Tag Archives: storyteller

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. 

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~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

Truth Telling: Canadian Edition

I never really thought about how much my Canadian culture effects what I do in uncomfortable situations. This past Saturday, our local PRIDE Association hosted a vigil to IMG_1018show solidarity and pay respects to those lost and effected by the mass shooting in Orlando at The Pulse nightclub.

Standing in the circle, listening to each of the speakers share from the heart, I felt uncomfortable. I wasn’t uncomfortable because of the loss, I wasn’t uncomfortable because of the pain of losing people who are just like me, I wasn’t even uncomfortable that this was the first time I attended something as a fully out person–I was uncomfortable because I spent 29 years of my life contributing to this type of hateIMG_1026.

 

 

In Canadian culture, it’s abhorrent to be rude intentionally to someone else. To contradict them or correct them publicly is a kin to assault. People are encouraged to “mind their own business” and gossip about it in hushed whispers to their neighbours or friends sitting beside them. We whisper and point, roll our eyes in disgust or move to another spot on the bus. Very rarely does one hear someone publicly call out another for inappropriate behaviour–because that would go against Canada’s Tolerance. When does being polite pour gasoline on a silent and raging fire?

Every single time I allow someone to cause others pain, I am fueling the type of hate and homophobia that led to this and many other violent tragedies. One of the speakers’ words echoes in my heart: “now is the time to refuse to let our friends and families say something is so gay. Now is the time to audibly say ‘no, that is not acceptable’ when we see anyone being bullied or put down. Now is the time to fight harder than ever for equal rights. Above all, now is the time to stop making those same mistakes with other minorities.”

Together is the only way forward. Prejudice, homophobia and blind hatred is going to tear this world apart unless people who are remaining silent start to speak. The next time one of your friends tells a racist joke, tell them that’s not acceptable. When they tell you to lighten up, remind them how many people died because of that attitude.

The next time you hear a stranger say something cruel in the mall, don’t just ignore it. Call them out or comfort the person being targeted. Kindness is another weapon against hatred. If you’re afraid of speaking out, imagine how afraid that person being verbally and emotionally assaulted is every time they need to go to the mall for new clothes.

Stand up for the humane treatment of all people. Every single person deserves to live their life with dignity. We are all created in the image of God. There are no caveats in scripture for what constitutes a human, so there’s no need for it in culture.

Casualties of Authenticity

When I counted the cost of coming out, I was rather naive thinking that reactions from my loved ones would be black and white. Though I am the same person to myself, I am not the same person to those around me.

Keeping so much of myself hidden, my questions, concerns and deepest struggles–I kept others out and need to allow them the space and the time to find their new normal in this journey.

It’s easy to point the finger at others. To get upset for a lack of empathy and understanding. It’s easy to  expect immediate acceptance or immediate abandonment-what I wasn’t ready for was the awkward tense moments.

I wasn’t ready for feeling like it’s inappropriate to discuss my plans for the summer as I will be taking part in the city’s Pride festival as a volunteer, attending a Gay Christian Retreat on the mainland and most likely heading to Pride in Vancouver to meet up with some friends.

I wasn’t ready to feel uncomfortable about asking my straight Christian friends to come with me to some of these things because I’m nervous about going alone, and I certainly wasn’t ready to feel childish for asking my LGBT friends who don’t profess Jesus if they’re going.

Before coming out, I knew that the social norms were. I knew what was expected of me–even though I felt caged and like I was a double agent for the losing team. Now it’s a whole new ball game. I don’t know when I am being “too much”, I don’t know if there is a “too much” and I certainly don’t want to go around pushing people out of my life by throwing myself in their faces.

What I want is genuine space to figure all of this out. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading, reflecting and just on my own. I’m missing connection. I feel ready to get back out in the social scene but I am completely unsure where I fit.

Sincerely,

An LGBT Christian.

Fan Fridays: The Roommate

I am pretty sure that aside from my mother, my roommate Megs is my biggest fan. So, with all that honour that her postition deserves, I’ve offered her the first question.

I thought that she would ask something fluffy, funny or hypothetical, instead, in true Megan style, she asked me one of the most important questions of my life:

“When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?”

Memories started to flood back to me of tiny Cheryl writing stories on her beige Windows 95 pc. My mom still has those 3.5 floppies that will never be accessed. Pretty sure I became the band manger for The Moffats in there somewhere. I remember my second grade teacher giving each student a picture of a pirate ship being attacked by a giant bird and telling us to write a story. While the other children wrote average seven-year-old tales, I wrote an epic story that took me the rest of the day and three pages of fullscap paper (for those who don’t know what this is, it’s longer than normal paper).

These would be good ways to showcase that I was already a writer, but not when I knew I wanted to be one.

I’ve always been fascinated with stories. We can probably blame my brother for that. He used to read to me when I was little, he’s a genius and about eighteen months older than I am. When he read to me, he would create incredible worlds. He spoke differently, and convincingly as each of the characters. He was so good at reading that I didn’t do much of it on my own until my teachers found out I couldn’t read my math problems.

I hoped with each story that I wrote, that one day, my stories would impact someone the way those stories had enchanted me. As I grew older, I let my idealist notion of being a worldchanging author die, but my writing never stopped. Academic papers, poems, songs, short stories, blogs, novels, articles and research proposals–I love writing, always have and always will.

Words are powerful. They give life and they contain life. How is it that we know history? Someone took the time to catalogue it. Scribes, authors, playwrites, historians and storytellers have always been important.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but it’s only in the last few years that I’ve found the courage.

~Cheryl