Posts Tagged With: BMW Convertible

Are You Crucifying Christianity?

I grew up going to church anytime the doors were open. After high school I even considered becoming a minister as my profession. Being reared in a middle-class home and maintaining a middle-class lifestyle in my single income home after university made it easier for me to hold to the values and principles I had grown up with. After admitting to myself I was gay, being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, losing my health, job, lifestyle and health insurance… I became one of “those people” – I am POOR! This is my new “coming out”, admitting I am poor. I tried and struggled for a while to hold  on to my lifestyle but was not Vegas Stylesuccessful. I had to watch as a new owner drove off in my BMW convertible and I was a witness as it faded on the road’s horizon. Soon after this event, I left Las Vegas (where I lived at the time) and I began feeling scared by the idea as an “adult” I was dependent on others for help with even basic needs.

Along with the change in location, came a change in the way I saw the world. My attitude changed. I got over: being a conservative, being a devout Christian and a Republican as I felt the challenges of my new life choking me. I can’t fully embrace the Democrats because they are not doing any better either. The more I learned from studying the Bible, the more I felt distanced from the God of the Bible. The Bible as a moral guide for my life just felt wrong. As I see Republicans fight to protect the wealthy and try to take money from social programs for the poor, the more they reveal to me that they are hypocrites that only talk about church and Jesus for their campaigns (again the Democrats are not much better, they just do not court the religious vote as much as the Republicans do). The more I learned about Jesus, the more I began to realize that most who profess to be Christian should be called Biblican not Christian. A Biblican is one who uses the Bible to justify their disdain and prejudices for others while dismissing the main points of Christ’s message – love and help one another. So now I introduce a new name I added to my vocabulary – Republibiblicans. Republibiblicans use the Biblicans to to sir up votes as they frighten people of the very things they should support and embrace – if they were true Christians.

Now, how do these things come together for me? With my background and education in marketing, I saw to it that I continued to “market” myself as something I wasn’t. I soon realized I was a Clean Handshypocrite and there are few things I hate more than hypocrites. I was presenting myself one way to the world while living quite differently. My facebook marketed myself as “healthy”, “happy” and living an adventurous life. I needed to be more honest with my family, friends, and even the few people who read my blog – MY LIFE IS A CHALLENGE! As a gay man, I urge other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to come “out”; I now want to be an advocate for people living challenging lives to “come out” and become a voice for CHANGE! As the LGBT community has learned, when people KNOW who we are, they are more comfortable embracing us as “people” they can love and accept in their lives! Being poor is no more contagious than being gay is!

Since I am no longer a person of “faith”, why am I concerned with how conservatives, Christians and Republicans are marketing themselves? Because some of “these people”… I love and care about and they are better than what these groups are standing up for and standing against! I want to encourage someone I know that is a “conservative Christian” to see that he/she is not helping his/her claim to be Christian with a post like the “PLEASE DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS” photo! The photo also makes me wonder… who measures the Department of Agriculture’s “pleasure” to do anything and what evidence do they have the DoA is “pleased”?! Jesus (the Christ part of being a Christian) taught: RepublibiblicanFEED the poor, render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s (a “comment” Christ made about taxes), do not be like the Pharisees that wear their religion as a badge of honor! Where is the Christian outrage for what Congress is trying to do to the poor?  Isn’t the food stamp program exactly the kind of “program” Jesus would support? Would Jesus also encourage people to do even MORE to HELP these people? I am not sure who to credit with saying, “get off your cross, we need the wood”, but I do hope I am able to BUILD and do more for society than just mock poor people, because I am one of them.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say, I may be poor – living only my social security disability and I do have Medicare, but I am not homeless and do not receive food stamps or welfare. That is not why I am defending the ones that need food stamps, I am defending them because it is the right thing to do! My “lifestyle” is maintained with a below US poverty level income – nothing glamorous or leisurely about my live. ALL of my worldly possessions can fit in 2 checked bags and 1 carry-on. I have been hungry, I have needed to skip meals because of a lack of food and/or money, but I have never really known HUNGER. I would rather go down fighting with people who can empathize with my situation than to help enable the ignorance so many have of what life may be REALLY like for many poor people and highlight the apathy someone must posses to ignore their NEEDS – basic needs like food, health, and shelter. And yes… my “personal” marketing campaign still includes more highlights of the “good”, simple pleasures in life than my struggles with Multiple Sclerosis and finances. No longer is my “personal” marketing campaign a denial of the pain, suffering and challenges I face in life… these challenges are more difficult to express sometimes.

When I posted on facebook my feelings about this situation, I was told,”Judge not lest you be judged.” But that is exactly why I feel I need Joel Osteen Houseto SAY something, I would be judged for my silence! I cannot escape judgement of others but thank goodness and thanks to people like this, I do not fear “judgement” from their God! And OBVIOUSLY their leaders are not worried about being judged either with MULTI-million dollar homes! As I stated earlier, I have read and studied the Bible and hope never to be called a Biblican or a Joel Osteenian! But if I were called a Christian because my life reflects Jesus’ very solid ideals and sound social teachings, I would not mind at all. Just as I would not mind being called a Gandhian, Martin Luther Kingian or any variation of the name of someone who stood up for social justice! I am simply making sure my hands are clean, Mr. Marley! Maybe after a post like this… I SHOULD consider the ministry again? Maybe you can support my “MINISTRY” by using the paypal links on my page? OH MY God… I am as bad as “THEM”!! lol

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Discarded Obama Campaign Stickers

I was visiting overseas during the U.S. Presidential election, but I tried to stay informed. This was my first time to ever contribute to a Presidential campaign. I was also the first time I was really actively involved in any campaign. The Obama campaign had sent me a few bumper stickers as a thanks for donating and I was so excited that whenever I do get home… I was going to be able to post my Obama stickers on my little OLD truck. But my conservative mother threw them away! No thought given to the idea I may WANT them. No consideration, just trash. Some I had actually purchased. 

This campaign MEANT something to me! I willingly gave up my middle class lifestyle because of my Multiple Sclerosis and I had a tough decision to make – my lifestyle or my health. My health won-out! I gave up living in a nice house with one of my most favorite people in the world as a roommate, driving a BMW convertible and living in the exciting city of Las Vegas for living at home with my parents, with no car, in a small town in Mississippi. Like I said… NOT an easy decision, but a necessary decision. I knew the sacrifices I was going to have to make and I was lucky to have a loving and supportive family to help me.  

I struggled for two years with no healthcare because my M.S. was a pre-existing condition and this was during the time Obama was trying to get what is now labeled Obamacare passed. For the first time I saw something in politics that directly affected me and it was the President leading the cause. My new standing as a poor person with no insurance helped me see a side of this issue like others could not. I was living solely on my social security disability income and living at home, I was still only barely by. Eventually I qualified for Medicare and FINALLY had health coverage.  

My conservative, Republican, Christian family that watched more Fox News than ANY other news outlet, called Obama a socialist and believed all Fox News said, even though I was one of the very people Obama was trying to help with Obamacare – they saw it as evil and bad and so was Obama. This is when a passion for what was going on in politics began to grow IN me. My frustration also grew because I could not get them to see and understand – I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE” Fox News is demeaning! My parents had Social Security & Medicare and others in my family even had Medicaid and they witnessed my struggle with health issues all-the-while I had no health insurance. I began to see “conservative” to equal – I got mine and I do not care about you.

Needless to say this created a struggle for me in relating to my family and even strains our relationship today. I felt like an outsider in my own family.  Church was so important and BEING Christian was even more important. But as the conservatives boasted of their Christianity, I witnessed a great deal of not so Christian actions. Being gay has helped me see “church”, Christians, and even God in a much different light. I saw the principles of the Democrats relate more to Christianity than the “religious right”. I wrote a blog specifically to try to engage people to explain how “conservatives” were Christian (http://wp.me/pKLa8-GU) and e-mailed a blog that asked the same but in a friendlier tone than I had be able to muster! (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2012/11/time-for-christians-to-make-a-choice/) Republicans extol their Christianity but for me it conflicts with their politics and I feel the Democrats live it by their politics.

I see Jesus as someone that would spend time with gays, having wine and talking with them, not standing in line at Chick-fil-a so the company has more money to prevent gays having equality! I see Jesus touting the GOOD of Obamacare, not worrying how it could affect his personal coverage if the uninsured get access to care! This creates for me my biggest struggle – it makes me see my dearly devoted, Christian mother and others in my family as hypocrites! They already dislike me for being so different in how I think… how could they deal with being viewed as hypocrites? Or possibly even racist because of things they say about Obama? Oh yeah, that is why it was such an internal struggle for me to live that close to them. I hate myself for seeing my family the way I do. We DO love each other… but there is no respect unless there is agreement and I just can’t agree with them. They refuse to listen to my points because I think they do not want to see the hypocrisy. But any attempts I make to talk and try to understand only ends badly! I am a critical-thinker and NEED more than rhetoric and “faith” to understand things! Now I live far away and even at a distance it still hurts me!

My father was diagnosed with Dementia and suddenly Fox News was not on the tv as much (if any actually). A few months later he had a stroke, then 9 days later died. At his funeral, all that spoke (including me) mentioned his trademark little, old, piece of crap Toyota trucks he had over the years.  I did eventually get a little money and had the opportunity to travel to see my friend I call Little Buddy (one of my FAVORITE people in the world) and when I returned from that trip – I bought a little, old, piece of crap Toyota truck like my Dad used to have. I was looking forward to putting my Obama stickers on MY little, old truck, but they were thrown away because no one considered them relevant at that house  – the same as me… discarded without consideration or concern!

P.S. I do love my family and they do love me… like my facebook relationship status says – it’s complicated! My writing is to express feelings I am unable to share otherwise and this is how I feel now.

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It Is Cold In His Shadow

Glen Thomas Johnston

September 21, 1932 – March 22, 2011

I have learned that life in the shadow of my father after his death is even more difficult than when he was living.  Most people have idealized their father to the point of being an unrealistic character.  In my case it was real!  My Dad was a character but it the best way – everyone loved him.  I have NEVER heard anyone say ANYTHING bad about my father, where as I do not have to leave the house to find people that will speak ill of me.  My father was not perfect, and even people that did not agree with him still  respected him.  The year since his death, I have learned it will be impossible for me to have a fraction of the respect from family, friends, and community that he had – this frustrates me.

Next week I will begin therapy (AGAIN)!  Even before his death I had issues.  The more I am living at home and in this community, the more I see things I had felt were big accomplishments in my life have been undermined by some.  I miss Dad because he was proud of me and he let me know it.  Our family did not make a big deal about birthdays, they were usually a simple family meal but never a real party.  Now when I graduated from Ole Miss (University of Mississippi), he and Mom threw me a party!  I was the youngest child, but the first to graduate from college.  When I bought my Toyota 4-Runner, he would not have been happier for me if it were a Land Rover.  When I went to work for Sony, most people would, by his account, think I was hired as the President/CEO instead of lowly marketing guy.  When I bought my BMW convertible while living in Las Vegas, I hoped he would be impressed.  Even though he liked the car, what impressed him was the deal I got on it.  His disappointment was that I had bought a BMW that was 2 years old instead of the brand new Toyota Tacoma I had originally planned to buy.  When I moved to Colombia, an Ambassador’s welcome would have been too little in his eyes.  I was the first in the family to have a Passport and to get a stamp in it.  Now all of my family has Passports and stamps – other than Mom and I hope to change that soon.

The last few years have been very tough for me.  I finally had to surrender to my Multiple Sclerosis by taking disability.  This meant I had to say goodbye to Sony, goodbye to my BMW convertible, goodbye to my Las Vegas life and even pretty much all of my independence.  He had been diagnosed with Dementia. I had just moved from Bogota to Medellin, Colombia, when I got a phone call,

“If you want to see your Dad alive again you better get home as fast as you can.” my Mom said.  My sister’s were in Brazil.  We all rushed home as soon as we could.  

I walk in the hospital room where he was setting up, smiling as if nothing had happened and he said, “What are you doing here?  I thought you were in another country.”  

I replied jokingly, “I came home because I thought you were dying!”  

He said with a smile, “Not today!”

What I learned later was that the night I was flying home, he walked out of the hospital and security found him in his pajamas trying to get into his car.  Mom asked him where  was he trying to go.  He said, “To get Tommy.” (Tommy was my childhood nickname).  Even supposedly dying, he was thinking he needed to come get me.

My Dad not only loved me, he respected me.  He knew how much I struggled to get through college.  He occasionally would help me out with some money, but he knew how I worked to support myself and pay for my education.  I told him years later that I did not want him to leave me anything in his will because of all the help he gave me in college.  But even what I consider to be a grand gesture has been reduced to, “Thomas don’t want anything because his Dad paid for him to party at Ole Miss all those years.”  He is not here to set the record straight and stand up for me and say Thomas deserves respect because his finishing college was quite an accomplishment.  Even though he would have loved for me to have lived closer, he encouraged my dreams that required I live away.

I have given up any hope that people will have the same respect for me that my father had.  My own family can’t even muster simple respect for me and it hurts me, makes me angry, and helps fuel my desire to live away from here.  It is easier to leave and just start somewhere fresh.  People I worked with and customers at Sony had a great deal of respect for me (other that a bitch – I’ll just use her first name – Renee).  Friends that are from all over the world encourage me with my writing – even though it makes me no money, it makes me happy – and my family knows little or nothing of my writing.  My life of wanting and trying to have my family respect me fatigues me more than my MS.  I have severed my relationship with one of my nieces because of her blatant  DISrespect.

A year ago I had to say good bye to my father – and the to the respect he so easily gave me.  I miss my father!  He was ALWAYS in my corner.  Now I just find I am fighting with myself – and I am losing!  He and I did not agree on politics or religion, but he still respect me even though I aggravated him with discussion of these topics.   Maybe the therapist will help me get on a more positive path even with myself.  As RuPaul says, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”  Maybe I have to learn to love myself in spite of how family and friend view me.  I will always be in his shadow and it disappoints me that I will never be half the man he was – even through my own eyes.

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