Religious discrimination is a real thing.
History — both modern and ancient — is tragically full of examples of times and places where religious discrimination has been the source of persecution, death and destruction. The perversion of religion into a weapon of mass destruction is antithetical to the core beliefs of all the world’s great religions. And yet none of those religions have escaped the sad reality that human beings — given the power to do so — will use God as an excuse to inflict pain and suffering on other human beings.
Our forefathers knew that. And they brought that knowledge — that wisdom — into our Bill of Rights with a First Amendment that begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”
The First Amendment both prevents the government of the United States from privileging one religion over another and protects each and every one of us — as American citizens — to believe whatever we choose — or choose not — to believe about what God thinks, approves of or blesses.
It is what protects our democracy from becoming a theocracy. And, as we watch with sadness and horror the nightly news stories of religious wars and sectarian violence, this guarantee of religious freedom is something Americans of all religions — and no religion — should rejoice and be glad in.
What that guarantee of religious freedom is not is something to be distorted and exploited to further a homophobic agenda of legislated discrimination against LGBT people. But that’s exactly what happened today when Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the so-called “religious freedom” bill into law during a private ceremony in his Statehouse office.
Officially entitled the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” this bill will allow individuals and businesses in the state to deny services to LGBT people on “religious liberty” grounds – doing nothing to restore freedom and everything to bolster bigotry. It is the first of many proposed measures pending in statehouses around the country – all with the intent of allowing business owners and individuals to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds.
It is a dangerous and detrimental piece of legislation — not only for the LGBT Americans who are its direct target. It opens the door for discrimination, inequality and prejudice to nearly every citizen of every state, undermining the foundational American value of equal protection. It nothing less than an orchestrated backlash against equal protection for LGBT citizens and the flagrant distortion of the ideal of religious freedom into a vehicle for religion based bigotry.
Bottom line: The First Amendment protects your right as an American to the free exercise of your religion. It does not protect your right to use your religion as an excuse to discriminate against other Americans.
And watching the tragic consequences of genuine religious discrimination on the nightly news makes it all the more urgent that we stand together and speak against this and other pending legislation – and challenge those who are supporting it.
Because religious discrimination is a real thing. And this blatant effort to exploit it in order to attack LGBT citizens is a reprehensible thing.
Let the boycotts begin.
We are sitting at a Zero degrees this evening. A bit cool. Slowly, ever so slowly, the snow is melting and bits a pieces of grass have been uncovered in the neighborhood.
On my way out, I passed through the mall, and it is with great sadness that I report tonight that our little Target that couldn’t has been shuttered. What was once a store brimming with possibility, is now an empty shell of its former self. Gone too soon.
Now Target Canada has to make something of all of the branded items that are now useless, like scooters, bags, and shopping carts that bear the Target name. Destroying them is useless, they will have to go back to the U.S. in its closure settlement.
All the Target stores are set to be fully shuttered over the next two weeks. The mall proper will now remove all the signage that hangs inside/outside the mall.
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It is the last Sunday of the month, we sat a fair crowd tonight. And we read Tradition Three:
“The Only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
The story I am about to repeat, I have never heard come from another human being I know, who is in the room today.
“We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hypothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ Except for their guzzling, and unfortunate results thereof, they could have no other complications. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners,queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women were definitely out.
Yes sir, we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics.”
Twelve and Twelve pg. 140
The first time I got sober, was in the fall of 1994. I then relocated from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. I was two years sober at the time of this story taking place. I was attending meetings at a Club Room called “The Coral Room,” in South Miami. A club room hosts meetings all day and night seven days a week.
I was attending an evening meeting, that counted a few hundred in attendance at that particular meeting. Around my two year anniversary, the chair asked me to speak at that meeting. I accepted the invitation. Mind you, I had a lot going on during this period of time.
I was one, trying to stay sober amid still learning how to survive my AIDS diagnosis, just two years earlier. I had about reached my death date, and I was still alive, I did not die, and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do now. Nobody knew what to do when they were supposed to die, and were still living.
So that was a thing …
Imagine. a room full of people. I got up there and began my share. Partway through my share, I hit that rough patch, when I disclosed … Hindsight tells me that I should have not disclosed…
One by one, men began getting up from their seats, and left the building. In the end, about 100 men had gotten up and left. I finished my share, some clapped, I don’t remember the rest. What I do remember was walking outside after the meeting and was greeted by one of the men, who seemed to want to speak for the rest of them saying:
“We do not accept people like you, we don’t respect people like you, we would like you to leave this meeting and do not come back in the future…”
What the Fuck ???
There were other meetings to go to in this room at other times. I never went to this earlier meeting ever again. But the damage was done. I did not have a sponsor. I did not touch the book, however I was going to meetings, I just wasn’t present for myself to do any good.
I no longer trusted anyone in the program from that point on. I hung on barely.
Two years would pass, and I took my leave of meetings. I went back out and drank again, much to the dismay of the people I counted as friends.
Upon my return a few years later, my friend Troy took me to my next First Meeting. It was a gay meeting at SOBE. (Sober on South Beach) Nobody noticed me, so I hung outside until the 10 p.m. meeting, where I met the people who would welcome me and help me stay sober.
I was sober four months when I moved to Montreal. I was new in the city, and new to the meetings here. One Friday night I went to a meeting on the West end of the city. There was a group of folks at this particular meeting, and they plied me with twenty questions about myself.
You know, the who, what, where and why of it all …
Upon considering my answers, the Patriarch of the meeting stepped up to me and said:
“We think that it would be better if you got sober somewhere else, don’t come back to our meeting.”
This would be the second time in sobriety that someone told me to leave a meeting and go somewhere else to get sober…
Thirteen years later, I’ve never set foot in that hall on the West end. It is a good thing that people usually stay in their general vicinity for their meetings, because I never crossed paths with some of those ignorant fucks ever again.
There are some sick people in the rooms.
When push comes to shove, we are all suffering alcoholics and addicts. Stats today confirm that the presence of dually addicted people are high across the board. Today, we turn no one away, no matter who you are, or where you come from.
We are ALL afforded the chance at recovery and a full share in the Solution that awaits every man, woman and teen ager who walks in the room on any given night.
Hearing “Go Away,” twice in recovery could have ended very badly the second time.
But I did not have a drinking history here. I never drank here and I wasn’t going to try, at any rate. I found meetings to go to where I would not be judged based on my sexual orientation, or my medical situation either. For a while I went to gay meetings and meeting where nobody judged me.
Over the last decade, the dedicated LGBT meetings have fallen apart, and LGBT people assimilated into mainstream meetings across town.
If you think you have a problem with alcohol, there IS a Solution.
Tradition Three guarantees you a seat in any meeting world wide.
It was a good meeting. Next month we begin reading Experience, Strength and Hope. Stories from the First, Second and Third editions of the Big Book.
More to come, stay tuned …
I guess I was right when I said last night that wisdom usually follows a question, and so it has. I sent an email to my sponsor last night before I went to bed, and he followed up with a call today to speak about what I wrote him. He said I did the right thing in opening communication, stating that I was long sober now and that I / we are getting old to harbor such resentments.
Every human being wants to be seen.
Every human being wants to be acknowledged.
Every human being is worthy of dignity and respect.
So looking back on yesterdays post, the question that was posed tonight was, what are our motives and why do we do certain things? Beyond simple connection, my motives are certainly self centered. To make waves, to be petulant and to point fingers.
We, as alcoholics have done damage to others, for the most part, we try to avoid and not see our part in these damages.
Children of abusive alcoholics are certainly victims of indignities beyond their control.
So that is a thing.
When you tell a child that he was a mistake and should never have been born, you damage that child. When you beat that same child into submission continuously, you damage that child.
When that child grows up, he has learned that he was a mistake. That he should not be here, and that takes a toll on that person. And when you follow up that indignity with verbal abuse that he is an abomination and that (having contracted AIDS and is mortally sick) you remind that person that they are less than and that they should die already, what do you think goes through the mind of that person?
When I got sick, I, In turn got sober. I was doing the best I could with what I had. I was young, and I was dying. So I thought. The doctors certainly thought that. When family turns their back on you and humiliates you in front of others, that is an indignity.
I made several decisions during my first sober period that were all about me. I really did not have a sponsor, Puddles had moved to California so I was on my own then. What did I know about sober decisions and correctly motivated actions? First, I made a certain decision about my brothers wedding and I was only thinking about myself. I hurt some people in this process.
I would never be forgiven for that, to this day.
My parents lived in Sarasota and my father would come to Miami on business and he would visit me, only to remind me how abominable I was and that I should die already and leave the family once and for all, because I was unacceptable and an abomination.
One particular night he was in rare form after sharing dinner together, and he started in on me and I asked him to stop the car ( On the Highway) I got out of said car and told him never to come back and visit me until he grew up.
I walked away, down the highway and walked all the way home by myself.
You see my father fought in Viet Nam, (and he fell in love). That soldier was killed in action, Who knew from gay in the 1960’s. My father named me after a dead soldier. He abused me and beat me telling me that I was mistake. I realized that I, as a gay, infected man, would never live up to the honor of that dead soldier. Hence the name change.
Some time later I had a spiritual experience. It came and I acted on it. Again, another decision made in “all about me” mode. I must have been 28 or 29. I went to legal aide, spoke to a lawyer and soon after I had legally changed my name. I was going to reclaim myself once and for all so that whatever life I was going to have, would be of my creation. I would kill that person my father thought was a mistake.
So that is a thing.
It was a complete dagger to my parents hearts.
My father, the man who for years abused me and degraded me, telling me that I was mistake, would get his comeuppance. I would have the last word for his indignity.
I went on with my life. I survived …
A long time ago, my soldier father met a Quebecois woman, (my mother) they got it on in a drive in theatre in a Ford GTO. And she got pregnant. My ultra Catholic grandparents most likely forced him to marry her because she was carrying his child.
My father buried a secret that I learned about throughout my life. He hated Gay, because he was a heterosexual man with homosexual leanings, and that was abominable to him. Internalized homophobia …
The dog who barks the loudest has the most to hide.
She was STILL a CANADIAN when she had me and my brother.
In 1967 they were married, with me in the oven, at the wedding. I was born in July of 1967. My brother followed in 1970. My father wanted to purge every Canadian family member, ritual, tradition, and way of life from her. He would make her a God fearing, Blood thirsty American, if it was the last thing he would do.
My mother was naturalized in 1974, and became an American.
Fade to black …
Years later we came upon a lie about their actual wedding date. We were told they were married in 1965, and I was born in 1967. And we happened on that lie when on their 25th wedding anniversary, we bought a gift, had it engraved, only to learn the dates were wrong.
I always say “Never lie to your children, because eventually those lies will come out.”
I stayed sober through my 4th anniversary. And followed several of my friends out the door and into my slip. I came back to Miami in 2000. I had a job that paid cash. I had a studio apartment just off the beach, on Miami Beach. My parents were really not a part of my life, unless they chose to be because I was a faggot with AIDS and an abomination.
When I got sick, they turned their backs on me. And humiliated me.
They had humiliated me in front of guests at a Christmas dinner a year before and I swore that I would never darken their door again. My mother accused me of indignities she thought I had committed on someone I met only once.
On New Years Eve 2000 – into 2001, I was working in a bar doing lights. I went into work at 7 pm on New Years Eve and left work around 8 am the next morning with a mound of cash in my wallet. I went to bed and soon after my phone rang, it was my mother on the phone, telling me that they were in Miami and wanted to see me. (They had been here for a week, but only decided to contact me on their way out of town).
I was happy to oblige. They showed up a short time later. My father parked the car in a no parking zone out front of my building and gave me twenty minutes to speak to my mother. We walked around the short block, while he waited in the car. I even offered to take us all out for breakfast, which they categorically said NO to.
Twenty minutes later, my mother got in the car, they drove off and that was the last time I saw my mother.
So that is a thing
In December 2001, I got sober the second time. I was given a computer which led to my meeting people here in Canada. One thing led to another and I received a letter from Canada stating that If I was born between certain dates, and my mother was a Canadian, that I could apply for a birthright citizenship.
Since my mother was still a CANADIAN in 1967, both myself and my brother were afforded birthrights into Canada.
You know what I did right?
I was living in a dead end life, alone, having to choose between paying for food, or paying rent, or buying medication. Because I could not afford to do all three at the same time.
A friend sponsored me into Canada, helping me pay the fees for the application. At Easter time in 2002, April or May, I traveled to Montreal. I stayed two weeks. I had filed for citizenship and went back to Miami, packed my belongings, got on a plane, and did not look back.
A few months later, I was living in Verdun. I got a call from Sydney Nova Scotia. An office worker just happened to pick up my envelope and opened it which began the paperwork process officially. Things needed to be added to the file.
It was then that Immigration Canada went after my mother.
Her paperwork was not in order regarding her naturalization papers and her birth certificate. They needed to be fixed OR they would deport her back to Canada. Needless to say my mother was not very happy with me.
I crossed the border. It was all about survival for me. I was going to have a life, or die trying.
That was the last straw for my father. I left the country of my birth, the very country my father fought to defend in Viet Nam. He told me I was spitting on my birthplace and my country.
That was unforgivable.
Once again, I had stabbed my parents in the heart.
Now I repeat … Parents are supposed to raise children into adults who make their way into the world and make something of themselves. And what ever decisions they make, whether you agree with them or not, you should at least respect them for their decisions.
Aren’t parents supposed to acknowledge their children’s successes?
My mother did in fact correct her paperwork and in February of 2003, I became a Canadian Citizen. I hold dual citizenship today.
My parents were not happy with me at all. I worked very hard for two years trying to keep communications open between us, but in the end, I eventually failed.
My Mother’s last words to me were ” If either me or your father die, nobody will call you and nobody will tell you where we are buried.”
We never spoke again.
So I ask you, who was right, and who was wrong? And who is guilty ???
I got married in 2004. I returned to university and earned two degrees. One in Religion and a second in Pastoral Ministry. I spent two years following that in Cegep, because I had those credits afforded to me by the government.
I have been sober 12 and a half years. Since my moving here my family and I have been estranged. And they say, it is All My Fault.
A few years ago, I found my brother on Facebook, and that twisted my heart. I tried to speak to him and he blocked me. And that broke my heart. I thought that we had grown up and could try and reconnect. That did not happen.
Facebook fucked with my sobriety in a big way.
On July 30th, this year 2014, the day before my birthday, my aunt calls to tell me that my father was on Facebook. And while we were on the phone I looked him up and sent him several messages hoping against hope that he would reconnect. He did not.
Once again, Facebook fucked with my sobriety.
On one hand I want redemption, and acknowledgement and finally some dignity and respect. On the other hand, I want to shoot off my mouth and incite anger and make a scene.
Not all very sober motivated actions.
I wrote here and asked the question. I spoke to my sponsor today and hit a meeting tonight.
And I got my answer.
Always Check your motives …
I did what I needed to do. I opened a door. Whether he responds, is entirely up to him, if he does re-engage or he does not re-engage, I am powerless over people, places and things.
I have to go on with my life.
Some people will say that Facebook is so wonderful because it connects you to people and gives you something to obsess over every day. I would add that Facebook is a double edged sword that on one hand brings me my family of choice, whom I adore.
On the other hand it opens up a can of worms that I’d rather not entertain, but I have a very sick perverse need to make a statement and get a rise out of certain people, because you know what, I am worth respect and dignity. I’ve earned it.
And some people, think I am unworthy and that I should be kept in the dark as a punishment for my choices, all of which were made because of certain people in my life, at that time.
They are the reason I became who I am today.
Hating someone because of their sexual orientation is so 1990 ! Hating someone because they made a decision to make important life decisions to stay alive, housed and fed is just so fucking selfish. I made selfish choices because they had to be made, because my life was on the line. And I wanted to live and live well, not die in a hole by myself.
Parents have children to raise them into well rounded adults who can go out into the world and make something of themselves AND when we grow up, aren’t parents supposed to be supportive and respectful of the choices we made as adults ???
Somewhere along my journey, my life became unimportant therefore, irrelevant of notice and should be scorned to the N’th degree.
To put it mildly, I would like nothing better than to become a battering ram and explode like a motherfucking bomb on certain people.
I live. I Lived. I survived.
I earned a place in this world, and no matter what you may think of me,
And they say that “what people think of me is none of my business.” I grapple with that.
I’ve earned respect, dignity and love.
It is obvious to me that certain people didn’t get that memo. And at this stage of the game at 47 years old, I want to sit on my soapbox, grind my teeth and become a very petulant faggot who is stark raving mad at injustice and ignorance.
I learned how to be petulant and sit on my soapbox when I was diagnosed with AIDS. That anger paid off when I needed it. Because when life depends on the responsibility of others to do a job, (well) that you must rely on for survival and they fail to perform said job well, becoming a cast iron bitch really pays off.
I’ve not forgotten how to be a cast iron bitch.
But they say that “Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, that an alcoholic cannot afford.”
And on my birthday, at my Men’s Home Group this evening, we talked about anger and resentments from Living Sober.
I’ve learned in the past few years that I am a very nostalgic Queer man. In many ways.
I wax nostalgic about the past. I long for a specific period of my life to repeat itself, with all the people I knew in that life to be alive as well, knowing full well that we cannot go backwards, and the best of times and the worst of times was really, the best years of my life so far. In a way.
I have spent the last few years collecting things from my past. Photographs, memories, music, so forth and so on. The few family members who are active in my life and who love me for who I am have done wonders to help me with those collections.
I am also a very nostalgic alcoholic. Sickly and perversely,
I hold on to old anger and resentment, but they reside in a specific part of my brain, and only when poked at with a stick do I go there. Facebook gives me that stick to poke them with.
It fucks with my brain, my emotions and my sanity.
I think unclean thoughts. I think up old memories and I long to get up, get angry and become a petulant queer just to fuck with them because of the terrible way they have treated me for decades. I go places in my brain that mere mortals should stay away from. My brain is a location that without proper gear and a hard hat and safety goggles, that one should stay out of. Because I can become spiteful and nasty in a moments notice, Zero to Sixty in 2.0 seconds …
No Very Sober At All …
Wonder, I can be safely sane and spit venom from the other side of my mouth all at the same time. I learned this ability from the right people, who do this to me today.
I’ve learned a great deal about wisdom in my growing age. It began when I turned 40. It has been a long journey of learning certain wisdom, because I have enough years behind me to know for sure that I was there, then, and I learned something, and now I have certain hindsight to know wisdom, for sure. One of my guys asked me tonight what did I learn at 47?
I did not have an answer for him, wisdom usually comes after. Not before. And maybe this tirade of injustice will bear fruit and teach me some wisdom? This is how I am feeling at the moment, it is good that I have the ability to be honest and write it all out so that when I speak to my sponsor tomorrow, I can tell him what I said tonight and what happened and why.
Marines are supposed to be Tough. Strong. Honorable. Honest.
Sadly. there is one particular U.S. Marine who is a coward.
It is sad in today’s day and age that people can punish other people, family and ignore them like they do not exist. That we are unimportant. That we don’t matter.
Queer does that to you.
Hate does that to you.
Ignorance does that to you.
AIDS does that to you.
I get to sit here and pound my fist and make my mark in the world. Because if I don’t, who will?
And is it important in the end? They say you can’t get sober and keep ones ego, and that it isn’t all about me, and that I am not really all that important. And that I should accept where I am and thank heaven that I am alive and be grateful for God’s mercy and kindness and love.
It ain’t very sober but I still make the statement … Don’t you know who I am ???
Don’t you want to know, aren’t you curious? More than a decade has passed and I went on with my life despite your hatred and ignorance. Now I want to swing and scream in your face and provoke you to notice me and for once in my life, respect me. Acknowledge me …
That’s all I got. I am spent. Time for dinner.
More to come, stay tuned …
It snowed last night. There is a lot of snow piled up all over the core. Many are hoping that this was the last round for the season. In the past we have had snow all the way into May. The temps will moderate and rise over the next few days, so I am not sure they will spare the expense to clean it up off the streets.
It was a quiet weekend.
I departed on time and when I got to the church, there was three feet of snow piled up in front of the church doors, covering the stoop and out into the walkway. The shovel was inside the door, and I had to get the door opened to get it, which took some serious pulling and shoving a door barricaded by snow. It took me a couple of passes to remove all the snow, which is piled up at least three feet on either side of the doors, where the bushes are covered with ice and snow.
It is the last Sunday of the month, and we sat a fair number which was good. Several of my friends whom I haven’t seen in a while came and that was a good sign. We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Three …
“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
Many talked about finding similarity when they got here, and over time realized that they were not that different from their fellows. Secondly, the word God popped up in conversation. Step Three and Tradition Three kind of go hand in hand.
Every time we read this tradition I zone in one one specific passage from the reading:
“We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hypothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ Except for their guzzling, and the unfortunate results thereof, they could have no other complications. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners, queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women were definitely OUT. Yes sir, we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics!
Emphasis added …
The first time I got sober, was in an LGBT room catering to gay sober folks. It was not a cake walk, as I have shared before that newcomers were regarded as race horses that should be bet on to see who would go back out and drink first.
I stayed sober, in spite of them, and on my first anniversary, I told the crowd to go fuck themselves. In my second year of sobriety, I moved from Fort Lauderdale to Miami. I was still counting the days to my death date doctors had given me when I got sober. I was on the bubble, to say the least.
I got connected to a club room in South Miami, (The Coral Room). The room was open all day and hosted meetings all day and night. Around the second year of sobriety, someone asked me to speak at a speaker meeting. It would be the first time I had ever spoken at a meeting in sobriety.
The room was packed. At least more than a hundred were in the room. And I got up to the podium and began to speak. Getting around to my diagnosis and my living with AIDS came up and as I started this phase of my share, all the men got up and left the room and went outside to wait until I was finished speaking.
At the end of the meeting I went outside and one of the men stepped up and said to me
“We don’t support or condone people like you, so please go somewhere else to get sober!” Needless to say I was floored.
I remained at that room for another two years, but I went to other meetings where I felt some sense of belonging. I pulled back, I stopped reading the book, I did not have a sponsor AND I trusted no one. Which directly led to my slip.
I went out on my fourth anniversary. Following all the men who went out at the four year mark. When I came back, I was on the beach, and went to Sober on South Beach for my return. They welcomed me and did not judge me.
A few months later, I ended up here in Montreal. I was five months sober the second time, and I was hitting different meetings all over the city.
Here in Montreal there are invisible lines drawn between the different Burroughs, and sections of the city. For the most part, people who live in one section of town, never cross that boundary to go to other meetings in other parts of town.
So one night I was in the West End. And hit a Friday night meeting. I was new in town, Did not know anyone and I hit this particular meeting. At first they welcomed me and then drilled me with twenty questions. As we talked they got an idea of my situation and my status.
Once again I heard those words … “We don’t condone people like you, please go somewhere else to get sober, you aren’t welcome here!”
That is something you don’t really hear about. People being told that they are not welcome and to go somewhere else. Especially if a particular group follows the traditions.
I never went to that meeting again, and for many years I never went to NDG for a meeting for a long time. On my tenth anniversary I spoke at a West End meeting and I told this story. People were shocked but some were not. This only solidified for me the fact that there are sick people in the world, and I should stay away from them. I haven’t spoken at a meeting since that night.
Tonight we read Tradition Three, and I shared this story once again. Many of the old timers at the Sunday meeting have never heard me tell that story before. We are a welcoming meeting. There are several LGBT folks at the meeting.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to Stop Drinking.
One of my sponsees was sitting right next to me, he was moved.
This lesson runs deep, because we must treat everyone who comes in the door kindly, compassionately, and with care. If we judge and are careless with our words, they may leave and never come back again.
No matter who you are, what age you are, what orientation you are, man, woman, boy or girl, everyone is welcome at our meetings, well welcome at ALL the meetings I go to.
There are assholes here and there. Sick alcoholics who can’t see past their own prejudices. Sadly, that is part of the times.
We transcend those barriers in many meetings, and that is a good thing.
It was a good night. Jobs are taken for the month of April. Painless…
Everybody checked in, everyone is well and good to go.
More to come, stay tuned …
The skies are foreboding. I think we are in for some rain tonight.
It was a usual Sunday, here and there. I was out early and cranked out coffee and set up. Thankful to be alone to do my work with my tunes. I’ve been obsessed with Breaking Benjamin as of late. It’s a little edgy and dark, rock in a sort of way.
Today we continued with the Big Book and chapter 10 – To Employers.
The last grouping of chapters, written by an alcoholic for others who are not, have elicited varying opinions on the texts. That was true for today’s reading.
Being a third generation alcoholic I think back to my parents and their parents and wonder how they got around work, with the amount of alcohol they partook in for the whole of my life.
I was lucky that when I graduated from High School, I succeeded in finding good work that quickly became a great enabler to drink. Travel and tourism was a good choice because I had it really good, in hindsight. Terrible that I pissed on those opportunities by engaging in less than appropriate behavior.
But all of us imbibed. Especially at the 5 o’clock hour. We took long trips to far flung places in the world just so we could drink. San Francisco, New York City, Buenos Aires, Rio, all the capitols of Europe.
My only trip through Europe as a young man, I drank my way across the continent, and it was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. My companion tried several times, to loose me in places like Germany and Italy, but someone had to get me home in one piece and like a good alcoholic – I copped a resentment of him on the final leg back to the U.S. and that ended badly.
When I moved from the office to a corporate job in travel, alcohol was the norm.
How good was it that your employer spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on champagne celebrations in house, during working hours. It was perfect.
I never lost a job because of my drinking. I always quit before the truth could come to light. It was more, and I had to have more. Even if I had to fuck you over for it.
It went from bad to worse. I went from corporate travel into the bar business. How cool was that? Tomorrow is a big day so stay tuned for that, because it is part of this whole drama.
I was a heavy drinker at age 25 … and only the threat of death curbed my desire to drink. At work, we were demanded Never to drink on the job. It was against the rules. So I drank after hours from 3 to 7 a.m. In those days in Fort Lauderdale, the way it was and who was open at what time, you could, very easily, drink around the clock.
Suicide was one of those experiences that took away my ability to stop. Finally my boss got me into therapy for survivors of suicide. It was bad, really bad. I had begun work at the best job I ever had in my life, and I was sorely fucking up.
The year before I got sober the first time, my first sponsor got sober. And he always kept a Big Book on his cash register. Many times I asked him what that Big Book was and his reply never changed.
“When you want to know what it is – I will explain it to you, but not until then.”
I did not really want to know. Until I had hit my bottom outside the COPA nightclub, the night I attempted to kill myself with the drink, after spending a good month and a half running from a death sentence.
I could run no longer.
Some one had to intervene or I was going to die, and that’s what happened. I hit my first meeting. And the rest, they say is history. I loved my job. And all the men I worked with. I would lay down my life for any of them. I was safe, protected from society. I was sober and working at the bar was about the safest place I could imagine I could work and never have the desire to drink ever again.
But like they say, “All good things must come to an end…”
I moved city after the bar fell into hostile hands. I quit my job, my protectors moved to San Francisco, and I was too young to pull up stakes and follow.
I cherished an unholy ideal … I was waiting for my father to drop dead so I could reclaim my mother and spend the rest of my life caring for her.
He lived … I never got that ideal to come to fruition. I was stupid. I should have gone, and sometimes I kick myself for not going. Life would have been so different. But I knew I just couldn’t go. I needed special medical care and Miami was the place for that. That’s where I ended up for a number of years.
I tell the story that in my first year of sobriety, most of the gay men in the room treated the newcomer like race horses. Bets were places on our heads to see who would go out and drink again.
I stayed sober, in spite of them. And when I reached a year, I took my chip and told them all to go fuck themselves.
I stayed sober 4 years and a little more.
I pulled a geographic into a slip – I pulled a second geographic back – I put down the drugs – but not necessarily the drink. From July 2000 until December 2001, I drank. But I also had sober periods during that year and a few months.
In the end it was an alcoholic who brought me back, by divine intervention.
God moved heaven and earth to prove to me that HE existed and that salvation was mine to have. I just needed to follow. And I did.
During those years I worked in corporate travel, my parent had thrown me out of the house and I ended up homeless. My parents were true bigots.
I moved in with a woman who had a big family, who’s kids had all moved away and she lived in this big house. So she rented me a room and we lived together for a while. Happily.
Until one day …
We had worked together with a few others at a local travel agency, where we had our fill of traveling around the world and drinking our ways around.
But she was the first to get sober. (Hindsight – we are all sober today)
While she was getting sober and going to meetings, I continued to hunt for a man and drink my way through my life. (There is actually a story in the back of the Big Book Edition 4 – that is all about me).
I was drinking away my rent money. And being a scoundrel. I shit on that relationship and I paid dearly for the disrespectful way I treated her.
I would forever be making this amend until I am dead.
I came home one night after a night out drinking, and the locks had been changed. Her son was there to open the door and tell me that I could not come in until I paid my rent, wearing the clothes on my back.
I left that night and relocated to Ft. Lauderdale. I worked at the Port of Miami, and on my next paycheck, went and paid my rent. I packed what little I had and left her there. Ashamed of me…
I continued to drink for a few more years. And a few years into sobriety, when I moved to Miami for treatment for AIDS, I went into a meeting, and God as my witness, I walked into the room, there was my lady friend – more than 4 years sober.
I got majorly Bitch slapped.
I had become the alcoholic tornado running roughshod through her life.
And now I was sober. Just a few years.
I pray for her every day that I am sober today.
I moved here in 2002. And I’ve been sober since December 9th 2001.
Tomorrow we celebrate a milestone. A very important day.
Stay tuned. More to come…
They say the weather is going to change for the worse overnight and into tomorrow. The usual plans are now up in the air depending on whether or not the heavens open up and dump torrential rain upon us like out in the prairies.
Just thinking about torrential rain brings back terrible memories because of what happens to our city when it rains a little too much. Highways flood, streets flood. Our 1800’s drain system of the city become overwhelmed and water goes everywhere.
If we are lucky the church won’t flood like it did some time ago. Hopefully that much rain won’t fall, and we will escape the ills of the city along with mother nature.
It has been a quiet couple of days. Lots going on down south to which I am proud to witness in my lifetime. Not the balance of the U.S. states who DON’T have marriage equality, in my opinion, once the tidal wave begins will fall like dominoes and everybody will be a participant in being “equal” — still Florida does not have marriage equality so it matters not to me or my life at this point. So we can be hopeful of the future.
It was a breezy night and I arrived at the church with plenty of time to set up and enjoy the weather in the garden before the meeting. It is my belief that if we get one, or better yet two newcomers at the meeting, we get to do our jobs and do God’s work well.
As was the case tonight, new faces came and participated. As the meeting progressed and the shares began we learned a great deal about each other. And what we have learned is that there is a whole “other” group of people out there suffering in their addictions and one of our men is part of that grouping.
Sadly, I have to concur that there aren’t many open and affirming A.A. groups that openly support and welcome LGBTQ members. I have seen it in my own life.
And today I ONLY participate in groups that folks are Open and Affirming to ALL and not just Some.
I was sorry for them and inquired at the end of the meeting what I could do to help, hopefully we will see our new friend again and be able to reach out and minister to those who need it and are afraid of coming …
We shared on the run up to Step Three … “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”
The notion of changing our lives, turning it over, letting go of ourselves and become interested in others, coming to know a Higher Power and allowing him to guide our lives from this point on.
But so many people get stuck here and some never move past the log jam. And this is all down to what the world, society, and religion has forced down our throats about who God is and what he will do to us if we err and sin …
I heard something that resonates … When one of our men came in and got to this point, his sponsor said this to him … God is God is God. However it falls, God is God. Find him in your own way and come to believe that He will help you if you are ready.
Group of Drunk
Going Out Doors Good Orderly Direction
It’s all the same thing. The biggest help that Bill and Bob gave to the fellowship come in one short sentence. “God … As we understood him.”
It opens the door to those who have had such issues with God that they can’t come to believe because of the hang ups. No two powers are the same. No two alcoholics are the same. But eventually we find a power greater than ourselves.
What is His Work, and how do we do it well ???
That line shows up on page 63 of the Big Book. In the beginning it was all down to service to a group. To begin rebuilding your life, you had to give of yourself at the group level and become Part Of so that you can become One Of.
Suit up, Show up and be one of many, instead of alone and lonely.
I’ve said in the past and I repeat it often that “PRESENCE” is the greatest gift we can give each other. The meeting before the meeting and the one that follows the meeting is very important to outreach and working with others.
I come early, I set up and make coffee so that when YOU show up, we can have a coffee and chat a bit and i can get to know you better. That’s the whole purpose of community. Man is not meant to be alone. But there are those out there who are alone, and it is always my hope that one day I could walk out into the field with my fellows and welcome and affirm folks who are out there suffering.
Changing Attitudes, Tuesday Beginners, and Sunday Niter’s, Vendome Beginners and North End English are ALL open, welcoming and affirming.
We will welcome you and be part of your lives. We have all known suffering and pain, and through our groups we will help you heal your souls.
That is what I believe that Jesus would have wanted us to do. Because He always did what was right in front of him, he never really had a plan, it all played out day to day. But he welcomed and affirmed. Loved and cared for the least.
And that is what we do too … What is in front of us.
Tonight we had work come, and show up, right in front of us. Hopefully the words we shared tonight will nest and foster our guys to come back and visit us again.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
The weekend has come and is almost gone. The run up to tomorrow’s National Holiday Ste. Jean Baptists is gathering steam. I was greeted by a young man on my way out marching down Ste Catherine’s Street shouting “Vive Le Quebec!” And I was like “yeah, ok … good for you”
Thankfully Canada Day falls the weekend after and us Canadians can celebrate our nation with the rest of Canada. There are flags appearing on balconies across the way from our building.
The weather held off today, after a night of clouds, rain and fog. We missed the Moon last night. Not even a peep.
Hubby installed Windows 7 on my computer a couple days ago. He bought a new hard drive with more space, some more memory which was helpful as well. We are still trying to figure out how this O/S works. I still don’t have access to my email program as we had to download a Microsoft mail program, which we still don’t know how it works just yet.
This system is intuitive, more than XP. It thinks ahead of you. But it comes with its issues. It needs a lot of programs and patches to make it work, Windows Media player is still off line while we figure out how to make sound work on the player, because Windows 7 needs specific drivers, that we found did not work, and folks all over the place have had similar issues.
At least I have a working computer once again. The laptop was useful when needed, but I prefer my desktop to the laptop.
The Sunday meeting was well attended. We finished up The Family Afterwards tonight.
I did my damage to family. But they did their fair share as well. I wonder if they think about me, but in reality at the end, the relationship was toxic. And I moved away to take care of me. I heard tonight that Blood is Blood. You can’t change the family you have, all you can do is recognize their humanity and their individuality of who they are warts and all. And I can do that today.
Is it necessary to have them in my life today, not really. Would it make a difference? I don’t know. I am still persona non grata like my aunt and other extended family so we are all on the off switch position.
Nick Wallenda is about to walk the Grand Canyon. Hope he makes it.
All is well. More to come…
The new pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 76-year-old Argentinean, who will be known as Pope Francis, has in the past described same-sex marriage and gay couples adopting as a “destructive attack on God’s plan.”
The new pope has also said that same-sex adoption adoption is a form of discrimination and abuse against children.
In 2010, he fought against the introduction of same-sex marriage and adoption rights in his home country of Argentina saying that the population would “face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family. He added: “At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”
He went on to describe introducing equality as a move from “the ‘Father of Lies’ who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God”. In the Gospel of John, ‘the Father of Lies’ is a term for the Devil.
Andre Banks of AllOut said: “By electing Jorge Bergoglio to be Pope, the Catholic Church has renewed their commitment to oppose equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people. Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I, has a long history of opposing equality for gays and lesbians in Argentina.”
Dr Sharon Groves, director of the Human Rights Council’s Religion and Faith Programme said: “We congratulate Pope Francis in his new position as leader for the Roman Catholic Church. As Pope, he has enormous power to be a source of spiritual healing for millions around the world. But for him to be the best kind of spiritual leader, he must acknowledge the signs of the times and embrace LGBT people as worthy of dignity and respect. American lay Catholics are fully supportive of equality, even more so than the broader population. The new Pope should follow the virtuous lead of his flock.”
She added: “We hope the new Pope understands the time for religious-based bigotry is not only over, but must be denounced. Demonising LGBT people and their families from this powerful platform not only fails to keep faith with the most charitable principles of Catholic teachings and the Jesuit tradition of caring for the marginalised, but it does real psychological damage to millions of LGBT people around the world.”
Sinai photographed from STS 109 – Shuttle Columbia March 1,2002 …
I’d imagine that if Armageddon was going to take place, this is the place we would imagine the first strike to take place, or the first event. It is 3:10 a.m. on Friday morning. Nothing happened, or should I say, nothing has happened
If you are a listener of Late Night Radio, ala Coast to Coast for any length of time you would know that all the crazies in the world listen to this show night after night. And we have been all through the list of crazies over the last year.
We have the ads for end of days Armageddon style food sales, you know, just for those moments when a disaster takes place and you need those ready to eat meals, They aren’t just for earthquakes and hurricanes Yall !!! If you have a spare couple of hundred dollars that you can plunk down for mass storage food stuffs, and you gotta have a place to put it all, and who has a spare bomb shelter in their property portfolio ???
I hear in UTAH that there are bunkers that have been prepared for today’s calamity to take place. I have also heard that the cleansing of the righteous from the non-righteous will take place today. That God is going to cleanse the earth of the sinful and errant peoples. That only the righteous will be saved from God’s judgment.
There is a town in Southern France that is supposed to be a vortex location and that when the earth meets its end, that the aliens are going to appear there and take away all those who fled to the safety of this mountain perch.
All over the tv tonight have been every kind of end of days programming. People trying to divine what the Mayans were trying to say and what that damned calendar and glyphs really have to say, since they are woefully incomplete, and the end story is all up to conjecture.
We’ve heard over the last year all those good preacher men who have foretold of the coming Apocalypse and twice they were wrong and God did not come screaming out of his heaven to take us all to heaven and send all the sinners to hell.
That would mean all of us LGBTQ folks. Because homosexuality is all so sinful and errant of God’s ways … Oh, I kid …
Did you partake in the hysteria of the end of days? Did you buy into the end of the world? Are you hoarding food, guns, ammunition and all kinds of food stuffs? Because you know, when the end comes later today it is going to be utter anarchy in the streets. People clawing and fighting for food and guns.
And those who are prepared for the end will be hunkered down in their bunkers and nuclear safe type hovels defending themselves from the marauding hordes of people who did not listen to the council of the folks who have spent the better part of the last year telling us all this it is coming and you’d better be prepared.
All this talk of financial ruin coming to the U.S. The wars over seas and the Arab spring running into Arab Winter. You never know if the Anti-Christ is going to rise from the desert sand of the Middle East somewhere like Iran or some other backwater Middle Eastern country. Because like I said above, if Armageddon was going to take place, you’d probably be looking over there for him.
I have read that the sun isn’t going to erupt in some hellish solar flare that is going to knock out the electrical and communications grids all over the world. And at this hour, I haven’t read of any earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions taking place anywhere in the world.
And when you wake and come upon this entry – having said your prayers to whatever God you pray to the night before, you will rise and the sunrise will be glorious – just like the day before.
And I am sure on Friday night on Coast to Coast they will be hosting a night of checking in with all those folks who have added to the mass hysteria that today is supposed to unleash on humankind.
Did the ancients get it right? Will we come to rise above ourselves and grow in spiritual awakening? Will we rise to the next level of humanity overnight? And what have we learn in this exercise of preparing ourselves for the end of the world. And what will we say to all those folks who are hiding in their bomb shelters as I write this.
Will we see a nuclear Armageddon from the East? Because if we do, for those of us who could not afford a bomb shelter – we are all goners … So I guess before I go to bed I should say my final prayers – kiss my ass goodbye and hope to wake up tomorrow morning.
Today my husband is traveling to Ottawa to see his family, and it may be his last meeting with them if we are to believe that something BIG will take place tomorrow some time. Who knows.
It’s the end of the world as we know it. And when you wake tomorrow – what kind of world will it be? And what will we say to all those crazies out there sitting in their bomb shelters and on mountain tops and those fleeing the big cities into the interior of the United States and Europe because the oceans are going to swell and swallow up all the coastal land. God forbid you know that volcano on the Canary Islands that is supposed to blow its peak and send a tsunami across the Atlantic and submerge the entire East Coast of the United States.
You are all FUCKED !!!
Shall we make a prediction of what all will happen the day after tomorrow?
Sit tight. I will report more as the day progresses.
More to come, stay tuned …
Look ^^^ up there …
A new PAGE has been added to the blog. It is a presentation by Matthew Vines on the Bible and Homosexuality. I wish I could post video on this blog, but I can’t, so you are in for a good LONG read !!!
If you click on the page and scroll down to the bottom, you can directly go to his You Tube account and watch the video, which last a little more than an hour.
It is very sad – if you go to the video and read some of the vitriolic comments that have been left on this video, the theology is sound and has been proven by researchers in the field of scripture and theology. Some people are purely ignorant and stupid. You’s think that in today’s world – people could be so vitriolic.
It is all about acceptance…
For many years I contended with one writing that was written by a Pastor who I have known for many years. But Matthew, on the other hand, has spent the better part of 2 years researching this topic and his presentation is rock solid.
But it is well worth the hour you should take to listen to a young man who Loves God and Loves Jesus and speaks from his heart about the six passages from the Bible that many Christians use to demonize and perpetuate hatred and condemnation.
He has studied Hebrew, Greek and Latin and in depth covers all the scriptures and explains the history, context and meaning of biblical history.
Take some time to participate. Show him some love,
Because in the end :
Being different is no crime. Being gay is not a sin. And for a gay person to desire and pursue love and marriage and family is no more selfish or sinful than when a straight person desires and pursues the very same things. The Song of Songs tells us that King Solomon’s wedding day was “the day his heart rejoiced.”
To deny to a small minority of people, not just a wedding day, but a lifetime of love and commitment and family is to inflict on them a devastating level of hurt and anguish. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that Christians are called to perpetuate that kind of pain in other people’s lives rather than work to alleviate it, especially when the problem is so easy to fix. All it takes is acceptance.
The Bible is not opposed to the acceptance of gay Christians, or to the possibility of loving relationships for them. And if you are uncomfortable with the idea of two men or two women in love, if you are dead-set against that idea, then I am asking you to try to see things differently for my sake, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
I’m asking you to ask yourself this: How deeply do you care about your family? How deeply do you love your spouse? And how tenaciously would you fight for them if they were ever in danger or in harm’s way? That is how deeply you should care, and that is how tenaciously you should fight, for the very same things for my life, because they matter just as much to me.
Gay people should be a treasured part of our families and our communities, and the truly Christian response to them is acceptance, support, and love. Thank you, and thank you to everyone for coming tonight.
FACEBOOK PAGE: Repeal Amendment One
The Majority voted on the rights of the Minority. It is a sad state of affairs that you have turned back the clock, instead of embracing the future.
It is time for the L.G.B.T.Q Community to get up.
To begin the movement to REPEAL AMENDMENT ONE !!!
Stand up and be counted.
And woe to you ignorant bastards that voted for One. Woe is you.
It is a terrible day for our community and we stand with you to say
North Carolina voted the wrong way on history, acceptance and inclusion.
We will have our day, you can’t stop the wheels of change. The day will come and we will be the victors …
ALL PRECINCTS HAVE REPORTED:
Here are the stats:
There are 6,296,759 registered voters in this state
2,164,074 people VOTED or 34.37%
4,132,865 people DID NOT VOTE
There were 1,303,952 votes FOR the Amendment-61.05%
There were 831,788 votes AGAINST the Amendment-38.95%
We lost by a total of 472,164 VOTES
SHAME on the over 4 million people who chose NOT TO VOTE.
This is the next topic that I will discuss very soon, so watch this space.
An increasingly popular bumper sticker reads, “Guns Don’t Kill People — RELIGION Kills People!” In light of recent events I would add religion kills young people: gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people.
Perhaps not directly, though. And religion is certainly not the only source of anti-gay sentiment in the culture. But it’s hard to deny that religious voices denouncing LGBT people contribute to the atmosphere in which violence against LGBT people and bullying of LGBT youth can flourish.
The news is filled with the tragedies of teenaged boys who were gay and decided to end their living hell by committing suicide. Maybe they weren’t even gay, but merely perceived to be by their peers, who harassed, taunted, and threatened them unmercifully.
These were real kids with real names. Asher Brown, an eighth grader in Texas, shot himself in the head after endless bullying by classmates and despite attempts by his parents to get school authorities to take his harassment seriously. Seth Walsh hung himself from a tree in his California backyard after relentless bullying by classmates. Asher and Seth were 13-years-old.
Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old high school freshman from Indiana, was only perceived to be gay. But the unrelenting bullying ended with him taking his own life. Seven students in one Minnesota school district have taken their own lives, including three teens.
With the exception of Brown in Texas these suicides are not happening in Bible Belt regions of the country, where we might predict a greater-than-usual regard for religious thought. Instead, they are occurring in states perceived to be more liberal on LGBT issues: California, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
The case of Tyler Clementi is especially instructive about how far we have to go in accepting our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children. Clementi was an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University whose roommate secretly filmed a sexual encounter he had with another male student and then posted it on the internet.
Think about it. If Tyler had been heterosexual and instead filmed having sex with his girlfriend, it would still be an inappropriate invasion of his privacy and tasteless to post the video online. And it certainly would have been embarrassing for Tyler and the girl. But chances are he would have been the recipient of some congratulatory remarks from friends about what a stud he was. And if he was straight he likely wouldn’t have contemplated — not to mention successfully accomplished — his own suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
No, Tyler was a victim — not of an inner disturbance of depression or mental illness–but of an external and in part religiously inspired disdain and hatred of gay people.
Despite the progress we’re making on achieving equality under the law and acceptance in society for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, why this rash of bullying, paired with self-loathing, ending in suicide? With humility and heartfelt repentance I assert that religion — and its general rejection of homosexuality — plays a crucial role in this crisis.
On the one hand, Religious Right hatemongers and crazies are spewing all sorts of venom and condemnation, all in the name of a loving God. The second-highest-ranking Mormon leader, Boyd K. Packer, recently called same-sex attraction “impure and unnatural” in an act of unspeakable insensitivity at the height of this rash of teen suicides. He declared that it can be cured, and that same-sex unions are morally repugnant and “against God’s law and nature.”
Just as many gay kids grow up in these conservative denominations as any other. They are told day in and day out that they are an abomination before God. Just consider the sheer numbers of LGBT kids growing up right now in Roman Catholic, Mormon, and other conservative religious households. The pain and self-loathing caused by such a distortion of God’s will is undeniable and tragic, causing scars and indescribable self-alienation in these young victims.
You don’t have to grow up in a religious household, though, to absorb these religious messages. Not long ago I had a conversation with six gay teens, not one of whom had ever had any formal religious training or influence. Every one of them knew the word “abomination,” and every one of them thought that was what God thought of them. They couldn’t have located the Book of Leviticus in the Bible if their lives depended on it yet they had absorbed this message from the antigay air they breathe every day.
Add to that the Minnesota Family Council’s Tom Prichard recently saying that the real cause of the suicides is “homosexual indoctrination,” not antigay bullying, and that the students died because they adopted an “unhealthy lifestyle.”
Susan Russell from All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, points out how ludicrous these statements are in her “An Inch at a Time” blog:
Thirteen and fifteen year olds are not ‘adopting a lifestyle,’ they’re trying to have a life! They’re trying to figure out who they are, who God created them to be and what on earth to do with this confusing bunch of sexual feelings that they’re trying to get a handle on. They need role models for healthy relationships — not judgment and the message that they’re condemned to a life of loneliness, isolation and despair.
On the other hand, what’s the role of more mainline, more progressive denominations such as mainstream Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in these recent tragedies? Mostly silence. And just like in the days of the AIDS organization Act Up, “silence equals death.”
It is not enough for good people — religious or otherwise — to simply be feeling more positive toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Tolerance and a live-and-let-live attitude beats discrimination and abuse by a mile. But it’s not enough. Tolerant people, especially tolerant religious people, need to get over their squeamishness about being vocal advocates and unapologetic supporters of LGBT people. It really is a matter of life and death, as we’ve seen.
I learned this in my dealing with racism. It’s not enough to be tolerant of other races. I benefit from a racist society just by being white. I don’t ever have to use the “n” word, treat any person of color with discourtesy, or even think ill of anyone. But as long as I am not working to dismantle the systemic racism that benefits me, a white man, at the expense of people of color, I am a racist. And my faith calls me to become an anti-racist — pro-active, vocal, and committed.
Some progressive religious groups — the United Church of Christ, Unitarians, Metropolitan Community Church — have long been advocates for LGBT people. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has recently made great strides in welcoming gay clergy. And my own Episcopal Church has put itself at great risk on behalf of full inclusion of LGBT people in electing two openly gay priests to be bishops.
Still, even in these progressive churches, there is much to be done.
Cody J. Sanders, a Baptist minister and Ph.D. student in pastoral theology and counseling at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, recently wrote on the Religion Dispatches website about how important it is for churches to act:
Ministers who remain in comfortable silence on sexuality must speak out. Churches that have silently embraced gay and lesbian members for years must publicly hang the welcome banner. How long will we continue to limit and qualify our messages of acceptance, inclusion and embrace for the most vulnerable in order to maintain the comfort of those in our communities of faith who are well served by the status quo? In the current climate, equivocating messages of affirmation are overpowered by the religious rhetoric of hatred. Silence only serves to support the toleration of bullying, violence and exclusion. In the face of what has already become the common occurrence of LGBT teen suicide, how long can we wait to respond?
As good Christians and Jews we must work to change the religious thinking, rhetoric, and practice that communicates to our LGBT children that they are despised by their Creator. We must learn to object to anti-gay jokes the way we learned to tell our friends that we would not tolerate racist jokes. We must demand that our schools not only have antibullying policies, but that they follow through on stopping the practice of bullying. We need to lobby our congressional representatives for the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA, H.R. 4530, S. 3390). And we must proclaim openly, loudly, and often that we love our children unconditionally in the way that God does — always wanting the best and most healthy lives for them.
These bullying behaviors would not exist without the undergirding and the patina of respect provided by religious fervor against LGBT people. It’s time for “tolerant” religious people to acknowledge the straight line between the official anti-gay theologies of their denominations and the deaths of these young people. Nothing short of changing our theology of human sexuality will save these young and precious lives.
It’s a Saturday afternoon and the laundry is humming and the dogs are snoozing and I’m catching up on bills and email — and one of the emails included a link to Religion Dispatches and a piece by Cody Sanders entitled “Why Anti-Gay Bullying is a Theological Issue.” It’s a great piece, but here’s the quote that hooked me:
If this were a hostage situation, we would have dispatched the SWAT team by now. And in many ways, it is.
Our children and teenagers are being held hostage by a religious and political rhetoric that strives to maintain the status quo of anti-gay heterosexist normativity. The messages of Focus on the Family and other organizations actively strive to leave the most vulnerable among us exposed to continuous attack.
The good news is that we don’t need a SWAT team. We just need quality education on sexuality and gender identity in our schools and more faithful and courageous preaching and teaching in our churches.
Let the people say “AMEN!” And then let the people read the rest here and THEN let the people get busy!
A theology of anti-gay bullying
Anti-gay bullying is a theological issue because it has a theological base. I find it difficult to believe that even those among us with a vibrant imagination can muster the creative energy to picture a reality in which anti-gay violence and bullying exist without the anti-gay religious messages that support them.
These messages come in many forms, degrees of virulence, and volumes of expression. The most insidious forms, however, are not those from groups like Westboro Baptist Church. Most people quickly dismiss this fanaticism as the red-faced ranting of a fringe religious leader and his small band of followers.
More difficult to address are the myriad ways in which everyday churches that do a lot of good in the world also perpetuate theologies that undergird and legitimate instrumental violence. The simplistic, black and white lines that are drawn between conceptions of good and evil make it all-too-easy to apply these dualisms to groups of people. When theologies leave no room for ambiguity, mystery and uncertainty, it becomes very easy to identify an “us” (good, heterosexual) versus a “them” (evil, gay).
Additionally, hierarchical conceptions of value and worth are implicit in many of our theological notions. Needless to say, value and worth are not distributed equally in these hierarchies. God is at the top, (white, heterosexual) men come soon after and all those less valued by the culture (women, children, LGBT people, the poor, racial minorities, etc.) fall somewhere down below. And it all makes perfect sense if you support it with a few appropriately (mis)quoted verses from the Bible.
With dualistic conceptions of good and evil and hierarchical notions of value and worth, it becomes easy to know who it is okay to hate or to bully or, seemingly more benignly, to ignore. And no institutions have done more to create and perpetuate the public disapproval of gay and lesbian people than churches.
If anti-gay bullying has, at any level, an embodied undercurrent of tacit theological legitimation, then we simply cannot circumvent our responsibility to provide a clear, decisive, theological response. Aside from its theological base, anti-gay bullying is a theological issue because it calls for acts of solidarity on behalf of the vulnerable and justice on behalf of the oppressed.
But this imperative to respond reminds us that the most dangerous form of theological message comes in the subtlest of forms: silence.
The longer we wait, the more young people die
There is already a strong religious presence in the debate around anti-bullying education in schools. Unfortunately, it is not a friendly voice for LGBT teens. There is also no lack of rhetoric on sexuality stemming from theological sources. But the loudest voices are not the voices of affirmation and embrace. In a recent article, I urged churches that rest comfortably in a tacitly welcoming or pseudo-affirming position to come out and publicly proclaim their places of worship as truly welcoming and affirming sanctuaries for people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
I cannot count the number of times I have heard well-meaning, good-hearted people respond to this appeal, saying, “Things are a lot better for gay people today than they were several years (or decades) ago. In time, our society (or churches) will come around on this issue.” To these friends and others, I must say, “It’s time.” For Lucas, Brown, Clementi, Walsh, and Chase the time is up. For these teens and the myriad other bisexual, transgender, lesbian and gay youth lost to suicide, the waiting game hasn’t worked so well.
As simply as I can state the matter: The longer we wait to respond, the more young people die.
If this were a hostage situation, we would have dispatched the SWAT team by now. And in many ways, it is. Our children and teenagers are being held hostage by a religious and political rhetoric that strives to maintain the status quo of anti-gay heterosexist normativity. The messages of Focus on the Family and other organizations actively strive to leave the most vulnerable among us exposed to continuous attack. The good news is that we don’t need a SWAT team. We just need quality education on sexuality and gender identity in our schools and more faithful and courageous preaching and teaching in our churches.
Catholic theologian M. Shawn Copeland offers profound words to any individuals and churches seeking to wash their hands of this issue. She states,
“If my sister or brother is not at the table, we are not the flesh of Christ. If my sister’s mark of sexuality must be obscured, if my brother’s mark of race must be disguised, if my sister’s mark of culture must be repressed, then we are not the flesh of Christ. For, it is through and in Christ’s own flesh that the ‘other’ is my sister, is my brother; indeed, the ‘other’ is me…”
If anti-gay bullying is a theological issue, perhaps what is called for is a creative theological response. A theological response that challenges the systematic violence that upholds an oppressive religious and cultural ideology will not be a response through which we can hedge our bets. It will be a full-bodied, whole-hearted giving of ourselves to the repair of the flesh of Christ divided by injustice and systematic exclusion.
Ministers who remain in comfortable silence on sexuality must speak out. Churches that have silently embraced gay and lesbian members for years must publically hang the welcome banner. How long will we continue to limit and qualify our messages of acceptance, inclusion and embrace for the most vulnerable in order to maintain the comfort of those in our communities of faith who are well served by the status quo?
In the current climate, equivocating messages of affirmation are overpowered by the religious rhetoric of hatred. Silence only serves to support the toleration of bullying, violence and exclusion. In the face of what has already become the common occurrence of LGBT teen suicide, how long can we wait to respond?