“Married” is universally understood

Twelve years ago, on our first date, Eric and I spoke in length about the importance of our individual spiritual walk, and our wish to eventually have children. Four years later, while in Venice Italy walking side by side underneath an umbrella, Eric stopped to kneel and propose. Three years later (seven years to the day we met) we officially tied the knot in my hometown of Syracuse N.Y. in front of hundreds of cheering friends and family members.

One day while making lunch I felt a small pain in my lower back. Assuming it twisted the wrong way I ignored it. However the pain became increasingly unbearable. I called Eric (who immediately left a meeting) and came home. When Eric walked in and found me pale-white and on the verge of tears he swiftly assisted me to the car and rushed to the nearest emergency room. When we arrived at the hospital I was in the most indescribable pain, and in tears. I could not talk, walk or think. The medical personnel had many questions and asked Eric his relation to me. “My spouse” he uttered as they rushed me into a room and quickly attached an I.V. Although I have a pretty high threshold for pain, it was so intolerable all I could do was scream. All the while Eric stood at my bedside calmly speaking and responding to questions from nurses, doctors and billers.

Countless hours, and many tests later, I was discharged home with powerful pain medication where I would eventually pass my kidney stone. Though my physical pain eventually decreased my emotional pain for the gay community increased. While in the hospital Eric didn’t have to explain that he was my civil-unioned domestic partner lover (or any other grossly misunderstood and watered down term and the countless confusing state laws that vary with them). He simply said, “We are married.” The word “married” is universally understood. I am grateful to live in a state where all citizens are treated equally. My heart bleeds for the many across the U.S. that are not.

When I reflect back on our first date I am almost amazed at what has come to fruition. Here we are with one child and one on the way, happily married and living a very Christ-centered life in a state that respects everyone equally. While enjoying the blessed life that I live I vow to never stop fighting for all of my brother’s and sister’s rights to marry the love of their lives, regardless of where they happen to live.

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March 20, 2014 · 10:19 pm

Christian students kicked out of their university

This article was published in a student-run newspaper at a right-wing Christian University. After making significant changes to its doctrinal statement, ousting many of its staff and faculty, and relieving a gay student from all his ministry opportunities—despite his commitment to being single and following the community covenant—the University appears hostile for other students who also experience same-sex attraction. The writer has asked to remain anonymous to protect his identity.

 

Medieval author Christine de Pizan had some choice words for the conspiracies of her time—after all, blaming women for corruption in society and oppressing them as a result of such blame did not line up with her own observations of the female “race.” In The Book of the City of Ladies, Pizan argues that “Even if some wicked women have done evil things, it still seems to me that this is far outweighed by all the good that other women have done and continue to do.” Furthermore, she says, “This should prove to you that not all men’s arguments are based on reason, and that these men in particular are wrong.” I have utmost empathy for Pizan, because people like me are also mischaracterized and thrown to the curb far too often—thanks to individuals acting in “the name of God and the Bible.”

The fact is that I’m gay. No, I’m not nor have I ever been in a relationship with another guy. I’m not writing to change your political or theological perspective on the issue, either. Instead, I want to stand up against the mischaracterization that we (the gay community) receive all the time in places like my school. You say, “dude, I’m not condemning you at all—but the gay community is an endorsement of a sinful lifestyle! Don’t identify with it.” Exactly my point. In the same manner of Pizan’s time, when women as a collective were ignorantly thought to have corrupt motives, the Church today does not even try to understand the gay community.

Historically speaking, people fear what they don’t know—anything that looks different. And I believe that’s our problem. We look threatening, and it brings a whole host of mischaracterization.  The F Word.  This mischaracterization puts me into a constant state of fear, not only at school but also at home. My parents have no idea that I don’t like women, but I cannot tell them. In a meeting with Christopher Yuan (a well-known author and speaker) last year, he suggested I “test the waters” and talk about the issue before coming out. So I did. I told them that I had met a gay kid at my school (sort of true) and that I was helping him by serving as an accountability partner (also sort of true). In reality, though, I am that gay kid. Their response, you ask? They told me to get away from him—simply because he might “make me gay” too. My mother also said that she “couldn’t believe gay people were at a Christian school. He must be sneaking out at night to have promiscuous sex! That’s what gay people do, after all.” I nearly began to sob—how could they say such things about their own son, knowing or not? How could they be so ignorant?

The point is that Conservative Christianity doesn’t get a bad reputation for believing gay sex is a sin. Conservative Christianity gets a bad reputation because it refuses to understand the gay community. From the outside, all that Christians see are a bunch of men in speedos dancing at pride parades; they see a group that wants to corrupt families and turn against God. They don’t ever stop and think, “Why do they host pride parades?” They refuse to think that, gasp; gay people might actually desire genuine love and families to raise—not sex, sex, and more sex. Worst of all, they refuse to see how lonely I am. I do not believe I was designed for singleness. I know what the classic response is. “But singleness is a blessing! 1 Corinthians 7:8b says, ‘It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.’” That is correct, but don’t forget verse 9b: “for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Do you understand the incredible, God-given, natural urge within me to have intimacy with another human being? Do you understand that one day, on my death bed; I will be in the hospital and breathing my last few breaths—and will glance around the room only to discover that no one is there? No husband ever existed, no children raised, no family legacy to leave behind. This… this is not natural.

The gay community isn’t an evil effort to destroy morals and God. The gay community is made up of thousands of people, just like me, who desire love and unity through marriage. As I said before, I don’t want to change your views theologically or politically. What I want to change is the flawed and ignorant fear towards the gay community. When you see a pride parade, understand that gay people are told throughout their entire lives that they are scum. Pride is an event for gay people to feel normal and… “not scum.” I’m not endorsing everything that happens, and I personally don’t like those parades. I’m simply explaining that you mustn’t live and act out of fear toward the gay community. When we ask you to legalize gay marriage, we aren’t secretly plotting to get rid of morals and destroy families. Actually, at a time when you straight folks are divorcing more than ever, we’re the ones asking to get married! Like Pizan argues about women, I must argue that gay people have done far more good than bad. It’s well known that gay folks often find themselves in human rights campaigns, feeding the homeless, and caring for the community in general. Are you sure we’re destroying society?

It is Time for the American Christian Church to Surrender the Gay Marriage Fight, Apologize, and Share Love at the end of the day; I’m not actually for or against gay marriage (at a personal level). I’m still figuring that out—and studying scripture first. But I’m in danger. When the university administration chooses to strip a gay student of all his leadership and ministry positions (and he ends up at a nearby state school) because he’s not sure what he believes on the issue, that’s a problem. It means that for the rest of my time at school, my status is on the line. I have to live in fear of my own “Christian” community and what they might do to me. They fear us because they think we’re parasites. They think we’re in a massive plot to destroy your morals and theology. In their ignorance, they act. And thanks to those actions, I must fear. And in my fear, I am deeply broken. I leave you with this question: If Jesus was in charge of my school, would he endorse a religious bubble built on codes and regulations that strip people of their ministry and leadership opportunities—even their fate at the school—for questioning the validity of such positions? Would students like me have to live in fear?

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Sports; No woman, no blacks and now no Gays

I was about to post my thoughts regarding Michael Sam when a blog-follower sent me this video. I was touched by his eloquence and progressive understanding of humans (especially from a generation where gay discrimination was completely acceptable) that I decided posting it would fare far better. Enjoy and God bless.

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February 12, 2014 · 7:54 pm

Did A&E cave to money or truly want to educate?

A&E decided to reinstate Phil Robertson. I get it! We live in a money over morals world and Duck Dynasty brings the network money.  I am however grateful to hear A&E is going to work with Phil and the family to educate them on inclusion and the gay community.  I pray that Phil continues to spiritually grow and we see a more Christ-like love-motivated Christian and less of a judgmental (comparing gay people to everything horrible in the world) Christian.  In the meantime I encourage Phil to be more observant of his literalist interpretation of the Word.  He too can be on the other end of biblical cherry-picking, finger-pointing and condemnation; “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him.” 1 Corinthians 11:14

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Duck Dynasty

I fought fervently to stay out of this nonsensical debacle however after a whirlwind of input requests decided to oblige my devotees – half joke, of course.

All jokes aside; you cannot bash and trash a minority group and then hide behind the cover of religion (done so many times in the past) and expect to keep a public position. Have we learned nothing from Paula Deen!?!  Phil Robertson was rightfully fired from A&E. And last I knew Phil Robertson is still a free man so those throwing the first amendment phrase around like a volley-ball need to take pause.

Phil Robertson did not kindly state his personal biblical interpretation of gay people and opposition of gay marriage and simply get fired (as we often hear on Fox ruse). Like all extremists his vile attacks and lies were offensive and damaging “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” I would be deeply saddened to have my son read or hear these statements made about his dads.

I do believe in the first amendment and freedom of speech. I do not however believe freedom of speech equates to freedom from consequence. I am a public educator and can pretty much say anything I want to my students without getting arrested. That does not mean, however, that I will not get fired for doing so.

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Commitment

Thurs

Today I celebrate my 11th anniversary. I have been with the same wonderful person for four thousand and fifteen days – and counting. The majority of these days have been filled with pure enjoyment. On many occasions I have found myself on the verge of tears asking God why He blessed me so abundantly.  Other days, however, have been incredibly challenging. On these days, where love and bliss feels distant, I hold on to my commitment.

We live in a microwave society. Everything we want from fast-food to research is at our finger-tips and attainable in minutes. Marriage, however, is very much the opposite. Like anything of worth and value, marriage takes hard work, time, effort, and a conscious decision to recommit; day after day, year after year.

I’m never too surprised when I hear new lovers say, “I’ve never felt this way before” or “this person makes me feel alive.” What usually follows a short time after, unfortunately, is “they just didn’t make me feel special anymore” or “I wasn’t happy with her/him.”  While I would never advocate staying in a loveless or emotionless relationship what I do know however is that we far too easily give up on relationships, and our commitment to stay in love.

Yes, love is an emotion, a feeling of butterflies and rainbows at times.  Much more than that though love is a verb.  Love takes work, a lot of hard work.  A large part of that work is making the decision to commit and recommit daily.  Recommit your vows, recommit your dedication, and recommit your decision to support your spouse, encourage and forgive your spouse, elevate your spouse and continually find ways that keep your marriage alive.  When this is the focus, happiness overflows.

An anniversary is a medal.  A marital medal is a souvenir born from the most difficult task there is; to lay your life down for another – for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.  And that takes commitment.

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November 14, 2013 · 5:12 am

Do You Need Duck Feathers?

I was raised in a victim-mentality family. In short, a person with a victim mentality rarely ever takes responsibility or accountability for their actions.  People that choose to live in the victim mentality world will always fault and blame others for what is or went wrong in their life.  As a child it did not matter what I did, how I did it, when, why, where, or the fact that my intentions were good.  What was guaranteed however, was that I would undoubtedly without fail “offend” or “hurt” someone’s feelings. Once blame was cast I could then be accused of and responsible for whatever went wrong at the time.  It took me decades to realize that I do not own any of the woes in my family.  At the same time realized one of life’s most powerful quotes, “hurt people hurt people!”  

Another favorite and powerfully true quote is; “we do not see things as they are rather how we are.”  Whatever we carry around within ourselves is the lens in which we look at life.  While some choose to view life through rose-colored glasses, others choose resentment, fear, animosity, anger and unforgiveness. Whatever resides in us, and we dwell on, will certainly skew our perception and interpretation of the world around us.  I have learned a lot from my family including one of life’s most important lessons; you cannot change anyone but yourself.  Attempting to change others is wasted energy and sure to bring frustration to both parties.  Another great, healthy and important skill/lesson I have learned is the power and gift of forgiveness.  This journey has been a long road and, at times, leads to frustration primarily because I am constantly forgiving extreme hurts when there is no responsibility, accountability or change in the lives of those I am forgiving.  I am sure many of you have experienced the same exhausting and discouraging outcome.

From the time our brain understands and processes our surroundings (usually pre-toddler) we are capable of experiencing and remembering hurts.  Because we tend to personalize hurts they eventually begin to chip and eat away at our self-esteem, self-image and identity.  Unattended hurts are cancerous and often prevent us from reaching our fullest potential.  These wounds happen at home, at school, in our childhood, teen years (graduations/celebrations), relationships, jobs, anniversaries, weddings etc.  From important events and milestones to everyday living we are exposed to the potential sharp stab of hurt.  If these jabs are not dealt with in an immediate and healthy manner they eventually compound.  Before long these solidified hurts can turn any human into a walking tightly bound ball of anger and animosity.

So what exactly is forgiveness and how do we forgive?  There are many definitions of forgiveness and in all honesty it may be beneficial to find or create one that is suitable to your personality.  For starters let me tell you what forgiveness does not mean:

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean the offense is excused

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean the offense is condoned

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean forgetting the offense/offender

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean you are not affected or even (deeply) hurt by the offense.  It does mean however that you are making a clear, confident decision that you are putting yourself first and refusing to carry the affliction any longer. 

Forgiveness, to me, is “choosing happiness by releasing your burden to God.”  Therefore the hurt and pain is no longer mine to deal with but is now in God’s hands for Him to deal with.  When you no longer own something you no longer have any responsibility with or to it.  Once you handover your hurt to God trust Him to deal with it.  It is no longer yours to stress about and to do so would be a waste of time, counter-productive and just plain foolish.

So how do we forgive?  In my opinion it is best to be proactive and walk in constant forgiveness.  Hurt, anger, frustration etc. has a way of permeating our thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Like quick growing weeds it spreads like wild-fire affecting and consuming us.  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly hurt can change a person. This is why it is imperative to be proactive.  The instant you feel hurt approaching talk to yourself (out loud if necessary) and say, “This will not control me.  I will not be easily offended, and I will forgive.”

 Intention vs. Behavior

 Every single person in your life – no matter their role, involvement, or the frequency of your paths crossing has a good potential of hurting you.  Either by words, actions or otherwise their behavior may cause you discomfort and possibly frustration/hurt.  Often one of the key questions I ask myself during such times is, “did this person make a conscious decision to intentionally hurt me?” If the answer is no (which it usually is) I simply remind myself that, just as I am, this person is human and fallible.  I then humbly put away my violin and leave the pity-party I selfishly threw.

Let me be clear that I am not advocating we become doormats or punching bags for the impulses and emotional whims of those around us.  There are times – for our sanity – we must re-position ourselves, re-think our expectations of certain people, and of course even distance ourselves from intentionally hurtful and negative people.  If, after much prayer and reflection, you feel it is best to do this it is healthy and beneficial to do so with as much love and forgiveness toward them as possible.

Years ago I went to visit my uncle in the hospital whom I haven’t seen or spoke with in years.  While he lay on his death-bed I said these words to him.

“I want you to know that I earnestly and from the bottom of my heart completely forgive you for all of the sexual abuse I endured while in your care.  I want you to be with God and soar with the angels.  Know that what you did to me is completely forgiven, and I love you.”

 I did not wait for nor want a response.  I walked out of the room and prayed he made peace with his creator.  The next time I saw him was in his coffin.  I refused then what I refuse to this day; to let the actions of others steal my joy, happiness, and prevent me from being all that I was created to be.  If I were to let the actions of others affect me by unforgiveness it would change who I am ultimately robbing me from reaching my fullest potential.  How unfair to me, my creator, my spouse, children, and the world I live in.  You and your loved ones deserve a free, whole and complete you!

I was recently reading a research article where leading doctors agreed that the number one factor in advanced aging and health problems is stress.  Unforgiveness and stress go hand-in-hand! Unforgiveness harbors tension, frustration, anger, hurt and is a complete joy-thief.  Let’s not forget that unforgiveness also makes it difficult and challenging to love people we want to love.  Joyce Meyer put it best in her New York Times bestselling book Power Thoughts, “I was very angry and bitter toward my father for abusing me and I ended up mistreating my husband who had nothing at all to do with it.” (pg 138)  All unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness and anger does is rob you from being all that you were meant to be.  Why would you give anyone that much power?  Not to mention, for us believers, forgiveness is pretty much a mandate.  “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15 KJV).

For believers reading this, do you remember the parable in Mathew 18 of the unforgiven servant?  Bottom line Jesus forgives us constantly.  Every day we wake up forgiven, a completely new slate.  Jesus also has an answer for how often we need to forgive, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:15-22).  Jesus made it very clear; you don’t forgive others, I cannot forgive you (Mathew 5:24).  As believers we have a direct life-line to our creator.  Our heart cannot function optimally when our arteries are clogged.  Similarly we cannot function optimally when our life-line is.  Choosing forgiveness leaves our life-line healthy and spotless for blessings to flow.  There is redemption however for those reading this and feeling completely walked on from others who have, or continue to, mistreat you.  “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19 NIV). Simply put it is no longer a matter of will this person get dealt with, but when!  Once God (our spiritual attorney and redeemer) has our case it is no longer our business and we need to stay out of His courtroom.

For the purpose of this blog I asked a dear friend of mine how they would be confident they had in fact truly forgiven another.  His response was quite fitting, “Forgiveness has taken place when you can remember the wrong that was done without feeling resentment or desire to pursue revenge.”  Although I completely agree with this great response I want to add that it is okay to fake it till you make it if necessary.  Again, if someone is truly unhealthy to be around than it is your duty to keep your sanity by placing distance between you.  Other than that forgive, and forgive often.  You were not designed to be weighed down, rather to live free.  As Bishop T.D. Jakes states, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison hoping the offender would die.”

Recently I took our toddler to the local duck pond.  He was having the time of his life tossing corn into the water and watching the ducks dive after it.  His laughter warmed my heart and while enjoying our bundle of joy and our bonding time I noticed something.  I noticed that every time water landed on a duck it immediately ran off.  The water did not even get a chance to bubble or the need to be shaken off – it simply rolled off as soon as it touched the duck.  It was almost as if there was an invisible shield around the ducks body.  I thought “this is precisely what people need.”  We need armor where hurts, pains, anger and frustrations roll off before having the chance to even penetrate our skins surface.  This armor, should we choose to wear it, is forgiveness.  It would be what I stated previously; walking in constant forgiveness.

Walking in constant forgiveness is especially vital for us who are gay.  Unfortunately we have a thousand arrows approaching on our left and ten thousand on our right – at times, daily.  Sadly it is usually the names of family who hang from those daggers. One of the reasons ducks do not drown is because water cannot weigh them down.  It is our personal responsibility to ensure we do not emotionally or spiritually drown as well.  Do you need duck feathers?

Being hurt, afraid, frustrated, angered etc., are all natural and healthy emotions.  You are supposed to feel these things (I’d be concerned if you did not).  However, these are emotions that should not be allowed to vacation in your soul.  Time does NOT heal all wounds.  It is what you choose to think about, and do with your time that will depend on healing (or not).  There will be times when unforgiveness feels good.  After all unforgiveness gives us a false sense of power because when we hold onto anger we feel powerful.  Anger however is a FALSE sense of power.  When we are angry we are actually at our weakest.

Do not sell yourself short by putting conditions on your forgiveness.  You give yourself the gift of forgiveness regardless of the other party.  Keep in mind some people are too ashamed to apologize or view apologizing as weak thus they feel vulnerable.  When you combine the feeling of vulnerability with low-self-esteem (and any other crosses many wrestle with) it’s no wonder why some resort to anger instead of apologizing.  After all anger is an easy and justifiable way to allow us a (false) sense of empowerment.

I want to conclude this blog with two quotes that I believe are appropriate.   Before I close this entry however, let me remind you that the holidays are quickly approaching and what better gift to give yourself than the gift to forgive.  God bless you now and always.  “The more I think about it the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.”  Vincent Van Gogh.  “Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, because hate in your heart will consume you.”  Will Smith

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