It’s All in the Name

I am excited to announce that my blog, which I’ve been rambling in since 2005, has a new URL!  I feel like this little blog has finally grown up!  JustRambling.blog is the official link and that got me to thinking…….how important is a URL or even a name?

I go by many names, actually.  Gina is one of them, of course.  G, Sis, Mom, Maddy, Babe…..Spouse, Wife, Daughter, American, and a few more.  My mom used to call me Sam when I was little.  All of these evoke positive feelings and memories for me, and reinforce my position on this earth and my right to fill this space.  They affirm my existence and make me want to walk in the strength of who I am and to encourage those around me as I do so.

I’ve been called a few colorful names in my lifetime as well.  Jerk, Homo, Libtard, Abomination, Satan, Idiot, and others I won’t post here as I am trying to keep it PG-13 rated.  These names are not as fun, and usually don’t give me warm and fuzzy feelings as I recall the people or circumstances that voiced them.  These names make me sad, or mad, or ashamed.  I wonder sometimes if I focus on these names more deeply and more often than the positive ones, which makes me feel pretty gross.

Then, I think about the “Gina” I presented for so many years, the woman I thought my family, my church, and society wanted me to be.  That was a hard gig and, while I suppose many people were “happy”, I was lying to everyone including myself and carrying the burden of my lie and my very life like an anvil around my neck.

I am writing on the fly and just asked myself – so where are you going with this Gina?  This is getting pretty depressing.  Then I replied to myself, “this blog is called Just Rambling – go with it!”.  Which really is a strong indication that the 18 hours of PMP studying I’ve done today has taken its toll on my brain…….but I digress.

My point is this – we name ourselves or others name us things that can be positive or negative, but it doesn’t necessarily define us.  For example, my acknowledgement to myself and my family that I am a homosexual was a hugely honest and freeing moment for me (aka a positive), while someone screaming it at me as a slur is definitely a negative.  But the negative SITUATION doesn’t define me or turn the freeing truth into something bad.  And further, PERCEPTION of something doesn’t define our worth or call to fulfilling something bigger than ourselves.  We, as humans, seem to put a lot of stock in our names; we look for Job Titles and often think that gives us power, or add letters after our names to indicate our worth (like I will hopefully be adding “PMP” to my email signature soon!), or we lash out at our perceived enemies by calling them names to bring them down a notch or two.  And that’s just silly.

I believe God, for those who put faith in Him, knows our fixation on names and directs us differently.  While the names He is called in itself is lengthy and still does not quite capture His omnipotence and power, today I want to direct it to others in the Bible.

Abram, who was old and childless (a huge issue in his society), was renamed Abraham – “father of multitudes” – and the Bible says his line are as vast as the sand on the beach.  Sarai was also renamed Sarah – “mother of many nations”.  God saw and knew this even as Abram and Sarai decried their lack of children.

Jacob was renamed Israel – you know, the name that is now a country and home physically and spiritually for the Chosen People – and God proclaimed that he wrestled with God and men and prevailed.  How can you be overwhelmed with shame and lack of worth when you think about that?

No matter what anyone calls me, the truth is I am the King’s Kid.  Nothing can separate me from His love.  And that, my friends, is really all that matters.

 

It Takes A Word

Deana works for a large insurance company that makes billions each year.  They are “huge” and all that.  I have worked for a huge company before, and when I was employed there, we referred to customers as numbers and even referred to our coworkers as “FTEs”.  Day after day, financial report after report, I looked at these numbers and FTE references and lost a sense that they were PEOPLE.  I would expect Deana’s firm to act the same way, as they are even larger than the firm I worked for.  However, when they refer to the customers they serve, they say something like this (I totally made up the number for reference only):

“This month we added 12,254 souls to the account.”

SOULS.

“Soul” is defined as “the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.”  In religion, the soul is often the immaterial piece that we consider to live beyond our physical death.  This idea varies widely and has a vast history as described here, but for the purposes of this blog I will stick to the soul being the essence within us that exists after our physical body dies.  It is the piece of us that defines who we are, it fellowships with others on this earth as well as our Creator.  It is deep within us.

I have always been touched by Deana and her firm for referring to people such as myself as a “soul”.  To them, we are not just a number.  Not just a paycheck.  And that got me thinking – how different would MY day be if I decided to think about every person I interacted with as a soul?  What if I forced myself to say “hello Soul Bob” in my head before anything else?  What if I forced myself to acknowledge, yep……that dude that just flipped me off as he cut me off has a soul and, as such, should not be chased down for his egregious behavior.

It was a simple question that changed over two dozen interactions this week that would have otherwise not have ended as well.  And, perhaps that is sort of what Jesus meant when He told us to love our neighbors (and enemies) as ourselves.  Just as Jesus didn’t clarify this command by including “Christians only” or “those who are in our denomination”, or “those who live in our country”, perhaps we need to expand our nets beyond our own little spheres.  Then, maybe we will allow room for our souls to interact in purity with other souls we normally would not want to interact with……

That’s NOT to say that I don’t think consequences should occur or that we should be friends with everyone, but those are different topics for different days.

So, here are some outputs of this walk of mine with the concept of “soul”…..

Trump, no matter if anyone feels you make bad decisions, you purposely refuse to pay small businesses under the guise of non-conformity to contracts, you do not respect women, or do not deserve to be president, your soul is worthy of kindness and respect

Hillary, no matter if you are a liar, deserve to be convicted in numerous ways, actually caused the murder of 4 in Benghazi, or just want to kill babies, your soul is worthy of kindness and respect

Evangelical Christians, no matter that some feel you have directly or indirectly caused LGBT to kill themselves, that you have allowed your religion to turn your backs on your own children in “righteous love”, that you insist that Jesus is political, use the Bible as a sword of condemnation and exclusion, or rejoice that your opponents will “burn in hell”, you all have souls worthy of kindness and respect

Muslims, no matter that some believe your religion’s only focus is to terrorize and kill Americans, that you hate the One True God, your rape children, and you want to subjugate every woman in the world, you all have souls worthy of kindness and respect

Atheists, no matter that many believe you have an agenda to turn our children against us, that you are getting your slimy hands on every educational platform in this country, and you want to throw Christians in jail, you all have souls worthy of kindness and respect

LGBT people, no matter that most would say your propaganda is focused on stealing traditional marriage from us, that you’re promiscuous and abominations,  that you are steep in the filth of HIV and AIDS, seek out our children in bathrooms, try to convert our children in schools, and insist on buying wedding cakes, you all have souls worthy of kindness and respect

Black Lives, no matter that America says you need to calm down and show respect for authority, need to stop being in gangs in the inner cities, need to stop destroying your own cities in riots, probably should take less drugs, and probably should stop insisting that your lives are more important than ours, you all have souls worthy of kindness and respect

Blue Lives, no matter that many say many of you use your authority in ways that would be called a crime otherwise, that corruption is the norm in your agencies, and racism is a core value, you all have souls worthy of kindness and respect

Women, no matter that EVERYONE says you keep insisting that you need to be able to murder babies, that you are promiscuous and sluts and that’s the only reason why you insist on having access to birth control, and you expect to be treated like a man in pay and authority, you all have souls worthy of kindness and respect

Trump Supporters, no matter that you’re racists, ignorant, hateful, misinformed, rich worshipers and poor neglecters, you all have souls worthy of kindness and respect

Hillary Supporters, no matter that you all want to kill babies, you’re all satanists, you want to make Christianity illegal, you just want something for nothing, and you want to take away everyone’s guns, you all have souls worthy of kindness and respect

Gina, no matter that you used every negative stereotype you could think of to expose our own personal justifications for treating other people poorly, you have a soul worthy of kindness and respect

 

Perception

One of the definitions of “perception”, at least as noted in the Google dictionary, is “a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.”

Perception can vary widely from person to person.  For example, one person might feel that waiting 1 minute and 39 seconds for popcorn to pop in the microwave is a miracle of technology, while another might feel as though the time spent waiting was nothing but a waste and that popcorn should not take that long to pop.  It’s all about perception.

If the Chicago Cubs swept the 2016 World Series in 4 games, Cub fans would say it might be the best World Series EVER!  But Indians fans would think it probably sucked big time.  It’s all about perception.

Over the years playing on youth sports teams, we often prayed before games and asked God to help us succeed in being victorious over our opponent.  We intuitively felt God was on our side and on our team.  Unbeknownst to us, the other team was doing the same thing and felt the same way.  It’s all about perception.  (And no, I don’t believe God was really going to help us…..at least right now that is my perception ha.)

I think you get what I am trying to say about perception.  We PERCEIVE things through our view; based on our upbringing, our locale, or religious beliefs, our emotions, our influences……so many things.  And those items often make us perceive things differently.  We hold our truths to be 100% accurate, though your neighbor’s truths may have a very different view.  Which one is right?

Do we base that on who wins the game, like I perceived during my youth sports matches?  Or as Cubs or Indians fans would?  What is the “real best time” to pop popcorn in the microwave?  How do we measure that?  Should we insist OUR perception is the measuring stick to defining things, or someone else’s?  Do we HAVE to assign “the best” perception, or do we acknowledge they vary and leave it at that?  Do we ignore all these questions and just say “let’s agree to disagree”?

I am not sure how to answer those questions.  I tend to feel that if we each acknowledge that our PERCEPTIONS impact how we see things and accept things, and acknowledge that other’s perceptions may vary (potentially by a BUNCH), we might all get along better.  But instead, many of us take our perceptions and try to dictate them as “the truth” and force our perceptions on others.  When others reject them, we treat them as outsiders/enemies/put negative adjective here.  When others agree with them, we group together and reinforce the idea that “our perception is truth”…..or really “we have the truth”.

Before you get all crazy, I am NOT talking about religious beliefs here, so RELAX.

How about I share a real life scenario about perception.  Many of my friends and neighbors believe in and recite the phase, “Make America Great Again!”  That goes in hand with supporting Donald Trump as President, but this blog post in not about Trump nor his campaign nor anything related to him EXCEPT this catch phrase.  I wanted to give Trump a fair shake and let his own words define his perception of “Make America Great Again!”, so I went to his campaign site (https://www.donaldjtrump.com)  to glean what that entails.  There are many things noted on the site that made total sense, including his plan on child care, education, and veteran affairs reform.  But see, already my perception is involved as there are many more listed that I excluded.  I will let you go to the site and check out how he intends to “make America Great Again!”.

One point taken from his “Immigration” Positions page, is the following:

Since 2013 alone, the Obama Administration has allowed 300,000 criminal aliens to return back into U.S. communities.

In essence, he will remove them from our communities and America will be great again!  I can’t say I dispute that, but I do have a different perception of that.

Earlier this year, I was attacked by a white male who happens to be in his 50’s.  He is a Trump supporter.  He does not like blacks nor homosexuals.  He thinks America is NOT great, because of blacks and homosexuals.  He believed me to be homosexual due to my Human Rights Campaign sticker on my car (they are an LGBT organization and in this case, his perception was 100% accurate ).  When I walked out of a public building, having used their restroom, he began to scream slurs at me related to my homosexuality, grabbed my neck, and threw me to the ground.  I sustained injuries to my face (lip, philtrum, and nose) and my knee due to the impact on the ground.  My iPhone was shattered, my sunglasses flew off of my face, and my keys flew out of my hand.  He continued his hate-filled screaming as I picked my face off the ground and remained on all fours, my mind going through a super slow but probably extremely fast panic as I wondered what I should do (should I ball up to avoid his kicks?  Should I run?  Do I flail my arms and legs?  Do I just try to punch and kick at whatever and hope it makes contact?  What if he has a weapon?  What if I die?).

My attacker is American.  He is also a convicted criminal, having been on parole for sexual assault.  Based on statements made to the police after his arrest, he truly felt I deserved the attack, and if they loved me at all they deserved to have their gay asses kicked, too.  He shared that the reason America was so screwed up was because of me (a damn homo) and blacks.  And that is why America needed to be great again.  It is not unreasonable to perceive, based on these comments, that he envisions an America with both groups removed.

Break – I UNDERSTAND that he does not represent all White Americans, Trump supporters, etc.  But he DOES represent a piece of society that so many of my friends are too scared to acknowledge.

You may expect me to share now that I think America needs to be made great because this man did such horrible things to me.  Or that I don’t think Trump should be focused on the MEXICAN or IMMIGRANT criminals in society, but rather the AMERICAN ones.  Maybe there is a hint of truth to that last sentence, but realistically and honestly I don’t want that.  No, more realistically I can and do accept that there are bad in EVERY country and EVERY race and EVERY community – that’s why those who break the law go to jail.  I don’t think we ever need to focus on one group but focus on the crime.  But I digress.

The truth is, MY perception is that America IS Great.  Despite this man who did horrible things to me FOR NO GOOD REASON other than his PERCEPTION, this world is filled with more that do NOT attack those who they do not like.  Most, no matter their social level, their bank account levels, even their citizenship…….would come to the aid of someone who is being attacked in broad daylight in front of a public facility.  Because, the day I was attacked, customers and employees of the public facility came to my rescue and grabbed my attacker.  They called the police.  They helped me wash the blood off my face and gave me ice.  They were witnesses and gave VERY detailed information that has helped tremendously.  Several appeared to be Latinos, maybe even illegals I really don’t know, but that didn’t matter to them and it certainly didn’t matter to me.  They put themselves in possible danger; they didn’t know if this man had weapons either, or if he was super strong and could throw them to the ground as he did me.  They could have decided to just record my attack on their cell phones and feel justified in supplying the footage to the police.  Or they could have participated in my attack, had they held the same perception as the man who threw me to the ground.  But instead, they saved me – a complete stranger, and a gay one at that.

America is great because one of my friends, who happens to be Hindu and Indian, bought me pepper spray and found out where I was eating dinner to deliver it so that I could protect myself from another attack (as she also was angry/crying/emotionally distraught that my attack even happened).  America IS great because a Christian friend of mine who holds a more conservative view of homosexuality but who has never broached the subject……despite this view of my sexuality reached out when they heard and shared their horror and sadness…..because that is Christian.  America IS great because of friends who offered to let me stay at their house instead of my planned hotel so I wouldn’t have to face the night after my attack alone.  America IS great because my friends and coworkers who support Trump have shared that what happened to me is wrong, and support my rights as an American to believe attacking someone in the candidate’s name is not right.  America IS great, because someone like me can be attacked in a very public way, with very public rhetoric and a super public slogan being thrown in my face, can still emerge with love and hope for their country no matter who leads it.  (Never mind, I DO believe God is in control and don’t quite understand fear otherwise.)

THAT is why I believe America IS great and we don’t need to make it so…….

But I would be non transparent if I left it there.  It is absolutely a trigger for me when I see signs or bumper stickers that say “Make America Great Again!”, because all I perceive is the shaded out face of my attacker and the ground against my face…..blood everywhere and the physical and emotional pain and scars that are now my reality.  I relate my very graphic situation with that slogan.  It is hard for me to separate these words from those actions.  I fully understand that you may absolutely get a sense of hope that things may get better if things pan out as you hope.  I get that hearing “Make America Great Again!” brings up positive perceptions and reactions.

But which perception is right?

I don’t know.  But maybe we need to stop asking that question and begin to realize – we are people, not slogans.  We are flesh and bones and souls, not statistics.  We are more than this, and we are great.

 

 

 

 

 

Humanness…..and Judgment

Life is……complicated.  Too often I (and perhaps we) are very quick to decide how things are based on limited knowledge or even limited scenarios.  Sometimes scenarios help us to avoid things in the future, but sometimes they could create prejudices or even judgments in our hearts.

Let me give you some examples of what I am talking about.

I was raised to trust authority, to believe they may not always be right, but more often than not, those in authority knew the best and wanted to do the best for me.  About 15 years ago, I was driving in my super sexy Dodge Grand Caravan with my then husband and Kenny, who was about 6 years old.  We were driving through an intersection, had the green light, when suddenly a truck that had a red light to our right entered the intersection to turn right and ultimately t-boned us.  Thankfully, no one was injured by the damage to my sexy mini-van was bad.  We pulled over, I called the police, while the older couple in the truck remained in their vehicles.  They did not ask if we were alright, the woman/passenger in fact continued to read her newspaper as if nothing had happened.  As our son was on the side that was hit, his father became very upset at the lack of concern on their part, though I encouraged him to wait for the police and see what happens.

The police came, took our story, and then spoke to the male driver of the truck.  We still had not interacted with the other driver.  The policeman came back to me (I was the driver) and told me the other driver was a retired police officer, his account matched mine, and therefore recommended no police report be filed as “then the other driver would not have to be fined”.  I trusted the police officer, and despite the lack of concern shown by the other driver, trusted his account and word due to the fact he was also a police officer albeit retired.

Big mistake.  When all was said and done, the other drive told his insurance I ran the red light and it was 100% my fault.  I, of course, told my insurance what really happened.  Since we had no witnesses and no police report, we were each charged as 50% responsible.  The truth, however, was that he was 100% responsible.  He lied to his insurance, he lied to the police officer implying he would not dispute what happened (though he DID tell the truth to him about the events), and he changed my view of SOME police officers – more on that later.

Flash forward to last year; Deana was driving to work in downtown Atlanta and an off duty police officer driving to work decided, in his personal car, that he needed two lanes to turn into his work’s parking lot.  From the left lane, with no signal, he turned right and didn’t bother to look to see if he was clear to do so.  He wasn’t – Deana was driving to the right and just behind him and he ended up turning into her left door just inches from where she sat.  This happened right in front of the police station, so when she called someone walked out almost immediately.  Very quickly in, both the off duty officer and the officer taking the report tried to convince Deana that no police report was necessary – “I agree with what happened, it was totally my fault.” Off Duty told Deana.  “I have already called my insurance company and they will take care of this.”  His co-worker backed him up, stating he would get a ticket or points on his record if a report was filed and that there really was no need for a report.  Knowing my history, Deana called me to get my opinion, and I told her to absolutely get a report because “you never know who you’re dealing with.  Just because the guy is a police officer doesn’t mean he’s trustworthy.  Humans are humans and some humans are not honest.”  So, she insisted on a report and one was filed.

It was GOOD that the report was filed, because Off Duty never called his insurance.  Our insurance, since it was not Deana’s fault, didn’t really get involved and just said “contact the driver’s insurance.”  That insurance company didn’t dispute Deana’s claims per se, but they refused to proceed without speaking to their client.  They left him over 10 messages, but he never returned their calls.  Finally, after about a month of this, we tried to call the department he said he worked for in the police unit.  That too was a lie.  I finally got hold of someone who was kind enough in the police department who looked up where Off Duty worked and sent me to his supervisor; I left a message there and explained how this employee of the City of Atlanta was not being honorable.  In the mean time, Deana had to pay for a copy of the police report, send it to his insurance, and pretty much brow beat them to fix our car.  I am not sure which path was the fix – his boss or Deana’s Latina attitude – but we finally got the car fixed and they accepted it was 100% his fault.  But bottom line, if we had “just trusted his word” we probably would have been screwed.

So, first of all, some police officers are dishonest.  They are human and bring forward weakness and selfishness and bad decisions and perhaps even lack honor. We ALL have those attributes at times, so I have realized just because they have a badge and gun does not mean they’re above board across the board.  Fortunately for me, these two situations did not involve guns or violence.

But……..

Just like with everything else in life, these two police officers do not represent all officers.  And even though many of us SAY things like that, there is this reality that we are impacted by negative experiences more so than positive ones.  At least, that’s what I seem to see in our society.  So, when so many police shootings against blacks or aggressiveness or whatever else, my first reaction in my heart was “there is another bad cop…..so many lack honor”.  And when I put that through MY experience filter, it makes sense.  I mean, TWO TIMES I dealt with dishonorable men and that made me feel that there might be more in the force than I realized.  Pretty soon, without me realizing it, my heart was really processing it like this:  “All cops are dishonorable, and only a few truly can be trusted.”……even though I said and I thought I believed “most police are honorable”.

The increase of fear and division and violence and rhetoric in our daily lives the past year has made me so………I lack the word.  It is like I wanted to sit in a small room like a bunker and wait it out with no windows for a decade and see what might be left.  Then the shootings on police started and I was sickened.  I was in shock and cried out to God, asking why violence was so prevalent in this world – why we thought murder would make things better.  I considered some comments a friend of mine made – an officer and an honorable one – and I had no place to go but prayer.  I wanted to run, but instead the very filter I didn’t know existed was exposed.  I was ALSO a human, and I was judging.

All to say, there’s nothing wrong for “being smart”.  If you are in an accident, get a police report.  Always.  People are people.  If you have been abused, avoid the situation in the future if possible.  If you are a majority, be a force for the minority.  If you’re white in a community that has institutional racism – by citizens or officers, be vocal.  If you are straight and you witness someone in the LGBTQ community being harassed, be vocal.  If individual officers violate the law, hold them accountable.  If citizens in the community violate the law, hold them accountable.  If you are oppressed and treated differently, don’t give up, stay vocal, but avoid allowing your anger to become violent (and hear me, the shooters of police are NOT associated with Black Lives Matter just as the bad cops don’t represent the rest).  But let’s ALL take stock of our filters – let’s admit we probably all have them and possibly don’t even realize they exist, and determine to try not to apply them broadly.  Let each individual be measured on their own actions and not the actions of a few (or their skin color…..or their religion…….).  Let’s not lump all – black, white, or purple – into behaviors that are not fair.  And, if someone does that to you or you realize you have a filter that has been doing that……don’t become violent.  Don’t let hatred dwell in your heart.  Acknowledge it, change it, and move on.

Peace and thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Mom

June 17, 2016  would have been my mom’s 81st birthday – 1 month and 1 day after she flew to heaven.  I miss her, but I am so glad my memories are with me and I carry her in my heart. I DO hear her voice sometimes say to me “I still think you’re the best” when I mess up or whatever. I also know she definitely loved me even when I hid the “true Gina” so many years ago, and continued to love me when I began my journey of authenticity.  I love you Mom, and I know someday I will see you again! Thanks for loving ME, all of me. Enjoy your day celebrating in Paradise.

Silence Hurts

This is a post I made on Facebook today, and I am sharing here as well.

Warning: This is a hurtful video that I do not support, but link to substantiates my statements here, and this is a somewhat politicized post. I apologize for both, but silence does not stop the hate that is put out there. I will not be silent.

Note:  The link to Pastor Steve L. Anderson’s comments has been deleted from YouTube for violating their policy on hate speech.  I am very glad for that, because it was definitely filled with hate.

Yesterday, a few comments I read and interacted with said that Christians cannot or do not hate. That there is not an agenda against homosexuals and that this was not a hate crime, but a Muslim Terrorist Attack. I personally have not heard the investigators on the Orlando mass murder state they have determined if this was a terrorist attack or a hate crime, so I cannot argue one way or another. But, this Pastor is sure it was not a hate crime against gays. He is sure the murderer was Muslim and a terrorist. But beyond that, this man who has taken the sacred place of preaching the Word of God said the murders in Orlando brought some good news – “50 sodomite pedophiles are now dead”. This man says this in the name of MY GOD. I stopped watching the video at that point, because finding good in what happened alone is egregious, hateful, and shameful.

Friends who are Christians, if you truly believe murder is something that brings “good news”, you grieve me.

Friends who are Christians, if you truly believe there is not at least a minority of Christians who hate me for no other reason but the fact I am a lesbian, and use the Word of God to justify that hate, you grieve me. This man hates me and wants me dead, or at least would be happy if I were killed, only because I am gay.

Friends who are Christians, if you can on one hand admit that you have sin in your life or at times make or have made immoral decisions, but have been saved by the Grace of Jesus Christ, and on the other hand can ALSO believe that someone else’s “moral failings” such as being homosexual opens up risk or created a situation where it makes sense that innocent people were murdered (aka, well they were at a gay bar, so if they were not gay/not in that place, they would not have been killed), you grieve me. ALL have sin and fall short of the glory of God, but any boasting I can make is because of my Lord, Jesus Christ. He does not want me murdered for any failings in my life, because He already died for them.

Friends who are Christians, if you are not upset that a man, for WHATEVER REASON, walked into a public place and murdered 50 people and injured over 50 more…….if you don’t even have a brief moment of sadness for the lives lost and all the families that lost a son, a daughter, a brother, a whatever…….you grieve me.

Friends who are Christians, if your argument is “well, MOST Christians don’t feel the same as this Pastor” and stop there, you grieve me. If you don’t stand up against this hate, you allow it to continue.

Friends who are Christians, if your FIRST thought was to worry about gun control, blame all Muslims, point to Obama as if this was his fault, you grieve me.

Friends who are Americans of any faith, our fellow Americans were murdered today. Lives were stolen and those who were killed, to my knowledge, did not break any laws to justify their death. They were not given the opportunity to be convicted of any crimes, they were deemed guilty without any review, and were sentenced to death. That is not the Aemrican way where we are innocent until proven guilty without a reasonable doubt. Those lives that were ended tragically deserve more than a quick sweep away due to the fact that they were homosexuals.

Finally, I try not to live as a victim, but the fact remains that I am condemned, ridiculed, tormented, and judged more often than you know. Sometimes it is in my FB feed through posts made by YOU. Sometimes, it is in internet posts that I come across. Sometimes it is from friends in PM. Sometimes it is from strangers in person in public places. I try to take the high road often and give others room for their own beliefs and their rights as Americans to free speech. But I will NOT, ever, accept that hate doesn’t exist. I will not sit back and say overt and articulated hate in the name of Jesus Christ is right. We are better than that. I am better than that. This hate is real, and it does nothing for us as a faith community nor as a nation.

I will be praying for Pastor Steven. And I will be praying for those who have been killed. And I will be praying for my family.