Trip 33

Well I have another trip around the sun under my belt today 🙂 Number 33 to be exact. Granted i had to have Courtney and HJohn remind me how old they were to help me remember how old I was, but meh. lol.

It’s been one heck of a year. Lots has happened from getting engaged, to having some great professional development opportunities, to being able to work with some amazing students! So I thought I’d list 33 things I’m grateful for as I enter my next trip around the sun.

So here we go!

33. Hamilton Mixtape. Recently discovered at the suggestion of our Summer GA, LaSabra, and it just speaks to me on so many levels. So if you haven’t listened to it, GET IT!

32. Opportunities in my professional field through ACPA, ACUI and others.

31. Having a blog and avenue to write

30. Social media…because it has taught me so much about the world and myself.

29. Chinese take out from Charlie Kangs! Its the life saver that keeps giving 🙂

28. Disney. Cause it’s just so darn magical.

27. My Apple products. I don’t know how I survived without them before.

26. My family. Because they challenge me to be a better person.

25. Pizza from anywhere. I love me some za.

24. Werther’s Originals…if you’ve never had them they are amazing!! (As I am enjoying one now LOL)

23. The gifts and talents I have been blessed with. I couldn’t imagine my life with writing, composing, and music.

22. CNN, Food Network and HGTV. My best friends when I’m home alone! LOL

21. FinalCutPro. Because it really helps me get my creative juice flowing.

20. Delta SkyMiles, while this is pretty basic, it’s amazing cause it allows me to travel not only professionally but personally.

19. Dear Even Hansen soundtrack. This soundtrack is phenomenal and soooo good!!! If you don’t have it, you should get it!!

18. Google Docs is my life and allows me to do everything professional and personally. (And let me tell you, without it I’d be a hot mess lol)

17. Goldfish Crackers. Cause what else is better in the world than Goldfish Crackers? 🙂

16. My Honeywell QuietSet fan in my office. Because of the fluctuating temperature in our office area this is a saving grace.

15. My photo collection. I love my collection of photos of my students that sit on my desk. It reminds me of why I do what I do.

14. Colleagues, friends, and mentors in Student Affairs. Cause I’d be worthless without them.

13. Michael’s family. They are so supportive and HI-larious.

12. Coffee…so much coffee….Coffee…COFFEE!!! Biggby and Starbucks are some of my best friends LOL

11. Coraline, our cat. She’s a prima dona but we love her. 🙂

10. Ice cream. It’s always there. 🙂

9. My ability to communicate like a grown up (yes a jab at Trump)

8. My vigor for equality especially with those identities I hold.

7. My headphones. Let’s be honest, most of you know I live with my headphones attached to me. I always have to have my music.

6. Pandas…Because they are AWESOME!

5. The Kappa Sigma Brothers of the Michigan District. I put these guys through the ringers but they are great men I have the privilege of working with and developing.

4. The UAB Directors, Front Desk Staff, Graduate Students and Professional Staff I get to work with; they are truly some of the best peoples ever! (And they totally get my quirkiness lol)

3. The family we’ve created here in Lansing; Matt, Jaime, Sharon, the Davids.

2. The people standing by my side for my wedding; Tiffany, HJohn, Benson, Courtney, Rainey, The Pink Princess Candace, Wife #1 Forsmark, Wifey Shawntae  and my Godson Timmy.

1. My fiance, Michael because I love him 🙂

BDay

Courtesy of Matthew Bryan Pruitt

So that’s my list!

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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The Justification of Gay

One of my fraternity brothers posted this on their Facebook this morning. It’s a really great TedTalk. It’s an interesting approach to the justification that homosexuality is genetic and not a choice.

 

Now, while I still unpack it, as I watched and listened to this TedTalk, I found myself thinking there was a foundation that was being evaded. After a brief but poignant chat with another fraternity brother, who is pursuing a Masters in School Psychology, I figured out what was bugging me.

It seemed that there were two underlying issues that was the grounds for the father’s need for this research. First, to confirm that being gay was genetic and not with the way the child was raised. The second was that he needed to justify his son’s purpose and worth in society as a gay man since the conclusion to the first question poised was that it was genetic. The father’s fear for his son’s safety as a gay person and whether or not he had done something to make his son be gay were no doubt key motivations for his research.

We, as mere mortals, are flawed and need to ground unknown or “scary” concepts to us with justifications.  We have to verify that being gay is genetic and not a choice. We have to justify the worth and role of a gay person to society to confirm that it is ok to accept a gay person.

While we as a society might love and accept the LGBTQ community, until we move beyond needing to justify these points, then there is still work to be done.

At no point in time is heterosexuality ever questioned about whether its genetic or a choice, and what the role for straight identified people are. This father’s desire to explain and justify his son’s identity and purpose is grounded in the socialization of homophobic ideas and practices that have been poisoning society for millennia.  Until this same mindset becomes inherent towards the LGBTQ community, even the best talks with the best intentions are still flawed. And it’s that exact need of wanting explanation that is the macro-underlying issue. Now whether or not that makes the father homophobic is up to the individual. I personally would say he is NOT homophobic. I think for me there has to be negative intent for me to call a person homophobic, but that’s something to be unpacked at a later date.

Even though I think the inherent reason for the father to need to justify and explain his son’s identity is rooted in homophobia, I think that this Talk is a great resource to start several various conversations in regards to the LGBTQ community.

Just some musings about a great resource, so thanks for processing with me!

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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The Symbol of Pride

Hey y’all! Pride Month continues and lots to write about.

Today though I’m writing to work through some thoughts on the new Philly Pride Flag which has added brown and black stripes to represent the LGBTQIA POC community.

First, a little history:

The first Pride Flag was flown in 1978 in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.

It was designed by Gilbert Baker after he was challenged to create a symbol for the LGBT community to rally around, by LGBTQIA activist and the first openly gay politician elected to public office, Harvey Milk.

The flag originally had 8 colors:

Hot Pink: Sexuality

Red: Life

Orange: Healing

Yellow: Sunlight

Green: Nature

Turquoise: Magic/Art

Indigo/Blue: Serenity/Harmony

Violet: Spirit

It has taken several versions over the years:

-7 color flag (hot pink was removed due to fabric availability)

-6 color flag (turquoise was removed to allow for an even number of colors for display purposes)

-A black stripe at the bottom to address AIDS/HIV in the late 80s and 90s

-The star field from the US Flag was added and used often during the DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) time frame

-And now adding a brown and black stripe to acknowledge the LGBTQIA POC community:

More Color More Pride from Hello Tierney on Vimeo.

All that being said, there are a few thoughts I’m working through:

-I am proud that it is continuing to address societal concerns in our community and now it’s time to address racism

-I ask that all be aware that there are individuals beyond just black and brown LGBTQIA in the community such as EAST ASIAN LGBTQIA individuals that are not able to be visibly represented (and often not represented at all in general in the community) in this now racially inclusive Pride Flag

-Does adding race into a symbol of sexual orientation and gender identity change the purpose and meaning of the Pride Flag?

-Is it time for a whole new symbol of inclusivity and community that addresses all identities and sub-communities within the LGBTQIA community?

-Is it even possible to have a single symbol that everyone can rally around as the LGBTQIA community?

As I process all this and regardless any answers to the above ponderings, it is both a moment of pride and a moment of pause.

A symbol I’ve rallied around as a gay identified individual now encourages me to rethink about where and how I fit into the community and what role I can play as an East Asian gay adopted male in an interracial relationship. Its both exciting and daunting and gives me pause to think whether there is a place for me as my full self or if I will have to code switch between sub-communities within the LGBTQIA community, as I have already begun to do.

It is a needed change in that we can no longer just find community through one identity. As we have learned, intersectionality is key to understanding others and moving forward. We must consider all the layers and identities of each individual.  But how do we create a unifying symbol of this without forgetting others or excluding others?

Just some ponderings I’m working through, thanks for muddling through all this with me!

Happy Pride everyone!

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

 

References:

http://www.phillymag.com/g-philly/2017/06/08/philly-pride-flag-black-brown/
http://www.sftravel.com/article/brief-history-rainbow-flag
http://www.stop-homophobia.com/rainbow-flag-history
https://morecolormorepride.com/

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Kicking Off Pride Month with a Response

So I’m kicking off Pride Month with a local issue. Yesterday, NBC25 reported about an Eaton County farmer who was denied a space at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market for his decision to not allow same-sex marriages at his apple farm venue.

So in true Brian fashion, I have to throw in my two cents.

As someone who is in a same-sex relationship and is engaged to be married next Fall, this hits very close to home. As we’ve started planning, we’ve encountered many of these types of venues and businesses across the state. All being privately owned, I absolutely respect their decision. I don’t agree and think my money is just as green as “traditional” couples”, but I don’t think anyone can tell another what to believe or think even if it excludes me.

Reading through the article and comments, there is support of both sides from the community and a lot of back and forth. So before moving forward let me clear up what I believe is the underlying issue:

Does a privately owned apple farm business who discriminates against same-sex marriages from being hosted in their venue in Eaton County but who does not discriminate selling produce to patrons have access to a public venue which require an application and “stall fee” in East Lansing?

My first reaction is no. No, they do not have access to public venues if it is discovered that they practice discrimination anywhere in their business or organization.

Five minutes later, after calming down for a moment, I started researching the apple farm, the East Lansing Farmer’s Market and the East Lansing Civil Rights Ordinances.

Looking at the ordinance and other information, I can see how both sides have plausible cases.

The East Lansing Code of Ordinances Civil Rights Code has a general non-discrimination practice and delineates it further into Employment, Housing, and Public Accommodations and Services all within the context of public spaces and the city.

That being said, while East Lansing can say that they made this decision because the privately owned apple farm does not allow same-sex marriages on their property, and therefore they are not able to accept their application for a stall at the market; Country Mills could push back and say that as a religious belief they do not allow same-sex marriages and therefore if the city denies them space it’s also against the East Lansing Civil Rights Ordinance as religion is also named in the ordinance.

So, to me it’s a Catch-22.

My opinion/solution would be this:

If the products of the apple farm are high quality, that guests of the East Lansing Farmer’s Market enjoy their produce, they pay the applicable fees and meet all health standards, etc., then allow them their stall.

I would then put into practice something similar to what the Equality Caucus of Genesee County is implementing; a certification/verification program which recognizes businesses who uphold non-discriminatory practices. You could provide them with something to put up in their stall to indicate so, such as a certificate or sticker. Also, I’d utilize social media and the website to indicate not only all vendors who are part of the market, but also which ones who uphold non-discriminatory practices within their establishments.

I think allowing the people of the city and guests of the market to make their own decisions on whether or not to patron businesses which discriminate is right and more impactful.

I know personally, I look for these stickers or certifications often. My fiance and I use many of the directories that are out there that indicate who is LGBT friendly to make decisions on which services and businesses to patronize.

Additionally, it’d be a double whammy as well if a business pays fees for space but are not able to produce any revenue because the public takes a stand and does not patron their stall. It also may resonate more if the impact is more tangible than just not allowing them the opportunity and they stay within their own bubble.

Non-discrimination policies and ordinances are not in place to shove the “gay agenda” down someone’s throat or to exclude individuals who have strict and conservative religious beliefs. They are to ensure equal opportunity and access. Success in this case should be determined by the public and who they decide to patronize.

Now, I will rally and rail against businesses who are discriminatory and encourage all my friends to not patron them. And you can bet if they have a stall I will go out of my way to ensure they know that I’m not patronizing them because they do discriminate. But I will allow them to have the opportunity to try to sell to me, and I’ll take advantage of my opportunity to say no to them.3465754010_f9a4241137_b

Just my two cents to this issue.

Thanks for considering my perspective on this!

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

 

References
Country Mills Farms: http://www.countrymillfarms.com/

East Lansing Code of Ordinances-Civil Rights: https://www.municode.com/library/mi/east_lansing/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIICOOR_CH22HURE_ARTIICIRI 

East Lansing Farmer’s Market: https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/213/Farmers-Market

Equality Caucus of Genesee County: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EqualityCaucus/

NBC25 Article: http://nbc25news.com/news/state/farmer-sues-after-gay-marriage-views-cost-him-market-spot

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A Response

I stumbled across a blog post on Facebook early this week that I’ve decided to respond to. Below is the post (in italics) with my response (in bolded orange):

It has been said that in marriage, the pain and stress of divorce is greater than even the pain of losing a spouse to death. I believe the same can be said of breaking ties with your child. Unless one has experienced this kind of loss and grief, they cannot fully understand the depth of pain experienced by a parent.

Someone may ask, “Why would anyone break ties with her own child?” The answer is, “loyalty to Jesus.” Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children (Matthew 10:37).

This is true, the Bible does say this. It actually says this several times in different ways. But consider this: the Bible is a man-written account of who we believe was an almost perfect being in order to provide an Earthly aspiration and explanation to the purpose of our existence and what is to come after death. All religions are man-written accounts…and it should be keenly noted that they are just that…man-written…which means they are open to the flaws and influence of humanity regardless to the purpose and intent of the accounts.

I pray that you never have to make such a sacrifice, but I also pray that you love the Lord enough to choose Him over your children. This is where we find ourselves. This is our life. Our oldest son has turned his back on the Lord, and in spite of all our attempts, he refuses to repent. 

The son may or may not have turned his back on God. The relationship one has with faith, God, the higher being or whom, or whatever you believe in, is an intimate and personal one. Humans and/or man-written text can attempt to dictate that relationship but it is ultimately between the individual and that higher power to define.

Indoctrination to a single binary religion/faith is how parents find themselves at this point in their relationships with their sons.

Consequently, our relationship has changed. It cannot remain the same and be loyal to Jesus (2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Our contact with our son is now limited to attempts at restoration. We have no fellowship. We used to share holidays, regular phone calls and texts, family events, etc. but now, all that is gone. Our son has completely turned his back on everything he ever believed. He has no respect for the Lord or His church. He has chosen a life of sin rather than the hope of salvation. And because of his rebellion against God, we as parents must make a choice. Do we overlook his practice of sin and maintain our relationship, or do we withdraw ourselves from him as the Lord instructs?

The relationshp HAD to change. Being true to who you are requires honesty and change from hiding.

The decision parents make is a decision that we, as the sons, were forced to make before the parents.

Do we overlook who we are in order to accommodate a religion which chastises and pits parents against their children in order to preserve a man-made hierarchy of right and wrong and where a single autoritarian God is placed at the top, or withdraw from the parents for their devotion to a text that directs the abandonment of their child for who they are in order to preserve ideas laid out in the Bible in the hopes that after this life there is a better one? We are required to brace ourselves for disapproval or acceptance.

I believe that the blood of Christ is more important that the physical flesh and blood that I share with my son. Unfortunately, my husband and I know the pain of “giving our child to the Devil.” Those words are sharp, shocking and grim, just as Paul intended them to be when he wrote them (1 Corinthians 5:5). Perhaps I am writing this is for myself more than for those who are reading. I have not seen my son in nearly two and a half years now and there are days that the pain is just as fresh as ever. Until now, I have kept this pain inside and shared with only a couple of my closest friends. I am not sure that a day has gone by that I have not shed tears. Sometimes it is a single tear and other days are gut wrenching cries of despair. I have pulled into my driveway with tears blinding my eyes, only to find myself literally screaming and wailing in grief. I’m devastated by our loss; his loss.

This blog post is absolutely written to help the mother process, just like my writing these responses are to help me process. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I applaud the mother for at least putting it out there to process.

We, as the sons, feel the pain and grief as well. Perhaps more so in many ways than the parent. The idea that a love of God is more important than the love and acceptance of you as a child is gut-wrenching. To be “given to the Devil” because one does not conform to ancient man-made writings about how to live in order to live a theoretical afterlife is difficult to wrap your mind around.

To have parents you have loved, worked to get their approval and please for all you life, and even hide from because of a binary concept of good and bad, right and wrong, to just turn their backs on you because you were brave and strong enough to be who you are, as God made you, is like being launched into the vastness of space with nothing to ground you.

I feel desperation and hopelessness. I’m scared. What probably began as harmless flirtation with sin has now become a quicksand that pulls my son deeper and deeper toward Hell. Sometimes I feel jealous of other parents who have close, loving relationships with all their grown children. I feel embarrassed by what my son has done.

Over the years I’ve learned that ultimately none of this is about the child. It’s not even completely about God. It’s about the parent. Its about a blind submissive relationship with the Bible and God and how that has convinced them that they can no longer have a child because they are different than what the man-written text says. 

The mother’s jealousy is hers to own, and if that is her choice journey, so be it. There is nothing but a binary idea laid out in a text from thousands of years ago that separates her from having a similar relationship with her son. I often wonder if my mother feels the same. 

Her and my mother’s embarrassment, I think, stems from their feelings of failure in meeting the expectations laid out in the Bible. Not with the child themselves, because I’ll be conceited and say I’m freaking successful and fruitful.

The fact is, I don’t know this person that I once thought I knew so well. Was I blind to things that I should have seen? I believed our relationship was so close. I adored this child. Was the love our son expressed to us all a lie? How does one go from being a respectful obedient child to flagrantly disregarding everything we taught him and everything that we stand for?

Thinking about my journey, my mother probably would closely relate to this. Ignorance was prefered rather than having to work through the idea that the expectations laid out in the Bible could be wrong and hateful. 

I will assume this mother’s son truly did love their family. They, like I, just were not able to live honestly. 

I think the struggle parents go through is the idea that if their child chooses to be different and believe in love of higher levels beyond the structure laid out in a man-made text and they find their own relationship to God, a higher being or with themselves it offers up the potential for questioning their beliefs and religion, which is a contradiction in itself to many zealous believers.

A full night’s sleep…what is that? While I am able to fall asleep easily, there is not a night that goes by that I sleep until morning. I awaken in the middle of the night, and the first thought in my mind is that I had just had a terrible dream, but I soon realize that it wasn’t a dream, it is reality; my reality.

 I try to picture where my son is now and what he may be doing. I hurt. Sin is ugly. It is disgusting. It perverts. While I don’t want to know, I find myself drawn to his social media like watching two cars collide. I want to look away, but I can’t. I care too much.

I think the mother cares for the idea of the child and in fulfilling the duties of a woman of God to raise children as laid out in the teachings of the Bible and of God. And that socal media puts the failure on display for all to see, so shame, and evidence of failure to meet God’s “expectations” is always there. 

Sometimes the hardest thing are the memories. Remembering the joy I felt in that plump baby who looked at me so adoringly. I remember when he sat on the kitchen counter helping peel potatoes or stir ingredients into the batter. I remember our home school days at the kitchen table and reading together on the couch. I remember singing harmony together in the kitchen. I remember the pride I felt when he led singing or gave a talk at young men’s night at church. Those memories are all I have left now. There are no more to make.

There could be more memories to be made, but it requires the mother to understand that her concept of the role as a mother was never about the child but a duty that was given to her via the Bible and God. I think if she could free herself from the constraints of her religion she could have many more memories with her child. 

Occasionally, I may see a young man that looks like my son. Or, I may be cleaning out a closet and see a photograph. I may be asked by a well-meaning person, where my son is now. All these make me cry. He was such a handsome boy, an excellent student, a talented musician, so kind and thoughtful of others. He never gave us trouble while at home. He loved his siblings. I remember his “infectious laugh.”

None of these things have stopped or disappeared when he came out…

Mother’s day and Father’s day are so hard. While we used to receive the most precious cards and notes of love and appreciation, now any correspondence from him are filled with anger, blame, hateful words. Even worse are the sarcastic and blasphemous words used toward his heavenly Father.

Because a parent has abandoned a child based on religion is devastating. The hate that grows and festers in a human who has been abandoned for who they are is real. I’ve been there. These parents like mine have sustained binary concepts in their religion; there is good and there is bad and if you fall on the “opposing side” you are vilified. And each side vilifies the other because it is part of the innate human side of our being when confronted with hate or even just the simplicity of difference.

Self evaluation, guilt, despair, fear….I have felt all these emotions. Who is a perfect parent? Who doesn’t have something that they would change if they could go back. Even so, I know that we were good parents. We loved our son, spent time with him, encouraged him, and taught him God’s word.

I believe there is no such thing as good or bad parents. I believe there are parents who make good and bad decisions. Some parents indoctrinate children to believe what they believe rather than teach their children to be able to create their own beliefs. Organized religion in many ways supplies the groundwork for this. I don’t know if what these parents and mine have done to raise their children, then what they decided to do when the children grew into their own makes them good or bad parents. 

I don’t know what the future holds for our son or our family. What I do know is that God is faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3). He will do what is right (Genesis 18:25). He will reward those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). More than I could have ever understood before, I long for the promises of heaven, namely that God will wipe away every tear…there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4).

Heaven will be a place of great reunion with those who have gone on before. There is an old hymn that invites everyone to “come to the feast”. I just wish we didn’t have an empty chair at our table.

No one knows the future. We also don’t know what comes after life. To create hurt and hate between one’s child and you for a reward in heaven that may not even exist is a gamble. I don’t know if I could ever take that gamble.

And I wonder…if there is an all loving God, is this man-made hierarchy and text that have been written as an interpretation of one man’s life, truly an example and teach the ulitmate lesson in life which is to love?

Addendum: After having read several replies to my article, I saw several common misconceptions that were continually being made. Therefore, I thought I might clear a few of these up for some readers.

1. Unconditional Love Is Not The Same Thing As Acceptance. Nearly everyone who has written to me has “scolded” me for not loving my child “unconditionally.” Their accusation is false. I do love my child unconditionally. There is nothing that my child could ever do to make me stop loving him. I believe that’s what unconditional love is, and that’s what I practice. However, many are apparently confused being unable to distinguish between unconditional love and acceptance. While I will never stop loving my son, I refuse to accept the sin of which my son remains unrepentant. God is indeed a God of love, but have so many forgotten that this “God of love” disciplines his children, even “giving them up” (Romans 1:24,26,28), and will some day eternally separate himself from them? God doesn’t stop loving his children, but his love doesn’t keep him from separating himself from them (Isaiah 59:1-2). I think if people would read the prophets, they’d be shocked to see how their short-sighted view of love is overturned by God’s genuine response of love. Furthermore, you might do well to remember that a man, a good man, came to Jesus and asked him what he needed to do to be saved. Jesus told him, and the man was unwilling to do it. But don’t miss this. The text says that Jesus, looking at him, loved him. But he let him walk away. He didn’t call him back. He didn’t change his terms. He loved him, but let him walk away (Mark 10:21-22). The fact that our son has walked away from us doesn’t mean we have stopped loving him.

I agree. Unconditional Love is not the same as Acceptance. 

I honestly do believe this mother and even my own love their children unconditionally. I think that they cannot accept their children because they have been blinded by their religion and faith. This unacceptance is where the parents are forced to “cast aside their children to the Devil” in order to preserve their religious beliefs. 

2. Jesus Loved Sinners, even socializing with them. Of course he did. And so do I. But what many are failing to understand is that there are two types of sinners. Sinners who are outside the body of Christ (still in the world), and sinners who are part of the body of Christ (brethren). The inspired apostle Paul said they are to be treated differently (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). The Corinthians had a question about keeping company with sinners and Paul told them they had misunderstood his instructions. He said that he was not forbidding Christians from keeping company with sinners, otherwise, we couldn’t live in the world. Instead, he was telling them that they were not to keep company or fellowship, not even to eat with a sinner who is a BROTHER in Christ. I’m not surprised that so many failed to see this distinction because it isn’t frequently preached, and it is even more seldom put into practice. But it is in the Bible…read it for yourself.

This is, to me, evidence of the humanity in “divine” text. You must acknowledge sinners, because everyone is a sinner, but they cannot be a part of the Body of Christ.  

3. What Is The Sin That Is So Terrible That You Would “Abandon” Your Son? First of all, we haven’t “abandoned” our son. He has abandoned us. We are right where we have always been. Even the prophet Amos said that two cannot walk together unless they be agreed (Amos 3:3). He chose to walk down a path of sin; a path in which we will not walk with him, nor will we endorse him as he walks it. My loyalty is first to God, not my family (Matthew 10:34-37). Second, the specific sin is irrelevant. My response would be the same if he were unrepentant with regard to any sin. Of course, I’m not talking about sins of momentary human weakness, sins committed in the moment, or sins we are trying to fight. I’m talking about sins to which we have given ourselves. Sins we no longer fight, but to which we have surrendered ourselves. Again, the doctrine of discipline is ignored by many Christians today, and so they, along with the world, are shocked to learn of such doctrine. But if you believe the Bible to be the word of God, then it’s there staring you in the face, and you have a decision to obey or disobey it (1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15).

Quick note: “The Bible to be the Word of God”… which was written by man…

The child did not abandon the parents. Let’s be honest.

The child spoke their truth and the parents turned their backs on the child for speaking their truth. Its because the child’s truth contradicted the parents’ beliefs that the child was ex-commnicated by the parents. 

It’s upon the individual to take ownership and make a decison to come out and be their truth. It is the world around us that gets to decide and hold ownership in how they react and respond. 

And one final thought. Those who have, through their “feigned” righteous indignation, called for my death; prayed that I rot in Hell; proposed sexual acts be done to me; cursed at me with the vilest of profanities; and who have blasphemed the God I serve…let me assure you of this one thing…Your hateful words have only solidified my stance. Your hate speech, draped in feigned concern and love for God and my son, have served to remind me that I live in a fallen world. Your words have emboldened me and have not caused me to shrink. Your words have deepened my roots. I will not be moved. In fact, your words have actually given me reason to rejoice in that you have allowed me the privilege, however small it may be, to share in the suffering of Jesus. “But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings…” (1 Peter 4:13).

I applaud this mother for writing what’s on her heart. Just as I write what’s on mine.

Do I think it’s blindly following beliefs that I do not agree with…absolutely.

Do I think that the parents have lost the true meaning of what love is because it’s been bastardized by man thousands of years ago….absolutely.

But I do feel bad of the reactions from others to her differing views. This is her truth. To me it’s a horribly hateful, blind and ignorant truth. But it’s hers. Do not chastise or hate her for holding her truth. Otherwise, we are no better. 


I write this response off the top of my head in a time of strong emotions. Very much of this letter is putting my relationship with my own mother into perspective for me, and while it makes me better understand my parents, it also assures and comforts me of the decisions I have made in my life. Plus it’s just after Mother’s Day so everything is hyper-sensitive right now.

I believe in God and a higher power. I also believe that love and truth are the true foundations of faith and religion but that have been detroyed and bastardized by man; and I never want to be so blind in someone else’s truth that I lose sight of my own. I never want to gamble on supporting someone’s truth here on Earth for a theoretical afterlife.

I want to be the best human being I can be here and now and hold to my truths and beliefs and if that means I “abandon” my parents and their beliefs then its a decision I am ready to make.

We only do what we can to the best of our ability here on Earth to the best of our understanding and beliefs. This is mine and you reading this will have different ones. We’ll disagree, we’ll try and one up, or we’ll argue and fight. But the difference and owndership is in how we react and respond. And how we use our difference and similarities to help our fellow man and make the world a better place for all.

Anyway, thanks for going on this post journey with me today.

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

 

Reference:

http://www.teachinghelp.org/giving-your-child-to-the-devil/

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“I will push back”: Thoughts on Those Who Fight Against Non-Discrimination Policies

As we all know, recently there has been an uptick in the debate on LGBTQ rights and federal and state non-discrimination legislation and policies.

The arguments for adding LGBTQ into non-discrimination legislation and policies are basically:

FOR non-discrimination legislation and policies: It allows for equal protections for LGBTQ identified individuals.

AGAINST non-discrimination legislation and policies: It infringes on expression and practice of faith-based and religious values and principles.

One side wants to ensure that services and opportunities are not taken away because of one’s sexual orientation, sexual identity, gender identity or gender expression.

The other side wants to ensure that members of their community are not forced to provide services or support to those who they believe are not inline with their values and principles.

Both are legitimate communities of our society and both have valid basic positions. Both are doing what they believe is best for their communities. But they’re ideal situation clashes with the other.

Now I have no answer to this dilemma. I can see both sides. But I am also on the receiving end of one of these sides, and am strongly biased.

So, my biased and increasingly more frustrated view on those fighting against non-discrimination legislation and policies is this:

If you deny me services because your faith and religion teaches you that my identity is sinful, I could deny you services because my faith and beliefs teach me to believe that intolerance begets intolerance. 

If you dehumanize me because of who I love, I could dehumanize you for your outdated inhumane beliefs.

If you treat me as though I am broken and need to be fixed, I could treat you as though you are delusional and thusly need to be fixed.

If you rally against me because you believe in an ancient man-written document over the physical being who I am in front of you, I could rally against you for being naive and unrealistic.  

If you treat me differently because I am gay, I could treat you as a bigot. 

Now, even though I could do all this, I work each day to do my best not to. I see you, the human being, on the other side. I try to put into practice those values and beliefs that you say you abide by.

I love the line from Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention:

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Honestly, the blind faith and hate is what actually makes me feel sorry and have compassion for those individuals who truly believe in gay conversation therapy, who blindly and ignorantly follow texts that are centuries old and irrelevant, who believe that there is something wrong with those who are different, who use hate and fear of others as a weapon to create a world of ignorance and intolerance and who are afraid of what they do not know or understand.

However, over the last few weeks within conversations over race, privilege, rights, etc, I’ve learned that there is only a limit to which I can be tolerant to those who are coming at me hard. I’m learning that there is a point that I have to step into the fight and push back even if I am biased towards my community. The community’s survival depends on it.

I acknowledge that there is a large community of faith-based and religious individuals who whole heartedly believe in equality but as we are learning, we answer and are responsible for our communities we are a part of. I look to those who do understand for the need of such protections to not only support the community but to challenge their fellow faith-based and religious friends and family who believe that there is no need for such protections.

Now, while both sides have stakes in this battle, for the LGBTQ community, it means life or death.

So, let it be known that even if I feel sorry for you I won’t dehumanize you or treat you as a lesser person, however: If you push against me because of who I am, I will push back. 

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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The Paradox of Tolerance

I was speaking with my dad about my wedding and what he wanted his role in it to be, or not to be as it turned out. (He stated he would rather just sit in the back and experience the wedding. Kinda like with a baseball game or concert apparently…). Well, after going back and forth briefly on that, our conversation turned to my mom who is, as you probably know from previous posts, not accepting at all of my life and my fiance.

I asked him whether or not she would come and if I should even invite her and I laid out my reasons, which were both emotional and logical. He highly suggested I still invite her because otherwise, if she did decide to attend even though she doesn’t support it, it would be a slap in the face if I didn’t invite her. That we may not know until the day of the wedding if she’ll be there but to let her come to that conclusion on her own.

Well throughout this conversation, it was pointed out to me that I was not being understanding of her views and experiences and that forcing her to make a decision on whether to support me or not wasn’t very tolerant. That any struggles were not necessarily between me and her but rather with me and not being open to her experiences and why she does not support me.

That stopped me in my tracks.

I was being called to the mat for not being open, understanding and tolerant of my mom’s intolerance of me.

The day went down hill from there. I couldn’t focus. I was a bit of a hot mess emotionally.

The next day, I was talking with Michael and our friend Jaime about it and Michael pointed out a concept he learned in undergrad called “The Paradox of Tolerance” which was defined by philosopher Karl Popper in 1945. Michael noticed that, that was what my dad had thrown at me.

The short and sweet of it is that refusing to tolerate intolerance is itself intolerance.

My initial reaction was:

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But now I’m more like:

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Now, I have no answers to any of this but as usual, needed to write it out to help me process it all. But let me tell you that I’ve got lots of questions swimming in my head right now such as:

-Am I actually an intolerant person?

-Is it wrong to be intolerant of an intolerant person?

-At what point do I become intolerant in my work to be tolerant?

-What would my wedding be like with my family or without them?

-Will Michael and I be comfortable with having people who do not believe in our lives or happiness at our wedding?

-What’s more important: intolerant family at our wedding or not having to deal with that on our Special Day?

-Do I example this paradox in my professional work and am intolerant to others due to their intolerance thus making me intolerant of them?

Though while I have many questions whirling around, maybe this will be a moment of learning in which I finally draw a line with the level of  influence some have over me in my life and limit or close those relationships. Perhaps it’ll help me better understand some of the work that is being done in my professional field. And perhaps it’ll help me better understand and advise my students and even colleagues. Only time knows.

So this is what I’ve been musing over in my head and for the time being, can’t stop thinking about it. Maybe in the future I’ll have some answers but for now just musings and contemplations.

Thanks for reading through my musing and maybe it’ll help you work through some stuff too. 🙂

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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