8 Days After Orlando Pulse Shooting – A New Era Has Begun

Some Initial Personal Thoughts After The Tragic Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando

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OneOrlando_WhiteThis post will share some initial thoughts about the tragic attack on Pulse Nightclub, and the aftermath. First, it is in my heart and mind to not get lost in the weeds of peripheral issues. These precious people who were victims, survivors and their families are the top priority. So, please pop over to OneOrlando.org and donate to the people directly impacted by this tragedy. If after giving to the families you want to read the below, please do.

Yesterday morning I woke up and stared at the ceiling while tears formed. Then reached for the phone and posted to Facebook:

Woke up and it is cloudy, darker than usual. Listening to a soft rain shower hit the roof and weeping with the skies remembering it is one week later. ‪#‎OrlandoUnited‬ ‪#‎OneOrlando‬ ‪#‎OrlandoPulse‬

Impact

Will never forget waking up Sunday, June 12, 2016, and shuffling over to my phone. The first thing I saw was an alert pop up from a friend’s nephew messaging me, “Did you see what happened in Orlando?… Holy shit! At Pulse!” I flew to my computer and between that and my phone I was messaging, checking social media profiles, and emailing any potential friends who might have been there or who I know work there.

It’s hard to describe the power of the mixed feelings that happen when one by one you find your friends are alive, but the death toll climbs to a staggering 49 people. I did not know any of the people murdered but as the week has gone on the devastation is being seen further and further; deeper and deeper. I know two friends who lost cousins in the attack. Another friend who lost a good friend and had a co-worker wounded as she fled the scene. As well as many other friends and acquaintances who lost someone or knows someone who was injured and trying to heal. I met a man at one of the vigils who lost three of his friends, and another one was in the hospital fighting for his life. And at every event and meeting, I went to; I saw the haunted eyes of people who had seen horror and felt the loss in ways that words cannot encapsulate.

Plus, we are still learning the details and hearing the stories. These are my neighbors, people I may have danced next to at one time or another on a crowded dance floor, or seen at various events … the ripples and pain from the stories and aftermath keep flowing.

As I left the big downtown vigil on Monday night 6/13, I was taking a picture of the huge memorial area where we all were leaving flowers. While I was there, a young man and his boyfriend walked up with tears pouring down their faces. Then the taller of the two peeked up over the crowd to see and immediately collapsed to the ground in mourning. Understandably he couldn’t be consoled, and his boyfriend joined him on the ground, scooped him up, held him tight.

Then those of us around them gathered and placed our hands on their shoulders and arms. Smartphones and cameras disappeared, the unfiltered beauty of humanity emerged, our tears fell as whispered words of comfort and love flowed forward to the grieving couple.

One Orlando, One World, One Voice

Within 24-48 hours it was evident that the impact had devastated Orlando and the ripples created virtual tsunamis through the Internet and social media. I couldn’t stop crying with all the videos and messages streaming in from around the world. Paris lighting up the Eiffel Tower in Rainbow colors, Tel Aviv’s City Hall doing the same, tens of thousands in the streets of London singing, LA Pride and London Pride (and many others) stopping the parades for moments of silence, all the cities across the country doing magnificent memorials and outpouring of love.

In February/March I started the process of trying to learn more about, engage and serve the local community. I have done some volunteer work for HRC Orlando (Human Rights Campaign) and shared my story at an event for them the Friday night before the tragedy. All that to say, I am a newbie and don’t know all that I need to know, and don’t know what I don’t know, yet. Even so, I was able to join my HRC Orlando friends at one of their houses that horrible Sunday morning. There were tears, and that is where I learned that the death toll had jumped from 20 to 49, it was crushing news, and I am glad I was not alone.

Later in the morning, there was a conference call of a lot of different leaders, local and national, and I listened in. It was comforting listening to these folks keeping proper perspective and priorities while operating in selflessness and wisdom. I was deeply touched and inspired by the heart of our community leaders and volunteers. I am amazed by the fact they know how to get mobilized, rapidly, in an efficient and comprehensive way. It was truly a community, at every level, in “one accord” and beautiful. I have never seen anything like what unfolded that day. It is a comfort that there is a genuinely loving community we can turn to and rely on.

As my friend Mella once said to me when I was a homeless gay 19-year-old

When the world treats us badly, WE have to love each other. WE have to be there for each other. WE are family.

Catalyst

Many in the local LGBTQ community and the community(ies) at large are saying this is a historic turning point for us. Many, and I do mean many, of my personal friends and acquaintances are saying that it is a personal turning point for them as well. I agree. We all have our process of course so I will be interested to see how they adapt and grow beyond this. I know for me it is an unhindered passion for our community. To do what I can to carefully confront and hopefully, end destructive religious bias and bigotry against God’s gay children. That last sentence encompasses a lot, and while it is clear in my head, I will explore all of that in subsequent posts.

While I can only speak for myself, I believe the LGBTQ community has had enough. We have been beaten/bullied as children, mocked as teens, pressured, discriminated against, turned away, disenfranchised, and violently attacked as adults. We face rampant, and widespread discrimination in every sector of society and a large majority of LGBTQ people still live in secrecy and fear. All because of our natural relational state of being; for who we are.

No more. Simply put, no more. This will end. It will stop. Love is winning and will overcome hatred. There is no other option. Others may choose to be silent. Your silence is noted but will not discourage us. Some will decide to oppose full LGBTQ equality, but as they seek to reinforce institutionalized/generationally reinforced closets of shame and condemnation, we will be selflessly serving and sacrificially giving toward the good of all and not lost in the myopic concerns of a few.

Last Saturday night I joined 19 other of my brothers and sisters as we took part in the Orlando City Soccer Club pregame show. We were lifting up the massive circular Orlando Lions logo flag. As we walked on the field in five lines of four, we proudly held each other’s hands. I was on the end of the fourth row and holding Chris’ hand (another former Exodus staff person). When the crowd roared as they noticed our group, the volume tripled as we then raised our held hands in the air. I looked around at our crew’s huge, broad smiles, lots of emotion in our eyes … lots of healthy affirmation.

We will always grieve the loss of our brothers and sisters who were killed. We will take care of their families. We will unite as a city and nation. We are here with the rest of the world’s love pouring in and echoing through our hearts and streets. Love is winning; as it always does.

It’s a new era for LGBTQ people. I look forward to our future.

History Made With Democratic Presumptive Nominee for President, Hillary Clinton

#HillYes #ImWithHer

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Good morning! What a historic day with Hillary Clinton becoming the Democratic Party “Presumptive nominee.” Up until last year, I never thought I would support a Clinton for anything, but today #HillYes #ImWithHer .
 
Yes, today is historic also because she is a woman and this is a BIG deal for our country. While I celebrate that “glass ceiling” shattering, I am supporting her because it seems clear to me (in the sum of all things) that she is the right choice to be our President at this time in history.
 
I am proud of our country, not incredibly proud of this election cycle but am very happy to lend my support and vote to Hillary Clinton! Congratulations Team Clinton and Congratulations America :)!

The “Endearing Square”

My Epic First Ever Gay Days Adventure

Bare Bears Everywhere

Sharing with other HRC Orlando Expo booth volunteers, I said, “This sure isn’t anything like Exodus ever had an exhibit booth at before!” It’s true. I used to travel the country and staff the Exodus International booth at various religious conferences.

That said, there were similarities. At religious convention expos/vendor hall events, you could also get a bag full of cheap free pens, brochures, cards, key chains and kitchen magnets. BUT, you could not get free vodka shots and buy a “Madonna Made Me Gay” t-shirt at the National Religious Broadcasters, Focus On The Family or Assembly of God conferences.

Don’t think that would have gone over well in those venues.

On the flip side, I couldn’t find any breath mints wrapped in scripture references or quote calendars from your beloved Mega-church leader at the Gay Days Expo either.

We all have our thing(s) I guess.

The Gay Days Expo

Truthfully, the Gay Days Expo was all very typical in most respects. Local and national businesses and organizations promoting their products or ideas, sign-up for a free trip to wherever, newsletters, get married here, start a new bank account there, people sticking alleged “back” massage electrodes to your shoulders without asking, some lady showing up with a full-grown “domesticated” wolf and a Drag Queen hosting a trivia challenge and raffle drawing.

Ok…fine … it is our version of a normal expo.

I am having a bit of fun here by highlighting some of the stand-out moments, but the entire day was filled with meeting lovely people and having wonderful conversations. I was at the HRC booth to help promote new membership and hand out merch to those who signed up. I have no previous experience in helping along these lines, but it seemed like we were very busy and had a lot of people join the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). It was fun and felt good, right, to help explain what the HRC is doing and why it is important to support their work across the country.

I will share some more personal thoughts about this and the day to sum up this post. For now, though, let’s talk about …

The Nearly Bare Bears

I had a friend unexpectedly, and very kindly, give me a pass to the Bear Cave Lagoon pool party. After a fun, busy 6+ hours at the HRC booth in the Gay Days Expo, I headed over toward the incredibly loud thumping music.

It was an adventure getting there, because … well, there is incredibly loud thumping music in every direction. With so many gay people mass migrating in every direction, I quickly obtained guidance.

Me: “Bears?”

Pack of almost naked Twinks walking by: “They’re over there sweetie…”

Me: “Thank you!”

I showed up to the pool wearing what I had worn at the booth because I didn’t bring a change of clothes. Who knew this was going to happen? I was in my favorite stylish (I think at least) sandals, khaki shorts (not cargo or pleated), black t-shirt and man purse… I mean security blanket … I mean satchel.  As I waited for the friend who got me the ticket, I was simply amazed and very entertained with the sights, sounds, and organized chaos unfolding in front of me.

I have never seen so many speedos, in so many colors, on so many body types, in one place, in my entire life! Of course, there was the random dude dressed as a female Bollywood Dancer, but with that guy taking the cake, I was the second most overdressed person there.

The man who gave me the pass is a friend that I haven’t seen in a good 18 years. We met up at the Expo right after I got there and decided to do more talking at the pool party. We had a splendid conversation. Near the end, with his big handsome grin he said,

“Randy, your kind of a square. You are. It’s very endearing, but you still have your boundaries you bounce around in and off of, which isn’t surprising because you came from such an uptight life.”

My handsome friend went on to tell me that he recognized I was pushing my boundaries and in time things won’t be so wide-eyed for me and just be normal “it is what it is” kind of stuff. Of course, I am paraphrasing him to an extent, and we talked about plenty of other stuff. But, that kind of sums up how I felt on my way home from a busy day at the 2016 Gay Day’s Expo and after a bit at the Bear Cave Pool Party.

On Being An “Endearing Square”

I am ok with being a square; an endearing square is even better. I can see the continued need to shed some of my religious uptightness at times. At the same time, I am quite ok with never ever never never wearing a speedo or diving headlong into this or that party. Not for religious reasons; it’s because that’s not how I roll reasons.

I know my friend was encouraging me. I received his opinion as such. But what I think he is picking up on the most is that at times I still feel like I don’t deserve to be there because of my past in the “ex-gay” world. Sometimes I feel like an interloper and shouldn’t get to enjoy or take part in our community’s passion for equality and in our Pride festivities.

It’s not religious fear or uptightness that I struggle with. That’s done and closed; no more legalism. What I struggle with is in extending grace and forgiveness to myself for my past. The knife in the gut feeling that happens from time to time isn’t the scantily clad masses, it’s the man who joyfully shared with me that he married his partner 13 years ago in Massachusetts as soon as it was legal there to do so. His tone changed though when he shared that it was so stressful because of Romney and all the religious people were trying to deny he and his husband their right to marry. The pain that shot through his eyes with that memory broke my heart and again, was like a knife to the gut.

I was literally one of the religious people working against this man and husband. Back in 2003, I sat in a committee meeting at the Massachusetts state capital and lobbied against marriage equality. When this man told me his story at the Expo booth, I felt horrible. He was there to have fun, not deal with my need to make amends so I didn’t foist my issues on him in front of the crowd at the HRC booth. Instead, I thanked him for sharing his story and said I was happy for him and his husband. He may never know this, but I will never forget his face and story as I move forward to do the right thing today.

This year, my overall sense of feeling like an interloper isn’t anywhere near as bad as last year. I did enjoy my day yesterday from beginning to end. I look forward to experiencing what is put before me and seek to do the best I can to contribute positively and enjoy our community(ies) along the way.

Next year, after a long day volunteering at the HRC booth, I may just leave my man-purse satchel at home. Instead, I will wear my “Madonna Made Me Gay” t-shirt, bring a beach towel, sunblock, cheap rubber flip flops, full bathing suit and go dance with the Bollywood Bear at the Bear Cave Lagoon.

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Check out the gallery below with my photos from yesterday 🙂

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Getting Randy.Today Revved Up! (Blog Relaunch)

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A few weeks ago I mentioned on Facebook that I would be relaunching my blog here at Randy.Today. I have posted random blog posts lately, but I want to be more consistent and cover specific topics regularly. After doing some backend admin work, thinking through a posting strategy and cleaning things up around here, I am ready to go! Here are the five categories I have set up for re-launching the blog:

  • Being Gay & Christian – I think the intent with this category is evident.  While these topics can be very serious very quickly, I am hoping these posts will be more uplifting and encouraging than anything else.
  • Common + Unity = Community –  we become more ourselves in relationship with others. These posts will be more along the lines of current affairs. I am still working through this category in my mind.
  • Along the Way… – blogging about random life events, meetings, and situations (Past and present.) I run into the strange, beautiful and everything else that MUST be blogged about quite regularly.
  • Ask-It-Basket – Where I answer questions people send along. I am not Oprah, but I am an open book! So if in inclined, ask away in the comments or privately by clicking here.
  • Helpful Resources – I want to review various resources that have been helpful to me and suggest them to others.

Right now my goal is to have at least two new posts a week to be published Wednesday and Sunday mornings. Also, nothing is ever written in stone around here so if you have thoughts on editing the category names above or topic suggestions, don’t hesitate, let me know.

I am excited! I love blogging. The timing feels more than right, perfect really. I am looking forward to this new season. Thanks for reading.

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“Quacks” – Special Report by the Southern Poverty Law Center on Conversion Therapy

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Quacks: ‘Conversion Therapists,’ the Anti-LGBT Right, and the Demonization of Homosexuality” is a powerful, accurate, and compelling account of the history of conversion therapy and the need to shut it down before it harms another generation of LGBT people. Many thanks to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for publishing this report.

The report centers around the successful lawsuit the SPLC brought against the conversion therapy group JONAH. They represented former JONAH participants suing to regain the money they spent on JONAH’s fraudulent claims to make them straight. The stories of what they went through at JONAH are incredibly heart-breaking. While the SPLC lawsuit is the anchor for the report, it also presented a very accurate overview of conversion therapy’s roots in history and how it manifests today.

Back in my Exodus leadership days, this kind of report would have caused incredible anxiety as I tried to do my best, phone call after phone call, email after email, conversation after conversation, to defend and protect Exodus. If this had happened back then, I would probably end up with a migraine somewhere in the first few days of this report as I would try to force fit this brutally honest expose into the accepted ex-gay narrative and ideology.

Now that I have no reason to fear the truth and have reconciled my faith and sexuality, I feel anger, guilt and grief. Anger because of being personally duped by some of the folks in the report. Guilt for not seeing what was so obvious sooner, and then when the red flags were going up and it was becoming obvious, grief for not speaking out against that whole dynamic sooner and stronger. I realize there is grace, but feelings are feelings and those are what I felt while reading the report. That said, I am also thankful. Thankful that the truth is being put out there, being documented, and that conversion therapy (in all its manifestations) is dwindling and will soon cease to exist.

I recommend this resource to you because, simply, it’s shining a necessary light onto a very dark practice. Many people, families and faith communities are thoroughly convinced conversion therapy is genuinely compassionate and helpful. In many faith communities, conversion therapy/groups, are the only option presented to LGBT people of faith. As a former “true believer” I know this to be the case. This abuse must, and will, end. LGBT people of faith deserve the same opportunities and access to resources in their faith communities as anyone else. It is my prayer that we will no longer allow ourselves to be turned into test subjects for abusive theories and counselors. That we will no longer be hidden away in a separate support group seeking to fix what isn’t broken. The church needs us for who we are and how we are created. We need the church to embrace us just as God has.

If interested, you can download the PDF of the report by clicking here.

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Live Openly, Confront Injustice, Celebrate Love

Authentic Living Compels Empathy And Compassion

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Last week something interesting happened. An activist I worked on a few projects with back between 2002 and 2008 contacted me saying they did not like my earlier blog post and the way it characterized the Liberty Counsel. I hadn’t seen or heard from this person since around 2008. When they stated, in their message, that they loved and considered me a friend, I was a little bewildered. I never realized they felt that way.

Because this person and I are no longer connected on Facebook, their message was “filtered.” Facebook doesn’t notify you of filtered messages (a problem in my opinion), I didn’t see it for over two weeks. When the message was eventually found and read (last week), I have been tempted not to respond. It had already been two weeks, and this person is a fairly high-profile conservative activist. I am not addicted to potential drama so wasn’t looking to stir up some.

The fact he took the time to send a message stuck with me. I tried avoiding thinking about it but kept feeling compelled to respond. In other situations like this, I haven’t bothered. Didn’t want to, didn’t need to. In those situations, I had no desire to be civil or polite. In those cases, the most gracious response was not to respond. However, something has changed in the past 6 or so months. Now, I do want to respond when appropriate to do so. Lately, I want to speak up and seek to end religious/cultural stigmatization of, and instead celebrate, the lives of gay people. I don’t have to respond, but I want to speak up when truly compelled to do so. I now believe I can respond from a place that is genuinely trying to be understanding and gracious. If I ever feel like my inner Sassy Randy is yelling through my keyboard, time to walk away, not respond or wait until I can see the common good again.

I did end up responding to him, and this is an excerpt from the message I sent:

Thank you for reaching out to me. I didn’t write my post to insult you. …

While I never want to be offensive for the sake of being offensive, what I wrote in the blog post you didn’t agree with is my honest opinion. I now believe our past actions on the projects we worked together on, and your continued actions against the LGBTQ community is destructive. I think the issues and methods you all have chosen to emphasize only serve to undermine true religious freedom and liberty in the name of protecting the same. I believe when we look to the letter of, or create, a man-made law to impose morality and disenfranchise our neighbor that activity is the antithesis of what I believe the Gospel is seeking to compel us to accomplish. Jesus modeled sacrifice, mercy, grace and service. He did not teach us to place our trust in government, boycotts, lawsuits or voting booths.

Someday I hope you will change your focus and steward your gifts in ways that include us as equals in policy and community. Again, I am not seeking to offend, just trying to be transparent and honest. …

He did respond a couple of days after my message. He said that he did not contact me to debate. He defended himself as not having a problem with people but does have a problem with an intolerant agenda (which he believes is against Christians). He said that the culture has deviated from clear right and wrong and that the Bible and Jesus are our “true north” for guiding public policy and personal morality.

I am paraphrasing his response in the above paragraph, but that is what I got out of what he had to say. I won’t be carrying this particular conversation with him any further, but am glad to have had the opportunity to send an initial response.

I am posting about this because I hope it offers some level of encouragement to the reader. The encouragement being that when opportunities present themselves, and we are in a good place, we assert ourselves toward making a positive difference. That we all, in the right time and way, square our shoulders and lift our chins with humility and strength to thoughtfully confront stigmatization and oppression. While this activist was upset with one paragraph in my long post, he had to read the rest of the post about my lovely evening on a fantastic date with an awesome man.

He might choose to ignore it, or force-fit my life into the narrative in his public policy driven world. But, at least for a moment, he was confronted with another real world example of someone he knows who happens to be gay; that I deserve equal protections and benefits under the law and in our culture.

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The South Is My Home, Too

Anti-LGBT Laws From One Gay Southern Man's Perspective

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We went to Seasons 52 off of Sand Lake Road in Orlando. Every time I looked at him, I felt an incredible connection of love flowing between us. I will never forget the evening light coming in through the windows illuminating his joyful countenance, lighting up those gorgeous blue eyes. I felt at home in his eyes. I was safe. We held hands across the table; we seemed always to be holding hands. We told jokes, talked about life stuff, and said I love you more than a few times.

We had wine and an incredibly delicious meal. After, we held hands out the door of the restaurant to the car. I stole a quick kiss just… you know… because… Then we went to the Orlando Eye, and did the cheesy tourist couple photo even though I live here. It was late, so it was easy to get our own carriage on this huge Ferris wheel. I forget what we were teasing each other about; teasing is another one of our love languages. I remember laughing and laughing. We took plenty of photos with our phones, too. When our carriage reached the very top, we shared a long romantic kiss and a heartfelt “I love you…”.

And like any couple in love, we just enjoyed the evening and each other. We enjoyed an excellent meal and the life-giving mutuality of discovering each other and enjoying a night together.

Not once during that splendid evening, or several others we had, did I spend time worrying about being a man in love with another man. I was simply in love. I wasn’t self-conscious about being on a  “gay” date or that we were a “gay” couple. We were simply a couple, in love, enjoying the evening like millions of other couples that same night.

I grew up in the south. I LOVE the south! There are many good, wonderful things about the south!! We have great food, culture, stories and more stories! There are many endearing qualities to embrace and celebrate. We have art, education, beautiful environment and many good-hearted amazing people.

Yes, we have had a horrible and bloody history. We still have huge problems, like the rest of the country, including situations in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee. These states recently passed legislation that willfully disenfranchises LGBT people from equal protections and benefits within those states. Last year, on my memorable date, we didn’t have to hide our affection and pretend to be just friends. We didn’t have to avert our eyes to avoid sending non-verbal cues to the other tables that we were romantically interested in each other. We didn’t have to worry about possibly be physically assaulted or thrown out of the establishment. We didn’t have to worry about being refused entrance to the Orlando Eye because we held hands or took a photo together as a couple.

As men who are many things including gay, we need to be careful, even today, even here. What I experienced that night is the way any couple should be able to be free to enjoy each other in safety and with the same access to services and opportunities in our community.

I have dated both men and women. I should not have to be hiding, guarded and reserved with an amazing man just because some in the community would be more comfortable with me doing the same things with an amazing woman.

The first time I came out was in Nashville Tennessee. For me, it was a much scarier time to be gay back then. When I came out, I got thrown out. I suffered being homeless then transient as a 19-year-old. I was physically assaulted many times growing up there. One severe time happened when I was around 20 years old. When the cops came, they laughed at me. They took my attackers word for it and didn’t even ask me for my version of events. As they walked back to the police car, they were laughing at me. They said I deserved being beaten for “flirting” with those guys.

Y’all, I would never have flirted with those guys … trust me.

Later when I had moved back to Texas, a group of guys and I were leaving a gay nightclub called “Britches and Bloomers.” Not kidding! That was its name! But as we were leaving, a truckload full of guys in a beat-up truck pulled up. They were brandishing rifles, cursing us in Spanish and English, and threatening to kill all of us “fags.” We all dove under cars or ran. I fell on top of my date that night shoving him under the car we were next too. All these years later, remembering that moment still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

I could go on and on, but the point is, my experience dating this wonderful man last year was so different from what I experienced 25-30+ years ago. It is such a relief to be free and who we are without fear in our local community. It’s a no-brainer that sharing a kiss at the top of the world (in Orlando) is MUCH more preferable than being targeted, beaten, and diving underneath cars to escape the line of sight coming off the end of a rifle.

When I see legislation being passed that in effect equates trans people to predators (NC), allowing licensed professional counselors to refuse professional help for LGBT clients (TN), and saying that somehow my fellow Christians deserve a right to discriminate in any and every way they see fits within their religious beliefs (MS and everywhere)… Well, that’s not acceptable.

These terrible policies harken back to a time when cops laughed at me as I bled into the snow after being beaten by homophobic bigots. It does so by enlivening a state willing to stigmatize innocent people in the name of protecting the rights of a particular group that were never in any danger to begin with. The policies are a mask. They aren’t protecting anyone from any real threat and instead empowering an unaccountable climate of fear and discrimination against the LGBT community.

Plus, I know the folks who are behind these bills, Liberty Counsel (LC). I worked with and met with them on some projects during my conservative years. Their animus toward LGBT people and false persecution complex is well documented. I know from personal experience that they are not simply interested in protected religious freedom. They want to shut down and silence the LGBT communities voice and influence. During my time as a conservative activist, I heard LC representatives, Matt Barber specifically (he was with them at that time), say that stigmatizing the gay community had to be a top priority. They had to “expose” us in unfavorable ways to advance “pro-family policy,” win back the culture, and deter people from entering into or condoning a destructive “lifestyle.”

Even back then I didn’t agree with Mr. Barber’s demeanor or focus and opposed stigmatization.

From my experience, I believe they are legalists so they will do whatever they can to craft the language in manipulative ways to appear righteous yet set up legal precedent to silence and disenfranchise LGBT people.

We have, can, and will do better than succumb to fear and manipulation. Repeal anti-LGBT laws and defeat proposed new ones.

When I read of Jesus feeding the 5,000. He didn’t say, “Now, before we get started, all the gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people need to leave quietly and go to some other luncheon. There are plenty of options over yonder where they have their ‘Samarian values.’  Unless you are with the catering crew, y’all just need to take your gay pride on down the road. Go ahead; we are going to wait till you are gone. Peter! Do NOT pass out that bread or the LGBT’s might think we condone their lifestyle!”

Nope, Jesus never said anything like that.

The Savior I know would give not just food but Living Water to LGBT people. He would lift the chin of the scared Trans person, look them in the eyes and say, “I see you. I know and love you. You do not have to fear Me.” I see Him shielding the group of gay guys outside of Britches and Bloomers from the rifle-wielding bullies. I see Him, with an understanding look, wiping the tears and blood from my face after my assault…

And you know what else? I see Him smiling as I steal a kiss from my date… just cause…  I can easily imagine His delight as I allowed myself to love another soul, truly and honestly, maybe for the first time in my life.

The South is my home, too.

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Note: The photo in this photograph was taken at a local favorite restaurant that specializes in southern comfort food. I didn’t get thrown out of it :). I think the photo represents this topic, symbolically, perfectly.