Please Rescue Me From My Homosexuality!

UPDATE: Take a moment and report her Facebook page as hate speech, including her posts. Maybe Facebook will remove her. Hate doesn’t belong on social media when so many children use it and will be affected by it.

https://www.facebook.com/theactivistmommy/

The other day a petition came across my Facebook feed about this woman who goes by the name Activist Mommy who has a facebook page where she spews her sugary coated hate. Her name really should be the Anti-Mommy or the Anti-Christ Mommy. Seems more fitting than to be labeled an activist. She’s also anti a lot of things including science, abortion, etc. She’s all things ridiculous.

I signed the petition and moved on. Then today I discovered the new rainbow reaction on Facebook and I thought I should find her page again to share some rainbows with her. There is something about trolling bigots posts with rainbows that tickles me. You won’t ever reach these kind of people and usually it’s best to just ignore them but sometimes you just gotta stand against that kind of hate. Kill them with rainbows, I mean kindness as they say.

Then I read her post about the Columbus Pride parade advertising that she was going to save some homosexuals by saying that she’s “looking forward to interviewing many of my homosexual friends in Columbus, Ohio.” In the post she further states that she’s going to interview and befriend all the homosexuals. I wonder if she will be like Kirk Cameron and bring a camera crew? She loves homosexuals and doesn’t care if she makes some enemies (from the people she says she will become friends with) that they need to hear the truth she thinks she’s speaking.

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This woman has mastered passive aggressiveness. Someone should give her a PhD in it. The Anti-Christ, I mean the Activist Mommy insists she loves us gays. I mean why else would she use the term homosexual to describe us? No ally in the history of queer allies has ever called their friends homosexual. Only people who feel uncomfortable by gay people or even worse are bigoted.

She doesn’t understand why she’s getting trolled with so much hate. All she’s trying to do is Jesus duty to save us from eternal damnation. I mean how could anyone think that had anything but a loving touch to it.

Anti-Mommy… gosh I’m having a hard time using Artistic Mommy… does the typical compare homosexuals to sex addicts, the fornicators, the adulterers, the porn addicts, etc.

We’re the petty, small-minded ones because we’re calling out her sugary bullshit. How dare we imply that she hates homosexuals. Why else would she troll us at the pride parade telling us what we need to hear.

Honestly I’d rather have someone call me a faggot to my face because at least they’re honest about it. They don’t hide behind a sugary coverup. You can pour a dumptruck full of sugar onto an ounce full of shit but you can smell the stank.

The stink they’re trying to cover up has nothing to do with homosexuality. It has everything to do with their own fears, insecurities and hate. To keep all of that negativity at bay they anchor themselves to a false idea of what God and Jesus is. The only way they will feel good about that choice is by convincing everyone else that their way is the right and only way.

I know all of this because I lived it for so many years. I grew up in a family full of people like this. People who felt it was their god given duty to save me. My father is one of these people. He’d go up to strangers telling them that they needed to accept Jesus Christ in their life or they’d go to hell. It didn’t matter the situation either. One time at a funeral he cornered my sister’s friend trying to save her.

That kind of hate destroys, including the sugary coated kind. I grew up hating myself because I was brainwashed in believing that I was going to hell for being gay. It almost destroyed me. You just don’t get over having your own father tell you over and over that you’re going to hell. While strangers and other family could escape his wrath, I couldn’t.

Children, teens and even adults kill themselves over this kind of hate. The age of Trump has brought out all the bigots. He is their king and now they feel even more justified in spreading their hate like shit on crackers. So I’m torn. I believe in free speech. I don’t know what the appropriate action is for someone like this lady. Ultimately she deserves love and she needs it. She’s lost and delusional. She has two young children and I can’t imagine what they’re having to endure.

Yes people like this are a dime a dozen. I think what upsets me about people like this isn’t about the hate they spread but the damage it does. I know countless people are enduring the pain I did. It breaks my heart that I can’t rescue them. They are the ones who need saving and I don’t mean by berating them.

Some will say to just ignore people like this and for the most part I do. There’s the argument that while her speech is vile it is still free speech. I believe in free speech but I also believe in standing up. If you’re going to spread your hate in a public forum expect that others will stand against you. There are consequences to hate. Now while I think speech should be speech that doesn’t mean I believe we should give them the stage like some universities have done for people like Ann Coulter or Milo what’s his name.

At what point does silence turn into acceptance and tolerance. When you stand up to people like this woman you’re standing up for those who can’t do it themselves. When she shares her sugary hate on social media it will eventually show up in the feeds of teens who are struggling and getting bullied. How many children have to die from bullying both from other children or adults before people wake up.

Did you know that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24? Here are some other facts about teen suicide.

• Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers. [2]

• In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25. [3]

• LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. [4]

• 1 out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9-12) seriously considered suicide in the past year. [5]

• Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average. [6]

So that’s where I draw the line. I refuse to sit by and let this hate destroy others. Having to grow up in this kind of hate doesn’t ever leave you. So while many survive these horrific situations they grow into adults who struggle greatly. It’s taken me twenty years to heal and I’m still processing layers.

I’ve struggled to cope as an adult. It was easier for me to literally escape from that hate including my father. All these years I knew the hate that was out there in this world. I didn’t need to look any farther than my own family. I thought I escaped it but in reality I’m still living in parts of that house still. I was reminded this the night that Trump took the election. I was devastated. I knew what was at stake and the lives that would be lost from his hate.

It was surreal seeing all the people go through what I did for so many years. People not realizing the kind of hate that’s out there. It’s one thing to know your family is filled for of bigots but it’s another thing to know there are millions of them. It almost scared me into the hospital from suicidal thoughts. It was this gigantic flashback.

For the next two months I was paralyzed by my fear. I wasn’t just reliving that night but all the nights from when I was a teen. I live in a rural area and I would find myself questioning (in my head) others who I would encounter in public. Is this someone who voted my rights away? If they find out I’m gay will they verbally chastise me or worse attack me? I’m 6ft, 400lbs and have a big beard and even I feared being found out. I didn’t hide like so many years, well after a while.

Another dangerous aspect of hate speech is that it’s usually attached to some belief of discrimination. It’s one thing to believe whatever you want to but another thing to vote away my rights… or take them away… or deny service to me… So hate speech is a double edged sword.

Most in our country were awoken to the level of hate out there in our world. There was some relief to that fact knowing that you weren’t alone. It’s so easy to think that is all that’s out there. When you grow up surrounded by hate you get tunnel vision. If the people who are suppose to protect you and become the ones who hurt you how else is a child supposed to know anything but that.

You get to a point where you don’t trust anyone. It’s this weird state of living between the world of a victim and survivor. Which is why something like gay pride is so important. There is safety in numbers. It’s not just to have a good time. I still to this day find myself weary in places where heterosexual men are like sports bars. Instantly I become that scared child having to endure my father’s hate. So it was just easier for me to stick with people I knew were open minded.

I saw time and again people posting about removing facebook friends because of Trump and his army of hate. I didn’t delete one person. I had weaned these kind of people out of my life long ago. Maybe I’m missing out by not being as open to different ideas but it’s how I stay safe. It’s easier said than done to be accepting of all ideas when those words are stones to you. I also don’t think it applies to ignorance or hate. People are literally scared for their life and many have died because of this hate. There are those of us who don’t have the luxury of taking these risks.

So I think there is nothing wrong with eliminating people in your life like this or limiting your time with them. Sometimes you have to love people from afar.

I’m a strong believer that good things can come from bad things. It can be extremely tough to see this, especially if you’re living it. After I got over the shock of Trump I started to see all the wonderful supportive people coming out of the woodworks. There were way more of the lovers, than the haters. Just recently I saw a picture of a pride section at the Kroger in a conservative small town. That’s progress. You don’t know what that does to a person who has grown up hating themselves. It’s a bright light in a dark world. To many it’s just cardboard and paper, and others an abomination.

I’ve always lived life with the philosophy of doing good. You can be the person who lifts someone up. I’ve always been open with my struggles. Some have questioned why I’ve shared so openly. I don’t do it for them. At the end of the day if my struggles can be a lighthouse to someone else I will feel better. If I can save one person I know my life will have been meant for more than all that hate, misery, tears, blood and pain.

I won’t lie I’ve not got my life figured out. It’s a lifelong battle. I’ve struggled with dark days of depression. I fight daily with these demons. People like the activist mommy are not my demons, nor do they affect me. I’ve given people like her power for so long. They’ve rented space in my mind for most of my life.

The activist mommy speaks of freedom. To read her posts and the comments supporting here reminds me just how free I am. That I can read her posts and not feel any pain. I’ve had a lot of practice and I still get caught up occasionally.

For so many years it was easier to hate my father and be angry. It wasn’t until my Mom died five years ago that I realized how much destruction the anger has caused and how much he still controlled me. I say past tense because recently I cut those ties after some realizations. The grief softened the anger and I discovered a world of hurt. Through that hurt I wished for the father I always wanted and deserved. I even thought he had changed. Years ago he apologized for how he stated, the way he approached Jesus to me.

My mom was my lifeforce. She was my rock and when she died I went floating into outer space… so I grabbed onto the closest life force I was born with. I had my heart broken all over again recently. I had seen his posts on facebook about all things alt right. Anti this, anti that. A total trump lover… So it started to wake me up again. It was directed at me this time but it still stung. Still I thought maybe he wouldn’t turn on me this time. Maybe this time would be different.

Since my Mom died in 2012 I’ve struggled to survive. It’s been nearly five years and I’m not even 1/4 back to where I was before. In the last year I’ve almost been homeless three times. Through it all I fought through the grief and I’m finally on the outside looking in. For someone with PTSD that is extremely difficult to do. While I might not be emotionally unstable all the time I still struggle daily.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to live in a world where I no longer have the one person who was there for me. The world seemed to dark and scary for me. I had a lifetime of pain, suffering and misery that I almost ended it all in 2013. I didn’t really want to die, I just wanted relief and didn’t think I would ever get it.

It’s so much easier to judge someone else than it is to have empathy for what the person has endured. I think that’s what bothers me the most about this kind of hate is it reminds me of the kindness I wished I had more of. Often times I feel like a fuck up. The person who can’t be stable. Some days I don’t hate myself and those days are wonderful. I’m starting to have more of those happy days but I have enough of the others to mess with my mind.

I’m the end result of this hate. So many grow up into flawed adults who’ve never had the chance to heal and cope with the pain they’ve endured. It’s been twenty years and I still can hear my father’s voice yelling that I was going to hell and telling me that I was going to die alone in the hospital of AIDS. Those are words you never get rid of. You learn to detach the power cord but they’re still there.

Sometimes I just want to yell bloody murder. Will someone see me for who I am? and not the person they want me to be. For too long I didn’t think I deserved anything good, including love. So while I might still hate parts of myself I now know that I deserve wonderful things including kindness and love. I still struggle with believing I will find it but that’s just another thing I’m dealing with.

I wish people like the activist mommy could see our pain. See all our tears. I have to leave the situation knowing that they’re flawed and can’t see anything but their fears.

How do you combat someone like the activist mommy? Say what you want to her. Troll her with rainbow reactions but do something more than that. Reach out to someone you love who is struggling or even not. Someone in your life who is lgbtqai. They’ve probably just as scared as I am with the world we live in and could use the support. Just a simple I love you and I’m there will do. That’s what pride really is about. It’s celebrating our freedom from this hate and celebrating what being gay is all about… love and fabulousness.

I’ve never really questioned whether I was gay or not. For the most part I have loved being gay, it’s what makes me special. Though I’ve not always seen it as a gift. There was a time I tried to hide my fabulousness. I had guys make me less because of my femininity saying things to me like you’re too much like a girl, like that was a bad thing. So I tried to fit in. It was easy to do in the bear community with my size and facial hair. It wasn’t until I dressed in drag that I finally felt in touch with the person I was born to be. It was the first time that I had ever felt beautiful. Honestly I feel more like a woman than I do as a man. I recently have been describing myself as queer. It’s been rather liberating.

I’m learning to embrace who I am. So if you’re reading this and you’re going through something similar… hang on… weather out the storm. There are kind people out there. When you see people like the activist mommy remember like Glinda the good witch says, they have no power over you. If you’re living in this hell reach out to someone at school, a friend… A great resource is the Trevor Project if you can’t find anyone locally. They will help anyone including adults. You can always send me a message here as well too.

I’m with you and some many of us are. I will fight for you until I die. I’m learning to fight for myself but I will always have time for you. We’re worth it.

So activist mommy you have no power over me and others like me,  so be gone… <throws a proverbial bucket of glitter>

Huggs

SOURCES:
[1] CDC, NCIPC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2010) {2013 Aug. 1}.  Available from:www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars.

[2] CDC. (2016). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[3] James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality.

[4] Family Acceptance Project™. (2009). Family rejection as a predictor of negative health outcomes in white and Latino lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults. Pediatrics. 123(1), 346-52.

[5] CDC. (2016). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[6] IMPACT. (2010). Mental health disorders, psychological distress, and suicidality in a diverse sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths. American Journal of Public Health. 100(12), 2426-32.

 

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Stop Derek from Being Homeless

https://www.gofundme.com/dereksnewhome

A few weeks ago I received an eviction from the people I rent a room from to be out of here by the end of the month. It was unexpected and unfounded. I’ve been a great tenant, paying my rent on time. I’ve come to find out that they want someone else to move in. Now they’re trying to push up my move out date by a week, which has left me scrambling for a new place to live. As it stands now the only option I have is to go live in a homeless shelter. I’m trying to raise enough money to help pay my rent (for my own place) until my SSI court date in Feb next year.
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I’m disabled and unable to work. I’m waiting for a court date for SSI disability, which will be Feb 2017. I’m hoping to raise enough money to get me through until that date. I’ve suffered from major depression disorder and PTSD most of my life. There hasn’t been a time in my adult life that I haven’t suffered from depression and PTSD. When I have a PTSD episode friends/family become strangers and strangers become enemies. It’s like being in a war zone. My current living situation has pushed me to my limit, as the last few months have been extremely stressful living here.

Stability is something I’ve never had and something I’m so desperate for. Being able to get my own place would bring that into my life. Lately I’ve made an effort to better my life. I’ve consistently been in therapy and on medicine since 2013, as well as seeing a psychiatrist. I’ve recently moved all my services to this county and having to move out of this town would put my health at risk.

I have a new therapist who I love. She’s working on a new treatment for those with PTSD called EMDR. It’s helps the patient to reprogram traumatic events into more healthy ways. I’ve finally taken my life back after four years of complete hell. In 2012, my Mom died from cancer causing me to spiral into a deep, dark depression. It’s taken me four years but I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I’ve come to terms with my disablity and now realize that I need to treat it like diabetes.

I’ve tried to do this on my own and that doesn’t work. So I’m asking for help. I’m so very scared to be homeless. I’ve made a lot of progress the last few months and I want to keep moving forward. I’ve also started to embrace my art again by working on a new comic book. My passion for art has helped me through some very difficult times in my life. Having my own place would give me a safe space to create new works of art.

I’ve suffered for too long and finally realize that I deserve better. I’m taking my life back and I’m determined to get my own place. No matter what is thrown at me I don’t let it keep me down. Every time a hurdle is placed in front of me I clear it. I will keep climbing this mountain until I get a home of my own. While the last two months have been some of the worst times in my life it has helped me find an inner strength that I didn’t know was there. All this time I thought I was broken but I always rebound. Then it dawned on me through all the bad things in my life I’m still here. I’m strong as steel.

Thanks for taking the time to hear my story. Please consider sharing this campaign with everyone you know.

Here are some of my recent sketches of my comic book. Also follow my facebook page for DragZilla! DragZilla is the story of a gay man brutally attacked because he’s gay. He cries out for help and in his hour of need a glimmer of light appears. A goddess like entity, who goes by the name Glimmer, transforms him into a drag queen superhero. He starts off his journey to find justice for his attack but in the process becomes a beacon of light for the LGBTQ community. I’m really excited to have started work on this new project of mine. Having my own place would help me bring to life DragZilla!

Depression Fog

Dense_Tule_fog_in_Bakersfield,_California

I wish people who have never suffered from depression could just for one day experience the crippling fog that comes from depression. The fog that so thick and dense that you have to take a jackhammer just to make any dent into that billowing, pea soup like fog. It’s not just a fog but an enormous spiderweb as well constantly pulling at your limbs like a spider to a fly.

Just for one day… They could know what it’s like to wake up and feel like you they’re chained to a million bricks. They would hear the voices piercing into their brain one dirty word at a time. Loser. Idiot. Pathetic. Ugly. Failure. Bad. A world where your loved ones become strangers and strangers become predators… Anyone and everyone can cause harm to you… just for one day.

raining

Just for one day I wish they would have that cloud follow them wherever they go… constantly storming and flooding their world. The tears they suffocate their wounds. Have the sunshine always be at reach but never able to get there.

Just for one day I want them to be surrounded by the naysayers in a tight, stuffy room who constantly yell at them to get over it. Over and over again… Until it seeps into their consciousness. They can hear the thoughts in everyone’s heads thinking things like “oh they’re just lazy” or “they’re doing it all for attention”… just for one day…

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Just for one day may you feel so numb that you’re not able to move. Beyond nothingness. No matter how hard you try to can’t wake up. Deep in a coma but still you’re awake. A zombie just floating on by like a balloon in the sky… You long to feel again… just for one day…

Just for one day will you wish you could be numb again to extinguish all the intense feeling of pain, a roller coaster ride of emotions full of loop de loops. Feelings so deep and raw that you are convinced you’re dying… but alive you remain… May you feel like you’re constantly running in slow motion, while the world around you spins in fast forward… just for one day…

fastforward

Just for one day I wish they could feel the deep levels of suffering we feel, from the deep levels of hell to the high peaks of the heavens. May they feel the level of hopelessness and helplessness that feels that’s never ending. May they feel all alone, even when you’re surrounded by hundreds of people. A loneliness that will haunt you for eternity… just for one day…

Just for one day I wish that all they could think about ending the pain and feeling like death is the only solution to their never ending suffering. When they look outside their eyelids may they only see pitch black darkness and a silence that will make you go mad… just for one day…

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Just for one day may they lose everything they’ve ever had and ever wanted… the people they loved and the dreams they had… their possessions, their valuables and their memories… May they have everyone look and treat them differently like they’ve got the plague… just for one day…

Just for one day may they feel like a prisoner in their own home, in their own body. Where everything is danger, even leaving your bed. Their mind becomes their personal cell and all they can hear are the shadows and fears. Everythings a struggle even brushing their teeth. One inch feels like a million miles and the outside is a dangerous place. Everywhere they turn fear is there waiting. Like this red eyed monster waiting to swallow you whole… just for one day…

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Just for one day… will you understand what it’s like to endure life living with this deep, dark fog constantly following me wherever I go. To feel it’s relentless energy barking at your heels waiting for you to fall, so that it can pull you under and back into the dark… just for one day…

Just for one day… I wish I could get away from this fog and live life free… from the pain and suffering of it all… from the chains that bind me… to the words that restrict me… and the fears that hide me…

But I would never inflict or wish this upon my greatest enemy… to know the pain it causes… the toll of it’s loss… it’s unbearable… even just for one day…

Woman Looking Through Pane of Glass

Prisoner in My Own Body

I’ve discovered recently how deep my self worth (or lack thereof) runs and how it connects to everything I touch. I have known for years that I suffer from poor self esteem and self worth but I didn’t realize how much of an impact it had on my life.

With depression and PTSD, for me, there comes this crippling isolation. The more depressed or triggered I am the more I crawl into my cave. This isn’t a new concept for me as I have been doing this for year. The closest people in my life become strangers, and strangers become monsters. It is a scary place to me. I lose all sense of reality and often I don’t even recognize myself.

I woke up early this morning (which is rare for me) and instantly felt the need to cleanse myself, as in take a shower. It will have been almost a week since my last shower. I wish I could say that was the longest I have been without bathing but it comes with the territory. The more worthless I feel the less likely I am going to care about staying clean. For most taking a showering is a no brainer but when I am in the low place it becomes like Mount Everest.

Every time I shower, especially if it has been a good while since my last one, I feel so clean and fresh. Pure. That doesn’t last very long, usually less than an hour.

Every time I was sexually abused I tried to wash off the dirty with soap but no matter how long or hard I scrubbed it wouldn’t wash away. My outside would be clean but the soap couldn’t touch or reach the dirty deep inside. So it makes sense when I feel the most worthless I allow my body to stay dirty because this is how I feel inside.

When I am depressed everything goes to hell from my personal hygiene to my eating habits, and everything else in between. You should have seen some of the apartments I have lived in, you would have thought it was a disaster zone. I would leave dishes in the sinks for months to the point where I would have to throw everything away. I haven’t gotten better about that but I still allow my living area to go out of whack. Whenever I would have anyone come over, I would go into a panic trying to clean everything. I couldn’t let anyone know the chaos my life was in. I had to give the appearance that everything was okay.

Today I realized that my body is a prison cell. I started to think my mind was the prison but in reality it is my whole body that is the prison. Certainly my mind has it’s own great big, dark cell but everything is contained inside the walls of my prison body.

I desperately want to break free from this cell but I have struggled for years doing so. I have been off my diet since my birthday (july 3) and I have struggled since to get back on track. I use to really struggle with compulsive overeating. There would be times that I would try to medicate my bad feelings with food. I would eat myself into oblivion until all I noticed was sickness from being full. Sweets and soda were my fair weather friends. This week I have noticed myself pigging out to the point where I just don’t care.

The more worthless I feel the more the need to make the horribleness go away, anyway I can. I become very compulsive and I have noticed an increase in my compulsion recently. Food and sex were two ways I used to compensate for my self worth, both always lead me down a dark road.

Sex has also been a struggle for me. I saw myself as an object for many years and gave the people what they wanted. It wasn’t always that way. I grew up believing I could find someone who loved and accepted me. I had dreams of having a family and spending my life with that one person. When that didn’t happen, I took what I thought was the next best thing… not realizing the damage it would cause. When I am triggered my mind tries to go down that road again.

I have been celibate since April 2012, which is the longest I have ever gone without sex. It is one of the few things that I am proud of. I have taken back my body in regards to sex. For me it’s a reminder that not all of me thinks I am worthless. Now that’s not to say that I haven’t had temptation or have had moments where I have tried to look for sex but thankfully I quickly snap out of it. I have caught myself thinking what the heck am I doing??? I don’t want to give my body up for one night of pleasure. I realize not only will I lose all that time of purity but afterwards I will feel like crap.

I went through a period of heavy sexual compulsion. I didn’t care about the risk, I just wanted to feel good but every time I would feel dirty… just like after the abuse. Every time I would run to the shower and try to wash the dirt away and every time I would fail miserably. Usually it would end in my feeling suicidal. With acting out sexually, I’m not proud to admit, I engaged in some very risky behavior. I was playing russian roulette with my health, body and life. I am thankful that to this day I am hiv negative, so many others haven’t been so fortunate.

I’ve thought long and hard about why I didn’t care about the risks of having unprotected sex. Obviously it’s connected to how I feel about myself. When I couldn’t find a man to love me, I gave up and resorted to taking any kind of attention I could find. I didn’t feel I was worthy of love, care and attention so I gave men what they wanted. I learned very early on that a mans needs came before my own. The abuse taught me that my needs aren’t important. Obviously my mind knows that isn’t true but it’s something I still struggle with daily.

It’s amazing the lies your brain believes. Like you deserve AIDS. I didn’t go out looking to become positive but I certainly didn’t turn it away… nor did I want it. Every time I would get tested for HIV I would go into this panic. You would think that being tested negative would scare me straight but that only lasted so long before I started acting out again. I think in part having risky sex was my psyche trying to commit suicide, it certainly was extremely self destructive. I have often wondered why I wanted HIV. Maybe I thought it was the only way for someone to love me and show me attention? Was I so desperate to lose the weight to think having HIV was the only way to do so? Did I really want to die? I certainly wasn’t a bug chaser (someone who actively wants to become hiv positive) but indirectly I had to be trying.

The only correlation to all of this was when I came out of the closet in 1995. One of the many hurtful things my father told me that I was going to get AIDS and that all my friends wouldn’t be there when I was dying alone in the hospital. He also told me that I had always wanted to lose weight and that getting AIDS that would finally come true. Am I still holding on to the hope that my father will love me in the way I need, to the point where dying from AIDS he’d come to my rescue??? It’s been eighteen years since I heard my father spew his hatred towards me and it still feels like he just said them to me. I’m just thankful I have turned down another road but I fear when I get these urges that I will turn back around down that road…

Even recently I have started to walk down that road. I even created a couple of sex accounts, which I quickly deleted… I know that that road is a slippery slide to some dangerous behavior. Thankfully I have realized that is not the life for me, nor the one I want. That is the struggle with being single and feeling lonely. I miss human contact, intimacy. I watched a movie recently about this gay couple and I watched in awe as they made love to each other, as this is something I have always dreamed of but have never obtained. I’m realizing that something isn’t better than nothing. Nothing is better than something that will hurt me, it’s just learning to cope with the indifference.

While I have been able to fend off the sexual compulsion, I haven’t been so lucky when it comes to food. Food is my biggest battle and my biggest addiction. Food has been my biggest friend and defense. I have built this physical blubber of a wall to protect myself and it’s killing me. It makes sense to me that I have been struggling lately with eating healthy. This is really the first time since January that I have struggled this long. I believe in part is that I am getting to the core of all these bad feelings and untruths about myself. All this time I have seen it as digging a tunnel to my core, when I have been digging my escape route to expose it all. They say it gets worse before it gets better. This is the first time in my life that I have been actively working on my body. I am facing the truth in my own time, doing what I need to do to heal… going to therapy, taking my medicine, etc. I might not be moving as quickly as some feel and want me to but I am moving at my own pace… and I will get there. The road to taking care of myself is bound to be bumpy. I have to realize that occasionally I will fall off track, sometimes I will even take the wrong road but the key is to always get back on track… regardless how long it has been.

I’ve been living in darkness so long, that it’s only natural the dark force will try to pull me under. I have been living so unhealthy for so many years, so I must realize the road to healing isn’t going to be perfect. I will fall. I will get scratched. The difference I am no longer in that hurtful place, it is all an illusion. A way to keep me from what I deserve, which is love and happiness.

So I am going to keep moving forward and as a little fishy once told me… I am going to just keep swimming.

Important Tips For The LGBTQ Community on How to Stay Safe When Out in Public

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After the recent hate crimes that have occurred recently in Columbus and New York City I thought it was important to write about how those in the LGBT Community can stay safe while in the public. Especially during the months of Pride, including June for Ohio, it is extremely important to be aware because of increased visibility.

This Friday many people in the Ohio area will be wearing Pink to show support and solidarity to the three young men who were involved in hate crimes yesterday. This goes for anyone who is a survivor of a hate crime.

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Here are various tips and suggestions I found on the internet including the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization in Ohio. Everybody deserves to be safe. Safety and support are important rights entitled to everyone! Did you know that more than half of LGBT people are concerned about being the victim of a hate crime?

BRAVO has recently received multiple reports of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. The incidents have occurred in the vicinity of LGBT establishments both in the Short North area and on the South side. Several of the incidents have involved both physical assault and robbery. BRAVO has good reason to believe that these attacks are anti-LGBTQ motivated.

According to Gloria McCauley, BRAVO Executive Director, “BRAVO believes that these incidents underscore the importance of a renewed discussion and action on hate crimes against LGBTQ people. Sadly, we know that hate violence is intended to send a message of hate and to instill fear throughout the entire community. Hate crimes are largely under-reported or not reported at all, and people are left feeling alone and vulnerable. BRAVO is a great resource – we are asking people to call and report – we can help.”

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Awareness

Awareness is the first line of defense. Stay alert of your surroundings. A criminal’s primary strategy is to use the element of surprise. Project a “force presence” when walking alone. True self-defense begins long before any physical contact.

Use your peripheral vision. Often times we focus too much on what’s going on in front of us, when threats could be lurking from all sides. Scan areas that look deserted but could be harboring predators, such as parking lots.

Avoid distractions such as mobile phones, mp3 players, PDAs, etc. Consider the fact that using headphones or your phone while you’re out in the public will lower your awareness of your surroundings.

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Asserting Boundaries

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. “No” is a complete and powerful sentence! Use your words, alert bystanders and frighten (not anger) an assailant. State your boundaries, don’t ask because they are your right and you don’t have to ask for them. Be direct, assertive in your communication and use body language to show that you are serious, including giving eye contact.

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Body Language

Body language is important. A person who is confident, walking upright and briskly, is less likely to become a victim. There may be times when it’s best not to walk through a group of people. Cross the road to avoid contact. Boundaries are very important. Be direct and assertive in your communication. Empowerment is the first line of defense and goes hand in hand with your body language.

Don’t Let Your Guard Down

Don’t let your guard down or become comfortable even if you are in a gay friendly area. Hate crimes happen anywhere, including areas known for being very accepting like for example the Short North. Remember that these areas border college areas as well. One of the attacks recently in Columbus was in front of a gay bar.

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Trust Your Instincts 

Trust your Gut. Use your sixth sense. If something doesn’t seem right, listen to your intuition. Don’t ignore it, even if it seems silly. If you feel uneasy or if someone gives you a creepy vibe, get out of there.

Use A Buddy System

Use the buddy system by traveling in groups, especially at night. If you are out at a public place don’t hesitate to ask for others to walk you to your car, including the staff.  When going out in the public, especially at night, tell your family, friends or colleagues of your plans. Leave a trail.

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Parking/Walking in Public

Park as close to your location as possible and in well lit areas, even if it takes you longer to find a closer spot to your location. Park under a light at night if you anticipate it will be dark upon return. Stay away from unpopulated areas, as much as you can… Don’t take shortcuts if it means walking through a dark alley or where there is little foot traffic.

Note where you parked your car for a quick and safe exit. Have your keys ready.

ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Do not stand back in the corners of the elevator. Be near the front, by the doors, ready to get off or on. If you get on the elevator on the 25th floor, and the Boogie Man gets on the 22nd, get off when he gets on. Don’t ride the elevator with him if you are not comfortable.

Parking Structures

When parking in a parking structure, park as possible to an exit ramp or near the attendant’s office. If possible, choose a lot that is well-lit and park in an area well-lit as well. Avoid parking garage stairs and elevators, these provide traps that benefit predators by isolating you. Walk in the center of the ramp and aisles, with your whistle and keys ready. Keep your finger on your car key’s emergency button.

Make sure you lock your car when you leave, even if it is a short while. Look around and inside your vehicle before you unlock your door and get in. Lock your door immediately and start your engine right away and get the car moving as soon as possible. If you are being followed while driving, go to the nearest police or fire station and honk your horn. Don’t hesitate to call 911. Do not go home or pull over to the side of the street, as you may lead your potential attacker to an area that may be easier to harm you.

ALWAYS keep warily scanning 360 degrees around you.

Offering Assistance

If someone asks for help like to jump a vehicle, don’t follow or go with them. Offer to call the police for assistance. If the person is in a car while doing so, keep a safe distance and don’t be afraid to walk away and go into a public place. Don’t give them the benefit of the doubt, being a good samaritan doesn’t mean putting your boundaries and safety at risk. It is okay to say no! You can offer assistance in a more public place.

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Have A Plan

Have a plan. If you are in a state of panic it may be difficult to formulate a plan but if you already have a plan set in your head, you will be likely to react well under severe distress. Fear can cause a person to freeze up and panic. Having a plan ahead of time will help with this.

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Use Your Voice and Body

Being verbal is one way to fight back, use your voice. Yell fire or scream “NO!!!” at the top of your lungs. Act like a crazy person if you have to by causing a scene. Carry a whistle or some other alert device. Run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store or car window–do whatever you can to attract attention.

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Know Your Limits

Know your limits when planning on using substances including alcohol in public including watching your drink. Buy your own drinks. If you feel you are too intoxicated to walk, especially drive, home call a friend or a cab. Being intoxicated limits your impairment.

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Protect Yourself

Keep personal items close to your body. Don’t display money or expensive jewelry.

Take a self defense class, not only to learn the skills to protect yourself but to also help you with your confidence. There are many different organizations that offer self defense classes but many of them are for women only. Contact your local anti-violence organization in your area to see if they have any resources for self defense for the LGBTQ community.

If you can afford to pay for self defense classes I did find an organization called Pragmatic Self Defense in the Columbus area that offers one time classes reasonably priced. I have never been here, so I can’t testify to the results but the website says they have a money back guarantee. I believe BRAVO is your best bet due to their classes are related to LGBT Self Defense but I wanted to give others options.

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Specifically for those in the Columbus, Ohio area The Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) does offer self defense training for free during various times during the year. They just had a class that ended recently. If that is something you are interested I would recommend calling to show interest and see when the next class will be scheduled. BRAVO also does self defense training classes for small groups as well on a case by case situation. So if your group wants to get together and learn some new skills contact BRAVO with interest. Again all the work they do is for free.

Their contact number is 1-866-86BRAVO (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.

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Being Followed?

Cross the street more than once if necessary, vary your pace and change direction.

Go as quickly as possible to the nearest place where there will be other people, such as a service station, fast food outlet, or house with lights on.

Go quickly to a well-lighted place with lots of people. Do not go home. You don’t want the person to know where you live.

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If You’re Confronted

There is no set way to respond as every situation is different. A person may first talk to you to lull you into a false sense of security, then try to intimidate and frighten you into submission, before attacking. Your positive actions in the first few moments of any confrontation are the most important.

Display a confident manner, hold your head up, pull your shoulders back, stand tall. Use words like “No”, “Stop”, “Leave me alone”. Talk loudly and assertively. Be prepared to physically defend yourself. You are allowed to use force and hurt your attacker in self defence.

The most vulnerable parts are eyes, nose and genital area. Scratching an attacker’s face can help identification later on. Be prepared to use items you are carrying to defend yourself with, such as your handbag, briefcase or umbrella.

Keep making lots of noise to attract attention to yourself. As soon as you can, go to a safe place and dial 911 and ask for the Police.

Again Go quickly to a well-lighted place with lots of people. Do not go home. You don’t want an attacker to know where you live.

Escape

If the assailant wants you to go with them somewhere, do everything in your power to prevent a predator from taking you to a secondary crime scene. Once he gets you alone, there may be no way to escape. If that means yelling or screaming, DO IT!!!

Fight to escape, do whatever possible to distract the assailant. Use your primal moves- strike the eyes, throat or groin. Use the hell of both your palms to clap him hard on both ears, which will disorient him.

Get to a safe place. Call someone you trust. Seek medical attention.

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Report The Incident

If you are in immediate danger always call 911!!! If you have been the victim of a hate crime and/or assault (even if it was minor) please contact your local police, as well your local anti-violence organization. A list can be found here:

http://www.avp.org/storage/documents/2013.3_ncavp_memberlist.pdf

In the Ohio area you can contact Bravo at 866-862-7286.

Write down any and all of the details of the crime as soon as possible. Include the perpetrator[s] gender, age, height, race, weight, clothes and other distinguishing characteristics. If any threats or biased comments were made (such as anti-gay epithets), include them in the report.

While reaching out for help and reporting the hate crime might be scary it’s an important step in healing and recovery. Reporting these crimes help organizations gather information to help identify trends in violence that affects LGBTQH communities. These organizations like BRAVO need to know about and document the full scope and impact of violence, regardless of whether people choose to report to the police.

All reports to BRAVO are confidential and may be made anonymously. All BRAVO services are free.

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Get Support

Don’t suffer alone, there are a lot of resources out there to get the support you need and deserve! Allow for time to heal, you’re not alone.

You’re a survivor and what happened to you was not your fault. Recovering from any kind of assault takes time. Healing is a process. Consider joining a support group, seeing a therapist or taking a self defense class. Your voice is very important and afterwards you may find it difficult to use it, so finding a way to let your voice be heard will be crucial for healing! You can contact your local anti-violence LGBT organization for more information.

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What Would You Do If You Witness A Hate Crime?

If you see a hate crime in progress call for help, 911!!! Offer support, get involved. There is safety in numbers. If you see someone about to walk into a dangerous situation, offer to walk them to their car. Again listen to your gut and offer a helping hand. You could be the difference between the safety of another human being. Don’t be a passerby, think about if you were being assaulted. DO SOMETHING!!! It is understandable to be fearful of a situation and wanting to keep yourself safe as well but there are many things that can be done to assist someone in trouble.

During an episode of “What Would You Do?,” ABC staged a hate crime to see if anyone would stop.  In the scenario a hispanic male was being attacked by three men. During the two-day experiment, a total of 99 people came upon the fight. The majority, 67 people, didn’t get involved at all. What would you do in a situation like this when someone was being targeted for being gay? It’s important as a community to talk about these issues in order to stay safe.

As a reminder these tips I have included are suggestions for staying safer. Regardless if you follow these tips or not, and find yourself involved in a hate crime know that it is not your fault. I found many of these tips on the BRAVO website, as well as many other websites related to public safety.

You deserve to be safe. No one deserves to experience violence, whether from a stranger, acquaintance, family, friend or lover. You have the right to safety and support.

Remember we are all in this together. If we stay a solid front love will always conquer hate!

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Losing my spirituality…

Now I know it isn’t like a key or book that you misplace but I can’t seem to find my spirituality again. It is rather upsetting because it felt nice for a change to feel it again. I know that it isn’t really lost, more just misplaced but I really could use my spirituality right now. About three weeks ago I noticed a shift in me. I don’t really recall what sparked my spirituality, it just kind of happened.

Part of me really wishes I wouldn’t have watched The United States of Tara because it has sent me into full on trigger mode. Ever since then I have been down, depressed and very disconnected. On a positive note at least I am aware of what is going on but still I dislike feeling this way. I know my spirituality is deep within me, I just have to dig it out.

I think the hardest trigger from The United States of Tara is realizing that I have internalized my abusers and their actions. Ever since watching all the episodes I can picture myself as a boy in the bedroom where I was abused, hiding in the corner. It literally feels like I am still there today!!!

Once I get triggered it is very difficult to come out of that cloud of confusion. I feel so dazed and confused. I really need to get back into therapy. I left an appointment with a therapist that I saw once about a month ago. With everything going on right now, it is important for me to be in therapy. Years ago I was diagnosed with having PTSD from the sexual abuse.

I hate this scared feeling I keep having. It feels like the end of the world. I would totally be Chicken Little!!! The sky totally feels like it is falling, when reality it is not!

It also startles me because when I start to feel good it gives me a false sense of security that my bad days are over. Then I am smacked in the face with a bad day and it sends me flying.

I know there is a reason for me watching the show. There is something I need to learn. It really bothered me that I didn’t get to see if Tara overcomes her problems. I felt great sadness that the series was cancelled. I guess in a way if Tara was able to overcome all of her obstacles and make it to a happy place, I could too… but because I couldn’t see the outcome, I am not able to see my future… and that scares the living day lights out of me!!!

Today something happened that I don’t care to go into. My first thoughts were I was going to hell. I had a lot of shame and regret surface as well. So did the words LOSER. I really had to catch myself because I was going down a dark road. It is like when I get this way, I am a completely different person. Plus it didn’t help that I have been sick the past few days.

I really need to work on my support system. I don’t really feel like I have many people I can turn to, when I need to talk about what is going on. It is not to say that I don’t have people in my life who care about me but I don’t feel comfortable going to them.

Another key is the lack of people outside of my family to spend time with. I have friends all over the place but not to many near me that I hang out with. I honestly can’t remember the last time I spent time with a friend. Friendships are very important to me and I have struggled fostering new friendships in my area. Part of it is the small town I live in and the fact that I don’t have a car of my own. I really miss living in a big city but with everything going on with my Mom, this is where I need to be.

I wish feeling my spirituality was as easy as plugging myself back into a spiritual outlet but I realize it isn’t how it works. I have to work through these feelings and learn to process them. The key is remembering that spirituality isn’t something you lose. It is inside of me. I just have to keep moving forward, which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes.

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” — Walt Disney.

My goal this week is to setup a meditation area. I need to bring into my world some coping mechanisms that will help me connect to my spirituality. I just have to hang on and keep doing whatever unnecessary to heal. I know in my heart that as long as I continue to take the steps, my life will continue to grow and get better.