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.

 

It’s Just Me – I haven’t Changed

It’s Just Me – I haven’t Changed

Headlines continue to run, it seems almost weekly, of another state trying to hide behind the guise of religious freedom or the fear mongering to discriminate against the LGBT community.

It seems with the revocation of DOMA last year, right-wing conservatives (and a lot of plain old bigots) have reached a desperation level in their fight to stop equal rights.  Some have chosen to go the route of a “Religious Liberty” or “Religious Freedom” bill to allow public businesses to refuse service to LGBT (I like to refer to them as humans) people service based on religious objection.  (i.e. what we all like to obsess with are wedding cakes & wedding venues but in truth most bills allow ANY business to refuse service if the PERCEIVE you as a member of the LGBT community based on religious beliefs.). Now, in reality, would most businesses refuse service to us?  Probably not.  I can’t see McDonald’s refusing to serve a paying customer regardless. It would be hard to justify how feeding someone violated your sacred religious beliefs.  As far as the cake vendors, etc. my argument is this: Do you also check to make sure the person is not divorced, or that they haven’t been living in sin (that means living together, in the same room, in the same bed ) or that they don’t work on the Sabbath?  I seriously doubt it.  Let’s get right down to the heart of this  matter.  Almost the entire argument for the religious community that homosexuality is a sin is based on vague, out of context verses in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Everyone’s favorite reference to the “sin” of homosexuality is the reference to the story of Lot and his visit to Sodom & Gomorrah and how the men of the city wanted him to send out to two angels (men) who visited him so they could have sex with them.  It is said that the city of Sodom & Gomorrah was wiped off the face of the earth by God because they were so evil.  Yes, they were evil – them asking for the two angels to be sent out so they could have sex with them wasn’t about the sex (heterosexual or homosexual), it was about violence & rape. They were a city well-known for its hatred of strangers.  Let’s not forget that in lieu of sending out the two angels, he offered these men his two virgin daughters so they could have sex with them.  Does that not strike anyone as equally awful?  You offer up your two precious children to men who wish to harm strangers just for the sake of harming them, and you’re okay with that?  When you start to look at the WHOLE picture, including the history of the city & it’s people, you begin to realize just how out of context that reference is.  Oh, and let’s not forget at the end of that story, both of Lot’s daughters got him drunk on wine and slept with him AND got pregnant by him so they could preserve their family line. Yes, we better focus on homosexuality because clearly that is the only thing wrong with this story.

If you really want to focus on using Old Testament verses to justify that homosexuality is a sin (let alone what has become the most focused on sin), what about making sure you aren’t serving pork at your next BBQ (forget that McRib), no more cheeseburgers either (you can’t mix meat and dairy), oh wait, no meat that wasn’t killed using the Kosher practice either so that nixes most of us that eat meat, except the strict Jews.  Let’s not forget the Old Testament also says it’s a sin to commit incest (whoops, I guess the writer of the story of Sodom & Gomorrah didn’t get that memo when he had Lot’s daughters get him drunk and sleep with him).  It’s also a sin to rape an engaged female (oops again Mr. Writer of Sodom & Gomorrah – you had lot offer up his engaged, virginal daughters to be raped by the men of the city).  I found this one particularly humorous, it’s actually considered a sin to try to convert someone to another religion.  (Just ponder that for a minute….let is simmer).  Everyone’s favorite of performing work on the Sabbath (is that a Saturday Sabbath or a Sunday Sabbath)??  We also aren’t supposed to be cutting the hair on the sides of our head (oops, that’s where my hair is the shortest!).

I know, I know.. I’ve heard the argument from Christians (and Catholics also) who say “But we don’t live by the Old Testament, the New Testament eradicated the old law.”  Oh really? Then stop using the Old Testament to justify the “sin” of homosexuality.  It’s not a use it when it suits your needs kind of thing.  Kind of like you can’t pick and choose what current laws you follow.  Sorry officer, I don’t believe in coming to a complete stop. I grew up in the country and we do a thing called a country stop, you understand don’t you?  I’m sure that would go over well.

Let’s step over to the New Testament than and see what it is exactly that you’re following there.  There are only three references that could be interpreted as referring to homosexuality in the New Testament.  The lack of references to it seems to say that it wasn’t high on Jesus’ worry list.  In fact, two of those references are kind of miscellaneous reference like 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 which says that certain types of people “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  That list begins with people such as with fornicators, idolaters, and adulterers, and it ends with thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers.  In the middle of that are two Greek words that translated mean “male prostitutes” & “Sodomites”.  Hmm, doesn’t say anything about a committed, monogamous relationship.  Moving along.  1 Timothy 1:8–11 also says the law was not given for good people, but for bad people and the list of bad people included “Sodomites” with no special emphasis, just included in the list.  These miscellaneous lists of “vices” were common not only in the New Testament and other early Christian writings but also in Mesopotamia, Egypt and Jewish writings. Remarkably these lists appear to be very similar which leads one to believe they were just copied from one to the other with no real individualization.  The interpretation of the two Greek words in to “Male Prostitutes” and “Sodomites” is also questionable.

Romans 1:26–27 most certainly DOES reference not only male homosexuality, but also female.  However, when read in context with the surrounding verses, it’s discovered that it is part of a list of unacceptable behaviors supposedly resulting from willful idolatry (that is it was assumed that homosexuality was the “result” of something to begin with).  The list it’s included with is once again, very similar to the ones in 1 Corinthians (or One Corinthians if you’re Donald Trump – watch his speech on You Tube at Liberty University and you’ll get it) & or 1 Timothy.  By this way of thinking, homosexuality is a punishment then, not a sin.  It’s a result of willful idolatry.

I encourage you to read this article https://www.westarinstitute.org/resources/the-fourth-r/what-the-new-testament-says-about-homosexuality/

Also making news are the attempts at banning trans-gendered people from using the bathroom of the sex they identify with.

I’ve heard all the arguments.  Here are my responses.  LGBT people are NOT the rapists and child molesters of the world, that would be you straight people!  Look at the statistics!  They aren’t trying to go in to the women’s restroom to get a sneak peek at your wife or daughter. They aren’t traipsing in to the men’s room to watch you and your adoration of your penis.  Why is it that you can accept a medical condition called hermaphroditism, where a person is born with sexual organs of both male & female, yet you can’t accept that someone could be born with a brain that is female or male and a body that is the opposite?  Now you want them to go to the bathroom that coincides with the gender they were identified as when born.  Have you considered how crazy it will be to have someone in a full beard walk into the women’s restroom with you?  All because they were born female.  Ridiculous.  Get over it.  Being LGBTIQ (and all of the rest of the alphabet) is not about having sex or wanting sex, it’s about being a human being, just like the rest of you.

I am just me.  I am the same person I have always been.  I am still your daughter, your sister, your aunt, your cousin, your niece.  I am me. I am human.

Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood

Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood

Hi everyone! Check out this new book by my friend, Eric Rosswood. It’s filled with real-life stories from same-sex parents and the book is so good, it’s getting a lot of buzz from some really cool people! Actress and New York Times Best Selling author Melissa Gilbert (Little House on the Prairie, Secrets and Lies) wrote the foreword, and popular British soap actor Charlie Condou (Coronation Street) wrote the introduction. The book has also received heaps of praise from the Family Equality Council, Our Family Coalition, Emmy Award Winner Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal), NY State Assembly Member Daniel J. O’Donnell, Zach Wahls, and many others! Please support my friend by getting a copy. I highly recommend it! http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Same-Sex-Parenthood-Firsthand-Stories/dp/0882825143