LGBTQ community

Caitlyn Jenner Takes a Brave Step for the Transgender Community

A photo I took at Piotr Uklanski's "Fatal Attraction" exhibit at the Met Museum; "Untitled". 

Caitlyn Jenner made her transition very public this week raising awareness of the “T” in the LGBTQ community.  

So what is it like to be a transgender person? I don’t know. And unless you are a transgender person, neither do you.

We can never truly know what another person is going through. We can try to understand through compassionate conversations and listening with open hearts.

I was talking with a friend about dating. He told me a story from when he was in college in the South. He was pretty certain a guy at the gym was interested in him. They would exchange glances and engage in flirty behavior. But my friend was concerned this guy might be straight, so approaching him could evoke a range of reactions from rejection to physical violence.  He never asked the guy out and found out later the guy was gay. He said he still regrets not approaching him.

But unless you are gay, you have probably never had this concern. I can’t imagine a straight girl would ever get beat up for asking a gay guy out on a date. In reality, the gay guy would probably go on the date, and they’d both have fun.

Isn’t it sad our culture can be so homophobic gay men are afraid to simply approach someone for fear of violent repercussion? I imagine this fear is especially magnified for a transgender person. In 2014, a report stated 226 transgender people were murdered in the US and Europe. I’m guessing the number is much higher.

People in the gay community often joke around saying, “Hey girl!” or “She’s looking like a hot ass mess today,” when referring to another guy. I certainly do. While this is a lighthearted joke between friends, it can quickly turn malicious. Gender identity is not something people take lightly.

As boys we are told, “Be strong. Be tough. Be a man.” This implies anyone who is not strong and tough is not a man.

I have been mocked and ridiculed for labeling myself a man. Even though, I am a man. I’ve even had a female friend state, “You’re not a man.” As though she had the authority to assign my gender identity. The gender we identify with goes down to our core sense of self. To take that lightly shows little respect.

As gay men, we are often seen as less male than our straight counterparts. I’ll compare myself to a “stereotypical” straight man. Let’s go with Derek Jeter, the former Yankees shortstop. Am I less of a man than him? Sure, he’s a much better athlete than me. He’s stronger, but does that mean he is more of a man? If you think he’s more of a man, is it because he trains more? Maybe his biological makeup gives him a more masculine build? Or maybe, he’s not more of a man than me. Maybe we are just different men.

I think the same logic can be applied to anyone who identifies with a gender to which they were not born. They are just different types of men or women.

I’m not asking everyone to feel they constantly need to censor themselves. I am suggesting you choose your words thoughtfully and approach everyone with compassion. Words have the power to hurt and also the power to heal. When you speak, you have a choice to make.

Ultimately, we will never totally understand another person’s experience. But it’s vital for us as humans to try to listen and be accepting as we can. So ask yourself, what is your gender identity based on? My answer is simply, that I am a man. 

"Not Gonna Be Friends" is a song about love, heartbreak and defying masculine gender roles. Buy it here: 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/not-gonna-be-friends-single/id813667793

 

It’s Time to End the Gays vs. Christians Mentality

Book of Samuel 

Book of Samuel 

The Catholic Church is not known as being very accepting of its LGBTQ members. However, Pope Francis has slowly cracked those church doors open to accept all of God’s people.  

I grew up in the Catholic Church. I served as an altar boy. My first job playing music was as the church pianist and assistant music director. My faith and my sexuality are integral parts of me. 

From when I was baptized until I graduated high school, I went to church every Sunday. My parents are devout Catholics. We also attended every holy day mass, Wednesday evening Catechism and attended church while on vacation.

There seems to be a lot of talk about gays vs. Christians in our culture. With all this talk, you would think I heard this pretty regularly in church. Funny enough, I can remember only one time homosexuality was mentioned. A visiting priest who nobody liked suggested that homosexuality was a sin during his homily. That was it.

I never felt unwelcomed or unaccepted at church. It was quite the opposite. As the church pianist, the whole congregation knew me and treated me with respect. I’m sure some people there had a problem with gay people, but I never encountered that there. Most of the homophobia I faced happened in school or socially.

So where does this gay vs. Christians mentality come from? Some argue judging gay people is “loving the sinner, hating the sin.” That is bullshit. By announcing to the world you love gay people, but don’t love their “lifestyle choices” you are missing the point. It is not a “lifestyle choice” for me. This is the way I was born. You are also suggesting you are a better Christian because you were born straight. And you seem to be stating you are a better human being. So because I am gay, I am not a good Christian or human being? As you can imagine, that is incredibly hurtful to hear.

"She's No Angel" is a song I wrote and recorded with my band. It's about a homophobic girl I went to school with who claimed to be a good Christian. Download the song here:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/shes-no-angel-single/id905377774

"She's No Angel" is a song I wrote and recorded with my band. It's about a homophobic girl I went to school with who claimed to be a good Christian. Download the song here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/shes-no-angel-single/id905377774

Some people point to excerpts from the Bible to validate their homophobia. In a previous post, I said gay marriage is mentioned nowhere in the Bible. I appear to be wrong. There is a gay love story in the book of Samuel. I’ve included some excerpts from the story of King David and Jonathan, but I encourage you to read the entire thing. I’ve taken these direct quotes from the book of Samuel, Chapters 18-20:

“Jonathan had become fond of David as if his life depended on him.”

“Jonathan entered into a bond with David because he loved him as himself.”

“And in his love for David, Jonathan renewed his oath to him, because he loved him as himself.”

“They kissed each other and wept aloud together. At length Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, in keeping with what we two have sworn by the name of the Lord: ‘The Lord shall be between you and me, and between your posterity and mine forever.’ ”

This story sounds to me like a couple of dudes loved each other and got married. I’m not trying to use the Bible as a weapon. I am quoting these verses to illustrate a point. There are many interpretations of the Bible. I interpret it to say that we should love one another, whether you are a man loving another man, a man loving a woman, or a woman loving a woman. There are many permutations of love, as this passage clearly shows us.

So we need to end the idea that it is gays vs. Christians. One of the cornerstones of the Christian faith is Jesus. One of Jesus’ main teachings was to love one another. When you treat people with love, you don’t judge them because they love someone of the same sex. If you do, you are the one who isn’t acting like a Christian. 

Expressing your opposition to marriage equality is upsetting to members of the LGBTQ community. If you believe it’s ok to hurt other people, then again it is you who is acting in opposition of Jesus’ teachings. If a core belief opposes the religion you claim to be affiliated with, you need to make a choice. Either you’re a Christian, or you’re anti-gay. You can’t have it both ways.

By making anti-gay comments, you are committing a sin. You are simultaneously breaking two of the 10 commandments: don’t judge and love your neighbor. 

The gay community needs to realize these people attacking us are not truly Christians. They may say they are, but talk is cheap.

We are not opposed to Christians. A true Christian loves and accepts us. Accepts, not tolerates. A true Christian would not judge us or say hurtful things.

These homophobes aren’t Christians. They’re just bigots, who are grasping at straws to try and justify their hatred.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the subject. Share your views in the comment section below, email me at jameswilsonmusic @ gmail . com (no spaces), or get the conversation going with family and friends.