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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"I Hate No One"

"I hate no one."  Those stinging words are included in one of my latest Facebook messages from a nice guy that I traveled with far back in 1982.  We traveled the entirety of the United States from Los Angeles to New York and back.  We ventured to England, The Netherlands, Belgium and what was then West Germany (any youngsters here have no idea what West Germany is?).  You may remember my traveling and singing days with a Christian group called The Continental Singers.  And this guy was one of our sound or lighting technicians on my very first tour. 

As my life has continued to mature and evolve, I have indeed received friend requests from a variety of folks over the years.  It is always those from my church past that concern me.  I've been defriended.  I have defriended some.  I've had messages and chats, I've had emails.  And without a doubt they always include some version of the "I don't hate you even though I may disagree with your choices" phrase.  It is the new buzz phrase of the very old and tired, "I hate the sin but love the sinner" phrase. 

And so yesterday it wasn't all that much of a surprise to hear from.   I always send a message back first before approving the friend request just to double check and be positive sure that they know what they are getting in to.  I want them fully aware of my politics, my beliefs, and my inability to keep my mouth shut if they get going on silliness or idiotic comments or thoughts.  I simply won't listen to antiquated 1975 thoughts in the year 2014.  I want them fully on board with my marriage.  And I certainly don't want them to be my friend "Even though I may disagree with your choices."  Ummm, no thanks.  That was in a prior life. 

So here is his response to my disclaimer

"........ let me give you a little background on me. I hate no one and even though we may disagree on some big and important things it doesn't mean we can't still be friends. I married my wife 2 years ago and let me describe my "modern family". Her ex left her after 20 years of marriage and 2 sons because he decided that he loved a young man 20 years younger than him more than the family he created with her. _____ and _____ have now adopted a 3 year old and _____ and I are the God parents. We celebrate birthdays and holidays together and while I don't agree with the choices they make it doesn't keep us from being what we are, a family.   A long time ago for a very intense short time we walked, talked and lived with 35 others and experienced many wonderful times. I probably don't agree with you on many things and you won't agree with me on some things but I hope that we can agree that friendships formed in our life's journeys deserve to be respected and cherished. No hate ever here. Disagree at times, probably but that doesn't make me disrespect you as a person any more than I hope it doesn't make you disrespect me. Thanks for listening to my rambles as well!!"

And my response to him:

"..... And you see ___, I want you to agree on the "big and important things." The rest of it is crap. But it's the big and important things like admiring and affirming and 100% agreeing with my choice to marry my husband of 17 years that I require you to be on board with. I don't care what choice you make for your ice cream or color of car. But if you don't join me in my marriage and relationship and friendship to my husband, then I'm afraid that you're not on board at all. How would you like it if I told you I wanted to be your friend but I'm not on board with your choice to marry a female. It would put quite a damper on things, right? I have quite clearly learned that there are many folks from my past who make it quite clear that they don't "hate" me. They tell me that they "tolerate" me. My wisdom has proved that the difference between tolerance and hatred is nothing more than a thin, wobbly thread. I don't want to be tolerated. In fact, I refuse to be. I'm worth far more than that. I love your family's story. I love that it has taken a turn that you probably could not have ever dreamed up. I love that. I hope you're open to your story changing even more. Thanks for listening."

As of this morning, I've heard nothing.  Nada.  Not a word.  I refuse to be tolerated.  I refuse to be friends with those who don't like me because I've married a man.  Those are no friends at all.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

20 Years -- Time Flies By

Twenty years tomorrow.  I know I'm getting old because I find myself saying, "Wow, time sure flies by" frequently.  That's a sure-fire way to know you're gettin' up there. 

My father passed away twenty years ago tomorrow.....on March 19, 1994.  You know those things in your life that seem as alive and fresh today as they were in your distant past?    This is one of them.  The struggle, the decisions, the horribleness of Lou Gehrig's Disease.  And learned lessons.  He was most certainly one of a kind in many respects.  He was uneducated and didn't graduate high school.  He worked for more than twenty years without taking a single sick day.  His life was shaped by his love for the mountains of Idaho and by a fairly rough and sort of small-town way about him.  He didn't demand money, jewelry, stocks, fame or fortune.  He knew none of that.  But he loved.  He loved everyone and would do anything necessary to make someone else's life an easier place to be.  He gave of himself at home, work, church and anywhere else that he spotted a need.  To a fault sometimes.  He loved his family and being around kids brought an instant spark to his face.  And he never knew me as a gay man.  And he never made it past 62 years of age.  I could go on and on.  But I'd rather you spent a few minutes reading about his life.  I promise you inspiration from the words that I bring to you.  Take the time if you would.  Learn something today from the pages of this man's life.  Oh and one more thing, he was kind.  People tell me from time to time that I'm a lot like him.  And perhaps I am in some respects.  But I know myself better than anyone.  And I can assure you that I have a long way to go on the journey.  I am frequently reminded of the impact he made on others.  I'm still working on it.  (Read the series below in order.) 

Part 1 -- Impact of Childhood Lessons -- "He took us camping nearly every weekend all summer long. We had nothing fancy like a trailer. But we had a huge old sheepherder’s tent."

Part 2 -- It's a Great Day -- "I told him how much I loved him and what a good time I was having on my concert tour. I told him that I missed him. And, of course, I said “Happy Birthday.” All I could hear was his grunting….trying his best to formulate a word or two. But, it didn’t happen….ever again."

Part 3 -- Finale, The Curtain Must Close --  "My heart was broken already, I knew what message was waiting."