Saturday, November 29, 2008

On the Verge of a Christian State

There is always a bittersweet feeling I get inside when I go visit my parents.  It's not so much a result of my parents, but the city in which I go visit them.  Merced is definitely not a very liberal part of California.  In fact, the county voted 71% in favor of Proposition 8.  So going to Merced is always eventful since I am the one of the most "out" gays in the city--I've been on the front page of their newspaper several times already.  Driving through town with my "No On 8" bumper sticker usually attracts reactions, occasional dirty looks, and of course, the yelling of the word "fag."  All of which I have learned to respond to in a healthy non-violent way.

This past Thanksgiving was no different when I went to Merced to be with my family for the holiday.  People honked at our car, I could see people stop to stare in parking lots, etc.  Well after a very stuffing Thanksgiving dinner my partner and I took a walk.  It was saddening that people stared in disgust as we held hands, but we held ourselves well.  As we continued our walk we found something that had left us speechless.  It wasn't the dirty looks.  It was a fence that had been tagged with spray paint.  In bold white letters, "Romans 1:27" was displayed on the fence.  I was speechless because I was not expecting a fence to have such a verse on it.  The fence didn't belong to a certain house or was facing anything really of significance.  But there it was in plain view for anyone to see who was walking by.  I was filled with many emotions. I was sad, angry, even ashamed.  I wanted to respond to this fence.  I wanted to add affirmation, but I really didn't know how to.  I wanted to spray paint Ephesians 4:2-6 over it, but with my luck I would have gotten busted for vandalism--it would have been worth it in my opinion.  I will actually be sending in an Op-Ed to the local newspaper as a response to the fence though.

But why was it written in the first place?  Of all the verses to put up why this one?  I admit it was a better selection than Leviticus 18:22, since Leviticus is often overused.  But are we at a point now in society where we begin to post religious "laws" in public in order to condemn people?  Are we on the verge of a Christian state?  The cult of persecution is dominating in our culture.  Not to go off on a slippery slope fallacy, but what's next?  Curfews, executions of the homosexuals and the artistic, and the subjugation of women again?  It is the messages of untruth and intolerance and persecution that we need to stand up against.  It starts with a fence, but lets make sure lives don't end up ending on a fence.  Let action begin.  The abuse and misuse of scriptures hurt people, so share what these scriptures have done and what they do in your lives.

Monday, November 17, 2008

We Are Not Alone

When I was being trained in nonviolent resistance I was reminded that it is always nice to have something in your head and heart to fall back on, whether it be a verse, a quote, or even a song.  I kept that advice with me as I began the Equality Ride in 2007 and I continue to keep it with me everyday.

This past weekend thousands of people across the nation who believe in equality and justice took their voices to the streets.  I was in San Diego, California where I marched with over 20,000 people to the County Administration Building.  On our route we passed a handful of counter protesters who wanted to continue delivering a message of untruth and intolerance.  I naturally began singing to myself the song that I have kept in my head and my heart over the past two years of my life.

I encountered this song while in choir at Azusa Pacific University.  The name of the song is "We Are Not Alone," written by Pepper Choplin.  I remember when I first sang this song at Azusa Pacific that this song would mean more to me in the long run, and it has.

We are not alone
We are not alone
God is with us

We are not alone
We are never alone
We are not alone, for God is with us

...God will make us strong
For God is with us
We will press on
For God is with us.
We are not alone

As I march down those streets I know that we are not alone and we will never be alone.  We are guided by the soul force of love, equality, and peace.  Let us not forget to keep these words in our hearts and continue to march forward.  Listen to "We Are Not Alone" below.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Response to Proposition 8

Like many Californians I am heartbroken and devastated by the passage of Proposition 8.  It is unfortunate and despairing that millions of voters agreed to enforcing discrimination, hate, and intolerance.  The passage of Prop 8 has taken a tremendous toll on my heart and the hearts of many others.

But despite my pain I am not taking a passive position; however, I am also not taking the position of aggressor.  I may be hurt and upset but above anything else I have class and heart of love.  It is unfortunate that millions of voters don't understand the true meaning of selfless love, love without reservations, and love that does no harm--but I do.

I respond to my adversaries in the way they couldn't respond me:  through love and grace.  I am reminded by Christ in Matthew 5:44 to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."  A task that is certainly difficult in a time of pain and defeat, but we must try.  Because if we don't then we achieve nothing.  As Gandhi once said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

As a country we have overcome injustice time and time again and this time we will certainly overcome again.  Let us not be discouraged but rise as a community in true solidarity and we will repeal injustice and discrimination. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Straight Allies Supporting Marriage Equality

Today being a very important day in American history (and Californian for that matter), I thought I would share some words and thoughts of a person who is very close to me.  My former youth pastor Jay has been a person that I have been able to come to and share my story with and know that I am going to be embraced with love and grace.  Jay is committed to understanding the love and grace behind spirituality by being a living example of that.  Today Jay voted against Proposition 8, here are some of his words and thoughts from his blog:

Gay marriage is another evolution of this fluid institution. Instead of rejecting a healthy and committed expression of love toward the another (singular), we ought to be embracing the decision and desire of homosexual men and woman to join into and make their own “moral expressions” of commitment to one another. Gay marriage is something to be celebrated and something to give thanks unto God for. I believe it is a beautiful thing for people to make moral commitments to one another, and for the Church to embrace, through active grace, those decisions.

That’s why I voted NO on PROPOSITION 8.  Read Jay's blog here.

I love you brother!