The Fear is Real

If you’re on facebook or any other social media the days after Trump won (not fairly) the election you saw your fears come to life. If you were half of America (or at least those who voted for Hillary) you knew what was at stake. That’s why so many of us were shocked because we couldn’t believe in a world where such a hateful person could become President. So when Trump kept winning states you saw your fear grow. For me, it grew to the point where I was in the middle of a massive panic attack… full meltdown mode.

Having lived in a world full of hate growing up I knew what was at stake and what it would mean if Trump was elected. I had first hand knowledge what that kind of hate does to your soul. It rips you apart like a forest fire. That kind of hate leaves nothing behind but a blackened skeleton. That’s what many of us are fearing from a Trump Presidency.

The day after the election it was very clear that our fears were justified as the news of people already being at the end of hate from the supporters of Trump. From swastikas spray painted on buildings in NYC to actual physical altercations with Trump supporters. On Wednesday,  a female student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette was beaten, robbed and had her hijab ripped off by two men. Trump winning has given his supporters validation that their racist, discriminatory beliefs are just and apart of making America great again.

It’s only four days and we have enough examples of hate in action to fill up a book. Gay people are being harassed more. Anyone who might look hispanic is told to go back to Mexico. Disabled people are being called the R word. Muslims are being targeted, so are African-Americans. Anyone who doesn’t look like a Trump supporter is a target. Trump winning gave them an excuse to remind everyone that they’re going to make America great by going back to a time where black people were segregated, women belonged in a kitchen and gay people were forced to stay in the closet. How far back do they want to go? Back before women could vote or to the days of slavery.

We live in a time that’s more progressive but this election is proof that there are millions of people stuck in the 50s. They feel they’ve been left behind when in reality the one one to blame for being stuck is themselves. Change is a part of life and if you don’t move with it you’ll get left behind. Those who want to make America great again have felt out of control seeing all the changes that they don’t approve of, that go against their God/religion. Marriage equality was the last straw for these people. So of course the only choice was to vote for the man who’d save them. They’ll quickly learn that Trump was never on their side, he just used them. What will they do when they find out that he’s not going to build a wall or doesn’t reverse marriage equality?

It goes much deeper than fearing for our safety and lives because a Trump presidency will make our lives much harder. We might be safe for now but the laws that Trump passes will make many people miserable including his supporters. I know a lot of people are saying that not everyone who voted for Trump are bad and that’s probably true but the fact remains that millions of people voted for Trump in spite of all the bad things he’s said and done. They were so willing to look past all the bad and what it would mean to minorities in order to not change their world. When in reality Trump isn’t the savior they’re looking for. Trump is like the dragon version of Republicans. He was loud and fiery but he wasn’t much different than most Republican politicians. Trump was created by the Republicans he’s the effect.

Trumps followers were led by fear like the pied piper. I know what it’s like to be led by fear. I grew up in a Southern Baptist family which was all fire and brimstone. Being gay was an abomination. During my teenage years I had this reoccurring nightmare of the end of the world and my name would never get called to go to heaven. This is what fear based teachings do, they brainwash you into believing whatever is told to you. So if you grow up in that world it’s hard to overcome it especially if you’re one of the black sheeps.

Fears are based on falsehoods. The longer you hold the fear, the larger it grows until you become the monster. My family is full of them. They have this way of thinking where the path to heaven is only for the few and if you don’t live life the right way you will burn in flames forever. Talk about being scared out of your mind as a child. The bigger the fear the person has the more they try to convince everyone else that they’re right. My father is a prime example. Growing up he would use to corner people trying to preach the word of God to them. It didn’t matter what the function was he’d go out of his way to save someone. At my cousin’s funeral he preached at my sister’s best friend. Yet if you looked inward to his own life you’d see that he wasn’t living by example.

Still to this day he’s the same way. He’s the typical Trump supporter. His facebook wall is full of hate. I recently had thought of giving him another chance. He even apologized to me a few years ago about how he approached Jesus with me. I was foolish to think he had changed. Seeing how he went on about Trump just reminded me why I stayed away from him. He’s toxic and it only means pain for me. He’s just one of many in my family. The election this year has been extremely triggering for me because the people Trump spoke to was my family. Family is suppose to protect you and lift you up, not vote against your rights and safety.

The greatest satisfaction has been knowing that I was able to get away from that hateful world. I have worked hard the past twenty years to get away from it and it hasn’t been easy. During my darkest days I had to remind myself that I had gotten away from that bad place. So to have it come crashing back around me when Trump won the electoral votes just devastated me. It felt like the ultimate defeat that hate won. The world became very scary knowing that millions of voters didn’t care if I had my rights and safety taken away. It’s bad enough when strangers do that to you but when it’s your own family it’s especially devastating. So not only did I grow up in a family full of hate I now had it validated by Trump’s supporters.

As scared as I am and stunned that I live in a world where he could be our President I can’t let that get in the way of my fight. The difference between now and then is that now I have this inner strength that I didn’t realize I had. I’ve had so much taken away that I’m willing to give anything else away anymore. I have this fire in me and I will fight anyone who tries to take away my rights and the others around me.

So bring it on Trump and his army of hate. I’m ready and so are the rest of us. If you think you’ll have it easy you will learn very quickly that you shouldn’t have messed with us. If we don’t fight for what’s right they will really win and we just can’t let that happen. America is already great because of the diverse population.

Just because when they go low, we go high it doesn’t mean that we won’t fight for our rights. So my brothers and sisters the time is now to prepare for January. Keep on letting your voice be heard. I know so many are wondering how they can help. One way you can help is by attaching yourself with the organizations that will come at risk during a Trump presidency like the ACLU, Sierra Club, NAACP, etc. by volunteering and donating to them. They’re going to need all the help they can get.

We need to keep up the protesting. My hope is that they will grow and take over more cities. We need to send a clear message to the world and the haters. A lot of people are scared including the rest of the world. Trump will be bad for everyone but the rich. If there isn’t a protest in your city/town form one. All it takes is a group of people gathering in public. We can’t give up now. The fight has just began. It’s going to be a long four years.

There are protests being held all over the country including overseas. A lot of them are organic and just happen at the spur of the moment. I’ve created a website to help mobilize the movement. To find protests visit:

http://www.lovealwaystrumpshate.org

https://www.facebook.com/lovealwaystrumpsh8/

If you know of a protest that’s not listed please let me know and I will add them. Hang in there everyone. Love will always prevail. While we might have lost the battle we will win the war. We have love and light on our side. Don’t ever forget that!

Huggs

This is What Hate Does

Friday’s monumental Supreme court decision left me feeling so many different feelings both good and bad. Mostly ecstatic but there was a tinge of sadness looming. You might wonder how could I feel sadness on such amazing day. I should be nothing but happy right?

As logical as that seems it wasn’t the case for me. When something is brought out into the light I’ve learned that those still left in the darkness will do whatever they can to keep their worlds safe, even if it means dragging you back into that pitch black hole. I purposely didn’t read comments on various media website knowing there would be hateful comments. For the most part rarely do I engage in someone’s rant but regardless it can seep into your consciousness before you know it.

With the sea of rainbow on my rainbow feed I started to ponder why do I let these people bring me down so? What is it about them and the situation that hurts so much. Out of hundreds of rainbows there were only a few storms. While the storms weren’t directed at me I could still hear the booms and bolts.

It’s funny something can happen to you twenty years ago and in a flash you are transported back to that time left feeling what you had put aside.

I’ve been at the end of the religious persecution. Sure I wasn’t kicked out but I often think that would have been the best thing that could have happened. Certain words you don’t ever forget. While they don’t call you worthless, they say everything but. Words pile up like heaps of trash in a landfill.

What that hate and intolerance does is make children feel less. They grow up to hate themselves. Parent’s are suppose to love and pick you up, and the sad reality for some children that just doesn’t happen.

I’ve heard a lot about religion this weekend and I guess it’s triggered me. I think the most damaging thing someone who promotes hate does is pushing people away from God. That’s the biggest abomination and they don’t even realize what they are doing.

Sure while it’s wonderful that we have equality think about the children who still live in households that don’t love and accept them. They are children of God who are pushed out into the world all alone, floating in outer space.

Tonight I watched a video tonight made by an organization called Catholic Vote. In the video are people who believe marriage is between a man and a woman talking about feeling ostracized for their beliefs. They wrap their ignorance, bigotry and hate in a very pretty bubble. They are clueless to the fact that they are only spreading hate, not the message of love they say they’re doing.

This message reminded me tonight of my own experience. I hate myself. You get told you’re going to hell enough times and eventually it sinks in. I’ve covered it up and put it aside but my actions proved otherwise. I’ve forgotten how deep seeded it was. Sure I had glimpses into that dark box like with my weight, etc.

I didn’t get help when I needed it. No one was there for me. I had to endure it alone. So I did the best I can and tried to move on. I coped by replacing one harmful choice for another. So many children don’t get the help they need. Many runaway… many turn to alcohol, drugs and sex… many die…. My drug of choice has been food. I buried my horrible feelings one piece of pie at a time.

So how do you begin to love yourself? I guess the first step is seeing the truth. Do what you have to do to heal if that means screaming at the top of your lung then do it. We are entitled to our anger but bottling up that anger only eats away our core until you’re left we very little fight.

I’m tired of hating myself. Tired of feeling that I don’t deserve love. Tired of thinking God hated me. Tired of thinking I am going to hell. Just tired. I have to remind myself that I’m out of that harmful situation and I never have to go back to that place.

Some people just don’t get it and probably never will but I won’t stay silent because five people were brave and stood against tradition families can finally be protected by having available all the rights that marriage brings including benefits, adoptions and so many more. The Supreme Five has helped remind me of my own inner courage and I know it has to so many more.

For children growing up in a world filled full of hate they desperately need to hear our message. They need something to hold onto. They need to know that they’re not alone.

Healing is a lifelong process. It’s much like cleaning up a landfill. You get one area cleaned up to only find another pile of trash that you forgot about. If you keep at it, even at a snails pace, you’ll eventually get to that diamond. You’re worth it and so am I. I might not fully believe that yet but I’m going to keep going until I do.

God isn’t this tightly ball of yarn put into a cramped little box. God is all over. His/Her love is free, unconditional. Again this is something I must repeat over and over. I won’t lie there are still parts of me that believe that I’m going to hell but as time goes by that becomes less and less.

I’m comforted knowing that the percentage of those against gay people are becoming smaller than smaller. What they’ve tried to do to us, has become of them. Outcasts. The tides have turned and there’s nothing they can do about it. It’s important to remember that there are those who still have to deal with that kind of hate. Gay people can also still get fired for being gay in many states. So there is work to be done but this is a gigantic leap towards equality.

Take To The Street in Pink Tonight Meet at 6pm at Southbend Tavern

“Hey Facebook Friends! I hope you can join me or send some positive energy out into the world starting at 6pm this Friday, June 14 as I “Step Out” against crimes against the LGBT community. I am walking a total of 5 miles, making four stops at the scenes of four hate crimes. It’s time to throw some positive karma back into our world and let the thugs know that we will FIGHT BACK!”

cropped-941919_3111683567347_999525894_n2.jpg

I found this on the event PINK FRIDAY page and I wanted to share it to you because I think it’s important to make a statement!!!

At 6pm tonight in Columbus Mark Buckingham and friends will be walking from Southbend Tavern (126 East Moler, Columbus, Ohio 43207)!!!

It would be great to have a bunch of people in PINK walking the streets to STAND UP AGAINST GAY VIOLENCE AND HATE!!!

How To Stay Safe Flyer #RealEqualityWearsPink

Click this image for more information about how you can stay safe!

Click this image for more information about how you can stay safe!

If you would like to print this out and post it in your area, you can find the pdf version here! Please share this with everyone you know, it is important we spread the awareness and keep others safe!

Renewed Spirit and Fight #RealEqualityWearsPink

941919_3111683567347_999525894_n

I have to admit that this whole experience with the wearing PINK on Friday has really awoke something deep inside of me. This has been an extremely tough year for me with the death of my Mama in September, which caused me to spiral into a deep depression where I hid from the world…

To see so many people (from all over the world) come together to support and rally for David, Christopher A. and Christopher K. It is tragic and a fact of life that bad things happen all the time to really good people, and in this case to three young men who didn’t do anything to warrant being attacked. When people are knocked down it is so very important for others to help lift them back up and our community has surely done a great job of that.

You can only get pushed around so much before you say wait a minute… NO MORE!!! Personally I also have gotten to that point in my life as well, where you say enough is enough. As a survivor an important and empowering tool to use is our VOICE but often times it is something that is difficult to use. For a very long time I have struggled with my own voice, knowing when and how to use it. Wanting to stand up but not having the courage to verbalize it. Feeling so defeated that I didn’t think anyone cared to hear my voice. I no longer feel that is the truth because this experience has helped me see that there are those who need to hear my voice.

pinkprofilepic

Plus when you stay silent those who promote and spread hate win and I am determined to conquer their hate. I believe our community feels the say way. While at times we may risk our personal safety, standing together united we form a solid barrier that even the strongest hateful force wouldn’t be able to knock down!

Wearing Pink today shows the world that we aren’t going to take this abuse sitting down anymore, that we have many supporters on our side. The great thing about the pink event is that it helps to start conversations and creates awareness about gay violence and hate. These three tragic events were a wakeup call for many of us, that taught us that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

I have to admit that I really wished I was in Columbus now. I feel so energized that I want to be on the forefront making a difference. I also feel rather guilty that I wasn’t able to find a pink tshirt in my size (3xl). Though in the end, as long as we are using our voice and helping to spread the message matters most. You don’t have to wear Pink to make a difference, though it doesn’t hurt! Honestly for as much as I love pink, I am surprised I don’t own anything pink.

Someone on the wear Pink facebook event wanted to know why we were using Pink when it is associated with Breast Cancer. My first thought was to let her have it but then I thought about what often is needed for those outside of the LGBTQ community is education. I believe that is how we will get people to turn to our side is with fact, information and knowledge.

tumblr_lpg6rmKAdf1qisa2ko1_500

For those who don’t know Pink has long been associated with the gay community. It started out in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s when every prisoner in the concentration camps who were labeled as homosexual had to wear a pink triangle on their jacket. It is estimated that between 50,000 to 63,000 men were convicted for homosexuality during that time. Even after the camps were liberated at the end of WWII, many of the pink triangle prisoners were often re-imprisoned by the Allied established Federal Republic of Germany. The nazi amendments which turned homosexualityfrom a minor offense to a felony remained intact in both East and West Germany after the war for a further 24 years.

2011.04-PinkTriangle

During the 1970’s the pink triangle was adopted as a symbol for gay rights protest. Some have linked the reclamation of the pink triangle with a publication of a concentration survivor Heinz Hegaer memoir, The Men with the Pink Triangle. 

It was until the early 1990’s that pink began to be associate with Breast Cancer when they started to pass out pink ribbons. Honestly I believe you can never have too much pink and there is enough love to go around for both worth causes!

Pink-Triangle-Theatre

While it was originally intended as a badge of shame, the gay rights movement reclaimed it, inverted its direction and made it one of the biggest symbols of the movement! As with the pink triangle, the time has come for us to reclaim what has always been ours. You can’t take away our pride, love and spirit! We are turning something negative into a positive. Love will always conquer hate! Always!!!

lgbtlovecbus

Pink Party w/ LATRICE ROYALE FRI June 14 at 9pm A Benefit For BRAVO at AXIS in Columbus

945143_10201165983049441_83642775_n

 

Amazing news people!!! Latrice Royale from RuPaul’s Drag Race will be performing at the PINK Party at Axis Fri June 14th at 9pm!!! She is donating her time in support of Columbus!!! Latrice is a class act and fitting of the title of QUEEN!!!

This Friday everyone should be wearing pink, painting their facebooks pink and attending a special benefit Friday night at Axis Nightclub (775 North High Street, Columbus, OH) in Columbus, Ohio that proceeds will go to BRAVO (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization).

Donations at the door ($5 is suggested)!

This event will be hosted by the wonderful Nina West and features some of Columbus’ best entertainers including Viva Valezz, Paige Passion, Freesia Balls, Maria Garrison, Selena T. West, Kiley Dash West, Cassandra Terrace, Vivian Von Brokenhymen, Drew Terrace, Cookie Crumbles and many more! Doors open at 8pm, with the show starting at 9pm. Take your PINK to the streets and take a stand, and make a difference!

lovefridaypink

BRAVO, as many of you know, does a great service for our community as they provide a link to survivor advocacy and assistance regarding hate crimes, discrimination, domestic violence,and sexual assault. BRAVO is a founding member of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). Each year, they document incidences of hate crimes and domestic violence along with similar agencies across the United States.

To make a donation online directly to BRAVO you can do so here via the Network For Change.

If you live in the Ohio area and have been a victim of a hate crime contact Bravo, 866-862-7286. BRAVO also has a helpline available for resources at the number above. Their helpline is staffed weekdays from 10AM to 4PM, and Sunday through Thursday from 6PM to 10PM. BRAVO also has self-defense classes available at various times. If you are interested in taking a class or having a safety workshop for your local group (whether its a euchre group, softball league or any other group) contact BRAVO. Services provided at BRAVO are free of charge.

Rajesh Lahoti from Union Cafe also posted some amazing news! Dr James Ford DDS (51 North High Street, Suite 100, Columbus, Ohio 43215) is going to match another $1000 in donations on Friday at the PINK EVENT for BRAVO, so if we can raise $2000, then BRAVO gets $4000. A big thanks to James, this is very generous, and continues to show that our community is strong, resilient and will unite against anyone or anything that tries to attack or take advantage of us.

“Many businesses are also donating merchandise, funds and sending out blasts for the fundraiser. Our allies are with us. We will get a list of those groups and individuals and post them. We must make a point to support the businesses that are here for us at times like these.”

Get your pink on Friday. FCKH8 is making the official Pink shirt with 100% of the profits going back to BRAVO. They will have a stand with sizes from S to XXL available on the sidewalk in front of Union (782 North High StreetColumbusOH) all day this Friday.

1008975_10151988746354992_1303405808_o

As well as Skreened, a Columbus business, that creates custom apparel has stepped forward and offered the donation of 500 t-shirts to help those who don’t own a pink shirt. The founder of Skreened, Daniel Fox has graciously offered up the service of his company to provide shirts for Friday to help those take a stand against gay violence.

skreened-logo-sept

Skreened will be giving away pink shirts at Outlook Columbus Magazine at 11:30 am this Friday June 14 at 815 N High St, Ste Q, Columbus, Oh 43215. The shirts will be first come, first served. Donations accepted will go to BRAVO (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization).

981503_10151692881047673_1684746735_o

Continue to watch my blog on any further updates about this event and others.

Thanks. Derek. Huggs 🙂

1010442_10201165962968939_1190024972_n

Obstacles The LGBTQ Community Must Jump

Recently George Takei commented on his facebook page about how many people on his page were sick of people talking about gay issues and it brought up something that I have been thinking of for the last few weeks.

Many on this page have commented that they are “sick” of people talking about gay issues, or simply “don’t care” if someone is gay and would rather they would kept it to themselves. I find this disheartening. There may come a day when we need not come out of the closet, and need not remind others of the terrible violence, inequity, and ostracism that LGBT people face daily simply because of who we are and who we love. But that day is not here, and more importantly will never get here, unless people continue to step forward and offer themselves as examples, often at great personal cost. I am called “faggot,” “degenerate,” “queer” and “homo” by misguided people every day of my life, even on my own page, but this does not discourage me. It only reminds me of how far we have to go. Once upon a time I was called a “Jap” and put into a prison for four years with my entire family, for no reason other than who we were and who we looked like. It is my life’s mission to fight against the dark forces of fear and intolerance that could ever lead again to such an injustice. Thank you for taking the time to listen. The next time you feel fatigue from hearing about LGBT issues, ask yourself this: Do we live yet in the kind of society where violence, hate and prejudice is not an issue? Until we do, be part of the solution, and stand always for justice and equality for all people.

As far as we have come, it is a realization that we have a lot further to go. I often wonder why do so many have such a problem with homosexuality? In the end I believe it is the unknown that scares people the most. We live in a world where we feel we must conform to something and for many that is religion. If we are told something, then it must be so. Passed down from one generation to the next.

I was watching The Golden Girls, my nightly tradition, and I was kind of taken aback by the fact that even Blanche didn’t quite understand what being gay meant. I mean dimwitted Rose is a given. Then I started to think what was being gay like before the Internet. I have to think that the Internet helped kick start the gay revolution. It is still hard for me to believe that people back then didn’t have any concept of homosexuality.

I think that is the main problem today. Those who spout off about gay people keeping quiet probably don’t even know anyone who is gay or if they do they are themselves are triggered to face the facts. Once you get to know someone who is gay with an open heart, how could you take away their love and happiness???

People get caught up in the argument that it is a choice. I often wonder how many would chose a life filled full of hate, discrimination and the potential for great harm. Even those who chose to live the straight life, usually end up so miserable they have no choice but to come out of the closet. People would much rather please their own beliefs even if it means making someone living a lie and when that happens it usually hurts everyone around them.

Being gay, you have to give up a lot. Not only do you have to live in fear of being discriminated against but it’s always in the back of your head what if the one time you show your true colors and someone goes ballistic on you. You see it on the news often enough to make you fear that outcome. When I go to a new area I find myself cringing and holding who I am in. Granted I am a big guy but if you have a group of people come at you, I don’t stand the chance. If you don’t think that is possible, look at the recent outbreak of hate crimes in New York City.

Thankfully nowadays many teenagers are coming out at an early age but even now they are faced with reticule and hate. Look at how many of these children are killing themselves. How many others face bullying on a daily basis even if it isn’t extreme. Words can do a lot of damage. They are like little stones, that do their damage one little crack at a time. If you throw enough of them, they will shatter your self esteem into a million pieces.

It is bad enough when we have to face this kind of hate from the world but another thing when it comes from within our own families. You don’t have to be told that you are going to hell that many times before it wears you down. You might can handle hatred from your peers and strangers, and even your own family but God is another story. If that is all you have ever known, how do you know there is anything else out there in this world.

I recently discovered how much I wanted a family of my own and what a great loss that I am almost 37 and am without a family of my own. For years I had convinced myself that I didn’t want or need children, figured it just wasn’t meant to be. I gave up on the idea, especially after I have struggled in finding a mate to settle down with. I have become accustomed to having things taken away from me and what it boils down to is love.

I grew up hiding who I was. People during my time weren’t out in High School and they certainly didn’t take their same sex to the prom. I didn’t get to do the whole dating thing, nor did I get to do the whole bringing my boyfriend home to meet my parents. Holding who you are in, is like keeping a fire within a confined area… all it does is damage. That flame is meant to shine.

Another thing that many try to take away from gay people is our spirituality. Whether you have any personal experience with spiritual abuse, all you have to do is watch the media to see the damage church going people cause. Sure not everyone is as extreme and hateful as the Westboro Church but it all causes harm. At least they are upfront and honest with their hate. So many others do it in silence or sit back and don’t do anything when they are faced with that same hate.

While 12 states plus Washington DC have legalized gay marriage, we still have 38 states to go. Plus with DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) so far in tact, without federal recognition we still will lose out on many rights. Not to mention that in many states gay people can be fired from their jobs and lose their housing all because of their sexual orientation.

With the hate crimes that have been committed recently in Columbus and New York City it also goes to show you how many have had their own security and well being put at risk. Imagine going through life having to watch your back and live in worry that someone might try something.

What it all boils down to is human rights and the lack thereof.

Many gay people lose their biological families for being gay. They are kicked out and treated less all due to the gender they love. To expect someone to change something that is so tied to who they are inside is like telling someone to change the color of their skin, it is impossible. Sure people can hide and repress the feelings but eventually it will come out… usually in an explosive way.

Look at how many teens kill themselves over being gay, as well how many homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. For many the discrimination and hate follows them all the way to home. Everyone has the human right to feel safe but often that is the first thing that gay people lose.

Some will try to say that being gay is abomination, a curse and a sin. While being gay doesn’t always make your life easy, I wouldn’t change it at all. Being gay is a gift from God and those who don’t see that are delusional! They don’t see the true meaning and message of this world. While many of us weren’t born into families that validate and accept us, I have learned that it doesn’t mean we can’t have the families we need. For many gay people they have had to go outside of their biological family for the support and love they need. Their friends have become their family and support system.

Some will try to take away things that aren’t theirs to take, like spirituality and God. These are things they don’t even have the power to take, yet that doesn’t stop them from trying. The key is for us all to stick together and stand up, as a solitude front. They might not listen to one voice or try to drown us out but when that voice gets amplified it will knock them to the ground.

The time has come for us to take back what is our for the keeping and that includes our safety, spirituality and families.