Lessons from my Grandfather

Recently I have been thinking a lot about lessons I was taught from my grandfather. So of these where verbal lessons others I learned from watching him.

 

  • Always go to the funeral
    • I have never heard anyone say they regret attending a funeral, while is not nothing that brings great joy or something we really want to do. DO IT ANYWAY! You never know what your presence might mean to someone else.
  • A strong handshake tells more about you then word ever could
    • A strong handshake will making eye contact can speak volumes about you a person. No one like to shake a weak hand, a firm no frills hand shake is the way to go ALWAYS.
  • Never go to bed angry
    • This one is easy I think figure it out before you go bed…..
  • Every male over the age of 10 should be about to tie a neck tie
    • I remember on Easter when  I was 9 or 10 I was getting dressed and my grandfather saw me putting on a clip on tie and her grabbed the tie and threw in the trash, saying its time you learned how tie a tie. So we went to tie collection and found one that matched my outfit and we processed to tie and retie ours ties together in the bathroom mirror till mine was finally the right length and stuff. Simple task that find attractive, its almost a turn off if a guy cant tie a tie.
  • Gender roles are not real
    • In my grandparents world traditional gender role didnt have a part, But illness changes alot of rules. My grandfather did laundry, cooked, cleaned, There was never anything I saw as having a gender role you did what needed to be done.
  • Love can fix most anything
    • No matter how bad things got Love was the key, Love made everything okay even if just for a little while. I dont know that I ever remember my grandfather saying I love you or anything like that, but his actions spoke so much louder then his words ever could have. He had been diagnosed with cancer right before my senior prom and by graduation he was in the middle treatments and was pretty sick but not matter how many time we tried to talk him into staying in Maryland he would not miss my graduation, by the next thanksgiving he was gone but you knew how much cared even without the words.

LOVE GOD! LOVE EACH OTHER! NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!

 

Change comes from within

Today i have in over run with negative thoughts about a city that I love and call home. While Huntington has its problems, the biggest is peoples attitudes. In life if we are not working change things for the better then we are part of the problem. Sitting on the side lines and complaining about things and not working to fix what you see as negatives is just making things worse. A lot of people over the years have asked why I still live here? I have asked myself the same question from time to time. If you would have asked my 18 or 19 year old self where I would be living at 35 my answer would have been anywhere but here. I would be lying if I said there was not still times I think about it. By moving I might be able to make some areas of my life better but loose a lot in other parts.

People ask me all the time why I attend the church which I do, It is a relatively conservative baptist church in a medium sized city.  Do we have churches that are more inclusive of the LGBTQ community 100%, does that make them better? It for sure does not make them worse but better I dont know really. I love my church and most of the people within the columns of it, there are people who are not my favorite but thats true in all parts of life. I could have switched churches when I came out and it might have been easier but whats easier is not always whats best. I have a very dear friend who one night after sharing my story she came up to me and gave me the biggest hug and said thank you, I ask for what and her answer was  being the real you no matter what people say or do. That night I was able to change the mind of one person about how the LGBTQ community fits in the church, and by opening that one mind  I made a difference. I was having lunch with our new minister not long after he came to the church, we talked about a lot  of things. He came from a background that might not have been welcoming of people openly apart of LGBTQ community but was willing to talk and hear my story and understand a bit more about what makes me tick. He made the comment that the conversation we had  would not have been something that would have ever happened in his past, do I think I changed everything he thinks and believes not even a little but what I know I was able to do was attach a face and story to a very painful topic for a lot of people. If I would have left none of the would have happened.

When you live in a area that has some major issues ones that are so big it seem impossible to tackle them, we have to look at small time where we make a change for the better. Every small act builds to make a major change, that change can be for good or for bad depending on the act.

LOVE GOD! LOVE EACH OTHER! NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!

14 years ago today

14 years ago my life changed in ways that I really had no idea how deep and long lasting it would be. When your mom passes when you are still young I think it effects you in ways it may take years for you to really understand. At the age of 21 I lost the two most important women in my life in 15 days. My grandmother died and 15 days later my mom passed, looking back I have no idea how I even made it through that time. Every year on this day I hope that it will get easier, or the hole that was left will heal. People always say time heals all wounds well that is a giant load of horse crap, some wounds never heal you just learn how to function with them. Over time its does seem to get easier but there are moments that She never got to experience that seem so unfair. When I graduated from elementary school  mom said you have at least three more, Middle school it was two more, High school it was one more, when that final one came she was not there to celebrate the achievement or push make me go father (which I did). She will never see me get married, buy my first house all of those moments you want to celebrate with your kids. Is it fair not at all, but life never promises fair.

14 year out I have learned a lot, screwed up a lot, cried a lot, there has just been a lot over time. Some moments of joy come in ways you almost miss with out realizing whats has happened. I remember at the funeral home people trying to say the right thing like shes in a better place or she is finally healed……..All which is true not what anyone wants to hear in the height of grief. A word of advice sometime not saying anything at all can say everything you wish you had words to say, also death sucks no way around it call a spade a spade and dont try to make it something better then it is. It meant more my close friends saying “this sucks I’m sorry” then all the nice things people tried to say. Also sympathy cards suck, be real about it all.

There are questions that will never be answered, things that will never be said, simple touches that will not will never be felt, but in the end all we can do is keep living move forward with confidence that things work out the best in the end and Love hard, Live Large, and be authentic.

LOVE GOD! LOVE EACH OTHER! NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!

Can Love be Conditional?

Recently I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out this question. Also the idea that you you have to love family, this one gets way more complicated I think. Growing  up we are told that our family loves us for most part I know that’s not always true for everyone. But what does that really mean? Does it have limits? Can we loose that love? If we can loose it did we ever really have it? So many questions that just lead into more questions. I have a family member that  always has a way ranking of who has not disappointed her the most,  so people have been push down so far they have no chance of ever getting back into her good graces.

According to Merriam Webster Love is:

  1. 1a (1) :  strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternal love for a child> (2) :  attraction based on sexual desire :  affection and tenderness felt by lovers<After all these years, they are still very much in love.> (3) :  affection based on admiration,benevolence, or common interests <love for his old schoolmates>b :  an assurance of affection <give her my love>

  2. 2:  warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion <love of the sea>

  3. 3a :  the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration <baseball was his first love>b (1) :  a beloved person :  darling —often used as a term of endearment (2) British —used as an informal term of address

  4. 4a :  unselfish loyal and benevolent (see benevolent 1a) concern for the good of another: such as (1) :  the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) :  brotherly concern for othersb :  a person’s adoration of God

In definition love say its a a unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for good. Sometimes in life I think we expect somethings that we don’t get, but when do we just deal with and when do you have to take a stand against it. Love is hard they say, but when do we have to move past what society thinks or even what we have been trained to think. Family is a complicated group and most of time worth the effort but when do you have to draw a line and cut the blood vessel.

Love can be unconditional but is it normally????

A time to think

I have not post anything for a long while because there was nothing I had to say that was not going to start a battle that I was not willing to fight. Today a new leader was put in office, I say put in office and not elected because the numbers of this election prove this leader is not who the majority of America wanted. While I dont at all wish or want failure I personally will not support the actions of someone who only breed hate and anger. Hate and anger and powerful tools get people to follow you, oh and of course fear. Evil has always been in the world and will continue to be. The electoral college let hate win, and in the end it is them who elect any president the mass of American people really do not matter at all. But with all the said…….

The next four years are going to be stressful for many people. The fact that since the election hate crimes have jumps to astronomical numbers is very telling. People have been given the right to hate and be petty. For someone who says he can do a lot things, the only thing that seems to work is a twitter war with SNL and Meryl Streep.

But our bed has been made and it might have some lumps in but we all have to figure out how to lay in it. What does this look like for those who have very justified fears? I really dont know that there is a good answer to that question. What I do know is that we all have to stop judging the lives of other people and how they are aloud to feel. Today I was told I was snowflake that thinks his feeling are more important then the national safety.  Am I concerned  with national safety? of course I am. But if someone whats to do something evil no policy, Wall, War, President, or anything else is going to stop them. Do we need to be diligent and watchful also of course we do, but if you live your life in fear that is not a life I want. I have spent a lot in fear, personally I am done with that June 12, 2016 changed my perspective forever if we let fear and hate win not only have we lost but so has everyone else.

Just a few months ago before the election was over I was walking down the street and a group of men yelled out the car windows at me that when trump was president they would finally have the right to just shoot all the faggots so they didnt even have to look at them anymore. Do I believe on any level that would ever become acceptable I would say no, I also think about the Jews in Germany not all that long ago would they have said the same before the Nazis came to power? Every time I think about how judgmental people are I always go back to Mary washing Jesus feet with very expensive oil and drying them with her hair, while she was rebuked because of the cost of the oil just let her do what she needed to do.  We all pay a cost it might not be oil, it might be in hatered from others it might be so many different things. As we go into this new world so many things are unknown…….

These things unknown are very upsetting for many and the ones that it does not upset can’t seem to understand and be willing to just give the space many need. For the last eight years we where told to sit back and deal with the dislike of the previous leader but now we are snowflakes because we are scared about things that the President and Vice President have actually said and done unlike the past when it was most all based on the color of his skin. I pray we can all find the humanity Jesus gave Mary when others did not understand the cost to her. Remember that we all come from different places and background and you are allowed to feel how you want but you are not allowed tell others how they need feel.

LOVE GOD! LOVE EACH OTHER! NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!

Today in history 

Today my whole soul hurts, from fear, from, anger, from well just a lot of things. Today is one of those days I will never forget I have list of these days in memory 9/11, the day my grandmother dies, 15 days later when my mom passed, most recently the days after the pulse shootings all these events might not have changed the whole world but they changed my whole world. You go from wanting to cry, to scream, to punch someone all of which really have a place in the process. The common thread in all of these things in a process of grief some grieving for a person so for loss of feeling safe in your own home or country. Grief is a messy messy thing and sometimes is quick other times I dont know that its every totally over. It is always hard in life when we see a different side of people we thought we knew. The people of America have spoken but have spoken with a language of hate and racism I truly believed we had grown past.  For me today is the starting point for a new battle, one where really I am not worried about myself but about other people life has given me a strong backbone that can carry a lot. There are many that do not birth freedoms I have, I was born here there is not anything they can do to get rid of me. For many immigrants this is not the reality, for many Muslims or Mexican people families will be separated and destroyed.  My soul hurts for the young gay men and women out there quietly sitting back listening to family, friends, and churches degraded who they are at a soul level.

I have spent many years trying to figure out who my God is and how I fit in plan that many would have me believe that I dont fit in. What I have finally come down to is I know my God and my God knows me and that’s all that matters other peoples options are not important in that process. Every day at work I look at a painting I created in reaction to my feelings about the pulse shooting its a winter scene with bare trees and snow covered ground that is covered by a glittery rainbow heart with pulse line, it reminds me everyday that no matter how dark and desperate things seem our pulse and heart keep going. Today my family has grown now we have to come together as LGBTQ, Muslims, Immigrants, Blacks, Handicapped, Women anyone who feel oppressed and scared for the freedoms we are promised in this country. 

Hate Might have won a small battle today, But I believe  within my whole heart and soul that love will win in the end.

LOVE GOD, LOVE EACH OTHER, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!!

 

Titles we wear…..

Man, Boy, Son, Fag, Christian, Baptist, Artist, Homo, Crazy, Virgo, Cook, Friend, Enemy, Gay, Fat, Professor, Assistant, Teacher, Single, Democrat, Student I could keep going but we all wear lots of titles some positive some negative. Some titles in life we choose other are ones we given by others. These titles we often let define us, when we let that happen we often end up living a life that is not what we would have wanted or should have had. I spent a lot of life trying to be something I wasn’t or trying to fit a definition definition definition definition a title that just did not work. I was late in coming out because I was so scared of the reality of it. Some of the titles I had chosen to wear Christian and Baptist were ones that I just am Gay man, did not seem to fit together and in reality it seem to totally contradictory to each other.  I spent many years being very self destructive and living a double life of sorts because I could see how the two could work together. During this time of political turmoil its hard to understand where other people are coming from and life treats us all differently and it becomes very hard find understanding at times.

I live a very fast paced busy life without a lot of down time. When I find that I have downtime I spend a lot of time thinking and over thinking at times. trying to figure out what things mean and how to process the past and the future. At this stage of my life I have been living another one of these titles for some long I am not sure I would know how to get past it, that is single. I have spent way more of life single then not, and please dont think I am complaining cause I am not at all its just a reality in your mid 30s you think about a lot and it becomes harder figure out where you really fit in life. Adulthood is created in pairs or couples more often then not. and when you are a single that changes how things happen. So some of these titles like single just happen for the good or the bad, but define who we are to so many people and ourselves at times.

Sometimes we have to learn to love these titles or others we have to prove them wrong, and more often then not we have to learn to stop listening to what other people have to say about who we are and what we are doing in life.

 

LOVE GOD! LOVE EACH OTHER! NOTHING ELES MATTERS!!

Its hard to not take it personally

Sometimes our life experiences make it really hard to not take somethings really personally. As much as I try to realize that every action that happens is not directly related to rejection. As the only active openly gay man or woman for that matter in a baptist church is is hard to not see everything as personal. I have written before about my what lead to my time away from the church, being rejected from a place you love most in the world is something that I have discovered is hard to get over. Its a grieving process, it honestly has worked much like dealing with the death of a loved one. But is someways its almost harder cause you know its still there and active you are just no longer apart of its current times. I know I am loved and accepted by the majority of my current body of Christ, but the dirty looks I get every Sunday from one person I know he does not and really most of the time I am fine with that. You do not grow up a slightly over weight kid white kid who loved Rainbow Bright and My my little Pony in a majority African American elementary school and not have a tough skin. But once in while even the hardest callus breaks open. Recently I have been processing two things that have happened, that I will be the first to admit most likely have nothing to do with my sexuality.  There are some wounds that never totally heal with just learn to cover them so they dont get irritated. That irritation still happens from time to time no matter how hard you cover it.

I know this seems very self centered and your right it most likely is just that. The way the human mind works we are naturally somewhat self centered but not in a overly negative way, but in a ways that keeps our lives on the path they need to be. Sometimes we just have to take things personally and move on. and even it was not intend to be personal sometimes other peoples intentions dont change the grieving process and might still reopen the wound. Then you have to figure out if you want to just recover it or is it time to give it air and let other people see the wound.

LOVE GOD! LOVE EACH OTHER! NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!

Owning your reality

When we own our own reality we share it with others. It seems that often the reality of where and how lives work is very different then what others see. We have experience things very differently, these differences are what the world and America great and sad sometimes.  This week end I was blessed to be about support a couple of great organization as they raised money to do what they do. One of these was a formal occasion, and my formal style is not the typical for Huntington, West Virginia for sure. Well I had decided to take the bus downtown to the even where cocktails would be served its always better to be safe then sorry, well on the way to the bus stop I got so kindly remained that is was not Halloween yet, I just thank you for the heads up and kept walking. Well I wait a a few at the stop and realized that I had read the schedule wrong and would have to wain another 40 min for the bus. Well I dont wait well at all so I took off walking (ultimately a bad idea in new dress shoes :P) but as I was walking downtown to toward the event another car slowed down and was starring out the window at me, I looked good so I dont blame them for that but as I approached the sidewalk toward beside the now almost stopped car the guy in the passenger seat proceeds to inform me “that no one wants your fucking faggot ass in this town, thank god trump is going to win the presidency so we will be able to just shoot all of fucking faggots.”  I am not sure what is worse what they said or that I was not surprised or really even phased by. I shared this moment of social media, not because I want the attention but because if you have not walked in my shoes you dont know the reality of being at apart of any group that has to fight for equality. I truly hope that no one reading this has ever had the someone yelling fag out the a car window as they drove by or ever felt unsafe just because of who they are. But the reality is I know a lot of you have in different ways maybe women, African Americans, Muslims….. all understand this on some level.

In life there is only one thing better and that is sharing our realities and truths. People have said to be how brave it is to share my life with people, I dont think its brave I think its mandatory. I have been given a personal mandate and conviction that without sharing my stories nothing is going to better. I really hope that none of you ever have to live a day in shoes, but remember the words you say the actions you do might be effecting your kids or grand-kids who are to scared to be authentic because of the word they have heard you say. Be aware that hate breeds hate and love breeds love, we have enough hate in the world.

 

LOVE GOD, LOVE EACH OTHER, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!!

being positive in a negative

For many of you that have know me along time I known for my negativity. I was once quoted as saying, my glass is half empty with a hole in the bottom. Well while that might still be true I have been really working toward working past the negative side of life. While  I will never get past be rude and offensive (at least I am like south park and don’t pick and choose I just go for everyone) I have very dark sense of humor that comes from a crazy childhood and slightly depressing life.  These are things that I dont see as a negative so prolly not going to work to change them anytime soon. But we are living in a very scary time in history there are so many reasons to be negative about a lot of things, but does it really do any good? My negative just feeds someone else feelings and just keeps going down that path. I just does no one any good. Social media has so many amazing things about it but for all the good I have recently been debating if the negative does not out weigh the positive. We all have opinions about things and we are 100% allowed to have them, but has anyone fighting with you on Facebook about something ever changed your mind? My guess is no there are times and places and ways to have healthy discussions about things. We dont learn and grow as people without those discussions but……… before you go for someone of social media ask yourself a few questions.

  • Would I approach this situation the same way face to face?
  • Do I know the person about to comment to?
    • If so what is there personal connection to the topic?
    • If I dont then just move on cause you have no idea what has lead them to think the way they do.
  • Have I done my research about the topic? (real research with credible sources not another Facebook post, peer reviewed journals and articles are always a winner)
  • Does this person care what I have to say? (in most cases the answer is no)
  • Would this be a better more productive conversation in a private message or in face to face?

If you have taken the time to really think about these most of the time my guess is that very hateful or contrary post you thought about, is not going to be productive and help fix any social, political, or personal reason.

In a world so full of hurt, pain, hunger, need, and addiction.  Why do any of us need to add more to that? Without conversations and sometime confrontation things dont change but being a social media vigilante I can promise is not going to help. Think before you post, think before you speak. Try focusing on the positive and not the negative for a while and see how maybe not the whole world changes but I promise your little corner of the world will change.

LOVE GOD! LOVE EACH OTHER! NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!