Sunday, September 23, 2012

I'm Ready to Clone a Clergyman

Some members of the black clergy are supporting gay marriage in Maryland. Say what? I had to read the article (click here to read the article). The opening line read, “Reverend Donte Hickman believes that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, and he will not marry same-sex couples at his church in Baltimore.” I thought maybe I had clicked on the wrong article, but the next line explained that Hickman is in favor of the Civil Marriage Protection Act. Hickman said, “What I practice in the church does not have to be practiced by the state…We live in a democracy not a theocracy and I think it sets a very dangerous precedent when any religious organization can establish and legislate laws by faith tradition.” To that I say, “Amen.”

Hickman represents tolerance. He will not perform a gay marriage in his church, but he understands that in our country his personal beliefs should not be used to infringe upon the rights of others. He gets that there has to be a separation of church and state in order for our country to be at its best. We need laws that protect all of the people, not just some of the people. We’ve never fully enacted our constitution. There has always been a group that we as a country have deemed as unworthy of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My ancestors, whether we discuss my Native American background, or my mostly black background, each had a keen awareness of what it was like to be that group that was singled out as lesser than. Unfortunately, most minority groups in this country have ancestors who were familiar with the idea of being American but being treated like second class citizens. I don’t want to talk about the state of minorities today because that’s a lengthy discussion, but I do want to point out that people often compare gay rights to the civil rights movement because at its core, gay rights is about civil rights. As a citizen of America, each person should be entitled to certain rights. The right to marry should be a guarantee; the fact that people have to fight for it should be an embarrassment to every American citizen.

When certain religious groups argue that homosexuals are trying to force their beliefs on everyone, they should really take a look in the mirror. It’s okay to be against gay marriage, but it stops being okay when you try to force that belief on the country. I wish more clergy would stand up and join Reverend Hickman. Acknowledging that two consenting adults have the right to get married is not the same as marrying them. Hickman has made his position clear: he will not perform a same-sex marriage. That’s all that clergy against gay marriage should say. Hickman made sure that the Civil Rights Marriage Protection Act in Maryland “would not require any religious institutions to perform same-sex marriages if they did not believe in them.” The law provides an easy out for any religious institution that is against same-sex marriage and I think that is a good thing, because I believe that it would be wrong to force gay marriage on a religious institution. For me, it’s an issue of respect. I respect an institution’s right not to do certain things, but that institution must respect the right of other institutions to do those things. Each institution and each couple should be free to make their own choices. That’s what Reverend Hickman believes and that is what I believe, too.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

African-American Christians: What is there to waver about?

I read a very disturbing article this morning titled African-American Christians waver over vote. I have been hearing mumblings about African-Americans who are planning not to vote because they disagree with Obama on gay marriage and they can’t bring themselves to support Romney because they disagree with Romney’s policies. I’ve been ignoring those mumblings because I was dismissing them to media hype, but after a recent conversation with a family member, I know that it is more than hype. There are some people out there who are seriously considering not voting in the election because of Obama’s stance on gay marriage. I can’t speak about other areas, but I have seen billboards in Ohio and in Michigan in which the Republicans are pandering to these people. The billboard reads: Obama supports abortion and gay marriage. Do You? What the sign should say is: Dear ignorant people, thanks for your support.

This is a presidential election. Agreeing with each candidate 100% of the time is next to impossible. I haven’t made it a secret that I’m not a big fan of either candidate, but I am a big fan of me. I want the candidate who I believe will look out for my best interest. For me that candidate is Obama, for some people that candidate may be Romney. Whoever it is, everyone should go out and vote. Obama supporters who opt out of voting because they don’t want to vote for a guy who supports gay marriage might as well go out and vote for Romney because that is essentially what they are doing. Technically speaking, I should be voting for a third party candidate because my beliefs and policies align more with them (yes I took the survey), but I’m a realist. Voting for a third party candidate in this election is worse than a wasted vote, it’s the equivalent of voting for the candidate that you don’t want because this election is predicted to be close which means that literally every vote counts. 

To the African-American Christians who are thinking about not voting in this election, I present one simple question: what would Jesus do? Would Jesus turn away a gay man who came to him asking for help? Would Jesus pass judgment on a woman who has had an abortion? 

This type of hypocrisy is part of the reason why I no longer attend church on a regular basis. As a child, I was taught that God is love and that everyone is welcome in God’s kingdom. I believed that we were all sinners and that God would forgive us of any sin if we simply humbled ourselves and asked for forgiveness. Jesus welcomed murderers and prostitutes with open arms. Yet we as people do not. My pastor used to love to say, “Judge not lest ye be judged,” but as I grew up, I realized that he didn’t truly mean those words. If he did, he wouldn’t be able to say that quote in one breath then damn gays to hell as abominations in the next. I never lost my faith in God, but after a few too many church scandals I did lose my faith in the people of my church. 

According to the article “pastors say their congregants are asking how a true Christian could back same-sex marriage” to those congregants I ask, how can a true Christian not back same-sex marriage? If being gay is a sin, then it is a sin for God to judge. If you think homosexuality is wrong then don’t get involved in a homosexual relationship and continue living your life, but stop passing judgment on others. 

As for the election, here are a few pointers: Don’t vote for Obama because he is black, don’t vote for Romney because he is white; don’t vote for Obama because he’s a democrat and don’t vote for Romney because he is a republican; vote for who you believe is the best candidate to secure American beliefs and remember that our country recommends the separation of church and state for a reason.

If you choose not to vote then you are choosing to accept the consequences of your inaction so do not open your mouth to complain about the results of an election in which you decided to sit out. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Wrong Kind of Love

From time to time I get bored and post poems. This is one of those times:

The Wrong Kind of Love

I want to love you so good that you forget how to love yourself,
I want to comfort you so much that you can’t sleep without my help,
I want you addicted to me before you realize I’m bad for your soul.
By the time I’m done with you, loving me should be your only goal,
You see I’m a prizefighter in the game
There isn’t a heart I can’t charm in to going insane.
I’ll blind you in to seeing that I’m a dream come true
Without noticing that I’m a nightmare too.

I would like to dedicate this poem to all the halfhearted lovers in the world. Don’t pretend to be giving someone all of your heart when you know that you’re only truly giving them part of it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Writer in a Funk

I normally don’t put this type of thing in writing. I usually wait until the feeling has passed and then I move on as if it never happened, but today is different. Today I feel like I will work my way out of it faster if I put it in writing and send it out in to the world. 

I am in a funk. There’s no other way to put it. I’m finally averaging a few hundred dollars in sales every month. I know that sounds like nothing to some people, but it’s a lot for me. Most of my stories are less than a dollar and only a few are 2.99. I need hundreds of sales in order to make a few hundred dollars. I should be happy that people are finally, consistently buying a couple of my stories, but I’m not. I keep focusing on the fact that sales will probably drop off in a few months. 

For the last three years, I have sold myself on the promise that I would one day leave my day job behind and focus on making it as a writer. Unfortunately, the realist in me outweighs the dreamer. I’m not brave enough or stupid enough (depends on who you ask) to walk away from a job that is paying all of my bills without first having a way to replace my income. This presents a catch-22 because some days my job is mentally exhausting. My day job interferes with my writing. Sometimes, after I get home in the evening and I finish doing things for work, I don’t want to see a computer or a laptop or pen and paper. I just want to shut down and regroup so that I am ready to do it all over again the next day. Of course there are those days when a story is burning so violently inside me that I have to write it down, but I’m finding those days are becoming fewer and fewer and I think it’s because my reality is starting to sink in: I may never make it as a writer.

I’m beginning to wonder if I will ever quit my day job. I know part of my problem is my genre. I don’t write gay erotica, I write gay fiction. My stories aren’t all romance or sex and happy endings; my stories are about pain, dealing with emotional and family issues, and finding and accepting love. I’ve had a few people tell me that if I want to make money, I need to write in other genres. I used to scoff at them and happily proclaim that I didn’t write for the money. Now I’m not sure if I made the right decision. I will always write. I can’t help it. Even if no one ever reads my stories again, I’ll still be out there writing them, but at some point, I have to stop taking baby steps and make a giant leap. I don’t want to spend all of my life as someone who writes on the side, I want to spend at least part of my life as just a writer and nothing else. 

Now that I have said all of that, I acknowledge that there are a lot of things that I haven’t done that I should do and it is up to me to make some changes this year so that I am not in the same position at this time next year.