THE WEAPON OF FEAR

Homophobia: Function: noun Date: 1969: irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Interesting how this irrational fear of the religious zealots of the world becomes their strongest weapon against our friends and us.

The religious zealots of the world are so “fearful” of homosexuals or anyone for that matter that doesn’t fit their definition of gender identity or orientation and their fight so fierce that they throw ever manner of fecal matter at the fan and it just blows out all over the place and some of it sticks to us. Especially…

The fear about where we will end up after death. Not to mention the fear of another Sodom and Gomorrah.

We seem to fear that if we pursue the life of our God given orientation we will end up in this place that some call hell. A horrible place where we will be separated from God for all eternity.

I have come to recognize that this fear and concern is deeply rooted in the way we were and are taught to view God. So in essence, the only way to get past those fears is to change the way we view God.

I have recently been re-reading a book written by Bruce Bawer, called Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity. From this book I have come to understand the real source of our fears when it comes to sexuality.

The source of this fear is the difference between an attitude of love and an attitude of law. On page 5 of this book Mr. Bauer states:

“Simply stated, conservative Christianity focuses primarily on law, doctrine, and authority; liberal Christianity focuses on love, spiritual experience and.the priesthood of all believers. If conservative Christians emphasize the Great Commission–the resurrected Christ’s injunction, at the end of the Gospel according to Matthew, ‘go to all the nations and make them my disciples’–liberal Christians place more emphasis on the Great Commandment, which in Luke’s Gospel reads as follows; ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.'”

What these few words essentially say is that we have a choice as to whether we understand and live with a God as a strict authoritarian who demands that all come to God in a specify way or we understand and live with a God as a loving Creator who desires that all would come to God and would treat each other accordingly.

All one has to do is read the story or the prodigal son to make the obvious choice.

Yet, what we get focused on is a point of view that is based on the law and authority figures that have decided they speak on behalf of God. “The whole world will go to hell in a hand basket if the homos are given any dignity, acceptance or love.”

So, yes there is a choice to be made.

However, I must say to believe that God would create something with free will and then ultimately destroy that creation because it did not make the choice to follow the law is rubbish.

If this were true, why provide Jesus the Christ as Savior?

Why did Jesus spend almost his entire earthly ministry bringing the outcasts, those outside the law back to the fold?

Why did Jesus, when asked to state what the greatest commandment was, say to Love God and to love your Neighbor?

He never said in order to be okay with God and not go to hell you must obey the law of the day, rather he spent all of his time telling folks to love God and giving them example after example of how they could show and could live that love.

The women caught in adultery released, the raising of Lazarus, the blind person healed, the Roman Centurion slave healed, the women with the issue of blood healed.

Jesus’ words:

“Be not be judges of others, and you will not be judged. For as you have been judging, so you will be judged, and with your measure will it be measured to you. And why do you take note of the grain of dust in your brother’s eye, but take no note of the bit of wood which is in your eye?”
–Matthew 7: 1-3

“Then Jesus said to the people and to his disciples: The scribes and the Pharisees have the authority of Moses; All things, then, which they give you orders to do, these do and keep: but do not take their works as your example, for they say and do not. They make hard laws and put great weights on men’s backs; but they themselves will not put a finger to them…
Matthew 23:1-4

“But a curse is on you, scribes and Pharisees, false ones! Because you are shutting the kingdom of heaven against men: for you do not go in yourselves, and those who are going in, you keep back. A curse is on you, scribes and Pharisees, false ones! For you go about land and sea to get one disciple and, having him, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. A curse is on you, blind guides, who say, whoever takes an oath by the Temple, it is nothing; but whoever takes an oath by the gold of the Temple, he is responsible. You foolish ones and blind: which is greater, the gold, or the Temple which makes the gold holy?”
–Matthew 23: 13-17

Yes, we can choose to live in fear by the law and the authority of those around us or we can choose to live by the words of Jesus and his examples.

We can belong to the church of the Pharisees, Scribes and St. Paul or we can belong to the faith that Jesus spent his ministry building and ultimately died for.

A faith that was to include all those whom the religious leaders of the day said was not part of God. I might add they would not be well received today either.

In the end the religious right gets and maintains its power from our fear. Fear of what our relationship with God is going to be and look like in the hereafter.

This fear is the exact opposite of everything Jesus taught. If we are to really be the beautiful creation that God intended then we must begin to listen to, believe and live the word’s of Jesus when he said to the disciples and to each of us today; “fear not, it is I!”

Gee, who knows… if we stop living in fear, the world might stop killing each other in an effort to prove who belongs to God.

So How Stupid Has the Church Become?

So I am sitting at my computer when the following news story pops up on my screen:

BAR Editorial Asks: Why apologize?
From Gay Religion: news of religion and GLBT folks by thomas c jackson

Why apologize?

San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer gave Communion to two members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence a couple weeks ago when he celebrated Mass at Most Holy Redeemer in the Castro. The service was videotaped, and now, of course, the right-wing anti-gay forces are all in lather. Bill O’Reilly gave the incident his “Talking Points” treatment, and apparently the archdiocese received hundreds of angry e-mails.

So Niederauer has issued an apology, but one in which he attempts to place blame on the Sisters who wished to receive Communion. They came into church in their mock habits and in full drag makeup, and he writes that while he has “often seen photographs” of the Sisters, he didn’t recognize them. Why is that their fault? “As I recall one of them wore a large flowered hat or garland,” Niederauer writes in his column, which is online and is to be published Friday in Catholic San Francisco.

Now what struck me about this was that an Archbishop found it necessary to apologize for giving communion to members of the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence”. Huh? Bill O’Reilly gets his undies in a wad and the church receives a few hundred e-mail and this Archbishop feels the need to make them feel better by apologizing because he gave the ultimate act of grace to members of a highly successful community non-profit group?

Let me stop for a second and let the readers catch up. “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is described as follows:

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are “radical genderfuck” artists, [1] activists and self-described 21st century nuns [2] for the queer (gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, lesbian, kink, etc.) communities and they fulfill a unique role for queers, which historically have faced institutionalized religious and governmental demonization and persecution. [3][4] They are highly visible gay icons and social activists and have used their visibility to advance a host of human rights and liberal issues both within the LGBT community and in mainstream society. The most visible and well known is Sister Roma.

The international network of Orders is mostly non-profit charity organizations within their countries, raising money for AIDS, other LGBT-related charities and mainstream community service organizations, helping lead the campaign for safer sex and harm reduction, [4] performing modern ritual and educating on various issues and against hate crimes.

The Sisters have been considered controversial by various members both within and outside the LGBT and queer communities but have gotten the harshest criticism for obvious parodies of Catholic icons and policies.

Originally, the organization included only gay male nuns, but it now includes people of all genders and orientations including intersex, homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, and transgender.

From San Francisco, Sister Hellen Wheels, Sister Kitty Catalyst O.C.P. and Sister Flora Goodthyme at SF’s club Mezzanine for Michael Brandon Blessing photo: Mark Englelhart

The organization was started in 1979 in San Francisco, California, and has more than six hundred nuns worldwide [5] with new members joining regularly and new houses being established.

The San Francisco Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have raised well over $1,000,000 and distributed it to non-profit organizations that serve not only the queer and sex positive communities but also mainstream organizations that don’t discriminate their charity work such as the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund [citation needed] and women’s breast cancer charities including Wendy’s Hope. [6]

The Sisters’ state vows to promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt [7] while serving their respective communities.

This incredible group and their work have spread all over the world. Chapters can be found all over Europe, South America and of course here in the United States where there are 16 chapters from coast to coast. They have saved untold number of lives with their acts of charity and education.

So why shouldn’t two members of this group get communion? Because they poke fun at the Roman Catholic Church with their satire through activism, dress and actions?

Or maybe it is because they have raised money for the wrong groups. I wonder if the good Archbishop would have felt differently if they had raised a million dollars for the Roman Church to continue it’s pay offs of their latest scandal?

Of course if the afore mentioned is reason to deny one communion then I suspect there are many Roman Catholics who should be turned away right along with the sisters.

The “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” offered these statements as part of a press release concerning this whole event:

“…We would like to take this opportunity to state again that, contrary to the spin of right-wing fanatics, that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence do not “mock nuns” but live “as nuns,” taking vows that affirm the traditional compassionate and justice-seeking ministries of religious women, extending their reach beyond the convent walls to those most in need. We are open and supportive of all forms of spirituality that teach respect for human life, diversity, freedom and community, including those of the Catholic Church. In fact, we have given several thousand dollars in grants to several religious-based organizations, including Most Holy Redeemer.

It is no secret that our vows sometimes call us to challenge the dogmas and hypocrisies of the Catholic hierarchy, in the same way they call us to confront politicians and even leaders within the queer community whenever they use their power and influence to promote fear, shame, division, and self-hatred. It is a bittersweet irony that these same forces of fear and shame now use the media to twist a moment of genuine communion into another justification for policies that harm people of faith and members of the LGBTQ community.

In keeping with our vows to expiate stigmatic guilt and promulgate universal joy, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence call on all people of good faith to oppose those who would desecrate the sanctity of a church and defile a moment of true communion for cheap political gain. In a world wracked by violence and fear, we have no time for such lies and will continue to serve our community by boldly proclaiming that joy is more powerful than shame.

We extend our sincerest gratitude and affection to the parishioners of Most Holy Redeemer and hope that their new Archbishop continues to walk with them in service to the gospel of joy and justice.”

According to Roman Catholic Catechism the benefits of the Sacrament of Holy Communion are:

“The benefits of this sacrament are pointed out by the words, given and shed for you for the remission of sins. These words assure us that in the sacrament we receive forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”

Therefore, people who take Communion usually have some sense of where they are at (or not at) with God. They want to be where Jesus is. Maybe it’s because they know they need Jesus, or because they just love Jesus, or because they want to follow Jesus. When they come for communion, they’ve come to the right place. That’s where Jesus is.

So these two folks simply within their faith and love for God came to where Jesus is and the Archbishop found it appalling this happened and apologized. Of course he wasn’t too appalled till Bill O’Rielly and a few hundred religious fanatics were. Now I ask you, how stupid is that?

The Archbishop said he did not recognize who they were. Well of course he didn’t.

Instead what he saw were Christ’s sheep in need of nourishment, grace and love. In that moment of Sacrament it mattered not who they were but rather they were of Christ’s flock.

Now I don’t care how you spin it, but to apologize for that is just plain stupid.

Some Things Never Change

Sometimes I wonder if the folks in Washington D.C. understand they are playing with peoples lives…Sometimes I wonder if they were faced with the same challenges as the people whom they represent would they think or act any differently.

There is an old saying about walking a mile in another person’s shoes. Maybe the GLB great heroes of Barney Frank and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and self-proclaimed leader of the gay world, the Human Rights Campaign ought to take note of the following letter.

Today reality barged into my world once again. I am a M2F non-op TS, who happens to serve in the ministry [as a lay person] of an MCC church. Tipper Gore came to town and was brought to the home of a famous local gay lawyer. The place was crowded with GL folks. As far as I could tell I was the only TG/TS there.

I tried to talk to the host about inclusion of TG/TS folks in the hate crime bill and ENDA. All he could talk about is they get protection, then marriage, then something else; then would work to include gender identity. First he and the majority get what they want and then he wants me to believe that the forces used in that effort would still be around to work for inclusion for TG/TS folks.

The problem with this is several fold:
a] HRC is dead set against us being included. They talk the talk but all they work for is rights of gays and lesbians. Bi’s and trans folks can go fly a kite.

b] Barney Frank, the lead on ENDA and hate crimes is completely opposed to us being included.

c] Even the Fellowship of my church proud of the very small number of trans clergy, and yet I read almost nothing about protecting us. Oh, there is the mandatory mention of GLBT, and then the B and T do not get mentioned again. The web pages are filled with GL items and only the rare mention of out reach to the gender folks. Why do not the Elders go to the funerals of gender folks like they did Mathew and Billie Jack?

Many of us have worked very hard for GL rights. I have risked attacks and the like by appearing at televised city counsel meetings in my ministry role as Social Justice chair arguing for the rights of groups I do not belong to. Even though I defend GL folks the only place I seem to hear about trans folks is within our own community.

Tipper Gore arrived and gave a 6-minute pep talk about the need for ENDA and hate crimes bills and then shut up. I tried to ask about the fact that TS folks are excluded and had people shushing me. At one point I had several secret service agents looking my way.

So she escaped without being asked about safety for TG/TS folks who are often denied jobs, fired, attacked, mutilated, and murdered because they are seen as flamboyant gays or queens. Than there are some news making murders of gays [more likely to make page one above the fold], and lesbians. Lots of opportunity to get paper and news coverage so everyone goes to Wyoming, but when Tyra Banks died in the street because the ambulance refused to treat a woman with a penis, nothing was said except locally. Meanwhile trans folks, particularly women suffer higher injury and death rates than GL folks.

Tonight I feel like just quitting but know that I cannot. With the hatred and rejection of some parts of the lesbian community and the self-centeredness of many gay male organizations it is no surprise that we are used only to be discarded when they have their protections.

What would Rev. Elder Troy Perry have me and the other TG/TS folks do in the church he started? Locally our pastor and congregation are totally supportive and affirming in so many ways. Other MCCs have reputations of rejecting gender benders and Trans folks. The Fellowship seems to do not much more than a token effort through transmcc.

So the bottom line is that it’s more horrific for a gay man to be beaten to death and hung on a fence in the cold than to have a trans woman who was fired because of transition, lost her apartment, rejected by family and straight friends, having to turn to sex work to live, and die after being stabbed in the chest more than 30 times.

Are we doing God’s work?

Oh wait you say…RBS when did you get that letter? It spoke of Tipper Gore…this is from the Clinton Administration. Yes, it was and folks not a damn thing has changed in 10 years…the trans community is still being kicked around like a soccer ball.

The observations from 10 years ago were correct then and are correct today with the shameful behavior of HRC and the Democratic Leadership. Transgender people stand-alone in this world for the most part.

This is an issue that, while many people do not understand it, is the hill on which everything we as the LGBT community have fought for is on the line.

We in the gay, lesbian and Bi community cannot afford to leave anyone behind. We cannot afford to treat another group of people like we have been treated.

We cannot, and must not, allow the same shame based language to be used against our sisters and brothers.

We cannot, and must not, allow the same violence to be brought upon one part of our community and ignore the other. Yes denying one protection in employment is a form of violence.

If we do not take in the letter writer and others like her then what we are asking from the main-line straight community is a sham, selfish, self-serving and certainly hypocritical.

Trans People (God’s creation) are being denied employment, fired, even killed and beat up and some in our community, HRC and Barney Frank have the nerve to say the issues of the transgender community are too much in our fight for equal rights. It is being said if they are included it will hurt our cause, it will cause people who would help us otherwise to turn away.

To those of you who think this will hurt our cause, please know we have no cause and will have gained nothing if the brother and sisters of the transgender community are not with us.

While I appreciate the HRC says they will not advocate for this current bill, HRC has not come out and said they will not accept this version or is unconditionally opposed to the passage of this bill.

To not advocate for it is not the same thing as pulling your support…it is hand sitting and saying “oh this is the best we can do for now.”

HRC was very willing to take credit for this bill when it was fully inclusive, but now HRC and Barney Frank wants us to accept; “this is the best we can do.”

This is not the “best we can do.” Everyone knows even if it gets through the house and senate, it will be vetoed. So damn let’s get everybody on record as to where they stand. Compromise on moral issues is not a real good idea…anyone remember how the government compromised on the issue of slavery and what happened as a result?

Further, the Transgender community has always stood by the GLB community without exception even to the point of arrest and even death.

For HRC to accept and Barney Frank to push the idea that says loudly to the Trans community “you just have to wait for a better time for justice” is an act of hypocrisy at best and an act of cowardice at worse.

Maybe HRC and Barney Frank could give me the words to explain this at the next funeral I do for a trans person who ended their life because they have no job protection. Maybe HRC and Barney Frank could provide the words to explain why I am more worthy of job protection then my sister or brother who is trans.

I find it appalling HRC would even consider or allow for leaving anyone behind…but oh wait it not HRC’s job that needs protection.

I find it appalling that Barney Frank would even consider or allow for leaving anyone behind…oh wait Congressman Franks memory of the entire community rallying around him when he had his troubles with ethics a few years back seems to have gone blank.

If I sound angry…I am. I dare say I will not sit on my hands and say, “this is the best we can do.”

I will point out to anyone who will listen, that HRC and Barney Frank have declared themselves the God of our community will decide who gets justice and when they will get it.

If I had a house that was on fire, and there were people inside…I would not consider who should be saved or who should be left behind to die. I would die making sure I did everything in my power to get everybody out.

HRC and Barney Frank do not get to choose whom to save from the fire of bigotry, sexism and gender phobia.

In every negotiation there are “deal breakers” this is one of them. I will stand without job protection until my job protection is protection for my sisters and brothers of the trans community as well.

Brothers and Sisters, what is written in the scripture? Just this:

And a certain teacher of the law got up and put him to the test, saying,
Master, what have I to do so that I may have eternal life?
And he said to him, what does the law say, in your reading of it?
And he, answering, said, has love for the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;
and for your neighbor as for yourself.
And he said, you have given the right answer: do this and you will have life.”

–Luke 10:25-28

If we are to win, to gain the prize, to truly know peace, to have true equality then we must not leave anyone behind; we must not leave any part of our community out.

Come on folks it is not rocket science! There is no justice, there is no safety, and there is no protection until all really means all.

Pardon Me if I’m a Bit Tired of Pandering to Bigots

Well all the bluster of the Episcopal Bishops meeting is now over. It was suppose to be the great show down between the hysterical right and the progressives of the Anglican Church. Here is what the New York Times said:

 

In a voice vote, all but one bishop supported a resolution, called “A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by Our Anglican Communion Partners.” Several conservative bishops who are considering leaving the Episcopal Church were not in attendance. The resolution affirmed the status quo of the Episcopal Church, both theological conservatives and liberals said.

It states, for example, that it “reconfirms” a call to bishops “to exercise restraint” by not consenting to the consecration of a partnered gay bishop. It also says the bishops promise not to authorize “any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions.”

 

What?

 

“I think it lessens the possibility of schism,” said Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of Massachusetts. “I think this is going to meet the needs of the archbishop of Canterbury, and it shows how much we want to be part of the Anglican Communion.”

(Boston Globe: Episcopal leaders act to avert a schism from Gay Religion: news of religion and GLBT folks by Thomas c Jackson)

REALLY, and what about the needs of the LGBTQ folks who are apart of the community…these people talk like we are not even in the room.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, referred to the statement as a clarification of positions already articulated by the US bishops, but said she hopes that “our sacrificial actions and united actions” will help stave off schism.

(Boston Globe: Episcopal leaders act to avert a schism from Gay Religion: news of religion and LGBTQ folks by Thomas c Jackson)

Oh, I see it is far more important to keep bigots, homophobes and flat out liars in the communion then to tend to the concerns of the sheep. How hypocritical, what crap…what brand of Christianity are these folks following?

 

The bishops also called for the archbishop of Canterbury, who met with them on Thursday and Friday, to find a way for Robinson to attend next summer’s Lambeth Conference, a decennial conference of Anglican bishops who gather from around the world in Canterbury, even though some conservative bishops do not want him to attend. The bishops also said, “we call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.”

(Boston Globe: Episcopal leaders act to avert a schism from Gay Religion: news of religion and LGBTQ folks by Thomas c Jackson)

Right and I say, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:23-24 New International Version)

Civil rights? They won’t marry us! They won’t allow us the same respect, rights and support that straight people get, who by the way are the ones who have made a mockery of marriage and they say they are committed to our civil rights?

Commitment to our dignity? The have allowed the ridicule of the rightfully call of another Bishop and they are committed to our dignity? They want to “find a way” for Bishop Robinson to attend a gathering? Are they kidding? He is a Bishop, called by God and his people to serve. If they had any dignity or integrity they would demand the good Bishop be there. They ripe our hearts out, call us not worthy to be married or attain the Bishop’s staff and they are committed to our dignity…please I am going to vomit…

Here’s another quote from Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick of Hawai’i, who agreed.

“It was non-adversarial and it was holy,” he said of the efforts of the bishops to craft a statement that all could accept with integrity.”

 

How is denying the people of God their place in ministry holy? How in God’s name does this Bishop believe they have done something akin to acting with integrity?

I have spent the last week reading everything I could about this great debate and all the hard work that was done…sweat, tears and emotional shouting (at least as emotional as Anglicans get). This was such a monumentus meeting even the Bishop from England showed up…wow!

This is it folks, the earth is going to move and with the ensuing rapture the Anglican Church might just fall apart.

I have read from both sides of the aisle where progressives and foe alike have been saying what happened was a good thing, something to celebrate. This was a step in the right direction. The church is still standing for now.

All though the Bishop “wanna be the pope” from Nigeria said this wasn’t enough…he wants the Americans to repent.

Repent from what? Isn’t this the guy who when he shook the hand of a gay man repelled away like he had been hit with a cattle prod? He wants the American Bishops to repent? Maybe they need to but not because this power hungry sexiest homophobia demands it.

Folks what kind of spin job are these folks doing? Does the world recognize that we as the people of God have been played again?

What crap, there is nothing to celebrate…in fact what we all witnessed was an act of cowardice.

We witnessed a bunch of old fools saying their jobs and the institution are more important then God’s people. We witness what concern for money, property and power will do. Yes I said that…cause we know that is what it is really about.

We watched a bunch of people in the Bishop’s house say in so many words while God may have created us gay but by damn we are not going to let you have sex, make covenant with the one you love and we damn sure are not going let you be a Bishop…a priest maybe but no more Bishops! We are not going to loose any property over this, people yea but what the hell the church property will be safe!

The American Bishops had the opportunity to be heroic, prophetic…to be the Isaiah of our time, but instead chose to whine and pat themselves on the back for keeping a hypocritical institution intact. If this is the best they can do in the face of God’s people dying, broken apart and set aside then maybe they have come to a time in which they should just close their doors and go home.

My comments sounds angry? Damn right I am angry. My God, look how much time and effort has been spent on this…and as a woman once said to Jesus: “Even the dogs get the crumbs from the table”.

Harry Knox a good friend of mine maybe said it better then I when he said,

“This decision is a profound disappointment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people everywhere,” said the director of the HRC Religion and Faith Program. “The bishops are in danger of succumbing to the temptation to bow before an idol called church unity when God demands justice.”

“We stand solidly behind the efforts of Integrity to overturn the moratorium at General Convention 2009 and pledge ourselves to redouble our supportive efforts. We will not go away; we will not be silent. Our faith and our lives depend on it.”

If there are those who don’t like treating people as the full people of God…then let them leave and do their own thing elsewhere.

This very point was made when,

“the leader of a Toronto gay Anglican group says he would be sorry to see a split in the church but thinks his own life might be made easier if a conservative wing were to break away.

“I’m getting to the stage where I’m not sure that I want to be perpetually justifying my existence in the church as a gay man,” Chris Ambidge of Integrity Canada said yesterday.”

(Gay Religion: news of religion and GLBT folks by Thomas Jackson)

Amen, So to the Bishop of Nigeria and all who would follow him, if you are that unhappy just leave…walk out the door and don’t let it hit you where the good Lord split you!

All right, I am done with my rant and about to leave for Phoenix Arizona where for the next week I will be one of 50 umpires at the “Gay World Series” of the Amateur Softball Association.

With over 4,000 participants and fans from 56 cities in North America. This Gay Softball World Series (GSWS) is the world’s largest annual Gay and Lesbian sporting event. These players from 150 plus teams will be playing their hearts out to bring back some pride and glory to their respective communities and I dare say I will come back with 4,000 stories as to why the Bishops are so wrong, so very, very wrong.

There will be thousands of stories of challenge, love, sacrifice, integrity, faith and dignity. I wonder if anyone will care?

THE SALT OF THE EARTH…

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by people. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put in under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everything in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, that they may see your good deeds and praise your God in heaven.” Matthew 5: 13-16

I have taken a closer look at these words…more specifically the “who” they were spoken to. I have started asking the question of “who” was Jesus talking to a lot these days. Who were these words aimed at?

In the light of the onslaught of hate and outright evil that is being played out towards our community today by religious “Reich” and far to many in the mainline church, asking who is this messaged aimed is timely.

Who was sitting on the hillside or in the meadows listening so intently to the words of one who seemed to understand their hurt, their need, and their hunger?

Understanding, the “who” will change the message and its impact. Understanding the “who” can and does effect how we relate to our God and to ourselves.

Listening closely that day were the lepers. These were the people affected by a disease that was not understood and contagious. They were not allowed sanctuary within the mainline tradition of the temple. Instead, they were put off to some far corner of society to fend and make due for themselves.

There were prostitutes, in an act of survival sold themselves to other people so that they would have food to eat. They served a need of the rich, but they too were thought of as the dregs of society.

There were those women who were childless and therefore considered outside the realm of blessing by a God who demanded procreation as that sign of blessing.

There were the poor, who by their lack of money, land or prestige were outcasts in a society that demanded one have these things in ordered to be heard and to be genuine contributing member of that time.

There were the blind, the deaf, the emotional distressed, the physically handicapped. All of who did not measure up to the standards set by the religious leaders to be worthy of God.

There were the outcasts of the society because they were not married. There were those who were not pretty enough, smart enough, strong enough to be considered worthy of the great institution care and or concern for their welfare.

Yes, God forbid, there were homosexuals and those who expressed sexuality in ways that no person in their “right” mind would tolerate much less include as a part of the proclaimed good of society.

So is not the LGBTQ community part of this audience today? Is the audience of Jesus’ words really all that different today? I think not!

Are we not a people who are affected by a disease that is in reality little understood, is contagious and thought to be of our own doing a curse by God? Before you object remember there are people in our own community who say AIDS is about our lack of sexual responsibility and promiscuity and therefore we reap what we sow.

Are we not a people who prostitute ourselves to eat and have shelter? Are we not a people who look for the rich, the famous, and the influential to feel good about ourselves? After all we can prostitute ourselves in so many ways aside from sexual encounters.

Are we not accused of not contributing to society through the act procreation? Yet at the same time accused of gathering and influencing children to our side on one hand and on the other hand denied the ability to give a child a home that is safe and loving?

Are we not a people who are poor? We can’t afford or get health insurance for our partners. We can’t protect our property and pass on to our loved one without a fight and at the cost of huge amounts of money that no other married couple is expect to expend?

Are we not blind both spiritually and physically to the world around us? Are we not told we are blind for not seeing the only right relationship with God is to follow the traditional teachings and beliefs?

Do broken relationships, unacceptable relationships, broken families, and un-acceptable families distress us not emotional?

Are we not outcasts because our relationships do not meet the standard definition of “marriage” and therefore are denied the benefits afforded to those who meet that definition?

Is not our love for each other defined as a perversion and sick?

Are we not a people who within the scope of our sexual practices scorned each and everyday by those who are “holy then thou” who say things like: “all they show on TV are the bad parts of the community, the drag queens, the leather people, the dykes with their exposed breasts, and all those strange people with wild hair color and body piercing and tattoos.”

Yes, it is you and I, sitting on the hillside and listening to the words of Jesus. We are the “who”!

Jesus is speaking to each and every one of us.

Jesus is in fact telling all those people (us), that we are the salt of the earth; we are the light of the world! We are right there for all to see. We are all there to experience a new day a new message.

Salt is a common commodity today and it is relatively inexpensive.

Yet at the time of Jesus it was very costly. In Rome a main road is named “via salaria” or the way of the salt. That name is said to have dated from ancient times when Roman solider could have been paid with salt.

Salt in those times and having access to it was the difference between life and death. Salt was preservative, it kept food from spoiling. It added flavor and zest to that which otherwise was ordinary. Salt gave its recipient character and integrity. Salt was not potential but rather reality.

When Jesus called those persons on the hillside that day “the salt of the Earth” he paid them a high compliment.

Jesus pays us today this same high compliment. We are a people who add a spice and a zest to life. By virtue of what and who we are then are preservative of life, that which gives flavor and zest to that which is otherwise ordinary.

Salt by its very nature gives to rather than extracts from. We as gay, lesbian, BI and transgender people actually give to our society rather than take from.

In being ourselves we give and contribute to the beauty of creation rather than take from. Just as salt adds and enhances everything that it touches, so do we.

We have added the beauty of incredible art, expressions of love, expressions of emotion not found anywhere else in our society. We add zest and flavor to life itself. We have even taught the world to die with dignity and grace.

Salt becomes apart of everything that it touches. Despite what some would have you believe… we are everywhere, and we are apart of everything.

We have touched, influenced, and participated in every part of creation. We are part of the fabric of culture and society. Written laws, massive beatings, or even killings cannot extract us. We are part the DNA of creation.

No biblical interpretation will cause us to go out of existence and I really think this is what gets under the religious zealots skin; they know we are here to stay.

Since we have penetrated life itself, our world is having new discussions around sexuality and what it means.

Our world is discovering new ways of looking at relationships, how the roles of men and women in relating to each other are important. How roles within a relationship can be redefined to include and meet the needs of both partners.

Because we have penetrated the world in which we live, there are new ways of defining modes of dress, architecture, honesty and integrity. Oh, yes, friends, we are giving to the world in which we live, not taking from it.

We are the “light of the world!” Jesus tells us to not hide who and what we are, rather let it shine so that all may see.

In other words we are not to be ashamed of who and what and hide under a basket fearful of discovery. Rather stand, as a bright light so that our world may see clearly that God created diversity, differences, and tolerance of this diversity and differences will bring about wholeness rather than brokenness.

Salt penetrates and preserves. Light brings sight and penetrates that which is dark.

We are those on that hillside.

The religious zealots should take note: “We are the salt of the earth”, we are the light of the world.” Nothing you do will change this.

In fact the more you try to remove us, the harder you try to get rid of us the brighter our light will shine and the more zest and spice we will add to this world.

AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO GOOD…

I am going to share an e-mail that I got from the Questing Parson

If you can help or know someone that can please click on the Questing Parson and help get this done. It is an opportunity to be a “follower of Christ”

Thursday, September 6, I drove past a church here in Calhoun that was for sale. It’s a former Church of Christ and they have moved out to a much larger facility. As I drove by I suddenly had a flash — Women With Children Homeless Shelter.

I went home and called the real estate agent. He met me that afternoon at the church. I walked through and was amazed. It is PERFECT for a facility that would host up to nine homeless women with up to three children each, in a small efficiency living area. There would be a living room / lounge for the adults that is connected to a indoor play room for the kids. There are rooms to set up a computer lab, study area, etc., for the kids. There’s a large kitchen / fellowship hall area (probably a little bigger than Epworth’s).

There is no women’s shelter from Cartersville (23 miles south of my house) to Chattanooga.

On Friday, September 7, I passed the pastor of First United Methodist at a gathering and just said, “I need to talk to you.”

He called me Saturday and arranged to meet Monday. I called the agent and arranged for him to meet us at the church at 11:00 a.m. Note: As of yet I have said nothing to Brian Clark, the First Church pastor, about the purpose of our meeting. I picked him up at his church at 10:30. As we pulled out of the parking lot he said, “I don’t know what you wanted to talk about, but do you mind if I share something with you first?” I told him to go ahead. He said, “I have this powerful feeling I cannot shake that a women’s shelter needs to be build here.”

Okay, so we talk to the real estate broker. He says the owner is asking $1.5 million. (fair price, by the way). He also tells us there’s an offer on the table, but he thinks we might have time to try and put something together. Brian and I leave with him drawing up a list of money people in the community we can approach and me to work on a prospectus to present to them.

This past Friday I got a call from the broker. The owner of the building had been in Egypt. He was coming back to Calhoun that day, but he would only be in town four hours. He wanted to talk to me and Brian. I called Brian and he was out-of-town. I went by myself to meet with him.

Turns out some businessmen have presented him with a legitimate offer for the building, meeting his price. They want to turn the building into a storage facility. The owner then told me that for us he would drop the price of the property to $900,000 if we didn’t include the parking lot. He then stated that he would retain ownership of the parking lot and would put in writing that he would develop that into a professional building property or such that would not in any way interfere with the operation of a shelter. He said the businessmen were under the impression that he was not going to be back in town until next Tuesday. So — here it comes!

He says if Brian and I can come up with $10,000 by Monday as earnest money, he will inform the businessmen the property is already under contract. He will then give us sixty days to come up with our organization and he will personally finance the purchase of the property below the prime rate on a five year contract with payments at what we needed and with a balloon payment at the end if necessary.

So, I said, “Ten thousand by Monday?”

He said, “Yes.” And then he added. “Look, I’m not going to help you purchase my property, but if you do I guarantee you that the mills I own will make a substantial contribution annually to the operation of the shelter.”

“Ten thousand?” I repeated.

The real estate broker said, “Actually, you don’t need ten thousand. Just raise $7500. I’ll give $2500.

I have $2000 to go.

If you need a specif name for which to pray, if this comes together I’m thinking of calling it, “My Mama’s Place.”

contributions can be made to:

The Farmville Church
6906 Fairmount Highway
Calhoun, GA 30701

We’ve set up an account until the shelter can be organized business wise. This will allow the person’s contribution to be tax deductible.

And keep praying. Whew! What a project.
God is good.

Thanks
Guy

We don’t often get a chance to really help something good to happen…but here is the opportunity.

9-1-1

Today we remember and are still deeply saddened by the events in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, which took place 6 years ago. Yes we have changed.

6 years later, we still swing between tears of grief and deep waves of anger not to mention a certain amount of fear of further attacks. Yes we have changed.

Many of us watch, listen and cry out at our country’s continuing bloody and devastating response. Some things never changed.

The devastating images of the Trade Center are burned deeply in our minds and hearts and still bring us to our knees. The thought of thousands injured or dead continue to bring us untold anguish and pain.

The thought of the thousands who continue to be injured or killed burns in agony in our souls. This kind of terrorism still makes no sense at all. This kind of response to it does not make sense with the teachings of our Christ.

This kind of violence while all too common in our world, once again speaks out loudly and painfully of what intolerance, hate and bigotry can do to all of God’s creation. And while there are no answers, our faith leads us to say:

“God is King, despite the chaos that may be roaring around us.” (Ps 93)

“If one member suffers, the whole body suffers…” (I Cor 12)

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … nothing in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8)

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

“The Lord takes care of me as his sheep; I will not be without any good thing. He makes a resting-place for me in the green fields: he is my guide by the quiet waters. He gives new life to my soul: he is my guide in the ways of righteousness because of his name. Yes, though I go through the valley of deep shade, I will have no fear of evil; for you are with me, your rod and your support are my comfort. You make ready a table for me in front of my haters: you put oil on my head; my cup is overflowing. Truly, blessing and mercy will be with me all the days of my life; and I will have a place in the house of the Lord all my days.” Psalm 23

Today may we find ourselves moved to prayer. May these prayers be for all of the victims, their family and friends.

May we pray for our enemies that their tools of war are made into plow shares.

May we pray for our government to find wisdom, courage and a more Christ like response to this insanity.

Let us pray for God’s protection and a calming of our fears. And may our prayers be accompanied by expressions of our faith – that we hold a responsibility to nurture and celebrate God’s creation rather then seek ways to destroy it.

May the spirit of peace find it’s way from our hearts to those actions which we take.

A LONELY ROAD

There is probably no one part of our community that are more misunderstood, laughed at and ridiculed then those who claim the “T” in LGBTQ. Yes those who find themselves in one way or another in the wrong biological body.

“Transgender (from trans (Latin) and gender (English)) is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative gender role (woman or man) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society.

Transgender is the state of one’s “gender identity” (self-identification as male, female, both or neither) not matching one’s “assigned gender” (identification by others as male or female based on physical/genetic sex). Transgender does not imply any specific form of sexual orientation — transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual or asexual.

The current definition for transgender remains in flux, but some definitions are:
“Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender, but combines or moves between these”.[14]
“People who were assigned a gender, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves.”[15]
“Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the gender one was assigned at birth.”[16] < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender>

See these are the gentle souls in our community who get beat up daily. They are the gentle souls who get laughed at as they go about their day as if they are some sort of freaks in a sideshow. When it comes to getting through the day unscathed there is no group of people that is more challenged.

If they get through a day without being ridiculed and harassed…by the end of the day their job may be history, providing they were able to get a job to begin with. Some of those who can’t get jobs turn to prostitution to get money for food and some kind of shelter.

I became aware and then deeply troubled by the T’s challenges when I was invited to offer the opening prayer at what has become the annual “Transgender Day of Remembrance”. I did my prayer and then sat in complete and utter horror as I listen to the stories of discrimination, loss of income, loss of family, loss of friends, loss of property and basic civil rights because one’s biological gender did not match their inner gender.

My God they could be arrested for fraud because they State would not put the proper gender on their driver’s license.

The list of people who had not just been murdered but butchered broke my heart. The list of names seemed endless and I promised myself that night that I would not be silent.

I would stand with my sisters and brothers in the Transgender community to demand justice, mercy and most assuredly their place with God. What I thought was merely gay entertainment settled in my heart as a matter of life and death for the sheep of God’s pasture. These gentle and loving folks belong to God and are loved by God just like the rest of creation.

There is nothing that I can write as a pastor that tells the story of the transgender community’s plight better then the story of Alice as told by Monica Helms who is a member of our church.

“(The following is a first person account of the last fifteen months of my friend, Alice Johnston’s life, as if she may have told it. The events in this actually happened. – MFH –)

ALICE
By Monica F. Helms

I stared at the television screen in disbelief as one of the World Trade Center buildings crumbled into dust, then the next one. The horror I witnessed would haunt me for the rest of my life and the news estimated that over 3000 people lost their lives that day. What they didn’t say – or know – was how many more lives would become impacted by that fatal day. I would soon find out that I, Alice Johnston, would be one of them.

A few weeks after September 11, 2001, the reality of a less secure world and a devastating disaster hit home for me. My boss told us all that he would have to close the doors and let us all go. Business had dropped to near zero and his small company couldn’t absorb the loss. My roommate also worked there with me.
This news scared both my roommate and me because we’re both pre-operative transsexuals. The prospect of finding a job for many people after 9/11 looked grim at best, but for two transsexuals in Georgia, prospects looked grim even in the best of times.

Discrimination runs ramped and is even seen as acceptable by most politicians and employers in the state when it comes to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. They would rather have us on the welfare rolls putting a drain on the state’s treasury than to have us as employed, tax-paying citizens. Drawing unemployment was how my roommate and I had to survive over the next several weeks. I have learned over the years that out of the entire human race, transgender people seem to be considered the most disposable in society. And yet, we have a lot to offer if people would only give us a chance to prove it.

Both my roommate and I had marketable skills to offer potential employers. She has training in computer repair and has extensive experience in warehouse management and I am a computer technician and programmer, plus I have a degree in Library Science. On top of that, I’m a decorated Army veteran of two wars. Someone was bound to hire me, or so I thought.

Over the next several months, my roommate and I applied for hundreds of jobs, but as soon as they found out – or guessed – that we were transsexuals, all bets were off. No one would call us back for a second interview. Even when we got that sacred second interview, we would be told things like, “You’re over-qualified,” or, “We’ll call you,” or, “We have other applicants to interview.” What they really wanted to say was, “Get yer sorry faggot ass out of my office!” I would have accepted that much better than their lies and deceit.

The time came when my roommate and I had to move out of our apartment and put our things in storage. We still had some weeks left on our unemployment, so that would help a little. I planned on moving in with a friend and my roommate decided to see if Iowa would provide her better opportunities than Georgia. I love Georgia too much to want to move.

Packing my things was a terrible time for me. I enjoyed my video collection and my music, but I wouldn’t be able to take them to my friend’s house. When my roommate and I finished packing and moving everything into the storage unit, we shut the door and locked it. I had a strange feeling that I would never see my things again. Sadness came over me and I began to cry.

People I helped in the past rejected helping me. The transgender community of Georgia turned their backs on me. I lost my job and had no prospects and I would have to rely on the kindness of a person I hadn’t known very long. My roommate and I hugged, and then parted ways.

The woman I moved in with had a very interesting profession. She was a Madam at an established bordello in the Atlanta area. One wouldn’t think a bordello could survive in the heart of the Bible belt. But, since hypocrisy abounds in police departments throughout the South, the concept becomes a bit more plausible. The Madam probably paid protection money to keep her business open.
At first, I survived by doing side computer work for several people and to help keep the bordello’s computer system running. I also helped them maintain their security system and elaborate camera setups. It felt satisfying for a while, but I wasn’t making enough money to get out on my own. Something else needed to be done.

I continued applying for jobs in the computer industry, but they were getting harder to find, even a year after 9/11. The odd jobs I did couldn’t keep me in money, so I began doing something I never thought I would ever do. I started working at the bordello as a hooker. At first, the customers found it intriguing to have sex with a real live transsexual. I didn’t enjoy it, but the money was better than nothing. However, the novelty of having sex with a transsexual soon wore off with the regulars and the men stopped asking for me.

My personal relationships with the Madam also began to deteriorate. I really liked her, but she stopped finding me interesting any longer. One day, after a heated argument, she threw me out of the house. Luckily, another friend took me in and he tried to help me find a job. That never went anywhere. I began feeling helpless and alone.

Many of my friends had either stopped calling or turned their backs on me. I heard from my old roommate that she got training as a truck driver and found work with one of the large carriers. She tried to talk me into going into the same business, but I could never picture myself as a truck driver.
Not too long after moving in with my friend, he had to move and I couldn’t stay with him.

In December 2002, I realized I would soon become homeless for the first time in my life. The prospect of being homeless frightened me. “Why is this happening to me?” I asked myself. “I didn’t ask to be a transsexual. If I didn’t have a choice then why are people treating me so badly?”

I felt truly alone. No place to go. No friends to turn to. No hope. Only despair. I can do many jobs, but no one will hire me because I’m a transsexual. Where can I turn to?

The last chance I had was to see if a homeless shelter would take me. I began calling around to all the women’s shelters in Atlanta, but I had to be up front with them. Each time I told them that I was a pre-op transsexual they would tell me I wouldn’t be accepted in their facility. I called a few men’s shelters to see what they could tell me and they said they would accept me only if I presented as a man. They wanted me to deny my identity and lie to them and myself before I would be accepted. Even then, I could easily become a victim of rape or violence once they found out I was a transsexual. My options had run out.

My friend gave me access to his computer one last time, so I put an automatic message on my Yahoo E-mail address. The message said, “I will soon become homeless and since homeless shelters won’t take in transsexuals, I’m a goner.”

Where is my family? They have all abandoned me. Where are all my friends? What friends? The transgender community here in Georgia never wanted to help me. I didn’t fit their narrow viewpoint of what a transsexual is supposed to “properly” do to transition. Others who still say they’re my friends are either gone or in a situation no better than mine. Is this what I have left after all the things I’ve been through? Nothing? I was safer in Iraq during Desert Storm. At least I was treated better there.

My car still worked, just barely. I have only one thing to do. Time for a road trip. After driving for 45 minutes I arrived at my destination, the Chattahoochee River. My jacket kept me from freezing. I could hear the water moving and the moonlight reflected off of the ripples. No one else would have dared to be out on a night like this. But, I had a plan.

As I unwrapped the towel, I revealed my one last true friend, my trusty .357 Smith and Wesson. I felt its cold steel and its well-balanced weight in my hands. Out of everything I gave up in the last fifteen months, I could never part with my .357. Now, it has become my last piece of pleasure in my lonely, miserable life.

“Why am I a transsexual?” I screamed. The trees dampened my voice. “Why am I a transsexual?” I whispered. I got no answers. Tears flowed from my eyes as I cocked the hammer. “All I wanted to do was to live my life as me.” My .357 seemed lighter somehow. “I didn’t ask for this life.” I lifted the gun. “I just wanted to live.” I felt the cold steel barrel pressing against my temple. “But, they wouldn’t let me.” My hand shook and I lowered the pistol. “This is what they wanted me to do.” I raised the .357 once more. “They’re getting their wish.” My finger tightened around the trigger. “They got what they wanted.” I pulled my finger back. “They got me . . . “
———-
On December 17, 2002, Alice was found along the Chattahoochee River, a .357 slug had shattered her skull. This happened two years after the City of Atlanta passed a non-discrimination law that covered transgender people and included public accommodations, such as homeless shelters. Not only did homeless shelters break the law and failed to help her, but so did the rest of society.
Alice was my friend and I failed her, too.”

This story does not end with blame being laid on Alice’s friends or Monica’s-it comes to rest at the feet of all who would call themselves “followers of Christ”. The lack of compassion, the lack of hospitality the total absence of understanding and love points a finger of blame at the church which shouts; “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when they becomes one, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Matthew 23:15 (New International Version)

SEX!

I have thought and thought about this and I guess I need to say something.

Sen. Larry Craig, Christian evangelical leader Ted Haggard, and Mark Foley are among the most recent conservatives to get caught in various stages with their pants down. Every time this happens the news media goes nuts, the LGBTQ community gets pounded by the religious zealots, as well as getting their own righteous fur up, and nobody bothers to speak about the real issue.

The real issue is sex. We have taken the most beautiful, wonderful, deeply personal emotional and physical experience given to us by our Creator to share with people we love in the deepest ways and made it a “weapon of mass destruction.”

I suspect by the time I am done writing this I will get blasted from all sides. Folks, our society and the way we handle the subject of sex made for the situations these people and others find themselves in. Before you flame me, remember, I am not saying they made right or good choices but our fear and our lack of comfort with sex set it up. Sex is like a fire it can provide warmth, light and life or it can be an inferno that destroys us.

Something as simple as bringing up “masturbation” can cause uproar that goes beyond logic. Remember when we had a Surgeon General fired.

“America’s chief doctor resigned last week after saying that masturbation could be an appropriate subject to teach schoolchildren. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders was asked to go by President Bill Clinton after she angered conservatives by discussing the possibility of encouraging masturbation to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Her remarks were made at an AIDS meeting held by the United Nations in New York.” (http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/309/6969/1604?ck=nck)

My land if we can’t be honest and forthright about masturbation how can we have an honest, open and beneficial conversation around sex in its fullest forms. Because people are afraid of sex it becomes a “weapon of mass destruction” that has ruined more lives then has been killed because of the Presidents fear of WMD’s in Iraq. I believe with all my heart the religious zealots are the authors of this fear, probably dating back to Augustine. (That is another blog for another day)

How did they handle the Senator? How about this:

“Peter LaBarbera, executive director of Americans for Truth, says one homosexual group actually publishes a book that advises men how to avert criminal charges when engaging in public lewdness.

“It seems that the homosexual movement is complicit in a lot of this behavior because they’re not just telling homosexuals to stop,” he says. “When you have a major legal organization like Lambda Legal actually publishing a book to help these so-called ‘cruisers,’ which are men cruising for secret sex on the side like this — when you have organizations like that enabling it, it seems that they are also complicit in this sort of behavior.”

He says that he has never met anyone who hangs around public restrooms “peeking through the cracks of stalls. We all know this is perverted, deviant, homosexual behavior.” LaBarbera says Craig needs to resign immediately due to his “perverted, deviant” homosexual behavior.

According to LaBarbera, anonymous sexual encounters in public are a common practice among many in the homosexual community, noting decades after the AIDS crisis, homosexual activity is on the rise in public bathhouse”.

Well let’s kill two birds with one stone…destroy a man’s life and blame the whole thing on homosexuals.

Let’s be honest here…yes, gay men cruise restrooms and there is a whole set of signals that go on to connect with people. With that said based on the description of the police officer and Senator Craig’s reaction, the Senator probably did get “caught with his hand in the cookie jar”, so to speak. However, it is nothing like the media makes it out to be and it seems to me the police officer had a bias attitude as well. However, I digress…

Yes, gay men have been known to go to quiet parts of parks in search of a sexual partner. Yes, gay men have utilized the Internet to seek out and meet sexual partners. Yes, gay men have placed ads in various media sources looking for sex. Yes, gay men have a whole set of signals and signs to indicate interest in a particular person. We have gotten so refined that we even have a “hanky code”. Yes, there are “gay bathhouses” that are used for the purposes of having sex. Yes, there are bars in the community that are known as “pick-up” bars. Finally but not least yes, there are all forms of “gay prostitution” which include, massage therapists, escorts and streetwalkers. No, the gay community has not practice smart or safe sex.

I am not condoning any of this, just simply stating facts.

Here are some more facts to consider.

Yes, late at night if you watch TV there are ads for phone lines by which heterosexual folks can hook up for “conversations”. Uh huh. Yes, there is more then one outdoor movie drive in that has been the starting point for a family. Yes, in Atlanta alone there are more “massage parlors” then one can count. Yes, you can pull into a state park and find cars parked in pairs off by themselves and the windows are steamed up and the car is a “rockin”. Go to any park and you will find couples in various stages of undress and inter-twined in such a way to cause one to say: “Get a room”! Yes, heterosexual people have used the Internet to seek out and meet sexual partners. Yes, heterosexual persons have placed ads in various media sources looking for sex. Yes, heterosexuals have a whole set of signals and signs to indicate interest in a particular person. Yes, there are bars in the community that are known as “pick-up” bars. Finally but not least yes, there are all forms of “prostitution” which include, massage therapists, escorts and streetwalkers. No, the heterosexual community has not practice smart or safe sex.

So what is my point here? Is it not obvious? People like sex and will do just about anything to get it. What is defined, as “porn” is a multi-billion dollar industry. For that kind of money a lot of some bodies must be buying it. Also, don’t be fooled, the religious zealots are watching it too, but just so they can tell you how bad it is. Uh Huh! The American Family association folks seem to have seen a lot more porn then I have…well maybe not.

Does it not strike anyone strange that we can go to the movies or watch on TV any number of people being raped, beat up, cut up, shot, chopped up and blown up and we give out awards on national TV for how good these shows are? Yet, let there be a little too much skin or people gay or straight making love and it is called pornography? People making love are bad and killing people is good. There is something wrong with this picture.

We need to wake up and start talking about sex honestly, openly and as something God has given us as a way to share our deepest most intimate emotions and maybe the afore mention lists will start to fade.

Talking about sex from a point of a celebration of who we are as opposed to using it as a weapon by which we can send people to hell might make a difference in the afore mentioned lists as well.

Talking about sex from a positive point of view is difficult to be sure, simply because over generations it has been used as a point of power and control over people. Yet, the call to live a life, which includes sex as a God given part of it, requires tackling some hard questions.

What does it mean to have sexual integrity? What does it mean to be sexually moral? What does it mean to be sexually ethical? What does it mean to take sexual responsibility?

These are the questions that need to be asked, discussed and explored. They can’t be asked at the group level. I suppose to do that we will first have to get past the idea that says sex is primarily for procreation and restricted to people of opposite genders.

We need to get to the point where we see this as about our relationship with our God and how we relate to each other. We have to be willing to talk about what sex really feels like to us when we participate and use this gift. Maybe seeing our sexuality as a gift would be a good start.

I think this is where churches, both gay and mainstream, make the mistake. They act as if sex is something dark and foreboding, rather then a gift from God that when shared wisely can change the world.

I hope we wake up soon, as it is already too late for Sen. Larry Craig, Christian evangelical leader Ted Haggard, Mark Foley and hundreds of thousands of others who have been destroyed by our inability to see sex as something to be celebrated rather then feared. There are whole generations yet to be born counting on us.

ON BEING THANKFUL



Sometimes it is good to sit back and reflect on how far our community has come since 1968. I mean really think about it there are people who are spending millions of dollars to make us shut up and go away.

They spend every waking hour trying to convince people we are the last great menace to the world as we know it.

They have gotten so desperate in their efforts to destroy us they have tried to convince the world that with enough prayer God can change us. You would think they would take the hint, since LGBT folks have been around since biblical times. God knows there more ex-ex gays then we can count. We are not going anywhere, anytime soon.

It also strikes me if the police spent as much time trying to bust straight folk for having sex in public places many of our so called leaders may never have been born.

Of course, these are the battles that have to be fought with the Religious Right, politicians who only know power and greed to be converted, rights to be won and relationships to be recognized. There is far, far too much to do; our enemy is strong, well organized, have endless amounts of money and if we stop even for a second we will be overcome.

Then this morning I read from the Luke 17:11-17:

“It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”

They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan.

“Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” Then he said to him, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”

For it occurred to me, our Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgendered community are not much different from the ten lepers. Today it is we who are the untouchables in our world.

In this society, it is we that somehow are cursed by God and shall rot in the pit of hell for the “love that dare not speak its name.” We have been cast out of the Temple, cast out of our families and cast out of our community. Sent to the likes of sleazy bars, baths, and parks.

We have stood at a distance and cry out to God to have mercy on us, to save us, to give us a place where we will know peace. We cry out to God to be restored, healed and given new life. Like the lepers in the story we hear God (Jesus) tell us to go show ourselves to the priests.

While going to the priests we discover gay churches, we discover gay friendly churches and we do as we are told and tell the priests. Those priests and ministers both men and women affirm for us we are whole creations of God!
We have something to offer the community in which we live!

We go into the streets renewed and refreshed, full of energy and desire to fight for what is right. Over the years we have gained a tremendous amount of ground.

We have gone from a community where our “love dare not speak it’s name”, to a community that not only speaks it’s name but shouts it from every village and city!

We have gone from only having parks and bars to literally websites full of options!

We live in a time when it is impossible not to find a book about us, rather than the time our subject was banned.

We have come from a time when our relationships were disguised as brothers and sisters to a time of national debate on our standard of marriage!

We have come from a time of electro-shock therapy to being accepted in mainstream psychology as normal and productive.

We have come from a time when those who make the laws could ignore us and make us illegal, to a time where they court our vote and track hate crimes against us.

When we arrived at some of the Temples to show the priests, at first we were shunned and thrown out. Told the sins of our life would blot out any good.

Yet, even in this, God called out priests who were not blinded by the letter of the law, but rather worked from the spirit of God. They to began to cry out: “God have mercy on us!” They make this cry with and for us. As we travel along the way, we look and see we have been cleansed!

So now as I reflect this morning, I find myself thankful for those who cried out before me. Folks like Rev. George Groh whom years ago said they could throw me out but they would never shut me up and he never stopped reminding me I belonged to God! Rev Troy Perry, whose ministry literally saved my life.

I find myself thankful for those who cry out with me today.

My close and dear friend Rev. Antonio Jones who is the thunder to my lightening.

Rev. James Brewer-Calvert, who heard our church’s cry for shelter and said, “welcome home”.

Rev. Guy Kent, who is a tremendous friend, a mover and shaker and a preacher who accepted me just the way I am and called me his friend.

Most importantly today I will go back to my God, my Savior, who has heard my cry and say, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!

An independent, affirming and progressive church serving metro Atlanta. We are open, positive and inclusive.