Posts Tagged With: lifestyle

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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Finding THAT Connection

Sometimes most all of us would benefit from a good whack in the head to be reminded that we need more perspective in our lives! Lazaro 8The whack that just caught me upside my head was Lazaro Arbos and his American Idol audition. Lazaro, a 21 year-old ice cream scooper from Florida, has had a stutter since age 6 that has deeply impacted his life. I cannot imagine the courage it took for this brave young man, with a pretty severe stutter, to sit in front of television cameras and share his story. By the end of the audition he had tears of joy dripping from his chin – and so did I.

What an indomitable spirit he must have! His family immigrated to Florida from Cuba when he was 10 years-old Lazaro 16and his parents still speak Spanish. This would make me guess that he learned English well after the stuttering began and is now bilingual. Reared all of my live in the United States, at 40 I immigrated to Colombia, South America, and have had GREAT difficulty learning the local language of Spanish and I do not have a stutter to overcome. This young man has whacked me in the head reminding me I have to stop making excuses and learn Spanish or this inspirational moment will have been wasted.

At one point he says – things that “normal” people would think are so easy becomes so hard for him. I do not doubt that a lot of things are more Lazaro 7difficult for him, but I hope he misspoke using the term “normal” people in a way that could exclude him from being “normal”. My brief moment of sympathy was quickly followed by shock. This guy that just inspired not only me but thousands, does he feel he is not “normal”? Watching it the first time, I just wanted to give him a big hug. Watching it again, I wanted to shake him and say, “NEVER feel you are not ‘normal’!” But the confidence, courage, strength and intelligence he must posses to be bilingual while having a stutter and giving such a heartfelt performance convinces me, and I hope, he just misspoke.

I am such an easy target for a story like his because I have a real empathy for his situation. I had hearing difficulties as a lazaro 14child and out of a necessity created my own language. It was actually the official language of the little world I lived in – within my own little head. Lazaro’s mother Gisela says she often had to speak for him. My little world also had a translator, my older sister Darlene. People would listen to me jabber on and on (one thing that has not changed about me), not understanding a word, then ask Darlene, “What did he say?” Then she would relay my message perfectly in English. She was really the only one that truly understood me, having to also translate for Mom and Dad at times! At age five, I began to learn to speak English, the language of the people in my new world. I no longer had to live in my isolated world and began to FEEL more and more connected to this much bigger world outside my little head.

My translator Darlene & Me

My translator Darlene & Me

Acting as my translator, Darlene and I built a unique bond. Now we are adults, we often argue and fight. In thinking about this I have come to a realization why – I struggle wanting her to understand me to help translate who I am to a part of the world that does not understand me – my family! Our rifts are about religion, politics, as well as lifestyle. While she and my family remain very religious, conservative, and content; I, on the other hand lost my religion, tend to be liberal (I really think I am what they now call a Progressive), I am openly gay and live what I have convinced myself is an adventurous life given the constraints of a life dealing with limitations because of Multiple Sclerosis. So I try and hope for her to understand me so that she can translate so I can feel a connection with my family again. We do make real effort, but for now… I am still jabbering on and on in my own language and feel I NEED that ONE person that understands me to help the world (outside of my little head) understand me!

Seeing this video surprised me because I felt I was witnessing Lazaro’s moment, the moment he found “MUSIC” was his translator and people beyond his Lazarofamily could understand and connect with the world he has been isolated in for so long.  He found his Darlene!  I think he FEELS he has connected; others see, feel, and understand his world a little more. Not only is music his translator – he sees that it is an APPRECIATED talent. He has found some of the respect he has craved and deserves.  Feeling this connection has to be incredible! He has been actualized as a member of the bigger world. The talent that until now has been comfort in his isolated world can now be shared – WORLD, MEET LAZARO!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/18/american-idol-lazaro-arbo-stutter-video_n_2501225.html?ncid=webmail19

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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