Aschlie’s Life Songs

I read a Jodie Picoult book called Sing You Home a couple years ago. One of the main characters, Zoe, is a music therapist. Throughout the book, Zoe talks about having soundtracks for all kinds of things. For instance, she had a soundtrack for when she gave birth. I identified with this because I listen to music a lot. I also listen to all kinds of music. It made me think about creating my own soundtrack. So I got out a piece of paper and wrote Aschlie’s Life Songs at the top of it. It took me a few days to create this list because sure, I have favorite songs. But those favorite songs don’t necessarily belong on my Life Songs list. So I had to carefully narrow down my list to songs that really had meaning to me at one point or another in my life. They were songs that had to bring up memories so vivid, I could put myself back in time and feel the songs just like the emotions were yesterday. I tried to make a 10-spot list. Unfortunately, I don’t do well with fixed instructions (even when the instructions come from myself), so I ended up having thirteen songs. I have kept this list in my car since the day I finished it. Why, you ask? Well every once in awhile, when I’m driving far distances, I get the list out and program my iPod to play the songs. It’s a nice way to remind myself where I have been and where I am now. It’s therapeutic for me.
So, without further delay, I give you Aschlie’s Life Songs (in no particular order). I’m also including a brief reason why I chose the song to add to my list and a link to the song so you can listen to it if you want.

Aschlie’s Life Songs

1. Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Dolly Parton
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5_76nAD7ygc

I have spoken about this song in a previous blog. I was listening to this song and flipping through pictures of Dolly Parton when I first knew for sure that I was “different.” I was eleven years old; I had no idea what lesbian meant, but I knew something was different about me. By the way, at the 1:25 part in the song is where I knew.

2. The Perfect Space by The Avett Brothers
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5dngRYUxXFg

This is one of those songs that has lyrics that resonate with me. There’s a part of the songs that says, “I wanna have friends that I can trust, that love me for the man I’ve become, not the man that I was.” Thankfully, I do have friends like that so when I listen to this song, it reminds me of how thankful I am to have the friends I have in my life. There’s also a line that says, “I wanna have pride, like my mother has. And not like the kind in the Bible that turns you bad.” For most of my adult life, I struggled with finding something to believe. I questioned everything. Finding this one lyric made sense to me, so I loved it.

3. Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise by The Avett Brothers
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iEr9gMYdkHI&feature=kp

This is another song that has lyrics that hit me. The line that says, “Decide what to be and go be it” is something that hit me hard at one time. It’s also something I am still learning to do.

4. At This Point in my Life by Tracy Chapman
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WwtP7hD3PkQ&feature=kp

If I had to pick one of these songs that described me the best, this would be the song. It states all of my fears perfectly, but it’s also a song of still trying. That’s me.

5. She’s Got Her Ticket by Tracy Chapman
http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=kp&v=nCwpeyM_FGs

Again, it’s the lyrics. At one point in my life I felt like everyone around me thought I was a failure, but that little voice in my head knew better. I also wanted to go as far away from WV as I could get. I never did, but I relate to knowing I could have left, started as a totally different person, and made it.

6. When He was on the Cross by John Starnes
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bBgTPNWIGZ0

This song has the lyrics, “He knew me, yet He loved me…Unworthy of such mercy.” Spiritually, this song is significant to me and makes me cry just thinking of it. Plus John Starnes sang with Jimmy Swaggart, who also brings tears to my eyes when I hear him sing. John Starnes’s Love Grew was the first gospel song I remember singing as a child. He’s just a really great gospel singer. But this song is the best gospel song I know and it hits a deep part of my soul every time I listen to it.

7. Silent Legacy by Melissa Etheridge
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PIBS8Qls3D8

I came out when I was 20. I didn’t have other lesbians to show me the ropes, so to speak. So I went out searching for things to help me adjust to all that I was feeling. I had a lot I was dealing with (from family to church). When I found this song, it was like a miracle. Everything I felt was in this song. Knowing that someone else felt exactly the same as me made me stronger. For the first time since I had come out, I finally felt like I wasn’t alone. There were others just like me.

8. Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Up06CryWQpE&feature=kp

This song reminds me of my first love. Whenever this song comes on, I’m back in time and I have nothing but good memories. The whole song really describes my emotions at that time.

9. Here Comes the Darkness by Everclear
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R5MGoKebPKU&feature=kp

This song reminds me of a very dark time in my life when it just seemed like I’d never see light again. My favorite lines are, “Here comes the darkness again. Think I’m gonna spend some time in Hell,” “Everybody says I’m wasting my time. I sit and listen to rejection on the telephone line,” and, “Everybody says I’m living in fear of the future.” I have been/done all of those things.

10. Amazing by Aerosmith
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zSmOvYzSeaQ&feature=kp

The whole first part described me at one point in my life: “I kept the right ones out, and let the wrong ones in. Had an angel of mercy to see me through all my sins. There were times in my life when I was goin’ insane, tryin’ to walk through the pain. When I lost my grip and I hit the floor, yeah I thought I could leave, but couldn’t get out the door. I was so sick and tired of livin’ a lie. I was wishin’ that I would die.” This was not related to drugs, of course (I have always been too square to do drugs). But I can relate to letting the wrong people in my life and feeling stuck in a relationship that I couldn’t get away from and was wishing I’d just die to get it over with. But then the rest of the song is redemptive in nature and I understood that too.

11. I’m Movin’ On by Rascal Flatts
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=k1bxlDAjGCo&feature=kp

I have gone to this song many, many times in my life. That crappy breakup: this song. That time I wanted to just leave and not come back: this song. That time I finally felt like I was getting my life to a good place: this song. This song describes so many moments in my life that there’s no way I could not list it.

12. Winner at a Losing Game by Rascal Flatts
http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=kp&v=9sRzvDOiIwI

If I had to count how many times I sat a cried to this song, you’d know just how messed up a chunk of my life was. The lyrics, “Have you ever had to love someone that just don’t feel the same,” and, “Sometimes two hearts just can’t dance to the same beat” are my favorites. Ugh…I can just write about this song and remember how much I hurt inside for so long. That’s why I had to add this song (as depressing as it is to admit).

13. You Don’t Know Me by Mickey Gilley
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bUmZ_IrtAtg

And then there’s this song. Lots of people have sang it, but no one sings it as well as Mickey Gilley. This is the sad, depressing song of loving someone who didn’t know I loved her and only saw me as a friend. All of the lyrics describe a moment in my life perfectly. If there’s a song I wish I didn’t have to add to a list of my life’s songs, this would be it. But there’s no denying it. It belongs.

And there you have it. My life’s songs are somewhat on the depressing side, I know. If you think my song choices are depressing, you should read my poetry! I do my best writing and my best thinking when I am really depressed. When I am happy, I just kind of go with the flow.

Most of my adult life has been spent searching for me. I’ve searched long and hard on who I am and who I want to be. I’ve searched my soul to figure out what I believe, instead of being told what to be believe. I’m in a very good place now. It’s good to be Aschlie now. I found a friend inside me that I didn’t realize I had for a long time. These songs helped me along the way and helped me find myself. For that, they get put on Aschlie’s Life Songs.

So what about you? If you had to make a list of you life songs, could you? Remember that these aren’t favorite songs (that list would look MUCH differently for me). These are songs that I can pinpoint and attach to my life. What’s a song on your life song’s list?

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Published in: on March 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm  Comments (2)  

National Coming Out Day and My Coming Out Story

October 11, 2013. A lot of people don’t know the importance of today’s date. To be honest, I didn’t. I hadn’t heard of the importance until recently. October 11, 2013 is the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. I spent a few days thinking about when I came out. My coming out is just like any other coming out story. I wasn’t even going to mention it because it really isn’t anything special or anything so different. Except the more I thought about it, the more I realized how important that day was and still is to me. It’s a big part of MY story. It’s like one of those days everyone always remembers: where were you when Kennedy was shot; when Elvis died; on 9-11. The only difference is my coming out is specific to me.

Stage One: Me
I knew I was “different” when I was eleven. I blame Dolly Parton and the invention of CDs. That’s right. Back before we could just google the lyrics of a song and before everyone had ITunes, people actually went out to stores and bought CDs. The great thing about CDs (as opposed to cassettes) was a cover book usually came in the jacket of the CD with lyrics already printed. Thank God we no longer had to rewind (you may have to google that word if you’re younger than 20) a cassette 10 million times and scribble each word down on a piece of paper. So there I was, sitting in front of my mom’s CD player (the first I had seen), going through her boyfriend’s CD collection. I don’t remember any other CD I listened to that day. I just remember the cover of Dolly Parton’s “Slow Dancing with the Moon” CD and knowing the song “Romeo” with Billy Ray Cyrus. So I popped the CD into the huge floor model CD player (yeah-it’s also before the small portable CD players). As I lay with my back on the floor, I listened to “Romeo” about a dozen times. I was finally able to enjoy reading along with the lyrics and memorizing each word so effortlessly. But as much as I liked that song, I had new songs to listen to and lyrics that I didn’t have to take a whole day to write down. So I moved on to the next song.

As I half-listened to each song, I flipped through the book and looked at all the pictures. I had heard of Dolly Parton before this day. But I had never paid any attention to what she looked like. Remember, this is LONG before google images made seeing what someone looked like so readily available. Sure there was TV, but at 11, I wasn’t watching country music videos (was CMT even available in the early 90s?). I was captivated, looking through all the pictures. And then I came to song number six: “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”. I listened to Dolly sing as I looked at her picture…and when she got to 1:25 in the song (yes…that exact moment), I knew I was “different.”
Here’s a link to the song and exact moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_76nAD7ygc

But, unfortunately, that’s not my coming out story. It would have saved much heartache and time had I admitted it there, laying on the floor, listening to Dolly Parton. But in one minute I knew I was different and in the next, fear stepped in and took me for a very long, dark ride. I was scared to even LOOK at pictures of Dolly Parton until I was 18. I feared the feeling I had because of how I was raised. Pentecostals preach Hell and damnation and fire and brimstone. And even at 11, Hell was very real. So I avoided Dolly Parton and her great big….eyes. I continuously lied to myself. I pretended not to feel some weird excitement and triumph when I was 14 or 15 and saw “The Puppy Episode.” I ignored how I knew Rosie was a lesbian before she came out and never questioned why no one else saw that from a freaking mile away.

And then one day, when I was 20, I met a woman. And I knew I couldn’t keep trying to drink my thoughts away and lying to myself. So I went to get a haircut. It was just supposed to be a trim. But the more I thought about it and looked at magazines, the more I wanted more than just a trim. So when I sat down in the chair, I pointed to Halle Berry’s short hair, and said, “This is what I want.” That night on my way home from the haircut, on Rt. 50, coming down from the set of lights that cuts off to old Rt. 50, I was finally able to tell myself something that I couldn’t even form the thoughts to for so long. As many times as I had tried, they wouldn’t form. But that night I finally felt like on the outside what I felt like on the inside. I finally was able to tell myself that I was gay. I came out to myself on January 2, 2004. I guess it’s just one of those days you never forget, kind of thing.

Stage Two: Friends
The very next day I went to the place where I worked. My very best friend also worked there. She was stocking the cooler, so I went back to talk to her. I told her I had something to tell her and that I was a lesbian. She slowly and dramatically inched her way backwards, away from me, and said, “Ummmm….ok.” And then she busted out laughing. In the next couple of months, I came out to all of my friends and coworkers. I never had any problem at all. No one made me feel any less worthy.

But I never really feared coming out to my friends and coworkers…

Stage Three: Family
I told you I was raised Pentecostal, right? Well…I knew it was never going to be easy to come out in my family. No one had done it. I didn’t even know a gay person growing up. So I didn’t come out immediately. I honestly can’t remember which came first; the chicken or the egg. I think I am a master at repressing memories. I can’t remember if I came out to certain family members before I came out to my dad or if I came out to my dad and then came out to certain family members. Some of my family took it like no big deal. Some said they couldn’t condone it, but it was my life. But it came down to me inviting my new girlfriend to my dad’s house to watch the Pro Bowl downstairs. Dumb idea, yes. She was very butch. A person would have to be totally blind to not know she was a lesbian. So I explained that my new friend was a lesbian. No big deal, right? We were just watching football…until we started drinking. You remember what happened in your parent’s basement when you were alone with your girlfriend or boyfriend, right? Well…I was no different. My dad is also not a stupid man. The hickey was probably a clue to this was no ordinary “friend.” I was disrespectful and I wish I could have come out a different way, but I was a coward that probably had to be entirely too drunk and foolish to ever come out to my father. So it is what it is. He called me upstairs and asked me if I “was one of them.” I managed to confirm that yes, I was one of them.

I won’t rehash particulars or any hurtful things said by either of us. He wasn’t happy, of course. But he loved me. I’m sure, looking back to ten years ago, it was not easy to understand “lesbian” for him. He was also raised Pentecostal. No one talked about gay people in my family. We didn’t have gay friends. We didn’t have gay neighbors. And if you did, no one talked about it. And even though I heard the Hell threat nearly every single day for the first few months, he also told me he loved me. He was scared for me. My mom was much easier to come out to. I said, “Meet my girlfriend.” She said, “Nice to meet you.” But she also had moments where she feared what being a lesbian meant for me. She watched “Boys Don’t Cry” shortly after I came out and called me hysterically crying in fear for my safety. She also mentioned eternity a time or two. But neither of my parents ever shunned me or made me feel unloved, and for that I am luckier than some who have come out before me.

It’s been a decade since I came out. I came out before I knew anyone who had come out. It was a much different time just ten years ago. I didn’t know anyone gay who could walk me through the steps. The internet was not what it is today. I couldn’t just reach into my pocket, pull out my phone, and google coming out stories. My story isn’t a great story. It’s not one of those great stories people will remember forever. But it’s my story. It’s unique to my life. My coming out took place in a car when I was all by myself, coming back from a haircut. When I came out to myself, everything changed. Sure, coming out to everyone else was scary. There are still days that aren’t easy. But that day, driving back home, my whole life changed. And I will never be ashamed or regret the decision to love myself enough to accept myself.

Coming out didn’t “make” me. But it definitely helped shape me. To all the people that secretly google coming out stories and wish they could come out, our stories are an important tool. And because of that, it’s important to keep celebrating National Coming Out Day and keep telling out stories.

Published in: on October 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm  Comments (6)  

360 Months; 1560 Weeks; 10,950 Days….

However you say it, it all adds up to one thing: I turned thirty on May 16. I know many who dreaded joining the 30’s crowd. I was never that person. It seems like most of my life has been spent wishing I was older so the dreaded 30 was never agony for me. After all, thirty meant I joined the 30-39 group in polls that ask for age! I’m no longer associated with twenty. Quite frankly, I don’t think I was ever associated with twenty…even when I was twenty.

So in the month leading up to thirty, I was mostly excited to spend a long weekend with my friends in the mountains. Little did I know I would be celebrating thirty so many times that I figured people feared this would be my last birthday to celebrate!

It all started when my cousin Eva asked me to go shopping in Pittsburgh. We decided to go on April 27. I left work early to have enough time to shower and get dressed before we left for Pittsburgh. When she arrived, we had to go pick my Aunt Peachie up at her house because she was also going with us.

I should have known immediately that something was awry. We went down the wrong street to go around the house. We pulled into my Aunt Peachie’s normal parking spot. My Uncle Bobby’s vehicle was there, but so was my dad’s. Dad had been doing some work so I figured no big deal, Uncle Bobby is looking at the progress. When we walked into the house, everyone started singing Happy Birthday. I must have jumped two feet off the floor; it scared the hell out of me! As I am trying to focus on faces to see who was there, I see Dennis, my best friend’s husband. But it never occurred to me my best friend was there too because I was trying to put names to faces in my head. Then it hit me: Helen and Dennis had made the two hour drive from Pa to come down too! Everyone was there and I felt really loved.

Here’s a few pics of that day. Mind you, no one had pictures of the water battles! I was soaked from head to toe from water balloons, squirt guns, and cups full of water! Great time!

 

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The second celebration took place on the Monday before my birthday. I have been going to the mountains for my birthday for a few years so I am never at home for my birthday. This year, though, I wanted to do something with my family before I left (I didn’t know about the surprise birthday). So for more than a month, I had planned for all of us to get together to go bowling. We all like bowling and it’s something fun for the kids and the adults. So that’s what we did. Unfortunately, not many pics were taken! Here are the pics I have:

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Surprise! Aunt Peachie’s butt!

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And then the mountains. This is the third year I have gone to the mountains for my birthday. I can’t even explain what going to the mountains on my birthday means to me. I am surrounded by my two best friends in the world and their families. Starting in January, I begin the countdown to the mountains. It’s like a breath of fresh life for me. I anticipate the arrival and I dread when we have to leave. This year, I met Helen and her kids on Wednesday. Somer and her family came down on Thursday. And Dennis came down on Friday. Mind you, I have the shortest drive-time at an hour and a half. Helen and Dennis drive three hours and Somer and Jessie drive like five! Have I mentioned that I have the absolute best friends ever?

This year was the best year, if that’s even possible. Helen and I went site seeing in Thomas, WV on Thursday afternoon. When Somer arrived later that day, her first words were, “My goal is to make you go into liver failure this weekend.” She almost succeeded. I very seldom drink heavily. I don’t drink a lot to begin with, but I have an occasional glass of wine or “swig” of Crown. If I drink heavily, Somer is ALWAYS right beside me. We see each other four to five times a year so that’ll tell you how often I drink to drink. We started out with Jell-O shots and never looked back. I never blacked out, but I have trouble remembering every single conversation. And that’s the problem because Somer remembers EVERY SINGLE DETAIL. She’s been my friend since we were eleven years old and she does not forget anything! Helen and I could forget our names, but Somer remembers every single detail of my life….it’s scary, really.

So we drank Thursday night. Friday we went site seeing in Davis, WV. When Dennis arrived, we started drinking again. Again, it started with Jell-O shots. I remember being drunk and taking a walk to the nearest Wifi connection, hoping and praying I didn’t fall into the pond by the cabins because I’d never make it out alive. When I finally had wifi, I downloaded songs from our high school days: Bloodhound Gang, Insane Clown Posse, Eminem, and the Presidents of the United States of America. The husbands stayed inside (we may have been annoying) as we sang…loudly…vulgar song lyrics until midnight. I may listen to the 50’s and 60’s now, but there was a time when my musical tastes were influenced by Somer and Helen and don’t be surprised if you ever hear me, out of the blue, bust out singing, “I need to find a new vagina” or “You born in a barn? Shut the f***in’ door!”

Saturday we went to Black Water Falls, Lindy Point, and Seneca Rocks. We played outside with the kids. But, again, when bedtime came around, we started drinking. Saturday I may have had too much to drink. Or maybe drinking while sitting (and singing) in a hot tub is not wise. I know, FOR SURE, never put me near a telescope when I’m drunk. I can barely see the moon with the naked eye…but I’ll never see it through a telescope (I just move too much and bump the telescope…although I blame that on Somer). I had drank too much before Somer said, “It’s time for the lemon drop shots now!” I remember thinking, “Oh, God. Tonight I’m puking.” Somer had said we would do three shots. I literally choked down the second one and she said, “OK…no more for you.” I drank water after that. The men went to bed while the girls stayed outside. We didn’t go to sleep until two (like three hours after I stopped drinking), and I still ended up waking up and hugging the toilet.

I woke up Sunday with a hangover. I tried coffee….no. Food was a definite NO. Helen then pulled out the evidence of our drunken night. She had recorded EIGHT minutes of us on the porch the night before. I have never been more drunk in my life…including the time I was in Las Vegas and drank from the time I woke up until the time I went to sleep. Had I had that third shot, Somer would have succeeded in causing me to go into liver failure.

Needless to say, Sunday was a rush of everyone packing up and heading home. I hate Sundays at the cabin because I never want to leave. Even with the toilet hugging, I have never had a better full weekend in all of my life. Somer and Helen will, of course, remind me of all the drunk things I said until the day I die…but it was all worth it. Here are pics:

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And then there was alcohol…

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The dreaded last shots…

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Lemon drops do this to me. I’m sorry.

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I was trying to find the moon. Don’t judge me!

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Jessie calls this my “scary, mean lesbian look.” I have no idea what I was doing here.

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And the final picture is of me and my best friends, Helen and Somer, at Black Water Falls. I can’t tell you how much these girls mean to me. You’re lucky if you have one friend for life. I’m more than blessed because I have two lifelong friends.

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Published in: on June 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm  Comments (2)  

Who I Am…

I have tried my whole life to remain neutral on almost everything. I, my friends, am a lifelong fence-sitter. I am the equivalence of Switzerland. In my mind, I have always enjoyed to hear all sides of everything, take the parts of all arguments I liked, and join them to come up with my own middle ground. To me, even if I absolutely disagree with the whole sum of an argument, there has to be some smidgeon of a single point that I can, at the very least, use somewhere in life. Compromise should have been my middle name.

Why the fence-sitting? It stems mostly from fear of rocking boats. I am not an arguer. I am passive in nature and completely comfortable with that. I have my own opinions, of course. But to argue my point to someone who obviously does not agree seems like a total waste of my time. You see, I confess a love of Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote, “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” I have taken this to heart for a very long time. What makes my way of thinking better than your way of thinking? Is one person ever wrong? Does it really make a difference to you that I think differently? Can’t it be O.K. that my “truths” are different than your “truths”?

The reason I love that quote is because I don’t subscribe to the human use of “us” versus “them” groups. In fact, I abhor the use of “us” versus “them” groups. The easiest reasoning for this is because of the negativity associated with this line of thinking. There is no person on this planet that I can’t find SOMETHING we have in common. But when “us” and “them” groups are involved, only differences are recognized. And let’s face it; it’s easier to find differences. He doesn’t look like me, talk like me, or act like me is easier to see than he likes the same music as me, he puts his right shoe on first too, and his belief isn’t really that different from mine. You know why it’s easier? Because I can visually SEE the differences a lot quicker than taking the time to get to know someone. To find a similarity, I may just have to actually speak to the person. And unfortunately, it seems to be human nature to see the difference and quickly say that different person is a “them” and I don’t want to speak to a “them.” Sounds pretty disgusting when thought like that, huh?

Isn’t that how most people react, though? Is it not common to see a dirty person on the street and think, “Keep driving and look the other way!” Is it not common to see a pregnant young teenager and think, “Where were her parents? She must be a whore! And now I get to pay for that kid because she isn’t going to work!” I try every single day to not be that person, but I will disgustingly admit that there are times I have had that exact thought. It’s much harder to see that dirty person and think, “I wonder what he wanted to be when he was a kid. I wonder if he had aspirations and dreams?” It’s much harder to see that young pregnant girl and think, “I wonder what her dreams are?” To find these things out, we’d have to actually talk with the person. It makes it much harder to think of the negative when you have just one positive to think about.

And this brings me to the bulk of my blog: gay marriage. I have been such a fence-sitter with homosexuality. Yes, I am as out as a person can be. There’s no hiding in the closet for me. But I’ve still spent a full decade sitting on the fence. You may be asking yourself how does a very out lesbian sit on the fence? I’ll tell you: I sit on the fence when I allow all of the comments to fly around my head without reacting. If I react, I let an arm down and start to fall over. Remember: balancing is important to fence-sitting. For all of my 20s, I have been stuck in the middle: too gay to stand on the straight side and too straight to stand on the gay side. I absolutely understand the LGBT group wanting the same rights as everyone else, but I absolutely understand Christians who believe being gay is a sin. I was raised Pentecostal and I love Jesus, so I get the whole “you’re going to Hell” thing. And because I get that, I don’t exactly fit in with the gay crowd. But I AM gay, so I don’t fit in with the religious side either. Again-stuck in the middle.

But last night, after much debate and fear of falling off my fence, I let my arm down. I fell. I fell with my dignity in-tact and with my head held high. I did it my way and on my own terms. So today, I publicly announce where I stand. If you are not ready to read my statement, please hit the X in the top right corner because I am done being the queen of compromising. My 20s may have been full of compromising, but my 30s will break that habit.

I have realized that in compromising, I have also been complaisant. In trying to hear all sides, I have just allowed people to get away with outrageous remarks that have created “us” versus “them.” The ONE thing I really, REALLY dislike is something I have been complaisant in creating. For some people, I am the only gay person they know or talk to on a regular basis. I am also from a very old-school Pentecostal Christian family. I’d like to add that my family is also very loving. They love me. There is absolutely no doubt about that. I do not doubt their love for me at all.

But I am a “them.”

To my family reading this, it may come as a shock that I just said that. I have been accepted into my family. I have never ever, not even ONCE, been told I don’t belong at a family function or permitted to be near children or anything extreme like that (and for that I am eternally thankful). But ask 96% of my family where they stand on gay marriage and the answer is unanimous: the Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman.

This will surprise my family mostly because I have done an excellent job of sitting on the fence. Practice makes perfect and I’ve been practicing my balancing act for a lifetime. I have never, not once, asked my family to go against their Christian beliefs. I have never, not once, asked them to pick me over God. I have never, not once, asked them to make an exception for me. And in all those never, not once things, I have never, not once, told them I feel like an outsider looking in. I have never, not once, explained that I have dreams of getting married. My dream may not include a white gown, but I still picture what it would look like. I have never, not once, said I wanted a family just like everyone else gets. And for that, I am sorry to my family. Maybe I should have had more faith in my family to be able to tell them a long time ago, but I never wanted to make them alter their belief of the Bible. Their truths don’t have to be the same as mine, after all. But I know that my truths make me a “them.” I just can’t be complaisant anymore. It’s not fair to my family and it’s not fair to me.

My truths in the gay marriage debate:

1. God loves me and I love God and Jesus.

I have an issue with the “hate the sin, love the sinner” saying. To love someone means you accept them for every kind of person they are, faults and all. You don’t want to change them. You can’t love a person as long as they’re willing to change to your liking. God loves me-sin and all (I will leave the debate of whether being gay is a sin alone because I think that comes down to personal preference). Does He want me to sin? No-but He still loves me. If I get married to a woman, will He love me any less? No. He will love me just the same as He does now. I don’t deserve it, but He does. Jesus knew I was going to be gay when He thought of me from the cross. If He knew every single hair on my head, He knew my sexual preference too. He didn’t say, “I’m dying for your sins…except for being gay…you’re on your own with that one.” God IS love which means that God is the absence of hate. So I can’t will myself to believe that God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. He doesn’t want us to sin, but He loves me no matter what.

2. One sin is no worse than any other sin.

This seems easy and everyone agrees on it. But it seems to me that no one is trying to ban divorce, drunkenness, adultery, premarital sex, cohabitation, etc. The only sin being banned is gay marriage. All the rest of the sins fall under the well-times-have-changed status. Gay marriage, though, falls under the abomination status. It seems to me that being gay is, therefore, considered a worse sin by the way it’s treated. I’m not at all saying Christians have to accept any of these sins, including homosexuality. I am, however, saying that if all sins are equal, shouldn’t as much work go in to ridding the world of the rest of the sins?
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3. There is a difference between the United States Constitution and the Bible.

This may offend most of the people who are reading this. I am not saying that one is better than the other. Thankfully in this country, Christians can openly practice their religion as much and as often as they want. But there has to be an understanding that not everyone is a Christian. Our founding fathers absolutely understood that. By creating the 1st Amendment, they created a nation that would afford all Americans freedom of religion. This means that everyone has the right to worship however they deem fit. That also means they don’t have to worship at all. This is where the separation of church and state came into place: after all, if one religious sect had power to create laws, wouldn’t that infringe upon a different sect’s Constitutional freedom to practice however they deem fit? So our laws and the U.S. Constitution are not made depending on the preference of one religious sect’s teachings.

So when it comes to gay marriage, it does not, at all, matter what the Bible says is right and wrong when it comes to Constitutional rights. Morally you can make up your own mind about if it’s right or wrong. But constitutionality does not depend upon a religious sect’s teachings. Therefore, in my opinion, the LGBT group has been discriminated against. There are 1,138 federal rights and provisions denied to same-sex couples and their families because of DOMA. How is that not called discrimination? Whether you are morally opposed or not has nothing to do with the constitutionality of DOMA.

4. Respect on all sides of the debate is needed.

That’s right….I said ALL sides. I respect the Christian belief. Obviously my truths are different, but why does that have to divide us? Why does that have to mean I belong in one group and they belong in another? Similarly, Christians need to respect that others do not believe the same way as them. Christians should not be forced to change their belief. An atheist, therefore, can simultaneously respect a Christian’s belief while the Christian respects an Atheist’s belief. The two don’t have to agree on anything, but they should respect each other for no other reason than we are all humans. We all hurt, love, feel joy, feel sadness, cry, lose loved ones, and celebrate life. Can we not respect those similarities without using negativity to separate us? Can we not all agree that we are all part of the “us” group of life?

And finally, after all of this, I still don’t ask my family or complete strangers to accept me for me. I respect them enough to allow them the freedom to run their lives however they deem fit. I just wish I was afforded the same respect. I’m not asking for acceptance-I’m asking for equality afforded to me under the U.S. Constitution.

WHO I AM:

I am first a human. I happen to be a woman, who happens to love Jesus, who happens to be a lesbian, who happens to laugh at all of life’s circumstances, who happens to love Jackie Wilson, who happens to love the color brown, who happens to love space education, who happens to wear glasses, who happens to be a total geek. Do you see how the second sentence is made up of all the little things about me? Those are attributes; they don’t define me. They describe me. I am human: that defines me. That defines us all. We are all the sum of “us.” There is, therefore, no such thing as a “them” group. The “them” group only exists out of fear of descriptions. If you’re going to hate anything, hate the fear. Don’t hate the differences.

Published in: on March 27, 2013 at 6:04 pm  Leave a Comment