A Challenge to my “Family and Friends of Faith”

Ken challenge

Here is just a small sampling of some of the headlines I’ve picked out this week.  Trust me, this is a small sample.

Bryan Fischer:  ‘The Mark of the Beast Today is the Rainbow Flag’

‘Vatican Changes Actual Translation of Draft That ‘Welcomed’ Gays’

‘Top Vatican official tells parents to shun gay relatives’

‘Duck Dynasty’ Star: You Can’t Catch STDs from ‘Biblically Correct Sex’

Amongst these headlines, and the large amount of others just like it, can you guess how many I was able to find by religious people which did NOT promote hatred of another group?  That’s right,  none.  Not a one, Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  Are you getting the point?

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some headlines that include acceptance from some smaller church bodies, such as:
‘Hillsong Church Pastors Won’t Speak Out On Gays Because Jesus Didn’t Either’
And the blogs released over the last few weeks, one from a Christian pastor and one from a rabbi explaining what they would do if they found out one (or more) of their kids came out. (Spoiler: They’d accept, and continue loving their children, no matter what.)

For the longest time, I’ve been attempting to get people who tell me “Not all (insert religion of choice here) are like that.  There are many of us who don’t feel that way.”  Whether it’s about gay rights, marriage equality, a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices, any number of issues, it seems that the right-wing fundamentalist minority are the only ones we hear from.

When are we going to see a headline that reads:

“Vatican Opens Up to Gay Congregants.”

“Muslim Leadership Accept Women as Leaders.”

“Mormon Tabernacle Hosts Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony.”

Oh yeah…never.

I don’t expect the world’s religions to change overnight, but I would like just a bit of proof that not all people of faith are as hate filled as their extremists are.  If you’re going to tell me that you’re  ”not all like that,” do me a favour, put your money where your mouth is.  Get together with your friends who are of the same mind as your, and start to make some noise.  Hold very public rallies, telling the world that your particular faith group is truly one of love, that accepts ALL people, regardless of race, colour, gender, sexual identity…  and get yourself in the headlines.

Start a Facebook page that shows you ARE affirming.

We live in a world in which you can be a complete stranger to the world one day, and the next have innumerable people knowing your opinion, knowing where you stand, and from those, you can grow your base of people who “are not like that.”  Telling me that since you’re not the pope, or some self-styled celebrity, or the head of an internationally known group is NOT a good enough excuse.  Just look at my friends list for proof.  I have the honour of being friends with incredible voices for rights, equality, and life.  Five to ten years ago, nobody had heard these people’s names, and now they are known internationally.  How?  By standing up, and raising their voices.

This is my challenge to you, my family and friends of faith who are “not like the others.”:

Take a stand.  Raise your voice, shout out to the world that not all people of faith are like the hate mongers that we keep hearing from.  Prove to me that you believe in a religion of love.  Give me at least a bit of hope that there is some love left in the world.

Please.

Ken

The Art of Letting Go

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The Art of Letting Go

It is hard to believe that this year has only three months left. This year has flown by so fast, but it has been a very productive and worthwhile time in my life for many reasons. It had a lot to do with letting go of a lot of things in my life that were weighing me down both physically and mentally. It started, with coming out as being gay. Ever since the beginning of this year, the world had been revealed through a different set of eyes then last year. I thought I was hopeless, and a lost cause. I felt like a monster. Somehow I felt as if I were broken and could never be fixed. Everything bottled up inside was almost too hard to contain, so hard, that I almost committed suicide. If it wasn’t for a wonderful, loving, straight man named David Stevens showing just an inch of kindness, just an inch of love and understanding, I would not be alive today. David is married to his wonderful wife and has two daughters, and he’s really like the big brother I’ve never had. I was very impressed with how he was able to forgive a Baptist preacher for speaking ill of his younger brother who happens to be gay and married, and for cutting off their friendship. It inspired me so much that I began to think about all the hate and anger I had bottled up inside me. I was able to release that anger and pain, and forgive those who simply miss understand.

I felt inspired to share two women who I have come to greatly admire in the last few months. One is fictional, and the other one is an author. Both of them have greatly influenced me, and each of them had a beloved friend like David Steven’s, who helped to bring them out of despair.

Elsa of Arendelle is my most favorite and beloved Disney character ever, and I honestly don’t think there will be any others who could top her. I liked her so much because at the time, I suddenly found myself able to relate to her every feeling of mental pain and heart ache that was brought upon her. I had never felt that way before in my life. I had never at all come across a character in a movie or television show that I could actually relate to. I found tears were trickling down my cheeks during the whole movie. I wanted to crawl into the screen and hug her, and tell her everything was going to be okay. The surprising thing is the feeling I had as I left the theater that night. She had done it. She had found happiness and she found peace. That began to inspire me to do the same. Eventually, I ended up using the song (Let it Go) as my way of coming out to all my family and friends. Since I met the fictional character Elsa, I began to do some thinking. Her younger sister Anna often came to mind just the same. Suddenly, I realized if it hadn’t of been for Anna, Elsa would be lost forever. It was Anna who came to her door every morning when she was confined to living only in her room. It was Anna who traveled miles and miles to the North Mountain to tell her sister everything was going to be okay. In the end, Anna did the most beloved thing ever. She sacrificed herself to save her sister. It had me thinking every day about the friends and family I have in my life right now in the present that believe in love and equality. Every day they are, in a way, sacrificing themselves on my behalf. When someone threatens me, my friends are the ones who are on the front lines. Those being pro-gay is no small thing. They get trampled on, and beaten down just as much as the LGBT who are born the way that they are, and are brave enough to stand in the spot light.

The next woman that I admire greatly, is the author of that old, classic Disney movie we all know and fell in love with. She flew in the air with an umbrella and had the most exquisite singing voice ever. Mary Poppins. Thanks to the beloved writer, P.L. Travers, (Walt-Disney) turned her book into a movie icon and master piece. P.L. Travers book was not so easy for her to “let go.” The book was very dear to her, and it was the story about her life as a little girl and the love she had for her father despite him being and alcoholic, and eventually he died of Tuberculosis when she was only a child. Walt-Disney loved the book, and saw the potential of what Mary Poppins could create for families and children for generations. P.L. Travers saw the book as a painful reminder of what her life was like as a child. She and Walt-Disney’s inspirations for the book were on a totally different level. Despite her repeated refusals, he didn’t give up. Finally she agreed to make it a movie, but it was like pulling teeth. She didn’t like any of the ideas, nor would she approve them, and above all she wanted no animation of any kind in her movie. It came to the point where she gave up, closed the movie production and went home. Walt-Disney himself traveled to London where she lived, and he paid her an unexpected visit. This special moment brought about the wonderful movie we all know and love. If it weren’t for Walt-Disney’s interest, P.L. Travers might not ever have leaped out of the dark hole she had dug. She ended up loving the movie, and turning her book over to Walt-Disney was a decision she never regretted.

Through my life experiences and the examples of the two, wonderful women I have come to admire, I have learned the greatest gift I could get is something only I could have given. That is learning how to forgive myself. Learning that the way I came out of my mother’s womb is something that can’t be taught, it can’t be given. Being gay is something I had to come to terms with. It is something I had to learn to embrace in order to be set free. It would have never happened, if it weren’t for my friends and family who support, and for my big brother at heart, David Stevens.  I feel grateful and blessed to have Anna’s and Walt-Disney’s in my life.

The art of letting go is instilled inside every one of us, and my greatest hope is for those who are brave enough to let it happen.