Friday, June 21, 2013

My Thoughts on Our America with Lisa Ling: God & Gays

As shocking as it is to know that an organization that Exodus International existed…for me…it’s not that shocking. I went to a nondenominational, charismatic church for around seven years. I got invited after confiding in a college classmate that I struggled with anxiety and possible Post-Traumatic Stress. What, at first, was a haven, eventually, became a place where I felt judged, hurt and, in all ways, insufficient.
My needing crutches or a wheelchair was a distraction - one certain people in the church and its community sought to fix. For someone who was also dealing with far more pressing issues, it was hurtful that the only time anyone approached to offer prayers it was “for my legs.” What about my heart? What about my soul? What about my spirit? What about the fact that I felt like I was drowning?

[Image is: a child beside a pair of Canadian crutches]

Still, I kept coming back, craving community. Craving acceptance. Not caring that ultimately, going there made me feel unworthy every single day of my life. Not caring that prayer for my physical healing failed at a conference in front of an auditorium full of people…and I was blamed. In 2007 (six years after the botched healing prayer) I finally stopped going, feeling that I had been sought out BECAUSE I was vulnerable…feeling kind of…preyed upon. Almost all of my friendships from the church were disintegrating.
On June 2, 2008, I wrote:
So much time has passed but not much has changed. Whatever happened to my faith? To my desire to pray and praise and be with God? It’s like I’m so wounded now that there’s nothing left but defensiveness. It feels like the whole faith is contrived and underhanded…It just seems like everyone around me has given up on me regarding God…It’s so easy to throw in the towel when everything is contingent - dependent on how good I’m doing or what I’m doing instead of who I am. I’m sick of using Christianity as a mask. I’m proud of who I am and my faith should be a part of me - not something I use to hide the truth in me. I am who I am. And that HAS to be enough for God. No one should live a new life just to please others or because they came to believe that who they were before wasn’t enough. They should live a new life because they know they’re worth it just as they are. Well, I’m not hiding anymore…
In short, I guess, Lisa Ling’s report didn’t surprise me. Hearing about people being blamed for their personal losses because they were honest about who they were… People being pushed to receive prayer… It all felt twisted, and familiar. Because I’ve been there…I’ve felt that. For me, it wasn’t about being gay, it was about being different. I was born with a disability, and that's not something I can fix.  I can fix.  It isn’t right to bully or abuse people under the guise of faith.
I related so much to the side of the discussion filled with people who tried to change themselves…who felt isolated…and I guess I’m just trying to say that this kind of Christianity is not so uncommon. It’s not just Exodus International. It’s smaller churches, who in big and small ways pressure parishioners into fixing the unfixable about them. When youth pastors are completely out of their depth and simply do not know how to cope with a gay child in their midst…
It’s a start…Exodus International closing down…but days like today…I just feel like there is so much farther to go.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Normalization is where it’s at. Please stop making these things so novel…

I’m sure I won’t do an adequate job explaining why things like this and this:
“And it’s a good thing Shay did all of that P90X, since she lives in a sixth-floor walk-up apartment in Brooklyn. When Ali comes to visit, Shay first carries Ali up. Then she goes back for her wheelchair. Then it’s down and up one more time with Ali’s luggage.” (aka, the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.) - Dani Shay article in May’s CURVE magazine.
get to me so much. But they do.

[Image is orange shoes climbing up metal steps]

Regarding the link, I just can’t stand the notion that because someone has a disability, they somehow deserve love and happiness more than other people. Everyone deserves those things. I’d be fine if the piece was intended to normalize or educate people but I can’t get past the feeling that it’s put across in a way that increases the belief that people with disabilities are somehow less, and should just be looked upon for inspirational value. To me, the day when a guy or girl with a disability gets married and a big deal is NOT made about it, that will be the sign of true progress. And yes, as the significant other to someone with a disability, certain tasks might fall on your shoulders. But the interviewer making a joke out of “What happens when you have a fight and she has to take care of you later?” And then LAUGHS? And then pretends to take the guy’s plate away, saying, “You can eat later.” Are you kidding me?
And regarding the quote? I just can’t. Honestly, if you are dating someone who uses a chair and your apartment residence doesn’t have an elevator, it’s just going to be a thing that happens. The bit about “And it’s a good thing Shay did all of that P90X” is so demeaning. It’s normal to them, why can’t it just be normal to the world? And PS Why is it “the sweetest thing someone has ever heard” for someone’s significant other to help out in ways their loved one needs? Again, why is it comment-worthy at all?

Monday, June 3, 2013

The continued casual use of the C-word just baffles me…

General Vocabulary Lesson:
POSITIVE:
"So-and-so’s brother."
(We are people, first and foremost. Treat us as such. Extra attention paid to what we use to get around is unnecessary.)

[Image is: a blackboard with WORDS HAVE POWER written in chalk]

ACCEPTABLE:
"So-and-so’s brother, who uses a wheelchair, crutches, etc."
(If you feel you MUST draw attention to it, always put the person first. We use a wheelchair. We are not “wheelchair-bound.” The same goes if you are speaking of a person with Down Syndrome, or autism, or anything else.)

NEGATIVE/UNACCEPTABLE:
"So-and-so’s crippled brother."
(Defining people with disabilities by offensive and outdated language is just plain rude. Why? Because of the undue emphasis put on what we cannot do. Cripple, for example, is synonymous with “impaired”, “flawed” and also refers to “a wounded animal shot by a hunter.” Imagine if someone introduced you this way to strangers, and before they got the chance to know you, they already made a snap judgment about you based on that one word. You are broken, less than, wounded, better off out of sight. That is what I hear, as a person with a disability when I see an offhand reference to “so-and-so’s crippled brother.”)
OTHER WORDS THAT FALL INTO THIS CATEGORY:
handicapped (synonymous with crippled, limited, restricted and restrained.) Any and all variations of this word including, but not limited to: handicapable, handi-centric, etc.