hit me from behind and knocked me directly into my bed, which was right inside the door. My cats ran for it and hid in the closet. Thanks, cats. I got up immediately in a panic and asked what the fuck he was doing. He was acting strange; he’d always been respectful and almost reserved, but I had also never encountered him without his wife before. He didn’t answer me, slammed my door behind him and was in my face in breakneck speed. One hand went around my throat and the other started trying to take off my clothes. He was bigger than me, taller and stronger. I screamed as loud as I could possibly scream for him to get his fucking hands off of me, punched him repeatedly in the ribs, and started kicking at his legs. I got in a solid groin shot, which finally got him to release his grip on my throat. He told me that he knows I want him because he saw the way I looked at him. I don’t remember what I grabbed, but I grabbed something off of my nightstand, swung at him, and told him that if he didn’t get the fuck out, I would kill him. He left.

I didn’t get raped by this idiot, but I could have. He didn’t come close to accomplishing his goal, and I still felt incredibly violated. I had a friend come stay with me every day for weeks until I moved out. I started carrying a knife. I couldn’t sleep. I started to question myself; was it my fault? Was I too nice? That was my reaction and I DIDN’T EVEN GET RAPED. So, imagine Brock Turner’s victim, who was raped and then sent to the hospital with debris in her vagina and then told by the legal system that she couldn’t be trusted, that maybe she was flirtacious and asked for it, that it was her fault in part that it happened. She is the victim, and the court system (and many of Turner’s supporters) have instead turned her rapist into the victim and her as the instigator.

Rape isn’t something we should take lightly. “I couldn’t help myself” is not an excuse for violating another person against their will. No means no. If a person cannot give consent, they cannot agree to a sexual act. If I’m passed out drunk and my husband tries to get it on with me while I’m muttering no during my brief moments of clarity, that is rape. It doesn’t matter who, doesn’t matter the situation. Rape is rape and we need to make these people responsible. We need to stop blaming the victim. When we tell women what to do/how to dress/how to act to avoid rape, what we are really saying is “this is what to do to ensure he rapes the other girl and not you.”

My experience is still something I can recall in detail, and it happened back in 2004. Turner’s victim will recall what happened to her for the rest of her life, made worse because it went to court and she had to see her attacker and deal with intrusive question after question about the incident. Brock Turner is not the victim. Brock Turner was 100% in the wrong. Stop shaming rape victims and trying to find the bright side of the rapists. They chose to cross the line, and they should have to live with that choice for the rest of their lives, just as their victim has to. I leave you with the disgusting letter that Turner’s father wrote to the judge.

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Stand With Orlando

I am still having a rough time wrapping my mind around what happened at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. More and more states are legalizing same sex marriages, which gave me so much hope. More and more people are able to transition to the gender they identify with, with the assistance of doctors, family and friends, which is amazing. Businesses who refuse to serve same sex couples are usually greeted with outrage instead of congratulations, which is exactly how we should react. It seemed like we were getting somewhere.

Out of nowhere, on a night where friends, family members, old and young, of various genders and orientations were having fun and enjoying life, one horrible person destroyed everything. Innocent people were murdered, others injured. A former safe place was riddled with bullet holes. The wrong kind of history was made thanks to the death toll.

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Some people want to blame terrorism. This would be a mistake. Idiots like Donald Trump want you to believe that this was an evil Muslim who came to this country with the goal of destroying America. Not the case; the shooter wasn’t attacking America, he was attacking the LGBTQ community. I don’t care if he did it out of self hatred or for religious reasons or because society still doesn’t fully accept certain lifestyles; the point is, he targeted this community out of hatred.

If you don’t care about the shooting at Pulse, you are part of the problem. “But I’m straight and don’t believe in homosexuality, so it doesn’t affect me.” Simply because you don’t believe in someone’s lifestyle doesn’t mean that you should feel justified in ignoring their suffering and silently condoning their slaughter. We’re not savages; we should value every human life regardless of whether or not we agree with their personal choices. We should not get to turn our backs on this type of tragedy, especially one as horrifying as the shooting at Pulse.

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Thanks to the actions of one horrible person, who thankfully is no longer around, people around the country have been afraid to celebrate Pride month. People who I call friends are afraid of their lives. Let me repeat: THEY ARE AFRAID FOR THEIR LIVES. All because of who they prefer to spend their time with. There are not enough of us fighting for the rights of our peers. We need to be more vocal. We need to make it clear that the ones filled with hatred are the ones in the wrong, not our LGBTQ community. We need to do more, and we need to be better. We can’t keep allowing this to happen.

 

 

Make Donald Drumpf Again

“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK, just knock the hell … I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.  I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya. I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.” Donald Trump

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When I first heard that Donald Trump was planning to run for President of the United States, I had a good laugh about it.  The thought of that floppy-haired old man running the country instead of telling people they’re fired in between bankruptcies was seriously comical.  I was looking forward to seeing how he was going to campaign because it would be entertaining for us all.  But then, something unexpected began to happen.  People started to take Trump seriously.  Supporters started to emerge from the woodwork and proclaim that Trump was the hero America needed.  That he would indeed make America great again.

John Oliver delivered a masterful piece on Trump, AKA Donald Drumpf. The custom hats are sold out, and the video of Last Week Tonight received over 20 million YouTube views in about 10 days.  Oliver discussed the power of Trump’s name, how it is the cornerstone of his brand, but countered with how his “real” name, Drumpf, is much less magical.  He drove a lot of points home, the key one being that we’re getting far too caught up in the name and the myth of instant success that is associated with Trump.  We’re overlooking the fact that the man is, for lack of a better term, full of shit.

 

Trump’s run for President isn’t funny anymore.  Our modern version of Hitler seems to have successfully brainwashed thousands upon thousands of people, enough to win state after state as he plows his way through the country.  Weak-minded people, mostly white folks in their 40s and higher, are promising to vote for Trump during rallies as their hold their hands high in the air.  His support system grows stronger every time he appears on TV to yell about immigrants or his “meager” beginnings with a million dollars in his pocket.

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This isn’t a matter of not liking a candidate because I disagree with their views, it’s a matter of not liking a candidate because he’s a colossal dipshit who shouldn’t be allowed to manage a game of Sims, nevermind an entire country.  Donald Trump is a confused little boy whose parents told him he could do anything he wanted when he grew up, not knowing that their little boy would take that to the letter as an adult and try to buy a country.  He enjoyed fear mongering.  He’s a racist, and a sexist.  He doesn’t know dick about what it takes to run a country.  Hey, neither do I, which is why I’ll never try to get that particular job.  It isn’t for everyone.

We are a country obsessed with celebrities.  We make nobodies famous through reality television and YouTube.  We created President Trump because we have a fascination with idiots and memes and GIFs, and Trump makes for good entertainment.  We care more about upcoming SNL skits about Trump than we do about the fact that he will likely burn down America within his first week.  We created the Jersey Shore, we are responsible for the dozens upon dozens of Kardashian shows, we ruined MTV, and we continue to obsess over the frivolous while ignoring reality.

Our current reality is that Donald Trump has a damn good chance of becoming President of the United States.  Luckily for us, a good chance is very different than a secured victory.  We still have time to make this right.  We can put a stop to this cartoon world and right the ship before this vulgar human gets anywhere close to swearing in.  We need to save this country from becoming little more than a running joke.  We need to give a damn about more than cat videos and face swapping and actually see how harmful Trump truly is.  Time is running out; this train needs to be derailed immediately.  We need to decide whether we want to live somewhere that we can be proud of or live somewhere resembling a preschool playground.

TRUMP ON WOMEN:  

  • “You know it really doesn’t matter what they write, as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” 
  • “There was blood coming out of her eyes… blood coming out of her… wherever.” 
  • “Women; You have to treat them like shit.”

TRUMP ON THE MILITARY:  “26,000 unreported sexual assults [sic] in the military — only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”

TRUMP ON FORMER PRESIDENTAL CANDIDATE CARLY FIORINA:  “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”

Recovery

It’s been five days since I’ve had my microdiscetomy and I’m guessing that I’m doing as well as can be expected.  The anesthesia didn’t cooperate with me as well as I would have wanted to; I choked and threw up (clear liquid, thankfully) when they removed the breathing tube from my throat and kept telling the nurses “something is wrong,” being unable to form the words “Hey, I feel nauseous.”  Took me a good 20 minutes to explain to them that I felt nauseous, so the proper meds were slightly delayed getting to me.

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At home, my husband set me up to stay upstairs on our giant mattress with my Percocet and every pillow in the house.  I didn’t think outpatient surgery would hit me so hard, but I felt like my entire body was under attack for the first 48 hours.  My appetite is almost non-existent; yesterday was the first day I was able to eat a somewhat normal amount of food, and it has made me feel pretty godawful today.  I’ve been sleeping as much as possible; my body gets to the point where it give up and I can’t help but close my eyes.  I’ve also been trying to walk as much as I can to promote healing, which is super fun since I can only walk like a drunk penguin at the moment.

The nurse blew a vein in my right arm trying to set the IV, so a second nurse had to set it in my left arm.  I’ve never had issues with IVs before, but my right arm is bruised and my left is both bruised and sore.  Straight out of surgery, I couldn’t bend my wrist without a shooting pain going up my entire left arm.  My hand, where the IV was inserted, is sore to the touch, but thankfully no longer swollen.  Safe to say, my irrational fear of IVs has now reached another level.

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The good news is that the pain I was feeling prior to surgery seems to be gone.  I can still tell that my nerve is damaged; the numbness in my foot is still very present (I thought it had let up, but I think the Percocet had me confused).  I’m going to have to get back into physical therapy to make sure I heal properly and don’t reinjure myself in the future.  I still have over 2 weeks before I’m allowed to even drive again, and who knows when they’ll let me go back to work. It seems crazy that such a tiny movement in my back destroyed my whole body, and then a small surgery in my back makes me feel like a cripple.  It’s all been a huge wake up call though; I need to start taking better care of myself from here on out.  Don’t expect me to turn into a crazy health nut or anything, but changes definitely need to be made, because screw going through this ever again.

Sliced and Diced

Back in September, I fell while walking my dog with my husband.  I hit the ground pretty hard, falling on my left side and bruising my backside and hand.  About a month later, I started having incredibly severe back pain, and the last week of October had me out of work for nearly a week trying to recover.  My family doctor prescribed a steroid and muscle relaxer, and I was able to go trick-or-treating with my son (with a slight limp).

Three rounds of steroids later, my family doctor sent me for an MRI and referred me to an orthopedic specialist.  The MRI revealed a disc herniation at L4 and L5 of 7mm, and a lesser herniation at L5 and S1.  The larger herniation was pressing on my nerve, causing the horrible shooting pain down my left leg and making me miserable.  Some days, it took me an hour just to stand up.  I couldn’t put my sock on my left foot, couldn’t shave my legs without sitting down in the shower, couldn’t sit for more that 15 minutes at a time without severe pain, and couldn’t drive normally.  The orthopedic doctor recommended an epidural steroid shot that could fix the issue and help me avoid surgery.

I was unable to see the recommended doctor for the shot (thanks, insurance) so I was stuck seeing the doctor that Advantage decided was best.  The experience was horrible; Dr Ratzman in Indianapolis has a receptionist that does not answer the phone AT ALL, but lets all calls go to voicemail (one that she also ignores from what we witnessed in the office).  We were in the office for nearly five hours; it took us 90 minutes to get called back from the waiting room, and they definitely were not busy.  Dr. Ratzman decided that the shot should be administered through the side of my spine instead of through the top like the original doctor wanted to do.  Once I was finally brought back for the shot, it was over and done in 5 minutes.  I felt instant relief and had two very nice, nearly pain free days.

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I was back to work the following Monday, three days after getting the shot.  That evening, I had a lot of trouble sleeping due to discomfort, and I woke up Tuesday in unimaginable pain.  My son was on break from school and helped me a great deal throughout the day.  I could barely make it from the couch to the bathroom and spent most of the day crying before or after I’d pass out briefly from the pain and exhaustion.  On the advice of the orthopedic doctor, I went to the ER that evening and was admitted into the hospital.  They gave me an aggressive treatment of pain medication, muscle relaxers, steroids, and who knows what else.  After the hospital, I was referred to their physical therapy department and have been doing exercises that have helped with the pain. Unfortunately, the herniation has not resolved and I had a constant numbness in my left leg and foot that presented after the epidural shot and has not let up.  In addition, my left ankle has become extremely weak since getting the shot, and some days I need to have it wrapped tightly to keep it from giving out.  I was on crutches after leaving the hospital for weeks.

Fast forward to now, and I’m both happy and terrified about what I hope is a solution.  I have surgery scheduled for February 10th with my orthopedic doctor. He’s worried about nerve damage at this point (thanks, Dr. Ratzman) and wants to get the pressure off of the nerve ASAP so I can begin to truly heal.  I will also have to continue physical therapy and also begin a regular exercise program to keep my back healthy and avoid this nightmare from ever happening again.

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Since getting the surgery scheduled and coming to terms with the fact that I’m going to be sliced open in the very near future, I’ve been a total wreck.  Crying at the drop of a hat, getting inexplicably dizzy and nauseous, being overly sensitive, having mood swings, and being quite the pain in the ass around the house.  I’m absolutely terrified, especially since the doctor that administered the epidural shot left me in even worse shape and with possible nerve damage.  I trust the surgeon; he’s been fantastic every step of the way and has done all he could to get me better without cutting me open, but we’re out of options at this point.  I’m a big ball of nerves and crazy and I doubt I’ll calm down until it’s all over and done with.

Hopefully once this is over, I can get back to being myself and not flying off the handle at every little bump in the road.  My husband is an absolute saint for putting up with my nonsense, and he will be with me on Wednesday while I’m likely having a panic attack in the surgery center.  Please think happy thoughts about me, and when this is all over, I promise to give this page the attention it deserves and get back to regular posting.

Religious Freedom?

The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed through the state Senate yesterday by a vote of 40 to 10, thanks to the heavy Republican support.  The act will allow individuals and businesses to refuse services on the grounds of their personal beliefs.  It basically legalizes discrimination against LGBT individuals.  Supporters of the bill state that the bill is actually just strengthening the 1st Amendment rights of freedom of religion.  The bill is currently at the House of Representatives for debate and vote, where I hope it dies.

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I am 100% in favor of freedom of religion.  I do not enjoy being told what I should or should not believe, and I imagine the rest of the world feels the same way, regardless of their religion or lack thereof.  What boggles my mind here is that my state wants to give the green light to businesses to boldly discriminate against LGBT individuals and couples while hiding behind a religion they may not even be that serious about.  This opens a door for hateful people to simply be hateful, denying services to others for the simple reason that they don’t agree with who they love, sleep next to, and spend their life with.

This bill is not protecting anyone’s freedom of religion.  This bill is destroying equality for every individual who chooses to live outside the norm of “man marries woman.”  This bill is hurting people who simply want to be free to be who they are.  This bill teaches children that being gay is not okay.  It sends a message that the LGBT community is less than the rest of us.  It sends a message to all that the popular belief is homosexuality is wrong, is a sin, and all who identify as such will be going to hell.

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I don’t want to live in a world where I can go get a coffee, have my haircut, and get a massage while someone else who happens to be gay can be refused those services over what they do behind closed doors.  In a world where we worry about the rights of recently released prisoners, who have raped and murdered and done unspeakable things, why are we so preoccupied with sexual orientation?  How does anyone else’s sex life affect us personally?  I don’t agree with polygamy, but I sure as hell don’t oppose it.  It’s not a choice I would make, but I’m also not affected whatsoever by any polygamous couple anywhere.  Their daily life has no impact on mine.

We need to come together and accept that being gay, transgendered, or bisexual is a fact of life.  I was born straight.  Others are born gay.  Some are born in the wrong body.  Some are gender blind.  We can’t help the way we are born.  A gay person cannot help being gay any more than I can help being a woman with brown eyes of average height.  Hate, on the other hand, is something we learn.  We are taught that certain things are wrong.  We learn to detest characteristics and choices people make.  We build a hatred towards things we don’t understand.  THAT is what we need to work on changing.

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This issue is as important as the issue of racial equality, if not more so, as sexual preference doesn’t stick to certain races or nationalities.  People would be outraged if a business refused service to every Hispanic person that came through their doors, yet we are going to be okay with the same business refusing service to a lesbian couple?  These are foolish and stupid things to judge people on and it needs to stop.  My husband pointed out that it wouldn’t be okay for a business run by a gay person or people to refuse service to straight couples, and if a bill was passed allowing this to be done, people would be enraged.  No matter what the discrimination is, be it skin color or religion or orientation, we should be doing all we can to fight against it, not be passing bills in support of it.

Some may argue that this is needed because children shouldn’t be “exposed” to certain things.  I grew up knowing what cross dressing was, understanding that different people have different skin colors, knowing what being gay meant, and accepting different religions and social/economic differences.  I am a better person for being exposed to so-called harmful things.  Drag queens aren’t going to go away, so what’s the harm in your child seeing one and asking a question?  If you want to argue that it’s inappropriate, then you better start shielding your child from Kim Kardashian, every 20-something during the summer, Facebook, Instagram, TV in general, The Walking Dead, professional wrestling, public places, college, popular music… you get the idea.  When it comes to harmful influences, the label of GAY doesn’t automatically qualify as harmful.

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We need to stop acting as if being gay makes someone a bad person or an affront to any god.  We need to stop calling it a perversion, as we all know that straight people can be more perverted than can be imagined; being into unusual things isn’t based on whether you are gay, straight, or bisexual.  We need to stop thinking that pedophilia is something exclusively affecting the gay community and sticking that perverted label to them.  We need to stop being such assholes, plain and simple, denying basic human rights to people based on things that are none of our damn business to begin with.

I currently have and have had gay friends (and family members), straight friends, bisexual friends, confused friends, slutty friends, repressed friends, and every type in between.  The only time the love/sex lives of any of them affected me is when a friend of mine decided to bang my boyfriend at the time.  Otherwise, they do them and I do me and everyone is happy as pie.  Unless someone is being a nuisance about something, I’m not bothered.  Who they sleep with, pray to, or what country they would travel to if they wanted to visit ancestors is of no concern so long as they are a decent and honest person.

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My mother once told me that if I ever brought home a black man, she would disown me.  One parent among many who will turn away from their children based on who they love.  One person among many who think its acceptable to deny rights, goods and services, or even kindness to another based on characteristics that don’t define character.  My son will likely grow up unable to say that he lives in a world where an LGBT individual receives the same rights and privileges as a straight individual.  In a country that loves to proclaim it’s the land of the free and of opportunities, how utterly pathetic is that?

 

 

L Word Mississippi

I had a slight(ly huge) obsession with The Real L Word on Showtime.  Beautiful women whose lives were filled with drama, love and heartbreak, and truly wonderful personal journeys.  When the last season wrapped, I was happy to see two weddings but sad to see the series come to a close.  A couple of days ago, I saw a promo on Showtime for L Word Mississippi: Hate The Sin.  I missed the premiere, but made sure to record it the next time it was on.

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The title was a bit off-putting, but nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed for the next 90 minutes.  I have experienced my fair share of discrimination.  As a multi-racial person, I’ve gotten the question “what are you” more times than I care to remember.  When I lived in Georgia, I came face to face with the KKK and was made to feel less than human in my high school.  I grew up knowing what homosexuality was due to a gay second cousin, so I never gave it a second thought, but was always disgusted with the challenges my LGBT friends would face.  Even today, I see their struggles and it gets to me.  Because I’m not sheltered at all, I didn’t expect to be as shocked as I was at the stories from Mississippi.

L Word Mississippi began with the clear message that it’s not okay to be gay.  There is no holding hands in public, no kissing your girlfriend at the market, and no being free to live and love as you choose.  The religious community in Mississippi is massive, and that is a major factor in why the struggle for these women is so great.  “Praying the gay away” is thought to be something you can do.  Even some of the women featured on this documentary pray to save their own souls from their so-called sinful lives.  They have found love, but due to the teachings of the church, believe that love to be wrong and want to be saved and find a man to love.

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Rene’s story had my jaw on the floor, especially after we were introduced to her son, Devin.  Rene spent her life dressing masculine and even stuffing a strap-on down her pants in order to feel more like a man.  She stopped and began trying to dress and act more feminine after finding Jesus a year earlier.  Her son came out as gay a few years ago and she blames herself completely.  I dare anyone to look at Rene and Devin and try to tell me that being gay is a choice and not simply the way you’re born.  It’s beyond painful to watch Rene deny who she is in order to appease the church and the community.  It’s worse when she tries to impose those twisted beliefs on her son, who is happy to be who he is.

The other relationships we get to see in this documentary are truly beautiful.  Cameron and Amber are such a loving couple, and lucky enough to have a support system in the Per2yon Family, but you can still see the pain on their faces.  The level of hatred and ignorance they have to face is beyond my understanding and I give them so much credit for being strong each and every day.  Sara, who is expecting a baby boy, struggles with not only being a lesbian and the stigma that is attached to that, but is dealing with her wife transitioning into becoming her husband.  BB, a former pastor, is trying to right the wrongs of her past by helping LGBTQ youth so they don’t feel lost, ostracized, and suicidal.  The “love the sinner, hate the sin” message is strong, but it’s clear that the actual feelings of the community is “hate the sin, shame the sinner.”

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I don’t want to elaborate any further because I want everyone to please look this documentary up and watch it.  Regardless of your beliefs or level of acceptance, please watch this with an open mind and heart.  I want you to be as shocked as I was that this type of hatred and ignorance is not only still incredibly present, but is so widespread.  I am grateful for all the women involved for sharing their stories and hope that as more people see L Word Mississippi, more people begin to realize that it’s not the LGBTQ community that needs to change.  It’s the rest of us.

Rape

Last week, my husband and I stumbled upon a segment on the radio that hit a nerve.  The two hosts were discussing a woman who I’ll call Stacy, as they did not reveal her name.  The hosts were contacted by Stacy’s friend, Candy, who was seeking advice about a possible legal issue.  According to Candy, Stacy and her boyfriend went to a bar one night where the boyfriend was “feeding her Long Islands.”  Stacy became incredibly intoxicated and the next thing she knows, she is waking up naked in her boyfriend’s apartment with absolutely no recollection of how she arrived there.

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Candy went on to say that Stacy then asked her boyfriend what had happened.  He was not only unconcerned, he raved about how wonderful and amazing the night had been.  Stacy was horrified that she could not recall any details of this amazing sex she apparently had, which is why she confided in Candy.  Let me also add that Candy did confirm that Stacy and her boyfriend had in fact been intimate before; they appeared to be living together and this was hardly the first time that the two had engaged in intercourse or any other type of sexual activity.  Candy decided that Stacy needed to report this night to the police because it was clear that she was raped.

Now please tell me, am I clueless, insensitive, or simply stupid?  Because I cannot look at this situation and see it as rape, not even a little bit.  First of all, no one “feeds” you drink after drink; you choose to drink and choose to get drunk.  You can’t sneak drinks into people.  It would be different if Stacy was drugged in some fashion, but she wasn’t.  She chose to get drunk with a man she seemed to trust.  Second, a blurry night with your significant other is something that has happened to a lot of us.  I get drunk with my husband.  I’ve never lost an entire evening, but I have experienced tidbits of memory failure here and there where I won’t recall how we got from one point to the next.  If you drink and drink heavily for an evening, it is bound to happen.  If it happens frequently, you should not be drinking.

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Stacy couldn’t remember stopping for snacks at Taco Bell, couldn’t recall how she got home, and couldn’t remember the great sex she had with her boyfriend.  This does not equal a rape.  Candy was convinced that Stacy was in fact blacked out and her boyfriend forced himself on her.  If so, then I would agree that it was rape since she was unable to consent whatsoever and was obviously unaware of the activities.  But if Stacy was simply blitzed and having a blast with her equally drunk boyfriend, then this was just two people who had an intimate relationship and decided to drink way too much and end the night with sex.  That IS NOT RAPE.

Candy eventually admitted that she had been raped in the past, something she is obviously still traumatized from.  Perhaps she looked at Stacy’s situation, saw her own experience in it, and now desires her friend to seek out the justice that she never received.  Candy didn’t go to the police, but Stacy still can.  But is it even justified?  Maybe the boyfriend is a real dirtbag and maybe he did try to persuade Stacy to drink too much so she’d loosen up and be more fun in the bedroom.  But maybe not.  There is nothing here that suggests rape and it is an insult to women who do get raped to throw around the word like it’s nothing.

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I’m not going to throw a personal rape story in here for you now because it’s simply none of your business.  I will say that rape comes in many forms and sometimes, you have to leave it up to the victim when it comes to reporting the crime or staying silent.  Imagine what the police would do with Stacy.  There is no proof.  No trauma.  No bruising or cuts or evidence of violence.  No drugs.  Nothing illegal outside of driving while intoxicated.  What can they do with her, other than hit her with a barrage of questions, prod away at her life, and possibly traumatize her for real with the circus that is reporting a sex crime?  If she woke up with a black eye and torn clothing, it’d be one thing, but that was not the case here.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that rapes should be reported as quickly as possible both so the victim can be cared for and so the perpetrator can be arrested.  No one on this Earth should get away with violating another person in such a manner.  But it’s a dangerous thing to do what Candy has done and automatically assume rape in situations where it does not exist.  It’s dangerous to assume that every female who claims they can’t remember the night before has been raped.  It’s unfair to automatically make men into evil sex-crazed monsters when they’re honestly not doing anything wrong.

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Rape should be taken seriously, of course.  Part of taking it seriously means not seeing rape where it doesn’t exist.  You can’t claim rape because you regret a decision to sleep with another and want to feel guilt-free about it, and you can’t assume your friends have been raped simply because their situation vaguely reminds you of your own.  Rape is a heavy word and the accusation hits hard.  I cannot begin to imagine how terrible it would be if I was accused of such a crime when all I did was have sex with the person I loved (or lusted).

We also need to be responsible ourselves.  When rape happens, it is not the fault of the victim; there is no “she was asking for it” BS that the assailant gets to claim.  That said, we have a responsibility to ourselves to take steps to keep ourselves safe.  Maybe that means not drinking to excess.  Maybe it means having a wingman/woman around you to ensure you make it home safely and alone.  Maybe it means avoiding certain areas or people.  Just because rape isn’t the fault of the victim doesn’t mean that we have to act like victims.  If Stacy had just quit drinking after two or three Long Islands, she would have remembered the trip to Taco Bell, the drive home, and the maybe not-so-hot sex in the bedroom.  Or on the flipside, she would have remembered her boyfriend being far too pushy, holding her down, and ignoring her pleas.  Either way, the question of Was It or Wasn’t It wouldn’t exist, and she wouldn’t currently be struggling to find the truth.

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