Mormon rule changes aimed at gay church members

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PhotoMormon church issues rules aimed at gay members, their kids

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mormon church officials have issued a rule change that says members in same-sex marriages can be kicked out and their children must wait until they’re 18 and disavow homosexual relationships to be baptized.

The revisions triggered a wave of anger, confusion and sadness for a growing faction of LGBT-supportive Mormons who were buoyed in recent years by church leaders’ calls for more compassion and understanding for LGBT members.

“It feels like they are extending an olive branch and hitting you with it,” said Wendy Montgomery, who is Mormon and has a 17-year-old gay son. “It’s like this emotional whiplash.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints disseminated the handbook changes this week to local church leaders around the world. The goal was to provide clarity to lay leaders who run congregations, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said. He noted the church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages.

“While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership,” Hawkins said in a statement.

Montgomery said Friday the news left her son sobbing and forced her and her husband to consider leaving a religion they’ve belonged to for generations. The couple has been trying desperately to stay in the church despite a harsh reception to their son coming out.

Montgomery also echoed a response shared by many on social media: She can somewhat understand the hard stance on same-sex marriage, but she can’t comprehend singling out gay couple’s children.

“We just put a scarlet letter on these kids,” Montgomery said. “This isn’t my church. I don’t see God in it. I don’t see divinity it. It just feels evil.”

I was a Mormon once upon a time, but I’m not even a Christian anymore, and with good reason. Christian churches hate gay people. Remember in the last couple of years when the Mormon church announced they are accepting gay people? Well, now they’ve slapped all those gay people in the face with this new rule saying they will be kicking out all gay members, and children of said gay people will not be allowed to be baptised or even attend church until they are 18, and they have to move out of their family home and disavow homosexuality, and that includes disavowing their parents.

Tell me how that is fair to a child? Tell me how that is fair to a family, like the Montgomery family who have been Mormons their entire lives. They used to live in Bakersfield and the church here gave them such a hard time, so much so that their son Jordan stopped going to church altogether. They were so excited to leave Bakersfield and move to a whole new city in a new state to be in a new community with a huge gay/gay friendly Mormon population, only to now be told that Jordan can’t attend church anymore because of this new rule.

Do the Mormons realize what they are doing? They are alienating not only gay people, but also the friends and families of gay people. It’s really no wonder why people are becoming atheists every day. This is exactly why I turned into an atheist.

When I was 17 and came out of the closet to my mother, all she could do was tell me “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” and that I was going to hell, and she called me a faggot. My own mother. My boyfriends mother called me a faggot and she also told me that she wanted to know where we lived so when God caused an earthquake, she’d know where to dig for her son’s corpse. Then when I was no longer homeless, my sister found me and invited me to live with her, and she started telling me how I was going to hell too. I went from being a born again Christian, to Atheist in less than a year. I had been told at least 100 times in 10 months that I was going to hell, and there was nothing I could do to change it. So yeah, I said screw that, I’m done with religion.

Look, I’m not going to tell people what to do with their lives. You can be a Mormon, you can be a Christian, or you can choose what religion you want to practice, but there is one thing you cannot choose, and that is to be gay. No one chooses to be gay. We don’t just wake up one morning and say “I think I might like to suck a dick today.” We may decide today is the day I will come out of the closet to my parents/family/friends, but we’ve always been gay. We came out of the womb gay, and we will die gay. You cannot change that fact. And I don’t care what anyone says, it’s not a choice. Deal with it.

If I ever decided to go to church, which will happen when hell freezes over, you can believe that I won’t give a crap what they think about my sexuality because it’s none of their business. I don’t think they should worry about who is gay and who is straight. They shouldn’t be focusing so much on hating gay people, because Jesus is not about hate. Jesus never said one thing about gay people, so why is the church so focused on hating gay people? Isn’t the church supposed to be all about love? I mean, that’s what I used to think. Now it seems the church is pure evil. If I wanted to go to an evil church, I’d choose the church of Satan. And you know what? I heard that the actual church of Satan actually accepts anyone, and they give food to the homeless and they donate money to charity. The church of Satan actually does a lot more good for society than the church of God. What does that tell you?

Anyway, I’m getting off my cross, er um I mean my soapbox. I’m sick of this subject. I wish all religions would just go away.

Family is not about blood

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They say blood is thicker than water. Well, if that is true, why are so many parents kicking their LGBT children out of the house? Why are so many siblings burning their bridges over something trivial? Blood may be thicker than water, but you don’t have to be blood related to be family.

I was homeless when I was 15 and again when I was 17, and neither time was by choice. No one chooses to be homeless. There are children on the streets because their family gave up on them when they came out of the closet. Children are selling their bodies for sex so they can eat and have a roof over their heads. They are getting hooked on drugs, being raped and in most cases getting murdered because they are LGBT. Why is that, because they were gay? No, because their BLOOD tossed them into the streets to fend for themselves. Some are killing themselves because of the rejection.

Trust me when I say that blood is not thicker than water. Not just anyone can be your family, but that all depends on who YOU consider to be family. I have friends who I consider family more than my sisters and one cousin. I have a friend from when we lived in Van Nuys who I haven’t seen since 1981, but we are Facebook friends and I consider him more of a brother than I ever considered either of my sisters and my cousin. I have friends here in the Bakersfield gay community who I consider family. There is a family who just recently moved to Arizona who I barely got to know, and I consider them family more than my sisters and my cousin.

So just know that if you treat your own blood like crap, you may think that you are not replaceable, but trust me honey, you are. You need them more than they need you, so don’t treat your gay children, siblings or cousins like crap. If you never hear from them again, maybe think next time before you tell them they are going to hell, or in my cousins case, think before you tell them that you are voting for Prop 8 because he doesn’t think your relationship is worth a piece of paper.

Gay Teen Suicide

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Jordan Montgomery from Families are ForeverEvery minute of every day there are teenagers who sit in their rooms wondering if today is the day they are going to commit suicide. They are afraid of their parents, friends and family finding out that they are gay, and would rather commit suicide before knowing if they will be accepted or rejected. Most are rejected, which is why they are struggling.

I myself struggled with that for most of my childhood. I was confronted at age 13 with the fact that my step father hated gay people, and if he hated gay people, then he hated me. He said “I wish they would put all of those faggots on and island and shoot them.” Imagine being me at that very moment. Here I was afraid for my life every morning when I woke up until I went to bed at night because I wasn’t sure if I was going to get yelled at or beaten for blinking wrong, and now he has confirmed my worst fears with just one sentence.

Age 13 was when I first tried to commit suicide, and believe me, that was not the last time. The last time I tried to kill myself was when I was 23, less than a year after my mother had passed away. I had just met my partner, the same person I have loved for the last 21 years, but I wasn’t sure where my life was headed, and I was still very suicidal. Imagine his horror and disappointment when he found me lying in bed next to him unresponsive because I took an entire bottle of sleeping pills.

I was looking for statistics to add to this post about teen suicide, and I found this. It’s from 2006, but I’m pretty sure it still applies 9 years later.

“According to the Massachusetts 2006 Youth Risk Survey, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. In addition, the San Francisco State University Chavez Center Institute has found that LGBTQ youth who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.”

We recently attended a monthly PFLAG meeting to say goodbye to a family who were moving to Arizona. They are the Montgomery Family who were in a documentary called Families Are Forever. Their son Jordan (image above) spoke about suicide in the documentary and it broke my heart when he mentioned taking a bottle of pills to end his life. He was afraid of what might happen to him if his family ever found out that he was gay. He wasn’t sure how his family would react, and that seems to be how it is every time a child comes out of the closet to their parents.

Every child has a 50/50 chance when coming out of the closet. They have a 50% chance of their family hugging them and saying “It doesn’t matter because you are our son and we love you no matter what.” They have a 50% chance of their family reacting negatively and yelling obscenities and telling them that they are going to hell and then either right away, or eventually kicking them out of the house.

Mongtomery Family PFLAG BakersfieldJordan’s family accepted him right away. His mother, who by the way is the mother you want to have if you are gay, hugged him and told him that she loves him no matter what. I mean, it’s her kid. And look at that adorable face! How could you say no to that adorable face. I just want to pinch his cheeks. Heck, I want to pinch her cheeks! Their entire family’s cheeks are pinchable!

My own mother screamed at the top of her lungs that it’s “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”, as well as “you are going to hell” and blah blah blah. This is a woman who couldn’t be bothered to go to church and never really considered herself to be religious, then all of a sudden she starts spewing scriptures. She even told me to never adopt children because she would hate to know that my adopted children were being bullied in school for having a faggot for a father. Gee, thanks! So what am I, chopped liver? I was bullied in school for being gay. I was beat up almost daily. I literally ran home from school every day in Junior High because I was threatened that I would get beat up after school. Every. Day.

Just 2 weeks after I came out of the closet, I was given an ultimatum, it’s either my boyfriend or my mother. I was told that if I walked out that door that I could never come back. He was stranded with no way of getting home, and I couldn’t just leave him out there in L.A. (we lived in L.A. county) where he could get mugged or murdered, so I walked out the door. Ultimatums are unfair, and I’m the type of person that if you give me an ultimatum, I will never choose you, every time.

I don’t know if you would consider that running away from home or getting kicked out. I myself don’t consider that I ran away from home because I didn’t want to run away, I wanted to live at home and finish high school. My mother not allowing me to come home is what makes me feel like I was kicked out of the house. If I ran away from home, of course my mother would tell me she wanted me to come back, but even a few months later she still wouldn’t let me come home.

Why do parents do that to their own children? I don’t understand. This is why gay kids kill themselves, before and/or after they come out. They are afraid of this rejection, and wouldn’t you? This is why I attempted suicide dozens of times since I was 13, because I feared the rejection that I ended up facing. Why would you put your kids through so much needless torture?

A lot of times a parent will ask where they failed. My mother asked where she went wrong in raising me. Look, you didn’t fail as a parent because I was gay, I didn’t choose it, in fact she told me she knew that I was gay when I started walking. So why put that guilt on me about where she failed when she knew that I was gay from the get go. You didn’t fail as a parent because your child is gay, you failed as a parent because you kicked your child out of the house when you found out they were gay. Your child isn’t an object to be tossed aside when it no longer serves you, they are your flesh and blood and they have feelings, so don’t make them feel guilty for being different. Guilt trips are why children are killing themselves.

I recently watched the first episode of “I Am Cait” on the E! channel, and Caitlyn Jenner visited a mother who lost her transgender child to suicide. She told Caitlyn that it wasn’t the other kids who drove him to suicide, it was the adults. So think about that. The children don’t give a crap if you are gay or straight or if you are transgender, it’s their parents who are driving children to suicide. Do you want to be the reason someone killed themselves because of what you said that may have hurt their feelings? Just remember that words kill.

I don’t mean to be on my soapbox for this long, I just wanted to voice my opinion about something other than marriage equality and politics. I think that every person needs to think about how they speak to other people, because your words just might make a difference in a positive or negative way. Can you sleep at night knowing your words are the reason little 10 year old Johnny hung himself in his bedroom? We as adults need to hold ourselves accountable for every word that is spoken to a child. Empower children, don’t kill them with your venom.

Children should not be left in cars to die

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I have been seeing too many stories of children being left in cars to die recently, and what I have just read is even more shocking.

I did not know that this year, there have only been 18 reported deaths from children being left in cars. That number is down from last year which apparently according to this website ggweather.com that last year the number was 44. The average number of children who die in cars each year is 38 and since 1998 there have been 624 reported cases of children who have died because their parents either forgot, purposefully left them in their cars, or the children were playing in cars and got stuck.

An examination of media reports about 606 children who died in cars have the following circumstances. 51% of the children were forgotten, that’s 312 children. 29% were playing unattended, that’s 177 children. 18% were left intentionally, that’s 111 children and 1% which are 6 children are all unknown causes of death.

184 children who died were all under the ages of 1 year. 134 were all 1 year, 118 were all 2 years old, 84 were all 3 years old, 35 were 4 years old, 19 were 5 years old, 9 were 6 years old and the numbers keep dropping as the ages go up, including up to 14 years old, of which there are 3 deaths.

This is unsettling to me because I cannot imagine any reason for this to happen. I think I can understand if a parent is forgetful because they have a lot on their minds. Like the movie Home Alone. They had so many children and someone miscounted, so they thought they had everyone, until the mother realized Kevin wasn’t with them. How could anyone forget Kevin? Luckily that all worked out in the end, but he wasn’t left in a car, he was left in a house where it wasn’t hot outside, but still, that shouldn’t have happened either. Then again, if they remembered him, we wouldn’t have had a funny movie to watch for Christmas.

Now before anyone calls me a jerk, I’m not saying the parents who accidentally forget their children are horrible people. In fact, I’m not passing judgment on anyone. I am simply saying I cannot believe that this is happening. Not only can I not believe it is happening, but I cannot believe it is STILL happening knowing it can happen.

If you leave your child in a car and it is 70 degrees outside, your car can heat up about 10 to 15 degrees. When it is 80 to 85 in the car and the windows are all rolled up with barely any oxygen, they will suffocate. If the temperature can go up 10 to 15 degrees when it’s 70, imagine how hot it will get if it is 100 degrees outside. We went to the movies today and it was about 102 degrees outside. The car said it was 120 degrees, and boy was it hot inside there. We had to open the windows to let all the hot air leave before the A/C would do any good.

I can never have children. Never. Ever. Why? If you read my book you should know why. I was diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and I was upgraded to AIDS in 1994. When I came out of the hospital from nearly dying in 1994, I was told to apply for disability and I have been on permanent disability since. I was supposed to die from 2000 to 2005, but here I am. In 2010 I was told by one of my doctors that I probably only had 10 more years left. That’s what prompted me to start writing my book in 2010. It was a bucket list thing. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book and my memoir was the only thing I could think to write because it didn’t take much thinking to write. Memories are easier to write down than having to make up an imaginary world with imaginary people. It was just easier to write. My childhood dream was fiction, but I didn’t think I had any time for that.

Not only do I not have the income to raise a child, but because of my AIDS status, I get sick at the drop of a hat. If a child is sick and is coughing, I get bronchitis. That is not hyperbole either because my neighbor’s children gave me bronchitis at least 4 times a year when they still lived next door. I also have scoliosis and carpal tunnel syndrome. I’m not in the best health. My liver is dying from all the HIV medications, so it would be completely irresponsible of me to put someone through the emotional turmoil of losing a father if I ever adopted a child. I’m not going to put anyone through that.

I digress…

My parents always left us in the car when we were kids. I remember my parents going to the grocery store and we weren’t allowed to go in with them because back then in the 70’s children were seen and not heard. I mean, it wasn’t like it was in the 1950’s, but when you are being raised by someone who was born in the 1950’s, you were being raised the way their parents raised them. My step father had a rule that we were not to be seen by company unless company requested our presence. We had to stay in our rooms until we were called out. So when they took us anywhere, we had to stay in the car, unless we were going to a restaurant, in which case we obviously came inside to eat.

I remember sitting in the car while my parents were looking for a new car. A man was bleeding and he came up to the car and my sister and I both freaked out. I remember how frightened I was that this was happening and I remember waiting very impatiently for our parents to come back.

See, that’s another thing. I was in these children’s shoes. I was always left in the car, so I understand what it was/is like for them. I know what was/is going through their heads because it was going through mine as well. They aren’t sitting in the car with nothing on their mind, or merrily singing a sea shanty or acting out a scene in Hamlet. They are frightened. They are freaking the fuck out. “When is mommy or daddy coming back?” “Why do they always leave me/us in the car when they take me/us somewhere?” They are constantly looking out the window at the door of the place their mother or father went in. These kids aren’t thinking about anything but “when is mommy coming back?”

It is unfair to the children to make them go through that. If you cannot bring your child into the place you are visiting, then you shouldn’t have brought them with you in the first place. Leave them at home with a babysitter, or a relative or someone you trust. If you can’t find someone to take care of them for the length of time you wish to be gone, then bring them with you, but don’t leave them in the car. Not only is it unfair to torture them like this, but you are stealing their lives from them when they die.

People are so concerned about abortion, but those same people kill their kids by leaving them in the car. How is that okay?

I’m stepping off my soapbox now. I just had to say something. You can call me a horrible person for having an opinion, but I am standing up for the children who have no voice.

Don’t Lie To Your Children!

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There is a big difference in a little white lie, and a major life changing lie. Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are all one thing, those aren’t huge life changing lies, but when you lie to your children, they learn the wrong thing and when they find out you lied to them, all your credibility goes right out the window.

I wrote about a few lies that my mother told me in my book. I was told so many stories of how my Grandmother Mimi died. One of them was that she was laying in her bed and she fell asleep with a cigarette in her hand. I told my aunt that on the phone and she told me how she died, and it had nothing to do with a cigarette, although she did tell me that she did drop a cigarette and burned a hole in the mattress, but that’s not how she died.

One of the lies my mother told me which really hurt my feelings was that when I was 1 month old, my father left and went to Germany and never came back. What she didn’t tell me was the truth and that is that he was married to another woman and he had his own family. She was sleeping with a married man. Whether he went to Germany or not is irrelevant. If she had told me the truth when she told me about my father, I wouldn’t have had such hard feelings about him. I spent many years thinking he abandoned me, but the truth was when he left her, she never told him that she was pregnant. She didn’t want me to think poorly of her for sleeping with a married man, so she turned him into the bad guy. The thing is, I wouldn’t have cared if she slept with a married man. I honestly don’t care, what I care about is that she lied to me about it.

When you teach your children lies, they tell other people what they learned. Those people will set your children straight, but it makes them look like idiots because they spend most of their childhood or even most of their lives believing the lies to be true. If you teach them lies, they stop trusting anything say in the future.

Think about it, do you want to be lied to? No, of course you don’t, so why would you lie to your children? Put yourself in their shoes and tell me how you would feel if you learned the truth after being told lies for your entire childhood. I’m sure it doesn’t feel too good.

So don’t lie to your children, and teach them the difference between a white lie, and a bold-faced lie. Also teach them not to lie and tell them the consequences of those lies.

Don’t Hit Anyone!

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Have you ever been so angry with someone and the only thing that you could think to do was to hit them? Why? Put yourself in their shoes. Haven’t you ever said something that you regret, didn’t mean to say, or that you phrased it the wrong way? Did you want to be hit for saying it? Probably not. Or perhaps you dropped a plate and it was a really expensive plate, but it was an accident, do you really think you deserved to be hit? No, you didn’t, because it’s an object, it’s a thing. I don’t care if that thing cost $10 or $100, it’s a thing and it is insignificant compared to the damage you will do to a child, spouse, family member, friend or even a complete stranger.

I have gotten angry at times from the way people have spoken to me or treated me time and time again, it’s like they push and push and push until you are broken, but the most I’ve ever done was yelled at them to stop, I never hit them. My partner and I have been together for 20 years and not one time has either of us hit the other. We’ve had screaming matches, and it was usually over something so stupid that I couldn’t even tell you what it was about even if I tried really hard. But we NEVER hit each other. We’ve brought our anger towards each other down to about 5% over the last 20 years. We bicker occasionally, but we don’t yell because life is too short and neither of us deserve it.

There was a picture on Facebook of a man holding a dog by the throat against a wall with his fist in front of the dog’s face. Now I ask, what did that dog ever do to that guy that he deserved to be abused like that? Did he eat his shoe? Knock over the garbage can in the kitchen because he smelled something that he wanted? Did he rip a pillow to shreds while he was at work? Probably none of the above. I bet that dog has been abused from day one, not because he did something wrong, but because by pure bad luck he ended up being adopted by an abusive person. And even if that dog did do something wrong, he’s an animal, it’s what they do! Sometimes they don’t understand our customs because they are still learning. You can swat at their behinds and tell them no in a very strong tone, but don’t beat the shit out of them for something stupid.

My point is that it doesn’t matter what someone said or did or if you just had a horrible day, you don’t take it out on the people and pets you love. It’s just not appropriate. If you ever want that person or animal to love and respect you, show them the same courtesy that you want to be shown to you by showing them how much you love them, not by how angry of a person you are. I would bet you would get sick and tired of being yelled at and hit on a daily basis, so why would you do that to someone else?

When you are angry, take a walk, talk to a therapist, vent to someone on Facebook, but don’t hit anyone. There are so many ways of taking out your frustration that doesn’t involve violence. Hitting causes psychological damage to people and your pets. They never forget how you treated them, and I can guarantee you that they will hold a grudge against you for the rest of their lives. 100 nice things will be erased by 1 punch in the face. Just think about that.

If mental scars were visible, the people you abuse would look horrible. If my mental scars were visible, you probably wouldn’t recognize me at all. I may seem like I have my shit together, but inside I’m a complete mess. I have had depression since childhood and believe me, it’s not fun, so just think about what you are doing before you do it.

Think before you yell, think before you hit.