I learned about this blog, "Born This Way" quite by accident.
I hadn't gotten the memo from "Queer Central" - probably because I don't even know where Queer Central IS - or if there really IS a Queer Central. I've only assumed, from some of the things I've read as I've surfed the web, that there is some place, somewhere in a deep, dark cavern at the base of a volcano where LGBT people and their Progressive allies are busy writing the Gay Agenda and plotting to take over the world.
I was 'surfing the web' on the far right of Anglican Cyberspace to see what might be going on in the outer fringes of Anglicanism. I hadn't been to some of these sites in a long, long while and was pleasantly surprised to find how small they've gotten.
A few of the blogs have actually closed up shop. One blog asked for suggestions from its readers to "clean up the Blog Roll" of defunct or irrelevant blogs. The membership in the comment section of a few of them seems to have dwindled down to the same 12-20 people with the same really silly web names making the same kinds of angry noises.
I took heart that this is a portent of what will happen, eventually, to the Anglican Schismatic Alphabet Soup of C.R.A.P. - "Church of Really Angry People".
It was a slow news day, that day, in the Anglican Communion. The so-called "orthodox" hate slow news days. It tends to bring them down off their usual testosterone high.
Their whole cosmology is about Good v. Evil and 'standing firm' and being 'still on patrol' while 'fighting the good fight' against the nefarious forces of The Progressive Left. If there's nothing to fight, well, let's just say the comment section can get fairly heated - and amusing - if you don't take any of it personally.
That's when I came across this wonderful new blog, "Born This Way". It was being held up for ridicule, of course, and the comments ranged from expressions of incredulity (these kids obviously don't get out much) to comments that were cruel in their ignorance and bigotry - which is never an excuse for cruelty.
When I clicked on the link to "Born This Way", I was absolutely delighted with what I found.
He began collecting the childhood pictures of LGBT people - along with their stories - and started the blog as a way to inspire and encourage struggling youth.
CNN did a report of his blog - you can watch the video here - in which he says, "If there's one kid who reads this blog and feels that sense of connection and that sense of self worth and it saves one life, then, I'm thrilled."
I hope you go over there and read it and, perhaps, be inspired by what you find to send your own childhood picture and story.
I hope parents go over there, too. I think those who "fear" their child may be LGBT will find a sense of solace and hope in these stories.
Dr. Freud was wrong on this one. People aren't gay because they have a weak or absent father and/or an overbearing mother. People are LGBT because they're born that way.
And...and...AND... it's a whole heck of a lot more complicated than that.
Which is why some people, like Christopher here on your right, didn't 'come out' until just before his fortieth birthday, but, he says, "I always knew I was different from even a very early age".
My parents indulged and embraced my uniqueness. When I wanted a baby doll, I got one and I loved and cared for him, and even dressed him in the same outfit I'm wearing in the photo. And I still have him.
In junior high, I took home economics instead of shop. And though my dad wasn't happy about it, he reluctantly bought me the supplies I needed for my first sewing project. By 13, my mom turned the kitchen over to me and encouraged me to pursue my love of cooking as a career. I later became a pastry chef.
Although my journey was also filled with many dark and depressing days, when my being "different" made life difficult, I've come to love this photo of me.
It reminds me that I am as I was meant to be. I was born this way."
It's more complicated than that.
Even so, Cameron - like so many LGBT people - had some early inklings that s/he was different. S/he says that s/he wore 'girly clothes' until about the 5th grade, when s/he discovered that s/he much preferred wearing baggy T-Shirts, jeans and a baseball cap.
In 9th grade, I cut my hair short. At a school dance, girls asked me to dance, 'mistaking me' for a boy. And I realized that I didn't mind their confusion.There's something reassuring in the fact that Cameron is "still struggling with my transition to manhood, and it's a slow process." It gives me permission to struggle and take my time as well, so my embrace of my Trans sisters and brothers can be authentic and warm and not just "nice".
In fact, I liked it.
That was my first realization that I might be transgendered. Coming out to my parents was tricky, though. They still don't accept me for being the man that I SHOULD have been born as. They don't understand, that every day, I wake up wishing that I was just born with the body that boys take for granted. You never know how much you have, and how much other people value what you were born with. If I had one wish, it would be to be born with the right body.
I'm still struggling with my transition to manhood, and it's a slow process. I'm starting to tell people at school, and from what I have seen, they are all getting on board with it. Although I still go by female pronouns almost everywhere, I'm looking forward to the day that I will be known as a man everywhere.
I'm so much happier now, then when I was as a girl in middle school: wondering why I hated my body, and wearing boy clothes to cover up my awkward, out of place shell.
And I know I'm only going to get happier. Which is why I always think things will get better, for those who want it to. :)
I've come a long way, but I confess that I continue to struggle with the idea of transgender. I totally 'get' that a man might want to be a woman - is my bias showing? I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that any woman would want to be a man.
Gee, does that ring a bell that we've heard from the homophobic side of the playing field? There it is, then - my gender prejudice and bias right out there for all the world to see. And, probably judge. It's okay. I deserve it.
I would rather admit and take responsibility for my own growth and transformation than to "shame and blame" those I don't understand - or, try to take away their civil rights.
I've yet to have some what of I expect will be some-what difficult conversations with some of my FtM sister/brothers about the political implications of things like male privilege and how they reconcile all of that.
I don't expect them to "teach" me - I will take responsibility for my own education and learning - but I'm interested in what I will be able to learn from them that will challenge some of my own assumptions and biases about gender and privilege.
I can only imagine and hope that, with love and support, Trans people will help us continue to fight against assumed and unexamined privilege - especially around issues of gender.
Gender - like sexuality - is more complicated than physical form and attraction and orientation. It's an intricate, sometimes delicate mixture of nature and nurture. There is a whole, wide range of being "born this way" and the things which happen to shape and form identity.
I'm also grateful for my Trans sisters and brothers because their struggle and mine also allows me to be more tolerant of people who don't "get" my sexual orientation.
You want to call me a 'lesbian'? Fine. You think, because I've been married and had children that I'm really 'bi'? Fine. Really.
I can't change the way you see me or think of me. But please don't stop at your labels. I'm so much more than the person who has chosen to identify herself and her family in a way that is not part of the mainstream "normal" - whatever that is.
I can only take responsibility for my own change and transformation. Increasing my own levels of tolerance. Becoming a more compassionate and understanding person.
Surprisingly enough, I'm growing much more comfortable with the term "Queer". Not only does it curb the ever-growing Alphabet Soup of God's Rainbow Tribe, it brings a halt to the ways some folks - within and without the LGBTQI community - try to use our differences to "divide and conquer".
There is no hierarchy of oppression and prejudice.
Let me say that again, because it's important: There is no hierarchy of oppression and prejudice. You aren't "better" or "worse" than I am because of your gender or sexual orientation or the color of your skin or where you were born or where you went to school.
I think the best way to avoid the seduction of that is to stop looking so closely at our differences and celebrate our uniqueness. What we have in common is much stronger than any differences we have.
That's the thing you'll learn from reading the stories on "Born This Way". That's not a statement from a hopeless victim of harsh circumstance who "just can't help it."
"I was born this way" is a statement of acknowledgment and choice.
I know. I know. Part of the long-standing gestalt in the LGBT community has been to emphasize the fact that we were "just born this way" to side step the whole idea of choice because it avoids the whole classical understanding of sin.
No, I don't think LGBT people have a choice about their sexual or gender orientation. However, I do believe that we do make a choice about our identity and orientation. We have a choice about acting on who we believe ourselves to be and how we intend to live our lives.
That's not sin - not unless my choice challenges your construct and world view of what it means to be human and healthy and happy. Even so, you can call it "sin", but ultimately, that's not your judgment to make. That's between me and God.
Here's what I do believe to be sin - LGBT people who are coerced or emotionally manipulated or forced by 'religious preference' to chose a 'heterosexual lifestyle' in order to conform to what others - family, church, friends - think they ought to be.
Ironically, these are the people the Radical Right Fringe hold up as examples of how the "choice" to be LGBT is a sin. See, you can choose to 'right' thing - read, what I think is 'right' for you.
I believe St. Paul said something about "going against your nature". Yup, and he said it was a sin.
The world is such an amazing place and these are such amazing times. There is beauty and diversity everywhere in God's creation - especially in God's creatures. We are just beginning to discover and understand just how beautiful and diverse God made the world and the people who populate it.
Turns out, we all have a choice to make: To be part of the C.R.A.P. (Church of Really Angry People) or part of a C.o.F. (Community of Faith) - Church, Temple, Mosque - that celebrates even as it struggles to understand and appreciate the wideness of God's creativity and mercy.
Yes, I know we all have the potential for good and the potential for evil. We make choices all the time around those two polar extremes. Sometimes, the landscape between the two can get rocky and foggy, with lots of twists and turns.
I tend to agree with Anne Frank,
"It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."Because, ultimately, I believe we were all born that way. Good at heart.
Or, as Cameron says, "Which is why I always think things will get better, for those who want it to."
Even happiness is a choice.
It's just not always easy.