Posted in Activism, advocate, badassery, CANCER, death, Equality, movies, pop culture

Goodbye, King

When news came late Friday night that Chadwick Boseman, the actor who played King T’Challa in the Black Panther and Avenger movies, had died at age 43, the news hit me harder than I thought it would.

Boseman had been battling, unbeknownst to most, colon cancer for four years. This time had included the time he was working on the Black Panther movie. If you haven’t had cancer or a serious, debilitating illness, it’s difficult to appreciate what I consider to be a truly heroic effort to portray a hero. Each time cancer takes someone young or inspirational, I’m reminded I need to embrace more of the remaining life I’ve been given to live. This death cut me to the core. I’ve so much left to do.

I remember when the Black Panther movie came out and so many people of all races and lifestyles came out of the theaters crossing their arms in the “Wakanda forever!” sign. People of color walked out of that movie changed and inspired. Young black children finally had a Marvel superhero on screen that looked like them, that they could identify with. Someone strong, caring, extraordinary and human.

I was also inspired by the Black Panther. The strong women of Wakanda, who were in charge of the technology and protecting the King, made me cheer. These depictions of strong, intelligent women (of any color) shouldn’t be so few and far between, but they are. Shuri is the smartest in the room. Any room. Okoye and her crew could kick any man’s ass. Nakia is brave, and convinces the King that sharing their knowledge and wealth for the good of all is an important enough idea to allow it to stand between her and her relationship with the King.

Heroes don’t have to be the same color as you are to be inspirational, but I’m white and I have plenty to choose from if that is what I seek. It was about time that people of color had an extraordinary hero and a slew of capable, ass-kicking heroines. I can only hope another hero can rise on the shoulders of Chadwick Boseman.

What I hope people learn from Boseman’s short, but well-lived, life is that people can be heroes both on and offscreen and be an inspiration beyond what they intended or hoped for. Heroism and quality of character goes more than skin deep, and that is one of the legacies that Boseman left behind for all of us.

Rest in Power, King.

Posted in Activism, advocate, commentary, community, Equality, fearless, feminism, Uncategorized, World

NEVERTHELESS, I PERSIST

Yesterday was another day of political upheaval here in the United States. I am 48 years young but I’ve never seen (or was too young to really remember) anything like the baffling regression of the American spirit like I’ve witnessed over the past 18 months or so.

I will say this and leave it right here: I believe in equality for everyone. Everyone. Progress has been made the past decade to close many gaps for many different people groups and I refuse to let any group in this country try to drag us back to the dark ages of closed-minded thinking.

With that out in the ether I’ll add this: I’m ashamed of the president and what he’s stirred up in this country and continues to allow with no intelligent comment or rebuke. I have a great admiration for presidents past, and I hope to have a president I can admire and be proud of and respect again, but 45 is not that president. I have great respect for the office of the president, but I do not respect the current president. I can and will make that distinction for the duration of his term. If you voted for him, that is your right, but please don’t try to defend him or your choice. I am tired of that conversation. It’s done.

My heart hurts for the family that lost a sweet daughter yesterday. All she was doing was protesting a hate group. Peacefully. She believed in the diversity and love of all in America and she was marching to show this hate group that she still believed we could all get along, that there was room enough at her table for all. This hate group cannot stand that thought, and one man from that group took it upon himself to violently end her life and injure many others because people like her are trying to put other beliefs, thoughts and color into his whitewashed world.

I believe I am fortunate to be surrounded by a wondrously varied group of people every day. I work for an international company in the most diverse city in America. I work with people who were not born in this country who came here for freedom and chose the US and became citizens. Some are just here for a few years or months, others’ parents or grandparents came here and brought their rich cultures to the greatest melting pot in the world.

I navigate a number of cultures, religions, belief systems, biases and dissimilarities every single day. Harmony, even when there are notable differences, can be achieved if everyone allows their worldview to be wide enough to consider that not everyone was raised the same, believes the same, or wants the same outcomes for their lives.

I still don’t understand the notion of making America great again (MAGA), as if America wasn’t already great. It seems to me that the MAGA directive for the 45 supporter is to regress back to the idea that one way is the only way, which is anchored in ignorance and fear.

I wholeheartedly believe that America’s diversity is its strength. When hate groups march (which is their right as long as they are peaceful) and preach that they want to keep America the way it is or was (for them) they miss the point. America has always been diverse. America has always been a haven for all. These groups have just isolated themselves so much that they are afraid of what and whom they don’t know or understand. Rather than build a bridge, they want to vote everyone else off their very small-minded island.

I’ve lived in Houston 23 years now. I went from a small town in Indiana where most people looked, talked and thought like me to the most diverse and culture rich city in America. I am all the better for it. I understand so much more of the world because the world is here all around me and it is a wondrous assortment of people. If MAGA means isolation, hatred, racism, and a white’s only attitude, I want no part of it.

After the events yesterday in Charlottesville, I was a bit disheartened to say the least. America feels like it is sliding backward, and I feel like a small minority of hatred is going to suck me down with it. I can’t let that happen, but I don’t always know what I can do.

I become overwhelmed with the vastness of the pervasive hatred that some humans have against other humans simply because they are not disciples of the same ethos or they have a different color of skin. What can one person do to turn the tide?

I was reminded today to do something I already try to do – reach one person at a time. Learn as much as I can about our differences and use every opportunity to lift that person up. If that person needs an ally, I will stand with them. I will celebrate everything that makes them unique, because I also thrive when my uniqueness is noted and celebrated.

It really does boil down to treating others as you yourself want to be treated.

Nevertheless, I persist.

Posted in community, Equality, GLBT, LGBT, Uncategorized

BAR NONE

Last weekend, I found myself in a gay bar down in Montrose. I was with a good friend of mine, someone who has let me into his world piece by piece. The more he shares with me, the more I understand him and what he goes through every day as a gay man.

He took me to one of his favorite bars.  We ordered some drinks and went outside to sit by the gas heaters (it was a nice, cool night). We were soon joined by a couple who engaged us in conversation.

They were dressed up for dinner and had stopped for a drink first. They were meeting some of their friends later. One of the friends joined them before the others. Immediately, I searched for the face of the third man in my memories. Joe (not his real name) introduced himself and after I told him he looked familiar, he said he just had one of those faces.

Joe had been a Southern Baptist preacher. His friend, Evan (not his real name), had been a Southern Baptist youth pastor. All once upon a time, because you can’t be gay and serve God, right?

Joe, Evan and my friend talked God and church for a while – the suffering they’d endured at the hands of the church, and yet they continued to believe in God and spread the Gospel that all, including the LGBT community were precious to Him.  They work to reconcile the church with the gay community.

Soon, their two other friends showed up. My friend went in to refill my drink and we began to talk about gay affirming churches. I expressed my frustration that the only place some in the LGBT community could feel welcome was in a bar and not in a church. One of the men sat down next to me and hugged me and said I was in the right place to make the difference I was supposed to make.

I was meeting people on their terms, in their territory and being myself. No pretense. Just love. Acceptance.

My friend returned, and we talked some more and then they left for their dinner, but not until there were hugs and blessings. I laughed at the irony.  Fellowship at a gay bar.

Actually, I’d rather be in a bar loving people as they are than in a congregation that excludes based on human judgment.

I realize this is controversial and heresy for some. That’s ok. I’ve already made my feelings known in a prior post- Human Affirming Human.

Please take a step back as a church and realize that the “lost” you seek to save rarely cross your threshold because you continually tell them they are not worthy to be there. I am not an evangelist, I’m just a human loving other humans where they are, and those humans are loving me where I am – with no judgment.

Don’t just imagine a world where we love without reservation – love in the world without reservation.

PS – I Googled Joe and sure enough – I found him. He is now preaching and reaching out to the gay community.