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This Thanksgiving: Proud to be the T in LGBT

November 26, 2009 By: Lauryn Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

FallLeavesAt one time I thought I really liked holidays.  Over the years as we have lost family, I realized that what I really liked was the time off to spend with family and friends.  Today I give much greater thanks for my family than ever before.  I have truly learned what it means to have others you can connect to in heart, mind, and soul.  My own journey is one that is unique, as we each are unique.  I have been amazingly blessed to have been able to continue to have all of my family as close allies through my entire transition.

I am sure over time you will all hear my full story but on this day of Thanksgiving I want to especially focus on my family.  I consider my family to be all of those that I feel near and dear to, both my nuclear family and my family of choice.  In my family we are bonded and we are very close.  We stick together and although we fight we always stand together against the outside world.  I think this is true with my family of choice as well.  I am using the family of choice term to identify those to whom I feel a special closeness within my band of friendships.

The friends I have are from many places and are as diverse as the rainbow.  I feel very close to my friends at church, they accepted me and saw God’s blessing in me.  I also have many friends in the T community, some of which I bonded with very quickly, Michael Brown being a good example.  Others are in the L, G, B, or H alphabet soup.  I feel blessed to have very close friends that I can depend on who happen to be lesbians, gay or heterosexual (ok some are actually U-unknown).  I am very proud to be associated with each and every one of them.  I sometimes wish I could feel less like a T and more like a “woman” with them but that is really the fault of society as a whole.

I get up almost every day and think today has to be the day that I just go stealth.  Then I get dressed and do it all again being proud of my friends and accepting that they are proud of me for being T.  The relationships are mutual but we don’t always agree.  Sometimes I think they are too gay and they think I am too T, but always we love each other.  I know that I should be more angry or more hurt when gays bash Ts or even worse, just forget us altogether.  It just really isn’t in me to strike back because there are so many wonderful gays, lesbians, and others that I proudly call my brothers and sisters!  I truly believe that each of those I hold close stand with me, and when we are together the haters do not matter.

I am very thankful for all of my family and friends today, I love all of you.  I especially love my partner of 27 years and my 2 children.  The boys have now grown into young men and they have been supportive every step of the way.  It is actually my eldest son who pulled us all from the closet, and as I tell them now, they all had to transition.  I had been transitioning for many years but now it has been their turn.  They have transitioned better than could have been imagined, I am thankful for that as well.

In closing I want to share a blog that my son wrote only a day or 2 after meeting Lauryn for the first time.  Both of my children got their intelligence and writing skills from their other parent, I am also thankful for that blessing.  This short statement expresses what I hope, and believe, much of my family feels, both nuclear and by choice.  I am proud to be the T in LGBT because of the love the L, G, and B have shown and that they continue to demonstrate every day.  Today, I am blessed and I give Thanks!

Dear T – by Mark Farris

I am writing to you because you have been left behind, because you have been pushed into the wilderness alone. There has been a lot of ground made on the part of the L, G, and B but alone still stands the T. The conservative right, have grown to accept the L, G, and B as mere lost souls.  They are lost souls that need to be “saved” by God’s grace to free them from their chains of self identity.  The T though is still being accused of having a diagnosable disorder, one that with time and patience can be cured.  The Conservatives raise the claim that God created humans as man and woman, forever to be separated as one or the other.  They claim that the perfect union of these two sexes comes with marriage and marriage alone.

At one point the slaves of this country were considered to be nothing more than beasts of the field. The African American population with time rose up to meet their oppressor.  With time people began to accept them as humans.  At one time women were nothing more than domestic robots that were to do as they were told, and leave the rest to men. With time they rose to meet their oppressor.  With time the glass ceiling fell away in small pieces here and there.  People however came to accept them as humans.  At one time homosexuals were viewed as the cause for the AIDS virus.  With time it was realized that the AIDS virus was affecting the whole human race.  Slowly but surely they were not blamed any more.

It is time for people to realize that the L, G, B, and T are all people.  God created man and woman, Genesis 1:27 “in his own image, male and female.”  This is the passage quoted by the conservative right.  The claim made is that God purposely created men and woman separately to be different from one another.  This language is not present here.

God created humankind in his likeness.  The use of the pronoun “his” is used as the label given to God by the original translators and writers of the texts.  There is no language to suggest what gender God is.  God is a being that created human in the likeness of self.  Woman and man were created to complete the picture of human kind.  Humanity would not be complete without both woman and man. The T, you represent both aspects of humanity.  You are the full representation of the image of God.  There will come a time when even the T will be accepted, and there will come a time when accepting both genders will not be viewed as a disease but will be viewed as a blessing.

With this blessing I would like to stress, that I am a heterosexual that is in support of this cause of this fight. I will not stand silent any longer. All I ask is that the LGBT people unite not only within themselves but unite with the H, the heterosexual population.  We as heterosexuals are not disadvantaged by not being T, we in many cases choose to challenge our gender in different ways.  We all must accept our humanity.  We all must accept each other as a member of humanity.

We must unite together, with a creator in mind.  The road is long, but it is a road that needs to be walked down.  I hope to do my best to fight this fight, with the resources and skills that I have.  We must not be hung up on the labels of “male,” “female,” “gay,” “straight,” but we should unite together under one label, one soul, humanity. God is not a man or a woman, God is not gay, or straight. God created an identity for all living things.  I hope this message finds you well T.  With courage you shall rise up and shall break the closet door down. “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:”Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” With devotion and hope, Mark Farris.

My Cousin, My Hero: Why Coming Out Matters.

September 19, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Religion

shirleyBy the time I was 15 years old, I had already had my first boyfriend, kind of.  I had begun to accept that I was “gay,” but I had also experienced the sting of being a “fag.”  Society, it seemed, disapproved.  The disapproval was so great that I’d often be chased home by groups of boys on bicycles throwing rocks at me and calling me “fag.”

I remember walking home from school one day at 12 years old and coming across the one person in that small Arkansas town I thought I could call friend.  She was interracial; and like me, she was the “only one in the village.”  She was well accepted in a town that was overwhelmingly white and entirely protestant.  As her story was told to me, her mother had been raped by a black man, and decided, rather than succumb to the sin of baby murder, to have the child; this interracial child.  Because her mother wasn’t willing, the town’s people felt it was “o.k.” to allow a “negro” there.

One day, I walked up to her smiling and laughing about a recent experience in the classroom, she looked at me and screamed, “Get away from me, you faggot.”  That was society’s doing.  She was taught that I was worthless.  I was rejected even by those that were rejected.

I often think of that every time I hear someone say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  At 12 years old, I was a virgin, had never kissed another boy and certainly wasn’t ready to do so.  I had not sinned, but I was hated.

Go forward again to 15 after I’d escaped back to the “big city” of San Antonio, Texas and you’d find me sitting in my room talking on the phone with various girlfriends.  We’d usually be on a three-way call and sometimes four or five people would be on conference together using a pre-determined three-way calling chain.  I’d call Jen, who would call Jeremy, who would call Cathy and so forth and so on.  What the girls on the call didn’t know is that sometimes Jeremy and I would talk without them on the line.  We’d laugh and carry on, flirting mercilessly with one another.

My first “gay” kiss was with Jeremy.  He was 2 years my senior and so much wiser.  The result was that Jeremy was ready to come out, and decided to take me with him – unbeknownst to me.

Imagine my surprise the next morning at school when I found that my carefully planned disguise/girlfriend, Emily, was now fully aware that I had a “boyfriend.”  Imagine my horror to discover that many of my friends had been taught the same way as those in the small town of Arkansas and I was again, “fag.”  I cut all ties with Jeremy and hid myself away until finally, my mother advised we were moving.  God was smiling down to save me and back to the closet I went, safe from the torment.

I had a bit of a social shut down.  At my new school, I dared not attempt to make friends, they would find out.  Society hated me.  Society was my enemy.

I had been raised around a highly evangelical family.  God was invoked for nearly every situation.  Whatever it was, it was in his hands. But still, I hadn’t been told anything like, “being gay is a sin.”  I was wholly (or holy) unaware that God hated me as well.  I found solace in God and heaven and knew I could endure the torment some day, if I just had enough faith in God.  I was almost ready to tell the world again; to come out.  With Jesus as my companion, I would prevail.

Then I turned on the T.V. one day to see a televangelist smiling down his nose at me.  His words spoken, then flashed onto the screen, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.”  As the Bible reference appeared, I went running to my room, devastated. I read the words in Leviticus 18:22 from the perspective of a 15 year old boy whose only true friend was Jesus.  My friend, it seemed, had betrayed me.  There was no one left to love me because I was gay.

I could go on about the countless nights of tear-stained pillows, the chronic depression and suicidal thoughts carefully hidden away least someone find out why I was so depressed.  I could tell you about my prayers where I begged God/Jesus to let me die in my sleep.  I dared not commit the sin of taking my own life or live the sin of being a gay man, but that is not the point.

God, the supreme power, the one that we all are told we can turn to when life brings us down, was off-limits to me.  Society rejected me and God rejected me.  I was out of options — or so I had been taught.

Then I went to visit my extended family.  My cousin was a few years older than me and we’d always been fairly close growing up.  We went running around the town without a mission or purpose with her girlfriend.  I knew she was a lesbian thanks to rumors from the family, but she’d never told me herself.  That night she did tell me and I suddenly wasn’t alone.

That’s another one of the many reasons why Harvey Milk was right.  We have to come out.  We have to tell people.  We have to let kids that are in that dark place know that they aren’t alone, that not everyone hates them, that God has not abandoned them and that we will not abandon them.  We have to keep them safe.

Thank you, Shirley, for unwittingly saving my life.