A Canadian’s Open Letter to My American LGBT Family

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During this Canada Day, Independence Day week, I just wanted to take a few minutes to welcome my brothers and sisters in the United States to Marriage Equality. It’s been a week of turbulent emotions, from joyous elation, to tears, anger, and, unfortunately, some hatred. We’ve done it, and some are angry.

As a Canadian, who has had the right to marry a person I love, regardless of gender, for a decade now, let me tell you what’s going to happen in the U.S. People will get married. That’s it. (Bet you were hoping for some long winded diatribe on “us vs. Them.)

The nay-sayers, the doomsday prophets, the haters were wrong. It’s not the end of humanity. The universe will not implode on itself, lightning will not strike down happy couples on their wedding day, plagues will not strike your country, the sun will still rise and set, etc. Couples will get married. That’s it.

The fireworks this week, will take on a whole new feeling. One of equality, unity, a single spirit, two countries joined together, to quote President Obama: “A MORE perfect union.” In my opinion, this unites us, not just as neighbours, but as a North American family. And we, in Canada, share in your joy.

Make no mistake, however. There are some that will continue to wish you harm. In their anger over “losing” this battle, they may feel emboldened to strike out more than before. Please be careful, and watchful.

To all the allies, who helped bring this about, Thank You. Two words are not enough to show appreciation for your care and help, but until the invitations start being mailed out, they’re all we have. Without your acceptance, and support, this may have been an even longer battle. You are truly a vital part of our family.

We’ve come a long way, but we still have a lot of work to do. There are still states in which you can lose your job simply because you’re LGBT. Discrimination is still rampant. States are coming up with creative ways to duck SCOTUS’s ruling, using “religious exemptions.” There are any number of ways that true equality is being kept from us. These are the things we still have to work for. And work we will. I’m realistic enough to know that we will never fully eradicate hatred and discrimination, but I still hang on to the hope that we can.

Enough about how much we have to do, this is a time of celebration. This year, Independence Day has a new meaning. The U.S. can celebrate Independence, as a nation where all men, and women, are created truly equal. Revel in this. It’s your right, and your due. Launch your rainbow coloured fireworks, fly your flag with joy, enjoy every minute.

And once again, Welcome to Equality! It’s a great place to live.

Oh, and send me a message for my address. I expect invitations!  LOL

Ken

Is there a “War on Christianity?”

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Once again, we are being bombarded with stories and complaints about the supposed “War on christianity.”  All over, there are stories of people using “religion-based” bigotry.  When called out on this bigotry, suddenly, they complain that they are the ones being persecuted.

For example:

Memories Pizza.  This is a family run business that very blatantly said that they wouldn’t cater to same-sex weddings due to their “beliefs.”  (First question:  What self-respecting gay couple would want their wedding catered by a pizza joint?)  When called out on their hatred, they closed their doors out of fear of “retribution from the hordes of angry gays.”  Somehow, they were able to raise almost a million dollars through crowd-funding!

Tom Delay:  “I have the RIGHT not to serve gay sinners, because they undermine my “religious liberty.”  His complaint is that the “Gay Agenda” is out to squash “religious liberty.”  Ummmmmm.  does he not take into account, or does he simply choose to ignore the incredibly large number of LGBT people of faith?

An article in a publication called “Right-Wing News” by a guy named Walter Todd Huston starts out with:  “We are seeing it nearly every day. lately – Christians in our own country being attacked by radicals. and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is exactly right when he says the Christians now need legal protection for their “Religious Expression.”  In the article, he does a fairly good job of standing up for Jindal’s “defense if his state’s RFRA, but ends the piece with this gem:  “The Left’s goal is to outlaw Christianity, and they intend to do it through misusing our own laws against us.  Liberals want freedom for everyone…unless you are a Christian.”

True, I am an atheist, but I was raised in a christian family.  In fact, I held on to my faith into my late forties.  most of my family still clings to their belief, and I have some dear friends who are staunch and TRUE christians.  I’m not a idiot when it comes to knowing what christianity is supposed to be about.  What I do know is this.  Anyone who feels the need to use their faith as a weapon against ANT other person, is NOT a true christian.  You’ve take what you were taught by the person you pretend to worship, and you’ve perverted it to your own warped translation.  The :Christ” I was taught about, as a child, was a man of love, forgiveness, redemption.  Not hate, discrimination, anger.  He never said that you should force your will on anyone.  In fact, he said quite the opposite.  “If anyone will not welcome you, or hear your words, then leave that home, or twon, and shake the dust off your feet.”  Matthew 10:14

But let’s get to the “real” story here, that of this so-called “war on christianity.”  Let’s take a quick peak back through history.

The Crusades:  How many were killed by “good” christian knights simply for being born in a muslim country, and for trying to keep what they considered  THEIR Holy City out of the hands of “infidels?”  True, they fought back, and killed off countless crusaders, but, what do you expect?

The Inquisition(s):  This is a great one!  Millions, yes millions, tortured and killed while being forced to accept the “supremacy” of the church.  Forced into conversion at the point of the sword. Even after conversion, many were still “executed.”  Yup.  That’s real godly love for ya!

The first explorers of the new world.  Columbus in the Caribbean, Cortez in Mexico and Central America, the list goes on.  All used the bible to justify subjugation and murder.  In some cases, entire cultures were wiped out.

We can go through slaver, the subjugation of women, Adolph Hitler’s “I believe today, that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the almighty creator.”

But lets move ahead to what’s been called the “Civil Rights Movement of our Generation.”

This is a fight that’s been coming since the dawn of religion.  The Gay Rights Movement.  For millenia, LGBT people have been belittled, (at best) down trodden, beaten, and (at worst) murdered, simply because they were born differently from religious norms.  For most of that time, it has gone on without resistance.  Over the past few decades, a few brave souls have risen up and said “Enough.”  These heroes were followed by a growing number of people who found strength by their example.  Add in our allies, and now we’re a force to be reckoned with.  There are enough LGBT activists, that we are noticed on the world’s political stage.  Hell, when the President of the USA speaks in a positive light about you in his inauguration speech, you KNOW you’ve grown up!  In my opinion, this scares the hell out of the people who’ve been walking all over the LGBT community for ever.  More and more, we’re hearing from some more inclusive and progressive religious leaders that homosexuality is NOT a thing to be despised. We also know that the few bible verses used by right-wing religious nuts are fundamentally flawed in their translation.  But they continue to tenaciously cling to them and use them as weapons.

Now that the LGBT community is actually going toe-to-toe with the religious right, they’ve suddenly had to become defensive.  Their new rallying cry is”  “They’re using their ‘Gay Agenda’ to step on my ‘religious freedoms’.”  Grow up, it’s not happening. You still have your “freedom of religion, and I still have my “freedom FROM religion.”  Fortunately, the laws in North America are based on something call the Constitution, and not the bible.  In both Canada, and the USA, we are guaranteed HUMAN Rights.  ALL people have the right freely, openly, and in celebration of whatever defines us.

There you have it.  There is no “War on christianity.”  It’s not real, it never was.  If there is a war on anything, it’s a war on hatred, anger and discrimination, whether religiously-based or not.   Having said that, if your version of christianity  includes hatred, bigotry and discrimination, then I, for one, am a very willing soldier in the war on you!

Ken

An Ex-Christian Sounds Off on the So-Called Christians Who Drove Him Away

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(As I write this, another article about the churches in a small town refusing to allow the funeral of a young man, simply because of his sexual orientation crossed my feed.  I had to stop and take a break, in order to avoid allowing anger to colour my writing.)

Before we begin, let me start by saying this is NOT an attack on Christianity.  If I was more versed on other religions, I would include them in this blog.

How, exactly does an ex-Christian human rights activist respond to “Christian love?”  By putting those two words in quotations, I’m talking about the vitriolic hatred and bigotry thrown out so may by Christian extremists like Mike Huckabee, the American Family Association, and their former mouthpiece, Brian, (who we definitely haven’t heard the last of.) and of course our buddy Pat Robertson, who hates everyone who’s not an old, ‘Murican, Christian man, like him.  I’m not going to waste anyone’s time, or brain cells quoting these “loving” individuals, we all know what they’ve had to say, and continue saying.

First, some personal background.  I grew up in a Christian family, I counted myself as a believer for the vast majority of my life.  Sadly, I watched the faith I grew up with, one that taught Love, change to a religion that preached that anyone different was to be treated with distrust, and even to be hated.  This was one of the major reason I turned my back on faith, and religion as a whole.  When Canada’s Supreme Court was hearing arguments about Marriage Equality, more than ten years ago, pastors, ministers, priests, etc., were shouting from their pulpits about how gay people were out to destroy Canada.  The “sanctity” of marriage was being threatened.  Read the headlines in states where Equality is being debated, they’re the same tired arguments that we had here.  Extremists have claimed ownership of an institution that vastly predates their religion.

Throughout my life, I was taught to treat others the way I would like to be treated.  This has stuck with me.  It’s my conviction that everyone deserves respect, has value, and has a reason to be here, on earth.  I give to, and support others, not because of a promise of reward, (eternity in heaven) or the threat of punishment if I don’t, (eternity in hell) but simply because it’s the right thing to do.  This is the only life I’m going to get, I want to make the best of it.

So, how do we answer them?  We do it by picking up the weapon they throw at us, and using it as a shield.  For every one of the six bible verses that speak (in certain interpretations) against homosexuality, and Equality, there are a number of verses that speak of Love.  Let’s look at a few.

John 13:34   “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

I’ve spoken about this verse in a previous blog.  In my opinion, this means unconditionally loving each other.  Jesus didn’t say “Love one another, except people whose lifestyle you don’t like.” He simply said “love each other,” wholly, completely, and without condition or exception.

Mark 12:30  “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Again…wholly, completely, and without condition or exception.  Yes, admittedly, there are things about ourselves we may not “love” completely, but as Christians, you are commanded to Love your neighbor.  You’re not allowed to pick and choose which neighbor you love, just told to love them ALL.

John 8:7 “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

Who, among the huge number of “Christians,” is without sin?  No body.  Not one.  ‘Nuff said.

Matthew 7:1-3 “1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Who are you to judge?  Who are you to decide what is and isn’t a “sin?”  How dare you?  How can you put yourself in the place of the god you purport to follow, and decide the fate of another person?  If you’re looking for something negative in people, look no further than the closest mirror.  You have no qualms about calling out other people’s differences, yet you can’t even see the faults in yourself.  This is a verse about karma.  That which you give out, will come back to you.  Try to remember that.

Matthew 25:40 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

This is the big one.  This is the one that these Christian tyrants seem to forget.  He’s not just talking about the good things you do for people.  This isn’t just about how you lift people, about what sort of, in any, charitable work you do.  This is also about the damage you do.  If you belittle, degrade, or harm another person, you’re doing the same thing to the one person you claim to follow.  So for every LGBT church member, or the members of their family, you bar from your churches, for every gay or transgender whose funeral you refuse to allow in your church, for every kid you force into “conversion therapy,” you’re doing the same thing to Jesus. Is that what you mean to do?

These verses are in my opinion, the real definition of what it is to be a follower of “Christ.”  The people that truly live by them are to me, what Christians should be.  On the other hand, people who use their translation of the bible as a weapon, deserve no respect.  It infuriates me to read that women should be kept in their place, their reproductive rights should be decided by a male dominated government, that LGBT people are “less than” and don’t deserve the same rights as straight people.  (Comments like these have been stated by a number of “men of God.”) What inspires me, is the (slowly) growing number of people of faith that are openly supporting Human Rights. (of all kinds)

Cory Booker said it best:  “Before you speak to me about your religion, first show me in how you treat people.  Before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children.”

My addition to his quote:  “Show me you DESERVE to be called a Christian” and someday, I might want might want to be called one again, too.

Ken

My Christmas Wish List 2014

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Usually, during the holidays, I like to sit and reflect on the past year.  Highlights, celebrations, accomplishments, etc.  This year, I’ve decided to take a slightly different approach.  I’m going to spend most of my time here looking forward, and only a moment on where we have been…  If you want to be reminded of my year, please take a quick look at my Facebook timeline.  It’s all been pretty much documented, there.

2014 was a banner year in so many ways.  Personal change, growth, trying new things, (including blogging!)   Watching with intense pride as archaic discrimination falls in state after state, and hoping that in some small way I was able to help.  Watching as friends succeed, time after time.  Finally getting to meet, in person, people who have come to mean so much to me.  Helping the world celebrate Pride.

Not everything was good, though.  We watched as the Republicans took control.  We listened to evangelical pastors belittled us, and spreading their hatred.  We saw governments implement laws codifying hatred.  We saw pain, and even death, around the world.  But through it all, we’ve endured, and even triumphed.

Here’s what I wish for:

I wish for Equality.  For everyone.  We’re all part of the same, Human race, yet we view people who are different from us with suspicion, fear, and hatred.  It doesn’t matter what colour we are, what culture we come from, what gender we are, who we love, who, or what we worship, or how much money we have, we’re all the same.  Is it so much to ask that we treat all of our fellow humans with the same respect?

I wish for Peace.  Yes, I know that this is the standard wish for the holiday season, but, there you have it.  My wish for peace is more than just a wish for the end of war.  It’s a wish that everyone finds their own inner peace.  That we can all lay our personal inner demons to rest, and find calm.   Contentment.  Peace.

I wish for everyone, Joy.  Joy in living.  Joy in going about our daily rituals.  Joy in the people who surround us.  Too often, we first see the negative in events and situations.  Take a moment to look for a positive, and find Joy in it.  There truly is a silver lining.

I wish for Love.  The love of family and friends.  But most importantly, I wish that everyone has the chance to find the love of self.  The sad reality is that so many are in a place in their lives in which they are filled with self-loathing.  My hope is that they can see in themselves that which others see.  There is beauty in each of us, and once we find even the smallest part of that beauty, the ability to begin to love ourselves, and by extension, others, is destined to follow.

I wish that each of us find again, a sense of Wonder.  There’s nothing more beautiful than the face of a child “discovering” something.  The wide eyes, the look of amazement…Wonder.  Sadly, most of us lose that as we get older.  I would love nothing more than to see that look on the faces of adults as they see something wonderful, new, un-discovered.  It does happen, just not nearly enough.

I wish for Wealth for all.  Not monetary gain, nothing to do with “stuff.”  I wish for everyone a wealth of friends, family, love.  I would like nothing more than to see families reunited, after being estranged from each other, for whatever reason.  It breaks my heart hearing about teens being disowned by parents for whatever reason.  Siblings not talking for years after an argument.  Friends becoming enemies.  We are all we have in this world, we should fight to hold on to these relationships.

These are my wishes for the world in 2015.  My hope is that each Human on the planet eventually is given these things.  In my opinion, this is what this, one of the most important holidays of the year means.  It doesn’t matter what your culture, or religion teaches, the giving of these gifts is the true purpose of this time of year.

My wishes for everyone include all of these things.  You are all important, not only to me, but to humanity as a whole.  May your New Year, and your whole life be filled with Equality, Peace, Joy, Love, Wonder and Wealth.

All my love:

Ken

A Challenge to my “Family and Friends of Faith”

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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

Requiem for my Friend, Who Did Not Die…But Instead, Stepped Into a Church

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I lost a friend recently.  No, this person didn’t die, but it feels the same to me.  I’ve known this person for a while, we got along very well, agreed on pretty much everything, and could talk for hours about things we were passionate about.  A few months ago, the conversations began to be a bit strained.  I found out he’d been having some “issues,” and on his parent’s advice decided to talk with the pastor of the rather evangelical church he’d grown up in, but had left, years ago.

Suddenly, he was trying to re-convert me.  The things we had agreed on were now bones of contention.  Freedom of religion, including my freedom FROM religion.  Human rights, equality, even morality was questioned.   Conversations dissolved into arguments.   Eventually, he told me that he could no longer allow me to try to “drag him into the swamp of sin that I had chosen to live in.”

This opened up a number of old wounds that I thought had healed.  They were, apparently only just scabbed over.  I’m usually quite resistant to comments like this, but coming from someone I thought was a close friend, someone who had been “on my side” in these issues, kinda blind-sided me.  And so the friendship ended.

I spent the last couple of weeks questioning whether or not I was doing “the right thing.”  Questioning if I should take a less forceful approach to the issues I believe in.  Wondering who the next person would be that would turn on me like this.  My questions were answered over the last week.  Some of the most amazing, strongest people I know helped to lift my spirits.  I honestly didn’t truly believe that people looked to me for inspiration, looked to me as someone they could lean on, someone who gave them strength.  But a number of people have proven me wrong.  (in a wonderful way)  I had a Facebook chat the other night with my sister in Alberta.  She had just gotten home from spending the day at Medicine Hat Pride.  Apparently, one of her friends was talking about his “favourite Facebook page” (The Equality Mantra) and she surprised him by telling him that her brother is one of the administrators of the page.  By the sound of it he was “fangirling”  (Sharon’s description) for the rest of the day!    It’s silly things like this that make you feel that what you do is worthwhile.

The question this event raised for me is this:  Why do people think that they have the right to impose their view and beliefs on other people?  Sure, you can tell me that by my postings, and blogs, I’m doing the same thing.  The difference is that you can choose to ignore my blogs, and posts, or delete or block me.  But in a face to face conversation, but to take the most deeply held personal beliefs, the front and centre convictions, the most personal truths that someone has shared with you, and to and to crush them because the no longer match your own, is a violation.

It will be difficult to place that kind of trust in others, now.  To put myself in a position in which I share my instincts, my spiritual intuitions, to open up about my deepest, most personal self.  This is the saddest outcome of the past few weeks.  Can I place myself in this position again?  Will I be safe to open my “soul” to a confidant?  Do I need to guard myself from having myself stomped on and thrown back at me because deep in my core I’m “different?”   Can I trust people not to betray my thoughts, my beliefs, my secrets?

So for now, I will mourn the loss of a friendship.  The pain will diminish, life goes on.  At the same time, I celebrate the friendships I have.  The ones that inspire me, raise me up, give me strength.  I celebrate my family, for helping to make me the man I am, for teaching me to stand up for what I believe in.  I celebrate my kids, and grandsons, because in them I see that there is hope for the future.  I’m going to use these relationships to bandage up those old wounds, and to help the pain go away.

My deepest wish is that someday every person will come to the realization that each of us is unique, each of us has a reason to be here, and each of us has equal value to each other.  We only have this life.  Let’s give it our all, and make the best of it.

Ken

Tolerance. Is it Enough?

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tol·er·ance [tol-er-uhns]  

noun

1.a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions,      practices, racereligion,nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom       from bigotry.

2.a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

3.interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, un-dogmatic viewpoint.

4.the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: My tolerance of noise is limited.

During the last few years, as I’ve been working with different Gay Rights and marriage equality pages, I’ve noticed the increasing use of the word tolerance. Recently, a rather large number of articles, opinions and blogs have been released asking for tolerance. Religion must learn to tolerate homosexuality if it wants to keep members, parents should tolerate their children when they come out, people should tolerate their gay co-workers, the list goes on. Is tolerance enough? I’m not sure it is.

In my opinion, tolerance is simply a grudging allowance of something. You tolerate a screaming child in a restaurant, a puppy making a mess, etc. Is this what we want of the world? Is this what we’re striving for? I don’t think so.

Okay, then. If this is the case, what do we want?

ac·cept·ance [ak-sep-tuhns]  

noun

  1. the act of taking or receiving something offered.
  2. favourable reception; approval; favour.
  3. the act of assenting or believing: acceptance of a theory.
  4. the fact or state of being accepted or acceptable.

Read #2. Read it again. THIS is what we should really be striving for. The difference between tolerance and acceptance is big, and I’m realistic enough to know that there are a large number of people in the world that simply will not accept, or even tolerate, the homosexual community as a whole, and we have to accept that. But, there are enough people who are “on the fence” and we can work to sway their opinions. We have made huge strides in the past decade, especially in the last four years. But we still have a lot of work to do.

In order to do this, it’s my opinion that we need to work more closely with our allies. With the people who have accepted us. These are probably the people who will be best able to change the minds of those that oppose us. They don’t really have a vested interest in our work for equality, but agree that it needs to happen. They’ve seen that opposition to their brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, parents, friends is wrong, and have decided to embrace us as equals. They are the people who can best explain why they made their decisions. In my opinion, the hardest of our opponents are more likely to listen to them than us. Now, I’m definitely NOT saying we should step back and allow others to do the work for us, but we should have more of our allies join us “on the front lines.”

With social media, we have, and are using, the perfect platform to increase exposure of our eventual goal. We need to figure out the best way to gain the acceptance of the majority of the population, not only here in North America, but world-wide. In a lot of ways, I’m not sure people realize the scale of the work we are doing. This is not a local problem, it’s global. Just because there are atrocities occurring in other countries, does not mean it’s not part of OUR struggle.

Even here, in North America, there are at least eighteen states considering so-called “Religious Freedom” bills. These bills will codify discrimination in state law. Anyone will be able to discriminate against anyone, (read the LGBT community) based on “religious belief.”   

Recently, a Florida church called a grieving mother, the night before her son’s funeral, to inform her that the ceremony could not take place in the church because the deceased was gay.  The pastor made this incredibly heartless decision because he said he’s a “man of god.”   “Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church,” the pastor said. “I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle [sic], but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles.” 

As a Dad, I can’t begin to imagine the heartbreak of having to bury a child.  And to have salt rubbed into that wound by your family church and pastor is, in my opinion, unforgivable.  This is the kind of thing that started my personal divide with religion.  I used to volunteer as a leader of a church-based boy’s club, similar to scouts.  I was asked to resign, after five years, because my divorce, and upcoming second marriage made me an “unsuitable role model.” 

Another problem is that this lack of acceptance is not only from sources like religious institutions.  Unfortunately, it seems to be somewhat internal, as well.  Recently, there have been articles released detailing what looks like a separation within the LGBT community.  One explains in great detail how the LGB part of us is not only ignoring the T part, but essentially “throwing them to the wolves” in order to advance our own “agenda.”  http://prospect.org/article/45-years-after-stonewall-lgbt-movement-has-transphobia-problem

While I agree completely that greater transgender understanding, education and insight are needed in our movement, claiming that all LGB people are “against” all T people is a huge, and unfair generalization.  We NEED to work together as a cohesive unit in order to be taken seriously.  Those that oppose us are providing a united front in their opposition.  The main source of opposition is the religious front.  While they may be from different religions, with totally different views on a lot of subjects, they are definitely united in their anger and hatred of our community as a whole.  For this war, they’ve put their other differences aside.  They’ve strengthened themselves by agreeing on ONE small aspect of their beliefs.  We, as LGBT, allies and friends have so much more in common with each other than one tenuous belief.  Let’s use this commonality to stand up, together, and fight this war.

“Acceptance is not love. You love a person because he or she has lovable traits, but you accept everybody just because they’re alive and human.”   ~   Albert Ellis

 

A final thought.  To quote a dear friend, “there are three words to this continuum.”  Once we’ve gotten past being “tolerated,” and gained acceptance as integral parts of the human race, then we, along with the rest of the world can…

Celebrate:

Verb

  1. To observe (a day) or commemorate (an event) with ceremonies or festivities.
  2. To praise widely or to present to widespread and favorable public notice, as through newspapers or novels.
  3. To have or participate in a party, drinking spree, or uninhibited good time

And trust me, the LGBT community KNOWS how to celebrate!