Words Are Important

Words Are Important

As someone who has been physically and emotionally (verbally) abused, I’ve come to accept that words are triggers for me.  No matter how tough I thought I had become, no matter how thick I though my walls were, words still manage to lay my heart bare.

Growing up, my defense to hurtful words was to either slay you with my own vast array of vocabulary and wit, or I’d withdraw, depending upon how strong I was feeling at the time.  I’ve never really been a fighter, although I can certainly more than take care of myself if needed and I generally do not hesitate to fight for others, I rarely fight for myself.  You see, in my house growing up, “fighting” for yourself meant the consequences were only magnified.  If I just shut up, retreated to my room and remained as invisible as possible, things were easier.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that I generally take words to heart more than I should.  Put more simply, I take things personally.  I know now, that its a byproduct of being abused for so many years.  It’s always a work in progress; it’s always me reminding myself to take a breath, to ask for clarity, to step back and process it as if it had nothing to do with me personally.  I’ve gotten really good at that, but there are still times when words tear me apart.  If that makes me “weak” in some people’s perception, than so be it.  If people think I’m too sensitive, oh well.  I say it makes me more sensitive to the emotional needs of others, or rather more compassionate.

What my experiences have taught me, though, I apply to my relationships with others.  Words can hurt.  Words can’t be forgotten.  Words cannot be taken back.  Once you put them out there, it’s done.  I weigh my words very carefully because if I care about the person, I certainly don’t want to hurt them by saying something in the heat of the moment that isn’t meant and certainly isn’t the representation of love that I want to show.  I’m not perfect.  I still say things in anger or frustration, but those times are few and far between anymore.  If I do, I own up and apologize and I do my very best to never do it again.

At the same time, I’ve also learned that at an appropriate time in a relationship, I need to have this conversation with that person.  If I don’t let them know, I cannot expect them to be cognizant of it.  Again, I realize there are always times in any relationship when things are said in the heat of the moment and if you’re mature enough, it can be talked out.  If I say something that hurt someone’s feelings, you better believe I say I’m sorry.  I’m sorry means: I’m sorry that what I said hurt your feelings even though it was not intended that way.  I’m sorry doesn’t mean: I’m sorry you took it the wrong way.  There is a subtle, yet important difference in those two statements.  The first accepts that while you didn’t say something to be hurtful, it felt that way to the other person and you don’t want them to hurt.  The second statement is not truly you’re sorry for anything – it neatly lays the blame for the hurt at the feet of the person you claim to care about and it is therefore their fault they hurt.  Yes, we are all responsible for our reactions to everything, I agree.  We own how we respond.  I own that sometimes harsh or blunt statements do hurt me.  I own it.  However, I also think that in relationships, if you truly care about the other person and you are aware of their past, you make an extra effort to be more gentle with your words.  And if you do say something that hurts, just honestly say I’m sorry.  It’s not a contest, it’s not who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s compassion.  Honestly, I’m not looking for who is wrong if someone says something that hurts me, I’m looking for them to just acknowledge that I am hurt and the compassion to show me they care.

This world is cruel enough.  Be compassionate and understanding of other people’s backgrounds.  Differences are beautiful, but compassion for those differences makes you astonishingly beautiful.

Why I am no longer a Christian

Why I am no longer a Christian

I haven’t considered myself a Christian in over 20 years.

I was raised in a very conservative, Evangelical family.  Let me elaborate on that.  My father was raised in a Mennonite home, although he left the Mennonite church when he turned 18.  His grandfather was a Mennonite pastor.  My mom was also raised in a very conservative, well-known family.  Her grandfather was a pastor in the Mennonite Brethren in Christ (which later became known as the Missionary Church).

We went to church 3 times a week (Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night), we were not allowed to listen to secular music, not allowed to watch movies, not allowed to dance and certainly not allowed to drink alcohol.  We weren’t even allowed to say “geez” or “gosh”, or anything like that as it was just slang for “Jesus or God” and therefore was swearing.  We went to church camp for 2 weeks every summer, participated in Quiz teams (a team of 4 or 5 that are “quizzed” on Bible verses), went to youth group events and were baptized.

We were taught that we were sinners and would only be saved by the Grace of God. However, if you didn’t obey God, there would be consequences.  Bad things happen because its God’s will and he’s either trying to teach you something or it’s punishment for your sins.  If you’ve never actually read the entire Bible, I suggest you do it… it will be very eye-opening.

I won’t go into the hypocrisy I saw in my own home, but it will suffice to say that looking back as an adult, I find it hard to see a God in that house.

I was probably in 5th or 6th grade when I really started to notice the hypocrisy of Christians.  The worst ones were pastor’s kids.  They were mean, un-accepting and entitled.  I cannot tell you how many times I was picked on or bullied by pastor’s kids because I was ugly, or I looked like a boy, or I wasn’t wearing name brand clothes.

When I graduated from high school, I went off to college, attending the denomination’s college (one coincidentally my family helped found and has several buildings on campus named after family members) as expected.  Here, I witnessed even more hypocrisy and overall exclusion of those who did not fit into the “perfect Christian” mold.  There were pastor’s kids having sex, there was alcohol and that horrible thing called dancing, even though school rules prohibited all of that.  In fact, we weren’t allowed to have the opposite sex in our dorms after a certain hour of night.

It wasn’t until I graduated and started working at the district office for our denomination that I truly witnessed the extent of the hypocrisy.  It’s something I’ve never written about (I’ve spoken of it several times) because I guess I cared what everyone would think. Now, I have zero qualms about it.  It was during this short work period that the district superintendent found out (via another staff member who apparently was reading my AOL history) that I was gay (at least I was only left to assume that since I was never really given an explanation).  I was immediately fired, and the reason I was given was that they had discovered I was “in to” things that were not acceptable (he couldn’t even bring himself to actually SAY the words). What happened following that, I can only guess at, but my guess is he realized he would have to do damage control since a large portion of the district pastors were family members (uncles, cousins, brother, etc.) and he proceeded to send out a letter to only those he thought were NOT related to me.  Unfortunately for him, he miscalculated the reach of those who had great respect and affection for my grandparents and one of those pastor’s brought it to my mom’s attention.  I never actually saw the letter, but we were told that it basically said that I “was no longer with the district office and that I had things in my life that went against the church.”

This was the beginning of the end of my association with any organized religion.  It wasn’t so much that they knew I was gay, it was the way it had been handled, and by a district superintendent no less.  He could have simply sent out a letter to all pastor’s in the district informing them that I was no longer working there.  He did not need to include any “shaming” language and the fact that he purposefully excluded any pastor he thought was related to me, only proves his malice intent in sending it.  He never spoke another word to me, even though we attended the same church.  Shortly after this, I stopped attending church and I have never returned, nor will I.  That was 1996.

Looking back, that was actually the best thing that could have happened to me.  It forced me out of that sheltered bubble where I had only been taught things that supported their ideology.  I got out into the real world, discovered that there is diversity and diversity is good.  There are scientific studies and those are good!  There are different religions and that’s okay, we live in a country that guarantees us the right to practice whatever religion we choose (or none at all).

There have been continued events throughout the years of my experiences with so-called Christians that have only furthered my belief that it’s an antiquated belief system that is fueled by fear (fear of God, fear of death, fear of sin, fear of things that are different, etc.) instead of by joy and life.  Who wants to practice a religion where you worship a God who killed everyone on earth by drowning them, simply because they didn’t do what he wanted (to rid the earth of evil), yet God created evil… and evil still exists so what was the point of drowning everyone?  Why would you worship a God who supposedly has the ability to cure cancer, end world hunger and stop wars, yet chooses not to… and his lack of doing so is blamed on human beings because we aren’t doing what he wants us to and those things exist in the world because there is evil (don’t forget that scripture says GOD created evil).  That doesn’t sound like the kind of God I want to follow.

Over the years, I’ve continued to read, learn, investigate and question.  I’ve read about sciences (like archaeology, geology, etc.) that are dispelling a lot of the stories told in the Bible.  I’ve read stories (and other information) from the Bible that were actually used by other earlier civilizations in that area (such as the Mesopotamia) that appear to be what some bits of the Bible were formed from – just copied from older writings and changed to suit their needs.  I began to understand why the conservative Christian community dislikes science so much and try to dissuade anyone from believing in its findings.

As a gay child, in a conservative family, I have found it overwhelmingly sad to reconcile the things I was taught with the things I have experienced.  My family tells me they love me (and I’m sure to some extent they do).  However, here is  where I have a hang up with out relationship.  As a parent, I love my child unconditionally.  He is who he is, perfectly Xavier.  He is how he was meant to be.  Is he 100% how I imagined him to be?  No, and I’m certain as he gets older, my preconceived notions and expectations about him may fall short.  I’ll still love him and accept him for who he is because it’s my own expectations that I’ve placed on him and it’s unfair of me to hold him to them. The sticking point with my family is that I (gay me) am “tolerated”, I am not “accepted”.  Tolerating someone is entirely different from accepting someone.  I am tolerated in the hopes that some day I will decide to not be gay anymore, as if I can magically wave a wand and change the way I am.   Accepting is to celebrate who I am, not shame me.  Not tell me “I have chosen to live this way” as if to say anything bad that comes my way from the Trump administration is because I deserve it.

Here is how I have “chosen” to live my life and it’s in vast contrast to how I was raised.  I choose to live a life of joy, not fear.  I chose to adopt my son out of foster care because I am pro-life.  I believe my son is worth every single second of effort that it will take to help him succeed, because the reward of watching him do so far exceeds anything else.  I choose to approach life with an open-mind.  I don’t know everything, but I can learn from others who are not like me and therefore extend my knowledge far beyond what I alone could experience.  I choose to see beyond someone’s skin color, their clothing, their accent, their customs, their religion and see that they are just a human being like me, no better and no worse.  I choose to accept and celebrate people’s differences instead of shaming them and trying to “save” them.  I choose all those things and more…. and I just happen to be gay.

These are some of the reasons I have not considered myself a Christian in 20+ years.  I can no longer accept the ideology that is preached and even more so in today’s climate where conservatives have supported the Trump administration and continue to do so (or are just turning a blind eye to what’s happening).

A large portion of my family immigrated to this country due to religious persecution (they were being imprisoned, exiled or worse).  THAT is persecution.  Christians in this country seem to think they are being persecuted because they haven’t been allowed to discriminate against others who do not share the same beliefs.  That is not persecution, that’s called equality and civil rights.  No one is telling you that you can’t worship the way you want, no one is telling you that you have to practice Buddhism.  No one is telling you that you have to believe that being gay is not a sin.  Those are your rights guaranteed by  Freedom of Religion.  Those rights do not state that you have the right deny another citizens rights, simply because they do not share your beliefs.  If baking a cake for a gay wedding is going to trash your relationship with your God, you’ve got bigger issues.  It’s called hypocrisy.  Making a cake for a gay couple isn’t contributing to their gayness, just like not making one for them isn’t going to make them straight.  A cake has nothing to do with someone’s sexuality any more than it has to do with let’s say… being an alcoholic, or an adulterer… yet I don’t see any establishments denying service to alcoholics based on their religious beliefs that alcohol is the devil and therefore you cannot support them in their sin.  Same thing goes for an adulterer… providing photography services for them at their child’s graduation party doesn’t aid them in sleeping with their neighbor, so why would you deny them service?  The Bible says that no sin is greater than another… yet it seems that the Christian conservatives have taken it upon themselves to deem the “sin” of homosexuality public enemy #1 and therefore those people should be denied rights.  Otherwise, I’d expect them to be filing suit to deny adulterer’s the right to re-marry, the right to adopt kids, etc.  I’d expect to see them working to deny alcoholics the right to buy alcohol or enter any establishment that sells alcohol.  Last time I checked, I don’t recall any of those things occurring for any other “sinners”.

The final nail in the coffin has been this election.  Just the simple fact that so many conservative Christians support(ed) Trump and continue to support him is absolutely reprehensible.  It has to be the greatest feat of hypocrisy ever witnessed.  The fact that you can turn a blind eye to a man who has been married 3 times, admitted to sexually assaulting women, has been sued more times than any of us can count because of “shady” business deals in which he never pays his suppliers (sometimes resulting in the supplier going bankrupt), has a LONG history of derogatory comments about women in general, lies so much that even he, probably doesn’t know what the truth actually is anymore and you wash it all away by the excuse of “he’s surrounded himself with good people”. .. and yet you still call yourself a “Christian” is absolutely disgusting.  All of that just serves to further my belief that the best thing that ever happened to me, was walking away from the Christian church.

I’ll bid you adieu and leave you to worry about what goes on in my bedroom.  I’ll even through in an appetizer that my DNA carries more races than just Caucasian.

In the meantime, I’ll be living my life to the best of my ability…  and without fear.

#LoveIsLove

 

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.