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It’s Finally Fabulous Wedding Season

The Supreme Court ruled, in a 5 to 4 vote, that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.  This is something I never expected to see in my lifetime and something that makes me proud of this country.  Marriage should be a union between two consenting adults; there is nothing complex or confusing about it.  I’m excited to see what this monumental ruling brings down the road.

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What doesn’t excite me is the horrible attitudes of people who still strongly oppose same-sex unions.  The reality we live in is full of all types of couples; different races and social standings and genders and religions.  No one has to agree with every union out there.  I don’t happen to agree with an 18-year-old marrying someone old enough to be their grandfather, but I’m not about to parade the streets in protest.  Consenting adults get to marry whoever those consenting adults want.

A marriage of any kind affects the two people who are married, plus any children they have, any pets they keep, and any family members who live with them.  Outside of that, if you are affected by someone’s marriage, it is because you are choosing to insert yourself somewhere that you don’t need to be.  My brother, who was married last year, lives in New York and his marriage didn’t change anything in my world.  Two friends of mine also married last year, and their marriage (which was the best wedding I’ve ever been to) also didn’t affect me past the few pounds I probably gained from their amazing cupcakes.  If you are whining about how you are negatively affected by same-sex marriages, it’s your own damn fault.

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The whole “I don’t want it thrown in my face argument” isn’t valid either.  The people who are shouting this from the rooftops are the same ones who are heavily invested in reality television, who are keeping up with the Kardashians, and who gossip heavily on social media.  You are throwing nonsense in the faces of everyone around you when you drone on about the latest garbage on E! News, discussing the most recent celebrity weddings and hook-ups.  The world isn’t going to censor itself because you’re too fragile to handle it.  If you don’t want things “thrown in your face,” remove yourself from society, stop watching Big Brother, and log off Facebook while the rest of us carry on living our lives and enjoying the little pleasures each day brings.

“But I don’t want to see rainbows everywhere, or two men making out.”  First of all, rainbows are fantastic.  They are bright and colorful and happy.  If you hate the sight of happiness, I don’t know what to tell you.  Second, I can understand not wanting to see two guys making out because, personally, I don’t want to see ANYONE making out.  Excessive displays of public affection are uncomfortable regardless of the couple.  That said, if you are getting up in arms about two women holding hands, you need to take it down a notch and quit being so damn uptight.  PG displays of love are a part of life; so long as it doesn’t cross a line, quit obsessing and leave people alone.

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“But it destroys the sanctity of marriage.”  And straight couples getting married for the 4th or 5th time doesn’t?  Shows like Arranged, The Bachelor/Bachelorette and Married At First Sight aren’t destroying it?  Photographers stalking celebrity weddings and posting photos for greedy fans to devour doesn’t destroy it?  Sorry, guys, but a woman marrying a woman she loves isn’t destroying a single thing.  It’s working to rebuild the institution of marriage by opening the door for many more loving and deserving couples that want to marry in the eyes of God and/or the law.

When it’s all said and done, everyone has the right to their own opinion.  But I have the right to keep my distance from people who are stuck in the dark ages and who refuse to evolve along with the rest of us.  I have already deleted a couple of people from my life due to their ignorant and close-minded views.  I have deleted them because they are insulting, rude, and acting quite childish, not to mention quick to place blame on the so-called cowards who have joined me in dropping them as friends.  People who oppose equality and love don’t earn any space in my life.

Maybe these people will come around, and maybe they won’t.  What matters to me is that the majority is standing tall and proud, cheering this decision along with me.  My child will grow up in a better world than I grew up in.  Things are changing and it can only get better from here.  It’s a waste of time and energy to sulk, hating on people you don’t even know.  Stop hating.  Start embracing.

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The Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law this morning in a private ceremony, and I for one could not be happier!  For far too long, wonderful upstanding citizens have been forced to endure countless hours of agony thanks to the gay community.  Business owners have had to sit back while the evil gays make purchases in their stores, then be wished a nice day before those awful gays return to their life of sin.  Now, thanks to the savvy minds in Indiana, this is no longer a worry!

Business owners are free to kick out horrible lesbian couples, refusing to give them service because of who they choose to love.  Yes, CHOOSE, because being gay is 110% a choice and definitely not a way someone is born.  No longer will I have to go to my friendly neighborhood bakery and watch as two men DARE to hold hands as they leave after purchasing their muffins and donuts.  Gay, pink sprinkled donuts, no doubt.  Mike Pence has made all our dreams come true, and I’m so glad we are ushering in 2015 with this type of forward thinking!

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And no, before you say it, this is definitely not a cheap way of allowing people to hide behind religion in order to discriminate blindly against people they don’t understand, lifestyles they wouldn’t want for themselves, or other things that don’t affect them personally.  I’m not religious myself, but boy if I was, I would definitely use whatever interpretation of the bible I could in order to keep certain people at arm’s length.  It’s not hiding behind God, it’s doing His work!  Because if there was one thing we can all learn from Jesus, it’s that we are NOT all God’s children and definitely do NOT deserve equal treatment.

If Governor Pence didn’t take this amazing initiative, just think of what the great state of Indiana would devolve into?  Gays would run rampant through the streets, frequenting businesses in their community like the rest of us and enjoying life’s little pleasures.  They would likely demand that all local businesses cover everything with rainbows and glitter so they feel more welcome.  Our children would be corrupted by the sight of a loving same sex couple who has the NERVE to go out on a day trip to do some shopping.

Some local businesses are protesting the RFRA by putting stickers in their windows saying “This Business Serves Everyone.”  Clearly, these people need to find God.  Equal treatment for all is not what this country is all about!  In this day and age, we should be striving to move backward through time and return to the days where people were afraid of anyone who was different from they are, be it race or religion or sexual orientation.  They don’t call them the good ol’ days for nothing, am I right?!?

Open-for-Service-stickerSure, Indiana may be losing Gen Con, as the popular money making convention wants nothing to do with such a close-minded state, but we don’t need those costumed weirdos anyway!  The nice thing about RFRA is that not only can businesses discriminate against same sex couples, but they can also discriminate against other races, religions, tall people, guys with ponytails, you name it!  Even if you think someone LOOKS gay, out the door they go!  It’s brilliant!

Pence stated “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it.  For more than 20 years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana.”  See?!?  This is not about kicking a gay couple out of your store to discriminate against them!  It’s about kicking a gay couple out because God says they are wrong for being who they are!  It’s totally different!  It doesn’t legalize discrimination, it just says that it’s totally okay to discriminate if you own a business and don’t like the personal lives of the people who choose to come around you.

It’s a proud day for Indiana.  Heck, it’s a proud day for the country!  Hopefully someone comes along to address my marriage next, because God knows I was totally wrong for marrying outside of my race.  And I also hope someone quickly holds an intervention for me so I can rid myself of every friend and acquaintance that isn’t 100% straight and proud of it.  This return to the dark ages is something we should applaud.  Thank you, Mike Pence, for signing this bill and making me realize how wrong I was all these years thinking that each and every human on Earth deserved equal treatment.  Thank you for teaching my child and children around the world that being different is something that should be punished.  Thank you for showing us that “separate but equal” is an idea worth returning to.  Thank you for opening my eyes to the fact that someone’s personal and private lives involving love and companionship is something we should blindly hate and publicly shun.  Thank you for showing me that I was wrong all these years I ignorantly assumed that I was doing the right thing by treating everyone fairly and openly.  Thank you, Mike Pence.  I applaud you.

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.

Who We Love

Week after week, month after month, the post that consistently gets the most views on here is one I wrote about the pros and cons of same sex marriage.  It was written sarcastically, with the cons being silly things that people either speculate will happen (the sanctity of marriage will be destroyed) or things that are actually pros (same sex couples would earn the same rights and privileges as heterosexual married couples).  “Pros and cons of gay marriage” is the search term that directs the most people to my page as well, beating out every other topic I’ve ever covered.  While I’m happy that it’s on the minds of many, I have begun to worry a bit that there is a need to do research on the good and the bad that could come from legalizing same sex marriage across the board.

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Whenever I think about my own marriage, one thing that never comes to mind is the way other marriages are affecting my own.  The simple truth is that my marriage and everyone else’s are two separate and independent things.  Not once have I ever been positively or negatively affected by another person’s union.  My marriage becomes no less real when someone gets divorced for the 5th time or when two women say their vows under the moonlight.  My marriage is no less real when two loving men get married, nor is it less real when a woman marries a man for the sole purpose of getting her hands on his bank account.  I don’t care why two people choose to get married because not only is it none of my business, it just doesn’t affect my life, family, or personal happiness.

What does affect me is the sad fact that same sex marriage isn’t legal in this country as a whole, nor it is legal in many places around the world.  It affects me because unless things change, I will not be able to see some of my friends have weddings they deserve in the future.  They won’t be able to do so many things that I can easily do with my husband.  They are barred from these things because their union makes people uncomfortable.  It’s immoral in the eyes of many because the bible says so.  It’s feared because of outdated notions on what love and marriage are.  It’s wrong to so many people for reasons they don’t even understand.

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There is no reasons for a pros and cons debate when it comes to same sex marriage because there are no cons.  What, it makes you uncomfortable?  The woman popping her gum in the hallway at work this morning made me uncomfortable, so can we legally ban her from chewing gum in public?  It goes against your religious beliefs?  No one is forcing you to marry someone of the same gender or attend a gay wedding, so I’m unsure of how your beliefs are being affected.  Gay marriage will destroy the country?  Legal or not, women are loving women and men are loving men.  Nothing has been destroyed yet by that and it sure as hell won’t be destroyed if we just bite the bullet and let everyone get married.

While I do worry that the pros and cons are searched so often, I do hope that it’s being done because people are slowly coming to accept the fact that the right thing to do is to make marriage legal for all consenting adults, regardless of gender or preference.  Interracial marriage was once looked at as critically as same sex marriage is.  With the exception of a small group of idiots, we now look at the idea of making interracial unions illegal as silly.  In the future, the idea of same sex marriage being illegal will also be a ridiculous notion.  But how long do we have to wait to get to that point?  How long do we have to make couples wait before they are no longer made to feel as if their love is wrong?

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If you don’t support it, that’s your right.  Don’t go to certain weddings, alienate certain people, and do whatever makes you happy.  Post Facebook updates expressing your displeasure, write angry blogs, and leave comments on news sites.  But don’t think you have the right to control what others do with their lives.  Don’t think it’s okay for you to control who someone else marries and loves.  Don’t selfishly wonder how it’ll affect you if two men say their vows and the state recognizes that union.  The rights that leave you free to believe what you want, worship who you will, and say what you wish are the same rights that should allow any same sex adult couple to get married.  Stop wasting time searching for an easy reference pros and cons list and just let people live their lives.

No More DOMA

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, was ruled unconstitutional today by a vote of 5 to 4.  This means that the federal government will now recognize same-sex married couples as married and deserving of the same rights and privileges that are afforded to heterosexual couples.  The 5-4 decision read: “DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the federal government. Under DOMA same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways.”  This is amazing news for legally married gay couples who have been denied marital benefits, as well as for couples who wish to marry and for our nation as a whole.  I cannot imagine how happy they must be, but i know that I myself am ecstatic!

I encourage you all to get online, turn on your televisions, talk to friends and coworkers, and acquire as much information as you can about this historical ruling.  Unfortunately, this decision does not mean that gay marriage is now legal; it is still illegal in about 80% of our country.  But this is a huge step in the right direction.  This is a turning point and it means that there is one less obstacle standing in the way of loving couples who want nothing more than the marital bliss and benefits that I enjoy every day.  This is a sign that we are slowly but surely coming around.  This is a fantastic day.  Go celebrate, but don’t forget that we still have a lot of work to do.  But with this ruling, my hope is through the roof.  I see great things in the future.

Gay Okay

I recently wrote about Jason Collins, who decided to come out of the closet and let the world know he is gay.  The news was received with mixed reactions and I received a couple of comments on that entry stating that we shouldn’t care, it’s not newsworthy, and that it’s not that big of a deal.  I’ve heard discussion after discussion about Collins from people who say it’s not a big deal but who then go on to speak ill of the man for his decision to publicly come out with this news.  I made the decision to write about it after seeing some negative feedback regarding his public statement because I did not understand why there was such a negative backlash.

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Anyone in the public eye, be it an athlete or actor or musician, is forced to live their lives under a microscope.  With social media outlets like Twitter spreading news like wildfire and gossip sites like TMZ working overtime to get exclusives, nothing is sacred anymore.  As a gay public figure, you almost have to break the news yourself in order to have the story told properly.  Coming out is a very personal thing and it’s only fair to allow someone to do it their way rather than have Perez Hilton do it for them.  Collins decided to come out his own way so that he can go on and live his life without fear of US Weekly posting photographs and speculating until they’re blue in the face.

If you disagree with the news Collins broke, you have to also disagree with all the other coverage of people’s personal lives that we drown under each day.  You can’t go crazy over the latest photos of Amanda Bynes, watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and Google Chris Brown’s latest antics during your lunch break, then get mad at a gay athlete coming forward.  The news is no different from any of the other personal fluff that sneaks onto the main page of CNN.com.  If there wasn’t such a demand for updates on the personal lives of public figures, we wouldn’t see so much of it.  It’s unfair to keep silent about the majority of it, but get up in arms when someone decides to come out of the closet.

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Before I continue, I need to clarify that this is not a personal attack on anyone.  This is about society in general.  This is about the people who like celebrity pages on Facebook, follow their favorites on Twitter, watch reality programming and E! news, and read entertainment sites and magazines in their free time.  This is about those same people who can’t get enough of Lindsay Lohan’s latest drama, but throw a fit when someone decides to be honest about their sexuality.  You can’t have it both ways.  What sense does it make to be fine with the gritty details of your celebrity crush’s personal lives but be angry about someone making the tough decision to publicly come out as gay?

I know more details than I care to about the Teen Mom’s from MTV, not because I’m interested but because it’s near impossible to escape the coverage.  One has a heroin addiction, one is a porn star, one is in jail; the details are everywhere and no one seems to have a problem with that.  If you want to complain about someone exposing too much of their personal lives to the general public, complain about that.  Don’t complain about a person respectfully breaking the news that he prefers the love of another man.  Collins didn’t come out in an inappropriate manner, he didn’t demand anything from us, he simply stated a fact about his life and did it his own way so that no tacky news outlet could do it for him.

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A few people I’ve spoken to have said that we should have a “who cares” attitude when it comes to Collins and others who decide to come out, and I absolutely agree.  We should accept the news and move on without obsessing over it and turning it into something ugly.  But that “who cares” attitude must extend outwards to all the other garbage as well.  We can’t demand to move on from a celebrity coming out, then turn around and obsess over the latest details about Ryan Lochte.  “Who cares” needs to apply to it all in order to make it effective.  And the group of people who claim they don’t care but who continue to obsess need to wake up and realize how hypocritical they are being.

I’m thankful that I do see a few people who have honestly adopted the “who cares” attitude and who aren’t still calling Collins a disgrace to the sport.  I’m thankful for the people who have respectfully accepted the news and moved on.  Unfortunately, those people are the minority.  There are still far too many who are up in arms about it or who have moved on from his story only to dive into numerous other stories that are lacking in substance and importance.  A public figure is still just a person; they may have a talent that makes them famous, but that doesn’t make them special and worthy of this much of our time.  If you don’t like these kind of stories turning into national news, then stop making it into news.  It’s not news without an audience willing to soak it all in; refuse to indulge and it’ll vanish as quickly as it arrives.

Adam And Steve

Today marks the second day in a row that the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case on gay marriage, which is a major issue in this country that attracts a lot of attention and provokes intense feelings.  We are nearly equally divided as a nation, one side pulling for equality while the other side views same sex marriages as an insult to the institution of marriage, a sin, an abomination, or simply wrong and against nature.  Regardless of who you are and what type of life you lead, you have likely been touched by this issue in one form or another.  It will no doubt be interesting to see what results from the Supreme Court hearings.

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I am strongly in favor of equal rights across the board when it comes to marriage.  I believe any consenting adult should have the right to marry any other consenting adult, regardless of gender, race, religion, or other factor that has nothing to do with the love that exists between a couple.  If two people are of age and of sound mind, eager to commit to each other and build a life together, who are we to deny them that?  I will be celebrating my five year wedding anniversary tomorrow and I find it incredibly unfair that I get to do this while other loving couples out there are wondering if they will ever get to say “I do” and have it be more than symbolic.  It makes no sense whatsoever.

To this day, I have never heard a decent and valid argument against same sex marriages.  The various religious factors in existence that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman should have no bearing on the law.  We are not one nation under one God; many different religions are practiced and some people don’t believe in any sort of God or higher power, so beliefs should not be dictating our laws and practices.  The argument that marriage is meant to be the start of a family is invalid, as it would mean that infertile men and women also have no right to marry, which we know is untrue.  There is no valid reason for people to think that allowing same sex marriages would destroy the institute itself; if quickie weddings between two foolish people aren’t destroying anything, surely a loving union between two women won’t either.  Legalizing same sex marriage won’t affect the opposition personally; what these couples are doing behind closed doors isn’t hurting them now, won’t stop regardless of the law, and won’t affect them if the laws change.  This argument should be a no brainer.

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Being gay is as much of a choice as it is to be straight.  I didn’t wake up one day and decide that men were for me; it was ingrained in my mind and part of who I am and my intended path in life.  Likewise, no man or woman is sitting around, weighing their options before finally deciding that they would like to become gay.  Homosexuality is a part of who they are, just like hair and eye color or personality and intelligence.  To say that same sex marriages should not be legal is just as ridiculous as saying that natural redheads have no business getting married.  It has no bearing on the person in question; it is simply a way to discriminate against something we don’t like, don’t understand, or don’t approve of.

We live in a country where communication with anyone in the world can happen with a few clicks of a mouse or swipes of a finger.  We can visit a salon or a surgeon when unhappy with our looks to get something as simple as a new hair cut and color or something as drastic as breast augmentation and rhinoplasty.  We can achieve fame by self publishing a book on Amazon, being amusing on Twitter, or making a silly Youtube video.  We can cure all sorts of physical ailments and seem closer than ever to finding the cure for HIV.  We are quite the impressive nation, yet we still refuse to accept that a man can love another man so much that the pair wish to marry and enjoy all the benefits and privileges given to a man and a woman who wed.

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At one point, I was sure that in my lifetime, I would see same sex marriages legalized in this entire country.  I thought that surely people would see this battle as the modern version of the fight for racial equality or women’s rights.  I’m not so sure anymore.  I don’t know if the irrational fear can be set aside and the issue can be viewed through unbiased eyes.  I don’t know if the Bible can take a backseat when it comes to law and policy.  I don’t know if equality can exist in a nation that is also home to so many closed minds.  I don’t know if we can stop hating what we don’t quite understand and simply allow every consenting and able minded adult out there to marry any other consenting adult of their choosing.

I do have a few shreds of hope left that the Supreme Court will take a step in the right direction and that one step will be followed by many more.  The LGBT community cannot be ignored and should not be segregated.  What may have worked in the past is not always the same thing that will work in the present day.  Society evolves and laws must evolve with it.  It no longer makes sense to define marriage as strictly between a male and female and the laws should be changed to reflect that.  We must adapt and we must put a stop to this senseless discrimination.  If you want to hate homosexuality, knock yourself out, but your blind hatred should have no bearing on the law.  This is about love, the union between two loving souls, and the right of every adult to marry whatever other adult they choose.  Legalizing same sex marriages will bring about nothing but positivity.  We owe it to ourselves and to our country to make this into a reality.

Blurry Lines Between Boy And Girl

I read a story today about an adorable little girl named Coy Mathis.  She is a first grade student at a school in Colorado and made the news because school officials will no longer allow her to use the girl’s restroom at her school, telling her that she must instead use the boy’s bathroom, the nurse’s bathroom, or one of the gender neutral facilities that are available.  Michael Silverman, the lawyer retained by the Mathis family, stated that the school is targeting Coy for “stigma, bullying, and harassment.”  For now, Coy’s parents have chosen to home school her until they can find some sort of resolution that will appease them and their daughter.

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The little girl in question here is transgendered; she has identified as a female and dressed as one for over a year, but has male sex organs.  Her passport and state issued identification both list her as female, but at her most basic, she is still a he.  The school made their decision because of the impact it would have on other students and their families for Coy to be in the girl’s restroom considering her physical differences and the fact that we have separate bathrooms for very specific reasons.  Attorney W. Kelly Dude said that the school is adhering to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by not keeping her from attending any classes, by referring to her as a female and allowing her to wear female clothing, and by allowing easy access to other facilities, including the gender neutral ones.

This is a tough situation to look at, as Coy is the same age as my own son and not quite old enough to fully grasp what is going on here.  For her, the thought process is likely “I act and dress and feel like a girl, so I get to use the girl’s bathrooms.”  Unfortunately, the physical differences between Coy and the other girls in the school are more than enough to justify the need for separation.  These are very young children who are barely comfortable with their own body, never mind one of the opposite sex, and not yet ready to handle the complex structure of the LGBT community.  They need to be educated of course, but the level of exposure should be strictly controlled and monitored by the parents until the children mature.

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Coy’s parents state that she began gravitating towards pink and sparkly things at 18 months of age after first taking notice that she was definitely different.  The parents were at a loss until Coy finally told them that she was “really a girl.”  Jeremy, the father of Coy and four other children, said that the revelation didn’t change anything, but simply clued them in to who she truly was.  The parents also state that Coy claimed “the school is just being mean to me.”  They have told her that the school’s proposal for the use of alternate bathrooms is unacceptable, especially since the nurse’s bathroom is for people who are ill, not for students in good health.  Kathryn, the mother, is home schooling all their children because of the school’s decision and because the school “may know a lot about teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, [but] they know very little about teaching tolerance.”

I sympathize with the entire family and hope that they are able to find a way to resolve this that makes them all happy and comfortable.  I also understand that the school’s decision must have been a difficult one, but in this case they did make the best call that they could think of.  Short of assigning someone to ensure a completely vacant girl’s restroom prior to Coy using it, there was no other way to protect the other students and protect Coy other than keeping her out of bathrooms assigned to females with female sex organs.  It’s incredibly unfortunate but it was the quickest way to resolve the situation in the the least disruptive manner.  It was also not a decision that was said to be final; the parents could have easily suggested an alternate route that would appease all parties.  Instead, we now have children schooled at home and unable to properly socialize.

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I support equal rights for us all.  I think it’s of extreme importance to educate children and to ensure they grow up with an open mind so they do not unfairly discriminate against any person or group.  I try to show my son a variety of people and stress that we are different but we are all important people who deserve respect.  That said, I do not want my son in the girl’s bathroom, nor do I want female’s in his bathroom, regardless of how they are dressed and what gender they feel like.  He is far too young for me to begin explaining what it means to be transgendered; he was confused enough after catching a glimpse of RuPaul’s Drag Race and why “the lady sounds like a man.”  When he is ready to understand and learn, I will teach him,  Until then, I don’t want him exposed to certain things and as a parent, I get to decide these things.

If the school was trying to be malicious or discriminatory here, they would not have agreed to refer to Coy as female, nor would they be okay with a boy dressing and acting like a girl.  They could have also argued that a 6-year-old is too young to know that their gender is incorrect and therefore should not be allowed to pick and choose.  Instead, they chose what they thought would be the best way to protect all students by restricting the restroom use with the most basic criteria; boy parts equal boy’s restroom, and girl parts equal girl’s restroom.  It’s not ideal, but neither is a six-year-old trapped in the wrong body.  Nothing about this situation screams sunshine and happiness.  The school did what they thought was right and proper.

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In continuing to allow Coy to use female facilities while still physically being a male, the school opens a dangerous door.  What happens when Coy reaches puberty but is still in a dress?  Are we willing to have faith and assume that this sweet child will continue to be a sweet pre-teen and teenager and be respectful, or can we acknowledge that we don’t know what this child will grow up to want and err on the side of safety?  The child’s sexual orientation is not an issue yet, but will be once puberty begins.  I would not want my daughter to be using the same restroom in school as a male student, regardless of what they look and dress like.  I wouldn’t want to risk the very real possibility that some sort of sexual crime could result because of this, be it as serious as rape or an accidental indecent exposure.  I don’t want other students thinking they can change their wardrobe to get access to areas that are restricted to them because of their gender.  I don’t want to open those doors.

It’s a shame that things can’t be cut and dry and that Coy can’t freely use the girl’s bathroom because she identifies as a female.  It’s a shame that the bad behavior of others and the irrational fears of certain people means that schools and similar organizations have to put the wants and needs of many over the wants and needs of one or a small group.  It’s a shame that we have to work so hard to protect the innocence of children, especially when it comes as the expense of another child.  In an ideal world, Coy would be treated as a female 100% in every possible way.  Sadly, Coy is a little boy.  A 6-year-old little boy who is years away from knowing who she is and what she wants in life.  She may be spot on with her desire to be female or she may be going through a phase.  We don’t know and even she may not know completely, not just yet.

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We have to be respectful of Coy and allow her to embrace life as a female, but we cannot do it when it puts others in any type of danger, physical or mental.  Until we progress to the point where people don’t act as if the LGBT community is tainted or sick, we have to be respectful of parents who don’t want their young children exposed to it until they are older and matured.  We have to be respectful of the very reasonable fear parents have of allowing a male in a bathroom with females.  We have to allow schools to make certain hard decisions and respect those decisions when they are correct, even if they upset us.  The Mathis family is understandably upset, but what they have to grasp is that the school made the best call they could.  Unless they have a better idea that protects everyone, they should not be critical.

In my lifetime, I want to see discrimination against the LGBT community (and elsewhere) come to an end.  I want all consenting adults to have the right to marry who they choose, I want hate groups to vanish, and I want to see people judged on character and not on who they fall in love with.  But until we get to the point where we are all understanding and tolerant, we are going to run into problems like the one Coy and her family are facing.  One day, I hope schools will be properly equipped to handle a transgendered student in a way that doesn’t exclude them or make them feel different, but we’re not there yet.  Not even close.  But the positive side of this is that the school was obviously trying and obviously understanding.  We should focus on that and begin to build on it.  We’ll get there one day.

 

Becoming Gay

I recently read about Timothy Kurek, an evangelical Christian from Nashville, Tennessee, who lived a full year of his life as a gay man.  His decision to do this came after a friend came out to him about being a lesbian and how her admission resulted in being shunned by her family.  He stated that his first reaction was to try to convert her, a thought that disgusted him.  His disgust at his feelings was so strong that in 2009, he made the decision to step into her shoes and live a year of his life as a homosexual.  He came out to his family, secured a job as a barista in a gay cafe, and convinced a friend to act as his boyfriend in public.

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The experience, which is documented in Kurek’s book The Cross In The Closet, changed his views on religion and faith while teaching him “what it meant to be a second class citizen in this country.”  His church, like many, condemns homosexuality and opposes gay marriage; it is a sin for a man to lay with a man and for a woman to love a woman.  Kurek states he was taught to believe that gays were all HIV positive perverts who he should fear and avoid.  This twisted type of education results in closed minds and irrational fear that keeps a massive group of wonderful people from having the same rights the rest of us are afforded.

Kurek stated that his mother would rather be diagnosed with cancer than have a gay son.  I can recall my own mother having similar thoughts while I was growing up.  Neither my brother or myself are gay or showed any signs of being gay, but she would always make comments about what her reaction would be if we were.  She would be horrified and embarrassed, she would get us therapy, she would rather us have a disease, and she wouldn’t accept what she called a decision, not something we were born with.  I can understand a parent being afraid, as homosexuality is still looked down upon by many and can result in violent discrimination, but to say you would rather have cancer is just terrible.

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Kurek’s experiment was very extreme and something that most of us wouldn’t ever dream of doing.  It was a drastic way of educating himself and thankfully it seems to have paid off, as he has a new understanding of homosexuals, of religion, and of himself.  His choice is not being well received by everyone though; Emily Timbol published an article on Huffington Post discussing how Kurek was wrong in his choice.  Her main issue with what he did is that he lied to everyone in order to learn what life is like for a gay man.  She went through something similar when her friend came out to her, but rather than pretend to be gay, she decided to educate herself without compromising her identity.  She states:

“My experiences changed me. They also changed my family, who have since decried the discriminatory attitude many Christians hold toward gay people. It wasn’t easy, and like Timothy, we lost some friends along the way. The difference is that those friendships were not lost over a lie. They were lost because some people couldn’t handle the fact that I was straight Christian who grew to love the gay community. That never changed. While Mr. Kurek might say the same, his love was never based on honesty. The importance lies in the sincerity. Every interaction I had was real, because I was me, and my gay friends were being themselves. No pretend.”

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I respect Timbol’s opinion, but I also disagree.  Yes, he lied about his sexuality, but the relationships he developed and the experiences he went through were not lies.  They are something he will carry with him for the rest of his life and they are things that will hopefully help others understand and become more open themselves.  It’s great that Timbol was able to change her mind by educating herself and attending events such as Pride parades, but that isn’t enough for everyone.  Each of us is different and each of us has built up different barriers when it comes to the gay community.  What works for one will not work for another.

It’s not realistic or logical to expect every person who views homosexuality as a sin to pretend to be gay in order to gain an understanding of what life is like for a homosexual and why the discrimination makes no sense, but it made sense for Kurek.  As a religious person, it must have been near impossible to become what he was taught is a sinner and to be that sinner for a full year.  I’ve seen people who are fully accepting of the gay community become uncomfortable when two men display affection or when they find themselves in a gay karaoke bar, so I have no doubt it was an incredible challenge for Kurek.  His experience changed his views and will hopefully change the views of many others.

Timothy Kurek

Gay isn’t going anywhere.  It’s ignorant to expect a gay man to ignore who he is and love a woman, just as it is ignorant to expect a straight woman to ignore her love for a man and seek out a woman for a romantic relationship.  I applaud Kurek for seeing that what he was taught about homosexuals was incorrect and for taking steps to correct his beliefs and outlook.  Everyone who still holds onto the belief that homosexuality is wrong should take a step in the directions Kurek and Timbol did.  It doesn’t have to be something extreme that would jeopardize who you are and who people see you as, it just has to be something that will shock your system and force you to learn and open your eyes and mind.

Hate and fear comes from ignorance, and we cannot be ignorant if we are educated.  Just about every downtown area of any city has a district that is classified as gay, so why not take a trip down there with friends and grab a drink or a bite to eat?  Expose yourself to a new community and see that they are no danger, that a gay man isn’t out to hit on every man he sees, that women won’t grope you in the restroom, and that there is no real difference between you and them.  No one should be judged on the gender they fall in love with; gay or straight doesn’t make a person good or bad.  If your belief system states it is a sin and you are unwilling to compromise, that’s fine, but be content in silently praying for people instead of shunning them and hating them for it.

imagesWe are all cut from the same cloth.  Regardless of whether you believe we are here because God made us or if you believe we slowly evolved over time, we all come from the same place and are all made of the same material.  Our judgment should be left for those who are cheating on their spouses, abusing their children, injuring and murdering others, and engaging in activities that are honestly harmful and repulsive.  When it comes to the homosexual community, our time should be spent learning, understanding, and accepting.  No more time needs to be wasted in hatred and discrimination.  It’s time to stop.

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