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TDoR

On the 20th of November, many major cities in North America and the World, recognize Trans*Day of Remembrance. It’s not a celebration. It’s a somber and solemn occasion when the Trans* Community and their Allies gather to remember those men and women who were killed because of their choice to identify as their true self.

My friend J came to share her story with us last Sunday and while her story, at times, was difficult to hear, it was necessary for her to share it. She spoke eloquently of her knowing she was not male, although she was assigned male at birth. She shared her journey of “coming out” to her family and friends. Some reactions were better than expected; some were worse. Through it all she retained her sense of self and her affection for her creator.

Her son A came with her to Church and there were a few of her friends from the Trans* Community who came to provide moral support. There were a couple of members in the congregation who were uncomfortable and unhappy at what J was sharing with us. One member of the Congregation refused to share the Peace with her, while another nearly knocked her over in their urge to share their joy at her bravery and interest in her story.

Two families with children were present and both sets of parents commented how grateful they were that their children heard what J said. A seven year old thought she was “cool”. High praise indeed!

We are grateful for people like J who have the strength and courage to share their stories. We gather to remember those whose stories may never otherwise be told. Such as an eight year old boy who was certain she was supposed to be a girl. She stopped cutting her hair, began dressing as a girl and asked her family to use a female name for her. Her father was enraged and began to beat her, hoping to show her how it was to be a boy. In his anger and rage he beat her to death. Her father. She was eight.

I have the honour of offering a non-denominational, interfaith prayer at the beginning of the service. And I have been tasked with reading the story of one of the victims of transphobia, one of the many for whom we gather to remember.

It breaks my heart every time I hear of another young Trans* person taking their life rather than endure the taunts and horror that surrounds them, especially early in their transition. Its easy for those of us who are not Trans* to tell them to hang on…to wait…but until we live in their skin, think with their brain, love with their heart, see with their eyes, we will never understand.

What we need is a Revolution of Love. A commitment each of us makes to love without abandon. To love in the face of hatred and fear. To love when it seems there’s nothing useful to say. Because in times of great sorrow there isn’t anything helpful to say. But we can be. Together. In the peaceful quiet. And we can love.

Darkness cannot overcome darkness. Only light can do that. Hatred cannot overcome hatred. Only love can do that.

So when we feel the world has gone insane and there is only violence and hatred, we respond heart-fully, bravely, with love.

It begins with each and every one of us. If we know love we can share love. And in sharing love we overcome the hatred within us. I believe we can, with time, faith, trust and love…change the world.

And on Saturday, when we gather in the City for Trans* Day of Remembrance, our hearts will be filled with grief and pain. And hopefully through words of hope and courage we will begin to replace that grief with hope and that pain with love.

One soul at a time. One heart at a time. One being at a time.

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Today is the 11th of November. In the small town where I live we will gather at 10:50 at the Cenotaph for a service of remembrance and peace. My colleague from the Church across the street is participating for the first time and he will be preaching. A few years ago I wrote some prayers for the service and have adapted them each year. It will be interesting to see the faces in the crowd as my colleague preaches. We traditionally enjoy a vast demographic presence; from the very young to the very old.

Last year, after the Parliament Hill and War Memorial shootings, there was a particularly large crowd. The weather is sunny but cool, with a bit of a wind. The perfect combination for Remembrance Day.

Last Sunday I preached on Remembrance Sunday about peace, remembering and finding a better way to solve conflict. I must admit, I was angry when I was preaching as it doesn’t seem we’ve learned anything in the 4,000 years since the prophet Micah wrote “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, their sprears into pruning hooks; nation shall not rise again; we will war no more”. Our weaponry is more sophisticated than ever and the art of battle looks more like a video game than hand to hand combat. Yet PTSD and broken souls is still as prevalent as it was in the time of the Boer War. When will we learn a better way?

This Sunday a friend of mine is going to share her story as a transgender woman of faith. I have known her since early in her transition and I have witnesses a beautiful soul blossoming after years of fear and anxiety at being who she was meant to be. She was born male, and struggled all her life to accept who she was truly meant to be. Her transition happened later in life, but today she is strong, she is spirit-filled, she is a beautiful advocate who speaks eloquently. I am in deep admiration for her.

Next Saturday we will gather for the Trans* Day of Remembrance. My friend is the MC for the night and I’m so pleased for her. I have been asked again to provide a blessing and am honoured to do so. November has become, for me, a season of remembrance.

As the Christian year winds down it’s a time of great reflection in looking back at where we have been, looking ahead to where we may dare to be and being present in where we currently are.

It has been said that if we do not remember our past mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them. And yet, how and when do we learn a new way to disagree and manage conflict? War cannot always be the way. There must be a peaceable solution…

I believe in the very depths of my soul that peace is possible. But it has to begin with each and every one of us when we choose love over hate, acceptance over fear, and peace over war.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn;
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We WILL remember them.

Amen

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Sleep has been rather elusive over the past few weeks.  Part, I suspect, to the bizarre weather and temperatures that can’t seem to decide if they are seasonal, extremely warm or extremely cool.  Part is due to two awesome honours I have been given, one of which is happening tomorrow night at the Transgender Day of Remembrance or TDoR.  The other is the Invocation prayer for the newly elected Municipal Council on the 1st of December.

The groups are quite different and the types of prayers will be quite different, but they will have one thing in common: love.

We will gather for TDoR to remember those trans* men and women who were killed.  For no other reason than they were “different”.  We live in a world that is increasingly filled with hate.  Atrocities being played out every single day and broadcast into our living rooms.  There seems to be no safe place to hide.

As a proud ally to the Rainbow community, I take these things both personally and seriously and I struggle to not be overwhelmed with the zigzag of emotions as I craft the prayer.  Many people in the Rainbow community, especially in the Trans* community have been ostracized by the Church.  They have been told horrible things, by horrible people who do NOT speak for Jesus.  And they sure as hell don’t speak for liberal-minded clergy like myself.

I believe, with all that is good and holy, that the God who created us in God’s own image, is a God of unimaginable love. A God who would love us into being…creating order from chaos.  Who with the turn of a hand separated earth from water, light from dark.  Who created us in the same image; male and female; either or neither; queer, asexual, bisexual, pansexual.  Who showed us the way to love by seeking it and seeing it in each other.

In the midst of hatred and violence, there truly is only one way to respond…with love.  I am honoured to have journeyed with many members of the local Rainbow community; some who now live in other parts of the world.  For many of them I was a final attempt at meaningful connection with God.  When you are told that you are not loved, it is often a message that goes deep into the marrow of your being.  Being told that you ARE loved takes time to penetrate past the hate.

For many people in the Rainbow community and especially in the Trans* community, they need to learn to love again. Walls go up out of necessity; if you have a high enough, deep enough wall, nobody will get through.  It takes time, patience and above all, it takes love to reach through the wall.  Love manifests itself in many ways; through trust, compassion, understanding; and if not understanding, then patience and silence.

It has been said that I pastor to a fairly conservative congregation.  And yet, I have seen them reach through concern and questioning to embrace friends from the Rainbow community.  Reaching out through love; of seeing the humanity and human dignity of each other; the face of God reflected in each other.  And seeing that is a most beautiful thing.

We will gather tomorrow night to mourn for those whose lives were taken; that their lives will not be taken in vain.  We will remember those who blazed so brightly and whose light was extinguished; but not their spirit.  TDoR will be taking place across the globe in many countries.  The gatherings will be in beautiful, safe spaces.  Those who are present will be moved; often to tears.

And it will be my responsibility to ensure that everyone who is there feels the love of their Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer.  To be invited to ask an ecumenical, multi-faith prayer is an honour and a challenge.  I believe that the Mother and Father of us all, who loved us into being will be with us, and will give me the words to speak to the hearts of those who will gather.  Because in the midst of darkness we must illumine that darkness with the light of our love.  For our Creator, for ourselves and for each other.  We WILL remember them.

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Worldwide, the 20th of November has been designated as Transgender Day of Remembrance. In 2013, 238 people were murdered because they were transgender. It is estimated that only 1/4 to 1/3 of murders in the trans* community are reported because of family issues, homelessness among the community, etc. Many trans* people live in “stealth”, meaning their family and friends may not know that they are transitioning, especially at the beginning.

Last night I attended an event in the City that was very well attended. There were many trans* people who I had met before and some I met for the first time. It was humbling to be called Ally to a group who are so dynamic and amazing, despite persecution, hate crimes and other indignities that they endure, almost every day.

As I heard the twenty names who were read and the horrific ways they were mutilated and murdered I felt a massive ache in my chest. How must it feel to live in state of fear, simply because you are trying to live your life with integrity?

There is still so much ignorance which exists in the world. Relatively speaking, Canada is a “safer” place to live and yet I have witnessed discrimination and ignorant remarks thrown at my trans* friends. It brings out the Mama Bear in me when I witness discrimination, and yet my friends preferred to either ignore the comment or leave the place where we were, to not draw any further attention to themselves.

For the love of all that is good and holy, we live in the 21st Century. We live in a place and time where we should be free to live as God has intended us to live. Where does it say that love is wrong? Where in scripture is it written that we are meant to live our lives in fear because of who God sends for us to love? NOWHERE, THAT’S WHERE.

I feel humbled and honoured to be an ally to a community where I have been welcomed with open arms. At every gathering there is laughter, hugs, smiles, tears, love and trust.

At the gathering last night the keynote speaker talked about the power of hope and how we cannot have hope without love.

I have said in this blog on more than one occasion, that I believe we can change the world, with love.

The time has come to eliminate hate with love. To silence the voices of hate with non-violent reactions of love. It won’t happen over night, but if we work together, by God, it will happen.

There was a 5-year old girl present, wearing a fabulous sparkly pride headband and she was mesmerizing. When the band was playing, she was riveted. When she heard the keynote speaker, she sat up on her Mom’s knee so she could see better. She is the reason we need to lean towards love. She is worth it and if we follow her, she will teach us what love is truly about.

No child is born knowing how to discriminate, or how to hate. Children are born free of all those things that can tangle us up. At what point do we start with filters and assumptions? Why does it have to be that way?

Today I have worn purple as a sign of respect to those men and women in the trans* community who have lost their lives, simply because they were living their lives with integrity. It shocks and saddens me how brutal we can be against one another. It makes me weep for the future of humanity.

And then I see a beautiful little girl and I hope that she will love us enough to teach us the way. That when she is my age, she will be able to tell her children about what TDoR stands for, and how we don’t have to do them anymore because society has evolved enough to focus on love and hope. She will be able to remind her children of the lessons we need desperately to learn. So the mistakes of the past will not be repeated.

Speak peace, have hope, live in love.

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In my last post I shared just how off the rails I feel. There was something close to a miracle that occurred. My motivation came back. And I suspect, it was in no small way due to my husband realising that the house was in a state and he needed to do his part. He told me, on Sunday, that he was going to vacuum and wash the upstairs floors because he saw that they needed it.

I had made up my mind that I was going to clean/scour/disinfect the bathrooms…which I did. He not only cleaned the floors in the bedroom, he rearranged the furniture. I was excited. We washed the bedding, and the duvet cover, changed the duvet cover, and took a break at the half way mark. We went into the city to buy a new shower curtain and bath mat. Came home with two great bargains, as well as birthday presents for my nephews whose birthdays are in December and January.

Rejuvenated I hung the shower curtain, which has brightened up the bathroom, put down the new mat and marvelled at how everything was gleaming. I should have taken before and after pictures, but the feeling of accomplishment was significant. The downstairs bathroom is also our laundry room so it regularly takes a beating. The sink and toilet have been scrubbed and disinfected and are gleaming. I need to take down the curtains and wash them, but that won’t be for another couple of weeks at least. I need to take down the curtains in our bedroom and do the same, but again, not for a while.

The kitchen floor needs washing, but it’s been raining and miserable, and with two dogs there’s not much point. So it will get done later in the week. The mop stands at the ready.

Overall, I feel like I’ve turned a corner. My thoughts are more positive and my days feel much more productive. I went to a PFLAG meeting last night in the city and met a young woman who has been damaged by the Church. She allowed me to hold her hands while I reminded her that she is a beautiful child of God, created by God, and she is nothing short of perfection. She wept and gave me a hug. And I think she believes me, which is even more powerful.

I am shocked and saddened by how many people discriminate against a brother or sister because of their sexual orientation. It’s as irrational as discriminating about eye colour or nose size. It’s ridiculous. And yet so many people have been damaged by words spoken, supposedly from love, but in reality from hate. And it’s my job to speak against it.

That young woman and I walked out together. She was feeling much more positive than when she arrived. She felt like she part of something bigger, which, she is. And she is going to work on her relationship with God according to her new-found, newly re-discovered faith; not the faith that was used to hurt her. We are going to meet for coffee to discuss the Bible and theology. I’m looking forward to that. To finding out how she sees the Bible and helping her to find passages that are filled with beauty, not used as weapons of hate.

Today is a busy day with a Clericus meeting about half an hour away. Tonight is the Transgender Day of Remembrance that will be life-changing.

So, today, is a good day. Thanks be to God.

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In my job I am occasionally called on to listen while someone is in crisis. My usual reflex action was to listen, make noises (such as “Mm-Hmm” or “Yes, yes” etc) and to be thinking of what I was going to reply as the person was speaking. It was not usually effective and more often than not, left me feeling more anxious than when I sat down with the person.

Since I’ve started studying Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, I very aware of how I sit, how I come across, ensuring I am approachable and non-threatening.

A lady in my congregation is struggling with depression. She’s got anxiety that overwhelms and almost cripples her. She’s honoured me with her trust, in sharing when she’s in a shaky place and she’ll ask if she can come and have a chat. I always readily agree.

Recently she went on a cruise with her husband. A first for both of them. She was terribly fearful of the cruise, but knew it was important to her husband so she felt she had to go. The therapist she was seeing blamed her depression on her son’s suicide four years ago, and said that until she sorted herself out with that she would continue to be depressed. This therapist was not a good fit for her, and thankfully, she recognised that in herself.

What I do is not therapy. I am not a therapist. I am a priest, a spiritual advisor, and occasionally a confidante.

When she comes to see me, we sit in my office and I ask her how her day is going. She talks, and I listen. I may nod my head, but I don’t make affirming noises as they irritate me (so I can only imagine how irritating they are to the hearer) but I make sure to keep my focus on the person, without staring.

Often there are pauses. Sometimes she takes my hand or I take hers. Often there are tears. And through it all God is there. On Sunday, this lovely lady told me she wanted to resign from one of her multiple ministries in the Church. I accepted her resignation with sadness, but thankfulness and understanding.

She wanted to talk about the guilt she felt for “abandoning me” to that ministry. I listened to what she was saying and affirmed her gifts. I did not say “don’t be silly” because she’s already dealing with guilt. She doesn’t need to feel silly as well. When I told her of the ministries I saw her undertaking and loving service she had given the Church for several decades she brightened.

Someone had seen her…really seen her. She was being celebrated and honoured. And it will continue to happen. She has promised to continue as a resource for Parish information to me. She has promised if she doesn’t like the way I take on the ministry that she will tell me. And I have promised that she will always have my complete and utter support.

Tonight I am sitting down with a new friend who has been battered through his young life, by the Church. I am the first person of faith that he has reached out to in decades and I am both anxious and honoured to be meeting with him tonight. I have no agenda other than to listen. I will not take notes. I will be wholly and mindfully present.

I suspect there may be some tears. And lots of laughter as we have similar senses of humour. And at the end, perhaps there will be prayer.

I know that I am not God. I would not want God’s job. I’m too judgmental to be God.

I know that I am not Christ. I would not want Christ’s job. I’m too selfish to be Christ.

All I can be is me. All I can do is listen. And if, in being who I am, and listening as I do, I can help someone feel a little less lost, and little more found; then I have succeeded.

And it will be a good day.

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I am not a huge fan of retaliation. In fact, most often, it has been my experience that when one retaliates from a hurtful situation, it usually escalates. However, in this case, I believe retaliation is necessary.

Yesterday, after a particularly uplifting Church Service, I was standing in the Gathering Space chatting with one of my parishioners when another approached and asked if he could “have a word” with me. We moved to a quieter part of the Gathering Space and he said “Is it true?” I asked what he was talking about. He said “I’ve been deluged with emails that you’ve joined a gay choir. Is this true?”

My knee-jerk reaction was to get up in his face and teach him a thing or two. I did not do that. I guess that means my meds are working. 🙂 Instead, what I said was “Who has been causing this deluge?” He did not reply. I told him that it is no secret that I belong to a CHURCH CHOIR in the City that happens to have some gay members. Why is this a problem? He quickly backpedalled and said “You know I love you and it’s fine with me, but – ” “But what?” I asked, somewhat angrily. I did not give him a chance to reply. I reminded him that I have always been affirming of everyone.

I have invited the congregation to join the same choir I am in, and have invited them to come and hear the choir perform. I have never hidden that I am an ally. I told him that the Wardens are fully aware that I am a proud member of PFLAG, then I had to explain what PFLAG is.

Eventually, this parishioner said he thought I should be aware of “what people are saying”. I replied that I would prefer to know who these people are and that I would appreciate it if he would either forward me the emails OR respond to the people who were sending them, that they should speak to me directly.

Personally, I can’t stand he said/she said conversations. It is the same as leaving an unsigned note on my desk. I won’t respond to the criticism or the suggestion. I was furious after our conversation and I came home to calm down, to pray and reflect on it. And in the process of this, I decided to change the Church sign.

I usually change it every week or two and decided to change it yesterday. Every sign has contained the word “love” since the end of May. The sign now says “We do not need to think alike to love alike”.

Take THAT haters.
Here endeth the lesson.

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Lately I feel as though I’ve had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’m struggling with what it is to be a person as well as a priest and IF it is possible to separate the two. I knowingly signed up for this lifestyle, this vocation, knowing that I would always be on-call and I would always be working, in one way or another.

Most days I can separate my administrative duties from my household duties as I keep regular office hours. But now that we are in summer, my daughter is home with me every other week, which makes office hours a challenge. I still get the work done, but it’s from the kitchen table as opposed to the desk at the office. And in between tasks, I take a break to get more coffee or water, and then throw in another load of laundry, sweep the floor, change the bedding, etc.

Is the multi-tasking healthy? I’d like to think there are times for it and benefits for it. Laundry, for example, mostly does itself. So I can throw in a load, work on something, take a break for fabric softener, work on something, take a break to hang it out or throw it in the dryer in inclement weather, and so on.

I have been trying to grow my hair out. And I really shouldn’t. I decided a few months back that I’d like to be able to put my hair up on really hot days. My hair is also quite thick. And so in the hottest days of the season (so far) I had my hair stuck out at all angles, because it was too short to put up but too long to lay flat. Argh.

I had a baptism on Saturday and afterwards I was feeling quite good, but also in need of a significant change, so I went to the hairdresser where I have been going since I returned to the city (about 9 years). Two of my favourite stylists were working. They had similar hairstyles and I wanted what they had, plus a hit of colour – red and I mean red. So I am now sporting what is called an “undercut” whereby I have a mop of hair on my head which is streaked with brown, blonde and red. The hair has movement and on the sides and back it is shaved close to the skin. LOTS of versatility and apparently if it show one side of the shaving, it makes me “badass”. Something I never realised I wanted to be…lol.

Last night my beloved and I went to the Pride Church service where the banners were blessed. It was quite warm in the sanctuary, but we endured and enjoyed ourselves. My beloved and I both sing in the choir and the choir presented “Climb E’vry Mountain” which was quite well received. We have a new musical director and he is awesome. The entire service was fantastic.

One of my favourite parts of attending church at MCC is how communion is done. You come forward; by yourself, with your partner, your family, or friends. A wafer is dipped in grape juice and placed in your mouth, then the Eucharistic minister blesses you and prays with you. Last night’s blessing and prayer brought tears to my eyes…hearing how much I am loved, how our union is blessed by God, how we are never alone…all things I really needed to hear. I say them often enough to other people, but it had been a long time since someone said them to me.

So now I find myself happy but weary. My two-week vacation begins in just under two weeks. I have two more Sunday services and I’m on the train to “elsewhere”. I am really, really ready to be away.

I am ready to disengage from the frenetic pace that is parish life, and really and truly be away. I have lists to make, instructions to send, pastoral visits to follow-up on and then I’m well and truly on vacation.

I am ready.

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Recently there seems to have been a lot of negative energy spent towards the LGBT+ community. As an ally to the community it saddens me to read articles where people are being cruel, mean and horrible with one another.

Recently a friend of mine who is a member of the trans* community, mentioned that she was having a difficult time, due in part to some hateful words and jealousy that was rearing up and taking over. I have only ever her known her as female and cannot understand why anyone would see her as something other than female. I guess I’m naive as I tend to take people as they come; and I tend to treat everyone the same.

Today I had breakfast with four of my friends, two of which are part of the trans* community. One of them has been so upset at the slow process and information shortage that she was contemplating hurting herself. Thanks be to God her fiance was able to help her through, but how horrible that she felt so marginalised that she couldn’t find a way forward?

I cry bitter tears of anger when I think of my friends being mistreated because of something as innocuous as sexuality and gender. What people need to remember is that sexuality is not about what is between your legs, but between your ears.

One of the greatest gifts that God has given us is Love. No greater gift has ever been given then when Jesus knowingly and lovingly died for us. To tell one person that they don’t deserve that love is fallacy, is wrong and is infuriating.

it is time for the hatred to end. It is time for us to come together as the human race and accept everyone just as they are.

We are all God’s children; created in the image and likeness of God. For some of us that means we look in the mirror and see that shining face of God looking back at us. For others it means looking in the mirror and seeing something or someone else reflected. And in order for us to feel that we truly are God’s Children we need to have surgery in order that our outer bodies reflect our inner selves.

God doesn’t make mistakes. God creates from Love and we are all born from Love. Some of us know who we are meant to be, and others of us spend our lives trying to figure that out. I have been blessed in knowing that the gender I was born is the one I was meant to have. I don’t know how it would feel to be born in the opposite gender to what I am now.

My trans* friends who have found the support and strength to make their transition often describe a peace that comes to them once the decision is made to transition. It’s not something that is ever done lightly, but with much thought, prayer, tears and consideration. Every one of the trans* friends I have has come into themselves once they’ve begun the transition. It’s not easy. But it is what is necessary to live an authentic life and be an authentic presence.

I truly believe that the only way to rise above the hate that, at times, seems overwhelming, is to choose to love. It’s one of the two commandments Jesus gave us. Love God, and love your neighbour as yourself. Why do we have to complicate so simple an idea?

Rise above the hate with Love. Choose to live in a place where love governs your actions. Teach your children and your grandchildren to live in Love.

And most importantly, speak out when there is hatred and prejudice. Gay rights are human rights. And we are all the same in our humanity; are we not?

It’s time for us to get up, get out, and get lost in the abounding love of God. For God’s sake, and for each other’s sake.

It’s time. Let’s do it. Together.

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There’s something I’ve been needing to get off my chest for awhile now. Labels. I don’t like them.

Now, please understand, I’m not talking about tape labels or file folder labels. I LOVE them. They help me organise my world and I like that very much. But as far as society’s labels…I don’t like them at all.

Some of the labels that society pins on me. Hetersexual, straight, female, human, Christian, Anglican, middle-aged, vision impaired, hearing impaired, mentally ill, food addict, religious, spiritual, overweight, fat, outspoken, opinionated, passionate, down-to-earth, etc.

Some of the labels I understand and have even attached them to myself. There is one label that makes me absolutely crazy. Straight. What on earth does that mean? If you’re not straight you’re crooked? If you’re not straight you’re wavy? Hair is straight, sexuality is not. I slightly more comfortable with heterosexual. Because I am attracted to the opposite gender, although I can truly appreciate a beautiful female.

I am an ally of the “not straight” movement. I have transgender friends, homosexual friends, lesbian friends, queer friends, two-spirited friends, gay friends. And what do each of these friends call me? They call me by name. Not a label. What do I call them? I call them by their name. Now, in the case of a transgender friend, I will usually ask their preferred name and pronoun if I’m not sure. And every single time, this request has been received graciously and lovingly.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t care what anyone does in the privacy of their bedroom, as long as both are adults, consentual and nobody gets hurt. We, as a society, spend far too much time talking about sex, and not nearly enough time engaging in it. Those of us who chose to do so. Not everyone wants to have a sexual relationship, and that, too, is a private matter that should not be open to discussion or criticism.

A late prime minister of Canada one said “the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation”. I’m thinking its time we reminded the authorities of that. And, occasionally, each other.

I’m certain I will blog more about this at a later time, but for now, I needed to get this off my chest.

Love who you are, and share that love, with whomever you choose, however you choose. Don’t label or demean what you don’t understand. Live by the golden rule. And if you still find it necessary to slap a label on a perfect stranger…get over your bad self.

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