Friday, September 25, 2009

Straight on Gay

A dear friend sent me the quotes listed below, in an email. Not only did I find the comments funny, I found them astoundingly accurate and insightful. Then I began wondering why people are so anti-gay. I can remember being secretive more than 15 years ago when my first husband could no longer deny his own sexual identity, but why is this segment of the population still under scrutiny?
When I was around the age of 10, my family lived in a new development, and there were plenty of young girls around my own age. We played and went to school together. It wasn't long before a cycle of ostracization developed. One girl could look at another in an odd way and suddenly, the stronger of the two had the rest of the group ignoring the one. I came home crying on more than one occasion, as did others, I'm sure. One girl tried to pick a fight with me, but I refused. I couldn't bring myself to punch her, even after she shoved me. Miscommunication and insecurities seemed to lead the way for peer banishment. People moved, dynamics shifted, we grew up, and got over it.
Why can't adults do the same thing? People get on the offensive because they don't understand another person. Instead of trying to become educated, it seems easier for some to remain closed-minded and denounce differences. Others even try to stand behind religious documents, such as the Bible, to justify their hatred. Again, miscommunication and insecurities seem to lead the way to hatred.
One undeniable, proven factor about the Bible is - it was written by humans, altered by humans, and historically used by religious leaders as a way governing the minions. Stories were handed down verbally before eventually being written. They've been translated so many times that it is practically impossible to know what the original message intended. While there are wonderful messages, there also is room for miscommunication and misinterpretation.
Now, don't get self-righteous on me - I believe in prophecy, a higher power, and in Jesus' teachings. However, the God I believe in is kind, infalible, and put us together on earth to learn from each other. The person that assembled these quotes and sent them in an email, in my eyes, is a messenger of God's intentions - as we all should be - and that message should be one of unity.

If homosexuality is a disease, let's all call in sick to work: "Hello. Can't work today, still queer." ~ Robin Tyler

I'd rather be black than gay because when you're black you don't have to tell your mother. ~ Charles Pierce

"Dear Abby," In response to a reader who complained that a gay couple was moving in across the street and wanted to know what he could do to improve the quality of the neighborhood. 'You could move.' ~ Abigail Van Buren.

The one bonus of not lifting the ban on gays in the military is that the next time the government mandates a draft, we can all declare we are homosexual instead of running off to Canada. ~ Lorne Bloch

Why can't they have gay people in the army? Personally, I think they are just afraid of a thousand guys with M16s going, "Who'd you call a faggot?" ~ Jon Stewart

My lesbianism is an act of Christian charity. All those women out there praying for a man, and I'm giving them my share. ~ Rita Mae Brown

Soldiers who are not afraid of guns, bombs, capture, torture or death say they are afraid of homosexuals. Clearly we should not be used as soldiers; we should be used as weapons. ~ Letter to the Editor, The Advocate

You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight. ~ Barry Goldwater

Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands? ~ Ernest Gaines

My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror. ~ W. Somerset Maugham

"Drag is when a man puts on everything we lesbians won't." -Robin Tyler, comic

If male homosexuals are called "gay," then female homosexuals should be called "ecstatic." ~ Shelly Roberts

My mother took me to a psychiatrist when I was fifteen because she thought I was a latent homosexual. There was nothing latent about it. ~ Amanda Bearse

It always seemed to me a bit pointless to disapprove of homosexuality. It's like disapproving of rain.... ~ Francis Maude

The only queer people are those who don't love anybody.... ~ Rita Mae Brown

The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision. ~ Lynn Lavner

Related posts : Prop8 or Prop Hate? and Anti-Gay Cash Cows

Monday, September 7, 2009

America - land of the free

Complaints about immigrants are uttered in living rooms across the country. As Americans, we feel our space is invaded and that “foreigners” are usurping our resources. We fight hard to keep our freedoms, our jobs, roofs over our heads, and food on our tables. Yet, we are complacent and unappreciative of what we do have.
Fortunately, I have met some people that are educating me about the realities that exist beyond America's borders. News reports that used to seem so far away have materialized into very real faces that I am getting to know each week.
Every Saturday morning, I volunteer with a movie-making class. (see inset for details) The adult students are immigrants and they are each creating a one-minute film related to a journey. I am getting snippets of their stories during class discussions and when I offer one-on-one assistance.
One student’s journey began when she fled religious persecution. As a Christian in Burma, Joyce was a minority in her homeland where 90 percent of the population is Buddhist. Government rulers consider Christianity a progressive western influence and its practice is prohibited. Books published outside of the country are contraband, making the Bible illegal. Violators are thrown in jail.
Joyce left Burma, huddled with her daughter and 20 other refugees, covered with tarps, in the bottom of a boat made to hold four people. As they crossed the waterway, they prayed waves would not capsize their overloaded boat or they would not be discovered by the water patrol.
Once they arrived in Thailand, guides led them across the country. Joyce said they walked for weeks, barefooted in order to reduce the sounds of their footsteps. They walked through swamps, peeled away leeches, waded through high grasses, thick brush, and over thorny vines. “We couldn’t make a sound, even when the thorns pricked our feet,” she said. The snap of a twig could give away their location to human traffickers or policing authorities. After walking across Thailand, Joyce made her way into a Malaysian refugee camp, eventually coming to America.
She continually gives thanks to God and seems excited to have an opportunity to record her story.
Last week, as she and I walked across a parking lot to film a segment for her class project, she looped her arm in mine and smiled. I commented about how much I admired her for what she has endured. She stopped and pointed to her feet. “I never believed, I never dreamed, that I would ever be here, with my feet on this parking lot, in this city, in America.”
She and her husband are together, both working and contributing to the community.
“I gave my first paycheck to help other refugees, said Joyce. “I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food to eat – I don’t need anything else.”
I was humbled and choked back tears as Joyce hugged and thanked me for helping her with her story.
Her English is broken, but her emotion is universal.

“Movie-Making for Immigrants and Refugees” is a partnership between FaithAction International House (including its VISTA volunteer, Trish Perkins), the American Friends Service Committee, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Worlds Touch, an international technical assistance organization founded and directed by Trish, in her spare time. Through digital storytelling, participants have the opportunity to acquire new technological skills, hone communication skills, as well as interact with the community at-large.
For more information, check out the links above as well as Trish’s blog.