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Benjamin Granger. An American.

I sat and stared at the television screen. I was sitting there, on the old familiar couch in my living room, but my mind was somewhere else. All I felt was a strange, disillusionment… and all I saw was red…

Red was the color that ushered in the much-to-soon inevitable end to my freedom. Red was the color that came to tell me I could no longer safely publically be me. Red was the color that told me I could no longer post anything on my Facebook about my sexuality, or anything remotely indicative of my being gay or supporting my own rights without being documented. Red was the color that stole the joy from my heart and replaced it with… I don’t know what. It’s a strange feeling to go from feeling privileged and progressive in one moment, to a slave, a second class citizen, a target of hate, and completely unwanted by a nation, all in one hour.

Thoughts starting racing. My career was over. Why finish school. How could I have a job anymore? Who would hire me? An openly gay male? I’d already come out on Facebook. It was surely already no secret to the government what my sexual predispositions were. In one evening, my plans at being a psychologist, a counselor, and a therapist vanished. My years of study in college were meaningless. My degree was meaningless. In one swift heart-wrenching moment, my thoughts for my future went from writing, research, producing literature, and continuing pursuing my passion and dream of musical compositions, art, and teaching, to one sickening thought; “I have to survive, and I have to escape.”

So this is what it’s like to be a refugee. This is what it feels like to live in hiding. This is what it feels like to be a minority. A true minority. Without recognition. Without privilege. Without rights. Without honor. Without dignity. Without worth to my name. Walking outside to smoke a cigarette was different that day. That man in the truck driving by looking at me… did he know? Was that hatred in his eyes? Was that fear in mine? Was that a gun in his front seat? How could I live like this? In … AMERICA…

America… the land nothing bad ever happens. No one ever gets hurt. No violence. Only freedom. Only liberties. Only privilege. Only wealth and opportunity, education and progressivism. I ceased to exist. Worse, in that stunning moment when the red tide overcame the blue like an unrelenting insatiable sea of anger, I ceased to matter. Never mind that I had a degree. Never mind that I was a musician that could command tears to dance on your face from your eyelids. Never mind that I was a healthy, strong, handsome young man in his prime, able to work and worth his wages in labor. Never mind my potential, my progress, my pedigree, my knowledge, my intelligence, my productivity, my anything. I might as well have had any of it. Never had done any of it. Never been any of it. Never had been anything.

The poorest straight white man with no education, no passion or pursuits, no talents or drive to do anything was worth more than me in this new land that I called, ‘home’, even with all that I am and can be. Because I’m gay. And trump hates gays. My shock turned to anger as my family cheered him on. As people said hurtful things on the internet, and told me I was overreacting and to get over it and stop seeking attention. ‘That’s why people don’t like us to begin with’ they said. ‘Overdramatic attention-seeking homos’. My church spurred it on. Praising Jesus in my midst for the man who told me I was worth nothing. That my marriage was worth nothing. Let my kids figure out where to go when their daddy dies, because dad doesn’t have their same last name. So many things in my head.

“The elections over, just get over it and move on!” “Why do you have to beat a dead horse? Let it be and stop criminalizing and attacking us” they said. I was supposed to just roll over and let them take what was sacred to me, that they took for granted, and then “get over it”… and this is what America thought of me. Where was I going to live? Where was I going to hide until then? What if no country will let me in? What if I’m stuck here… What if…

Are they really going to put us into concentration camps? Surely not! That would never happen in America! Donald trump would never win the election! Donald trump could never get that many votes! Donald trump wasn’t really running for presidential candidate… I’m starting to wonder if my worst fears are yet to be realized. Should I prepare? Or hope?
Shared by permission in the hopes to reach as many as possible–that we might understand, support and rally together. 

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A Fun Story from the Archives

If you’re wondering what I’m studying at school, here is one of my assignments from last year. The prompt was “gym”. 
Step On Me

By Cheryl Folland

People encounter, at one time or another, a situation that errs on the impossible side. If you’ve not yet had the pleasure, perhaps a visit to Sally’s Gym is just the cure. The lifespan of my people ranges anywhere from six months to five years; it really hinges on how our clients treat us. This is the story of how one client changed everything and saved my life.

 My role is to make champions of ordinary people. This is no easy task. Many of the people that I encounter throughout my day are so steeped in self-loathing they require a medal just for walking through the door. These are my favourite people, the ones who don’t know how amazing they are. See that man over there? Yea, that one. The one with the red shorts, the ‘do you even lift’ t-shirt and that crazy mop of curly brown hair? His name is Carlos. Looking at him, you’d never guess that he used to weigh three hundred pounds. This time last year, he could barely even bench eighty. Oh, look! A new lady. I wonder if she’ll choose me.

 “Thanks for coming in today!” Carlos said.

 Oh! I should mention, Carlos is the personal trainer on the floor today. The thing that sets our gym apart from all those other meathead type places is encouragement. Every staff member is a former fat kid. Every single one. Carlos used to sit in the basement playing World of Warcraft and eating Dominos pizza like he had a death wish. Heart disease you know. Anyway. Now look at him. Tall and lean with a healthy muscle tone. Complete transformation.

 “Why don’t you warm up,” Carlos said. “Start with a ten minute walk at a comfortable pace and I’ll pop back over to help with stretches.”

 “Uh, sure.” said the woman. She grabbed her water bottle and towel and walked towards the treadmills. Noticing one nearest the exit wasn’t in use, she placed her water bottle in the cup holder, put the towel around her neck and pressed the start button.

 “Hello. Please select your workout,” read the screen.

 She pressed quick start and waited for the next prompting.

 “Great choice. So are those Lulu-Lemons,” said the screen.

 “What?” She turned her head back towards Carlos. He was reading something off his clipboard at the front desk. No on else seemed to be caught off guard. “Is this some kind of prank?” she asked.

 “Nope.” This is my favourite part, when they find out about me. I imagine this is the first time something other than her smartphone has spoken to her. She will likely think she is crazy, or tired, or freak out and leave. This happened sometimes. I hope not with her, she has great potential. I better ask her some questions. “Please enter your weight.”

 “Maybe I’m just dreaming,” she said. Pressing the keypad, she entered her weight—two—two—three, enter. “Treadmills don’t have conversation skills.”

 “Thank you for entering your weight.” Now I will make things a little weird and see how she responds. My goodness this is fun! “My name is Stephanie, well it was step-on-me, but I didn’t think that very personable. What’s your name?”

 “Um,” she said. Leaning closer, she whispered, “Nancy.”

 “It’s okay Nancy. All the machines here are thought-enabled. No one thinks you’re crazy. You can relax. Your heart rate is getting high. This is supposed to only be a warm up after all.”

 Nancy let out a breath. “All the machines can talk?” Nancy said. “How come Carlos didn’t say anything about it?”

 “We only want a certain type of clientele. You know, the people who want to change but need the extra push. We are that extra push.”

 “Okay. So, what is it you actually do? I mean, aside from compliments, so far you’re just a treadmill. Right?”

 At this point, I had a choice to make. I can either tell her what Sally’s Gym does or I can ease her mind. Normally, we are encouraged to let the clients believe that we are artificial intelligence programmed to anticipate and respond to various inputs mimicking human reactions—the reality is much different. You see, I belong to the owners of this planet. Years ago, when the humans’ home was ruined by something they called global warming, they came out here. Finding this planet, with its perfect landscapes—but marred with crazy electrical storms—their scientists had to think of a solution to save their people. Discovering how to harness the electricity from the atmosphere led them to something even greater—my people.

 “I am not a treadmill,” I said.

 “You most certainly are. I am walking on you right now,” she replied.

 “To be accurate, I am merely a personality, a life force, occupying a treadmill.”

 “What? I am so confused,” Nancy said.

 “You have three minutes remaining in this workout. I will tell you as quickly as I can. Only you can decide what to do next.” I proceeded to tell Nancy about my people. I caught her up on the desolation that led to the sending of her people to my planet. Of course, she scoffed—electronics empowered by people?

 “You see it was the only compromise. By inhabiting the energy grid, the storms we used to live in are dissolved—allowing our two peoples to live together. These machines are a few of the ways we can actually interact. This facility, is one of a few where we are testing whether we can bridge the gap, you know, enlighten people.” I said. I waited, with twenty-nice seconds left on her run, for a response.

 Nancy had no idea how to respond. She knew this was a colony and that pollution and consumerism had ruined her parent’s planet; but it never occurred to her that this one belonged to someone else. She finished her warm up and thought about the strange conversation while absently following Carlos through stretches. They moved to the cycles for some cardio. Nancy plugged her headphones in to the cycle display.

 “Hello again,” I said.

 “Stephanie, is that you?” Nancy said. “How did you get over here?

 “I told you, my people live in the electricity. I wanted to make sure you were okay after that information dump.”

 “Honestly, I feel like I’m in some weird dream. How can I know this is all real?” Nancy said.

 “I have an idea. See the smartphone port beside the heart rate monitor?” I said. “Plug your phone into the port and I will piggyback onto it. When you wake up tomorrow, and I am still there, you’ll know this is the truth.”

 “What then? I mean, after you come home with me?” Nancy said. “Won’t they notice you’re missing?”

 “Not if we’re very careful,” I said. “Put your phone into the port, when I create a message on your phone, tell Carlos the cycle is broken. He’ll think I’ve died.”

 “You still didn’t answer me. What then?” Nancy said.

 “Then the real adventure begins,” the phone read.


Eleven Years

My son, my love,

It has been eleven years since you came and eleven years since you left. You arrived ahead of schedule and couldn’t wait to be with Jesus. I’m blessed and humble that your role was to lead me to Him. Do you see how many lives you’ve impacted by letting me love you? 
My life’s path was radically change by a boy who never got to breathe. Your heart beat with my heart, I had such dreams for you, now I achieve my dreams with you in mind. Thank you for the gift of being your mother. Thank you for teaching me that life is short and love is deep. 

New Beginnings

I’ve been absent a while. And I apologize for that. I’ve been working full time all summer to get ready for a new adventure this fall. 

This week I began my first year in university. Now, I’ve been to post secondary before. From 2008-2011 I attended Bible College and was granted a BA in Biblical Studies. Since then, God has placed me time and time again with the broken, the needy and the disenfranchised. After much prayer and discussion with trusted friends, I enrolled in the Social Sciences program. 
I’m looking forward to see where it’s all going to go.
If you want to help out, visit the go find me page in my Twitter bio. @cherylfolland 

Victory–Song Idea

Broken and needy

crooked and bent
all my resources
completely spent
crumbling and groaning
the fear presses in
I’m not giving up
I’m here for the win
Victory they told me
victory is near
victory is coming
victory’s assured
my place is here
gentle and quiet
humbly reserved
before my Saviour 
laid bare is my heart
clean and renewed
dressed all in white
I am redeemed
my Father’s delight