Sep 29, 2011

An Impasse

I like to think that everyone has the potential to grow. To expand their mind. To seek truth. To find peace and happiness and accept people for who they are, especially themselves.

But what if I'm wrong--what if some people can't change? Or worse, they can change, but they won't.

You shall not discover truth by being blinded by faith.

I read that in Malinda Lo's "Ash" a few years back, and it sank right in. I was always taught, growing up, that everyone else out there, all those unbelievers were blind, lost. Wandering souls in darkness.

But the truth, my reality is, I feel like I was blind my whole life, until I became an "unbeliever". It wasn't until I stepped outside of my blind faith, I found myself blinking in the light, freer than I've ever been. And a sense of peace filled my heart.

What if someone we love never accepts who we are...and they think that by not accepting me they are loving me. What if they are blind to it. What if they never change.

I don't know what that relationship does to you after time. Do you just drift apart...at this impasse? Does one of you break down and give in? Which will destroy you: letting go of your faith, which you life is built on, or holding onto it? I don't expect everyone to have the same experience with me, and I honestly don't know the answer to that question.

Blind faith by Forrest King

Sep 27, 2011

Pro-Family, Anti-Logic Citizens

Don't forget your pearl necklace ladies!
I recently started following this great blog, def shepherd, "observations from the intersection of religion, science, politics, and culture". Today he posted this report that just came out from the North Carolina Policy Council. I know this is not my state. But it's my country. And there are still organizations like this in every state.

Reading something like this brings quite a range of emotions. Disbelief that they are being serious. Extreme sadness that this is such a reality for so many people. Entertainment at the ridiculousness. Rage and indignation.  I know, I know. I shouldn't let it get to me.

I was pretty amused, as a designer, at the cover. It's like a stock photo of some glittery mardi gras masks. It earned a chuckle. All those "homosexual activists" running around in their bedazzled masks, promoting "the deception".

I don't know whether to laugh, scream, or cry.

I'm reading along through the pages of (poorly designed) bullshit, and I come across this quote and I am stunned.

"The redefinition of marriage will also strip all citizens of their rights to religious freedom and free speech—resulting in the silencing of anyone who dares to publicly express traditional values about sexuality, gender, and the family."

....what?......wait....WHAT???

Allowing gay couples to marry each other will strip ALL citizens of their religious freedom and free speech.

That is literally what they said.

Where, oh where, is the logic behind this? And who is actually buying this? If our country's laws don't comply with your personal religious beliefs and scriptures, then that means you are not free to practice or religion or speak freely about it? No one is taking away your beliefs. No one is taking away your rights. No one is taking away your freedom to publish these opinions.

The only thing you are being denied is the right to enshrine your personal religious beliefs in our country's laws. The whole point of our laws are to protect everyone, so that no one's beliefs are forced upon them.  So everyone is treated equally, and able to pursue happiness in this country. You will be able to continue exactly as you are, teaching your children what you choose to teach them. No one will force you to marry a same-sex partner or remain single. No one will deny you having or raising children. Your ignorant lifestyle will be yours to cherish forever*.


*I should warn you: your children and grandchildren will most likely look back on this time in our country's history with disgust and disbelief, and might be ashamed of some things you wrote. Logic is pretty contagious, and once it starts, it doesn't usually move backwards (slavery...women's rights...).

Sep 26, 2011

Why Homosexuality is Wrong*

*According to my 14-year-old self.

Children are sponges. They are born innocent and openminded and then they soak and soak and soak up everything in the environment around them. Not trying to brag, but I think I was a very good sponge.

I grew up in a very small private Baptist school and I was barely aware that something called homosexuality existed. I remember when I was young, in grade school, I played a song on the piano called The Gay Little Dancer.  Which I really liked! And when my older junior high sister and her friend were in a fit of giggles, I didn't know why. I thought gay meant happy.

As I became older and wiser, like her, I understood a little more what it meant.  But for some reason, I kind of thought it was just for guys--like the Sodomites in the Bible.

So when I ended up in a large public high school in 9th grade, I was a little, actually a lot, bewildered. There were a few openly gay kids there. This unsettled me, because I knew it was "wrong", I just couldn't remember exactly why. So I did a little research and wrote my own essay about it. That way, if I ever questioned it's morality again, or someone asked me my opinion, I would have a reference.

As I read this now, I am disturbed by how robotic I sound regurgitating everything I was taught. It is terrifying how easily influenced children are. I honestly feel sick reading this, violated and used. I feel like my brain was not my own as a child. I was being used to promote this agenda, and still today I am trying to "un-brainwash" myself.


Why is homosexuality WRONG?    By Ruth M.

Ever since Adam & Eve ate of the Tree of Life, sin has been in our nature as humans. Without God's help, it's impossible to avoid. For someone who doesn't know God, sin is a desire. The Bible does have laws against just about everything.Many people who read the Bible see the Old Testament as purely history, and view all the "laws" as unapplicable. There is some truth to this...all of those laws were under the old covenant; make sacrifices, celebrate this feast...etc. Why don't Christians today follow all of these rules? God simplified stuff. The New Covenant: Jesus came to earth, died for our sins, rose again, if we believe that we live forever with Him. No more sacrifices or "Must Do's" to get to heaven. But sin still does exist, God didn't say "It's ok to sin now, b/c you believe in my son." The New Testament dropped all the rules you had to live by from the Old Testament, but then it warns us of the sins we must stay away from in order to have a close relationship with Him.

Homosexuality is a sin mentioned in the Old Testament (Leviticus 18:22). The NIV version uses the word detestable - to dislike intensely; hate. There it is, God hates this sin. Take a look at all the verses (6-23) surrounding this one. Most people, after reading that list would say: "of course those are wrong, those are disgusting!" But then you get to 22 and think "That one's ok". What makes that one fine and all the rest bad?

You might be thinking, this is the Old Testament, doesn't count anymore. Turn to Romans Ch 1, verses 18-27. After reading that, take note of the remainder of the chapter listing other sins. Once again you might be thinking; "How bad the rest are...but what's so wrong with homosexuality?" 

The first reason is obvious. Males and Females sorta fit, if you know what I'm saying. Men don't fit with men, women don't go with women. That's just the way we were created. 

The second reason--it's just following through with the lust of the flesh. It will seem harmless, but sin in any form, destroys life; whether physical...or spiritual. You may have a desire for the same sex, BUT THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT O.K. The desire is not a problem, it's when you follow through with it. Maybe you have the desire to kill someone. JUST B/C YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING DOESN'T MEAN YOU SHOULD. God love us more than we will ever know. No matter what you think, he knows best and wants that for you. Just except it.

So are gay people and lesbians bad? Yep, just as bad as any other human being. We all sin, we just commit different sins. Christians are commanded to love everybody, with his perfect love. That means we should love homosexuals, drugatics, snobs...everybody, no exclusions. We can't compromise and say it's ok, God says it's not. But, we can love them. 

*Another verse reference: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11


Sep 24, 2011

Are You Seeing Anyone?

I've come to fear the standard question: "So, are you seeing anyone?"  Because my answer is not the standard answer. And I always think - you never know what someone's feelings toward homosexuality are. You may think you know someone, but that topic seems to be the wild card. And for some reason I have it in my brain, from movies, books, and real life observation, that it can go very, very bad.

But how much of that is real, is likely?  And how much of that is just perceived, or wrongly anticipated?

The other day I got the question from a co-worker. She's about my age, and we were driving somewhere just us. So I took a deep breath, had a little hesitation there, and then just went for it.

"So, is there someone special for you?"

"Um, yeah actually. I have a girlfriend, I just don't really talk about it at work, because some people aren't cool with that."

She didn't hesitate a bit.

"I think that's great!" She went on to say that she is totally cool with that, and that she wouldn't tell anyone, and that she thought it was just like any other relationship, and she doesn't really get why people have a problem with it. Apparently she has a female relative who has a girlfriend.

This kind of reaction is what makes me think this fear I have is irrational.  Because the truth is, I have never had a bad reaction from someone.  And by bad I mean, they got really grossed out, or told me something was wrong with me, or preached at me, or stopped talking to me, or ran out of the room screaming. Granted, this could still happen. But I'm starting to think it's not a high probability. The truth is, especially with people in my generation...it's not that big of a deal. There are gay people all around, on TV, in movies, at schools...and somehow I feel like it's becoming "uncool" to be homophobic.  Yay for positive peer pressure!

My fear is a little more alert when I know it's someone who has a Christian background like me. Because I know how I used to feel about homosexuality. And how do I know they don't still feel that way?

Well, tonight we're going to find out. I'm having dinner with two girls I grew up with at a small Baptist school. We haven't really spent time together for about... holy crap, about 6 years for one & 10 years for the other. Well, a lot happens in six to ten years, and they're both married, and I have no doubt the question is coming.

This is us in 7th grade. Yes, I'm the one with the short hair, weird baggy pants with the belt and button up shirt. Don't forget the socks with sandals. Hey! We were still coming out of the 90s.

What's the worst reaction you've gotten out of someone for being honest with them?

UPDATE 09-26-11: Just a quick update... in case someone was waiting in suspense. :-) The dinner with friends went GREAT and when they asked "the question", I didn't say it in a shameful way at all, I said with kind of a shy smile (granted, I had had a beer), "Actually...I have a girlfriend." And they were all like "Really?? Ruth that's great!" Surprised, but not disgusted. No screaming. And then I went on to brag about her like I am apt to do. Best coming out ever. They asked nice questions, and said they want to meet her. It felt so good! I didn't even get the impression that they were trying to size me up according to "lesbian stereotypes".  And then didn't get awkward or act different afterwords. They definitely passed the friend test.

Sep 22, 2011

Thoughts for Her

A state university nearby has begun a tradition running for four years now, of gathering stories/writings from women in the area and compiling them as a reader's theater performance (all entries are supposedly true and anonymous), and later publishing them in a book. Inspired by the actual "Vagina Monologues" by Eve Ensler, this club was certain they could find stories by local women that would be "just as feisty, difficult, inspiring, hilarious and moving as any in Ensler's play".

I was thumbing through a copy of this year's compilation, and I came across a poem--my poem! Over a year ago I had submitted several pieces, just on a whim, through their website. I didn't know much about it, and I wasn't able to attend the performance. I had nearly forgotten about it until there it was, my poem right in front of my eyes.

I'm not claiming it's a masterpiece, by any means. But I was very excited that it was selected for the book. It was a love poem I wrote for K a couple years ago. Forgive me for the cheesiness factor.  When you're in love, sometimes stuff sounds this way.  I hope to do more and better work for next year! Maybe even be part of the performance?

There it is, my love poem to K, for everyone to read.

Thoughts for Her

I am always thinking of you

When I think of you, I smile
When I see you, my heart swells
And when we kiss, it skips a beat

I love you, my dearest
With all of myself
My heart, soul, mind and body long to love you.

You are in my soul, you have my heart
Can I live without my heart?

But here is what I know

I am happy when you walk in the room
I know my favorite place is lying in your arms
I know the best things I've ever felt are your
touch and your kiss
I know I want to wake up next to you

I can't tell you how long we'll be together, love
I can't see where life will lead

All else passes away
I can never stop loving you.

Sep 21, 2011

A Little Local Pride

This past weekend I was so happy to attend my first local Pride event. When I was in Australia about 3 years ago, I went to this huge gay pride parade, but I had no pride at the time...and it was huge and crazy. This was on a quite smaller scale. I was actually really nervous to attend. But I had K with me and a new friend who is also gay, so we went in heads held high.

It was not a parade. More of a "pride in the park" kind of thing. Actually really laid back, I really enjoyed it! Some booths set up selling jewelry, magnets. A few churches, not converting, but sharing their "Open and Affirming" beliefs. A pet adoption booth. Mostly just some good causes that support GLBT pride and equality. A roller derby girls group looking for new members.  A DJ, some activities, some performances.

It was small and non-pretentious, and all the more heart-warming because of that. I left feeling very glad that we went and encouraged by this giving, beautiful community within a community.  And if there's a GLBT community here, I'll betcha there's one just about anywhere.

Gay people play cornhole too!
Readings.
Bellydancing!

Sep 19, 2011

Surprise surprise

Me and K are always trying to surprise each other. I don't know why this is, but it keeps things fun and exciting. Especially because we're long-distance most of the time.

So this weekend, I decided to surprise K and drive down to see her softball tournament. This is her first year playing with this league, and I had yet to see a game because they're always on weekdays. But this tourney was on Saturday, so I made a custom fan hat and loaded up my car first thing Saturday morning. I told her mom I was coming, but K had no clue.




That is a fuzzybug playing softball. My nickname for K.

So I'm about 2 hours into my 3-something hour drive, and I get a concerned call from K's mom. "Ruth, K just texted me and said she's on her way to your house! She said her game got canceled and she's driving up there to surprise you."

"What?!?"

I turned around. Called K. I eventually caught up to where she was, and we followed each other the rest of the way to my apartment. I thought it was funny. Out of all the times we've tried to surprise each other, we've never surprised each other at the same time! 

But I was happy, because we ended up like this:


It was such a great surprise weekend. Much different than I expected. I've been kinda sick, so it was nice having my K around to make me feel better. We cuddled and watched funny shows and went out for breakfast AND we even went to a Pride event (a first for both of us!). More on that to come. This is K and her cupcakes she made for some of the students she's mentoring while she's in school. It's a part time job, but she loves it, and she wanted to make them some cupcakes commemorating their first test.

Test #1 is Done! (Those symbols are some biology thing...)

Sep 12, 2011

This Shame In Us

Do you ever think about what life was like for gay people in a different time from our own?

About a year ago I finished reading "Rubyfruit Jungle" by Rita Mae Brown, and "Bittersweet" by Nevada Barr. It was kind of the first time I'd really considered what life must have been like for gay women (and men) in another time. Recently I've been reading "Secret Historian" by Justin Spring, a biography of a gay man, Samuel Steward, who was born at the beginning of the 20th century.  I would like to do a book review of it when I'm finished.

Alice Tolkas & Gertrude Stein, a lesbian couple Steward was very close to.

I'm a third of the way through right now, and some things in it have really got me thinking.

Due to his condition as an "invert", as it was called then, Steward did much research on sex and understanding his drive better. In his research, he came across a book called The Homosexual in America, written in 1951 by Edward Sagarin (published under the pseudonym Donald Webster Cory).

Sagarin wrote some things that I think seemed ahead of his time. Remember, in the 50s and 60s, being openly gay was illegal, and you could go to jail or the psych ward. People did not talk about it. I think it's hard for us to comprehend now the world those people lived in. But this is stuff that was happening in my parents' lifetime -- a mere 50 years ago.

Sagarin understood the challenge gay individuals were up against:
Only a leadership that would acknowledge [its own homosexuality] would be able to break down the barriers of shame and a resultant discrimination...Until we are willing to speak out openly and frankly in defense of our activities, and to identify ourselves with the millions pursuing these activities, we are unlikely to find the attitudes of the world undergoing any significant change.

This is where it gets really good:
[The homosexual] is not quite sure that it is wrong to practice discrimination against him...the worst effect of discrimination has been to make the homosexuals doubt themselves and share in the general contempt for sexual inverts.  The homosexual's chief concern is neither with civil rights nor with legal rights, important as these are. His is the problem of condemnation, which involves the necessity for concealment, imposes a burden of self-doubt and self-guilt, and creates a condition which inhibits the struggle for amelioration.

I know this is quite a mouthful, but this struck such a chord with me. The problem that gay people were struggling with 50 years ago, is the same today. There are still parts of our social structure and culture and widespread mainstream beliefs that make us doubt ourselves. That make us wonder if maybe people are right about us...
Maybe we are messed up, maybe we are perverted, disgusting, immoral...maybe we are going to hell. 

Until gay people, worldwide, can overcome that doubt, rid themselves of this forced upon guilt, stop this discrimination of ourselves, we will never fully reach equality and acceptance.  I think the gay community has taken huge strides in this direction, and that's what Pride is all about.  But I'm not out at my job. K isn't out to all of her family. And I know there are so many out there who are still living in fear of condemnation, in concealment. We still live in a fearful world. 

It has changed so much since then. But oh, not enough. I hope and believe that within the next fifty years...in my lifetime...I will see our society overcome this shame, these lies, and gay people will be able to live their lives without this contempt and shame for who they are.

*Thanks for reading all this...I know I tend to rant and rave a little once I get going. But tell me what you think! Do you think this is the struggle gay people still face? How do you think gay people will overcome this?

Sep 10, 2011

Mmmmm....Saturday

What makes your Saturday good? 10 great things from my day...it doesn't take much to make me happy.

1: Yoga was great this morning! The weather was perfect, cool and overcast and there were about 40 people there.

2: After yoga I went to my favorite bagel shop, and I was so happy to see this sticker in the window. Whenever I see the human rights campaign sticker, I get this warm fuzzy feeling. I feel like I'm with friends.


3: I got my favorite blueberry bagels and berry cream cheese.  Mmmm....so good!


4: Saw this at the store and it made me laugh... I had to resist the urge to buy it. I have a bad habit of buying pointless things.


5: Fell asleep reading on my bed and took a little nap. Sleep + reading. It's a win-win.

6: I got a phone call, completely out of the blue, from a friend I love. I haven't spoken to her in a couple years and it was so good to hear her voice!

7: Looked up above my computer and saw this smiley face! It's the curtain rod and some paint on the wall, just turn your head to the side.



8: I love Dove White soap (technically I guess it's a "moisture bar"). It smells SO good and clean. I took a shower with it and my whole bathroom smells good.

9: I made my favorite White Bean Chicken Chili. Spicy and delicious. It's simmering on the stove right now.

10: Sweatpants. The really big baggy kind that you can just lounge about in.


Sep 9, 2011

Salutation Nation

Another Friday night chillin' with my parents and Frodo (our dog).  Some people may think it's lame...but I really don't see them as much ever since I moved out.  And somehow, I've gotten them both hooked on watching Project Runway with me. They DVR it on Thursday night and then we all watch it together on Friday. It's a great bonding experience, and for some reason I find much joy in some of my dad's reactions to the fashion on the show.  Frodo pretends to not be interested, but I'm sure he's secretly eavesdropping.

This is Frodo, relaxing after a long day.

So the week ended, I survived. And life goes on!

Tomorrow is Salutation Nation - where people all around the world will be doing yoga in community together, preferably in the great outdoors, at 9 in the morning. I haven't been doing yoga very long, but I've found one thing I really love about it - is doing it with a group of people. Breathing and moving in unison.  Sharing this time and space together.  It surprised me that I enjoyed that aspect, I would have expected to like it more in private.  So...I'm excited about doing sun salutations tomorrow with a (hopefully) big group of people in a parking lot at the yoga studio.  Just hope the rain holds off.


Hope you had a great Friday night too! Anyone else going out tomorrow for yoga? 

Sep 8, 2011

A Breath of Fresh Air

I think this week has been extra hell-ish just to balance out the great weekend I had. It was labor day and some of my faraway friends came to see me. This makes me so happy.  Along with these friends, came K!  She was sort of stopping on her way back from a wedding, and it worked out so we could spend about 48 hours together.  This makes me extremely happy.

This is the four of us soaking up some gorgeous weather and enjoying each other's company, just like the good 'ole times.



After all of this blissfulness, I found myself once again alone and depressed that it had to end, and with tons to do at work and very little time to do it. It's been an overwhelming and exhausting week.  I've spent barely a moment at home relaxing or reading or anything.  My eyes are drooping shut even as I write this.

But I wanted to share a bit of encouragement with you.  I'm not sure how your week is going, but if it's anything like mine, this might help!  As I sit up in the office after hours, trying to get all of my piles of crap done, I listen to this wonderful podcast and I'm transported miles away.  By the ocean in California, on the beaches of Hawaii...with beautiful music and encouraging words of wisdom and humor. Sienna & Toast of the Girl Meets Girl podcast will change your life


They aren't recording podcasts so much anymore, but there are backlogs of episodes you can listen to on iTunes for free.  They are a lesbian couple in California, both raised in Hawaii.  They are musicians, Asian Americans, vegetarians and animal parents. And as a team they have broadcast their words into the world and touched people's lives! You may think I am exaggerating, but I am not.  I swear, listening to them, I feel like I've just taken the deepest breath of fresh air. I feel renewed and encouraged with new perspective and hope.

I would encourage you to check them out!  What's your encouragement when you're down or stressed?  What do you do to relax or transport yourself from life's piles of crap?

Sep 7, 2011

DOHA: Defense of Happiness Act

One of the first things I heard this morning when I got out of bed, was that this posse of people were getting together in California to appeal the court's (Judge Walker) decision to overturn Prop 8.  I don't really think they're going to have much luck with that. Why?

One:  because only an elected official has the right to make an appeal on behalf of "the people" of the state (from what I understand).

Two:  the only situation in which a group of non-elected individuals, such as themselves, would have a right to appeal, is if they were being directly effected in a negative way by the ruling.  Their lawyer, when asked to explain how these "marriage-defending" people were being affected negatively by letting gay people get married, said..."I don't know."  That is because they are not being affected by this at all.  Other than this is getting their panties up in a bunch.

Three:  because Judge Walker was right when he said Prop 8 is unconstitutional, and I don't believe they can prove otherwise using sound logic.

Anyway, I have much to say on this topic, anything about DOMA ("Defense of Marriage Act") gets me pretty riled up.  So, on a happier note, here is a pretty lesbian wedding I found, in accordance with the Defense of Happiness Act. (source)





Sep 1, 2011

Always Coming Out

The other day, I came out to a friend. We've been friends for about six years, but because of distance, we don't talk as much anymore.  I knew I was going to need to tell her about me and K sooner or later.

She calls me every few months or so when she has exciting news. So when I saw her relationship status on facebook go from "single" to "in a relationship", I was ready for the phone call.

We spent a good half hour talking about her, I'm very good at asking lots of questions. But, just as I knew she would, she eventually asked:  "Sooo.......any guys in your life?"

Me:  "Nope...no guys"  (Thinking: Shit! it's time to tell her)

Her:  "Really? Are you looking?"

Me:  "Um...no not looking"

LONG awkward pause.

Me:  "Ok, so there's something I need to tell you. But I'm afraid you won't love me any more."

Her:  (tentative) "What is it?"

Me:  "First you have to promise to love me!"

Her:  "Of course Ruth, what is it?"

Me:  "I'm in a relationship, and I have been for a while. It's with someone you know...."

Her:  "Ok..."

Me:  "It's with K."

Her:  "Ha ha, very funny."  (she thinks I'm kidding, because people always used to joke about me and K being a couple, before we were even a couple, because we act like one...)

Me:  "No, I'm serious."

Her:  "Oh...(pause, she was thrown off a little, but regained her balance quickly)  I think I kind of knew.  I mean, I didn't know, but I kind of thought..."

Well, it went on from there.  We only talked a little more about it, she played it pretty cool and was like "I'm in the fashion industry, I'm around gay people all the time", like it was no big deal.  Maybe it was no big deal to her.  Maybe she freaked out after we got off the phone. I guess I will never really know. But I appreciate her response nonetheless.  We actually talked for another twenty minutes after that about other stuff before we hung up.  And she hasn't been avoiding me or anything since then, so that's a good sign.

After this conversation, I got to thinking.  In some ways, I think I'll be coming out to people for the rest of my life.  Eventually I'll have told all my friends (I've told all my closest friends and family), extended family and it has to come out at work someday.  But even after all of them know, there will always be new people I'm meeting in the future that don't know.

But the thing I have noticed about coming out is, the more people you tell, the easier it is.  I think someday it will be as easy as saying, "Oh yeah, I'm seeing someone.  Her name is K."  I'm getting there, these things just take time.
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