Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Life Is but a Series of Moments

There are a lot of things that I was lucky enough to have learned from my father in what has been a fairly short stay in this life. Although he and I have issues, as all parent-child relationships do, I must admit, his wisdom in life ordeals has helped me throughout my list of experiences. One of the things he would always tell me, even when he was the one punishing me was, "This is only one moment in your life. Don't get hung up on it." With that thought in mind, I have a bit of a confession to make. Tonight, I was on my way to make a very poorly made decision. I had, somewhat cryptically, told a certain someone to meet me at Starbucks for a cup of joe and what would have been a startling conversation. Now, before some of you jump to conclusions, this meeting wasn't a poor concept because it was some random stranger off a shady sex website. Rather, this person and I know each other very well. Better than most in our respective circle of friends. For the sake of keeping some mystique, we'll call him DB (for it's obvious crude double entendre. DB and I haven't really spoken since a situation in our relationship reached a boiling point and the proverbial shit hit the metaphoric fan. Regardless, I had some things I still needed to sort out in my mind for my own sanity, so in vain I tried to set up a meet-cute.

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

Religion

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.



A clip from the documentary "For The Bible Tells Me So"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Long Time, No Type!

Hello to all my cyber friends and readers. I'm so sorry that I've left you out in the proverbial cold lately but my life has been taking a roller coaster! I'm going to try and post more stuff (though I realize I say that often. Now, off to the topic of this blog, "It Gets Better".

The past few months, the US has been surged with an outrageous amount of publicized LGBT teen suicides. Crazy, right? Wrong! Gay teens are up to two times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers. Even more have tried. They say, 1 out of 10 LGBT teens have attempted. I can attest to that because I am the 1 in 10. I attempted and now I realize how awesome it was that I didn't succeed! There are a lot of influences in the world that try to tell us homos that we're not ok and that simply isn't the case. We are wonderful, amazing, beautiful and creative just like our straight counterparts. I know that to those teens that are just coming out, this burden of sexuality seems unbearable; it seems like being gay is the most massively important part of your life but trust me, the farther you walk away from that closet, the more you realize you're just like everyone else. Just like everyone else except, you have a new and exciting view on the world that not everyone gets. You see things no one else will. You understand people who are different even though they're not LGBT. You have the unique opportunity to change the opinions of those around you. So many people in my life had this big, scary idea of what "gay" meant. When I came out, they realized I didn't change at all. I'm still exactly the same person, only more open. I have all the same quarks, flaws, attributes, and characteristics as the "straight" me did. I know that when you first come out, it is terrifying. I mean, truly, shit-your-pants paralyzing. But, I swear to you, IT WILL GET BETTER! It will. If you allow your life to become better, it will! There are people like myself and others I work with trying to make this world a better place to all of our degenerate family members. There is nothing wrong with you. You have so much potential to be an amazing addition to society, no matter what the assholes around us might say. I swear, I SWEAR, it will get better. Please hold on. Please don't make that irreversible mistake. High school is terrible for everyone. All the people who pick on you and say nasty things are just as scared! They're hoping that by pointing out something about you, others won't notice their shortcomings. After high school, you will find your place. You will find the people that understand you and you can create a life for yourself. All those stereotypes like: gay people have HIV, gays can't have successful relationships, gays are all strung out on coke and meth; they're all false! And if you think that because you see gorgeous gay men who are tan, buff, tall and unrealistic on TV that there's no place for you, you're wrong. The reason the LGBT community uses the rainbow on our flag is to show that we have every color of the rainbow. We have drag queens, trannies, lesbians, gays, bis, parents, socialites, teachers, lawyers, ministers, politicians, and any other category you can think of and they are all beautiful. If I could convince you of anything, it would be to just hold on til college. At the very least, wait until graduation. I promise that if you can hold on until then, things will get better. And we are trying to make it better for you now! High school should not be a place of terror, for anyone. Regardless of your sexual orientation, race, political affiliations, you have a right to exist and to be happy; even in high school. If you need to talk to someone, I honestly will tell you, email me! Thechroniclesofagayteen@gmail.com I will answer you! I will talk to you and let you know you're not alone. I am here for you. There are so many wonderful people in the community that can't wait to meet you. You will meet the most amazing people and you haven't even begun to live your life! If your parents don't accept you, they'll come around. Mine have already made so much progress and it's only been a year and a half. And if they reject you and never speak to you again, it doesn't matter. The world around you is full of people who will accept you into their families. Biology does not equal family, love does. You will find your place. Please, hold on. "It Gets Better"

Here are some links to help you get started.









http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vGc76o-fhU&feature=player_embedded





If you need help, please call the Trevor Project a 1-800-4-U-TREVOR. I love you all.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

HIV/AIDS 2

I'm sitting in my room with throbbing feet, dirty hair and a content soul. Today was the AIDS Walk Houston. This fundraiser helps raise money and awareness for those currently living with HIV/AIDS. It was quite an adventure trying to get to registration and opening ceremonies this morning. Not only did we have to leave early but it was also daylight saving. This significantly cut into my beauty sleep! On top of being forced from my vacant slumber, Cody and I also got lost on our way downtown (BTW Mayor Annise, I think we should make all the streets two-way to cut down confusion). Finally, we find a parking garage and our group, the Gay Straight Alliance of San Jacinto Central, and head toward the festivities. All these problems seemed to slip quietly into memory when we arrive to a huge park with hundreds of people there showing their support for our brother and sisters. There was a live band, the gay men's chorus, booths with free products, snacks, gorgeous drag queens, glamorous twinks, handsome dykes and our stunning new Mayor, Ms Annise Parker (one of my idols!). After making our rounds, scoping the guys and registering ourselves, we begin the three mile trek that felt more like ten. It was wonderful to have the corporate sponsors set up booths on the side of the track with bottles of water, clapper balloons and moral support! We finally made it through and I felt like I had made a personal journey. I was reminded of how long this past year and a half of my life has been. The struggles I've overcome and the one's I've yet to face. For our loved ones who are currently living with HIV/AIDS I hope you know that we were out there walking for you. Just you. We love you, we pray for you, we'll carry you through until the finish line. We are your family even if not by blood, creed, race or religion. We are bonded by our common fabric of love and hope. We will not stop until there is a cure. Conventions like the one we had today are the reason that HIV is no longer a death sentence in the United States. Positive people live happy, fulfilling, loving, long lives thanks to their families, friends and supporters. Thank you to all those who were able to walk or donated. We can change this!

Ok, now survey question of the day: Would you (if you are negative) date someone who is positive? Really, I want people to either comment on here or shoot me an email. I'm curious as to see how the stigma has changed in recent years. I love you all and as I always have left you, here is a quote: "No matter how far in or out of the closet you are, you still have a next step"- Anonymous