MARRIAGE MOMENTS OF THE PAST – NOBODY’S MEMORIES

This was published on YouTube on April 24, 2015.  Here is the caption from the PFLAGCanada channel:

This is our tribute to all those in the past who were never allowed to marry by law – and to everyone who is still denied the right today.  Share your love stories, wedding photos and videos on Instagram and Twitter with #lovemadelegal and let’s make gay marriage legal everywhere.

Thank you PFLAG Canada for this wonderful video:

Together, we can make the world a more positive one!

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE GAY

I have known that there was something wonderful and different about me.  This wonderful thing wasn’t something I reacted to – it was something that was embedded within me.  I didn’t learn it because it was something I just didn’t turn on – it was always there since my birth.  The only time I started doubting my authenticity was when I realized how others viewed those who were born with this ‘uniqueness’.  I was gay, I was me, I was authentic but I now had to deny my authenticity because others were uncomfortable with it.  So I did, until I was 21 and tired of living a lie and trying to please and garner respect from others who had no respect for me. 

So what was it like to be gay?  I can answer this question based on various stages and ages:

From my birth to the age of 12Like I mentioned above, it wasn’t until I understood how people felt about those who were different, that I decided to keep my authenticity to myself.  I remember how ridiculed, belittled, verbally and physically abused and harassed gay people were by those who didn’t tolerate it and only because of this, I decided to live a closeted life.

Between the ages of 13 and 20I understood I was different, I understood I wasn’t really interested in a sexual relationship with those of the opposite sex but alas, society, peers, religion and family enforced their distaste for homosexuals.  I wasn’t encouraged to live an authentic life, so I continued living a life for others and not for myself.  This lie caused much inner-turmoil and created self-hatred and internal homophobia.

Between the ages of 21 and 30I was finally free.  I was in my first long-term relationship and felt I couldn’t live my life filled with lies, deception and without being true to myself.  I came to terms with the fact that I couldn’t change who I was – I was born like this.  I was happy with who I was and the problem didn’t lie with me, it lied with those who were ignorant and biased against me and others who were born like me.  These people justified their hate and ignorance behind their religious beliefs and the stereotypes they knew to be true about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gendered community.  I had enough.

Between the ages of 31 and nowI became more and more comfortable in living my authentic life.  The weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders.  If any of my friends of family had issues with who I was, I was comfortable enough to remove them from my life and allow them to deal with their own prejudices.  Mostly, there weren’t any issues about my sexuality amongst my friends or family that became evident.  If anyone had issues, they were never brought to my attention.  I am who I am.  For those who believe in religious doctrine – I am who God made me to be and if we are all products of The Maker, than the maker is gay, straight, bisexual, black or white.  We DO NOT choose the colour of our skin or our eyes but we do choose what we believe.

So, what is it like to be gay?  Simply, the same as it is to be straight.  If being gay is a choice, then being straight must also be a choice.  I am not defined by my “gayness”, I am defined by my character.  I believe that my character CHOOSES to create positive change in the world, to help people who are down, to encourage people to be kind, loving, compassionate and caring – those are choices, and I would rather choose love and kindness over hate and ignorance.

Together, we can make the world a more positive one!

 

“COMING OUT” IS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WHO “COME OUT”

How many times have I heard the following statements?  “Why do gay people have to come out?” or “Straight people to come out.”  Those individuals who complain the most about any man or women that are finally able to embrace their gender/sexual identity and live authentic lives are the ones that protest the loudest.  As a gay male – who hasn’t really officially ‘come out’ explain why this process is a process that many in the LGBT community need to allow to happen naturally:

First, here is the reason that people in the LGBT community must ‘come out’……(using my own personal experience, which is very similar for so many people)….I have always known that I was attracted to men, it wasn’t confusing – I was attracted to men.  I didn’t wake up one morning and decide, “I think I’ll begin an emotional and physical attraction to men today” – that just doesn’t happen.  

There are many reasons that I didn’t decide to share my feelings in regards to being attracted to men, the most pressing was societies lack of acceptance towards people in same-sex relationships due to their religious beliefs.  Many so-called “religious people” who identify as Christian and God-fearing, justify their hate through their interpretation of the Bible.  They impose their religious ideologies and outright condemn homosexuals due to those religious ideologies and beliefs.  What if you don’t buy into those religious ideologies?  How do you justify not accepting a group of individuals as equal to everyone else?  Sounds very similar to what many black activists demanded during the civil rights movement, doesn’t it?  

I heard the many negative stories of people being kicked out of their homes and being disowned by family and friends after coming out.  I saw the harassment and bullying that many ‘out’ kids received in school.  Many were verbally, emotionally and physically assaulted – not only by their peers but by the school officials.  I wasn’t even out and was called, “faggot”, “queer”, “pussy”, “fairy” and so many other names that reinforced the lack of acceptance of people who were attracted to the same-sex.  This mistreatment wasn’t only experienced in public places – it was present in the home.  My uncle was gay – he has since passed but I remember that my mother loved him very much but no-one talked about his lifestyle.  It was kept secret and was a taboo topic of discussion because he was gay.  If family frowned and looked negatively upon my uncle’s homosexual identity – why would I make the decision to come out and open myself to further emotional turmoil?

There came a period in my life where I wanted nothing more than to find a partner and finally be free of living a double life.  But I knew that if that day came, my life would be an open book. 

I had many internal struggles and luckily found a community of people I could be myself with.  Many people like me – outcasts, freaks of nature, sexual deviants and predators as we were commonly referred to by those making the judgements.  I finally realized that my sexual identity didn’t define me and that I just happened to be a man who had attractions to other men.  There was nothing wrong with me.  On a warm night in Toronto’s gay community – I walked and pondered how my friends and family would react when I finally ‘came out’?  As I pondered this – a van squealed by and I heard several guys calling out to me; “hey faggot, wanna suck some cock”, “come and get it fairy” and eventually “die, faggot”  I had never been a victim of gay-bashing but I certainly came close that night – one of the guys in the van threw a beer bottle in my direction – missing me by inches, they then sped off.  This incident enraged me.  I was physically attacked because of where I was and for who I was even though these bullies didn’t know I was gay.

I was lucky – I finally made the decision to come out but only to myself.  I had to address and remove all the internal homophobia I had within.  I learned to love myself and I learned to deal with all the anger within me.  I met some wonderful people who looked death in the face but decided not to look at the world with hate and anger.  These people showed me that we had to stand strong and that we should not be treated as sexual predators or deviants.  We were brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, sons and daughters.  They showed me that we were teachers, policemen and women, doctors, lawyers, government employees, bank tellers, janitors or scientists – we were like everyone else.

I came out alright – but, I came out for the person it meant the most to – ME!  My ‘coming out’ wasn’t for anyone else.  It wasn’t for my father, mother, brothers, sisters or friends – if they didn’t accept me, I wasn’t going to take on their ignorance.  In ‘coming out’ – I made a decision that my life was going to be better for it.  Coming out would allow me to live authentically and positively.  So many of us in the LGBT community, want and need to be accepted by friends and family but, I learned that the only person that mattered in this process was me.  Coming out didn’t change the person I was.  I was the same Rob and this realization allowed me to see the ignorance in other people.  

The worst thing I hear from people now is – “I respect and love you but I don’t accept your lifestyle choice, it’s wrong” – I don’t accept that.  If you love and respect me as I love and respect you – there are no stipulations to that love and respect.  Imagine if I turned to a friend and said, “I love and respect you but your heterosexuality disgusts me.” It sounds just as ridiculous as, “I love and respect you but I don’t accept your lifestyle choice, it’s wrong.” 

Lifestyle choice….these words suggest that I made the choice to become gay.  That being said – if I can make the choice to be gay – then everyone can.  So, to all of you God-fearing people out there who are quick to reference the Bible on homosexuality, I dare you to make the same choice I did and become gay. 

We must thank those people who hold no judgements on others because of the colour of their skin, their gender, sexual identity, nationality or any other attributes that make them unique and different.  We must embrace individual diversities and allow people to live authentically so that we can all have a safe, inclusive and positive environment.

Together, we can make the world a more positive one!

 

 

THE BEST STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS IN MY LIFETIME!

Many believe that President Barack Obama hasn’t been that effective as president of the free world.  Some people believe it’s because he lacks experience, is afraid to ‘rock the boat’, can’t enforce policies because he wants to be bi-partisan or just can’t complete his work because Republicans don’t want him to…..whatever the reason, we can’t deny what his administration has accomplish in the last six years, here are some:

  • Nearly 300 million acres of land and water preserved for future generations
  • 11.2 million private-sector jobs over 58 straight months of growth
  • 165,000 fewer troops in harms way in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • 645,000+ young people protected from the threat of deportation
  • Gay and lesbian service members no longer forced to hide who they are to serve
  • 10 million Americans have gained health coverage
  • 7 million minimum wage earners will get a raise
  • In 36 states, gay marriage is or will soon be legal

**These facts can be found via http://www.whitehouse.gov/sotu

Whatever you think of this president or the party he represents, you can’t deny that when he was elected he really had some hard work and rebuilding to accomplish.  Here are some of my favorite moments from the State of the Union address on January 20, 2015 from President Barack Obama:

“And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this:  if you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it.”

“I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom and every community and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.”

“2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.  Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does – 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.”

“I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act.  Well, I’m not a scientist, either.  But you know what – I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities.  The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heatwaves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe.  The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security.  We should act like it.”

“As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained.  It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world.  It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims – the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace.  That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoner’s, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us all safer.”

“We may go at it in campaign season, but surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it’s being denied to too many; and that , on this 50th anniversary of the great march from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American.”

“To every CEO in America…if you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, and get it done right, hire a veteran.”

“I still believe that we are one people.  I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long.”

It is sometimes difficult for people to have faith restored in their members of parliament and governments especially when they only show us greed, corruption and scandal.  This State of the Union gives me hope that our governments – not only in the United States of America but around the world, can actually restore that lost faith and hope.

I don’t believe I have ever heard a living president say the words ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender’ in one sentence.  If the purpose of the State of the Union address is to lift the spirits of the people of the world and give them hope for a brighter tomorrow…than President Obama has accomplished that for me and for many people around the world.  This State of the Union really encompasses the idea of creating positivity right across the globe. 

To view the complete State of the Union address – please visit:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/sotu

Together, we can make the world a more positive one!