A Gay Man Gains Perspective

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned

A Gay Man Gains Perspective

 

 

Two years ago, a life changing thing happened to a young man. It was perhaps the biggest, scariest yet thrilling adventure of a certain person’s life. His life had many struggles, some even hidden so deep down he didn’t understand until later in life. Even now fear still crouches at his door waiting to devour him, and well, to be honest- fear almost won out. That person was me. Two years ago, I took a leap of courage and came out as gay. Since that day, I have come to look at my life and situation as an adventure. Like any adventure in life, it has been bared with many foes and many dangers. I am grateful for all of it; even the bad. That is a tough thing to do, accepting the bad things in life as something to be grateful for. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to accept that. I would have thought a person was crazy to suggest liking the bad just as much as the good.

Five years into the past, we are looking at a different me. I was selfish back then: only looking out for myself. The personal lives of my friends didn’t matter to me. Imagine yourself trapped inside your own universe, all alone, with nothing but your self-pity and woes being the center of your everyday life. That’s how it was. It was that way because selfish, self-centered me had nothing else he wanted to do but keep a secret hidden. My life became so focused on my fears that it drove away a lot of people. No one wanted to be around me, and now, looking back on all that has happened- they were right to do so. By letting darkness, fear and anger to crowd me, and wanting to come out of the pit but refusing to take that leap of bravery, it had damaged me- almost to the core. I was consumed with hatred. I couldn’t allow myself to think even one positive thought. I was making myself the prey; the target, just waiting on the front lines for someone to play the predator card. In the winter of 2010, I met a guy, unexpectedly. We connected with each other through some close friends of mine, and we became friends.We were hanging out pretty regularly, but in 2011 during one of our routine conversations, some heavy truths were revealed to me. He had kept a record of our recent conversations at the time. He told me how selfish I was. He emailed me every word of our previous conversations, including the one we were having. He was right. Everything was about me. The whole conversation was completely one sided. He would try and talk about his schooling; I shot it down, started talking about my woes. He would try and talk about something positive, and I would always find a way to turn it around and make it negative. Basically, I was like a thorn in his side. My heart just sank at that moment. I felt a terror come over me I had never felt. I was fixing to lose a friend; the only friend I had. For a few brief moments, I found out what it was like living in my small, one sided, little universe. He had given me acceptance and understanding. He knew I was gay and he accepted me. He was honest, and it hurt when reality struck. I knew right then if I couldn’t change my bitter heart, loneliness would be my only friend. But I had become so bitter I didn’t know how to find my way back. Fortunately, I was able to save my friendship, and we slowly began to rebuild our bridge. But it wasn’t enough.

There was something else that needed to be done, and I was afraid to do it. I was afraid of what people would say or think. I was afraid people would fear me and cast me out of their lives. After a near attempt at suicide by trying to drink poison, I knew at that moment it had to be done. For the sake of my sanity, and my life was on the line. I told everyone I knew that I was gay. That very moment, after I had made it known to everyone that I was gay, and could actually say that word out loud- all that bitterness, hatred, self-loathing and fear left me in an instant. Just like The Flash, the monster that crept within me was gone. But I didn’t know then that it was only the beginning. I soon faced rejection, phobia of my orientation, and with some family members I was even denounced and ostracized.

Presently, for the past 2 years, starting in 2013- I have been writing blogs for The Pink Panther Movement. Lately, I have really felt discouraged. Since I debuted with my first blog for PPM in the spring of 2013, I didn’t feel worthy to be writing alongside all these people on the blog team who have been through so much. I read their blogs all the time as each one surfaces, and I see so much more they’ve been through, and all I have to worry about is an uncle who lives over 900 miles away, and the occasional religious attacks I get that don’t happen very often. These people who write these blogs, not all of them are LGBT, but they suffer just as much. Yet they come on top of the discrimination every time, and even stronger than before. And they have faced some true devastation. A few weeks ago, I was ready to throw in the towel. I wanted to give up thinking I had nothing to give that was of value. But one evening last week, I was talking to the very same friend who revealed the harsh truth four years ago. I told him about wanting to leave the PPM movement. He was surprised I was even considering it. He asked me a question that took me off guard. He asked me if I realized how far I had come since 2010. I asked him what he meant. He laughed about it, and for a moment I didn’t understand what was so funny. He told me I didn’t even see it. He told me how much I had changed in the last five years. He reminded me that what I’ve gone through was bad, and it was a serious situation at the time. But it doesn’t seem so bad anymore, because I came out on top. I was shocked! I had lived through my worst nightmares and didn’t even realize I had conquered them. So twice now this close friend of mine has given me a reason to keep going, and keep fighting for a better future. But as I look back on those five years, I have to be grateful for all of it. I’m grateful for my uncle, and even all the religious people who parade up and down sidewalks protesting. I am grateful for all of it. Why, you may ask? It is because, if those things in the past hadn’t happened- I wouldn’t be here today. The special friend of mine gave me a reason to fight for a better me, and a better future. My uncle taught me that forgiveness is important. All those religious people who scorn me on the streets with their picket signs, they give me a reason to be proud of who I am.

All of those people throughout those five years helped me to become who I am today. Some were good- others were bad, but I needed all of it. So that is why I am grateful for the bad things in life just as much as the good. Because I know I will always come out on top. When you face your greatest nightmares and overcome them, you can triumph over anything.

So, any of you in the LGBT community, and it doesn’t even have to be that you are LGBT. Perhaps you have a gay son or daughter you have chosen to accept, or perhaps you were horribly bullied in high school. It can be anything. When you feel yourself doubting your true potential, and you question whether you have anything you can give to the world, I encourage you to look back on your life. Remember the people who walked the path with you, both good and bad. Let the good people remind you that you are worth something, and let the bad people remind you why you can’t give up the fight. Each person on this earth is unique in their own way, and sometimes you can be so unaware of how special you really are.

Stay encouraged!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty Little Liars Goes Bad

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For the past six years, ABC Family has aired a show that seems to stand out more than the rest. The show is called Pretty Little Liars. It is based off of a young adult novel series (Pretty Little Liars). It is centered on four junior high school girls (Spencer Hastings, Hanna Marin, Aria Montgomery, and Emily Fields). The whole series is basically the four girls being black mailed and secrets they’ve kept buried deep are threatened to be revealed by an unknown person who goes by a code name (Alias A). The show is well known for pushing the limits very highly when it comes to family oriented material. There have been several, jaw dropping sex scenes that are over the top, and even go as far as to create student/teacher relationships, and even have very revealing, high powered sex scenes featuring a teacher and student.

To be honest, I had heard about the show from a few people who have watched it, and usually it was negative feedback. I don’t watch it, nor do I want to. However, just a few days ago the show was brought to my attention. I wasn’t too keen on exploring the topic a first, but a certain character (Emily Fields) was genuinely brought to my attention. In the show, Emily Fields is a lesbian. In fact, Emily Fields is honestly what drew a lot of people to watch the show. Fans of the novel series loved the fact they were at first acknowledging all of the characters and keeping them as they are in the books. Unfortunately, the small part of the show that was good, showing diverse characters from different walks of life was to be short lived. The show was soon to take dark turns none of the fans of the show expected, especially those who were major fans of Emily Fields.

After studying up on the different relationships between the girls according to the novels, Emily Field’s relationship actually proved to be the least dangerous and most healthy pairing out of all of them. The first relationship is right on key to the book. Emily is paired with Maya, and they have a very loving relationship, and each character is given equal romance. In the show, that quickly changes when suddenly Maya dies, and after that Emily is left with a lot of heart ache and a series of loveless relationships. The relationships Emily had rapidly began to become less attractive, unfeeling, and less important than anyone else’s relationship on the show, even a relationship between an 18 year old and a policeman that actress Sasha Pieter’s said was a “healthy relationship,” which in fact it wasn’t. Even the student/teacher relationship between Aria Montgomery and a teacher named Ezra was given more highlights than Emily. Emily’s romance scenes were cut short, or it was so difficult to tell whether it was Emily and her lover through the pore lighting in the room. Aria and the teacher’s love scenes were given plenty of time, and in my opinion, too revealing considering it is a teenage girl and a teacher. As time moved on for the show, the straight romances, along with the student/teacher relationships which were also portrayed as healthy relationships on the show, took to the spot light. There was no hesitation to leave Emily out in the dirt to rot in misery. According to my research on the novels, that should have never taken place. The television series has gotten ages away from the books in order to air what they want. The worst part in all of the mess was disgracing Emily as a lesbian, when she kisses a guy in an episode on her front porch. Their final act by forcing Emily to degrade herself by seeking comfort from the lips of a man totally destroyed the character in every way, shape, and form. From then on things only got worse, as Emily’s love interests faded away into darkness.

The final act sent fans of Emily into an uproar, who call themselves Emison fans, and the creators of the show acted confused, like they didn’t know why they were so upset. To make matters worse, two actresses who are regular’s on the show have been happy about the way things were turning out. One actress, Sasha Pieter’s, who portrayed one of Emily’s lovers, said in an interview that the lesbian relationship was toxic, and said that the relationship with the policeman was healthy. Even the actress herself who portrayed Emily (Shay Mitchell) said in an interview that the fans of her character disturbed her. In my opinion, there is nothing good about what this show is about. They took a very, amazing, complex character (Emily Fields), and destroyed her. The show could have been so much more than it is if they had stuck to the books. It would have drawn such a diverse set of television viewers. The reason the show Glee got so much success by people of all ages, was because of their diverse, complex characters and their relationships were all given equal lime light.

I would like to give some recognition now to one of the Emison fans; the one who brought this show and Emily Fields to my attention. I felt it would be wrong to not let her have a chance to express her feelings. She has written an open letter to the creators of (Pretty Little Liars).

To Marlene King and ABC Family:

I regret that I have to inform you that your portrayal of Emily Fields is disheartening and unfortunately disrespectful. I respect that you have given us a wonderful lesbian like Emily to respect and root for. You handled her coming out beautifully, from her angst and fear of not only admitting the truth to herself, but her family and friends. Unfortunately, you have managed to make a mockery of her love life. It started out promising with her first girlfriend, until you killed her off. Then you had her fall for a girl who physically bullied her. Then she got side tracked by a college girl. That was a complete waste of time. But wait, it gets worse. You then chose to put the “self-proclaimed lesbian” on her porch stoop kissing a man. That was not alright. Emily Fields is the most loyal, caring, protective character on this show, and she deserves better than to be generalized as a confused girl who had to deal with her personal tragedy by finding comfort in the lips of a man. That was disrespectful to not only her character, but her fans look up to her as their beacon of hope. It got worse from there, as her love life has become the laughing stock of the show. It has become such a joke, that we all expect every new girl who shows up in Rosewood, will eventually show up on Emily’s porch for a make-out session. You led us to believe she couldn’t settle on a girl to love, because she couldn’t get over her first love. Well, her first love came back from the dead, and instead of Emily finding a little happiness, you hooked her up with a married woman. Really! Can the woman with the purest heart please find someone who deserves her love? The LGBT fans of the show are starting to feel used and abused by you, for nothing more than ratings. Emily’s love life does not get equal representation on this show at all. Her intimate scenes are either in dark shadow, cut short, or both. The straight characters get intimate scenes that leave nothing to the imagination. We have to ask, you the writers, for confirmation if Emily had sex or not. It is left completely up to interpretation. Emily Fields is one of the most loved lesbian characters on television. We want to see her fall in love with the girl of her dreams. We don’t want to hear about it after the fact. We want to actually see it. She deserves better than you are giving her. She deserves equal representation, and so do her fans.

Sincerely yours,

Emison Fans

Show about Zombies Ignites Hatred Over Eight Second Kiss

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“The rights and freedoms of all People should be Mainstream.” Quoted by Greyson Orlando- fighter for equality.

Everyone be warned! Be very afraid! Something most horrific has happened that may destroy us all.  I’m not talking about the zombies that may be lurking in your closet, or the ones who may be creeping up behind you as you read this. I am talking about a kiss. Beware the two men who show affection.

It sounds pretty silly doesn’t it? This is exactly how many viewers of the popular show The Walking Dead reacted only a week ago. During an episode, there was featured an 8 second kiss between two men who were just happy they were alive. Only moments after the episode ended, the media flooded with homophobic remarks that were full of hatred. The amount of rage against this short lived moment on television was utterly jaw dropping.

For those that have not seen The Walking Dead, it is basically a show put on by AMC that centers on a massive, zombie apocalypse. It is widely known for its intense action, violence and gore. There is a lot of cannibalism, among other disturbing elements. The show has actually featured a lesbian, who is one of the main characters, but suddenly when two men who aren’t even regulars on the show share a small smooch on the lips it had gone too far, when no one blinked an eye when everything else happened, like the gore and rape. There are people right now who are calling for the shows cancellation because producers and directors chose to show a small, affectionate kiss between two men.

The scene takes place in an old abandoned warehouse where the two men have sought refuge. One of the men is wounded and can’t walk, and is sitting on the ground lying up against his duffle bag with his injured foot propped up. The man, who is obviously his romantic interest, walks in and discovers he is alive. The man walks over to examine him and becomes overwhelmed with joy and gives him a heartfelt, comforting kiss. And that is what the whole uproar was over.

I decided to challenge this and I showed the video clip of the kiss to eight selected straight friends of mine. They did not know what they were watching when I showed them. What they saw didn’t offend them, it didn’t turn them gay, and those of them who watch the show can’t wait for the next episodes. This blog goes to them. This time my straights will take the stand with their statements in support of a very sweet gesture the producers and directors of The Walking Dead created with a simple yet moving scene of love.

Note: The statements you are about to read are opinions expressed by each individual and are their own. The credit goes completely to them. None of them have been edited and will appear as they were quoted.

Nick Jaramayo– All I saw were two people showing affection. This level of hate shows how the world really is.

Amanda Personally, this doesn’t bother me because I have seen this in the media periodically my whole life.

Michael Napodano– Condemning a show because of two guys kissing, but condoning a worldwide flood that killed every living thing, including innocent animals, women and children, just doesn’t make sense to me.

Robby Headley– It is hard for me to engage in a serious debate with people like this, because their opinion isn’t important to me, nor does it matter to me. This is 2015, and this level of silliness and hatred won’t stand.

Kaitlyn– There has been homosexuality since the beginning of time. One simple kiss on a television show shouldn’t cause such a dramatic amount of chaos. This is not the first show to feature two men kissing. People need to realize that love is love. Just because some people don’t agree with it, that does not mean it isn’t going to happen. Everyone is equally entitled to their happiness. A man should be allowed to show his love and affection to another man. If you don’t want to see it, don’t look. Maybe they feel the same way about you.

David Stevens Kudos to the Walking Dead for showing a moment of genuine, non-exploitative affection between two gay characters. While one rarely has to wait longer than a few minutes to see two straight people kiss in any movie or TV show, it is refreshing for a major show to give some screen time to a display of love from a same sex couple. It is high time that such scenes become part of the entertainment norm, and no longer such a rare phenomenon. Our LGBTQ sisters and brothers have sat through enough hetero kisses; it’s time that we straighties return the courtesy.

Kelly Digges There’s a quote I really like from author Mary Robinette Kowal: “It’s not about adding diversity for the sake of diversity; it’s about subtracting homogeneity for the sake of realism.” In other words, the reason to have characters with a wide variety of backgrounds is that real people have a wide variety of backgrounds. Your stories (and worlds, in the case of science fiction and fantasy) will be deeper, more realistic, and more engaging to a wider group of people if they reflect the diversity that the real world has to offer. Despite the diversity of the real world, there’s very little pressure on media to be inclusive. It is always safe for your characters to be straight white males. Diversity in media doesn’t just happen–it takes work. So when media creators make sure their cast of characters covers a broad spectrum of humanity that deserves recognition. Hopefully someday a gay kiss or a majority black cast will be totally unremarkable. But we’re not there yet. The thing is, though, whether I–a straight white man–commend those creators is actually not very important. Sometimes when creators make sure their fictional world is as full of different kinds of people as the real world is, I see people (almost always people who don’t belong to the represented group) say that it’s “forced,” or “pandering.” But what they’re really saying is that it didn’t speak to them–it was clearly meant for somebody else. And that’s how “everybody else” feels almost all the time: like they’re reading and watching and listening to things that are made for somebody else. And when creators take the time to tell stories that speak to those people, it can have a huge impact. (Just as an example, Whoopi Goldberg was inspired to become an actress in part by seeing Nichelle Nichols’s character Uhura on Star Trek–a black woman in an important role on television at a time when that was virtually unheard of.) So that’s really the important part: making sure that a broad swath of people sees themselves and their experiences reflected in media. I am always in favor of that.

Greyson Orlando– I have been watching The Walking Dead since season 1. It is an excellent show, well written, and with a diverse set of characters. It is also intensely violent and gory. It showcases some of the best and a lot of the worst sides of humanity. That’s what makes it so compelling. And now there are calls for cancellation over, of all things, a kiss. It was a kiss between a man and his partner who is just happy to see him alive. This is a show that has featured adulterers, racists, murderers, psychopaths, and the undead. And yet, when two men kiss, there is an outcry. Suddenly it’s gone too far. The reason for this, I think, is fear. It is the fear from those who oppose gay rights that they will no longer be able to pretend that gays do not exist. It is the fear that society will “accept” homosexuality. This is exactly why scenes like this gay kiss in The Walking Dead need to exist. Without scenes like this, these people will be able to continue to pretend that sexual orientation is not a real thing and that gay rights is something that needs to be stamped out before it goes “mainstream.” The rights and freedoms of all people should be on the mainstream. The more society looks at homosexuality as a normal part of humanity, the faster we can eradicate prejudice and oppression of gays. I commend the creative team for The Walking Dead in taking us another step in that direction.

“On behalf of the show and its cast, we commend the directors, writers and producers for making this sweet yet simple kiss. Thank you.”

Bible Belt- Let’s Be Friends

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It is coming, the war is almost over, but the battle has just begun. The right for same-sex couples to have the right to marry is finally here. I am gay, and I live in the South at the very center of the Bible belt. Just over three years ago, or even two years ago, I would have never thought two, same-sex people who were genuinely in love would be able to get married, especially in a church. Too my glorious surprise, they are getting married, and yes, inside churches in the South. I am thrilled to know that one day I could walk down the aisle and recite my vows to the man that I choose to marry. Although many people across the nation are turning cart-wheels over this major breakthrough, I know and understand that there are a group of people who feel threatened by this. Having lived in the Bible belt for as long as I have, I know that the idea of same-sex couples getting married scares allot of Christians. In some ways I can understand. I was once in the same boat. I was scared of the LGBT’s just as much, in fact, realizing the gripping truth that I was gay use to literally be my worst nightmare come true, but that only lasted for a season. Now I couldn’t be happier, and I am truly happy for both gays and straights who have been able to find peace and true happiness in their lives.

Still I know that this is a very confusing time for all religious people who still hold on to their ancestor’s traditions, expectations, and standards of how they want the world to be. It is very hard to embrace something that is very foreign too you, and it is even harder to let go and let love in. I know there are a good number of you that may even have gay children. For you that could mean your worst nightmare has come true. You wake up one day to find out that even your own child is one of them. You are obviously very scared, hurt, and confused at this point. I want you to know that your child telling you that he or she is gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or maybe they might not feel like a boy or a girl on the inside, and they have chosen to tell you, that this is a very big step in their life. They have chosen to give you their complete trust. They love you enough to be truly honest with you. I know it’s not what you expected. From the very moment of birth too he or she, you had the perfect vision of what they would be like and become. Many nights while you were rocking your child to sleep you probably envisioned what he or she would look like as an adult, and often wondered what type of husband or wife they would end up with. “Mom, I’m gay… Dad, I’m a lesbian,” is definitely not what you were anticipating hearing come from your own child’s mouth.

I’m not here to judge, and I’m not here to gloat. I just want a small portion of your time to share with you that just because your child is gay or lesbian, or bisexual or transgender, or marriage doesn’t seem fair to you anymore because it’s taking a strange turn, doesn’t mean your life ends there. You are entering a journey that if approached with open arms, could be an amazing adventure. My hope is by sharing with you our side of the scale, that you can be able to find a common ground. All I ask is that you read with an open heart. In the end your decision to embrace what you’ve read in this blog will be of your own choosing.

You’ve heard about us, you’ve read about us in the newspaper, watched us on the television, but I’m sure very few of you have ventured out away from your homeland and into our turf. I want you to know you are more than welcome. In fact I cordially invite you into our humble abode. I have no doubt that you are scared. We must seem very strange to you. A man and a man that are in love? A woman and a woman with a baby How is that even possible? Well, Bible belt, fasten your seat belts, and I will answer all of your questions, and if you will allow me, put your fears to rest.

We all have something that we are afraid of. I know that the LGBT’s right to be married is a major fear for you. You’ve heard so many horror stories, and you feel as though somehow we are trying to take your rights away and convert you all into homosexuality. Right now you are probably very tense and on the verge of getting angry, so, I want you to close your eyes for a moment and re-open them. Now, take a deep breath, as much as your gut can handle, and slowly let it out. Relax all those tight muscles and calm your thoughts, and if you are still reading this, good for you. I want to start by telling a simple childhood story of mine.

When I was a boy, I use to be extremely afraid of escalators. I would only take elevators wherever I went. Escalators were not an option. I saw other people riding them, but they were very strange to me. I thought those people were crazy. Stairs that can move? What if I trip and fall? What if something bad happens when I get to the top? Every time I entered any place that had moving stairs the excuses to condone my fear would begin. One day my grandpa (who has been dead now for 8 years) came for a visit. He wanted to take me to see my first movie (Stewart little). My grandpa didn’t know his way around the city, and the mall was the only place I knew how to direct him that had a theater. We saw the movie and after that I wanted to go to the toy store. The toy store was on the second floor. Normally, I took the elevator, but that day it was out of order. My legs began to tremble when I heard my grandpa’s chilling words. “Well Alan, looks like it’s the escalator for us.” Immediately I started crying. My grandpa was very tender and he quietly and gently took me over to a bench close to my greatest fear. At the angle we were sitting I could see both the escalator and the elevator. I felt his gentle hand on my shoulder and he began to calmly speak to me. “Alan, do you see that elevator?” I looked at my grandpa very strangely. Respectfully I said yes. He smiled at me with his tender blue eyes. “Alan, that elevator you walk into every time has only a single cord holding it. If that cord were to break the elevator would fall, yet you trust in it every time you enter and every time that faithful cord holds you and pulls you to safety. If that elevator can do that don’t you think the escalator will do just the same?” I shrugged my shoulders not really knowing what to say. After that my grandpa took me to the foot of the escalator. I took a deep breath, all the while my grandpa was whispering “you can do it.” I lifted my foot, and one after the other I was on the moving steps. Instantly my fear was squelched. It left me like a swift traveling vapor. I didn’t trip, I didn’t fall, and nothing bad happened when I got to the top. We had a great time at the toy store, and I got the pink power ranger I wanted so badly with my allowance.

For those of you who know nothing of what we are like, or how we live, I imagine we are quite similar to the escalators. You are traveling into a world of the unknown. Although it may seem like storm clouds raging, the sun can shine again if you would allow it. The big secret about the LGBT society (bomb shell) there is no secret. We are really not that much different then you, only we are attracted to the same-sex, or for some, both sexes. I work in the animal field, and I have come across clients who are gay. They are actually quite normal. They get up and go to work just like you do. Their dogs love them, and the people around them who are straight care and trust them entirely. I have a close gay friend right here in Houston, Texas who has just become an Uncle a couple of weeks ago to a beautiful baby boy. His sister and husband trust him completely, and he is a great uncle, and makes his little nephew giggle so much. We all laugh and love, striving so much for the good times. We don’t want to be coddled or be the center of everyone’s conversation, or roll out the red carpet every time we come around. We just want what you all have. Bible belt, I think it is wonderful you all can get married to the person you love. I wish you all the joy in the world, but we would like to share in the joy that you can experience. We simply aren’t wired your way. We didn’t have the same marriage visions you had growing up. We were born into this world just like you were. We didn’t wake up one day and decide to make our life difficult and almost unbearable. We are simply like the escalators. We aren’t elevators; we are a different walk of life. We don’t want you to be gay, we are not pounding on your door with old Cher tapes and Elton John albums saying “here listen to this.” I want you, just like all the wonderful LGBT people I have come to know, too be happy. All we want is to share in your happiness.

So with that being said, on behalf of all of us here at the LGBT club, you are happily invited to pay us a visit. For once put down the Bibles, put down the picket signs (not saying you all do that) and just have an engaging conversation with us, laugh with us, play dress up with us (laughs) you don’t have to do that. Just be yourself when you’re around us. Take a deep breath and just say hi, shake our hand. We want to be your friends if you will allow us.

Three Steps That Will Save Your Life Open Letter to Andrew Caldwell

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My heart was broken this week, but not in any way anyone would expect. A video was messaged to me from a close friend who really suggested that I watch it. The video was recorded during a very wild revival at a Christian church. A timid, young man named Andrew Caldwell was asked to come up front. The preacher asked him what he needed to change. He grabbed the microphone and declared he wasn’t gay anymore. He said “I like women. I love women.” Over and over he said it. “I will not carry a purse, I will not put on makeup, and I love women.” He began dancing very wild like, and as he danced, several men came up and danced around him, leaving him in the center of the circle. He began to run up and down the center aisle, and when he was finished, he was given 200 dollars and he sat back down.

Normally, when I see a video like this I usually let it go. I usually don’t consider it my business to police people who decide to go back into the closet. I’ve been down the hard road just as they have. I know how hard it is to keep yourself in the spot light. That is not what troubled me in the least. When I saw that video, I saw the man I was last year. There was the look of terror in his eyes. His entire body was trembling, and while he danced, he was crying. I’m not talking about a few tears. No, I saw a broken man. I saw a man who could hardly stand to live any longer. I saw a man who had given up on the chance of anyone truly loving him. I saw a man who was forced and paid by the church to say he wasn’t gay, when all the while he knew it was a lie.

I have decided to reach out to this man the only way I know how… Through an open letter.

Dear Andrew Caldwell, I love you. You don’t know me, but you don’t have to know someone to care about them. Only a year ago today, I would not have been able to write this letter to you. I would not have been able to say the words I am gay. I gave you those three powerful words in the beginning for a reason. I love you was the very thing that saved my life. The words I love you, spoken by a true, sincere person, was the very thing that kept me from suicide. I meant what I said. I love you. I am the youngest and only son in the family with two older sisters, but if I had the chance to have a younger brother, I would imagine him somewhat like you. I will tell you another thing. You are beautiful. You are beautiful just the way that you are. So what if you want to carry a purse. So what if you want to wear makeup. That is who you are, and who you are is just fine. You are not damaged. You were made perfect. You are exactly how nature intended for you to be. Believe me I know the look that I saw in your eyes, because it’s the same look I gave myself in the mirror for years.  I gave you three words in the beginning, now I will give three steps that will save your life, and I just helped with one of them.

  1. Believe that you are loved, and that you are perfect and beautiful just the way that you are.
  2. Be nothing more than exactly who you are.
  3. Be true to yourself. Do not let anyone tell you that you are damaged or a lost cause.

I hope you are able to read this letter, Andrew. Just as one man did with me, I know that I am loved. Now I can spread the love chain on to you.

You’re in my thoughts. Should you ever find this, please, come out of the shadows. Your hanging off the edge of a cliff, and my hand is reaching out. If you look hard enough, soon you may find others offering their hand to you. When that happens… Take it.

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.

The Homophobic Truth Behind the Power Rangers

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In the year 1993 Fox, television network, released its first- real life action super hero show called (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). The show centered around five high school students Zack, Kimberly, Billy, Trini and Jason who lived in the small, mythical town of Angel Grove. Two evil sorcerers Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd, invade the earth with the soul intent of taking it over and making the earthlings their slaves. The five high school friends are given special powers by an ancient sorcerer of the light named Zordon, who is trapped inside a time-wharf, gives them special ancient powers which will allow them to transform into mighty super heroes in order to defend earth from the evil monsters Rita and Lord Zedd sent. The show was an instant hit and classic, right from its very first episode debut. The unique, and wonderful thing about the show was that each actor who was a power ranger were all from different races. The shows unique approach attracted kids and teens from around the world, myself included. I think the number one reason I fell in love with the show is because before its arrival, I really had no one I looked up to in my life. Kimberly Hart was my favorite, and the first person I really ever looked up to. She was everything I strived to be, and I have to admit I did have a crush on Jason. I was six at the time it first aired, and my friends today sometimes crack jokes about me watching power rangers, and trying to perform Kimberly’s flips and kicks in my back yard of which I must say, I was not good at.

Looking back on that one highlight of my life today, I have to say I have faced some disappointment in it. Not because of the fact I’m embarrassed that I watched the show, but because I had to suddenly embrace the harsh, troubling truth that went on behind the morphing cameras. When you are a kid you are pure of heart. The world seen through a fortunate six year olds eyes is perfect. There is no evil, everything his candy hearts and rainbows. It was that way for me. The Power Rangers weren’t actors, they were real. I could sleep better at night with the idea that the power rangers were somehow watching over me, and were protecting me from the evil in the world.

Just a few weeks ago the candy hearts and rainbows disappeared, and I will never view the show I watched as a kid the same ever again. It started with an interview I found on YouTube that featured the actor David Yost, who played Billy the blue power ranger. Three minutes into the interview, and my eyes brightened, the actor was gay. I couldn’t believe it… One of my childhood super heroes was someone who was just like me. I was immediately ready to find the directors and producers mailing addresses and thank them all for showing love for equality during the 90’s. Which was a horrible time for the LGBT’s. In that moment the tornado struck. The actor went into detail about what it was like working on set. He told of how he was humiliated and bullied by the producers and directors. They constantly yelled gay slurs in his direction. They even went as far as to humiliate him on camera, making his mighty, triceratops dinosaur battle robot, known as a Zord, into a unicorn for the soul purpose to make a mockery of him. Later on I did some research for myself, and found that not just he, but some of the other actors also experienced discrimination on set. The actor Walter Jones who play the Black Power Ranger was also horribly mistreated, and was suddenly axed out of the show with no explanation, along with actors Austin St John (Red Ranger) and Thuy Trang (Yellow Ranger).

The directors and producers were proud to present their international cast, but behind the cameras they were bullies, whose only desires were to make money off of something that turned out to be a big hit. I believe that the international team was something unexpected, but I think that was the most thrilling part of the show for me, was that you could experience other cultures. I just couldn’t believe the truth, I didn’t want to believe it. I refused to for a while.

One afternoon, for the first time in almost 18 years I decided to return and watch the show I loved growing up. It only took the first episode I watched to see the discrimination. The fact that the two bullies featured in the show were named Bulk because he was heavier set, and the other one Skull, and he was seen as being dumb and was always very clumsy. I witnessed the unicorn robot zord David Yost talked about. The more I watched, the more I realized how much prejudice behavior I grew up around. Being only six years old at the time, there was no way I could have noticed it, but it was there. I realize now that I should have paid more attention to Billy the blue ranger. To me, he is a true hero for going to work every day knowing he would face hate and humiliation. I am proud to call him a worthy ally in this fight for love and equality that we face today, and praise him for his courage to make himself known to his fans who grew up watching him as the blue ranger. Kimberly Hart will always be one I will remember as being meek and warmhearted, and now I can add a new role model to my collection. Billy the Blue Ranger. He was brave and very clever, and the actor who played him is also brave and a true hero.

If I had a chance to meet the producers of the show, I would tell them this:

In front of the audience you displayed equality and peace, and that anyone no matter their race or gender, can make a difference in the world. Behind the cameras, you were not the wonderful, loving hearted creators I thought you were. You can try to hide the truth all you want, but the proof is there for those of us who look back on it and wonder how we could laugh at a heavy set guy named Bulk, who was always being humiliated by having pies, smoothies, and mud tossed his way. Your unicorn zord that spits out rainbows doesn’t just make a mockery of David Yost, but for other LGBT’s as a whole. That rainbow you poke fun of means something more to me then you will ever comprehend. It resembles strength and hope, and that rainbow gives the LGBT’s, like me, a sense of honor. We can look at the rainbow and remember despite what people say we do matter and we deserve our spot in this world. Just like it happened with me, the show will be passed on to our younger generation of today, and when they get older the truth will happen and they will consider you a major disappointment. Your creativity and talent is not what made the show so special for me, it was the actors you placed in it. You created something very wonderful without even knowing it. You covered it all. You created nationality and you even had an LGBT member of whom you should have been proud to have on your show. No doubt I will pass your show onto kids like my baby cousin if I ever get the chance. I will show him that the power rangers are supposed to fight the encroachment of hate in the world. I won’t point out that you were hypocrites.

For representing equality, I will say thank you.   I only hope one day you hear the message of your own show, learn to walk its talk, and live it.

It is what the Blue Ranger would do.

 

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