True repentance

I was born again as a Christian at the age of 8.  I spent the majority of my life as a faithful Christian.  Well, whatever faithful meant at any given time I suppose.  It was mostly fear of burning in hell and arrogant belief that I was going to heaven and everyone ELSE was going to hell.  Or following the moral rules for a Christian life according to my pre-selected by parents denomination… except when I didn’t.

It wasn’t until my mid 30’s that I repented, though.

There is a lot of talk of repentance in religion.  To turn away from ones path, to give up your “sins” and follow the right way.  In the case of Evangelical Christianity, like I was raised in, it meant grovelling before an all loving God that would burn us for eternity if we didn’t repent. Don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t masturbate… the usual litany of rules.

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OK, I won’t masturbate and will preach at gay people please don’t stir fry me.

 

(I totally masturbated though.)

 

My brand of Christianity wasn’t very noble.  It was judgmental, and an enemy to the LGBTQIA communities.  We didn’t walk around With ironically rainbow-colored hate signs like Westboro Baptist, but we sure were an intolerant bunch.  Fortunately it wasn’t a church that did door knocking or street preaching, but if anyone wandered in to our fortress of godliness we knew exactly what to do.

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We are beating the love of Jesus in to you. It’s for your own good.

 

I’m not going to go through the length of what occurred in my life and how I came to abandon the religion and indoctrination I grew up with.  This piece isn’t about that.  But yes, I became an atheist.

I still hadn’t repented yet.

Fast forward through the mostly tedious details of my life, and you find me with a new twitter account, and a chip on my shoulder.  The Angry Atheist(patent pending) phase of my life.  Thank No-god that it didn’t last THAT long.  I was as big a prick as a new atheist as I was as a bible thumping fundamentalist.  Maybe even worse.  I actually sought people out to berate. (Note, this is not meant to be an indictment of people of faith. Some of the kindest, most humanist people I know are people of faith, and I’ll have words with anyone who speaks otherwise.)

I still hadn’t repented yet.

And then I came in to contact with them. who is them? The people on twitter who aren’t locked in to specific dogmas, but get this, weren’t a giant douchecanoe about it. It opened up a world to me.  I started to repent.

What do you mean started to? You may ask. Started to is being used because despite the event-like context it’s always used in, it’s not.  It’s an ongoing and never-ending process.  I will not live to see the end of my repentance. And that’s ok.  It’s the consistent LISTENING to other people, caring about them, and not judging based on ingrained prejudices. It’s discarding bad beliefs one by one.  And no, you can’t say “ok, I’m not racist now. I’m not homophobic now. I’m not transphobic now.” It’s not as simple as the Jesus version of repentance where you can just say “oops” and then you’re in the clear.  You need to self examine continually with each thing you learn.  And then unlearn the things that simply aren’t true.

 

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I threw out Transphobia. That means I’m woke, right? No Jerry. That’s not how it works.

 

One of the side effects of repenting is the tendency to berate yourself over what you have been up until that point.  It’s understandable, and even necessary to regret actions, words and attitudes that are bigoted and harmful.  If you’re like me and struggle with PTSD and Anxiety, it can be even more of a kick in the gut.  But repentance also means freedom and forgiveness.  Not the “Ok, I’ve been forgiven for everything, so I’m good” kind of freedom.

The freedom to release yourself from the hatred you feel for yourself for what you were.  This doesn’t mean you don’t need to seek forgiveness of people you may have harmed.  That’s a whole different thing, and if you’re genuine about changing who you are, it’s something you really need to do.

It also has another side effect.  You get to release yourself from the self-loathing of things about YOURSELF that you have considered wrong or “sinful” that really aren’t.  Regret that you didn’t follow what Mom and Dad wanted for your life?  Let it go.  Have a hangup about something you’ve hidden most of your life? Let it go.

I don’t say let it go like it’s an easy process. You will struggle with guilt over people you have hurt, and will continue to have episodes of self-loathing for things that you’ve never been wrong about. Let me give a personal example.  I have been polyamorous all my life. Well, as long as I was cognizant of loving other people.  But to me, it was sin.  So I begged forgiveness over and over for something that was never wrong.  I entered into only monogamous relationships, but felt guilty when I inevitably had strong feelings for other people.  No, I’m not talking about checking out a woman walking by. I mean feeling real, deep love for people who I had developed feelings for.

I am free of that burden now.  I now know that what I AM is not something to be ashamed of.  I have sought forgiveness of anyone that I knowingly wronged, and also know that I cannot do so for the people who I don’t know I wronged.

I am repenting. And I intend to never stop.

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Repenting is done on your feet. Not on your knees.

 

Smartassicus out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The price of love

There is a price to love.  A terrible price.  it can cost you in so many ways.  And the bill can come due unexpectedly.

That price is pain. The one thing that can be certain about loving is that it will at some point, hurt you. This is where I find my partner and I right now, the indescribable pain of love.

Trinity was adopted by my partner.  A senior cat when adopted, she was already well along in her life span.  And now it is coming to a close.  On Thursday in the evening, Trinity will be mercifully euthanized due to health complications.  And it hurts.  Oh, does it hurt.

For my partner, she is losing a companion who was there at her side during hard times.  An affectionate old curmudgeon that purred like an engine, and bit her hair to wake her up in the morning.  For me, I am losing a newer friend, but also feeling the pain of watching someone I love beyond all, grieve.  There is no way I could not absorb some of the pain.  I am with someone who has the character to walk in to a shelter and adopt a cat that everyone else overlooks because of her age.  Her pain becomes mine.

And that pain of love is not restricted to pets. The tattoo on my wrist is also a reminder of the pain of love.  Dug in to my skin along someone I love dearly as both a reminder to my lost child, but also a reminder of the love my friend and I share, and the pain of almost never seeing each other.

We risk much by loving.  In friendships, loving them can lead to the heartbreak of them letting you down when you need them most.  It can lead to uneven commitment to relationships.  It can even lead to romantic feelings that are unrequited.  This is pain.

Within romantic relationships, you only multiple the odds of pain.  I have yet to meet a couple that did not have some pain in their partnership.  It varies, but the loving of another individual can lead to great sorrow.  There can even be pain in a happy relationship.  It isn’t about poor relationships, it’s about opening yourself to another person and all that they are.  And that leads to the arrows of pain striking many times throughout your relationship.

Love is both voluntary and involuntary.  The chemical reactions are beyond our control.  The actions, and the commitments, and the fidelity to the boundaries of your relationship are.  You can wilfully hurt someone in your relationship by breaking their trust.  This is an action where you deliberately cause pain. But you can hurt people when you aren’t trying.  Simply by being who you are.  Not that you shouldn’t be who you are, it will just cause pain.  Know this.

So the question was why do we CHOOSE love?

Because it’s worth it.  Love is greater than pain, even when it doesn’t seem so.  Real, compassionate, and empathetic love will not seek to harm, even though it can.  It will make the right decisions, even if it tears your heart out to do it.  Loving and being loved is the best that humanity has to offer.

Love is worth the pain.

This is Smartassicus, signing off for Trinity. You will be missed.

 

 

 

 

 

Memories can’t be taken away

As it is now my Daughters Birthday, I have decided to post the Eulogy that I wrote and delivered at her funeral. I have cut out the greetings and a few notes: I was dressed in jeans and a Green Bay Packers jersey. I was also wearing mismatched socks. (UPDATE: with grateful thanks to @doryR for the portrait that heads this post. I’ve added her completed work below with accreditation.)


I want to explain my strange attire. All too often, we put on a suit and a tie, and do our best to look presentable. I chose to dress in the manner that Amber loved me best. Frequently as I got ready for work, with my coat and tie, I would ask Amber how I looked. She would wrinkle her nose and shrug. One time, she said “that isn’t really you.” So Instead of Mark, the business man, I chose to appear as Mark, the daddy. I even skipped shaving, because Amber would kiss me on the cheek each night, and she liked it better when I was a bit scruffy. The only difference in what I’m wearing from what I usually would, are my socks.
First I would like to tell you about the Amber from a time before most of you met her.
Amber was full of surprises. She began her list of surprises and shocks by crashing in to the world on March 22, 1996, a full seven weeks ahead of schedule. Her mother didn’t even know she was in labour, until moments before Amber arrived. She weighed in at 4 pounds and 10 ounces. She came fast, tiny, wrinkly, screaming, and beautiful. Dad nearly passed out.
She continued her preference for amusing surprises. Like the one time she was up late at night and was being really fussy, until mom and dad were able to hypnotize her to sleep. Or, the first time that mom and dad decided to go out after her being born, she promptly vomited her last meal down the inside of her mom’s shirt when hugs and kisses goodbye were being given.
And what parent didn’t have the little nudist stage? Always at the most inopportune times, off came the clothes, and the shrieks of laughter began as she ran naked and free. Amber was mostly smiles and laughs. She warmed up to people so fast and played with any kid that came along, just so long as they weren’t meanies.
She was precocious, and ferocious in her protection of her mommy and daddy. Like when mommy was watching the news and crying about the events of 9/11, she stuck with her mommy, and then prayed that everyone would be safe and the police would get the bad guys. Or when she was just a few years old, and Daddy was pulled over for speeding. She promptly undid her seatbelt, stood up, and yelled at the police officer to leave her daddy alone. Daddy still got the ticket.
The years of her as a little girl passed in a flash. Halloweens, birthdays, Christmases. Ten thousand, one hundred thousand memories of laughs and smiles and tears and temper tantrums only a privileged few of us were blessed to share in. Those memories are something her mother and I will cherish and hold dear. But what I want to talk to you more about the Amber that many of you got to meet.
There comes a time when a child starts to turn to other people for companionship and laughter. Mommy becomes Mom, Daddy becomes Dad. And that is as it should be. It was with pride that we watched Amber develop friendships and relationships independently.

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Amber drew people to her. Her smile and personality made her instantly likeable. Many of you here today experienced exactly that, an engaging, unique and caring girl who was willing to be friends with just about anyone. She had a maturity and intelligence beyond her years. In a time where you would expect her to care more about gadgets and shoes and video games, she asked questions about history, current events, politics and philosophies, questions that would leave you struggling to answer.
At the same time, she expressed herself through silliness and fun. Most of the time, she did this to lift the spirits of those around her. She’d run and tackle hug people without worrying about dignity and decorum. She would tear out of the house without shoes on to greet her friends. Her mismatched socks would get filthy, and she simply didn’t care.
She sang along to her music. She often complained that her own singing voice was kind of like a tone-deaf frog, but even though she felt that way, she would sing anyways. When we drove somewhere, and she managed to convince us to plug her music in, she would dance in the car. She didn’t care who saw her doing it, and laughed when people did a double take of her silly moves in the seat.
Amber dreamed of being a social worker. She could never decide though, what kind she would want to be. She didn’t know if she wanted to work with teenagers. Or the elderly. Or with those who had disabilities. Her indecision on that came not from uncertainty, but an unwillingness to choose one; for fear that the others would be left out.
Amber loved sports. Individual sports she excelled in were swimming, water-skiing, and knee boarding. As to team sports, many here had the pleasure of seeing Amber play soccer, her first love. But she played at times basketball, hockey, and flag football too. She was never the most technically skilled player on the field, but what she lacked in training and skill, she made up for in sheer heart. She played her soul out. Her face would go bright red within moments of starting to play. A ferocious look of focus and determination would be fixed in her eyes as she chased the ball, shot the puck or tried to catch the pass.
She wanted nothing more than to help her team. In soccer, her chosen sport, she would be upset if she didn’t score a goal. And when she scored one, she would be unhappy that she didn’t score two. This was never because she craved personal glory. She just wanted to help her team win. Once, at a soccer tournament, she was awarded the team MVP medallion. She took it, put it in her soccer bag, and I didn’t see it again for months. It wasn’t until I was packing up her possessions that I found it tucked in the very back of her sock drawer. Only the awards that she won as a team, like the Milton all-stars championship trophy, were on display in her room.
Amber had an artist’s heart. She wrote. She sketched and doodled, she acted in her drama classes, she sang and danced. She was never satisfied with what she produced. Her artistic ability far exceeded that of her parents, but she would always go back and erase, and retry. The goose that she was trying to draw, its feathers were out-of-place. That line of script for her drama presentation wasn’t delivered just right. Wasn’t there a better line I can write for this poem? Amber wanted everyone to see, in her drawings or stories or poems, what she was seeing in her heart.
It is impossible to offer enough of Amber’s life to truly paint a picture of what she turned out to be. But now I’d like to talk to you about the Amber we didn’t know. When I say the Amber we didn’t know, I speak of some of the things that we learned about Amber in the last few months of her life, and what we have learned after her passing. We always knew that Amber was good and kind and compassionate. We didn’t know, though, and may never fully grasp, the extent of her empathy.
Amber turned no one away. There were no losers in her eyes. No one was unacceptable, no one was unlovable. On her Facebook page, she posted a 5 second clip of herself. She does nothing more than smile, and then hold up a sign that says “you’re all beautiful.” And she believed this. That everyone in this world deserved love. She gave of herself fully and completely. Her cellphone would buzz constantly, and she would carry on 3,4,5… 10 conversations at once. That always seemed like normal teenager stuff.
But what she was doing was helping people. She was offering words of comfort and support to people who were struggling. She would drop whatever she was doing, and go to her friends when they were in need. She did so regardless of how she was feeling. It would be raining cats and dogs, she’d have a bad cold, and she’d get a call. She’d be out in the rain and on her way to her friend in a moment.
And even seeing this… knowing how good and kind she was, it left us unprepared for the stories that have poured in since her death. Stories from people, friends, other young people, who told us what Amber really was. Stories of people who had given up all hope. Messages that said they were done with living, until Amber came and lifted some of their pain, so they could go on. Not one, not two. But many stories and messages from people of how Amber had rescued them. Or made their lives brighter.
When Amber was a little girl, I would lie on my back, lift her in the air with my legs, and she would spread her arms and fly. Pretending that she was a superhero. She dreamed of being a hero. She and I argued about who was the better superhero. I liked batman, she thought Batman was lame and that Spiderman was better. She fulfilled her dream. She became a superhero. One that put comic book heroes to shame. She never would believe that of herself, but the best heroes are the ones that don’t claim to be one.
The truth is, Amber saved lives. She made other lives better. She freely carried the hurts of others so that others could see their way through. She worked tirelessly and selflessly to make sure that her friends and others around her felt loved and worthwhile. She accomplished more good at 16 than many will in lifetimes of 60, 70, 80 years. As much as her loss hurts, as deep as the pain is, the greatest feeling is pride, and awe at what our little girl became, and what she did.
Amber dreamed of paradise. But she didn’t dream of it for herself. She dreamed of a world of paradise where everyone would be safe and happy and loved. To everyone here, Mom, dad, grandmas and grandpas, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, Amber knew that we loved her. She never doubted this. Know that, and take comfort in the fact that she understood that we loved her. And take comfort in the fact that she loved each without reservation as well. Do not doubt for a moment that she questioned that love. Amber understood how to love more than most of us ever do. For those who have come to support us, but didn’t know Amber, know that she would be happy that people were here to care about those she cared about. It’s exactly as she would want it.
We know that Amber is now free of fear or pain. But we know we won’t see her again for tackle hugs or kiss on the cheek.
So we find ourselves asking, what now? With Amber gone what do we do? I can tell you she is not gone. She is in every smile given to someone who needs it. She can be in every hug you give a friend that is hurting. We can honor her memory by carrying out her heart’s desire. That everyone feel like they matter. That everyone be told, and feels, as if they are beautiful.
I say this to everyone here, but especially to you young men and women so close to becoming adults. Help each other. Lift each other up when you fall. Don’t suffer in silence when you are broken-hearted. Let no one be excluded or left behind. There are no losers; there are none unworthy of being loved. All Amber wanted for each of you is happiness and love, reach out and take it from people when you need it, and give it to those you know that are needing it now.
Thank you, for Loving our little girl.

The 40 year old teenager

 

 

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Ok. Quick disclosure before getting in to this piece. I came up with the title and concept before my birthday and am writing it after so I’m actually 41 now and I know you can never really trust me again.  I’ll just have to live with the shame of it all.

 

So what do I mean when I say 40 year teenager?  Video games and dick jokes?  Giggling when someone says something I can turn in to an innuendo? Nah.  I do that and it doesn’t have to do with my age, I’m just a jackass.

 

It’s not zits either. no it’s not. Stop looking at my selfie.

It’s more this:  I never was a teenager.  I never had those years.  Sure, numerically I had them.  I didn’t go from 12 to 20 on a single birthday.  But I never was a teenager at the right time.

I don’t write this to garner sympathy.  I’m well beyond that.  My friends know my issues, I’m open about my mental health, and I don’t believe in comparative suffering. But this is my story condensed in to less than novel length.

I endured bullying straight from Grade 1.  In the time of my childhood, there wasn’t much oversight on what kids did on the playground. Living in a small town, you don’t escape it when you move on to higher grades.  The same Fuckfaces that made your life miserable on the playground do so in the High school, except at this point they’ve graduated to beatings.* Long story short, I dropped out.  I was flunking everything anyways, as I refused to go to classes where I was picked on.  So, all of them.  I didn’t see the end of my grade 11 year.

yeah, I’m a high school drop out.  surprise! Or not, depending on what you’ve thought of my education level interacting with me.**

 

I started working full-time at a series of incredibly shitty jobs.  This is not a value judgment of the jobs themselves, but they made me miserable.  Retail. Office clerk.  Factory.  Door to door satellite TV salesman.  at 17.  Those huge ugly dishes.  Another reminder of my age.  The pay sucked, the hours sucked, the life sucked.  And then I got my girlfriend pregnant.  So now instead of making ends meet, I was working two jobs, 7 days a week, to feed a baby. Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t regret my daughter.  She was one of the truly wonderful things in my life.

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she made a gif.

Working every day of the year drains the hell out of you.  It wears you down to the edge of insanity.  It ages you.  And for a while, I was just getting pounded.  Everyone has a story about how their ex is awful.  Let’s just say mine did not work even when our daughter reached school age.

And then she left me.  Thpppt.  Found a new guy to sponge off of.  All good for me, other than less time with my daughter.  Then I dragged myself through various office jobs that sapped the soul out of me.  Until I ended up where I work now.  I’ve been there for 13 years, and in that time have risen to the point where finances are not a key problem any more.  but 12 years of poverty took its toll.

As I approached 30, I met another woman and got married again.  It wasn’t a bad marriage, even though it ended after 10 years. It just wasn’t a fulfilling one.  A wonderful person with whom I shared little in common and that gap increased each year.  During that time, My daughter came to live with me.  Chronically depressed, and struggling, I then had to fight to save her life.  This drained me faster than anything else, other than failing.  No, I don’t blame myself for her taking her own life.  I don’t blame her.  There isn’t blame.  It just is another vampire sucking the life out of you.

I developed PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorders.  This further dragged me down.  I’m successfully fighting it at the moment, but still have real issues, and will for the rest of my life.

And now I am with a truly wonderful partner.  The first intimate relationship that gives back to me, really, instead of sapping me dry.  A true partnership of equals with empathy and compassion for each other.

 

So wait, you might ask, what does this have to do with being a 40-year-old teenager  (fine, 41)

I never was one.  And some of my mentality kind of fits that of a teenager.  I have a real struggle with confidence.  I often feel like “nobody gets me.”  I can be moody and pouty.  Although given the way the world is today, that may not mean teenager at all.

I’m fighting to regain some joy in my life.  Some spontaneity. reckless abandon on some things.  occasional shirking of responsibility just to fuck off and do what I want.  I adult, and adult well.  I just don’t really want to most of the time.  I’ve been working full time since I was 14 years old, with almost a decade being multiple jobs at once. 27 years so far. and I have 25 to 30 to go.  I’m tired.

It’s like a regressive midlife crises where your lost youth just needs to be indulged.  I cope with humour.  If you’ve read my twitter timeline, you can tell that I have this mistaken impression that I’m really funny.*** I sometimes write angsty tweets, or, reading this, angsty blog posts.

Truth is, I am not ready to grow up any more.  Not that I don’t want to progress in my life.  I just want to savour my dying  youth, and somehow,  maybe buy back a few of those teenage years that were stolen by circumstance and situation.  I can’t stop time.  I can’t reverse the clock or erase the laugh (ok, frown) lines.  I just want to try.****

*Plus side, I can now run my head in to things and feel a minimum of pain.

**I actually completed two college degrees and completed my GED after all of this.  I just don’t have a classic education.

***I am.  If you can’t see it, it’s you. not me.

****so expect more dick jokes.

 

With love to all my readers,

 

Smartassicus out.

 

 

 

The making and breaking of a bigot

im20not20racist20poster20300x300I’ve had a lot of difficulty writing of late.  I have a number of stories I want to share, but delve pretty deep in to who I am, what I am, and what happened in my life.  Some of it is extremely painful.  Disturbing and off-putting. Some of it would bore you to tears, and some of it would make you cringe.

Lest I come off as a self-martyr bemoaning his existence like an emo muppet, I’m sure we all have the same.  But one of the things that bothers me the most about myself is my history of ideology.  Most of it is not who, now, I would ever want to be.  I’m going to skip the old chestnut of “everyone changes over time” and ask that you do the same.  I am not looking to exculpate myself nor am I looking to claim that I have moved beyond it.  I just want to tell my story about this one aspect of my life.

I am a bigot.  was a bigot? Am on a bigot spectrum in decline?  I don’t know how to express it, in that I don’t think someone as myself can ever be completely free of prejudices.  Nor can I, as a cisgender mostly heterosexual man begin to claim to understand what other people go through.

Enough of the navel gazing to try to determine the RIGHT way to identify my bigotry level at present.  Let me delve in.

I grew up as a white boy in a white family in a white town.  I grew up Christian.  I grew up privileged. I went to sunday school and sang Jesus loves me and thought nothing more of it because Mom and Dad told me this is the way things are.  (this is not really going to be a deconversion story.)  I was a complete WASP.

And I never knew I was a bigot.  Now I was never taught to hate people with different skin, but it was just assumed that white people were the norm.  There weren’t any black people in our church, that’s for sure.  And there was one Black kid in my primary school (and probably 3 in my High School.)  Casual racism was just normal.  Nobody was running around throwing out the N-word, but we didn’t think much of other slurs, nor sayings that meant the same thing.  And we felt like very good people, of course.  Add on top of this that yes, my church was one of those homosexuals are terrible sinners churches.  It basically was a Noah’s Ark believing turn or burn church.

So I was taught that gay people were not right. And that’s just the way it was.  God said so, so it is.  I didn’t even know about Transgender people or gender fluidity of course.  The only thing as a teenager that we ever saw was “drag queens” and they were something to be sneered at as obscene.

Then came my assaults.  I will not discuss them at length here, as it’s perhaps a story for another time.  Suffice it to say that in my mid teens I was twice sexually assaulted by male friends.  This of course could not be told to anyone.  The shame of it alone would be unbearable, and I had obviously sinned, so I had to take some of the blame.  But it made me grow even more bitter and hateful.

By 17 I was working full-time, not going anywhere, and pretty disillusioned with everyone and everything.  Then I met my first wife.  Now when people say their ex is awful, it’s standard procedure to nod and know that being an ex makes the other person horrible.  But my first wife really was horrible.  This is not about her.  It’s about the child we had together.  That is the only thing of note or value that came of that marriage, and the rest I choose to ignore as an irrelevant grain of sand.

I Married at 19, as we ended up with a baby on the way.  We married not long after she was born.  And I went about my life.  Worked. Paid bills.  Watched sports.  Got divorced.  Paid more bills.  All along never thinking for a second that there was anything the matter with me.

But the truth is, I hated gay men.  Some may point to my assaults and say “well, yeah, sure.” but I don’t even know if they were gay or just curious or just being an asshole.  I had been steeped in hate for homosexuals from the beginning of my life.  I don’t want to say I was overtly racist, but I certainly didn’t think much about the social injustices to minorities nor the reasons why things were the way they were.  And yes, I shied away from groups of black men.  I bought in to the stereotyping.  Just never as a proud white supremacist.  Just regular whiteness.

 

It wasn’t until my 30’s that I began to change, really.  It coincided, not surprisingly, with the beginning of the faltering of my religious beliefs.  I had married again, this time to a Chinese Canadian (no, that didn’t clear me of racism.)  But I had begun to realize that there were things in the world that just weren’t right.  That people were still being treated badly because they were black, or brown, or any shade other than washed pig.

I began to realize, of my own accord, that I wasn’t right about my attitude.  That I was casually racist.  That I bought in to stereotypes.  Thus began a learning process that continues today.

But the homosexual angle was still a problem. I still didn’t like gay men.  They annoyed me.  Just keep it to yourself.  Go be disgusting somewhere else.  Why do you need a fucking parade.

Yeah. That was me.  Less than a decade ago.  I had become atheist in the meantime, but still clung to that hatred.  Then my daughter came out to me.  Now here is the thing about gay women when it comes to fundamentalist churches.  They don’t get mentioned.  They are like unicorns, don’t really exist.  All talk about gay was about gay MEN.  So although I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it, I didn’t connect the dots.  And I accepted and loved my daughter for what she was.  I found out that someone so good and wonderful couldn’t have something terribly wrong with them, realized that I had held on to beliefs that were shoved in to my head, and it suddenly became crystal clear that there was absolutely nothing wrong with people being gay.

I wish I could say it was something more noble.  Something more tangible than “well, my daughter is gay, so that changes things.”  But it mostly wasn’t.  It was the catalyst for change.

I will say after that point I actively sought to learn and understand more.  I learned to let go of old assumptions.  Tear down my walls I had put up.  I kept doing that after I lost my daughter 5 years ago.  And now, When bigots interact with me on Twitter they see me as a left-wing loon.

I listened.  Read.  Learned. Still am.  And now I’d LIKE to say that I’m an advocate and an ally to both People of colour and LGBTQIA. I don’t say it though, because that’s for them to decide.

 

These stories are supposed to have a watershed moment, aren’t they?  a death-blow that leaves the old self bleeding out. But other than my daughter, it really was just a matter of raising my head out of the slop that I had been fed all my life and breathing clear air.

I don’t begin to pretend to understand everything.  I can’t.  I don’t have enough lifetime left to even come close.  All I know is that I continue to try.

I am ashamed of what I was, and have learned enough not to be proud of what I am now. Just like the way people are supposed to be, not being an asshole to them.  I know that I can never atone for any harm I did in my life for what I believed.  I can’t even say that I know when I did.

All I know is that I am proud to know people across all spectrums of gender, sexuality, skin colour, and not one seems wrong any more.  I managed to pull the demon out of my head.

Forgive whatever traces he left behind.

With love,

 

Smartassicus