Remember it

Some people say homosexuality is a sin. It’s not. God is perfectly cool with it, God feels the exact same way about homosexuality that God feels about heterosexuality. Now you might say, “Whoa, slow down. You move too fast. How could you have the audacity, the temerity, to speak on behalf of God?” Exactly, that’s an excellent point and I pray that you remember it.

Ted Alexandro

Don’t be surprised

Don’t be surprised when I bring up current events related to the LGBT community.

I read LGBT news because it covers issues that are important to me. I need to know about changing laws around marriage equality, and which Washington scumbag is currently attacking other members of my community for political gain. If one of those stories pisses me off enough, I am probably going to bring it up in our conversation. Where you might complain about the inflated costs of fuel, I will complain about how the Republican party still embraces gay conversion therapy.

Don’t be surprised if you hear me playing music by a gay artist.

When I hear that a pop singer has stepped out of the closet, I might purchase their album as a show of support for their bravery. I also might buy it just because I realize there are many others who won’t for all the wrong reasons.

Don’t be surprised if you see me watching a gay movie.

There aren’t many positive examples of same-sex relationships in mainstream Hollywood movies. Imagine growing up without seeing your crushes or romantic interests reflected on the big screen. When the entertainment industry offers me a chance to see LGBT relationships – good or bad – I jump at the chance to support their efforts. I once drove over two hours to get to the nearest theater that was showing Brokeback Mountain.

Don’t be surprised if I act defensive sometimes.

When you grow up knowing you are inherently different from almost everyone around you, it makes it downright impossible to not view yourself as an outsider. While that can deeply affect a person, it can also alter their perspective of the world around them. I see my own world through gay-tinted glasses, so to speak. Because I know the first thing that crosses someone’s mind when I walk in the room is “Brian’s gay,” everyone I encounter gets quickly judged. Any perceived hostility is almost immediately blamed on homophobia – regardless of whether that is the actual reason. It’s just the first thing my brain jumps to. Dealing with that on a day-in, day-out basis would make anyone cranky.

Don’t be surprised if I want to talk about my experience.

The easiest way to change a person’s opinion on something is through back-and-forth conversation. I have had countless people tell me that getting to know me has changed their views on gay rights. They never knew a gay person in real life, or they just never had the opportunity to talk with an openly-gay person before meeting me. Sometimes all it takes is learning that the person you thought you feared is pretty much just like you. The only way to learn that is through conversation. That is why I am more than happy to discuss my life experiences and sexuality with others. I know I am being provided with a chance to challenge or even alter their opinions.

Don’t be surprised if I act super-gay sometimes.

When I know you aren’t judging me and I know I can completely be myself, I might act really freaking gay. It’s just that I spend so much time repressing that part of myself for various reasons that knowing it won’t cause you to detest or attack me means I can really let my hair down. I might act silly. I might dance my butt off to some gay music by a gay artist. I might just really queen out. Just understand it means I trust you and I can really be myself.

And try not to act too surprised.

Everything we learned from the ‘Duck Dynasty’ fiasco in one sentence

Noah Michelson, the editor for Huffington Post’s Gay Voices, summed up the brouhaha over Phil Robertson and A&E in one (extremely long) sentence.

You can say whatever you want, including that gay people are sinful and full of “murder, envy, strife, hatred” and are in the same league as those who enjoy being penetrated by barnyard animals and that black people were “happy” and were not “singing the blues” when Jim Crow laws ruled America, and as long as you later tack on “I love all of humanity” and I would “never incite or encourage hate” and throw around the word “tolerance,” and as long as there’s enough money and publicity swirling and more ready to be made, you will face absolutely no consequences and if anything you’ll be celebrated as a hero and lauded as an icon of freedom — some will even go so far as to call you the “Rosa Parks” of our generation — while the people you were talking about will still be vilified and will have to fight even harder against society’s belief that they are — even in the 21st century, even in a country that is not supposed to be ruled by religion or heartless, hateful zealots — at their very core all of those vile and (let it be said once and for all) patently untrue things that you said about them.

Ain’t that the truth!

Stop it!

My maternal grandmother suffered a stroke yesterday morning – just over 12 years since another stroke left her with short-term memory loss. She was transported to a local hospital and given a drug that will hopefully lessen the effects of the stroke, but so far things aren’t looking very good. She is having a hard time communicating (sometimes not at all), and the right side of her body has been affected.

Yesterday afternoon, after sitting in two different hospitals all day, my nerves were frazzled. I was also starving, since the call came early in the morning before I had a chance to eat anything. Several family members were gathered in the CCU waiting room, and to say there was a wide range of individuals would be an understatement. There were young and old, Pentecostal and Baptist, black and white, married and divorced, straight and gay, smokers and nonsmokers.

Although things are always a little awkward around my extended family because of the whole religion/gay thing, you can imagine my surprise when one of the women I thought was the least judgmental struck up the following conversation with me after a brief group discussion about Obama.

Her: I am very conservative.

Me: No! You are probably the least conservative person in this room.

Her: No, really. I am very conservative.

Me: What makes you conservative?

Her: I don’t believe in abortion.

Me: I consider myself to be pro-choice, but I would never have one if I were female. However, I believe a woman should have access to a safe abortion if she wants one.

Her: I also don’t agree with all the gay marriage stuff.

Me: Why?

Her: Because I think we need to follow God’s plan.

Me: Do you think people are born gay?

Her: Yes.

Me: Then why shouldn’t they be allowed to marry if God made them that way?

Her: We are all born into sin. There are many different sins, but the Bible says men will leave the natural use of a woman and turn to other men.

Me: But I didn’t do that. I wasn’t attracted to women before I was gay, so I didn’t leave women and turn to men.

Her: I know, but the Bible also says he will turn people over to a reprobate mind in the end times. Brian, I believe that if you would truly get saved, Jesus would change your mind.

Me: You actually think I would become attracted to women?

Her: I believe Jesus would change your mind.

And with that, I simply stopped talking. I also declined her invitation to join several of them for dinner.

Many years ago, Maya Angelou gave some excellent advice for people who feel like they are being attacked. She said people who cut you down are trying to “kill” you by tearing you apart bit by bit. She recommends that whenever you encounter a person trying to tear you down, you simply look at them and say “Stop it.” I think there could be great power in that, and I intend to start putting it to use.

Stop pretending

There is a story in the news almost every day about homophobia. People deny tips based solely on the assumption that the person serving them is gay. Homosexuals are beaten and killed in Russia and around the world. Protestors chant “God hates fags!” outside funeral services for members of our nation’s military.

Less news-worthy instances of homophobia affect me personally. After eight years together, there is still no legal recognition of my relationship. And after eight years, most of my family members still don’t acknowledge my partner. My immediate family, in many ways, is fractured.

What’s the common denominator? Religion.

I haven’t been to church in around nine months. While discussing that fact with a friend recently, I was finally able to verbalize my feelings on the matter. What it boils down to is that almost everything negative in my life is a result of religion.

Religion separates my family. Religious zealots threaten my safety and security. Religion makes my world a less welcoming place.

While I still believe in God, I have no desire to associate myself with a denomination. My church might preach equality for everyone, but the people driving by don’t automatically realize that. If I say, “I’m a Christian” or “I go to church,” I worry that many will assume I am just like the other bigots who go around bashing those who are different.

I don’t need religion to be moral. I don’t need church in order to go to heaven (if there is one.) What I need is for people who call themselves “Christian” to at least make an effort to live up to the name. Don’t pretend you love everyone when you are so clearly filled with hate.