Tag Archives: Guestblogger

THE NIGHT WE PAINTED THE LAND RED


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. 


If you would like to add your voice, visit the contact us page.

Writer Wednesdays: Your Voice

Think of the stories that you tell your friends and family. What triggers you to share? I can think of three main reasons I share my experiences with others. Moving forward, I would like to formally invite you to consider a moment or some moments in your life that need to be share with others.

These moments could be tragic. These moments could be hopeful. They could bring laughter or they could bring tears. Most importantly, these moments are truthful.

What are the three reasons I share stories from my life?

  • I share stories to give encouragement

There are times in my life that have been straight out of a Law and Order: SVU episode. I grew up in rough circumstances. My choices as a teen were destructive. My young adult life has been plagued by trials, grief, illness and shame.

Yet, God has brought me through. I am an overcomer by nature and my blood type is resilience. If I can share who I once was in light of who I am now–my voice matters–it gives people hope.

  • I share stories to bring abundant laughter.

I’m hilarious. It’s true. Sometimes, I forget how funny I am. People get used to me. Then, I’ll be out at an event or in public and I’ll say or do something that’s classically Cheryl–and people will choke from laughter.

When life tries to suck the joy out of you, when all the news is bad news, when people seem to be negative for no reason–humour aptly placed can bring life. Just think of how much time we spend (waste) laughing at memes or watching Youtube videos. Laughter is the best medicine for many things.

  • I share stories to create understanding.

“What’s the big deal?” & “Lighten up.” are two phrases you wouldn’t expect are spoken to someone as laid back and hilarious as myself. Fact is, I hear them more often than is comfortable. You see, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve had a lot of hurts and I’ve helped a lot of broken people.

We might not know why something is important until someone tells us how it impacted them. Casually mentioned atrocities can cause deeps wounds in those around us and retraumatize them without our knowledge.

This is where you come in. Your voice, your story, your humour, your experiences can make the differences in the lives around you.

If you’ve ever thought to yourself “you have no idea”, here’s your chance to give the world an idea–a new perspective. Who knows, you just might change a life.

~Cheryl

Writer Wednesday: Greg White

This week’s post comes from a man named Greg White. I met Greg on social media. Social media, especially Facebook groups and Google Hangouts, have become a safe haven for marginalized people groups of all walks of life to gain support away from those who would cause injury. Greg’s recent Facebook post resonated with me and many others. It’s a reflection on the events in Orlando after the media has moved on to other things. It’s a reminder of how people are hurting, not helping. Most importantly, it’s an honest account from someone like me. 

It’s been over a week since the events of Orlando, and it seems everyone has had their say. Forgive me if I’m late to the conversation, but I’m still trying to piece together my feelings about it. I find myself utterly heartbroken. While I floated through Sunday in a sense of shock, and even went to a candle light vigil in a strange disconnect, reality set in on Monday night.

I’d come home from work having spent the day in a numb haze, and decided to decompress by making soap. It’s a simple hobby, one that requires little concentration and lets my mind wander through the day’s events and prepare for the stressors to come. As the bars of soap began to congeal in their molds, I began to sob uncontrollably. I cried first for the victims, every precious soul gunned down in the Pulse nightclub. I cried for their families, for their friends.

Suddenly the face of every LGBT person I know flashed through my brain and all I could think was, “It could have been him. It could have been her,” and finally, “It could have been me.”

In the days that followed, I found myself torn by grief while tending wounds that I thought had healed shut. Theological debates about the six “clobber passages” regarding homosexuality came roaring back into focus. My sense of public safety was suddenly shaken. The true face of bald, unbridled homophobia was unleashed in that hail of gunfire, and in its wake, those sympathetic to the gunman’s hatred were emboldened to speak. Fringe public religious figures like Pat Robertson pointed their fingers back at the LGBT community, and some even praised the killings.

But most painful of all, my beloved denomination put out a well-meaning but tepid response. They were sorry and saddened by the events. They were praying for the victims and their families. But where were these words when LGBT kids were killing themselves? Where were those prayers as queer people were denied their rights, kicked out of their homes, suffering depression and religious trauma, bullied, or ostracized?

We have told our stories over and over, and it seems they’ve fallen on deaf ears. Does it really take the worst mass shooting of the century to elicit a response? Decrying the violence, the Church never even condemned the cause. They never said the words “homophobia,” “LGBT,” “gay,” “lesbian,”“bisexual,” “transgender.” And so, the only word that really mattered to me was the word they’ve used to describe homosexuality in the manual; “perversion.”

It simply isn’t enough to stand up against mass murder without condemning the more subtle, institutional forms of bigotry that enforced it. I’m not a pervert, I’m a human being. I’m not an issue, I’m a child of God. I’m not a problem to be solved, a policy to be debated, a statement in a manual or even an out-of-context Bible verse.

How could the denomination that I love so dearly be so tone-deaf? Maybe it’s politics. Maybe it’s blind conviction. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s a love too bewildered by a changing world to know how to express itself. All I know is that it doesn’t seem to be listening.

And yet, in the midst of all this heartbreak, I’m reminded of the text messages and phone calls from my sisters, brother, parents, friends, asking if I was okay. I’m reminded of the extra long hugs I received at church before I even realized I was going to need them for the week ahead. I’m reminded of my church friends marching alongside me in the candle light vigil, crying for justice. I’m reminded of my pastor, who preached repentance from bullying and lamented with me. His precious wife told me that she recognized my hurt, opened her home and let me know I wasn’t alone. Two friends had me over for dinner, let me pour out my anger and frustration, and made me feel understood. During communion, a friend looked me square in the eye, reached out, and clasped my hand in support. Countless conversations, notes of solidarity, and messages of comfort began to put me back together.

Is this what Jesus looks like? Is this what he meant when he said, “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”?

I want more than anything for my denomination to understand, to listen, to learn to love more fully. I want them to recognize the depths of pain their policies cause, to recognize that homophobia doesn’t only manifest itself in bullets. Sometimes it looks like smug superiority. Sometimes it looks patronizing. Sometimes it’s disgust disguised as moral righteousness. And sometimes it’s a child learning to hate herself.

But then, I guess policies and manual statements were never really Jesus’ M.O. The Holy Spirit transcends issues of doctrinal and theological debate. And God, it seems, is reluctant to work through imperious power or righteous fiat, but rather through individual acts of love. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and my congregation, family, and friends have been that to me. I only hope the broader Church can one day do the same. I long for the day the Church can be that for each member of the LGBT community, and not only in times of crisis.

You can view the original post here. 

If you would like to be featured on Writer Wednesday, visit the contact link in the main menu.

~Cheryl

Writer Wednesday: A.M. Leibowitz

I used to get teased, back in school, for being a “lesbian.” Never mind the fact that I didn’t even identify as bisexual back then! I didn’t really have a concept of anything but gay and straight, and I knew I liked boys…a lot. Okay, I wasn’t totally boy crazy. But I had plenty of crushes! Even had a boyfriend in ninth grade, and I had a years-long crush on my bestie (er…if he’s reading this, as we’re still friends on Facebook, he now knows this about me…sorry!).

Except really, they weren’t totally wrong. Only I minimized it, hid it, denied it…all to make them more comfortable. To make them believe I wasn’t going to perv on them in the locker room (good grief, none of them were that special) or try to grope them or whatever (yeah, real things they suggested I might do). And naturally, my involvement in a religious community stamped out any sense that it might really be okay to like girls (gentle reminder, I had no concept of other genders back then).

Read the rest of the story by clicking the link below.

via No more hedging. No more hiding. No more closets. — A.M. Leibowitz

Writer Wednesday: Matthew S.

Every week, I’ll be publishing work from those in the writing community who wish so share their voice here. Matthew emailed me his article in reaction to the Orlando mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub this past weekend in Florida. I’ve opted to publish a portion here. If you would like to read more, the link is at the bottom of the article. Please not that the “I” in the article is Matthew’s voice.

Yet another tragedy at the hands of a deranged gunman has struck the country. This time, the violence broke out at a gay club in Orlando, FL, USA. Like previous shootings this year, an American citizen armed with an assault rifle opened fire on unsuspecting victims for the sole purpose of heartless slaughter, which is why he chose an assault weapon—designed for that exact purpose.

I firmly believe regardless of reasons a person commits such a crime in part, is that their death grants a narcissistic wish–they want to become famous. They want their name to become a house hold name, that everyone says as they talk about the tragedy rained down on the lives of innocent people. As such, I refuse to use the name or picture of the person that has committed this heinous act of violence.

Not only is it a heinous act of violence in its own right, it is also an act of Terrorism (as he pledged his allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call right before carrying out the attack, and ISIS has also claimed responsibility for the act). It is a hate crime as it was targeted at the LGBT community in a gay club during LGBT pride month. The shooter gunned down 50 innocent club goers and wounded another 53, and took about 30 more as hostages until the police finally took him down and freed them. Making this the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

Of course, the president once again after a massacre went on national television to give his most heart-felt sympathies to the families of the victims and the community as a whole. He expressed the sympathies of the entire country and to assure them that the full force of the US government would be used to figure out why this senseless act happened. He went on and to mandate whatever it is that those effected need in the after math of such a tragedy. He once again called for the nation to come together and take action to end the gun violence. Violence that has brought this tragedy and so many others like it.

Obama wants to make it harder for tragedies like this and the ones that came before from happening again, he made it clear that inaction is a choice to. Inaction is a choice to say that it is ok for children, and teachers to be mowed down in their school classrooms, college students, and professors to be mowed down on our campuses, for movie goers to be mowed down at the cinema, and for club goers to be mowed down enjoying a night out on the town.

It seems though that all that have died in this ever-increasing wave of gun violence have died in vain, and those that have died in this onslaught are going to as well. As it seems we as a country have given up on trying to make things better that we have found it acceptable for these sorts of things to happen. After Sandy Hook, where elementary school children and their teachers where mowed down in the class room, not a single new law, regulation anything came out of that tragedy.

You can find the rest of Matthew’s piece here at www.anothwestview.blogspot.com 

If you would like to be featured on Writer Wednesdays, you can reach me through the Contact button found in the menu on the main page. 

~Cheryl