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There was a Time when Jesus Tried to Kill Me

December 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Religion

Little Ole MeI first started begging for death at 14 years old.  Oddly, the same thing that led me down the path to pleading for death was the very thing that saved my life – religion.  I knew what was considered a “sin” by the church (which in my family amounted to anything other than being miserable): no shorts for men, no haircuts for women, no playing cards, no alcohol, no cigarettes, no sex until marriage, no jewelry other than a wedding ring, no cussing, no taking of one’s own life (or the lives of others) and don’t forget to say your prayers.  It seemed there were so many things I wasn’t allowed to do without being damned for all eternity.  But there was one thing no one told me – homosexuality is a sin.  This oversight was likely due to the fact that sex was never mentioned in church or otherwise.

I knew though, from society, that being a queer or a sissy was bad.  That fact was echoed every time my older brother’s friends decided they wanted to play a game of “Smear the Queer,” which translated into, “Beat the hell out of Jay.”  It’s important to note that I was not taught religion at a church so much as I was taught religion from my family.  On visits to my evangelical family, church was always on the agenda.  I did embrace the Bible (KJV), Jesus, God and even angels.  I had convinced myself that I had a set of guardians (the angelic ones) watching out for me and no matter what happened, no harm would come of me.  I prayed several times a day, faithfully studied Bible text and occasionally put a televangelist on the TV to listen to the gospel [music that is].

That’s how it happened.  I was flipping channels and stopped on a televangelist.  The music was the first thing to catch my attention, then the preacher began to speak, “Man shall not lie with man as he does a woman, the Bible says it, folks.”  His words were followed by a splash screen reading: LEV. 18:22.  I ran to my bedroom and grabbed my blue bound Bible with my name in silver letters embossed on the cover, a gift from my aunt.  It took seconds for me to find Lev. 18:22 and read the text:

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

I didn’t bother reading 18:21 or 18:23.  I stood there in shock.  I had been trained that preachers don’t lie, that the Bible was the inerrant word of God and every detail of it should be followed letter by letter.

I spent the next several days tormenting myself over that quote.  Al Gore hadn’t invented the Internet yet and asking someone about it would be like telling them that I’m a queer.  It was better not to speak of these things and pray away the sin.

But it wasn’t working.  I found my thoughts drifting to a day when I would find my knight in shining armor waiting to take me away and live happily ever after, then switching to darker thoughts and debates about to kill myself with pills or by slicing my wrists.  As days turned into months, the thoughts grew more frequent.  Between daydreaming about my future lover and wondering which method of death would be the simplest, there was no room for other adolescent tasks.  I became increasingly withdrawn until finally, I was near anti-social.  I decided at that point that I had to make a firm decision and stick to it.  My options were: (1) live a life of sin; or (2) kill myself.  But suicide, as mentioned above, was a sin. Regardless of which option I chose, I was doomed to an eternity of hell.

Eventually, I was able to rationalize my doom.  If I chose to kill myself, my eternity in hell would start immediately; however, if I choose to live a life of sin, I could buy myself some time on earth and have a little fun in the process.  You would think at this point that morality would become moot.  If I was going to hell, I might as well lie, cheat, steal and even kill.  But that’s not the way it happened.  In spite of being banished from heaven, I’ve yet to commit any of the major no-no’s.

As I questioned religion, God, Jesus, the Bible and all that I’d been taught, I began educating myself on other religions, other cultures and other beliefs.  I had come out of the closet and was no longer afraid to ask questions.  I asked questions like, “What does your religion say about homosexuals?”  I sought out a religion that agreed with my idea of morality, life and harmony – one where cutting your hair, wearing make up or playing cards was perfectly sinless and considered micromanaging.

Finding a religion that matched my beliefs turned out to be impossible.  While the Wiccan principle of “harm none” was perfect, I found the sacred elements and invocations exhausting and a bit to “Dungeons and Dragons” for my taste.  I really liked bacon at this stage in my life, so becoming Jewish wasn’t an option.  I’d been taught that being Catholic was the worst sin possible and I was too upset with Siddhartha Gautama’s abandonment of his pregnant wife to even consider being a Buddhist! Hinduism was far to exotic to be considered and becoming Muslim seemed like way too much prayer time.

Eventually, my quest for the perfect religion ended when I realized that I was simply regurgitating information being provided to me by leaders of varying faiths, rather than actually believing in any of it.  In fact, I never did believe in any of it – I was just taught it, like being taught to speak.

Religion is a lot like language in that respect.  Depending on who teaches you or where you are, you could speak English, Hebrew, Greek, Spanish or any multitude of differing languages and dialects.  I could have a “southern” accent or a mid-western one – it just depends upon how I was taught.  How is that different from being taught religion?  It’s not.  Religion is as created as language and only has the power and meaning assigned to it from teacher to pupil.  I do not believe that religion is untrue or false any more so than I believe language is untrue or false.  Some accents appeal to us, some do not.  Some religions are appealing, some are not.  The good news is that with enough therapy you can change an accent – or your religion.  One thing that I can’t change is my love for the man I’m lucky enough to have in my life who, unlike religion, has never meant me harm.

Many years have now past since that scared and suicidal queer kid was dismissed from my life.  I’ve since realized that although religion may have saved my life, it first tried to kill me.  I can’t imagine forgiving someone who stabbed me multiple times then sewed up the wounds, so why would I forgive religion for the damage it did to me?  Each time I hear the right wing call out that they are protecting “our children,”  I think of myself as a child and what might have been had I only been able to choose between pills and slit wrists.  I will no longer allow your God to be my burden.

I’m Rubber and You’re Glue: Anti-Gay Harrassment in School

April 25, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay, Youth Issues

It’s never really mattered if you are gay or not, just the perception of homosexuality has been enough to cause peers to harass and bully you for your “faggot-ness.”  The unfortunate and untimely deaths of Carl Walker-Hoover, an 11 year old 6th grader in Massachusetts, and Jaheem Herrera, and 11 year old 5th grader in Georgia, have brought to the media’s attention what LGBT activist have been saying for years, “We must protect our children.”

Both Carl and Jaheem were taunted and harassed with words such like, sissy or faggot by their peers.  Neither had identified their own sexual orientation.  However, according to a 2005 report by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) and Harris Interactive, LGBT kids are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual contemporaries.  The Religious Reich makes all sorts of outrageous claims (as they often do) that this is caused by the child’s own self-loathing for his/her sexual or gender identity.  But where does that self-loathing stem from – perhaps from society telling these children that they are inferior, worthless and “sinners.”

When we are very young children everyone asks us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Most answers are things like, a doctor, a fireman, a chef, a teacher or an astronaut – children never respond, “I’m going to be disliked by my peers, taunted publically, discriminated against by my government, rejected by my family and somehow still find the strength to wake up every day and face these horrors again.”  No child dreams of that future, but that future comes anyway for many kids.  It came for Jaheem and Carl, in spite of the fact that neither publically self-identified as anything other than children, and regrettably they both felt the only way out was to take their own lives.

These children, as well as the countless others who become victims of bullycide, did not take their own lives, the Religious Reich and social neo-conservatives who think that somehow the sexuality of these children were relevant to their own lives, took their lives.  They murdered them by teaching that it is “ok” to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning people.  This is how they purport to protect our children.  To that, jaysays: there has got to be a better way.

Protecting our Children from Themselves

December 29, 2008 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Youth Issues

In 1989, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services compiled a study indicating that Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers and such suicides likely compromised up to 30% of the overall youth suicide rate.  The study was quickly sealed by the administration of George H. W. Bush.  Representative William Dannemeyer (R. California) went as far as to say that Bush should:

…dismiss from public service all persons still employed who concocted this homosexual pledge of allegiance and sealed the lid on these misjudgments for good.

The report was ultimately leaked to the press in spite of the governments efforts to prevent it.  The report stated:

… mental health and youth service agencies can provide acceptance and support for young homosexuals, train their personnel on gay issues, and provide appropriate gay adult role models; schools can protect gay youth from abuse from their peers and provide accurate information about homosexuality in health curricula; families should accept their child and work toward educating themselves about the development and nature of homosexuality.

Had the recommendations of the report been taken by the Bush administration, the story of LGBT equality, mental health and physical well being may have become drastically different than it is today and our children may have had a stronger chance of survival.  Unfortunately, no action was taken by the administration to protect our children from their greatest danger, themselves, and as a result more children have died.

The arguments today against homosexuality seem to revolve around the protection of our children.  Everywhere we turn people are saying, “You’ll harm the children.”  The fact is that the unfriendly heterosexual persons have done the greatest damage to their own children.  Perhaps many of them feel it is better to have a dead child than a gay child.  It is my greatest hope that the upcoming Lifetime movie, Prayers for Bobby, (scheduled for release the end of January, 2009) will shed light on this tragic situation and save the life of our dearest renewable resources, our children.

In 1999, a study by the Center for Disease Control/Massachusetts revealed that 33% of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered youth had attempted suicide.  This is 1/3 of all LGBT children!!!  Should you be concerned?  YES!

I’m a parent, what do I do if my son/daughter is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.   I implore you to visit PFLAG’s website to obtain additional resources.  If you are afraid of humiliation, think of your child and the stigma that is being placed upon them.  Find strength for your children’s sake and make a call for help.

I am a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered youth and I feel alone, scared, hopeless, lost, confused, angry, ashamed etc.  For LGBT youth in need of assistance, the following links are provided:

  • OutProud: “Support, advocacy and resources for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.”
  • Youth Guardian Services: “Are you a gay, bi, or trans young person between the ages of 13-25? Come find friends, fun and support on the YOUTH lists.”
  • National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC):  “…a national social justice organization working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people to strengthen the role of young people in the LGBTQ rights movement.”
  • Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) – Student Organizing Department: “The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.”
  • Gay-Straight Alliance: “Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is a student-run club, typically in a high school, which provides a safe place for students to meet, support each other, talk about issues related to sexual orientation, and work to end homophobia. Many GSAs function as a support group and provide safety and confidentiality to students who are struggling with their identity as gay, lesbian, bisexual,transgender, or questioning. “

Prayers for Bobby Coming to Lifetime

December 24, 2008 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Youth Issues

The Lifetime Original Movie, Prayers for Bobby, starring Sigourney Weaver will premiere on Lifetime on January 24, 2009 at 9:00 p.m. The movie is based on the true story of Mary Griffith and her son, Bobby. After Bobby attempts to come out of the closet as a homosexual, Mary, due to her religious opinions states that no son of hers will be a homosexual. The result is Bobby’s suicide. The story is a coming of age tale about Mary losing her son and finding a new way.

See the trailer, watch the movie and thank you Lifetime and Sigourney Weaver (who co-produced this movie) and everyone involved in this project for spreading the message of the harsh reality of LGBT Youth suicide.