Monday, January 31, 2011

Coming Out of the Closet...Or Dressing Room

You could imagine the look on my face when I heard a mother telling her teenaged daughter, “That looks just awful. You look like a lesbian.” The young girl walked out of the dressing room, swirling in front of the mirrors, hoping the black buttoned down dress shirt fit properly. The mother kept on, “They’ll think you’re a lesbian, between the short spiky hair and a man’s dress shirt.” The girl just sighed and then rushed back into the dressing room embarrassed. The mother shot me a look to see if I was listening. Our eyes connected. “Right? Doesn’t she look like one of those lesbians?” I smiled and said, “Nothing wrong with looking like one. What does a lesbian look like anyway?”
“You know, those girls who cut their hair really short and wear men’s clothing. It’s awful for a woman to do that to themselves.”
“Ah well, if they’re happy, I don’t see a problem with it.” I said, not looking straight at her.
“Being a lesbian is no life to live, especially for my daughter. She was raised right.”
She said, almost as if stating that if her daughter were to be a lesbian, that it would be her fault. That’s how I took it anyway.
“I was raised right.” I said, while fumbling through the clothes rack.
“I’m not surprised. You look like a nice woman and I see that you’re married by the ring on your finger.”
“Yes, I am married,”
I said pointing my finger toward Madelene, “to her.” Her eyes widened as she stared me down as I kept flipping through blouses nonchalantly.

Out of nowhere, a voice from beyond yelps out, “See ma!? See?” The door crashed open, hitting the wall with a loud metallic clank. The girl came out with a fierce rage I have never seen before.
“You think everyone has to look a certain way, dress a certain way and act a certain way. I’m ‘me’ and you can’t accept it! And another thing ---I’m gay too!”
Well, that was it for me. My job here was done. Instead of trying to figure which blouse to buy, I grabbed Mad and headed out of the store. Before I could even open my car door, the woman runs out of the shop frantically.
“Wait, wait,” she yells out, rushing over to us, “I just want to apologize for what I said back there. I just want what’s best for my daughter that’s all. Maybe I am judgmental but I want her to have a life full of children and happiness.”
I look at her and said, “She still can. Just give her your blessing and be there for her when times are rough. She’s still very young, but trying to forcefully mold her is only going to make her rebellious. Being straight doesn’t always guarantee a happy and blissful life, neither does being gay or lesbian. But having a mother, like I do, who is understanding and supportive works wonders in my life.”

She grabbed for my hand and squeezed it. “Thank you.”

I’m not sure why these types of things seem to happen to me more often than not, but it's definitely a reminder of how hard kids have it today, as they did yesterday. Though it may be more “accepting” in society these days, there is still a long way to go. To add insult to injury, it’s not just the bullying that goes on in schools for those who are ‘seemingly’ gay or out of the closet - it’s the parents making the homosexual lifestyle out to be a dead end road with no hopes of happiness. They give them this false illusion that there is no way to be successful or to live a life full of family, children and love. Instead, they fill their heads with negative thoughts of how they’ll never make it in life if they are gay or lesbian. A lot has to do with the reflection of the parent: the ‘where did I do wrong’ syndrome starts flooding their thoughts - as though they weren’t good enough parents. That’s not the case. Your kid is gay. Their orientation has absolutely nothing to do with how they were raised. And don’t get me started with these psychotherapists who insist that a child is gay because he or she was sexually abused when they were younger, but they just blocked it out. That’s utter bullshit. There are many heterosexual people who were sexually abused when they were younger unfortunately, but that has no impact on what gender they’re going to choose to be with later on in life. In fact, I went to a female lesbian psychologist who said to me, “We’re all gay because we were sexually abused when we were younger.” I disagreed with her and told her my thoughts on it, as well to inform her that I was never abused when I was younger. She then replied, “Then you’re repressing it.” That type of thinking is worse than some people saying, “Well, since she couldn’t get a man, she turned into a lesbian.” Years ago, this woman from my past, a friend’s mother in fact, said to me, “You’re so pretty, you can get any man you want. Why do you choose this lifestyle?”

Why get “any man I want” when I have the woman I want?

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Friday, January 28, 2011

Two Girls, One Camera

While putting together part of my documentary and trying to organize all the pieces to the puzzle, I began to realize that I was missing an important segment of the film. I contacted the entertainer who was previously interviewed by us to ask if I had given her the wrong footage, and she said something that made sense - something I already knew - but all the more reason to move full steam ahead on this on my own. She said, “You do need a crew. Not only to help you channel your vision, but to help you fan the flames of your brilliance. I believe in you and know that the footage is somewhere!” Hours later I did find my footage, through the rubble of my madness, but her words kept taunting me a bit. I admit, it would be a helluva' lot easier working with a crew, but between the possible weakening of control and my shoestring budget, I doubt that’s going to happen anytime soon. On the other hand, if I found some creative minds to work with, perhaps people who are very much into filmmaking & photography, it would be fun. Believe it or not, it’s very hard to come by unless you are paying them greatly. Many of my friends aren’t into it. It’s just Madelene, me and a camera.

Another reason why I don’t mind doing this alone is that I have always had this vision in my mind - a plan - a purpose - a topic where people from all creeds can come together and help one another out. So in another perspective, I do have a crew: my subjects. The people I interview are the ones giving me their time, their honest views...their hearts. What more can I possibly ask for? A good friend from my past had taught me the basics in photography, filmmaking and editing. I’ve invested in better equipment and “expecting” better quality each and every time. When I contact a publicist and talk to them about interviewing whatever celebrity or entertainer, I always have to remind them that it’s a casual affair, just two girls and one camera. Maybe a small HD cam for b-roll footage. There are no guys holding boom mics are swarming their location with a camera in every corner of the room. It’s just Madelene, me and some creative editing.

There are no deadlines, only tentative dates. There are no creative conflicts or waiting upon someone else’s schedule, other than the person being interviewed. I’m happy to say it’s just two girls and one camera. It also gives a sense of relief, especially if I’m interviewing someone who lives in front of a camera for a living. It’s not so “organized” and militant. The interviewee has the control: the location, what questions to reject, what questions to accept and what answers are given. We provide food and beverage for their contribution and a great appreciation for their time and generosity, helping to spread the word against hatred. The main theme is about gays & lesbians who have faith of any religion and also, those who only speak out about religious and nonreligious bullies. I’m also having religious clergy of opposing views speak out about homosexuality in general, and those who speak out for our community. I’m thankful that next week, I’ll be hearing intimate and heartfelt views from Ryan Nickulas & TJ Kelly from The A-List NY on LOGO. We’ve spoken a bit about the subject and I’m confident their segment is going to be a very important one. This July we’re trying to book Margaret Cho. Since she is not sure of what date she will be back in NY, we’re hoping to get something in concrete by May or June.

We’re still looking for more people - we’re not done yet! If you are gay, lesbian, transgender and have a deep faith in any religion, we want to hear from you. If you’re straight, gay, lesbian or transgender, with no religion, but the experience of being bullied by religious and nonreligious people, then we need your story. Remember, interviews are super casual. It’s only two girls and camera. (Oh and food too!)

I've dedicated a Youtube channel for Gays & Lesbians of Faith. There are a few segments you can watch over there as well as the occasional blooper reel. I've also created that channel so that I can continue interviewing even when my film is ready to be released. Please contact me if you're interested: deb@debrapasquella.com

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sticks & Stones

Words are powerful. Many people don’t even realize how much power they have when they open their mouths. Whether it’s a verbal attack on a stranger, friend or a loved one ---they’re all painful. At the age of thirteen when I was in school, I was verbally attacked by someone I was actually friends with. Of course, we were fighting at the time, but those words...those insults...those ugly remarks that twisted like a knife in my stomach. Those words still echo today. On occasion, I still sometimes see this person. We’re in our mid-thirties now, but there’s a level of contention that brings back flooding memories of a time when it wasn’t so ‘cordial’ as it is today. Even though I’ve already forgiven this person years ago, and hey - we were very young anyway - the child inside me is still wounded. If thought about long enough, it can actually bring me to tears. In fact, to even give you a better picture, I can tell you word for word what she said...but I won’t. I just remember the bus ride home was a complete mess. I was brutally verbalized with the ugliest venom. Whether I “deserved” it or not, I ran inside my house, shut the door of my bedroom and cried for hours. After my long crying session, I snuck out to my parents’ bar and grabbed a bottle of scotch and then began to mix it into the iced tea my mom always had available in the fridge. A tall glass of half scotch and half iced tea. I had about three of them. I woke up to my sister’s boyfriend pouring cold water on my face, slapping me to wake up. Luckily I got sick, which saved my life, but my mission was to take my life. I couldn’t face going to school after that. I’d rather die.

These days, kids have access to the most dangerous of all mediums: social networking. Recently, in the same school that I attended when I was thirteen years old, there have been two suicides and one attempted. They were less than two weeks apart. After their suicides, an overwhelming amount of suicidal threats started growing out of control. Kids are setting up “hate sites” on facebook, revealing personal information and unneeded opinions about what they think about ‘so & so’. Once the victim sees everyone joining this hate group, they spiral into a pit of depression. Can you imagine being that age - or even right now, and discovering a hate group dedicated to just you? And on top of that, seeing some of your ‘so called’ friends joining it? How can they even attempt to set foot back into that school? Everyone has a cell phone with access to facebook. Everyone has a camera. It has gotten so out of control and so dangerous for any kid to attend a public school anymore. Some parents have pulled their kids out of that school and then placed them in an expensive private one. Many parents don’t have that option. They have to live with the possible chances of their children being attacked day in and day out. What an awful time for these kids to live in. What an awful time for these parents to worry about this type of thing happening. I wanted to have kids at one time, but seeing how this world is getting, how advanced technology is booming ---I don’t want my child growing up in this hateful world with such easy access to the worst weapons imaginable. They say that sticks & stones may break your bones, but in my opinion, words will kill you off.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Monday, January 24, 2011

Make It Count

You’ve said it, I’ve said it, we’ve all said, “I want I want I want I want ______ .” Either we’re not happy with where we’re at or we just want more of what we already have. It’s called being human, and unfortunately, once we have grasped everything that we’ve ever wanted in life, our dreams start dissipating into thin air. What do we keep striving for? For someone who has everything, can you imagine what dreams they still have left? Do they start seeking out other things for gratification other than materialistic and monetary items, like having affairs or dipping into drugs or alcohol to make them feel differently? I’ve always wondered about this, until one day it finally hit me: what if we are here to make every single moment of our life count? Okay, so you want to get from point A. to point B. in your life, but what about the journey? What about all the little things in between? Even if you have all the money in the world, what about making a difference in somebody else’s life?

But, I digress. I need to speak about the 98% of you reading this who still have dreams left. So many of us are spending too much time dreaming about our past and future, when the best is right here: the “now”. Our present time is more important than yesterday or tomorrow. What about accepting our lot in life, whether we’re selling trinkets on eBay or accomplished entrepreneurs or businesspeople still striving to better ourselves? This quote in Ecclesiastes says it all: “Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work--whatever they do under the sun--for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life--that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.”

There are so many people who think life is meaningless. And in some cases, yes that very true if thought about in an unconventional way. So why not make it count “now”, instead of waiting for the inevitable? Make it worth it. For me, as a Christian, I have complete faith in God and believe that there is a bigger plan after our lives, but for those of you who are agnostic or atheist, it’s still worth it to go the extra mile. A good friend of mine once said something really significant to me about atheists. She said, “You know, atheists do good things because they want to, not because they’re afraid of God or seeking out God’s approval.” I thought that was really interesting, especially since most of humanity seeks out for approval and a pat on the back for a good deed done. Some Christians and other religious people do good deeds purely out of guilt and the fear of God ---which is not a good motive in my opinion.

Most of you will nod in agreement while reading this last quote:

“I have observed something else in this world of ours. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise are often poor, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being at the right place at the right time. People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a snare, people are often caught by sudden tragedy.” -Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

Whether you agree with that or not, just take a look at Ted Williams: intelligent and talented, but not successful. He’s still trying to battle with drug addiction and it can’t happen overnight, which is why he is in rehab now. It does take chance, willingness and drive. I remember sitting in a cushy IBM office in accounting, with no significant education behind me, while all my other friends with an extensive college backgrounds wanted so desperately to get into the same seat I was in. They usually ended up in some retail store helping customers, (which is not a bad thing) but they weren't pursuing their initial dreams and constantly faxing in their resumes, until finally they gave up and settled for less than what they wanted. If you want it ---get it. If you have the talent for it --show them. If you think you can --you will. And if you are happy with where you are in life, enjoy it and make it count.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Your Haters Are Your Biggest Fans

The other day, I read a tweet that said, “Hating others doesn’t show their weaknesses; it shows yours.” I couldn’t find the author of the quote, but I found it to be so true. For instance, if I don’t particularly care for someone, (which is worse than hating someone in my opinion), then I don’t look at their work or even take the time to critique it. I do find that people who “hate” others will take all the time in the world and take every opportunity to let that person know how much they are hated, as well as critiquing their work or whatever they do in life. “Hating” takes time and effort. It also takes a toll on the person who has all the hatred inside their heart. In my opinion, hatred stems from a lack of self-esteem, jealousy, resentment and/or something they hate about themselves. There are so many different areas where this can be applied, whether you’re a writer, an actor, a comedian or a successful businessperson, every. single. person. has a hater or two in their lives.

As a blogger, I have had my share of “haters”. Some were religious zealots that attacked me for being a homosexual. Their primary focus was....me. One religious group offered me to live with them in their home, if I would leave my wife, marry this “nice boy from their church”, leave the life of 'evil lesbianism' behind, take my book off the shelves and live a life only dedicated to serving God. Quite an offer, but sadly, I declined. They were relentless in their mission to “save me” and to live the “right life” instead of a dead end road that would lead me into the gates of hell. They attacked me numerous times on their radio shows and said some awful things one wouldn’t think a “Christian” would say. They called me a heathen and when they didn’t get what they wanted from me, I was referred to as “that dumb dyke”. Christianity has a range of people that really should read the bible from time to time. Oddly enough, the fundamentalist Christian woman who had offered me this amazing deal was once a lesbian herself. She’s now an “ex-gay” - which is why this following quote is applicable: “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.” ~Herman Hesse

Surprisingly, I’ve had quite a few gay bloggers who bashed me because my views weren’t the same as theirs. I’ve butted heads with many of the LGBT community because I wasn’t this liberal drone moving along with their herd of sheep. In mixed company, I have to leave behind my political and religious views, or else I become the “red” target. I’ve been called everything from “crazy” to “the guilt-ridden Christian lesbian”. Some of the LGBT community were worse than the religious bigots who thrashed me on a continuous basis. Their mission was to take me down emotionally and spiritually. They even critiqued parts of my book to which then, I knew they had purchased, or else they wouldn’t have known that particular section since Amazon.com doesn’t provide that chapter in its free preview. Flattering to say the least. I guess that saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is pretty much true. Perhaps you have to study about the people you hate. I don’t know because I have never truly “hated” somebody. If I’m going to make an effort and put all my energy into something, it’s going to be a positive thing - not taking someone down and dishing out all this negativity. What a waste. Nothing good could ever come out of that.

Without naming names, I have a friend who is getting a little flak from “his biggest fans”. I can see to some degree that it bothers him, and I’m not quite sure if he has ever been in that situation before, however from an outsider looking in, I can definitely say that these people are extremely envious. But more importantly, he has to see this for himself. There are times when those “haters” are going to tear your spirit down, and in his case, it may reflect in his work. So this is my little message to him: Whenever you come across those who try to rip you apart, just remember that the most superficial glampots (as I call them) are the most insecure people in the world. They’re not happy with themselves and they never will be. They see the self-confidence you have, and they’ll eventually want to take that from you. You shine through all of them. I remember telling you once, “You sparkle”, and you tilted your head as if you didn’t understand. Don’t ever let anyone take your sparkle away. Although we have different careers, we have the same type of haters. Here are some great quotes that I find helpful and so so true.

"Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated." ~George Bernard Shaw

"Hatred is self-punishment." ~Hosea Ballou

"Great hate follows great love." ~Irish Proverb

"Hate is all a lie, there is no truth in hate." ~Kathleen Norris

"You cannot hate other people without hating your self." ~Oprah Winfrey

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Friday, January 14, 2011

Google Keywords: Invasion of Privacy?

Our privacy is our biggest concern when we’re on the internet. We feel vulnerable and at times, we feel we’re being ‘watched’ by Big Brother. And we are. Depending on ‘who you are’, is a matter of if they’re paying attention or not. For instance, Google logs every single word you type into their search engines. It all gets saved on a huge database. Sometimes, it’s even used if an employee of Google sees, “how to commit suicide” or “I want to kill someone” - this will sometimes be a cause for alarm. What about the little guys like me who blog and have Site Meter or stat counter of some type? Many people who are not that familiar with how the internet works usually do not realize how much info they’re putting out there for people to see. This is one of the reasons why I was able to tell a blogger that I was in a heated debate with, how long he was on my website as well as how many page views he had. I told him what computer he was using, part of his ip address, as well as his internet provider. I was surprised, because being that he was also an avid blogger, he didn’t know I could gain all that info from my own website. Most bloggers can.

The sad part about all of this is when I see someone type into Google, “how to commit the perfect suicide”. It directs them straight to my blog, because I wrote an ‘inspiring’ post called, “The Perfect Suicide” - about recreating myself - not killing myself. I have tons of hits because of this one title. I was shocked at first, but more so, sad that there are so many people hurting out there. The one good thing about it is --they came to a place where it encourages them to recreate themselves, instead of someone else’s blog with a lesser value of life. So, with that I’m grateful. I’ve had quite a few strange keyword searches, from foot fetishes, Smurfette photos, to someone questioning if their cat is a lesbian. It’s crazy. The most search words that are linked to me are relationship-type ones: “volatile relationships”, “how to detect manipulation”, “is homosexuality a sin” and “can our deceased loved ones visit our dreams”. Many of them are questions that the normal day-to-day person would never discuss with their own best friends. It’s interesting to trek through the searches from my Site Meter and discover what people are looking for. This morning, I found a hit to my blog from the Bronx: “trying to come out of the closet”, which led them to me.

With all that being said, I hope that I haven’t made you feel uncomfortable about reading my own blog now. Granted, I don’t have all the information - just the keywords that people use to get to me. A few of my friends have ip addresses that are located in California, but they are actually working from their offices located in New York City. The ip address is not necessarily ‘where they are’ - it’s where the provider or central office is, so it’s not exact. My own ip ranges from New York City to towns located in New Jersey. Another thing I have learned to do is to log out of my Yahoo or Gmail account while searching for peculiar things, or things you wouldn’t want other people knowing about. And yes, from time to time we all do it. The reference url can be traced back to your email. Regardless, 98% of the time they don’t care what you type, but if you’re typing words that borderline something “threatening” - it may come back & hit you in the ass. Watch for those keywords & happy surfing! And hey, you never know, you might just come across my blog.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Deb's Etiquette Class

While talking with a friend yesterday afternoon, I was telling her my distaste for people who basically try to ruin the moment, or something you’re enjoying at that particular time. I’ve had a few run ins with this. I’d like to say that I just sat there and ignored it, but 99% of the time I come out of my face and confront what they’re doing. On some subjects, the person may be absolutely right, but it’s just the wrong timing...or is it? For instance, if someone is eating a bucket of KFC --lay off the diet talk. It’s just that simple. We know that stuff is practically forming mounds on the hip area with each bite, but talking about diets is a no-no. If someone is a hypochondriac, try to stay away from topics such as symptoms of illnesses or medical talk. Their minds will run a million miles per minute. I know, I’m a hypochondriac myself. And, just because ‘you’ have a particular medical condition or allergy, does not mean the other person who is in your company needs to get checked for it. Don’t advise it. Don’t suggest it. Just share if you want.

Madelene and I like to go down to this little cozy bar right down the block. We met up with a few friends during happy hour. While taking my first sip of a nice cold beer, one of the friends we were hanging out with starts to go on about how alcoholism killed her cousin. Of course, we were all sorry to hear about that and showed great sympathy toward her loss...but she kept going on... “Well, she started off by drinking that same beer.” As she stared in my direction, I began to wonder if she was concerned about my consumption of beer or if she was just trying to get me on the same wagon she was on. She goes to AA, but she has the will not to drink if she sits at a bar. Usually, a person who goes to AA is advised not to go to bars, but I kept my mouth shut about that. “Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you went to a few meetings with me, Deb?” I put my frothy beer down on the coaster, looked at her and said, “If my one beer, and the ton of booze on the wall in front of you bothers you so much, why are you here?” She began to look nervous and then said, “I can control myself.” My face became red, not from embarrassment mind you. I then blurted out, “But you can’t control your mouth. You’re trying to make other people feel guilty just because you couldn’t control your alcohol intake. Would you like me to put down my beer and order a seltzer instead?” She shut up after that.

It wasn’t too long until I found another incident where I had a get together at my place and had it catered by a Puerto Rican restaurant. There was rice & beans, pernil (which is pork), empanadas and other Spanish goodies that everyone was enjoying. I realize that some of my friends don’t eat pork, which is why I also bought a couple of pans of different pastas and one of those big subs. There were veggie dishes and everything else for particular eaters. As I’m enjoying my pernil, I had one friend come up to me and started talking about all the carcinogens that is in pork, which can cause cancer later in life. I wasn’t about to tell her about the ton of cheese she ate, which contributes to high cholesterol and heart disease - it was a party after all. As I nodded in agreement, I also said, “Everything in moderation, right?” We rarely eat pork as it is, but if we do, it has to be pernil. Again, she kept on and on about the toxins that are brewing in my dish. I looked at her, stared at her fifth glass of pure vodka (must have been at least three shots in one of her cups) and then said, “I’m surprised your liver doesn’t fall right out on my floor.” She laughed and said, “Oh this? Vodka doesn’t affect me like it does to some people. I can have ten of these and still stand.” I just shot her a look, giggled and said, “Good luck with that.”

My last encounter was a doozy. We went out with a few of our girlfriends to this really nice restaurant in the city. As our waiter brought over our dinner and we were about to all dig in, my activist-type friend notices that I had ordered the veal chop they had as a special. She wanted to make sure it was indeed, veal. "Oh Deb, what did you order?" I told her 'yes' and then her eyes twitched a bit. "You do know how they treat those poor little baby cows, right? They are milk fed only and are contained in a cage where they are unable to move." I nodded and said, "Well, if I'm not going to oder it, someone else will." She smiled with the most uncomfortable grin and basically let me know her distaste for my taste in food. I smiled back and said, "How's the chicken? It's amazing what they do to chickens in the slaughter houses. You do know that if they are not free range chickens, they keep them cooped up the same way as baby calves, right?" An eye for an eye, eh?

What is it about some people when they can’t just mind their own business? And no, I don’t think they’re “trying to be helpful” - they’re literally ruining something you are enjoying. Even though I hate smoke, I won’t talk about it’s deadly affects while someone is taking a long enjoyable drag out of their cigarette. Yes, there are bad things that happen when we consume too much of anything, but for the love of God, leave us alone and let us live...or die happy.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Westboro Baptist Church Plans to Picket the Funeral of a 9 Year Old AZ Shooting Victim

This isn’t our rights to free speech - this is terrorism, plain and simple. The Westboro Baptist Church (which goes under the website, www.GodHatesFags.com) and Fred Phelps plan to picket at the funeral of a nine year old victim, Christine Taylor Green, who was shot during the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Lee Loughner. In the video below, Phelps states that all the victims have died for the people of AZ and that it’s time to repent. “However many are dead, Westboro Baptist Church will picket their funerals. We will remind the living that you can still repent and obey.” Fred Phelps said in the video below, indicating that all the people who have been shot was a result of their sins. He also goes on to say, “This is ultimatum time with God. Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” I’ve always wondered why the Westboro Baptist Church would hold picket signs thanking God for the tragic events of 9/11. It didn't have anything to do with anything. And if they were going to picket, wouldn’t they picket against the terrorists who were of another religion? That's in the Ten Commanments, "Thou shall not worship other Gods" - what happened to that one? As I see it now, it’s a much larger picture than what I once thought. And as silly as this sounds, a movie I recently watched kind of put it into perspective for me.

The other night, we watched “Legion”. The story line on the IMDb site reads: “An out-of-the-way diner becomes the unlikely battleground for the survival of the human race. When God loses faith in humankind, he sends his legion of angels to bring on the Apocalypse. Humanity's only hope lies in a group of strangers trapped in a desert diner with the Archangel Michael.” God had sent his angels, which were very different from what you and I would typically think “angels” would be like. They were evil and had every characteristic of a demon, however, the Archangel Michael and Gabriel made it clear that God was angry at His people and that He needed to destroy humankind once and for all. He brought down angels that were so vile, so evil, that you had to wonder, is God really this hateful? Is He really this angry at all of us for not “repenting”? We want to hear that “God is love” and "God loves all of us” - but what if we’re way off in our assumption of this “loving God”? What if our loving God is a vengeful, strict father who wants to punish all of us if we don’t do the "right" thing?

If you are reading this and already have a relationship with God like I do, you know that this is so far from the truth. Not only are the Phelps a bunch of media whores because they have a congregation of less than fifty, and all of them being related to one another, but they are spreading such hatred around the country. Can you imagine Jesus picketing at the funerals of your loved ones? Think about it. The entire concept of WWJD has gone right down the drain. These people have no clue about Jesus or what He did and what He has promised us. They have no clue how to be “more like Jesus” - as it says in the Bible. Have they even read the Bible, or are they only grasping the wrinkled pages of Leviticus? These people don’t know what true love is. They thrive on the misfortunes of others, foaming at the mouth with anticipation of hurting other people.

In this Scripture found in Romans 14:1-4, it says this:
"Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should."

As Christians, we’re not to tell others what’s “right or wrong”. It says so clearly in their own Bible that they trash us with. It’s telling us not to look down on those who don’t go by your beliefs. What am I missing here?

“You were getting along so well. Who has interfered with you to hold you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. But it takes only one wrong person among you to infect all the others—a little yeast spreads quickly through the whole batch of dough!I am trusting the Lord to bring you back to believing as I do about these things. God will judge that person, whoever it is, who has been trouble and confusing you.” ~Galatians 5:7-10

Then Jesus says this:

The Most Important Commandment--
“One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the discussion. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ Jesus replied, ‘The most important commandment is this: Here, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.’" ~Matthew 22:34-40

Below is the video of Fred Phelps warning people to repent and thanking God for the shootings in AZ. How awful.

If you cannot view this video on mirrored websites, please click here.

Also, read about a true and heartbreaking story from Fred Phelps son, Nathan Phelps. It's called, "The Uncomfortable Grayness of Life". (Thanks to Jess for providing the information.)

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Plank In Your Own Eye

While having breakfast with my wife on Sunday morning, I received an email notifying me that I had a comment pending to be released onto my blog under “anonymous”. It was a response to my previous post. I decided to blog their comment, instead of releasing it onto the post he or she intended to place it on. I wanted to give it a full response. I do believe the person who put so much time, thought & passion into this comment is a coward since they didn’t even say who they were, not even a pseudo name given. The person did however write from Texas University though.

(Copy & pasted.)
“You can't honestly believe you are a christian lesbian is that the same as a christian crackhead? Its like oil and water....they don't mix AT ALL. How can you call yourself a christian and live a lifestyle that is totally against what God ordained? You are obviously unrepentant to your sin, which automatically excludes you from truly knowing God. When you are a true christian who loves God and his word. You obey and believe it as it is. Not what you want it to say to justify your homosexuality. You love your homosexual life more than you do Christ.Otherwise you would turn(repent) from it. I don't hate you, nor am I a bigot. But what I do hate is your blasphemy of calling yourself a "christian" lesbian. As to say God acknowledges that lifestyle, when he and his prophets spoke loudly against it. It is very misleading and deceptive. What you are doing is creating your own Christianity in order to justify your relationship with a same sex partner. If you claimed to be just a lesbian, that would be fine. Eventhough I disagree with that lifestyle. It is YOUR CHOICE. But don't attach Christ to something that is truly unholy. Its extremely disrespectful to the god you say you love, and follow. Reading your post it is doubtful we even serve the same Lord.”

Dear Anonymous,

Yes, I can and do believe I am a Christian and a lesbian. Thanks for putting “crackhead” into the mix - a nice "Christian" thing to say. You say that I am “unrepentant to my sin” --- there is no sin in loving another person of the same gender. And yes, I do believe that when you are a “true Christian” that you love God and His word. A true Christian is also someone who doesn’t judge another person’s “sin”. I assume the log in your eye is much too large to see this. There is no reference in the Bible that tells us that being in a loving relationship with someone of the same gender is wrong. I do see that being promiscuous and living a dangerous lifestyle is, but then again, I’m not one to judge anyone who lives that lifestyle. I refuse to play the role of God, as many so called Christians try doing. As you said, God’s prophets spoke loudly against this, but let me ask you, what did Jesus say about it while He was here with us on earth? May I also remind you that telling someone to just call themselves “gay” or lesbian” and leave of the Christian part is sinful in itself.

Jesus said, “If anyone should cause one of these little ones to turn away from his faith in me, it would be better for that man to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea." ~Luke 17: 1-2 <----Don’t leave out that minor scripture.

As in Leviticus, it clearly states that homosexuality is a sin. That’s from the Old Testament. Eating shellfish or shaving your beard is also considered an abomination. Christians are no longer bound by the old law.

In Corinthians it has a mixed interpretation. Interpretation is key. Just as it says in the first Corinthians about sexual immorality:

“Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshippers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers—none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God” ~1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Some Christians will fire this off to the gay and lesbian community as a warning that they’re not getting into heaven. But, they fail to read off the next verse:

“There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.” ~1 Corinthians 6-11

If we don’t believe what Jesus did on the cross, (died for our sins) then we truly don’t believe in Him.

Breaking the previous scripture down:

Idol worshippers: {Putting anything before God or worshipping another God} can be seen as many things. Some don’t attend church due to everyday life that gets in the way. In some people’s eyes, that’s “idol worshipping”—even though these people love God with all their heart. Do you think they’re going to hell because of this?

Adulterers: Clearly we all know what this word means. This is having an extramarital affair. This hurts, and it hurts the entire family involved. In the bible, it does state that anyone who marries a divorcee can be considered an adulterer if their ex-spouse is still alive. So then, do they still go to hell? Maybe just a huge sign with a letter “A” may get thrown onto their chest. What year is it?

Male prostitutes: Clearly this is self-explanatory. Making a buck to have sex is not out of love.

Homosexuals: The word itself makes Christian holy rollers shiver with disgust. But, what they are coinciding this with is prostitution as well as sexual immorality—promiscuity. To have sex with absolutely anyone or any gender. Reckless sex.

For instance:

“That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved.” ~Romans 1: 26-27

All of this is out of promiscuity. It clearly states that they “burned with lust”. Two people who love one another in a monogamous relationship do not burn together in their lust as the foundation of their union. Yes, there are promiscuous homosexuals out there, as well as promiscuous heterosexuals too. So for me, to interpret this “popular scripture” for those who are against homosexuals, I would definitely say that this stems from the lack of self-control of sexual desire. This is not love--- this is lust. Back in the Roman days when they had wild orgies and ran around having sex with anyone and everyone—this tells me they’re referencing the scriptures during that time period.

And yes, I do agree with you - we will not probably serve the same “GOD”, because you’re doing everything Jesus would not do. Remember, WWJD? Are you doing it or are you just trying to ‘control the masses’ by what you don’t like or fear by using your religion as a weapon?

I thank you for your time and thought provoking comment. I respect your views and beliefs that you feel homosexuality is wrong, but please do the same for me, as my beliefs are the total opposite. If you'd like to cast the first stone (so cliche), then do so. But as a Christian, I can only hope you gain more understanding, patience and love so you can see past the plank in your own eye.

Warmest regards,
Deb

P.S. Yes, I'm one of those lesbians who did their homework. ;)

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Crazy Christians & Angry Homosexuals

The other night I was working on my third night with insomnia. Tossing and turning, I couldn’t manage to keep my eyes closed. Sleep doesn’t come easy for me at times, and when that happens, I usually take my pillow and blanket and head out into the living room to watch Sundance or anything that looks independently made. I’m not a big fan of HBO & Lifetime crap - give me IFC or Sundance any given day. While I was scanning around for a movie to watch, I fell upon La Mission. In a short summary, it’s a cute love story and drama about people who live out in the Mission district of San Francisco. You see how one man struggles with the fact that his son is gay. There is one scene that really floored me - when the father literally beat up his son on the street. The two of them on the sidewalk...on the ground...fighting because the father found out his son is gay. The most interesting response when the father asked about a few “questionable” photos he found of his son kissing another boy was, “Yeah that’s right dad, I’m a faggot!” --As if he knew his father would call him that. Not only was he beaten up physically and emotionally by his own father, but he was also bullied by his peers, which is so surreal since it happens much too often.

Putting the movie aside and going straight into reality: what is it about people who get so outraged over something that has nothing to do with them? If it doesn’t affect you, then why do “you” care? The only way I can see someone being so outraged and against it would be a parent. Ok, so you want your son or daughter to live the "American dream", have a loving marriage with a few kids and a nice house with a white picket fence, yada yada yada yada. It’s a great dream...for you perhaps. It’s a great dream for anyone who is gay or lesbian too. Do they think that just because we’re gay and lesbian that we cannot have kids or a nice house? I nod and understand about what they mean, but they have to understand that their lifetime partner does not have to be the opposite sex. Is it the embarrassment of their child being a “faggot” - or is it their pride that gets in the way of their love and compassion as a parent? Is it religion that tells them that they’ll never see their child in the afterlife? Is that the main fear? Do they think God would cast their child away because he or she is gay? I’m always interested in learning about why some people are so against homosexuality ---especially those who have nothing to do with it and don't have anyone in their lives who are gay, but they choose to bash or mock people they don’t even know that are homosexual.

This is exactly the reason why I tumbled around with Christian fundamentalists in the past who insisted I was going to hell. Those very same people are the ones who would picket outside a soldier’s funeral with the most absurd signs such as, “God hates faggots”, “Thank God for dead soldiers”, and the most confusing one, “Thank God for 9/11”. What does 9/11 have to do with anyone being gay? What does it have to do with anything at all? I don’t understand how “religious” or “God serving” people can be so cruel and vicious. This is one of the main reasons why so many gays and lesbians have gone astray from their faith in God to either ‘just spiritual’ or perhaps even atheist. They’ve been told their religion or “GOD” doesn’t want them. And yeah, they have seen for themselves how “God’s own people” have treated them. So why should they be apart of any Christian organization? This truly breaks my heart because God loves all of us, gay, straight, bi, -- he made all of us so perfectly different -- different flowers in the same garden. These “Christians” almost had me renouncing my own religion at one point in my life. I was angry at God and drifted off into my own world. But thankfully, I found God again and my faith in Him is too strong to ever be taken down.

You always have to wonder about “Christians” who focus so much on homosexuality. Are they closet homos? I remember when I was much younger, before I came out of the closet, I would make fun of gay people just to convince my friends I wasn’t gay. I’d laugh at their gay jokes, hoping they wouldn’t see the lesbian in me. I wonder the same for those "Christians" who mock homosexuals. I also wonder the same about gay and lesbian atheists who focus so much on religious people. Are they secretly trying to find concrete answers to finding God or if God is real? I truly believe that’s the case: when gay and lesbian atheists dedicate their life to solely mocking religion or Christianity itself, (just like Christian gay bashers do) is it a hidden desire to really find out the truth? Is it the opposite of what they protest? Or is it simply a self-defense mechanism for everyone included, because they've all been hurt by these religious zealots and atheist homosexuals? Psychologically it makes sense, and in the same breath, it sounds so crazy.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Spilling Time Down the Drain

Have you ever stopped to think about how different each and every person’s life is? I sometimes just stop, and put myself in somebody else’s shoes for a moment, or at least try to. I think about what it’s like to be them; to feel their emotions and take on their challenges. I think about each cross everyone has to bear and then think about my own. Usually, none worse than another, and in some cases...much worse than the other. I never rely on my gratitude on the downfalls of another, yet I try to gain perspective of all the things I have right now and all the things I can do while I’m still able. And yet, sometimes of all those thoughts go right down the drain and it’s back to “me me me” and all the complaints that go hand-in-hand with it. My friend Sadé Smith shared a quote on facebook by Joyce Meyer: “Complain and remain. Praise and be raised.” Even if you’re not religious, this quote is so true. If all we do is complain about our current situations, we’ll most likely remain in it if we have the wrong attitude. If we are grateful for everything (praise/being grateful for what you have) then you’ll be 'raised', or your situation will most likely get better - even if it doesn’t - your mindset will be better. Again, it’s all about perspective. I thank God every single day for waking up healthy and for everyone who is in my life. Money without love is meaningless. I can live with less money and more love any. given. day.

Then I went and bought twenty lotto tickets last night. It’s a total contradiction to what I had just written in the paragraph above. I think about investing in time - not huge monstrosity of cookie cutter homes. I want my family to retire and spend more time with one another. I want to help those who need to get out of debt. I want to help the church and give them 10%. I wanna I wanna I wanna, but what would really happen if I won? Would all my “good intentions” go down the drain? Would the 10% become 5%? Would I become greedy and more distant from thanking God every single morning and taking my health for granted? Would I forget about the important things? You always have to wonder. “Oh I would volunteer and give more if I won the lottery.” Why can’t we do that now? Why can’t we just go into a church or an organization and do it now while we're still alive, yet not so rich? All these thoughts flooded my mind as I prayed this morning. I then found myself asking the local church if they needed assistance with anything, perhaps do some office work, organize or plan events, and yes, even helping out in their nursery.

The majority of people literally wish their lives away. I’m guilty of it too. Even people who work in office say, “TGIF” --thanking God that it’s Friday. So when Monday rolls around, you’re wishing it were already Friday -- 5 entire days later -- which is time. When you think about it, isn’t that insane? I used to scream “TGIF” all. the. time. In fact, my co-worker and close friend sat in the next cubicle from me and she had this little man that sat on top of her computer. When you pressed a button, it would sound an alarm and scream, “Thank God it’s Friiiidayyyyy”, and everyone would laugh and then clap. It was cute. But really...it makes you think about how many people are wishing their valuable time down the drain.

“In reality, killing time is only the name for another of the multifarious ways by which Time kills us.” ~Osbert Sitwell

“You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.” ~James Matthew Barrie

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Monday, January 03, 2011

Hypochondria?

There are so many articles and information on the symptoms of a heart attack. We all know the basic ones: pressure in the chest, chest pains, numbness/tingling radiating down the left arm, jaw pain, lightheadedness, palpitations and for some women, heartburn. The worst thing to do is to look up “symptoms” or “medical advice” on the internet while experiencing these things. Although I know it’s the worst thing to do, I. can’t. help. myself. It’s there. All the info you ever needed is right there in front of you, so why not? I cannot tell you how many times I have been to the emergency room this past year over symptoms that mimicked a heart attack. No joke - if I walked into the emergency room today, I would probably be greeted by name, almost like Norm on Cheers. “Hi Deb”, or, perhaps, “Welcome back!” Regardless, it’s all very frustrating and yet comforting that they all seem to know me very well. With some of the newer staff, I have to warn them about my anxiety and hypochondria. They nod, while I state the symptoms that they all gasp about.

“I’m having severe chest pains along with pain in my jaw that radiates right down to my left arm.”

The drill is the same: they hook me up to oxygen, place me on a blood pressure machine that squeezes my arm till my hand turns blue and literally ties me up to an EKG machine that really doesn’t tell you jack shit. There are stories where people are having heart attacks and for whatever reason, the EKG doesn’t pick it up. I usually have a chest x-ray and blood test done, but this last time, just an EKG was given and a quick exam. I have been diagnosed with what’s called “costochondritis” which is an inflammation of the rib or cartilage connecting a rib. It is a common cause of chest pain. The doctor usually diagnoses this by pressing on the walls of your chest, and if it hurts, then you’re diagnosed with that if your EKG is normal. They send you home with some ibuprofen and some well wishes. In my opinion, costochondritis is some made up name for when doctors don’t know what the hell you have.

So when do I call 911? And if I experience chest pains and every single symptom related to a heart attack, do I hesitate to call 911? Do I take chances on a life threatening episode? I can usually tell the difference between an anxiety attack and a heart attack. At times, if I’m unsure, I’ll just pop an aspirin and hope for the best. But what about significant signs? If I have heartburn, do I rush to the ER? If I could show you my medical history on “false alarms”, as well as the medical bills, you wouldn’t believe it. So my question is: am I a hypochondriac because I go to the ER for symptoms that mimic a heart attack or are my visits well validated as “normal”?

Upon my next visit, (and you know there will be one), they can at least let me decorate my own area. Maybe I should start working in the hospital so I can feel safe.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com