A Three Step Process to Disbelief

Damn… I have attempted this blog post from multiple angles but for whatever reason none of them have “sparked joy.” So, I deleted them and started again, not looking back. But with each new iteration more personal story came bubbling up to the surface and I felt compelled to continue on.

I was inspired to write because I had read an article about the lead singer of a christian band revealing that he no longer believed in god. It was inspiring and very touching, and some of his words mirrored my own thoughts. Except the journey to how each of us arrived at our conclusion was very different.

His was a lingering sense of the bible not being true, whereas mine was revealed to me step by step until I arrived at the peak of this new way of thinking.

When I met my husband I had lived a very religious life. Up until that point I had even still believed in god, even though I was gay. It was just me carrying the bonds of my former imprisonment. (Brainwashing is hard to undo.)

My husband was the one who shook my faith. He asked me questions, and the one thing Christianity hates is inquiries into the validity of belief. And the answers that are typically offered in response to most are nonsensical and unending self-prophecy. Where the one giving the answer has this overwhelming sense of accomplishment for these “spiritual attacks” and doesn’t see their own bullshit. Except, most people who ask such probing thoughts are not my husband. He is the most antagonistic person I have ever met and has a way of driving you crazy with his interrogations. And to say he made me angry in those early days is an understatement. I truly do not understand how I stuck around or didn’t murder him. Yet it was these mental exercises that put deep cracks in my religious foundation.

The next big step was silly and kind of pathetic looking back…

I was a biblical literalist. I believed that everything that was mentioned in the bible factually and literally happened. It wasn’t meant for interpretation or was used as allegory. It occurred. And so, when I realized that if you could see a man sunbathing on the roof of a building with Google earth, you’d most certainly find a flaming sword guarding the entrance to a mythical garden from whence all life sprung forth. That revelation truly made me doubt everything. Dumb… I know.

The thing that inevitably killed every ounce of lingering faith within me was my mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I couldn’t understand why a woman who had devoted her life to this mystical entity, acted as a “true christian” should, was just given the worst death sentence. My brain tried to comprehend it, like was this a punishment for letting me be faggot? And if that’s so, why would he use my mother as a device to torture me? One of his most faithful. These thoughts led me to my ultimate conclusion that there couldn’t be a god and if there was one he was the biggest asshole, one who didn’t give a shit if you tried or not. He just wanted to know that he could, much like the one in the book of Job.

The last thing I ever told my father, before he died, was that I didn’t believe in god anymore. I outlined the reasons above and he just looked at me silently, with his appraising eyes. He didn’t respond. I wonder now if he started to question it also. At the time, he was in the thick of my mother “losing her mind,” before getting leveled out by medication. I can’t imagine what he felt. (Sidenote, I really do miss him.)

Now I am a staunch atheist. Life to me is just one big accident filled with a lot of cruelty, lacking any reason. It just is what it is.

The lingering religious thoughts come to the surface and said “well that doesn’t seem like a good way to think of life.” And my response to my own ridiculous thoughts is, yes it is. It removes this belief that I have to have my life mean something, or that it’s some sort of test to get to enlightenment, acting all on “faith” that it even exists. So why would I waste the time I have now chasing some figment of imagination. I’d rather just live my days trying to be a good person because it’s the right thing to do, and not because I will receive some awards in the afterlife.

P.S. I also don’t believe in an after life.

Acceptance and Other Tales

Self-acceptance is something I was mildly blessed with early on. I say it that way because there is still much of myself I dislike or haven’t come around to realizing is just who I am. Yet even with that, I still have come a long way to have confidence. I think that is why I have to remind myself that not everyone has gone through the same or probably ever will.

When I was younger I fought the idea of being gay tooth and nail. I was raised in a deeply religious home, went to Christian school and being gay was never an option open to me. The idea of even telling anyone I had those thoughts was a flat out no. I grappled with my sexuality. I prayed, in tears, that God would take away those feelings. I didn’t want to be a sinner or disowned from my family. I wanted to have the “right” life with a wife and kids. Yet, there was no denying that I was not attracted to girls. The idea of being with them ended when it came to sex. I love women and could have a deeply emotional relationship but that was where it would end. I wouldn’t be in for the deepest part of commitment and whomever I would have been with would deserve better.

I very nearly lived a “straight” life. I had girlfriends, I did the song and dance that came with it and if it hadn’t been for one fateful night I probably would have driven down that hetero-road and dealt with the consequences that came with it.

The first person I ever told I was “bi” was my friend Becky on her birthday, which is only a week away. I had been so entranced with this boy named Sergio at her birthday that I felt compelled to tell her in the hopes maybe he too… As it turned out he was and he ended up being my first boyfriend and first heartbreak. I fell hard and fast for this kid. When he ended it with me, I was devastated. It took months before I was able to move on because I wasn’t ready. I am someone that is so desperate for love that I dive in without even thinking. I envision this life of bliss and when everything turns out to be the opposite I am hard-pressed to understand that the dream I had was only that. It’s probably a sickness.

The first few days after I told Becky I was so furious with myself. “Why did I do that,” I kept thinking. It wasn’t true. I wasn’t gay! But I was still in denial. It wasn’t until I met with that boy, for our first “date,” that something in me turned and I never wanted to go back to pretending. Being with him came easy. Sergio, or “the s” as I called him to hide his gender and identity, was my first kiss. Real kiss. He was my first boyfriend. And my first infatuation.

I thank him for making me who I am. I learned so much from the short experience. For one, don’t get involved with someone young because they (unlike my freak self) haven’t made peace with their sexual preference. After Sergio I only went for older guys because I couldn’t deal with the heartbreak I had felt when he went running. I know now that I came on too strong and he just wasn’t ready. As a result, I learned to shield myself from people. Well, at first. The moment I get a compliment or am shown just the slightest amount of attention all walls come tumbling down. I am just that desperate for love and attention.

I’m almost certain I’ve shared this story on here (or other blogs) countless times. I probably even wrote it in one of my columns for the Renegade Rip. I almost never told Becky my truth. I went to her bowling party and played my role as a straight dude well, and at the end of the night went to leave. However when I got to my car the battery was dead. I called my parents to help me out and while we waited for AAA I went back inside and whispered to her the words I never thought I would say. It’s strange to look at tiny moments as mundane as a dead car battery altering the entire course of one’s life, but it did for me.

My hope is that others can find the same peace I found when I finally just accepted me for me. My natural follow-up is that it is a hard journey, but in all honesty it wasn’t for me. I have lead the most charmed life. The only real moment that was rough was my mother’s acceptance. She was very much not on-board at the start, but since then she is someone else entirely. Sure there is bigotry, but I rather be at peace with myself than fighting a battle I would never win. Denying your truth is a tortured life, full of secrets and lies that only grow as time goes on.

P.S. May I suggest what spurred this blog post, it’s a song by Brandon Stansell “Hometown.”

Damming the Depression

Like many Americans I suffer from depression. I was diagnosed when I turned 18 however I think it had been an issue for some time prior to that. As an adult I realized my true personality, which is that of an overachiever looking for recognition of my intelligence. I was also this way prior to puberty but during my teenage years I couldn’t have cared less about anything and everything. It could have also been because I was grapling with my sexual identity from the perspective of a devout Christian but who knows.

Either way I was prescribed anti-depressants from that day on.

My relationship with these pills has waxed and waned frequently over the years. I go from thinking “I can never not be on my meds” to “maybe this is what is keeping me from writing?” It is this cycle that I live my life through. It would appear that I am coming to the moment of “I can never not be on these pills” again. But have I taken them? No, because “they keep me from writing.” Which is funny because so does depression.

I made an appointment with a therapist for Monday. And I am genuinely looking forward to it. I’m curious if I’ll like her and if she’ll call me by my actual name. (I had a therapist that went in for the “come to Jesus” message of the session and botched it by telling me I should ask myself “what does Jason want.”)

I want to like her and I hope it helps. The thing about therapists is you have to find the right one that works well with your personality and shares somewhat basic ideals. I have seen a few in my day and it took some time before I came to one that could keep up and seemed to like me. He is also the one who has since ignored my subsequent calls. Yet, as I outlined in my earlier post, it could be because I kept bouncing my checks.

Prior to this, and on a different insurance, I started seeing this addiction therapist and she had a very dry almost cold personality but there was something about her that intrigued me. Maybe it was because I could tell from the lines on her face that she herself had battled addiction and knew what she was talking about. Unfortunately I had to let her go because we switched insurance and I happen to get the day of my appointment mixed up in my head. (Happens often).

As the days go on I become frequently sadder. My Facebook feed being the biggest instigator of these emotions. It should be noted that I have since deleted it from my phone.

My husband this morning remarked that his Facebook feed was nothing but recipes now and I retorted, rather jaded, that mine was nothing but trump. The man is destroying everything in my eyes and I can’t help but feel soooooo insignificant. There is nothing I can do without buckets of money or power. Of which I have none. My husband, in an attempt to make me feel better, said we are all insignificant. He’s sweet for trying.

The thing that has really been upsetting is this dick had decided to side with the religious Reich and build his new platform under family values. I laugh sometimes because the hypocrisy of him taking a stand for them is hilarious and them accepting it is a downright riot. Yet here we are. Two cruel and callous forces combining their lights to take on the evils of the homosexual agenda.

These thoughts inevitably lead me to the realization that some of my friends and family voted for this monster and because of him they could potentially (and most fucking likely) take away my rights as a gay man. They may have not done it intentionally but they have when they elect someone that has an agenda that wants to destroy my community. I know that they find me repulsive, they say so in all of the literature and words, and it is from that knowledge sprouts two paths of thought, I either return their hatred or do what Christ says and turn the other cheek. I may be agnostic but I was raised in the faith and my mother (who exemplifies what it means to be a Christian) taught me well.

So another day I drift closer to a dark depression. I try not to be so maudlin, for instance I am currently out in the sunshine, taking a break from bike riding. It is that exercise and the return of Will and Grace that has brought me the most joy. It’s pathetic and it’s true.

Same Cake, Different Frosting

Evidently, it is human nature to do the same thing and expect different results. Einstein defined this as the definition of insanity; however, I think it applies to everyone. There are areas of our lives that we need to learn hard lessons, and even then it doesn’t mean it will prove to have any effect on our way of life. I say this because yesterday a bakery in my own hometown declined to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding day because it was against her religion. I get enraged for a number of reasons, not just, because it’s discrimination (no matter how you cut it) but I thought we had moved on. Clearly, we need another round of lessons. So, settle in class.

The thing that hurts me the most is that this is happening in my very town. No matter how liberal or crazy someone outside of the state of California views it’s residents it doesn’t apply into my pocket of bloody red that resides at it’s heart. This town is bleeding republicans. Which is why I am not surprised that it happened, but at the same time in shock. I get so comfortable in my own bubble surrounded by people that love and accept me without question. So, hearing that someone else has refused a service to one of my community members resonates on a whole other level because I know that I could very well have been in their shoes. It also makes me feel guilty, because I have very rarely come across any kind of hatred.

One of my good friends posted how he understood but it made him uneasy that government should have a say over private businesses. You mean, like laws? Where businesses have to have disclose all things in their food or how they have to abide by cleanliness? I’m confused. Where do we draw this supposed line?

My thought is that if you open a business there is a legal and social contract that is understood and accepted; unless the patron in your establishment is acting irrationally, you have to serve them. “The customer is always right,” has been echoed in retail since it was coined (by JC Penny I believe…). And unless you’re establishment offers a niche service there is no reason to say “I can’t do this.” For instance, if I went to a vegan restaurant and demanded a steak. Well, they don’t serve steaks. Or If I go to a Christian book store and demand the latest Stephen King novel. Those things don’t exist in that realm. So, when I walk into a bakery and ask for a cake, unless I don’t have the money or am calling you every filthy name under the sun (and speaking to a man that isn’t there), then the owner has to serve them.

It’s petty bull shit. “My religious beliefs….” Okay, what if this is that person’s third marriage, after she has been divorced twice for adultery? Are you still going to serve them? What about a couple that has had multiple children out of wedlock and is only now getting married? Their morals don’t exist then. They just see dollar signs. But, God forbid (pun intended), that they make a cake for a gay couple.

Now, in this event in my own hometown the baker at least was a “good Christian” and directed them to a bakery that does. Bless their heart. Doing the good Christian thing. However, here is how I see the situation. Let us say I have a coffee shop. And this same faithful baker comes in wearing all the trappings of a “Christian” and upon seeing them I pull her aside and say “I’m sorry. I don’t serve Christians here. However, there is another coffee shop across town that does. You’ll have to go there. Sorry.”

Everyone and there cat knows that woman would be infuriated and raise all kinds of hell. (Pun, again, intended.) Moreover, she would have every right to. No one should experience discrimination for any reason. Ever. At all. No matter what. Unless they’re just an outright asshole. Then let the denial of services commence.

So, if one has a hang-up about making a goddamn cake for a couple of homos on their wedding day then don’t make cakes. Make muffins for a coffee shop. Sell JUST cookies. If your morals are “so strong”, do not go into a job that would infringe upon your beliefs. It is common sense.

If this couple had gone in and lied about what the cake was for and they had made it, the woman would have done just that and they would have taken the cake to their gay wedding. Has this woman now participated in their unholy matrimony? Has she tarnished her “spotless” soul and barred herself from the gates of heaven? No.

The mental gymnastics must get exhausting.

To quote their own faith at them, what about the parable of the Good Samaritan? It was told by Christ to his followers and it detailed how a man lay beaten and bloody in a ditch and was passed up by all these holy men and strangers and wasn’t tended to until a Samaritan (a group of people who were seen as disgusting) finally came to his aid because he saw a man in need. They would say, oh, well the story is about helping out someone in medical need. True, but that’s not how parables work. They are miniscule lessons that impart an overall message. The thing you learn from the parable is HELP YOUR FELLOW MAN NO MATTER WHAT.

So, like most of everything that is happening in our country, here we are, once again. Same shit, just a different day.