Where Is God?

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Contrary to what you may have heard, I don't hate anyone - GodWhen I was a little girl, oh so long ago, my parents joined an Anglican church here in Edmonton, Alberta. I really liked it. The windows were all stained glass in different pictures and when the sun shone through it was like looking at living art. The church itself was all wood and had a nice smell. Clean, like the sun and rain and wind. The priest was a younger man, new to the pulpit, I figured out later. He always told great stories from the bible. He talked about those people in the bible who were strong, who were leaders, who believed in something beyond themselves. My favorite was the Book of John. Still is.

As a teenager I joined a Baptist group and my life took an odd turn. This was during the 80s when Edmonton was number 4 on the places to have a nuclear strike in the world. This group had no stained glass and I didn’t hear about how to be a good leader or to believe in something outside myself. Here I was taught to fear and hate. Here is where I learned intolerance. At the age of 16 a good friend was murdered by an act of arson. When I went to the pastor to see if she was in heaven, I was told she was in hell. She wasn’t saved. I became obsessed with Nostradamus and the Book of Revelations.

It wasn’t until I became a Witch or Wiccan that I felt safe enough to question my Christian years. I was oddly fascinated by the Inquisition and read all I could about it. At the University of Alberta, I took Religious Studies as my minor. An act that has since served me very well in my writing. It taught me to look at an issue from a detached perspective and how to write a story that endures. I still love the Book of John.

Yesterday I discovered something disturbing; Ric McIver participated in the Calgary Street Church’s “March for Jesus”. This is a group that states very clearly on their website that;

“Last year alone, Calgary’s streets were flooded with people of wrong sexual preferences during a homosexual parade of over 30,000 attendees and none of them were embarrassed the slightest to publicly even present their nakedness in front of families and in front of future generations to openly proclaim and manifest that they are not ashamed to declare the name of their master (Satan) and in the same way not concerned with provoking greatly the wrath of the Living God.”

Gay pride flag flowing in the wind

Gay Pride Flag

Wrong sexual preferences? Excuse me? I had to do a triple take on this line as I’m not sure what a “sexual preference” is. Preference indicates you’re making a choice and choosing something you prefer. LGBTQ people don’t make a choice. It’s who they are. Just as someone who dates members of the opposite sex aren’t making a choice. It’s who they are.

Then I got to the line about nakedness. I’m not sure “nakedness” is viable as a word let alone something to be ashamed of but let’s look at it. At what point do your god or gods tell you to be ashamed of the very thing you say they made? The Christians say humans are made in God’s image yet they tell you that image is something to hide and be ashamed of, something sinful. Wait. What?

I’m not even  going to talk about the whole Satan thing. That’s where things just get silly.

Now, I will never tell anyone they can’t have their beliefs, no matter how disgusting I find them. If you want to march in Calgary for Jesus, go right ahead. I’m not sure Jesus needs a march but it’s your schtick. However, just because you believe something does not mean I have to believe it or stay silent about it. If you preach hate and intolerance, I will preach love and inclusion and I will do so until my last breath. Jesus never said, “go out and hate people.” This was the carpenter’s son who said, “love thy neighbour.” This was the man who sat with whores and tax collectors (the goons of the time) and lepers. This was not a man to turn anyone away from his table even when all he had to feed 5000 people was a loaf of bread and some fish. Some people forget that.

What blows my mind is Ric McIver and his support of a hate group. Let’s be clear; that’s what the Street Church is, a hate group. On his Facebook page, McIver states,

“As an Albertan and if chosen Premier, I do and will continue to defend equality rights for all Albertans as defined in the Charter, including sexual orientation. I deplore discrimination against all groups and individuals without exception.”

Okay, let’s assume that Uncle Ric is telling the truth here. My daddy always said, “listen to a man’s words but watch what he does.” My daddy was a very smart man and only had a grade 6 education. So Uncle Ric marched with a Christian group that preaches hate and intolerance towards the LGBTQ community. As a pansexual, I consider myself a part of this community and Uncle Ric’s support of this group for the past four years is disturbing. Now, Uncle Ric says he’s supporting all groups. Okay. Where was he in the Gay Pride parade? He claims to stand up for all Albertans yet his record during Redford’s Reign of Idiocy, something very clear to anyone who wants to take a look at, very clearly says otherwise. Then he tries to pull out his juggling act, hoping that Albertans won’t see the blaze he’s started elsewhere.

Uncle Ric, your record stands for itself. You don’t stand up for all Albertans. You stand up for those Albertans you think will get you a vote. Let me state this very clearly, Uncle Ric, the LGBTQ community votes. We have a voice in Alberta politics and we’ve heard what you have to say. When you joined that march you were making a very clear statement about where you stood on the issue of LGBTQ rights and that was not on the side that marched in the Gay Pride parades.

We vote, Uncle Ric. We vote.


Edmonton’s Gay Pride Week

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Gay pride flag flowing in the wind

Gay Pride Flag

Since this week is Edmonton’s Gay Pride Week, I thought I would devote this week’s blog to that subject. I am a big fan of the LGBTQ community for a number of reasons so I wanted to give them this time to talk about them and their story.

My first experience with LGBTQ was in grade school. I had a friend I’ll call Derek (not his real name) that I would play with at recess sometimes. One day he was feeling particularly down and I asked him why. He revealed to me that he was a girl inside and didn’t want to be a boy. I digested this for a moment and, since no one ever told me otherwise, I simply asked him what his name would be if he were a girl. He told me Deanne (the name has been changed). I asked him if he’d like me to call him Deanne. We decided he might get teased so we shortened it to D. I don’t know what happened to him, he moved away and I never saw him again. I hope he finally got to have the body he felt he was supposed to have.

I had no contact with the LGBTQ community until I was a 20 something taking some secretarial classes at a small local college in Edmonton. I was taking a class in Alberta law and we came to the subject of marriage. Marriage, I was told, was a legal union between one man and one woman. My brain put the brakes on and I yelled out, “that’s not fair!” The instructor, amused, asked me what I was talking about. I said that everyone should be able to marry. What if two men or two women were in love? They couldn’t get married? The instructor laughed at me and said that “those people” gave up their rights to have a “normal” life. I got incredibly angry and said that it wasn’t fair to deny someone a right just because they weren’t like you. Several students agreed with me but the discussion was shut down. I was hurt. This was 1989, not 1889. We were changing the world and we couldn’t stop long enough to respect the humanity of others?

A few years later I made my first foray into “The Roost” which, as many Edmontonians remember, was the gay bar in Edmonton. I’d never been there before and my friend, a gay man I was secretly in love with, took me for the evening. When we got there I met the most beautiful woman I’d seen in a while. Since I don’t have permission to use her real name, I’ll call her Rose (also not her real name). Rose was a true beauty in the style of the Hollywood goddesses of the 40s. I was fascinated. Then she revealed to me that she’d been born male. I blurted out how beautiful she was. She then offered to let me feel her breast which she took out of her top and placed in my hand. I murmured something and the smile she gave me melted my shyness away. This woman had all the grace and style I wished I had.

When I came out as pansexual to my friends, the only person who was shocked was me. I thought it was something I’d kept secret but really no one was surprised. I dealt with the jokes about having sex with pans that casual acquaintances make and persevered to be me. I’ve never told my family but they never deserved to know. They didn’t deserve to be involved in that part of my life. When I hinted to them once by suggesting I bring a female date to Christmas, my sister said she’d disown me for “disrespecting Jesus like that.”

This past little while I’ve been slammed by groups who use hate to further their own agenda. Some of these groups use their anger and hate at another group to place blame for their situation. It saddens and sickens me. Using hate to fight hate never makes sense. When I decided to write about my experiences with the LGBTQ community I was struck by the realization that this is one group that has never used anger or hate to gain their rights. The LGBTQ community has always used understanding, tolerance and respect to further their push for equal rights. I think we could all use to follow their example.

This week marks Gay Pride in Edmonton. I am proud to support the LGBTQ community and am grateful for the strides in tolerance and understanding they’ve made. We have come so far but there is so much further to go.

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