The Inconvenient Truth

The Inconvenient Truth

For the first 20+ years or my life I was led to believe the falsehood (let’s call it an alternative fact lol) that the ACLU and ADL were horrible organizations that were against Christianity and sought to take away Christian’s rights. Like most other things, when you grow up in a bubble, you don’t question what you’re told.
Obviously, I no longer think that as I know the truth (the factual truth, you know.. THE TRUTH). Both groups stand up and fight for human rights, work against hate crimes and work to ensure religious freedom.  This would include defending Christianity, if it was actually in jeopardy or if Christian’s were victims of hate crimes.
Now, imagine my surprise (and shame on me for not knowing this already), as a 42-year-old, I sat listening to someone from the ADL speak to our diversity group… and out of his mouth comes “The Anti-Defamation League was started to protect the Jewish people..”
I don’t recall much of what else he said because I was still stuck on his first sentence. The anger in me began to rise as I realized that for all of these years, the Christian community (not everyone, I realize) has labeled these 2 groups in the “enemy” category.  They had lied to me!  I’m not sure why this surprises me anymore as I watch the Christian right politely swallow every, single, falsehood and un-Christlike thing imaginable from the Trump administration.  The ADL was founded to protect Jewish people. I repeat that, the ADL was founded to protect JEWISH people!!!!  Jewish people, I’m sure you know Christian, that the Jewish people are the CHOSEN people and yet you perceive this group as evil, when they are the ones on the front-lines protecting them and have been for over 100 years.  Yet THEY are the bad people? They are the ones deserving of horrible rants about how evil they are? These are the people standing in the gap where you, CHRISTIAN, should be!
The ACLU also fights for Freedom of Religion.  You know, that First Amendment Right that guarantees all of us citizens the right to practice ANY religion or none at all. It doesn’t guarantee your right to push your religious beliefs on anyone else or use them to take away someone’s rights.
As his first sentence sunk in, I began to realize that I thought I was already disillusioned and utterly disgusted with the “Christian” faith before that day. I was wrong. I am now.
As this began to sink in, I realized that what’s going on in our country and with the Christian right is not new.  This need to view anyone who wouldn’t allow them to force their religious beliefs on any other person, as a threat, has been long in existence.  This perception that a lot of Christians have (because that’s the propaganda they’ve been fed generation after generation) that they are being persecuted is utter ridiculous.  Not being allowed to require every single U.S. citizen to believe the way you believe, isn’t persecution.  Not being allowed to take away rights from another citizen isn’t persecution.  In fact, I argue that you have more rights than any citizen in this country.  In some states you even have the bonus right of discriminating against me and if unchecked, the Trump administration will make that a Federal right.
Persecuted, my dear Christian, is what is happening to a tiny fragment of the Syrian refugees who are indeed Christians.  How DARE you compare yourselves to them?  You have absolutely no concept of what persecution actually is!  They make up a fraction of the rest of the refugees, of which we are turning away all of them from our “Christian” land.
You have been allowed to worship as you wish, practice the religion of your choosing and have been granted additional perks like having your churches as tax exempt, with very little oversight.
At 42, I am now questioning everything I was taught, not only because of this conversation about the ADL, but also because of the complete disregard for facts that I’m seeing by the Christian right.  I grew up in a very conservative Evangelical Christian family, church & community.  When I was younger, we were not allowed to dance, watch movies, listen to secular movies, drink alcohol, etc.  We were in church 3 times a week at least.  It was all we knew.  As a child, you learn from those who you are surrounded by and for me, it was almost exclusively conservative Christian people.  I finished up my high school via a Christian High school and graduated from a Christian college.  I thought that I had re-educated myself or at the very least, tried to investigate and learn about things that I either had no exposure to or were portrayed as “evil”.
It’s no longer surprising to me that the Christian right is not speaking out against this administration.  Why?  Because I actually do think he is representative of their beliefs.  If not, they have sold their soul to the devil and that’s on them.
When you raise children with minimal exposure to the real world, without exposure to scientific facts, without knowing that not everyone believes the way you do and that it’s okay that they don’t, you’re failing as a parent.  You are taking away their free will to decide how they will believe and live their life.  Instead, maybe you should be raising them with your beliefs but yet exposing them to everything.  The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  From my vantage point, most of you (not all) are training up a generation of kids that disrespect differences, disrespect other’s rights, and are intolerant of any other view-point.
When you support someone like Betsy De Vos for Secretary of Education, the reasons become clear.  This woman, is completely inexperienced and woefully unqualified for this position.  She does not support public education, which the majority of the United States is educated through because that’s all they are able to attain.  She didn’t have a clue what IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was, let alone know that it is a Federal law that mandates all public schools to provide equal education opportunities to children with disabilities. Why, why would any intelligent person support her (Republican or Democrat)??  It’s simple.  She wants to push “God” back into the schools.  And for that fact alone, she has the support of the Christian right.  Let’s be real here people.  If you truly do believe in God… God never left the schools.  God is everywhere, in everything.  He doesn’t need a bright and shiny sign saying “I’m here”.  If you believe in God, and you are teaching your child right from wrong, God IS in the schools because he’s in them.  The truth is, Christian kids are some of the most hateful, judgmental, bullying kids I know.  Why?  Because they’ve never been taught to see the beauty in those that are different.  They feel inadequate themselves, because they aren’t taught self-worth because their worth is found only in what they can do to “further the Kingdom.”  Mind you, when I use the term “Christian”, it is not my intention to say that every, single, Christian is this way.  I know some very decent Christians who teach their children to love everyone and treat everyone equally (which is what Christ’s love is all about).
So no, I do not attend church.  I do not pray.  I do not teach my child about any God.  My goal in life is to raise my son to be a decent human being.  A man who respects his elders (if they deserve respect), treats every human with compassion, sees differences as beauty, is in awe of science and what we can learn from it, cognizant of history so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes, lives his present to the fullest and excited about what the future holds.  When he is old enough to make a decision of his own, he can choose what religion (if any) he wants to practice – regardless of what choice he makes at this point, I hope that I have provided him with the building blocks to be a successful, kind and decent human being.  Those are the values we should be passing down to our children, not hate, not division, not lies, not half-truths, not judgement.

Sorry, You Can’t Protest!

Sorry, You Can’t Protest!

I’ve tried to refrain from commenting on other people’s political Facebook posts lately, given the turmoil our country is in and the strong feelings on both sides of the matter.

Over the weekend, the Women’s Marches around the world garnered millions of people standing up to say that we will not tolerate the racist, xenophobic, homophobic, male chauvinist rhetoric the new administration oozes from every pore.  In response, the current administration has tried to diminish the success and turnout of the Marches all over the world, by offering “alternative facts” just like they have offered about the turnout (or lack thereof) at Mr. Trump’s inauguration.  They’ve claimed the press is inflating the success of the Marches.

I sat and thought to myself, “Do they really think we are that stupid?  Do they really think I can’t see all of the personal pictures flowing through my Facebook feed from all over the world?  I can see with my own eyes the huge crowds.  These are not pictures posted by media, but by private citizens participating in the marches.”  Then I realized, yes, yes they do think we are that stupid.  Why?  Because if I were a Republican, the chances of me having anyone on my social media that participated in the Marches is slim, there may be a few but certainly not to the extent of what really occurred.  I probably would not see all the personal images posted from all over the world of women (and men) protesting Mr. Trump and what he represents.  So, if Mr. Trump’s administration told them it’s the press embellishing on the actual turn out for those events – and knowing that the people who support him (not all)  tend to not look at or listen to any other view-point or look to non-biased information sources, I can see them eating it right off the silver spoon he’s using to feed it to them!

Then, as if to further bait me, this picture appears on my Facebook feed, posted by someone I know.

16265693_10154954806258559_6405636268199544102_n

There are so many things about this rant that I wish to address, I’m not sure I can do them all justice, but I will try!

First of all, it’s exactly WHY women (and men) were protesting.  We are protesting an administration that see’s women (and minorities) as tokens, as property, as “less than”.  This mentality is one that is wide-spread around the world and it’s exactly why there are horrific acts that this person is using as the reason we women, in the United States, have no right to protest.  This mentality has been bred over thousands of years, generation after generation.

Whether or not we deserve it or asked for it, the United States has taken on the world-wide role of leading the way in Human Rights.  This means that we should be an example to the world when it comes to the decent, kind and RIGHT way to treat other humans.  So, when the women (and men) in this country peacefully protest against an administration who is anything BUT supportive of human rights, we are leading the way.  We are empowering women around the world to stand up for themselves and that is obvious in the solidarity marches across the world this past weekend.  These ARE the women who live in those countries – the ones this above pictured message speaks of.  These ARE the women of Kenya, of South Africa, of Nigeria.  Look at this map (provided by the NY Times) showing all of the Women’s Marches around the world last weekend.  THESE are the women (and men) opposing what Mr. Trump stands for, the degradation of other human beings.

ny-times-womens-marches-around-the-globe

Do you STILL think that we are protesting alone?  Use your own minds and do your own research.  Look at news sites from other countries to confirm that indeed, there were large amounts of people protesting Mr. Trump in solidarity with the U.S.  Here is just an example of what you can find.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201701210296.html

Were women in every country protesting?  Obviously not, many due to the fact that they are so repressed they are not allowed to even consider doing such a thing.  THEY are why we march just as much as any of ourselves.  We cannot be an example to other countries on human rights, if we ourselves have a leader who degrades women, treating them like property and has deplorable views on anyone else who is not a white male.

If we do not stand up for ourselves, how can we possibly stand up for others around the globe?  If we do not stand up for what is right and speak out against what is wrong, how can we call ourselves a global leader?  What kind of legacy do we want to leave this world, a legacy of used and abused women or a legacy of respect, equality, strength and compassion?

These marches were not women screaming profanities about “men”.  These marches were about women standing up to a specific group of men (and women) – Trump, his cabinet and staff members, saying “We will NOT be silent and we will NOT sit idly by while you turn our country into a mockery for human rights.”

To the person who posted that original post – I would wish I could ask her when the last time she did ANYTHING to help those women she speaks of?  It’s very convenient to throw them out as an example of why we should not protest – but never lift a finger to make their world a better place.  There’s a term for that – “Armchair quarterback.”

I will leave you with two quotes – take a moment to think about what Mr. Trump and his cabinet are attempting to do by using their “alternative facts” ploy.. they are attempting to downplay and silence anyone who disagrees with him.

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” ~ John F. Kennedy

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

 

Living In A World With Made Up Memories

Living In A World With Made Up Memories

As a child I was in a serious accident (motor vehicle vs. pedestrian, I was the pedestrian).  Among multiple physical injuries I suffered, was a head injury resulting from my head impacting and shattering the windshield of the car and then slamming on the pavement when the impact sent my body flying through the air.

While my physical injuries healed with time but the resulting trauma to my brain has lasted.  I have learned to function and deal with the side-effects as best I can, which have included severe migraines, speech and motor processing issues and the usual arthritis that tends to creep in to bones that have been broken.  The one effect I have never been able to recover are the majority of my memories before age twelve.

As a teenager and young adult, this never bothered me.  I have very few legitimate memories of my childhood, my “memories” are stories told by my siblings or parents of when we were little.  It’s hard for me to listen to someone talk about when they were little, things they experienced, fun they had.  I don’t have any memory of those things.  At other times, I am grateful for the lack of many memories as I do not remember first-hand the abuse I suffered at the hands of my father.  I have plenty of those memories from after my accident to make up for the lack of them before.

I’ve had embarrassing, self-conscious moments over the years when I have difficulty getting words out when speaking in public.  There have been times in public when my brain simply will not process what to do next, simple things like how to take my next step.  One of these such incidents occurred when I was in college.  I was climbing the stairs of one of buildings heading to class at a high traffic time when my brain simply shut down. I stood in the middle of the stairway not having the ability to move out of the way, to step up, to even verbalize what was happening.  Luckily my good friend was walking with me and realized in a beat what was happening and simply took my arm and said gently “lift your leg and step up”.

These experiences have made me ultra conscious of what other people experience and my reactions to their seemingly odd or abnormal behavior.  I have no idea what they have experienced in their lives, what medical issues they may have or what is triggering their behavior.  What I do have the ability to do, is treat them with respect and dignity, to not make fun of or gossip about them.  Each of us have a story and most of the world will never know the majority of our chapters.

My purpose of writing this brief post is to say that you have the ability to be the change, to treat people with respect & to not judge someone based on their physical or mental capacity.  Everyone is beautiful in their own way and there is no way that is better than another.

#BeTheChange #BeKind #ShowLove #BeCompassionate #YouAreBeautiful

Sunday Ponderings

Sunday Ponderings

Picture this: You & your significant other are overjoyed to learn you’re expecting a baby. Time goes by, and now it’s time to reveal if you’re having a boy or girl. The ultrasound is performed & its discovered that your baby has a medical condition called hermaphroditism (also known as intersex). Your baby has both male and female reproductive organs & carries both an XX and XY chromosome pairs. When this baby is born, you will have to make a decision on how you will raise the child, as a male or as a female.
Now picture this.You & your significant other are overjoyed to learn you’re expecting a baby. Time goes by and now it’s time to reveal if you’re having a boy or a girl. The ultrasound is performed & it’s discovered you’re having a boy (or girl). Your baby is born healthy and life carries on. Your child grows, and at some point reveals to you that while they may physically possess male (or female) organs, their mind does not match. You will have to make a decision, how will you react?
Now – put aside everything you’ve heard, everything you’ve been taught. Read those two scenarios again and without preconceived notions, ask yourself again. What would you do?
We accept the first scenario because we can physically see the medical condition. We cannot see the second condition because it is part of the make up of someone’s brain and the brain continues to hold vast mysteries on how it works.
A quick education of the mind. A trans-gendered person is NOT the same as a transvestite. A transvestite is simply a male (or female) who enjoys dressing in what society has deemed as female (or male) clothing but has no desire to actually be a woman (or man). A trans-gendered is a person who’s brain does not match the physical genitalia they were born with.
There is no need for laws barring trans-gendered people from using the bathroom that matches their brain instead of their body. If people are afraid that perverts will dress up as a woman or man and enter the bathroom with evil intentions of molesting or peeping at your wife and kids, they are going to do it regardless. Trans-gendered people are not perverts, they are not child molesters or rapists. They aren’t going in the bathroom to peep at you. They are going in to pee! If you’re want to protect your family or yourself, worry about the actual perverts. There are already “Peeping Tom” laws on the books that will apply to those dressing up to commit crimes.
Please, educate not only your mind on this issue, but also your heart.
Aristotle once said “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Put aside your prejudices, the tails you’ve been told, the fear mongering that has been spread. Put aside your fear of the unknown and educate ALL of yourself.

I Choose Love

I Choose Love

I posted this several years ago on my personal Facebook page.  Sometimes it’s good to remind myself.

———-

A long time ago, I decided that I would distance myself from people in my life who made me feel less than the perfectly created human that I am.  Living with the constant disapproval, judgment and unkind words was making me miserable.  Once I realized that I didn’t need their approval to be happy and enjoy life the way that I am, life became so much more of an enjoyment.

I have endured some harsh words and some pretty unkind judgments from people I would not have expected to act in that way.  It doesn’t affect me the way it used to, I simply choose to move them right on out of my life.  It does not mean that those words and actions do not hurt me.

I’ve also come to realize that it’s okay to speak up and say that your actions hurt and because I don’t rely on other people’s approval, it does not change my happiness.  I have the ability and the strength to say if you can’t love & ACCEPT me for who I am, and not try or hope or pray that I “change”, then you are not the kind of person I want in my circle.

I would NEVER dream of treating someone with the kind of passive aggressive disregard for another human’s feelings as I’ve experienced.  I am tired of seeing the religious posts from certain people claiming that they have devoted their lives to following Jesus’ teaching, yet have apparently not learned lesson #1: Love thy neighbor as thyself.  You hide behind the cloak of “religion” and hide your bigotry behind the guise of Christianity, you belittle others for their “sin”, yet cannot see the plank in your own eye.

If you choose to claim you are a Christian, then practice what you preach.  Stand in the mirror and honestly ask yourself how your sin is any less than my perceived “sin”?  Now turn and look at your son, daughter, brother, sister, niece, nephew, etc. and ask yourself – what if they were gay?  Would I love them any less?  Could you turn your back on them or use your guise of Christianity to push them away?  What if it was your child?  Would you stand for someone bullying your child?  What if it was you?  How would you feel if you were in my position?

Do you not see how your “religion” is hurting others?  Do you not see the kids & teenagers and even ADULTS who take their own lives because their own flesh and blood cannot accept them and truly LOVE them for who they are?

How about a turn about in roles.  I do not want you in my home, I don’t want your toxic oppression to turn the love that lives here to hatred.  I do not want you around our child, your religion might  “rub” off on them and turn them Christian.  Your bigotry and narrow-mindedness might cloud their ability to love unconditionally regardless of color, disability, gender, nationality, religion.  I don’t want you to “recruit” our child to a community where he must follow the leader at the cost of his own individuality.

I am an adult and I have the ability to choose what I expose myself to and I simply choose love.  Love means love, regardless of who it’s with or for.  Love is what I want our son to know.  Love, pure and simple.  If that’s not what is truly in your heart, than you have no place in our lives.

Please think about what you say, what you do, what you post.  Think about how it would make someone feel.  If it is not your intention to hurt, then don’t post it.

Who I Am Is Beautiful

Who I Am Is Beautiful

I’ve sat next to you in school, on the bus and at the game.

I’ve shared a room, a drink and my food.

Would it have mattered if you had known?

 

I’ve shared a restroom, a locker room and a dressing room.

I’ve cared for your children, your parents, your friends.

Would it have mattered if you had known?

 

I’ve helped you move, helped you build, and helped you clean.

I stopped at your accident and cared for you until help arrived.

Would it have mattered if you had known?

 

I’ve been in your slums, your homeless shelters, the 3rd world countries.

I’ve built you houses & given the clothes off my back because you had nothing.

Would it have mattered if you had known?

 

I’ve been stared at, sworn at and disowned.

I’ve been told I cannot marry, cannot worship with you, and cannot use your services.

All, because you knew.

 

Why are things so different now, now because you know?

You know that I am gay?

Now you know and you think that I have changed?

I have not changed.  I’ve stayed the same.

I’d still hold your bleeding head, still give you the shirt off my back and still help you if you needed it.

You are the ones who have changed; your acceptance is so fickle.

You think my worth is tied to who I love.  You are wrong.  My worth his tied to who I am, and who I am is beautiful.

~ Cori Garrison © 2016

 

 

The Lies We Are Told

The Lies We Are Told

Growing up I heard a lot of horrible things said to scare or justify beliefs and behaviors.  Things like people were gay because they had been abused or they didn’t have a father or mother.  Any excuse that could be had to nullify the possibility that maybe gay people were simply born that way.  I’ve never understood why it is so difficult for them to accept that it’s possible for someone to be born with the biological desire to be attracted to and love someone of the same-sex.  Why?  Some people are born with brown eyes, some with blue and others with green.

Oh, I’ve heard all the cherry picked Bible verses used to support the “sin” of homosexuality, and as a child I believed them.  I believed them because I knew no better, it’s the only thing I had ever been told.  The longer I’ve been away, the more I’ve realized that in a manner of speaking it is like being brainwashed.  For the most part, I didn’t know what other ways of thinking there were.  I also was terrified to even think about anything that went against what was preached.  I know now, that everyone chooses to interpret the Bible differently.  No one truly knows if it was truly divinely inspired or just a book of stories (many which were taken from other cultures) to make a religion.  In my recent post It’s Just Me – I haven’t Changed I discussed the many fallacies of those cherry picked versus.

These “reasons” the Christian community has used for “why” people are gay are the main reason I have rarely spoken of the fact that I was sexually abused by two different people as a child.  I felt like if I spoke about it, especially around my family, that it would be used as an “excuse” or “justification” of why I was gay instead of focusing on the truths of the matter.  The first being that I was BORN gay.  I was not made this way by the fact that I was sexually abused.  I was not made this way by the fact that I had a physically abusive father.  I was not made this way because I had a largely absent mother (she was always travelling for work).  I am exactly who I was created to be.  The second being that it diminishes the reality that they have a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin who is gay, PERIOD.  Rather, they could then say well my cousin is gay, but she was abused as a kid so she probably hates men.  I do not hate men, nor do I do not want to be the “man” in the relationship.  I simply have no physical or emotional attraction to a man.  I am just me.

When I say my family was ultra-religious/conservative, I’ll expound upon that so you understand that gravity of what I was dealing with in my family & community arena.  Several of my great-grandfathers were pastors, two of my uncles are pastors, three of my male cousins are pastors & my brother is a pastor.  There are more missionaries in my family that I can even begin to count, including my own mother, who spent seven years as a medical missionary in Nigeria.  Her uncle is buried there after spending most of his adult life as a missionary there.  Another of her uncles spent his entire adult life there also.  My mother’s family is very well-known as her family was instrumental in starting a Christian college in Northern Indiana, which 60+ years later is very well-known in the Christian community.  At one time in the early 90’s there were thirteen first cousins attending the school, including my brother.  The administration building is named after my family as is one of the upper classmen apartment buildings.   I followed shortly after.  I grew up going to church camp every summer for two weeks.  I spent every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday at church.  My grandfather was very well-known in the community as he and my grandmother ran one of the largest producing dairy farms in the U.S.  I couldn’t go anywhere without someone saying “Oh, you’re an (my grandparent’s last name) or oh you’re XXX’s granddaughter or XXX’s daughter.”  The amount of pressure to be “perfect” was immense.  And being gay was certainly far from perfect.

All of that combined with the “shame” attached to being gay kept me from discussing the fact that I was molested because I felt it was attached to that shame. I also didn’t want to give anyone that power to say that’s what made me gay.  Unfortunately, I’m sure not discussing it wasn’t very healthy!

When I realized that one of my male cousins (who co-incidentally was adopted) was gay, I realized that he took a lot of the pressure off me because he “shattered” the “perfect” image of our family.  Then I began to realize though, the damage it had done to him.  My heart breaks when I think about what he’s gone through and how it’s affected his entire adult life.  I’m sure they could say “oh he’s adopted so it must be something from his birth family” but he was a newborn when they adopted him.  So then, in the conservative theory, it must be his home life – either he had an absent mother or father or he was abused.  None of those are true.  I began to think about it more.  Their philosophy is that it’s either the way you were nurtured (or lack there of) as a child OR you chose to be gay.  I don’t think he would have chosen to be gay, or at the very least, pretended to be straight after the shame and degradation he’s gone through from his parents.  So that leads back to the way he was nurtured.  That can’t be true or it would shatter the “perfect” image that our family worked so hard to maintain. They certainly couldn’t admit to that, it couldn’t be something they did that made him gay.  The truth of the matter is, he’s gay because he’s gay.  He just is who he is.  He’s still a fantastic human being, but he’s a human being that’s been led to believe he’s living a life of sin his whole life and that has taken a toll on him & I can hear a lot of bitterness when he talks. Who can blame him?

About a year ago, one of my cousin’s son’s came out to me on Facebook (in a private message) and asked for some advice.  He then promptly came out on Facebook for the whole world to see and has never looked back.  That’s not to say he has not dealt with fallout from our family.  It truly saddens me the lack of Christ’s love that they portray in their dealings with him.

Over the years, I’ve watched other “scandalous” things occur in our family like divorce, alcoholism, sex before marriage, etc. and it’s come to help me see that I was so afraid of  being the one that messed it all up, when in reality they were all just living a facade.  Their own families had issues.

My memories before age thirteen are very fragmented due to a serious accident I was in at twelve.  I’ve either subconsciously blocked out who the first person was that molested me or the accident took that memory from me.  However, I very clearly recall who the second person was and to this day I have only told two people.  I sometimes wonder if he ever thinks about it and if he thinks I don’t remember it because of my memory loss.  I don’t let it rule my life other than to be hyper aware of the fact that there are people in your life that may appear to be one thing, but in reality are hiding ugliness.  It’s usually those people who either go to the extreme of shaming others with perceived flaws (like being gay) or they stay silent because they have a guilty conscience and know they have no right to throw stones.

Being gay is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is being the victim of abuse.  The way you handle yourself and your presentation to the world is everything.  You can choose to be bitter and angry or you can choose to show love and live your life happily.

Always remember – you are perfect (created the way you were meant to be), you are beautiful (with all your flaws), you are worth it (and should be treated as such), you are special (just like everyone else is).  Don’t ever let anyone make you feel differently.