To Be The Provider Or A Huntress?

To Be The Provider Or A Huntress?

Going over my years of LGBTPQIA+ community activism to prepare for a new chapter.

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Lately, I've had an overwhelming passion to get back into LGBTQIA+ community activism. At first, I was feeling like my present interests are decreasing my desire to be part of the community again. Then as Pride season came around this past summer, I saw a lot of same gender couples and wanted a girlfriend of my own. This initiative doubled my interest in getting back into activism.

For me, being an LGBTPQIA+ community activist shouldn't be to perve for a future wife. It’s about creating a safe space for people to get answers to their problems and understand themselves better. However, I cannot deny that the ability and courage for a female to seek in person support and camaraderie for her sexuality is appealing to me. This is the basis of my present conundrum.

I haven't been in the closet about my sexuality since I was in high school. I didn't exactly put a name to it till my first year of college, but I was out and ready to meet others with similar life experiences as myself.

As soon as I knew I was positively attracted to other females, I started going to the Gay and Straight Ally Alliance on campus at Youngstown State University. There I met a very good friend that I still keep in contact with this day. I also met the woman who gave me my first same gender intimate experience as a young adult. I became the president of the organization not that long afterwards.

During my time as president of that organization, I was able to come home briefly to take part in an LGBT Youth Leader Conference. I got the chance to see Cleveland in a new light, a welcoming light, that I had not known was there when I was in high school. Cleveland had had a Lesbian/Gay Community Center all this time! I could have discovering the secrets of my sexual orientation years before I left high school.

I had never been to a center like that before. I didn't know what to expect, or what would be expected of me. The center moved from West 29th and Detroit to West 65th and Detroit which made it possible for me to find it and attend. So I decided to take the plunge and attend the center I did. After work I was at the center every night of the week. Meetings for different groups met every night and all day through evening on Saturdays. Groups were always packed to capacity, making me feel less alone and part of something really meaningful and helpful.

As my sexual orientation shifted, and the groups shifted dynamics, I was bit by the organizing bug. I didn't want groups to end once leaders stepped down. So I took over a couple of them. At one point I was running the bisexual group and the group for 20-29 year olds. I had also started marching in the Gay Pride Parade every year.

Once I came close to my 30s, I was only running the bisexual group. I was trying to start a Parents For Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG) for People of Color, but that proved a bit risky an idea to run with.

Its easy to just take over a group once people step down. So what exactly did my activism look like besides just being listed as a group leader? I consider my activism to be going beyond just being present and participating in support groups.

I planned topics for meetings, helped steer conversations when I could, wrote press releases for events, advertised for new members, planned programs, planned extracurricular activities, put up websites, hosted meetings in my own apartment, volunteered at the Gay Pride Festivals through check in/clean up, sitting at booths for different local organizations, working in the Children's Pavilion, made signs, sold T-shirts, made brochures, and I wrote awareness and personal articles in papers like “Gay People's Chronicle” (God bless its out-of-print soul now), “The Letter,” and “Bi Women Newsletter.”

I've always been amazed by my ability to put my severe shyness and introversion aside to be someone people could look to for support with their sexuality concerns. Benefiting the many always superseded just benefiting myself. Helping always has always helped me, so I don't know why now that it feels like I want to help others as well as helping myself. Helping me accept myself and my own story was just a side effect of being there for others. Now that I'm sure of myself and have come to respect my own story, my personal objectives have shifted.

How do I help others without turning it into a personal hunting ground? Should I not go back to leading and just focus on trying to find my one? LGBTPQIA+ community activism is not a part of my identity I want to give up. Its given me personal strength and purpose where I thought I wasn't important. I just don't want to misuse my purpose.

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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The Hardest Part Of Transitioning Isn't Physical Or External At All, It's The Internal Struggle You Face

My daily battles are far from over

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Life before I started my transition was extremely hard. Imagine waking up in a home that wasn't yours but you are forced to remain there, held prisoner. It was constantly feeling like I was drowning, even though I was nowhere near any body of water. I was suffocating, though my airways were clear. It was the feeling you get when you're running away from your killer in a nightmare, but no matter how hard you try, your legs won't move fast enough and no scream can escape your mouth. It's was accepting defeat and just painfully waiting for an end.

Transitioning saved my life, there's no doubt about it. I don't think I would still be alive and living if I hadn't taken the plunge and gotten the help I needed. I wouldn't have wanted to be. Life before transitioning was not a life at all. Life before transitioning was trying to see without my glasses, yet everyone else had 20/20. It was living in a black & white world, stripped of all color, while everyone else's appeared to be bright and beautiful.

I thought all of my problems would disappear the moment that first needle pierced my skin and the testosterone coursed through my veins, but I was wrong. Transitioning has done and continues to do wonders for me; mind, body, and soul. However, the daily battles are far from over.

The hardest part of transitioning was not having to come out over and over again to everyone in my life. Not having to explain myself and justify why I was doing what I was doing, feeling the need to prove myself each time. The hardest part isn't having to give myself an injection once a week, even though I have a fear of needles. The hardest part isn't knowing those injections are the only reason I appear to be a man, feeling artificial or fake. The hardest part wasn't the overwhelming anxiety I got while trying to tell my friends I planned on transitioning, and praying to God they would still love and accept me.

The hardest part of transitioning was not having to accept that no matter what I do, there are some people in the world that will recognize me as everything but a real man. The hardest part isn't dealing with the hateful comments, threats, or physical contact I receive from someone who doesn't agree with the way I'm living. The hardest part of transitioning was not looking my mother in the eyes, while my body was shaking like a leaf, and having to watch her heart break as I told her that her only daughter wasn't actually her daughter at all, but her son. The hardest part of transitioning, although you would think it would be, was not the rejection and denial from some family members, leaving me cut off like a dead end.

The hardest part of transitioning isn't anything physical at all, yet I wish it was, then it could be an easy fix. By far, the hardest part of transitioning is the everlasting and exhausting war I'll fight with my mental state. The greatest battle I struggle with is the one that takes place in the neighborhood between my ears. The hardest part of transitioning is the internal pain I experience when my subconscious and conscious sexes are at odds with one another. This gender dissonance manifested itself in many ugly ways. Sometimes I found myself getting jealous or angry with others who seemed so naturally happy with the body they had. Other times it was sadness, a chronic and persistent grief over the fact that I was stuck in a body I felt so detached from and shameful in.

The hardest part is waking up every day feeling like I have to prove to myself and to the world that I am, in fact, a man. It's canceling plans and staying in for the night because my body dysphoria had gotten the best of me and convinced me I still looked like the girl I had tried so hard to leave behind. It's not wanting to speak to anyone, not even my girlfriend on the phone after a long day, because every time I talk I hear my voice pre-T. It's convincing myself I'm not an actual male because I don't have a stupid appendage between my legs and feeling incomplete until I do. It's feeling like at my best, I'll still only be equal to a "normal man" at his worst. It's wanting bottom surgery more than anything in the world hoping it will cure all of these thoughts, but knowing I'll see the scars as a reminder that I wasn't born with it. The hardest part of transitioning is knowing in my heart and soul that I am a man, but seeing myself on the exterior as a female, no matter how many surgeries I undergo, or how many vials of testosterone I burn through. It's a battle I now know I'll have to fight every day for the rest of my life.

It's easy for bystanders to discount the fact that transgender folk experience any kind of real pain in regards to their gender. Why wouldn't it be? It's something invisible that they will never have to live through in their lifetime. However, these same people understand that being stuck in a dead end job or held captive in a toxic relationship makes a person unbelievably miserable, filling them with a depression so intense that it spills over into all the other areas in that person's life. This type of pain can be tolerated temporarily, yes, but cannot be endured long term, for it will ruin a person. If that much despair can be generated from a 40-hour week job, imagine how despondent and distressed one becomes after being forced to live in a body that feels so wrong, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Life as a transman is still difficult, but if transitioning taught me one thing it's that life will be difficult no matter who you are or the body you're born with. The difficulties I face living life as a transman are no longer seen as problems I'm "stuck" with, but rather obstacles in my way that I can't wait to overcome, because I know I will, each one a new victory. We all have our demons, but we're all more than capable of defeating them.

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