Still Praying For Orlando, Two Years After.

#Pray for Orlando: My acts of solidarity

What I did to reconnect with the community after the tragedy two years ago.

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I've been at a point in my life where I don't want to be part of the LGBTPQA+ community. I don't want to have to always have to explain my sexuality to future partners or constantly defend my heritage to my family and those around me because "only white people are gay." I hate always living in fear that I will lose my job or be 'correctively' raped or beaten or killed just because of feelings I never wanted to have in the first place. My dreams of having a husband who loves me and children died the day I figured out that I love women too. I haven't been proud of my Bisexuality for so long now.

Two years ago, I jumped on Facebook and saw that a mass shooting occurred - targeting the LGBT&Beyond; community. The worst shooting in U.S. History; the LGBT 9/11. And my heart broke. It BROKE. Those were MY people. This happened to MY community. This was an attack on ME. This could've happened to ME. I saw that one of my good activist friends organized an impromptu vigil for the victims. I HAD to go. I HAD to act. I was terrified though.

To go out and support the fallen was to renounce the self-hate I've been feeling. This act could've put me directly in harms' way. What if protestors were down there - happy that 50 of my comrades are now dead? What if my boss turns on the news and sees me standing at a candlelight vigil for Gay people? What if my mother turns on the TV and cries because her black daughter is with a bunch white people supporting dead Gays?

I was scared of all these realities. I live with fears like this daily. But I needed to act. I needed to do SOMETHING. This was NOT going to be one of those things I wished I would have went to. This was NOT going to be another opportunity for my own fears to hold me back. I put on my rainbow bracelets, my Bisexual bracelets, my Asexual bracelets - and I got on the bus.

I went to the vigil and recorded it live to Facebook. During the vigil, one of the speakers encouraged everyone at the vigil to do an act of love. Love would be what conquers the evils done to us. I hugged my LGBT activist friends after the vigil was over. And I decided that my act of love would be a brave act of self-love. That was a day that I was going to be an out and proud LGBT individual.

So, wearing my bracelets and a ribbon commemorating the vigil, I got back on the bus. I ran errands. I walked the streets of Downtown Cleveland and Downtown Lakewood. I kept my head held high as people stared at my bracelets. I kept my emotions in check when the ONLY semblances in the city of this tragedy were the rainbow flag at half-staff over City Hall and a Funeral Home on W.112th Street. People went about their lives as if nothing happened. As if nothing historic or important was being reported all over the internet and local news stations.

But I wasn't shunned or beaten or raped. I arrived home safely, and with a determination to give myself the chance to love who I am. Because there are too many people that don't love who I am. And one day, I could be one of the faceless victims of another vicious Hate Crime such as this. If I can't accept that I am a Bisexual female, how will I ever find peace within myself?

I'm TIRED of hating myself. I'm TIRED of my self-hate holding me prisoner from finding happiness with a man and a woman of my dreams. My act of solidarity because of this tragedy is to live my life in pursuit of my own happiness - despite the fear and self-loathing within me. Because that's what the people in Pulse were doing. Living and loving and having fun despite the hate of the world around them.

I still pray for you Pulse. May God Bless all the victims and survivors of that tragedy.

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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