Tag Archives: DISCRIMINATION

Hope Will Never Be Silent

Hope Will Never Be Silent

This month, the USPS will start offering Harvey Milk postage stamps. Harvey Milk became a national gay rights hero in 1977 when he was elected to a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk’s belief that the U.S. Government should represent all areas of American society encouraged and inspired the gay community at a time when discrimination and homophobia was rife. Milk was instrumental in educating the public on the dangers and absurdity of Proposition 6, which would have made firing gay teachers mandatory in the state of California.

Milk was a highly respected civil rights advocate and loved human being. Sadly however, just eleven short months after serving the people of his district, Harvey was murdered (shot point blank in the head) by Dan White – an anti-gay colleague. Mr. White was eventually convicted of voluntary manslaughter; it was an appalling legal injustice.

What I find ironic is that although some deem our lives worthless, history has shown that we are some of the strongest, most resilient, and courageous people. For centuries we have been imprisoned, beaten, bullied, mocked and murdered. Gay people have been used as science experiments, and regularly regarded as less than human. According to FBI statistics, every four minutes in our nation a crime is reported from a gay person being harassed, bashed, bullied, etc. These reports often include death threats – and these are just the reports on record. Incalculable acts of gay bashing are never reported due to shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and death threats if they are reported. Gay people cannot, to this day, freely walk in their pride parades or get married without hearing insults, slander, and verbal attacks from scores of deluded people with bullhorns. Every day across the U.S., gay couples and their homes are robbed, egged, vandalized, and burned by hate-motivated arsonists. If you open a newspaper or do a quick online search, you will find gays are daily brutally beaten, burned, mobbed, assaulted, bashed, intimidated, even killed as acceptable “punishment” simply for the way they are born. Not too long ago, we suffered excessive and demeaning bar raids, including completely unnecessary and extreme brutality from police officers. We agonized silently, having no legal recourse or protection. As an invisible minority we had no voice and few allies.

Our community encounters countless double standards. I see many young straight couples passionately making-out in shopping malls but if a gay couple holds hands they’re “flaunting their lifestyle.” When anti-gay groups call for nationwide boycotts, it is deemed a righteous use of the free market in order to preserve morality, marriage, family, and the American way. But when the gay community exercises their right to boycott, it is then homofascist intimidation, intolerance, bullying, a stifling of religious liberty, and an attempt to deny others the freedom of speech. Sadly, the examples are many.

Despite these constant travesties to our community, we continue to boldly live in love, forgiveness, and hope. We are a community often fired from our jobs for who we are, yet the first ones to lend an ear to others in need. We are a community disowned by our families, yet first to give a helping hand to others lost. We are a people continually knocked down physically, spiritually, and mentally, but stand tall and proud while dusting ourselves off. Yes, we are that community. You can throw us to the wolves, but rest assured we’ll return leading the pack.

I will share my personal story at another time but in short, I lived on my own at the young age of fourteen, forcing me to leave school and work three low-paying dead end jobs to pay rent and bills. My future was looking miserable at best. I was too young to drive and too poor for public transportation. My seven day work weeks were long and grueling. Life was not easy and I never knew what the next day held, or if my tired legs could endure another day. I guess you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have!

In time I realized that although I had little say about my start, I had all the say about my finish. I went on to serve eight honorable years in the United States Military (four years in the Army and another four in the Air force). I returned to school, eventually graduating with a master’s degree in education (high honors). I moved to NYC and worked on various television and movie sets. I wrote and recorded a CD and performed at many venues, wrote and illustrated a now published children’s book “I Am Loved Right Where I Amhttp://www.jasonj.biz/author.php I joined a pop group and toured the nation – one such performance was for the wedding of Shania Twain’s manager. Pictures of the wedding, and our group, were featured in a nation-wide publication. I am happily married for almost twelve years with one child and one on the way. Most significantly, I remain steadfast in my relationship to my heavenly Father, and my daily renewal to follow His examples.

I share some of my life highlights not in any way to boast, or for a pat on the back. I share them simply as an example of how our community repeatedly turns our tests into testaments, and our messes into messages. Despite endeavors and accomplishments, I am habitually surrounded by naysayers. Our community and all our successes are persistently dismissed, debased, and disregarded. How cruel and unfair when others throw you out in the cold and then get upset when you learn how to get warm on your own.

If you are gay, or an ally, know that you are a part of magnificent and exceptional community. I always say gay people are like winning the lottery; one never knows when a winning ticket will emerge from the family. I hope your next post office trip includes a Harvey Milk stamp or two as your support speaks volumes and marks a better tomorrow. When the gay community is strengthened, every community is strengthened!

The great Harvey Milk is unfortunately gone, yet his heroism, fearlessness, and fortitude live on. Decades after his death, Milk is still opening hearts and minds and encouraging all to live authentically. Harvey Milk’s passion for equal rights put his own life in danger, and he knew it. While writing this post, John 15:13 came to mind, “No one has greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends.” There are many scholarly interpretations of this superb verse; however my favorite is from Harvey Milk himself, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet shatter every closet door!”

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May 1, 2014 · 4:13 am

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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I (Insert your name) Cherry-pick the Bible

Our family recently moved back to my home town of upstate of New York.  After the long, exhausting and tedious process of unpacking, we discovered a few items that we could part with so I placed an ad in one of our local papers.  A few days passed when I received an email asking if we still had the humidifier for sale.  I replied that yes in fact we did and would be happy to let it go for next to nothing.  The next day a gentleman came and shortly thereafter both he and our humidifier were on the road to his place.  I thought little of our transaction and immediately went on with my day caring for our toddler, dinner prep, laundry, vacuuming etc.

Later that evening I decided to log on to the computer and respond to a few pending emails.  Upon opening my account found, to my surprise, several emails from “Bob”, the gentleman who bought our humidifier.   Was he ok, I thought? Was something wrong with the humidifier (though I checked if it worked and it did just fine)?  Did he leave something at our house etc.?  Concern and curiosity ran through my mind as I clicked his first email.

Leviticus 18:22 “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination” was his first email followed by a lecture about Gods word and how His word does not change.  I scanned his very long and drawn out interpretations of the five presumed anti-gay verses and clicked delete.  The next email started with Romans 1:27 “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of women….”  His almost four-page email went on and on and of course ended with his personal opinion on exactly why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  Apparently, during his visit, Bob noticed that our household’s marriage dynamic were that of same gender spouses and he had to make it his mission and duty to inform us that we were spiritually in wrong standing.  I pondered, for a moment, about responding with a litany of Bible verses (starting with Ezekiel 16:49 which negates the Sodom and Gomorrah gay theory) however due to my pending emails and demanding toddler, I simply thanked him for his time and for sharing his interpretation of the sacred text.

Bobs email got me thinking, however.  Not only do I strongly disagree with his literal interpretation of the five clobber verses but why do so many conveniently finger-point and cherry-pick the Bible (as well as Qur’an/Torah/book of Mormon etc.)?  Does it make people feel better about themselves?  Do people feel as if they are in good spiritual standing by picking and choosing verses in an attempt to condemn others?  Does cherry-picking make some feel enlightened or knowledgeable?  Does cherry-picking and pointing the finger make some feel authoritative? Although I do not have the answer, I do know we ALL cherry-pick the Bible.  I decided that I could either spend my energy being bothered by Bob’s attacks or use his inappropriate emails as an opportunity to motivate this blog entry.

When I was a teenager I remember talking with my friends after they had an upsetting squabble with their parents and without fail would hear, “doesn’t it say somewhere in the Bible that parents should not put their children to wrath” (Ephesians 6:4)? I also recall my own parents on many an occasion reciting “The Bible clearly says you must honor your mother and father” (Exodus 20:12).

Recently I was speaking with my aunt, whose husband is a minister, and she shared with me that any time she would disagree with my uncle he would remind her that, “woman should submit to their husbands” (Colossians 3:18).  To this, she would respond, “if you loved me like Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25) we wouldn’t be having this disagreement.”

The fact is we ALL can throw around Bible verses to prove any point we want to make.  Whether you are a male and want women “checked” married and want to keep your spouse “checked”, white and want to keep blacks “checked”, straight and want to keep gays “checked”, or a parent and want to keep your kids “checked.” Whether you are circumcised or not, Christian or not, choose to masturbate, marry or stay celibate we can all cherry-pick the Bible and “check” one another. We can either forgive others’ wrong-doings using the Bible (Matthew 6:14) or justify our vengeful behavior with an eye for an eye (Exodus 21:24) – the examples are endless.  But when we “check” one another aren’t we (allow me to cherry-pick now) judging one another (Matthew 7:1-2) and the Bible clearly states that we should not. That being said are we, as Christians, supposed to keep our voice and light under the metaphoric bushel? Absolutely not, but opinions not asked for are nothing less than an intrusion.  I do not recall intrusion being a virtue of Christ and we are called to, at least work on, becoming more Christ-like (John 3:30).

In my almost thirty years of walking with the Father, I have come to the conclusion that the Bible must be taken all seriously, however not all literally.  If we were to take all Bible verses literally, out of context, and without the historical perspectives in which they were written, we would all be walking around with one eye (Mark 9:47).

Romans 3:23 states, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Imagine this world if instead of using our energy to intrude, cherry-pick and finger-point, we used it to love and pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and let God handle the rest (1 John 4:7-8).

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