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Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

I’ve had to remind myself this week that I still live in the United States of America. I had to check and make sure the Constitution was still in place, and, for good measure, I checked to make sure the Bill of Rights hadn’t been changed. My fear was that rich, white men were the only ones who were now entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

My main thoughts and most of my focus, much to my dismay, has been on religion.  The President was to sign an Executive Order that would grant exemptions for religious believers, schools and businesses, to federal laws they disagree with – mainly LGBT and abortion rights laws.  You know – an Executive Order that would allow people of faith to discriminate based on their beliefs – they called it – “Religious Liberties.” Thankfully, but much to the dismay of the evangelical folks, these exemptions were not included in this Executive Order.

This whole thing has made my head, and my heart hurt.

I do not understand anyone who goes to a church who tells you it’s okay to discriminate. Even if you believe in your heart you don’t agree with discrimination, my thinking is this; if you can sit in that pew and listen to the sermons, there is a part of you that does agree. And even if you say to yourself, I don’t agree with that – If you give them money, you’re supporting discrimination. I’m sorry, but that’s just how I feel.

I’m gay, so perhaps my take on anti-LGBT preaching’s may be different that a straight person, but they shouldn’t be.  I just know I could never support a church that tells me it’s okay to discriminate or that someone is less than simply because of who they are.

Personally, A church that tells anyone they are less than, is not a place I want to be. A church that tells anyone they must pray the gay away to get to heaven, is not a place I want to be. Any church that feeds the hungry, clothes the poor and does good works, and yet discriminates and pickets and marches against LGBT people – well, that’s not a place I want to be either. You either love all people as they are, or you don’t. You either believe God made us all in his image, or you don’t. Period.

This is the reason I no longer attend church. The picking and choosing of who we should vote for, who we should discriminate against, what passages of the Bible we should read…  It’s not for me.

We are all human beings. Every one of us. I want the same respect given the straight woman who lives her life just trying to help people. We’re no different in the eyes of God.

As a nation, we already have “Religious Liberty.”  The Founders made sure of that in The First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

What these evangelical people want, is the freedom to discriminate. Against women, against LGBT, against anything and anyone who doesn’t fit into their little religious box.  They not only want it, they want it to be the law of the land.

We are all searching for something. We’re all just trying to make our way in this world as best we can. Personally, I do what I know to be right and just. I write and march and protest for everyone to have an equal shot at this thing we call life. I believe that equal rights are human rights.

I don’t hang with people who are negative and have hate in their heart. I walk away from people who like to tell me I’m bound for hell because of who I am.

I try and spread kindness, and I do what I can to let other gay people know it’s okay to come out. It’s okay to be who you are. It’s okay.

And it is okay. No matter what your family, your church, even your government may throw at you…

It’s okay.

You’re okay.

Your life matters.

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I’m tired, my friends. To my core – tired.

I feel my Country sinking into a hole that I’m not sure we will ever be able to pull ourselves out of. I mean, how do you pull yourself out of a hole when there’s nothing for you to grab on to?

This morning I found myself unfriending another person I’ve known for over 35 years. He had posted a meme about how awful it was that illegals can cross the border and get health care, and Vets don’t get any care, but Donald Trump was going to fix that (let’s see how that works out!)  and then he posted an article by Franklin Graham about LGBT activists going after Chip and Joanna Gaines, and my lesbian self thought: “I’m done.”   This “friend” is a retired minister, a so-called man of God, and his page is filled with racist, anti-gay rhetoric?  Yes, he’s entitled to say and write and post whatever he chooses, I’m just done having to have it show up in my life. Done…

I don’t want to engage with these people. I don’t want or need to find a way to communicate. I don’t want to find middle ground, because for me – there is no middle ground when it comes to human rights and equality. You can’t pick and choose who gets equality – it’s either for everyone, or it’s for no one.  Period.  I don’t understand the mentality that you can do or say whatever you choose, but certain other groups of people should not have those rights. I don’t get the arrogance, or should I say ignorance, that permeates the mind and hearts of these people.   The Constitution is for everyone – You can’t pick and choose who gets life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And No, it’s not that I’m a sore loser – this isn’t about Hillary’s loss – This is about humanity’s loss.

We shouldn’t be afraid to live our lives openly. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak our minds. We shouldn’t be afraid to exercise our God-given rights. We should be afraid to express our opinions. We shouldn’t be afraid to disagree. We shouldn’t be afraid of our government. We shouldn’t be afraid of our President and what he’s going to do or say.  We live in the United States of America, we shouldn’t be afraid…

And yet – here we are.

 

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Susan and I went to a funeral yesterday. It’s not something one looks forward to, but a sweet friend had lost her Father, and we wanted to be there to lend our support and love for our friend and her family.

Our friends father (Bill) was a very sweet man. We didn’t’ meet him until the rages of Alzheimer’s had taken over his body and his mind; and yet his sweetness shown through.

I had an inkling this funeral was going to be different when we arrived at the church and there were white chairs set up outside. They were placed on a hillside with beautiful green grass surrounded by trees and flowers with a view of the San Diego Bay that was simply breath-taking. I’d never been to an outside funeral, but after today, I can’t imagine any other way of honoring a loved one.

From those who spoke, I soon understood this was a man who was loving and was loved his entire life. His wife, his children, his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Love, love, love. He loved being outside, loved camping, loved sunsets, loved ice cream and coffee, and loved being the family “tickle monster.”

One of his daughters started to speak about his courage and how he emphasized to her the importance of being still, and it was in that moment I found my mind began to wonder.

I began to think of the death of my parents. My dad in 2010 and Mother in 2012.  I thought of the lessons they had taught me, and what it is I still miss about them.  Some days the image of them is so clear I swear they are walking right beside me. Other days, I don’t feel them at all.  It’s those moments when I am “being still” that I feel them most of all. When I have my tea in the afternoon, sitting quietly on my patio watching the birds, sitting by the San Diego Bay knowing how much my parents loved to sit in the same spot some 30 years ago.  Dad’s ashes are scattered in this Bay so that every US Navy ship that goes in and out of San Diego has to pass over him.

The thing is, I never understood my parents – ever. I thought of this today as Bill’s children and grandchildren were speaking of him so lovingly.  I never understood some of my parent’s decisions, their beliefs, their grudges, their never wanting to talk of anything.  So many things were left unsaid, unsettled, unknown. I love them, I just wish…

I left this funeral with the understanding that life is most certainly meant to be lived. It’s meant to be shared with those who love you unconditionally. You’re meant to be still, to be tickled. You’re meant to watch the sunset, and eat ice cream and drink coffee. You’re meant to laugh and love and share your thoughts and dreams and desires .You’re meant to make memories that will carry on long after you’ve gone. This is what your life is supposed to be.

We walked away from the service on that beautiful hill to the Reception Hall where an ice cream social in honor of Bill awaited us.  Ice Cream, every topping you could think of, whipped cream, cherries, nuts, cookies and coffee. For the first time ever, I left a funeral feeling upbeat and hopeful.

As a side note – the pastor who spoke at the funeral had a voice that simply drew me in. She was kind and compassionate, and spoke in a way that wasn’t condescending or judgmental.  As the pastor was speaking, I leaned over to Susan and said: “If anyone could get me back to church, I think it might be her,”  And it’s been many years since I’ve spent any amount of time in a church.

Bill must have been smiling knowing that I had been still and was listening.

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And just how sick are you of this Presidential Election Cycle? I mean, it’s only March and I’ve unfollowed so many people on my Facebook page that all I get now is feed from Birds and Blooms Magazine, Ina Garten, Lea Lane and her Instagram Travel Blog, Science and Mind Magazine, and the rest of my sweet friends who have sworn off posting anything political.

Time was when one could post something political and an intelligent, polite conversation would follow. This most certainly is not what I have experienced during the debacle that is the 2016 election. It’s insanity – on both sides of the aisle.

I like a good debate. I enjoy discussing how and why you came to the decision of your candidate. I find the ins and outs of it all so very interesting. However, I do not find it at all interesting to be treated as if I do not have a brain, simply because I do not happen to feel as you do.  The level of condescension has passed the point where I even care what you think, what you believe, how you feel, what you want, what you believe you’re a part of, blah, blah, blah.  When you start to talk down to me – you’ve lost me. I won’t listen, I will delete what you write and I will unfollow you until this damn election is over.

If you really believe that posting an abundance of memes, and links to articles that say how great your candidate is will win over the world – then by all means – post your little heart out. I’m happy you’re so involved in the political process – it’s just not my thing. It doesn’t mean  I’m right and you’re wrong, it simply means I don’t need to see them.

As for me – I believe it’s my right and my responsibility to vote, and I will vote for whom I believe is the best person to be President of the United States, and for the Country itself.  I don’t believe it’s my responsibility to make all of my friends vote the same way I have chosen. And more to the point – I won’t try and make them feel like an ass if they don’t vote as I do. I won’t ask who you’re voting for, and I don’t feel the need to tell you who I’m supporting. I’m just proud of you for voting.

I encourage everyone to vote. I encourage everyone to  read independent – let me repeat that – independent – studies on the candidates. You have to read information written by folks who have no  dog in the race. Read, study, learn – and then vote for who you believe will be best for the Country.

The Country will survive no matter the outcome. We The People will at some point, I hope in my lifetime, come together and believe that one life is just as precious as another, that one voice is as important as another, and that we are, after all, our brother’s keeper.

Then and only then, can begin the process of believing and living as the Founders did when they wrote:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness

Preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, 1776

Actually, we can do better than the Founders – we can include ALL men and women regardless of race, ethnicity,  gender, religion, etc. All people in every corner of this Country – created equal.

What a concept – Live for that, work for that, strive for that, vote for that…

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With marriage equality now supported by the highest court in our land; I’ve been asked that since we’ve won this one – will I finally just stop talking – will I finally stop shoving my “agenda” down the throat of the conservative evangelicals who tend to not appreciate my point of view?

First of all – it’s not an agenda, it’s my life – and second – My answer to your question would be:  No – I don’t believe I will ever stop talking, nor will I ever stop asking questions to those religious leaders who love to preach about the sin of homosexuality.

And mostly – I will never stop talking as long as there are LGBTQ brothers and sisters who suffer – mostly in silence – as their families walk away from them – their friends turn their backs and they find themselves alone, questioning the benefits of “coming out.”

I remember those days – those days of thinking that living the lie would be how I would spend my life. Those days of living a life that most certainly wasn’t mine – those days of believing that I had to have the acceptance of my family more than I needed to live my life.

I lived that life until I was 50 – I knew who I was, I just didn’t have the courage or live in an environment that encouraged individuality. I spent way too many years trying to make everyone happy and in the process I pushed who I was to the back of my closet.

And that’s where I stayed – in the back of my closet – until I saw that 300ft rainbow flag at the end of my first Pride Parade in 2002.

There is nothing more welcoming than a Pride Parade. There is nowhere safer, more accepting, more loving than being surrounded with your people. With people who have been where you are and will gently guide you to step out of your safe little closet.

There is nothing that will make you feel more proud of who you are than placing your hand on that 300t flag and just letting the tears come.

It’s not about your Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, children or grandchildren – it’s about you. It’s not about your church, your friends or even your government. It’s about you, who you are and the life you were meant to live.

At this time in our Country’s history – Pride matters more now than ever

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For years now I’ve been writing about tolerance and kindness and how we just need to love one another. I’ve tried to stay focused on the end result which is love and justice and the freedom to simply be whoever we are and live a life of truth as we travel along our journey.

But – I have to tell you – I’m tired.

As tired as Franklin Graham is of … “the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats” – that’s how tired I am of his religious balderdash that’s being crammed down my throat. I’m tired of the Christian religion showing up in my government and my schools and anywhere else they deem it necessary to save humanity. It irritates me that some Christians believe that their religion should dictate the laws of the land that include millions of people who do not follow their religion.

I have nothing against religion – nothing at all. However – We live in a Country that was built on the Freedom of Religion. You know – a Country where we all have the choice to go to a church or synagogue or mosque or meeting hall or a building in a strip mall and worship as we choose.

We also have the choice to not go to any church and not read a Bible or a Koran or any book and simply live our lives doing the best we can trying desperately to do no harm to anyone or anything as we go along.

I’m a lesbian – and the Franklin Grahams, Jerry Farwell’s of this world have decided that my life of “moral decay” is not worthy of their sort of inclusion – unless, of course, I change my ways and do as they say…

Allegedly, Franklin’s Mother instilled in him that he follow the teachings of Jesus, but as far as I know – Jesus never spoke about homosexuals. So – does he follow the teachings of Jesus or does he follow the Bible? And if he follows the Bible – does he believe and follow every word or does he simply pick the parts that suit his gay-bashing agenda?

It’s this sort of evangelical, religious craziness that I have grown tired of. I’m a human being – not some sex-crazed, porn-watching, marriage bashing, end of the human race, lesbian.

My life with Susan has absolutely nothing to do with the high divorce rate in the United States. We had nothing to do with it – really.

My life with Susan has nothing to do earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, floods, tornadoes – and my favorite – September 11.  (Jerry Falwell pointed his finger and his Bible in my face and said the gays and lesbians ‘helped this happen.’)

I understand that people need religion. I understand the need to feel inclusion and acceptance and a purpose to this life that at times feels out-of-control. What I don’t understand is when a religion turns into bashing.

You don’t need a religion to love one another. You don’t need a religion to be kind and thoughtful and polite and gentle. But – if you have a religion and it doesn’t include any of the above – then what is the purpose of said religion?

Religion or no religion – go out into the world and be kind.  That’s it – Just. Be. Kind.

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So, here I am – this baby booming, white woman wondering what it is I can say about the unrest in America that will not upset anyone on any level.

Seems to me – no matter what I might say, someone will take it wrong and before I can blink an eye, feelings are hurt, words are spoken, and there is more chaos, more anger, more dissent  in a world already filled with way too much anger and intolerance.

Let me simply say this; I grieve for America. I grieve for all of us. Every age, every religion, every race, every gender, every sex, every political party, every protestor, every mom, every child; every single one of us.

For the thing that unites us is that we are all Americans – and this – this is the thing we all tend to forget from time to time. We are all Americans.

Is the bar equal for all of us?  Absolutely not – but that doesn’t make anyone more of an American than another.

I can’t sit here and say I understand the life of an African American living in the neighborhood called “The Avenue” in Baltimore, MD.  I’m a 62-year-old white woman living in a nice neighborhood in San Diego, CA. What on earth can I possibly know of their life? It would be wrong of me to even speculate on any of it.

What I can sit here and say is simply this; “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry people in your American feel it’s okay to judge who you are by the color of your skin, or who you love, or what you believe, or where you live, or how much money you have – or don’t have. I’m sorry you feel unwanted, unloved and unheard in an America where every citizen is supposed to have an equal voice. I’m sorry politicians are more concerned about money and power than they are about doing the work of the people. I’m sorry.

The bottom line for me is this – I treat every single person I meet with dignity and respect. I am not a bigot – I am tolerant – (I’m a lesbian – I understand and know what intolerance looks and feels like). I try and send into the world a feeling of love and acceptance, even when I really don’t understand because it’s not my job to judge –

It’s my job to love…

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