Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Domino Effect

After the recent Supreme Court rulings concerning gay marriage, you can rest assured that gay marriage is coming to the whole land and that equal protection under the law will ensue. I think this is a really good thing, a wrong that has finally been righted, and I rejoice because of it.

I don’t think it really matters what I think, or what anyone else thinks, when it comes to the individual life choices of each person. Each person must live and die according to his or her own beliefs, and in this country, we have traditionally allowed for such a thing in most regards. However, we have tended to reach a bit too far into the bedroom, when really we should simply mind our own business and allow people the freedom to live as they choose—so long as they aren’t hurting others in the process.

From a legal perspective, I see nothing wrong whatsoever with allowing gay couples the right to marry. And I say this because, legally speaking, marriage is not defined by the same standards as Christian (or any other religious) marriage. We do allow secular marriages each and every day in this country. A man can fly to Vegas overnight, get drunk, marry the first hooker that walks by him, and be divorced the following afternoon. Was it right? No, but we have allowed that sort of thing for decades now.

We have allowed secular marriages to take place. We have allowed people to marry and divorce upon their whims, and haven’t gotten in the way. We have done this for heterosexual couples. However, when it comes to homosexual couples, we as a society, for the most part, have not legally recognized their unions. We have not permitted them to marry. We have not allowed them the freedom to decide upon what sort of unions they enter into, and have not granted them the same rights as we have heterosexual couples. My question is why? If a gay couple wants to be married is this really so wrong (outside of a religious context)? Keep in mind that marriage, as it has already been defined on the books in most of this country, is not singularly allowed with only religious implications in mind; we do have secular marriages and have for pretty much our entire existence. This being the case, why not allow the marriage of homosexual couples? Why not grant them the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples? By not allowing these things, you are legally discriminating. You are purposefully acknowledging that one union is not as good as another, and this forces those who may disagree with you to live by your personal beliefs, rather than their own. And what gives anyone the right to force their beliefs on such a matter onto others?

Whether I agree with gay marriage or not, I do not think I have any right to force my beliefs onto others. I don’t have a right to prevent people from marrying, nor do I have a right to force anyone to marry.

I keep in mind the golden rule when thinking about this: “do unto others as you would have done unto you.” I would not want anyone telling me I could not marry the person I love, or that I could not get the same sort of benefits as other married couples just because they don’t like my choice of partners. So, I will not tell anyone else they cannot marry the person they love, or cannot have the same benefits granted to everybody else. Instead, I will allow them the freedom to make their own choices, and grant them the same privileges as everybody else.

In doing so, it doesn’t mean that I am going against the church, or turning my back on traditional marriage, or anything like that. It just means that I think it is right to allow others to make up their own minds and to live according to their own beliefs, without me shoving my own beliefs down their throats and forcing them to live in a way that isn’t right for them.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Anyone who knows me well would probably say that I don’t handle change very well. I like getting into a routine and knowing what to expect. I feel a sort of comfort from this. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t enjoy a little spontaneity every once in a while or that I can’t recognize when change must happen, or that I’m completely against anything ever changing. It just means that I don’t tend to like life changing surprises, especially if I’m ill prepared for them, in disagreement of their effects, if it means I have to completely readjust or rethink my plans in life, or if I have to give up some greater level of control over my life.

Having said all of this, I will now say something that will sound completely contradictory. For quite some time now I have been earnestly trying to allow God to lead me in my life. I think if one is truly going to call Jesus the Lord of their life, then this must happen. Naturally, though, this means that I am not going to be the one planning a good part of my life, but rather having it planned and directed for me by God, and interjected by many, many possible changes—and God has certainly thrown me some curveballs to have to deal with.

When change is introduced in one’s life, it is easy to worry. I try not to worry though, desperately recognizing the truths that it cannot add even a second to my life and is nothing more than a chasing after the wind, meaningless. Keeping this in mind has certainly helped me to accept and look for the good in any changes that have taken place in my life though, and to not be so completely against them.

Something I’ve thought a lot about the last few weeks, considering the closing of Exodus International, is exactly what sort of help and/or change Exodus actually brought about in me. I believe I was genuinely helped by them, and because of their help, certain things have definitely changed in me. It was not help through reparative therapy, though, but by the hope of it, and mostly by their simply reaching out to me in kindness and understanding at a time when I really needed someone to.

I didn’t want to be gay. This thought dominated me from the first moment I realized I was attracted to other men. I thought my parents and other family members would reject me, I thought friends would reject me, and I thought God would reject me. I didn’t want to be rejected by anyone for this reason. I was though. And I did have a certain level of self-hatred because of it. I was different and I didn’t want to be. I felt inferior, like I was broken in comparison to other guys. All of this was because I was gay, and I thought that if I could just not be gay, everything would be better.

I prayed for God to change me, to help me, more times than I can even remember.

When I sought out help from Exodus, I literally had no place else I felt like I could turn to. I don’t exaggerate when I say that. They were the only refuge I could find to help me in any way regarding my struggles (and believe me, I tried). I felt like they understood me. They welcomed me. They told me I could change, but to focus first and foremost on my relationship with God.

I should clarify something here. I said “they” told me, but what I should have said more specifically was that my counselor, Paul, was the one mostly telling me this. He was one of only about a handful of contacts I ever made through Exodus, but was my primary contact above all others. Paul helped me the most. He listened, comforted me, gave solid Christian advice, encouraged me, and prayed for me—he is one of the kindest and Godliest men I have ever known, and there is nearly nothing I can think of by looking back that I can say he was wrong about. He just wanted to help, and I think he knew how much I needed it.

Even though Paul did believe it was possible for me to change my sexual orientation, he never pushed that. He always tried far more to encourage me to build my relationships with others, to develop and work on some goals in life, and to grow stronger in my faith (he looked beyond my sexual orientation). If anyone ever pushed orientation change, it was me. After all, I was the one who wanted it, and wrongfully thought that a lot of my life’s problems would go away if I could just change.

After many years of trying, I realized the change I wanted wasn’t happening. I admit that I got far too tired of trying, but more importantly, it no longer made sense to me to try. I no longer believed I should try. This isn’t to suggest, however, that certain positive changes weren’t taking place during that time though. They were. It’s just that my sexual orientation wasn’t one of them. And in some ways, I realize that this may be for the best.

I believe the world needs gay Christians—people who can help build a bridge between the church and individuals who have all too often felt completely excluded or pushed away from her. Having a foot in both worlds, I can certainly help to build that bridge. Furthermore, I recognize that trying to change my sexuality just isn’t worth my time when I think about all the greater things I could be doing with it; not just for myself, but for God and others as well. I’ve realized that in some ways, it is definitely better to simply accept my sexuality for what it is, rather than to focus so much time worrying about it. That, in itself, has been a tremendous change for me.

Looking back, I can say I have changed or developed many beliefs over the years, either entirely or in part. For one, I don’t think I care nearly so much about what others think or believe as I used to. And this is good because it means I can just be myself and not be so hurt by the action or inaction of others. Secondly, I’m not so quick to act upon the advice or thoughts of others without first doing a whole heap of thinking on my own. Keeping an open mind and being willing to listen to the thoughts and ideas of others certainly can go a long way. Thirdly, I have decided that at least some people in this world really are worth knowing and I should try harder to get to know them. Fourthly, I’ve realized that worrying gets me nowhere, even if I still find this a hard habit to break at times. Fifthly, I know God doesn’t hold anything against me for being gay, which is a huge load of relief. Sixthly, hope is incredibly important, but no less than faith and reason. Seventhly, it is good to be humble and to admit my weaknesses. Eighthly, not everybody is going to like me, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t still try to like and be nice to them. Ninthly, it’s good to have goals and dreams in life, just so long as I don’t forget to live a little in between the planning, working, and (hopeful) eventual achievement of said goals and dreams. Tenthly, it’s better to think positive and look for the good in every situation, and in every person, than to think the worst. And the most important is to hold onto God no matter what, trusting Him in all things. I say this because He’s the only person I’ve ever known to be with me completely through thick and thin. He has done so much for me. Without him, I’d be lost. I also say to trust Him in all things because only He can ever truly know what is best for us.

When I think of change, I recognize it as something that can be good or bad, expected or unexpected, wanted or unwanted, but something that does happen for each and every one of us. It is unavoidable. And we can either make the best of it, or the worst of it.

For many years, Exodus’ slogan was “change is possible”. I know many people never felt that they actually helped to change anything for them, but for me, they did. They may not have helped me to change my sexuality, but they were a part of many other changes, which have certainly done me and others a great deal of good. There is no doubt in my mind that God did in fact use them to help me as I’d pleaded so often for Him to do. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

With all of this in mind, I say to be hopeful, to trust God, to follow God, to look for the good in all things, and to try your best not to worry. And do not be troubled in whatever changes come your way.

This, at least, is what I am going to try my best to do.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gabriel Tells It Like It Is

There’s “no bloody point”. That’s for sure. There is no reason in the world for anyone to feel bad about being gay. And there is absolutely no reason in the world to try changing your sexual orientation. Just let it be what it is, don’t worry about it, and don’t let it get you down.

Go back five or ten years ago and it would have been unthinkable for me to believe these things. But with many years under my belt, many years of trying to change my sexual orientation, and much knowledge gained throughout that time, I can say that this is absolutely true.

God may not have meant for anyone to be gay. I don’t know that. For all I know, maybe he did. But what I do know is that a person’s sexual orientation, or their sexual attractions, does not matter in the least little bit. It’s what you do with those attractions that can make a difference.

If you believe homosexual sexual experiences are sinful, in conjunction with traditional Christian thought and teaching, then you should abstain from them, lest you be in sin. If you do not believe they are sinful, contrary to traditional Christian thought and teaching, then let your conscience be your guide (that means that maybe you are sinning, but that depends on what is undeniable truth, something that none of us might ever know beyond any shadow of a doubt in this lifetime, and which could go either way according to our understanding of the truth and upon how we are judged).

I have reasons to believe homosexual sexual experiences are sinful and reasons to believe that they are not. I’m not one-hundred percent sure what is the truth. Certain things, I believe, may not be entirely accurate or as well thought through as they should have been concerning traditional teachings. However, certain other things concerning traditional teachings do hold some weight for me. I can see how perhaps God did not intend for anyone to be gay (at least in the beginning) and how there is an element to heterosexual sexual experiences (through marriage) being of a greater design, at least in regards to being able to produce something totally new through the union of such a couple. However, I can also see how certain authors of the bible and others throughout Christian past might have based their beliefs against homosexuality on certain untruths—probably unintentionally, but perhaps also out of certain cultural biases or misunderstandings at the time in which they lived. I can also see how biblical teaching may have been misunderstood throughout the years through varying translations and the like of the original texts.

Something I’ve learned is that throughout Christianity, there are people (both gay and straight) who have believed differently on this matter. Some people believe traditional teaching is truth, therefore making homosexual experiences sinful, while others believe traditional teaching is wrong, making homosexual experiences okay. Perhaps anything anyone can ever really do to know which stance to take on this matter is to allow the Holy Spirit to influence them, and to dictate their beliefs and actions upon that influence.

But, again, I say there is no reason in the world to worry about what your sexual orientation might be. If you are gay, so what? You’re not sinning just by being gay, or by having sexual attractions or desires for those of the same sex. Depending on your beliefs, you’re only completely natural, or you’re just being tempted. That is all—so long as we’re only talking about attractions and desires, rather than actions taken upon them.

Please read Gabriel’s article about this (the link above). He is a very wise old friend of mine and he can write about these things so much better than I can.

I know what I’m saying may be very difficult for some people reading this to accept. I’ve been there and done that. As I said, go back just a few years ago and I’d have not believed this at all. I was so convinced that I was just some sort of freak that I couldn’t see the truth. I couldn’t see how much love God really has for me, or how little one’s sexual orientation really does matter in the grand scheme of things. I’m not asking you to trust me about this though. I’m just asking that you keep an open mind and try not to hold something that you may dislike about yourself over your head. Don’t let it ruin your self-esteem. Don’t let it destroy your value as a human being. And don’t ever allow anyone else to do those things to you either—whether concerning your sexuality or anything else about you.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

If You Could Read My Mind

I love this song.  It's so soothing, peaceful, and just overall beautiful--even if it is about a failed relationship.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Not Too Well

I’m not sure what it is, but the last couple of days I really haven’t felt very well. I’ve felt down, or depressed. This happens to me every once in a while and thankfully it has been a while now since the last time. But it seems to have landed squarely on me yet again.

I’m feeling a lot of pressure. I need a job (and there are a few I’m trying for--please pray for me about this), I have many family members needing my help, I have several projects of my own I’d like to finish but never seem to get enough time to finish them, and there are many decisions I’m just having to make very quickly. I feel tired, and to a very large extent, I just wish everyone around me would back off some.

On top of all this, I really wish I could find a boyfriend. I’m getting older and I know the older a person gets the harder this sort of thing usually becomes. That aside, I’m just ready for that sort of thing. I mean, I could spend my whole life alone and probably be content enough, but I would like to find someone who I truly could spend my life with and be happy together. I don’t think I want to be alone, content or not.

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago, mostly dealing with changes in one’s life and trying not to worry. I haven’t posted it yet, because since writing it, I seem to have worried quite a lot about a lot of things, even though I’ve been trying really hard not to. I probably will still post it eventually, but I might need to rework it some first.

You know, I really don’t like a lot about my life. It’s not that things are really bad. It’s just that I’m tired of the way a lot of things have been. I want to have a better job, I want to be out on my own, I want my parents to actually give a darn and “parent” me when I need them to and to get out of my way when I need to take the lead myself, I wish I didn’t have to worry so much about money, and I wish… I just wish I didn’t feel quite so stuck feeling all the time. I feel like I can’t be who I want to be—in virtually any regard—and I’m so sick of that feeling.

I’m sure I’m just whining, and probably no one really wants to hear or read any of this. I guess I just need to vent a little and this forum seems to be a great refuge at the moment.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Zimmerman vs. the World

Scenario 1:

It’s a dark night and it’s raining. A neighborhood watchman sits in his car and sees a young man walking by. For various reasons, he finds the behavior of the young man to be suspicious. He calls 911 and is told to wait for police. Worrying the young man, who fits the description of other young men who had recently robbed several houses in the neighborhood and not been caught, may get out of view and do who knows what, he decides to follow him and see where he goes. The young man notices a man is following behind him. He turns around and confronts the watchman, initiating a fight, wherein he winds up on top of the watchman, throwing punches at the man’s face, breaking his nose and causing his head to be repeatedly thrown back onto a hard sidewalk. Fearing for his life, the watchman—even more scared now about this young man than he was to begin with—begins screaming for help and trying to reach for his gun. The young man sees the gun and also begins reaching for it. But the watchman gets it first and shoots the young man who is on top of him. The young man falls to the side and the watchman restrains him. Fellow neighbors begin showing up to the scene, and the police arrive. The young man dies, and the neighborhood watchmen claims self defense. He is initially free of any charges being brought against him, but is eventually arrested, murder 2 and manslaughter charges are brought up against him, and he is tried in a court of his peers who agree he was defending himself, having no ill intent in the matter. He is found, rightfully, not guilty of any crime.

Scenario 2:

It’s a dark night and it’s raining. A young kid is walking back to his home. He is minding his own business and doing nothing wrong. Nearby, a neighborhood watchman is on guard. He is mad about all the black hoodlums who have recently robbed his neighborhood and gotten away with it. He sees this kid walking by. The kid fits the description. He’s black and young. Furthermore, he’s wearing a hoodie over his head. The neighborhood watchman believes the kid must be up to no good. He calls 911 and is told to stay in his car. He decides he’ll follow the kid instead, because he just can’t stand the thought of another one of these “fucking niggers” getting away with it. He menacingly follows behind the kid. The kid sees him and becomes scared for his life. The kid turns around and confronts this man following him. Then the neighborhood watchman pulls out his gun. The kid begins fighting the watchman, defending himself. He screams for help, but no one comes. The watchman is able to shoot the kid and he dies as others show up at the scene. The neighborhood watchman has just committed a brutal hate crime, but he is able to get away with it simply because he is white and the kid was black. However, after much strength in outrage, charges are brought against the watchman and he is tried in a court of his peers. For some unknown, outrageous reason though, the jury of that court finds him not guilty. The racist, gun happy, wannabe cop is wrongfully allowed to go free.

This case has honestly frustrated the hell out of me. To begin with, I am saddened that a young seventeen year old was shot and killed. And it probably wouldn’t have happened had George Zimmerman simply stayed put after calling 911. However, had Zimmerman stayed put, and had Trayvon Martin actually been up to no good as he believed, then Martin could have committed a crime and gotten away with it. Furthermore, it’s not a crime to walk behind someone. So, I can’t completely say that I think Zimmerman was wrong by following Martin, regardless of his reasons for doing so.

I’m also frustrated by the way so many have responded to this case. A lot of assumptions have been made, and the media itself has even outright lied about some of the facts surrounding it. Certain pieces of evidence or information were purposefully withheld from the defense. The Black Panthers offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of Zimmerman. Several black leaders and politicians tried interjecting themselves into the case, and even in some regards stirred up emotions against Zimmerman. I’m bothered by most of this because it stirs up a mob mentality, jeopardizes our legal system, enrages people unnecessarily, and skews the truth.

It also frustrates me that the facts of this case do more to back scenario 1 than they do scenario 2, and yet so many people have wanted to completely ignore so many of the facts in order to promote their own agendas, or perhaps their own biases.

I’ve heard many people say, “Well, why was he (Zimmerman) following this kid/child?” My response is to first clarify what a kid and/or child is. A seventeen year old, over six feet tall, former football player is not exactly a child or kid in my mind. The notion that Martin was a kid was fueled first and foremost by the media who showed only a photo of Martin when he was 12, rather than 17 at the time of the shooting. He was a teenager, or a young adult male. He was taller and by all accounts even stronger than Zimmerman. Secondly, I would respond, “Since when is it a crime to follow, or to walk behind, another person?” It doesn’t really matter why Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin. I say that because Zimmerman following Martin does not give Martin the right to turn around and start beating Zimmerman up. That is, unless Zimmerman pulled a gun on Martin first. However, we have no proof of that happening, and should not start reaching conclusions based on unfounded assumptions. And, lastly, could it be that perhaps Zimmerman only followed Martin because he wanted to keep tabs on him? Could it not be as simple as that? Could it not be that Zimmerman thought Martin was acting suspiciously (whether warranted or not), that he knew it would probably take the police ten to fifteen more minutes to respond, and that he just wanted to keep a watch on what this young man was doing and where he was going? How different is that from anything a regular cop would do?

On another matter, I want to address this whole issue of race being some motivator to Zimmerman supposedly going after Martin. For starters, Zimmerman is not fully white. He is only half white. His other half is Hispanic. So, being of mixed race, I do find it incredible that Zimmerman would be racist. More than likely he had himself been made fun of or ridiculed at some point in his life for having parents of mixed race. That’s in the first place. Secondly, he had many black friends who came forward early on saying there wasn’t a racist bone in his body. He’d taken a black girl to his prom, he had grown up with black kids in his house, and he’d even mentored black kids as an adult. All those things bring some serious doubt to my mind that Zimmerman is a racist. Furthermore, it occurs to me that a great many people in the media lied about Zimmerman’s past statements in order to make him appear racist. He was reported as saying, “These fucking niggers always get away with it”, when in fact he said, “These fucking punks always get away with it.” Now, we may be splitting hairs here to some people’s minds, but there is a difference between the words nigger and punk. Nigger is used as an expletive of sorts against blacks. Punk, however, could be used to characterize anyone of any race, and infers to them being a ruffian of sorts. There is a big difference between the two I think. The first would indeed make Zimmerman out to be racist. The second, however, makes him a concerned citizen. The media chose to lie about what he said in order to make him out to be a racist. I find this completely negligent and disgusting on the part of the media. It is their fault, in part, for fueling flames and riling people up in anger unnecessarily.

At best, perhaps Zimmerman did follow Martin and find him to be a suspicious character because he was black, but not because Zimmerman didn’t like blacks, rather because it had been young black men who had recently broken in to a few homes in the area and Trayvon Martin simply matched their description. There is absolutely nothing about this case which would lead me to believe that Zimmerman was some horrible racist out to take down a young black man. I dare anyone screaming that that’s the case to actually produce any real evidence of it. So far, I’ve heard nothing but speculation and assumption.

Let me speak my mind now, and hate me if you will…

Not every bad thing that happens to a black person happens to them because they are black. Just as not every bad thing that happens to me happens because I am gay. Had Zimmerman been black, or had Martin been white, we would never have heard of this case at all. George Zimmerman never would have even been arrested and tried if either of those things were true. There just wasn’t any evidence to warrant an arrest. But because Zimmerman wasn’t black and Martin was, and underage at that, so many black leaders saw this as an incident to exploit and they did just that. And why would they do such a thing? Because it gives them a job, a voice, and political power. America is not in the 1950s anymore, nor is the south still full of institutionalized racism. Yet, so many black leaders obviously have felt that they cannot admit this. Naturally, if they did, they’d be out of a job, have less of a voice, and even less political power. That is why this case has become what it has. That is why racial tensions have been strained by this case. And I personally think that that has been an atrocity.

I am not a racist. I have had black friends in my life. Hell, my favorite childhood toy was a black rag doll. I have never been put off about being around blacks. But what does put me off is when I and others are accused of being racists whenever we don’t like something a black person has done. I don’t like President Obama, for example. Not because he’s black, but because I think his policies have been horrible for this country. On most issues, I think President Obama couldn’t be much more wrong than he’s been. But that does not make me a racist.

And it doesn’t matter to those who accuse George Zimmerman of racism that his background doesn’t support their claim, or that Martin beating the crap out of him is why Zimmerman actually shot him, or that it was Martin who actually undeniably brought racism into the altercation by calling Zimmerman a white cracker. No, none of that seems to matter. Nor does it matter that Martin had been suspended three times from school for fighting and that he had marijuana in his system at the time of the altercation. No, in their minds, he was simply an innocent twelve year old boy who was shot only because he was black. But I tell you, there was no proof whatsoever to assert this. It is a fiction.

In my opinion, justice has been done. The evidence provided just did not prove any racism or ill intent on the part of Zimmerman, nor that Trayvon Martin was just some innocent victim. What the evidence proved was that Zimmerman had to defend himself against Martin. That’s why he shot him. But for all those who simply refuse to see this, I ask you this: what would you think if Zimmerman had not shot Martin and Martin had continued beating him to death? What would you think of Zimmerman had he had no gun? What if Zimmerman had not been able to defend himself and Martin had gotten in just another blow or two? Had Trayvon Martin killed Zimmerman, would you still feel the same? Had George Zimmerman been black and Trayvon Martin been white would you still feel the same?

Having seen the complete nonsense surrounding this case, I feel so completely ashamed of so many of my fellow Americans. But I am glad that we have the justice system we have. Had Jesus been tried in America, the Pharisees would never have been able to pressure a conviction against him. He would have had his day in court and he would have been found not guilty. Now, I’m not trying to compare George Zimmerman to Jesus. Far from it.  For all I know, Zimmerman may have been guilty. But what I do know is that like Jesus, George Zimmerman has had many people outright lying, ignoring the facts, and inciting rage against him in order to pressure the powers that be to crucify him. Again I ask them though to provide their proof. Local authorities initially found none to bring charges against him, and after all the evidence was presented in court, except for a few more pieces which were excluded and which more than likely would have favored the defense, a jury of six people determined that George Zimmerman was not guilty.

As far as I’m concerned, justice has been done, and all those just trying to stir things up ought to just shut up and accept that for once in their lives they just might be wrong about something.

Having said all this, I am sympathetic to the fact that minorities have had to endure a great amount of injustice throughout the years under the law. But with the facts that have been presented, I simply do not believe that this was one of those cases, and that by trying to make it into one, they discredit themselves and weaken their own cases in other instances which truly are injustices worth fighting.