Love sets all free.

This is my boyfriend and me.

This is my boyfriend and me.

My title might sound cliche, but I’ve never felt freer than when I gave in.

See, I’ve been single for 4+ years, and I only found intimacy when it came to being promiscuous because I feared being hurt. I tried finding love in all the wrong places, so I let it be.

Then, I met Him. No, not Jesus. He’s a capital H-i-m because he saved me in a way.

I was drowning in self-pity and sorrow, kept getting in my own way no matter how hard I worked. The self-saboteur kept winning.

But Joshua helped me. He came at a time unexpected, and I feared giving in. He was so nice, gentle, sweet, but he had a roughness to him in all the right ways. It wasn’t hard falling head over heels.

Still, I hesitated.

After talking with my friend, also ex, Ritchie, he asked why I couldn’t allow myself to feel loved. The first thing which came to my mind was that I wasn’t good enough for love. How could I be? Everyone in my life abandoned me, turned from me, insulted me, broke me. To me, the common denominator was me. And if everyone treated me badly, then doesn’t it make sense to think that I am rotten?

A rotten fruit plucked too soon from the Tree of Life.

Joshua didn’t treat me that way.

He rushed into the “L” word, and that’s why I pulled back.

But after my talk with Ritchie, I knew I needed to give in, for once in my life, and let go.

Since then, I have been incredibly happy with Joshua. He’s made me laugh; made me feel beautiful; made me feel like I could be anything.

I am free in many ways, especially with my heart, but I know there’s still something dark within me. Though I am free in love, I am still a prisoner in my mind. I have much to figure out and I will have to face my shadow-self.

At least, I won’t have to do it alone.

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‘Tonight, we lipsync for their lives.’

I’m frustrated, terrified, and overwhelmed by the tragedy which struck on Sunday, June 12th in Orlando, FL at Pulse, a small nightclub.

For those of you who may not know, a man walked into the club with an arsenal and began firing. At the end of the chaos, when he was brought down by a SWAT team after taking hostages, 49 ended up dead and 50+ injured.

Stories across the media came out showing videos from SnapChat and various social media by the nightclub patrons and victims. We’ve learned the names, ages, and ethnicities of everyone involved. ISIL claimed responsibility. Theories about the attacker’s sexuality and homophobia were raised. Rumors of more than one shooter or that some of the victims were shot by the infiltrating SWAT spread.

Debates began less than 24 hours: Islamaphobia, gun control, LGBTQIA rights, religious extremism, blood donation bans against gays, and so forth. Allies and enemies of LGBTQIA peoples became lost in the typical whirlwind that comes post-tragedy. Already, people forgot to mourn the dead and affected.

In Oklahoma, I came to work hearing people argue about frivolous matters. I suddenly felt unsafe. When someone mentioned a gun, my shoulders tensed and I became agitated. My supervisor mentioned “this incident” proved that the next President of the United States needed to eliminate ISIL, leaving me disgusted. I found it hard to remain professional.

I emailed HR.

Then, I remembered, as a gay man, I am not protected from being fired due to being homosexual. What if this email was used against me to fire me? Keep me from receiving a raise? Or a promotion? A different kind of anger brewed inside me.

The fight isn’t over.

Thankfully, my place of employment handled it quite well. They provided documentation reminding everyone how to conduct themselves after times of tragedy, including pamphlets on how to manage stress. I wasn’t fired. One less thing for me to worry about. In fact, my HR manager asked me to keep her informed should someone disregard the email.

I had to stop going onto Facebook. Religious friends, conservative family, allies, and the ignorant all had something to say. Articles upon news articles shared. Pastors and religious leaders thankful the incident happened. Miscellaneous information bombarded me. So, I switched it off, ignored the hatred, shared only things about the victims and reactions of love.

LGBTQIA people are scared. My generation has never had to see such an act of violence. We’re too young to fully comprehend what happened to Matthew Shepherd or the 80s AIDS epidemic when LGBTQIA brothers and sisters had to bury their brethren. It took vast amounts of protests before our government listened and passed legislation which helped protect our community.

Some want to go back in the closet our of fear. We cannot do it, no matter how scared we may be. Even if we see a gun in our faces. I know that sounds easier said than done. But we can’t let these people win. What kind of life is worth living in the shadows? No, Batman doesn’t count. We have to be the leaders and protectors of future generations. I beg that you please reconsider before you make your decision.

I’ll never forget seeing the mother on the news begging to know if her son lived or died, or the text messages another mother received from her son who hid in the bathroom as he heard his killer approaching, or the mother who shielded her son from being shot thus allowing him to survive. I don’t want to put that burden on my mother, but I also don’t want any other mother to have to go through what these women went through Sunday. I cannot, and will not, go back into the closet because I’m needed.

Men and women from early 20s to 50-years-of-age, black, white, and Latinx died. Let us mourn yet never forget them.

Everything else? The random chaos which comes before the storm?

Leave it for now.

dontruneither

The Way the World Works Sucks

dangerous-phrase

I hate the way the world works. I have ever since I was a child.

I grew up different because I was overweight. People pointed, laughed, teased, and physically hurt me for being fat. I used to hate hearing that word: FAT. They’d use it as an insult instead of a descriptor. I wasn’t anything else in their eyes except a fat blob with no personality and/or no feelings.

This mostly all happened in school. Some teachers and school staff stood up for me. Others ignored the taunts and tried to refocus the class without saying anything. A few placed blame on me: “They wouldn’t treat you so bad if you’d lose a little weight.”

Instead of working on why we segregate ourselves from people who are different, we blame the victim for looking/being different.

As an adult, this type of behavior continues.

Instead of accepting these differences, I’m told the world works a certain way and either I work with it to succeed or I accept I cannot/will not be successful. People claim it’s easier for us to be a cog in the machine rather than recreate the machine to work for us.

Recently, I’ve been questioning my position at my work place. I worry we aren’t working towards the greater good when dealing with certain clients. Are we doing this to help our clients or to make money? The typical answer from most people is “both”. My biggest issue being that we focus more on making money via scummy sales tactics and company policies rather than assisting a client with our product and receiving money for our exceptional services.

I did what I thought was the “grown-up thing” to do: I told my boss about my feelings. Instead of letting these problems fester and embitter me, I told my supervisor how I felt in hopes of receiving advice. She gave me advice, and I felt better. I understood now how to “accept the bad with the good.”

Then, a position opened within the department, what would be considered a promotion for me. I threw my hat into the ring believing I had learned and proved myself in a short amount of time. When I approached my supervisor about the idea, she responded: “I don’t think you’re ready.” Not completely insulted, I asked why she thought so, and she said it was “due to what we discussed the other day.”

A 5-year study found that rich people avoid one type of person: pessimists. Am I pessimistic for airing my grievances to my supervisor behind closed doors? Did I appear to have a negative attitude because I want to hold my place of business to a higher standard than a money-making machine?

No matter the answer, I feel that because I used the open-door policy of my company to help excel at my job I’m being punished.

I see a growing trend in those who are successful – other than avoiding pessimists – they’re also assholes. They care not about the well-beings for others or the repercussions of their actions that could affect others.

Politicians are a fantastic example.

Our current political system appears filled with corruption and scandal. Whether you choose between Republican or Democrat, they both work for corporations who line the pockets of representatives in order to pass legislature which allows said owners (the 1%) of staying rich, while leaving little for the middle-to-low classes. Even when we have a “fringe” candidate trying to run for office (ex: Bernie Sanders) to change the status quo, it’s incredibly hard to fight a rigged system using the system’s rules; and the moment someone highlights that fact they’re seen as whiny, lazy crybabies, which is used to discredit their argument.

So, how do you win? Do you swallow your pride and pull yourself up by the proverbial bootstraps by conforming?

Some of the most profound people refused to conform: our forefathers for example. Inventors. Philosophers. Artists. Scientists. By refusing to look through a set-up frame, these people wanted to see the bigger picture. They defied their elders, their peers, and even the law in order to explore and help build a brighter future and a better world for their descendants.

I feel less and less in-touch with society today because I’ve never been like everyone else. I am gay, overweight, feminine, rebellious, honest, upfront, kind, a team player, etc. Because of all these factors, I do not do well in typical situations. I do not conform. I stick out like a sore thumb, and people love picking at things which look out of place.

I believe this fuels my depression. My entire life I’ve felt like an outsider looking in, never really connecting or feeling connected to others. It’s a lonely journey.

Maybe I’m going through a typical life crisis for my age. Am I to continue forward on a path that everyone else treads? Or am I to take the path less traveled? Everyone eventually finds their way. I don’t know what mine may be for now, but I could be looking at it all wrong.

What if I’m not meant to tread any path? Instead, what if I’m meant for the sky?