Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Some of the benefits of being heterosexual are not even fiscal; they can be very broad. One such benefit would be the ability to show affection to the person they are dating or married to. While we live in a “free” country, many homosexuals are still afraid of public displays of affection due to the fear that they would be harmed or verbally abused. There have been many instances where people have been attacked not because they are homosexual, but simply because they were suspected of being so. It wasn’t until 2003 that the Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals have the right to engage in sexual activities in the privacy of their own home (Lawrence v. Texas).
There have been many laws to the detriment of the gay community. At one point in US history, it was illegal to serve a known homosexual alcohol and for more than two known homosexuals to gather in one place. It wasn’t until the Stonewall Riots that the community started fighting this oppression and it quickly spread across the country. Because of this wave of protest, there were some legal backlashes. In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled that it was not unconstitutional for a state to deny a marriage license for same-sex couples (Baker v. Nelson).
The Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 not only said that the federal government could not recognize same-sex marriage, but that each state had to decide for themselves whether or not to allow same-sex marriages on the state level. Many have called for a Federal Marriage Amendment which would effectively ban all same-sex marriages on the federal and state level by adding an amendment to the constitution.
There are still some people who don’t understand why marriage is “such a big deal” to the gay community. What they don’t understand is that there are over 1,000 rights and responsibilities that come along with lawful marriage. The obvious ones being spousal medical decisions or the transfer of property upon death without taxation but there are many more including: legal status with stepchildren, right of survivorship of custodial trust, right to change surname (at no charge) upon marriage, right to enter a prenuptial agreement, domestic violence protection orders, sponsor husband/wife for immigration benefits, per diem payment to spouse for federal civil service employees when relocating, threats agains spouses of various federal employees is a federal crime, spousal privilege in court cases (meaning you don’t have to divulge incriminating evidence against the spouse), alimony or child support, making or revoking post-mortem anatomical gifts, continuation of employer-sponsored health benefits, permission to make funeral arrangements, joint tax filing, insurance coverages, funeral and bereavement leave and so, so, so many more things. Remember, those were just the benefits of marriage currently being denied to homosexual couples.
Another major issue is gay adoption. In many sates, the laws are very ambiguous so to allow for individual judges to discriminate against homosexual couples. Four states specifically ban homosexual adoption, nineteen allow full adoption and one allows for stepchild adoption. The rest are considered “ambiguous” so that there is no “official” policy but it is usually very difficult for homosexual couples to adopt. The one redeeming factor is that a federal judge ruled that states have to recognize out-of-state adoptions because of the Full Faith and Credit Clause (Adar v. Smith). However, one can see how many obstacles there are for a couple wanting to adopt a child.
Yet another legal impediment is job security. 21 states and the District of Columbia have specifically banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in the work place (Texas is not one of them). While crimes committed to one member of a community (hate crimes) now includes sexual orientation and gender identity, there has been no such federal law in reference to employment discrimination.
Many of the things mentioned above have been about the legal implications of homosexuality. That is only the tip of the iceberg. When one remembers the social ramifications of being gay in our society, it becomes apparent that heterosexuals have a somewhat “privileged” life. Take, for instance, the very idea of coming out. According to the Ali Forney Center, 25% of LGBT youth are still kicked out of their homes for coming out. According to the Center for American Progress 25-40% of all homeless youth are LGBT, yet only 5-10% of all youth in the US are homeless. 1 out of every 3 LGB youths attempt suicide at least once (Trevor Project). 1 out of 4 transgendered youths attempt suicide at least once. 61% of LGBT report feeling unsafe at school (GLSEN). 55% of transgendered students have reported being physically attacked at school. As shocking as these statistics are, only 5-6% of American students are LGBT.
No one is saying that heterosexuals should feel guilty about being who they are. Being straight is beautiful and wonderful because it makes people happy. At the same time, so does homosexuality. Until we, as a society, demand equal rights and treatment for all, we cannot grow. We can’t charge forward into the future. Every minority has had to fight for its rights. Right now, its the LGBT community. My hope is that this will be the last one; the last time that the majority reprimands and abuses a minority for doing or being something they have no control over.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Go in peace.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Another "flaw" of homosexual relations is the almost universal fear of intimacy. While this feeling is not exclusively homosexual, it seems to be a rather dominant occurrence in the failure of relationships. When I started to realize this, I came across another cognizance. Maybe our fear of intimacy is derived from the fear that our acts of affection will be met with hostility. Our whole lives, we have been told that our affections are unnatural, corrupt and immoral. Skip to 20 years later when you're trying to have a successful relationship and suddenly you have some uncontrollable fear to be intimate with the same sex. I'm not saying that every gay couple has these issues or even that every couple that separates can trace the problem back to this premise. What I am saying is that it seems to be a valid pressure point in homosexual relationships. And suddenly, after contemplating these two ideas, I had a third one! Imagine that, three ideas at a time. Tis why I'm so tired. The third proposition is as follows.
A proposition I'd like to make to my gay brothers and sisters is to reject the parts of our society that inhibit us to have healthy relationships. We are constantly told that our relationships are inferior, that our love is unhealthy or wrong. We are also told that we should force ourselves into traditional gender roles even when we are in a homosexual relationship. That is why I get so perturbed when people ask me if I'm "the boy or the girl". It is so ingrained in our psyche that in order to have a loving, healthy relationship, we must mimic the heterosexuals. I propose that we create our own paradigm; that we shed the archaic structures that have subjugated us and have attempted to conform our love into something it is not. I have no desire to be a female. I have no desire to be what our society has deemed "male". I reject traditional gender roles and stereotypes and I chose to live in a way the feels natural to me. Now, don't get all hot and bothered because I used that infamous "choice" word. The truth be known, there are a lot of choices in our "lifestyle". The inclination to find attraction is NOT a choice. What you do with those natural inclinations is, however, a choice. That being said, I relish in the idea that one day, a person will have no need to declare their orientation. The idea that a person can date another person without any fear of retribution is rather idyllic. Until that day comes, I hope we can find solace in our relationships and show the people around us that love is love. It needs no other influence than itself. Sidenote: The five states that have gay marriage also have five of the lowest divorce rates. Don't take my word for it though, there's plenty of knowledge available through Google. I love you all. Remember, it's not about being right or convincing others to conform to your ways. Life is about learning to coexist and loving in the process. I'll leave you with a quote as I so often do, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -The Lovable, Dr. Suess.
Until next time!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I had just arrived to our usual meeting place and ordered myself a tall coffee. This was after a half-hour of contemplation before that of whether or not I would even go. See, despite being that one to set up said meeting, I was only 5% sure DB would even arrive. Anyone familiar with mathematics can see how much doubt I was playing with in that half-hour. Alas, I decided I shouldn't be the one to be the no-show and drove myself over.
There I was. I picked a spot on the outside patio, hot coffee in hand and freezing everywhere else. I had brought a book with me, "Eat Pray Love". Despite the movie getting horrible ratings (which I loved) the book is also insightful. I made a mental promis to myself that I would stay at least thirty minutes or until I had finished my Starbucks concoction. Huddled into myself, I would read some, then sip some, read some, then sip some; all the while nervously looking at the clocked face of my cell phone. In the back of my mind, so many thoughts were zooming across like aberrations I couldn't exorcise: "Will DB even come?" "What would I even say if he does?" "If he chooses to stand me up, what will I have even gained from this thirty minute deep freeze?" Sipping, reading, glaring; I couldn't stop thinking. All of a sudden, one of the aberrations was comforting: "This is only a moment. You have millions more." That thought, out of all of them created a settling in my mind. I finished my coffee, found a natural stopping point in my book and had maxed out my 30-minute limit. Now what? I sat there, giving a bit of a grace period just in case. To my dissatisfaction, DB did not come. Granted, I didn't truly expect him to.
Slightly defeated, I went to my car and started driving home. I was on the short trek when I heard a honk that seemed to be in my direction. My initial reaction was, "I don't think I was doing anything incorrect or annoying" so I began to look around. Behind me was my sister, waving and smiling. I waved back and began to crack a smile. Albeit, I don't ascribe to any particular doctrine or belief, whatever cosmic static is out there seemed to have sent me a small bump that broke the tension, the warm smile of a loved one. Now, obviously, the scientific part of me says, "Well you do both live in the same city, it's an appropriate time for both of you to be out and you both frequent the same areas", but still, that was a reminder that I needed. We can so often get wrapped up in the thoughts or feelings we have about just one person in our lives. We can forget that there are tens if not hundreds of people around us that we either know or love or have the opportunity to bond with. We drift through life wondering when the next big thing is going to happen to us and how to survive it if it's not exactly what we want. It's important to remember, there are always people around you who care. Another confession I have to make, only I wish it weren't in such a "public" fashion is that I am clinically depressed and medicated for it. That sentence in itself is still one of the hardest things to admit because of the taboo surrounding it. In a way, those who are depressed still have closets they have to come out of. Everything being equal, I know I've given those who already disapprove of my "lifestyle" more ammo than necessary. I'll have them know that I've always struggled with depression, even before I came out. It was actually worse when I was living the "Christian lifestyle".
In short, remember you're not alone. I know when you are depressed, there are times that your mind will convince you you're alone and it simply isn't true. This is but a moment. That itself is a hard concept to swallow but if you can grasp it, even for a second, it will help. Ten years from now, the same problems you're facing won't have the same value they do now. Let's take my life only a year ago. I was 17, living on my own, dating a clinically diagnosed sociopath, two of the people I admire most (Jeff and Mandy) had literally moved half-way across the country, I was living with people I didn't know very well, I was working full time and didn't see how I'd even be able to attend college. Now, all those things are different. Sure, I have a new set of problems but that's the thing about life. It's all so cyclical. Another phrase my father always told me was, "Life is like Houston weather. If you don't like it, wait. It'll change." I hope you all know I am here for every one of you, especially the one's I've yet to meet. I'll leave you with a quote: "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door." -Harvey Milk...and if I may add, even the closet doors of the clinically depressed.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I'm sure the title already has a few of you on edge, but allow me to reassure you. I have no intention of discriminating against anyone for their personal or religious beliefs. That being said, allow me to pose a question: What do the major religions really say about homosexuality? That is, if they say anything at all. Of course, we'll start with the first major one: Christianity.
Many Christians (not all but many) are very avid in believing that homosexuality is a sin. In fact, Reverend Phelps' major talking point is how God made AIDS to kill fags. Lovely, right? Well, I'd like to take a minute to briefly look into what the Bible says. I'll begin with the most infamous passage, Leviticus 18:22 "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" (KJV). The Living Bible translates as, "Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin". And the New Living Translation is, "Do not practice homosexuality; it is a detestable sin." For our purposes, we're only going to pay attention to the King James Version because the latter two are a crock of crap. They are biased toward the 20th and 21st century views on homosexuality by the conservative Christian movement. KJV is a little more accurate. So that word, the word that gets everyone in a blazing fury, "abomination", what does that really mean? According to the modern definition in Merriam-Webster, abomination means something that is loathed and disgusted. Did I mention this is the modern definition? But as I'm sure many of you know, this book was not written in modern times by any of the authors who speak with our cultural context in mind. No, this passage was written so long ago that the dialect it was written in isn't even really spoken anymore. So what does abomination mean in this passage? It means "ceremoniously unclean." Basically, don't have gay sex before a Jewish ceremony unless you had been cleansed. So, why would it be "unclean"? Think about the time they're living in. The Jewish nation of Israel was so small, all forms of sexual activity that didn't lead to procreation were deemed irresponsible. Masturbation, ejaculating outside the woman's body and anal sex were among other things they said were wrong. At this time, the world believed that everything that had to do with bearing children relied heavily on mens' semen. Around this era, they used to kill women if they didn't bear sons because it was thought to be their fault. Now, modern science shows us that the genetic make-up of the sperm determines gender and that for every ejaculation, there are millions of sperm. If the Jews of the Bible knew this information, I don't doubt that their laws and practices would have varied some. It is also interesting to note that the two sexes are separated in the passage. When I comment to people on this passage and say it doesn't condemn lesbianism, they often retort "that's because when the Bible says mankind, it's a universal term." While in most cases, they'd be correct, this passage clearly differentiates between male and female and it seems males are the only ones not to engage in homosexuality. NEXT!
Oh wait, I almost forgot. The same word "abomination" which translates as "ceremoniously unclean" is also used in passages saying that eating shellfish, wearing clothes of mixed fabric, eating pork and many other things. Yet, many Christians like to claim that those laws don't apply to us because they're the dietary laws. What about it saying that if you disobey your parents, you should be put to death or if a woman (note, a woman) is not a virgin on her wedding day, she should also be put to death. Those are "moral" laws that we no longer follow. Anyway, NEXT!
Ok, here's a story that gets a lot of attention, Sodom and Gomorrah. Basically, Abraham saw the corruption of these two cities, and begged God to save a few (his family). God sends angels to Lot and his family. The citizens of the city stand outside Lot's home and demand to send the angels (or "strangers") so that we may "know" them. The passage literally says "know" but in biblical terms, that means have sex with. So being the "righteous" person Lot is, he offers his daughters instead (what a guy!) but the citizens reject that idea because they want to humiliate the strangers. I'm having trouble even knowing where to begin because there are so many things wrong with this story. Ok, so the citizens wanting to gang rape Lot's visitors, not ok. No gay person looks at this passage and thinks, "Yeah! That's totally a Friday night for me!". We, as a community DO NOT condone rape. That passage is talking about how the wickedness of the people destroyed them. Obviously any culture that wants to rape the new guys are a little off their rockers. Another thing, sodomy (anal sex) was coined because of the perceived meaning of this story. Now, many of the people that read the Bible automatically think the the city Sodom has something to do with anal sex. In fact Sodom or "S'dom" in Hebrew means, "burnt" and Gomorrah or "Amorah" in Hebrew means "a ruined heap". The fact that these two cities have names that predetermine their destruction should show any educated person that this is not an historical occurrence but rather a parable to teach about wickedness. No mayor would want to give his city the name of "Burnt" or "Ruined Heap", right? Alright, Now for Le Numero Trois!
So we've covered all the references in the Old Testament. That's right, all of them! Pretty sad huh? There were only really two and yet this topic seems to be such a huge conversation starter. Now to the New Testament where we find that Paul has some seemingly strong opinions about homosexuality. Again, I have to encourage you to not think about these passages in our culutural context. This is a different time with different people and different beliefs. It makes it an entirely different ball game! Ok, first passage is Romans 1:26-27 "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence [sic] of their error which was meet." At first glance, seems pretty daunting. The fact is, at the time and place Paul was living, a common pagan ritual was to have huge orgies where everyone had sex with everyone. Men with women, women with women, men with men and even animals were sometimes included. When he says what is "natural" it isn't a hard leap to think he's talking about the men in these orgies who were straight but for the purposes of the ritual were having sex with other men. They were leaving their natural use for the woman. Doesn't mean all men are that way. Many theologians believe he's talking about the fact that people who don't feel that they are naturally homosexual but engage in those activities regardless. Also, an orgy? Really? They want to compare the life-long commitments of same-sex partners in the 21st century to people getting drunk, high and having an orgy? Most of us "fags" don't condone that either. Moving on.
The next two passages I'm going to push together. The first being 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." The second being 1 Timothy 1:9-10, "Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine." The reason I clumped these two together is because they both use the same original greek word for the bolded areas above. That greek word is arsenokoitai. This word has no translation. For all intents and purposes, Paul made it up. Unfortunately, because the culture of the time the Bible was translated, they allowed their bias in what they think Paul was talking about and their own homophobic ideals to morph the way they translated. So although that word doesn't have a definite translation, many non-homo-haters think it is referring to pederasty or boy prostitutes. Pederasty is when an older man takes a young boy as his sexual object; basically pedophilia. This is not right. Taking advantage of a child's innocence and exploiting them should be wrong by anyone's standards and I know all my gay friends think that's disgusting. Boy prostitutes or catamites were also popular at the time and that again is the exploitation of a minor. Not good.
Last and somewhat least is Jude 1:7 which states, "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." As we discussed earlier, the true sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was the attempted gang rape of the Angels sent by God. "Going after strange flesh" doesn't even come close to conclusively stating anything about homosexuality, yet many in the conservative movement try to use this passage to reinstate their hatred and homophobia. This is the least convincing of all the scriptures but I had to point it out since it is so commonly used.
After all my reading and researching, the only passages that even seem like a reputable stake against homosexuals are the 1 Corinthians and the 1 Timothy passages. However, we did discuss those in some depth. Even if those are passages are truly saying something to condemn homosexuals, they are only TWO passages. The Bible has 66 books, 1,189 chapters with over 30,000 scriptures. If you can only find two in there that refer to homosexuals, it seems like that subject isn't the most important one. The Bible also contains 393 scriptures mentioning or referring to love. That's significantly more than homosexuals so which subject do you think is more important? Especially when you get into what Jesus talks about. You know Jesus...Christ...Christians. Yeah, Christians should probably pay more attention to what he has to say. In fact, there is some evidence to show that Jesus accepted homosexuals! Let's talk about those scriptures real quick.
First, Matthew 8:5-13 is a passage where a centurion brings his "slave" to Jesus to be healed. If you look at the original text, the centurion refers to the other man as "pais" which at the time was a colloquialism (google that word) used for same-sex couples. This would have been the perfect time for Jesus to address the gay issue...that is if he even cared.
Another passage in Matthew that is interesting is Chapter 19:12 which says, "For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from [their] mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive [it], let him receive [it]" Back in the days of Jesus, eunuchs were men who were castrated for religious purposes. However, eunuch was also another colloquialism for gay men. Gay men were not castrated but were looked upon as eunuchs by society for their same-sex relationships. In this passage, it seems rather plain that Jesus is referring to men that are born gay.
I know I've brought up a lot of touchy subjects today but I'd like to remind you, I am not saying that the Bible isn't true or that being a Christian is incorrect. I am, however, saying that if you are a Christian, you should be an educated reader of the Bible. There are so many things to take into account aside from the literal words on the page. These scriptures are thousands of years old and we have to be mindful when we read these things. If you take anything away from this post, please let it be that we should all love. Love is the most important concept. What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their home is their business. And trying to prohibit a certain group from showing their true love for one another, is simply silly. You can accept and love homosexuals and still be a Christian but in order to do that, you have to put more faith in the God you serve, not the translations of his word that may have been convoluted by man. If Jesus were to come back today, I personally think he would be appalled to see how hateful some of his followers are. As I often do, I'll leave you with a quote. I'm also going to attach a clip from a fantastic documentary called "For The Bible Tells Me So". The documentary has a lot of information for Christians seeking to accept without giving up their religion. I hope you know that I love you all and I hope you take some of these words into your heart. Now for a quote from the absolutely amazing Archbishop Desmund Tutu, "We reject [homosexuals], treat them as pariahs, and push them outside our church communities, and thereby we negate the consequences of their baptism and ours. We make them doubt that they are the children of God, and this must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for something that is becoming increasingly clear they can do little about." I love you all.