Stereotypes About Homeless People That Just Aren't True

Stereotypes About Homeless People That Just Aren't True

How the world sees them is not the truth.
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It's not every day we think of ourselves as privileged. Living as a middle class, white person from San Jose, CA, I am very privileged. Yet, I am surrounded by those who are not. The homeless population in San Jose has grown enormously and is one that is not treated very fairly. The city has forced them out of their camps and has them constantly moved. Local organizations, food banks, and churches with open doors are just a few places where the homeless are given help. What would be even greater is to help them not just with shelter and food, but with comfort and a sense of belonging. It's a struggle living on the streets in such a rich and booming city as San Jose.

It is eye-opening to see how many people are homeless in my hometown. Many homeless people in a documentary called, "Exodus from the Jungle," mentioned how the city destroyed their homes and families by evicting them numerous times from their camps. They also talked about how they are humans too and how we shouldn't profile them and see them as not people. One man said, "We are not dogs, we just live like them." That really hit me hard because they deserve social justice and don't deserve harsh treatment constantly pushed upon them. They have children and grandchildren, they have social lives, and they are no different from you or me. There are so many stereotypes of the homeless: they are mentally disabled, drug addicts, or even choose to live this way. Yes, there are quite a few who are those, but only about 10-20% of the homeless population are homeless due to them. Most of people without homes are homeless because of job loss or not being able to pay medical or home bills. Another man mentioned how you could be one paycheck away from losing your house. They didn't choose to be homeless. They aren't animals, they're human beings. They deserve the same respect and courtesy we give to everyone else.

After spending time working with homeless men and women in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, I have come to realize that these people are dedicated to their community and are willing to help each other out. A group from my school and I went to serve in that district of San Francisco; It’s perhaps the poorest neighborhood in the city. We served as volunteers for San Francisco City Impact, a ministry based in the Tenderloin that works to build and help the community. My team and I were sent to work in their beauty center and do street ministry. I know what you are thinking, no one likes street ministry, people yelling, "Let Jesus Christ into you heart or else you'll go to hell." It wasn't at all like that. We walked around the district, handing out bags of chips and just having regular conversations. If Jesus or God was brought up, we did some preaching, but we didn't force religion down their throats like stereotypical street-preachers would.

When were doing our street ministry, we met few memorable folks. One was named Eddie (seen below). He ran away from his home Mexico just the day before. He and his brother were part of the Mexican military, Eddie being a sergeant. At a routine checkpoint in Tijuana, Eddie and his brother discovered a truck full of cocaine. Things escalated quickly. The owners of the truck shot down his brother in attempt to escape federal charges. In fear of his life, Eddie ran away to safety. He left behind a home, a wife, and three children between the ages of 16 and 21. At the time, he was trying to get a job, but was homeless and broke. We bought him a few supplies at nearby liquor store, prayed for him, and sent him on his way.

Another man we met (seen below) didn't give his name, but he did tell us about his wife, Karen. She passed away five years ago due to overdose. Being temporary street-ministers, we reassured him that Karen is up in Heaven with God in a much better place. He would not stop repeating, "I don't care if she's in heaven or hell, I don't give a rat's ass where, I'm coming for her." This year would have been their 40th wedding anniversary.

These people are so grateful for what they have and never give up hope. If you ever see someone asking for money (or not), please don't hesitate to give them some money, some food, or even some of your time; Just have a conversation with them. All I ask is, is that you stop profiling homeless men & women and help a friend out. We are one in the same, we are all children of God, and we are all human beings. Stop judging and just love.

Cover Image Credit: Samantha Ledbetter

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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The Inward Struggle Of Being Trans And Christian

When who you are does not match what you believe.

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I was probably 15 when I started to feel my gender was a little different from my body. This only really came with my periods and my chest. Every period, I was in agony not just because of physical pain, but because of mental pain as well.

I have always been a person who wants to know why.

Why?

Why is this happening?

Why was I born?

Why was I brought into this world only to bleed and be in pain while in it and why does no one want to seem to help with this battle.

I, so far, have asked two doctors for a hysterectomy only to be laughed right out of the office. What I really want is to be OK with my body, to feel secure in it, to be happy, and not to bleed. When I first shared these feelings with my father it was because I could hold it in no longer. I was at a breaking point. I had passed every single male I saw on the street and felt extremely jealous, not to mention the jealousy I often felt towards my own boyfriend. I felt this jealousy for my cisgender guy friends, boyfriend, my little brother.

I felt it for practically everyone.

As my father and I began talking, he brought up hell. Hell is something I actually think of quite often. It is something that I know the Lord sends people to when they do not believe Him. That is always what I have believed, however, this sort of shed new light. I never really thought of God sending people to hell for disobedience.

When I was 15 I started wondering why.

Why did I have to have a period?

Why did God do that?

Why must I bleed once a month?

Why was I not born a boy?

I wanted a flat chest, no uterus, testosterone, and I just wanted to shed the skin I was in. It got worse. It hit the worst when I graduated high school and went to college. College was a time of freedom. I had left my parents and was on my own, however, along with being on my own came a world. Life seemed so aimless, every period I had, I wanted for the next, and I did not want to go on hormonal birth controls to help or stop it due to the fact that pumping that much female hormones into my body seemed unbearable, not to mention the success rate of fulling stopping a menstrual cycle can be slim (however, more women should know that completely stopping your cycle is perfectly fine and healthy, but that is a different article for a different day,

I lost my purpose.

When I was young, I was bursting of life. I practiced my Oscar speeches and interviews with Jimmy Fallon or Ellen Degeneres in the shower every single day. I had dreams. As I got older, I felt them slip from me. I used to dream and dream and dream. But now I am lost in reality. When I used to dream, I always pictured a girl. I always pictured me. I saw myself winning Oscars, talking to Jimmy Fallon, and laughing with Ellen in a female body. I don't know what to see anymore. Because these days, I truly struggle with seeing myself as a girl. The little girl who was born in 1999 grew up to wish that event had never happened. I really can't picture doing those things anymore as Lizzie anymore, because soon she will be gone.

It feels serial to type that name out.

It feels odd to see it on paper. It is something my ears still perk up to and something I still feel a bit of a connection to which I will keep in consideration if and when I decide to change it. But overall, I am terrified. I am petrified of God, of life, of the future. Many times I have been told to pray and to accept this body, but doing such things are not even close to as easy as everyone insists. I am crippled by dysphoria. There is not a waking moment where it is not on my mind. I wake up anxious often, sometimes I even wake up in the middle of my deep slumber from nightmares. I dream of the blood coming from a place I never asked, I dream of the millions of others who have to deal with such horrors, I dream of hell and of Heaven.

My life with dysphoria is a living nightmare.

I want to give some hope. I want to give hope that it will not always be this way and that change is possible. I am hurting. I am closeted. I am disappointed with the lack of research of making the lives of trans individuals, women, and others seeking to suppress dysphoric bodily occurrences.

In this day and age, we shouldn't have to have periods. We shouldn't have to stay at home. We should progress in our technology and medicine. But these changes just never seem to come quite quickly enough.

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