Friday, June 26, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage Legal Nationwide

Just Married 2008 in MA.
What a huge day for the United States! What an amazing accomplishment we have worked so hard for! I never use this many exclamation marks, but today is different! The U.S. Supreme Court now recognizes that the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license marriages between two people of the same sex. Back in 2008, my wife and I were married in Massachusetts, because New York didn't recognize same-sex marriage. We waited 14 years before we could actually marry one another, not only in the eyes of God, but in the eyes of the legal system as well. It was the same time California was going through some growing pains between legalizing it, and then Proposition 8 slapping it back down.

Legalizing same-sex marriage is not going to be an easy transition for many conservatives who feel that same-sex marriage is ruining their "sanctity" of traditional marriage. I think many "traditional marriages" ruined their own sanctity by just looking at the divorce rate alone. Religion has been the cause of the "preservation" of traditional marriage, but not everyone is religious nor follows a particular set faith. And as you know, as a Christian myself, I truly believe it is not a sin to be gay or lesbian. All scriptures, including Sodom and Gomorrah refer to promiscuity, reckless sex and rape -- not love between two people of the same gender. All references to Leviticus is a historical reference in the Old Testament, to which Christians do not follow. The Old Law was abolished once Jesus died on the cross for us.

No one will ever be saved by “obeying the law” — as it says in the scriptures... 

Galatians 2:15-16 —"You and I are Jews by birth, not 'sinners' like the gentiles. And yet we Jewish Christians know that we became right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ - and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law."

Conservatives have taken the biblical scriptures and twisted them in order to keep a "moral society" while hiding under their religious blanket of bigotry. They even condemn those who don't even follow Christianity. They wanted to instill antigay laws, like "Freedom of Religion" which they can utilize in order to turn gays and lesbians down if they happen to stumble across their businesses. This also includes having the "religious freedom" for EMTs and medical crews to have the right to turn down a homosexual patient. It's hatred at its finest. "Just let them die -- they're gay. We can turn the other cheek."

So congratulations, LGBT USA! I am so elated by this news. Finally, we are seen as human beings. We are seen as people who can love one another. We are seen as people who can finally say, "I do," to the person we want to grow old with. We don't have to worry about not being able to see our loved ones in the hospital because we aren't considered a "family member". And with that, we can begin to start families and show "traditional marriage" that we are equal, and that we are traditional because we've been here all along.

Nothing can stop us now.

Congratulations!

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Do You Really Believe the Confederate Flag Only Symbolizes "Heritage" and "Southern Pride"?

There has been so much chatter on social media about the Confederate battle flag. After the Civil War ended, the Confederate flag symbolized Southern pride and served as a memorial for the soldiers who had died in battle. But we cannot ignore the reason why this flag -- why the Civil War started in the first place. South Carolina was the first to secede from the Union in December of 1860 shortly after Abraham Lincoln, from the anti-slavery Republican Party was elected president. An article in the U.S. History's website states this: "Defenders of slavery argued that the sudden end to the slave economy would have had a profound and killing economic impact in the South where reliance on slave labor was the foundation of their economy. The cotton economy would collapse. The tobacco crop would dry in the fields. Rice would cease being profitable. Defenders of slavery argued that if all the slaves were freed, there would be widespread unemployment and chaos. This would lead to uprisings, bloodshed, and anarchy. They pointed to the mob's "rule of terror" during the French Revolution and argued for the continuation of the status quo, which was providing for affluence and stability for the slaveholding class and for all free people who enjoyed the bounty of the slave society."

And even with "Southern pride and heritage and a reminder of their fallen soldiers" -- this flag stands for much more than that. It stands for everything we've worked so hard to overcome. It symbolizes slavery, white supremacy hate groups and racism. There are many people who still live in the past, holding up their Confederate battle flag or throwing one up on the back of their old pick up truck. It absolutely is imperative to remove this flag from governmental buildings and in public places in general. But it is also equally important to preserve this time in history for learning and education. Some say the Confederate battle flag should only be seen in museums, and I wholeheartedly agree with that.

Let me ask you something...

When you think of "good fortune" and "well-being", what comes to mind?

The definition of those descriptions were all of what symbolized the swastika 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler designed the Nazi flag. In the United States Holocaust Museum, it states this: "The motif (a hooked cross) appears to have first been used in Neolithic Eurasia, perhaps representing the movement of the sun through the sky. To this day it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism. It is a common sight on temples or houses in India or Indonesia. Swastikas also have an ancient history in Europe, appearing on artifacts from pre-Christian European cultures. The symbol experienced a resurgence in the late nineteenth century, following extensive archeological work such as that of the famous archeologist Heinrich Schliemann. Schliemann discovered the hooked cross on the site of ancient Troy. He connected it with similar shapes found on pottery in Germany and speculated that it was a 'significant religious symbol of our remote ancestors.' In the beginning of the twentieth century the swastika was widely used in Europe. It had numerous meanings, the most common being a symbol of good luck and auspiciousness. However, the work of Schliemann soon was taken up by völkisch movements, for whom the swastika was a symbol of “Aryan identity” and German nationalist pride."

I guess you can see where I'm going with this.

The swastika was a positive symbol historically speaking. It is also a symbol of the most horrifying act that has ever took place: the Holocaust. It symbolizes antisemitism, hatred and murder. There is zero tolerance for a swastika to be placed anywhere. So why are some people so adamant about placing the Confederate battle flag up in public? This should have been removed years ago. Unfortunately, it took one heinous crime to open the eyes of many people who were immune to the meaning of this flag -- the real meaning of what it really stands for. I doubt you would ever see an African-American holding this flag up. Hey, it's part of their history too, but it's a grim reminder of what the South initially wanted: slavery.

I usually don't dabble in these types of politics, but wha struck me was the tolerance of the racist flag that's been held up for so long. What really upsets me are people who actively stand behind the Confederate battle flag, saying it was just about preserving their heritage and remembering fallen soldiers -- that's all. They want to forget because deep down, they are aware of the atrocities that have taken place. They are aware, that somewhere underneath it all of their excuses, there is some level of bigotry and hatred without having to say it. What type of people do you typically see holding up the flag or has one up on their house, truck or even their lawn? Think. Who held up this flag before shooting innocent black people in a church? Dylan Roof had no qualms about his "Southern pride" and burning up the American flag.

I think as much as we would like to "preserve heritage" -- we also have to preserve respect for one another and realize that there are people who feel hurt when looking at these symbols, and rightfully so.

What do you think?

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Womanhood: Earning Your Tigress Stripes

Every year my wife and I take two types of vacations: one is either a trip to a beach house 'wherever' we choose and the other one is just a good ol' fashioned "staycation", where we get to stay home and take little day trips wherever we want. Staycations are great though. We get to fully enjoy our home with no stressors about money or questions about if our dog can come tag along with us or not. From BBQs and hanging out with the family, to going around our hometown discovering new places to visit or dine. So now on our first day back to status "norm" -- the happy face you see on my pup has turned to a sad look of, "Well what happened? Why aren't we going bye bye today?" And I'm trying to incorporate a two mile walk every day in the park with her so that we both don't get depressed. Wouldn't hurt to lose a few pounds anyway.

Of course as a writer, I had a lot of things on my mind. Since I was in pain for much of the end part of my time off, I couldn't help but think of something.

I remember an article I read about a transgender woman named, "Chelsea Attonley" who wanted to return as a man and reuse his original name, "Matthew". One of the biggest debates of this was that his welfare benefits paid for this option, and now he wanted the taxpayers to also pay for the return of being a man once again.

But that is not the issue I want to talk about. It's what was said.

"I feel like I am living a lie," 30-year-old Matthew "Chelsea" Attonley told the Mirror. "I have always longed to be a woman, but no amount of surgery can give me an actual female body."

"It is exhausting putting on make-up and wearing heels all the time. Even then I don't feel I look like a proper woman," he complained, adding that "I suffered from depression and anxiety as a result of the [female] hormones, too. I can't work at the moment because I am too upset after what I have been through. I have realized it would be easier to stop fighting the way I look naturally and accept that I was born a man physically," he said.

Now, as a transgender advocate, I must say that this person was not truly a transgender woman. But why do some transgender women feel the need to exaggerate their femininity to prove that they're now a "real" woman? I remember a transgender friend of mine asked, "Hey Deb, would you mind if I just came over in jeans and no makeup?" I'll never forget that question. I mean -- doesn't every single woman out there love to just go casual once in a while? So I said, "Umm, would I mind? Isn't that what every girl does when she's hanging out with her friends? Who cares?" Do they feel they would be less feminine -- less "woman-like" if they went all natural once in a while? And I believe that's the fear -- to possibly appear as a "man".

I sometimes joke around saying, "I want to have my reassignment surgery now," because it is absolutely, excruciatingly painful to be a woman. In fact, I am having surgery to remove all of my womanhood (partial hysterectomy) so that I can live a normal life. I have what's called, dysmenorrhea. It's excessive menstraul pain that interferes daily activities. It disrupts. life. entirely. There've been times when I was at work sitting at my desk, when the next moment, I was waking up in some conference room with my manager pouring water over my head screaming, "Deb! Wake up!" Shortly after, I would be carried out on a gurney and into the ambulance with all of my coworkers watching out of their cubical windows.

There were quite a few times when I would carry a small bottle of blackberry brandy so it could relieve my pain. Only blackberry brandy would work. It's an old fashion Italian remedy for menstraul cramps. One day while sitting at my desk, I had to leave and take a swig of my brandy in the ladies' room just to try and take the pain away. The 800 mg of Motrin stopped working. I had been taking 800 mg of Motrin since I was 12 years old. Not only did it rip a hole in my stomach, but it left me without any pain relievers to take. At that point, I was admitted to the hospital for pain management. The staff could not believe that 2 Percocets didn't even touch the surface of my pain, to where they had to administer Demerol intravenously.

I stopped working conventional types of jobs because no company would ever allow a woman to take off 2-3 days a month. I am debilitated for the length of 2-3 days -- cannot. function. at. all. I am doubled over rocking back and forth in pain, sometimes crying, sometimes screaming. My doctor has diagnosed me with dysmenorrhea with an "overactive uterus". So now, at the age of 41, I have chosen to remove my uterus and Fallopian tubes. All sorts of mental destress goes into this big decision because it crushes my dreams to ever have a biological baby of my own, even though I would probably adopt anyway. It's the concept of having a choice -- having that option of "I can" if I ever wanted to. Now that has been taken away from me and as a woman, that wreaks havoc on the female brain -- it destroys those little girl dreams of being a mama one day. It really (for a lack of better words) fucks with your head.

And you thought I was crazy now...
But it doesn't stop there. I am also entering my first phases of perimenopause, which isn't fun at all. Some nights I wake up with wet hair. I seriously thought that Madelene had poured a cup of water on me. I then realize, my shirt is drenched as well. So, I have to get up, clean myself off and change. Sometimes right in the middle of the day I'll catch a major hot flash and nothing other than turning the A/C down to 60 degrees will slightly help the situation. Shortly after, the mood swing will hit. That's when you see people running. Between the heart palpitations, anxiety, depression, dizzy spells, migraines, weight gain, insomnia and generalized body aches, it's enough to sit out on a ledge somewhere.

Do you want to know what it feels like being me?

Picture someone holding up a voodoo doll and placing pins on each side of the breasts as an indicator that "Aunt Flo" is about to arrive. Then the pins penetrate the ovaries, letting you know ovulation has set in. And once you are finally in the midst of Flo's visit -- there are days when you cannot leave the bathroom because you are hemorrhaging so badly. The entire restroom looks like a crime scene. It's all you can do to clean up because the lack of blood has you exasperated from the lack of iron.  It's also amazing how brave you can be and decide to go shopping or do something normal when all of the sudden, you have to stop in the middle of an aisle to have your 'pseudo baby' (and that's what it feels like). The blood clots are so large that it almost looks like an aborted fetus. And that's the most disgusting description of what it's like to be a woman. Too much info? Not for someone who goes through it -- they'll completely nod in agreement that this is helluva' curse, or perhaps earned stripes of being a woman.

You're lucky I can't go into the details of child bearing, because I have never had an opportunity to have a child of my own. But I'm sure that's a whole other can-o-beans to endure.

So, to any transgender female thinking about being a full-time woman -- it has little to do with hair and makeup. It hardly identifies you in a flowery dress or nice jewelry. But you do get to experience the emotional ups and downs as a woman with the hormonal therapy. That estrogen can be a real kick in the ass, and if you can stand it -- then you are indeed, quite the woman. You don't need to have gone through the extreme pain that I have endured all my life, because some women never experience that level of intense agony. The hard part isn't about the the makeup, the hair, the nails or dress -- it's about what womanhood penalizes you with emotionally and sometimes physically, so that you can earn your stripes of being a woman and hearing yourself roar.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner: Be a Hero and Decline the Arthur Ashe Courage Award

There are many things in life that require courage, strength and bravery. In fact, I believe every single person on this planet faces some sort of adversity, struggle and cross to bear that requires faith and of course, determination. And without that determination to press on and crush the obstacles ahead of you, then it's all just meaningless. We live in a time when being gay, lesbian or transgender is much more accepted than it was back in the eighties. "Coming out" isn't such a huge shocker anymore, unless your family and friends' "gaydar" was struck by lightening. But even so, family, friends and maybe even coworkers sometimes seem oblivious to someone's 'hint' of homosexuality or transgenderism, merely passing it off as "soft-spoken" (for a male) or a little "rough-around-the-edges" (if it's a woman). Or as my wife puts it, "femme with an edge". Gotta love the LGBT's terminology.

I can only speak from my own experience that "coming out" to my friends and family did not take courage. Well, coming out to Dad meant the possibility of being dropped into the Hudson River with two cement blocks tied around my ankles, so that's a bit different. Ironically, he was the most accepting of all. Being that I was the fourth child, anything was accepted really. It was more like, "Ok, ok ok -- I give up!" I mean, my entire family were all incredibly accepting, but they wanted me to have a "good life" and be "taken care of" -- in the traditional old fashioned sense, which was normal back then. Mom wanted me to marry a Jewish doctor and I wanted to marry a Puerto Rican woman. So, there's that.

Where was I?

Coming out for me wasn't hard at all. In fact, the process of keeping my sexual orientation a secret tore me apart more so. I'm sure it's the same for the transgender community too. On many levels, yes it takes a certain amount of courage to tell the people you love, "Hey, this is me and I'm not going to change." The courage in that is mostly about losing your relationships with family and friends. You definitely see who truly loves you after hearing the big news. It can be the scariest thing to tell your parents that you're gay or transgender. It's also scary to be a young girl telling mom and dad that you're pregnant when you have a few years left of school to finish. So my question would be: is it "courageous" to come out, or is it more about overcoming fear? Or is it the same thing? I honestly can't decide.

When I heard about ESPN's decision to give Caitlyn Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, I shook my head in disbelief muttering, "No-no-no-no-no-no --- this is not the same." Here you have this ex-athlete who displays her life on a trashy reality TV show probably making millions each episode. (I'll get to my point.) Caitlyn has the capacity and the means to "hide" if she wants to. She can duck past the paparazzi, dive into her luxury car and make her way over to her huge Malibu beach pad. But what about if Caitlyn didn't have the money nor the career history of an ex-athlete and reality TV star? What if she was just an average Jane living in a studio apartment in NYC or LA? Or how about somewhere in the midwest? Do you think the treatment would be the same?

"Oh she looks so beautiful."

Of course she does. Do you know how much money you have to spend in order to achieve a 'well assimilated transition' as she did? (Let's not mention good lighting, photography and photoshop.) Between the years of hormonal therapy, ongoing reconstructive cosmetic surgery, as well as her future (if she chooses) sexual reassignment surgery -- the average person would be in debt for a lifetime. I'm not saying it's the easy way out -- but it sure makes things a lot easier when you can have everything at the tip of your fingers. She isn't going to get beat up in the streets or tortured by her coworkers while pick-packing in some factory because no one will hire her. The struggles for a transgender woman to achieve a career or to just maintain one is devastating.

So in my opinion, the "average transgender woman" has more courage to come out as who she is than say, Caitlyn Jenner. It's the courage to transition and not be protected by body guards and a huge entourage. It's the courage to quit your day job to become 'who you are'. It's the bravery to come back to work and show up as another gender with a whole other name. It's the courage to have to explain to ignorant society that "this is who you are" and that's that. But for Caitlyn -- even the amount of "Christian hatred" that's been spewed all over social media as well as a few TV networks is just the tip of the iceberg of what someone goes through who lives an ordinary life. Yes, it's okay to call Caitlyn a "hero" and look up to her because you're transitioning yourself, and maybe that gives you some sort of hope for our future, but are we taking this too far?

Does she really deserve the Arthur Ashe Courage Award?
Beth Gebbia (left) asks her niece Janet Pruneau, 5, if she wants to wear a wig made from Janet's own hair before leaving St. Louis Children's Hospital on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014. Janet finished chemotherapy treatment Sunday after having a rare brain tumor removed.
I don't think she does. I don't think she deserves this award before our own average LGBT community who faces their struggles face-to-face and not behind their body guards. I think about wounded soldiers who do more in life than the average person, or determined athletes with no limbs -- people who overcome physical obstacles while some of us call into work for a sore throat. I know -- not the same "courage" and "bravery" -- but some of the most bravest people were never offered a courage award or even acknowledged for being such a -- "hero".  There are many (in my opinion) that should stand before Caitlyn Jenner for this award. There are people with financial and physical, health-related hardships that should have been more acknowledged -- more celebrated -- more appreciated and more "outed". It's harder to become someone you never wanted to be. To transition from a healthy person to a cancer patient has to be one of the most courageous things anyone can do without having this an "option". Yes, you were born with an identity, just as I feel I was born a lesbian, but but but...

I don't know, maybe it's just me. But if I was Caitlyn, I would graciously decline the award and hand it over to one of our wounded soldiers or someone who is battling cancer.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Is Rachel Dolezal Transracial?

This is the first time I have really been quite confused over something -- well maybe the second, third or fourth time -- but I can't help but wonder what the true issue is. I read the story about Rachel Dolezal. She is the NAACP, civil rights activist in Spokane, Washington who lied about being black. Yup -- read it again. From Jan Brady to Macy Gray -- Rachel has really transformed her entire look, image and overall self. They're calling it "transracial" now. I have never in my life heard of this term before. Part of me feels like a hypocrite for being a transgender advocate due to this story being such a hard pill to swallow. But it is so very different: one is genetically derived from birth while the other is purely environmentally driven and clearly "chosen". During an interview with Jeff Humphrey from KXLY4, she was presented with a photo of her father who was clearly caucasian. They asked, "Is this your father?" She could. not. answer. They even asked if her father was black and she basically said, "I don't understand the question," and then zip lined out of the frame. The look in her eyes after being asked if she was African American spoke volumes. It screamed humiliation. It screamed out all of the people who she falsely represented.

Or did she falsely represent them? 

She falsely represented herself.

According to Rachel's mother, she is Czech, Swedish, German with some Native American heritage. I can understand if she's an advocate for civil rights, but do not claim to be apart of the heritage and history of African-American people. There's a huge difference. I have a big problem with anyone calling this 'transracial' -- this only makes it worse in arguments used to fight for transgender rights. Transgender people are wired much differently from birth. Being transgender is not an environmentally influenced "choice" -- but claiming to be black when you are clearly white is a choice as well as a lie. She has not only betrayed the people she supports, but she has made a false illusion of herself -- a false identity to which she mutters out words such as "we" and "our" while defending black America. And there are some black people who are very appreciative of her support, regardless of her disguise. 

So should we all be upset over this? 

Would this be called "racial dysphoria" or some sort of personality disorder that went unnoticed? I remember back in high school we had a lot of white people who assimilated quite well to the hip-hop culture, wearing clothing that were mostly worn by black people. Some of the white students were harsh and even called them "wiggers" -- putting the letter "W" in place of the "N". And these days, the "N" word doesn't seem to be a "bad thing"-- unless you are of another culture spewing this bullshit out. It's not only offensive, but it's demeaning to your own character to even have said them in the first place. Anyway, back to the "transracial folk" in my day: their lingo and language were all part of what you would hear in a poverty-stricken ghetto, just to be seen as "cool".  These ignorant kids thought it was cool because it was the "style" to do that, without even having the background, the knowledge, the pain, or the suffering of what it was like to have lived in a poverty-stricken environment. You have no right to act the part, especially when your parents just bought you a new BMW. 

But should we care? She has done more good than harm for the black community. But there was a reason to her madness. Without a doubt in my mind, this stems from not only being a huge advocacy for the African-American community, but also to conform to an image -- a person with the historical background and experience for the four African-American siblings her parents had adopted. Many people have a hard time with white parents adopting black children due to not fully understanding their heritage and background. Maybe she was doing this purely out of a loving and genuine motive to prove that she was knowledgeable and educated on black history. And she is.

But but but...

She identifies as a black women in this article below. 

There are a lot of people who are angry over her misrepresentation and there are also people who really don't care, stating that she has done more good than harm. And honestly, I cannot tell you where I stand on this issue. Let's face it, lying is bad, but what if your lies become your "truth"? Sometimes people who lie for so long actually believe it after some time. It doesn't make it right, but we also have to question her motives as well take into consideration that this may have been a psychological issue.

So with that being said, should this really be an issue? Has she truly betrayed the people she supports? She is an academic expert on African-American culture and teaches over at the Eastern Washington University. 

And should people be flinging the word "transracial" around? 

Thoughts? 

Would love to hear your opinion. If you'd like to respond, please join me here

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Polyamorous Guy Threatens Rape?

Yesterday was interesting after I had posted my article about polyamorists wanting to add the "P" into the "LGBT". Of course I got the 'what about pansexuals' and that LGBT stands for all people if you put a plus sign after it. I had a slew of opposing comments that opened my eyes to another world that I honestly thought was more rare than it is. They even call it a "lifestyle" and develop families out of multiple lovers joining in one home. And yet, as much as it was explained to me, the more I sort of stood even stronger in my stance that this is something that is not apart of the LGBT community. I was called a "hypocrite" and a "bigot".  Funny thing is, I raised the same arguments that say a Christian fundamentalist would raise about me and my own lifestyle. But is it the same as being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? Doesn't this lifestyle take it to a whole new level? In the same breath, while it doesn't affect me at all of what other people do with their lives, I just wonder how healthy is this for anyone involved, especially their children. I guess people can say the same about me being a lesbian living with my lifetime partner. But not the same...not the same.

I noticed something very interesting that sort of left a common theme in the tracks of the comments of my post that you can read here. At the risk of sounding very judgmental, yet more of an observation, many of the commenters were young, tattooed, pierced (that's not the bad part) and most of them had a demonic overtone to their photos and profiles. I guess you can say most were 'goth' and had a dark vibe to them. I have never seen this kind of crowd swarm onto one of my articles. They cursed and resorted to name calling. The gentleman who was in that trio poly relationship named, Shaun Stoecker who goes under the Facebook name, Shaun GoPackers, said this below to another commenter who disagreed with him.  Crystal Stoecker is his wife who brought a new boyfriend into her marriage. She must've been bored or unsatisfied. He explained who he was and pointed out the other two people who were in the photo with him.
Shaun is the one on the left. 

These people are very scary. To even insinuate "rape" tells me that they are absolute sex fiends who borderline a mentality that we know nothing about. Shaun was not only aggressive, but he showed a lack of respect toward women which is frightening to see in today's society. We have a rape culture that needs to cease and desist. Even in jest, you never, ever, should reference to rape---ever. He quickly removed it once the commenter stated that she reported it. In fact, many of the threats that were being made were deleted. I have collected quite a few of them with screen shots.

That's not even a fraction of the dark side I have seen with these polyamorists. With that being said, maybe only a fraction came over to my page to defend themselves, but wow -- they certainly showed their true colors. Do we truly want to see this kind of society within our LGBT community? Disrespectful, promiscuous, aggressive and also threatens rape? Not me. I will never welcome this group into our community. This is why it is taking so damn long to establish our equal rights as gays, lesbians and transgenders -- to have the ability to marry who we love -- not who we just wanna go to bed with.

So with all of that came harassing emails from Shaun Stoecker threatening to sue me for using an "unauthorized photo" of them. But they seem to forget about the legalities of it all.

#1. I have taken screen shots off from the LGBT News page on Facebook.
#2. I took a screen shot of his very own words.

With that, I can only say one thing: eat crow my friend.


In my opinion, these people I mentioned represented the entire polyamorous community. This will be the last post I will write about this topic.

Moving on...

UPDATE: Due to the harassment, Shaun Stoecker was reported and notified by Facebook that his actions were against their guidelines.  Shaun was removed from the thread of the argument. Shaun and Crystal Stoecker have both deleted their Facebook accounts or have had it removed by Facebook. 

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Polyamorists Want to Put the "P" Into "LGBT"

What does it mean to be apart of the LGBT community? They have even gone as far as "LGBTQIA". Most of the 'initialed' community has a common denominator: sexual orientation, gender identity or an advocate or alliance -- people who support our rights. But what happens when someone wants to add to the mix? What happens when someone who is polyamorous wants to add the "P" into the "LGBTQIA"?

First off, let me just explain what all of these terms are. There are many people who do not know what LGBT or polyamory stands for. So bear with me.

What is polyamory?

Polyamory -- (from Greek πολύ poly, "many, several", and Latin amor, "love") is the practice, desire, or acceptance of intimate relationships that are not exclusive with respect to other sexual or intimate relationships, with knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Basically, non-monogamy.

So what does the entire "LGBTQIA" stand for?
  • Lesbian – A female- identified person who is attracted romantically, physically, or emotionally to another female-identified person. 
  • Gay – A male-identified person who is attracted romantically, physically, or emotionally to another male-identified person. 
  • Bisexual – A person who is attracted romantically, physically, or emotionally to both men and women. Transgender – A person who is a member of a gender other than that expected based on anatomical sex. 
  • Queer – An umbrella term which embraces a variety of sexual preferences, orientations, and habits of those who do not adhere to the heterosexual and cisgender majority. The term queer includes, but is not exclusive to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transpeople, and intersex persons, traditionally, this term is derogatory and hurtful, however, many people who do not adhere to sexual and/or gender norms use it to self-identify in a positive way. 
  • Intersex – Someone who’s physical sex characteristics are not categorized as exclusively male or exclusively female. 
  • Asexual – A person who is not attracted to anyone, or a person who does not have a sexual orientation. Ally – A person who does not identify as LGBTQIA, but supports the rights and safety of those who do.
This morning when I logged onto my Facebook account, I noticed a post by LGBT News, which gives me the latest on what's happening and perhaps a few inspiring memes (which I can do without). I saw a post (the picture and description above) that sort of touched a nerve with me. They received an inbox message with someone celebrating their father and his step mother's new boyfriend. You can read that again. I had to read it several times. I started to read the comments supporting this and thought, "Where've we gone wrong?"  As a society -- as a community -- we are trying to show people (mostly conservative 'Merica) that we are worthy of our rights, especially same sex marriage. How is this going to make us look good when it only promotes promiscuity and not a loving relationship between two people? What about the children? What happens when the child sees mommy and daddy go into the bedroom with their new boyfriend? Does this promote a reckless lifestyle for the kids? Is it healthy? I can't see this being good for children to witness. Maybe I'm wrong?

Getting back to the "LGBTQIA": these are defined by characteristics that we as a community cannot help because this is who we are. We gravel at the concept that being gay, lesbian or transgender is a "choice", and yet here are some people who are obviously making the choice to be with one or more persons. In my book, that's called cheating. Yes, they are all aware that they are in some strange triangle relationship (sometimes square, sometimes octagon). I have even heard people say that we were not born to be with just one person. We were meant to be sexual with many partners. For me, I cannot wrap my head around that concept (probably due to my OCD issues), because to me it spells out: D*I*S*E*A*S*E.

I was called, "judgmental".

Yes, me.

Fact is, it's none of my business how people want to live their lives. I personally know several people who are in polyamorous relationships. They don't last long. The thing is, we were meant to be monogamous because usually, in a multiple partner relationship, two people in that trio fall madly in love with one more than the other, leaving the third party out. It happens 98% of the time. I don't judge them, but I do wonder where it'll go. I can see a couple of "acceptable" scenarios: the marriage became a little stale, and they took someone into their bedroom to spark things up. OK, do what gotta do, but make sure it is a temporary thing. People who do that usually end up breaking up, or falling in love with the new person. My second "acceptable" scenario is: you're young and finding your way. That is OK. Back in the day, we used to call it "seeing people". I think they may still use the term. I remember being asked, "Well, are we dating or are we 'seeing each other'?" (Which ultimately meant -- seeing other people as well.)  It wasn't called polyamory back then, but it wasn't supposed to be long-term. It was not a three-four-five way relationship -- it was "acceptable cheating". Nobody knew who was dating who and that was that.

Eventually you want to settle down. Most people do. I cannot picture growing old with two wives. I cannot picture having a "sister wife" or catering to more than one woman at a time. And hey -- I went through my "seeing people" days and it. was. not. fun. It's not the exciting picture that it makes itself out to be. It's quite exhausting and dramatic to tell you the truth. So am I really judging people? No. Because I went through this polyamorous phase myself. It's selfish, it's demeaning for the one partner who isn't so into it and it's a sure way to sever ties with one or the other person. It shows a huge amount if insecurity with yourself as well as with your entire life. When I say insecurity -- I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean, the uncertainty of who you are and what type of person you want to be with. It's the fear of not finding Miss or Mr. Right. It's the fear of being alone. It's the fear of people not finding you attractive. There are many underlining issues under the guise of polyamory.

I want to trek over to the misunderstood lifestyle of bisexuality.

The "B" in the LGBT is all about those who aren't strictly attracted to either male or female.  It's more about the person than it is the gender. They get a bad rap, because most think that bisexuals just wanna "have their cake and eat it too". They are seen as polyamorous, when in fact most are just seeking a partner -- "equal opportunity gender" type of thing. They are not promiscuous, they are just people trying to find another "person" regardless of gender. I know many lesbians who roll their eyes at bisexual women and refuse to date them. We're also told, "Never date a bisexual woman -- she'll always leave you for a man."  False. Since I'm not a fan of labels, I am marked with the "L" -- because I'm married to one person who happens to be female. But truly, I am "B" -- because I have dated men and women before my wife. I could not decide based on gender alone who I'd rather be with. I had to decide based on love.

And isn't that what it's about? Love?

How can you love more than one person at a time? I mean -- you can, but in different ways. There is a type of "love" that's super passionate and intimate -- the kind of love you want to see last a lifetime as well as morph into a contented committed union. Then there is a type of love that's more of a 'nostalgic-ex-partner-familiarity' type of love that seems to linger on, even if in a new relationship that outweighs the old. That's the only time I can definitely see loving two people at the same time. Both are love, but one is in real time, while the other is only past tense-lingering time. (Does that make sense?) If you tell me that you're gaga over two people at the same time, who you are intimate with -- then it is purely sex-driven. Sex-driven relationships do. not. last. very long. They are based on sexual adrenaline. When faced with more of a contented phase, the relationship will end, while the monogamous will be grateful to be in this second phase of love.

This is not what we stand for! 
You see, my real issue with polyamorous people is that they want to include the "P" in the "LGBTQIA".  No. No. And. No. I say this because we are trying so hard to gain acceptance, gain our rights, gain our freedom to marry whoever we fall in love with. Do you really think that we'll be taken seriously if we have several people under our arms? This is the very reason I don't attend gay pride parades. There are so many gays and lesbians who make a mockery of us. They prance around with hardly any clothes on, some actually performing sexual 'innuendos' on each other (to where they can't get arrested for lewdness) to where you would fear having children being present at one of these events. We're called "perverts" and "heathens" because other people make us look like a bunch of sexually driven animals.

Now at the risk of sounding like a bigoted, religious, right-winged conservative, I'm going to ask a question that may infuriate you. It's the same questions that gets asked by religious people when faced with those who want same-sex marriage.

If you let the "P" into the "LGBT" -- then shouldn't you start adding in the "S", "M", "F" and "C"?  Because that's what's going to happen.

What?

Should we even discuss this photo?
Sibling/Mother/Father/Child relationships. As sick as this sounds, there are actual pedophiles out there who say that their "child partners" have consented. They want their rights too. Is it too far-fetched? To put the LGBT community into such a category leaves more room for opposition and ridicule. It speaks volumes about the reality of what religious conservatives are saying about most who are gay only because they are promiscuous. And they're out there. But to those who are truly homosexual and just want a relationship with someone of the same gender -- this is what I stand for. This is what the LGBT stands for. Love is love -- but love is not love(s) -- that's just being selfish as well as promiscuous. I'm curious if anyone who is polyamorous claims to be religious or has faith in a God... That's a whole other can-o-beans. There are known Mormons who live this way, so why not right?

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Learning About Transgenderism

As much as we should be understanding to our transgender community, in return, understanding for the unexposed has to be given too. There's a huge difference between being bigoted and downright rude, as opposed to being curious and inquisitive about the unknown. There are even "rules" about what to ask a transgender person for people who have never come across transsexualism. Given the fact that nobody should ever ask anyone of any gender details of their genitalia -- there has to be some level of unspoken and obvious truths. Nobody seems to care about the 800 lb gorilla in the room. That's exactly how it feels to someone who has never been exposed to the transgender community. So if you want to educate society (to which some believe they should educate themselves, which would be wonderful in a perfect world) -- then why are we super sensitive when asked an obvious question that is clearly driven by basic human curiosity?

A transgender medical student named, Hannah Elyse Simpson was interviewed on Good Day NY this morning. Greg Kelly stated that he knew there were certain questions not to ask, and if he needed to ask personal questions, he'd have to ask the person if that was okay.

Hannah said, “Well, as a basic rule of thumb, if you’re asking about my genitals, I hope you bought me dinner first.”

Greg said, “Ok, that’s cute — I get it, but other than that — it’s a no-go zone?”

Hannah replied, “Well, different people have different thresholds with it. As a medical student, part of my interest is to help educate people on this and be a little more open with my own experiences perhaps than other people might be. But since nobody’s asking you about your genitals, on the air or in private — I think that’s the standard we should go with for anybody else.” You can watch her interview by clicking here.

In my own personal opinion, I don't think anybody should have the audacity to inquire about anyone else's genitals, unless they are perusing a romantic role in their lives. I have even heard from a couple of friends that even that question posed by a potential date is wrong.

But is it?

People have certain preferences when it comes to an intimate partner. So is it 'out of line' to ask about someone's genitals if you knew for sure that they were transgender?

I'm going to give you a personal scenario that I had gone through, but changing the name of course. So "Steve" was a very close friend of mine. I knew him as Steve -- the Steve who was married with three beautiful children. I always thought he was a bit more 'metrosexual' as they call it -- in other words, my gaydar didn't go off, but there was something soft-spoken about his presence. He wasn't gay and he never implied that he wanted to be a woman. After his divorce, Steve came to me as a man with no evident signs of 'changing' and said he was a woman. Back then, I was never exposed to the transgender community, so I had no clue on the proper etiquette, especially using proper pronouns. "Steve" was now, "Stephanie" without any huge changes to her appearance.

During at a get together at my home, I had mentioned that Stephanie was an incredible musician and that he could play almost any instrument thrown at him.

Stephanie quickly corrected me.

"'She' -- it's 'she', darling..."

With the uncomfortable silence, came embarrassment and humiliation of hurting my friend. My friends all saw a clear-cut-visible man, and well, so did I. I wanted to be compassionate to her request, but it kept slipping out all the time to the point where I had to pull my friendship back a little due to her beating me to a bloody pulp each time a pronoun was slipped. As she began assimilating well into her womanhood, showing nothing but feminine qualities, it was easier for me to refrain from messing up again. But at this point, I was so scared to hurt her repeatedly -- I was scared to slip up and say, "him" or "his" and "he".  And now, she was clearly all woman -- all 6'3 feet of her. I can't imagine the pain and emotional torture she had gone through between her divorce and people (like myself) not 'getting it' as fast as I should have.

That was my first experience and life lesson with having a friend tell me that they're transgender.

Our friendship came to a tragic end when she lashed out violently at me for no apparent reason. Maybe she was upset over past 'slip ups' of mine, but this was truly uncalled for. I received a phone call the next day with an apology and an explanation that she was not accustomed to all of the hormones she was taking. And believe me -- I can relate to those mood swings. But then I questioned: "Is this really healthy for you?" I'm sure it wouldn't be healthy for her to go back to someone she wasn't, but it was a valid concern of mine. She would dive into deep depressive episodes with periods of psychotic rages. "Steve" never did that before. Stephanie began to develop a lot of emotional and mental issues that could not be tolerated by her loved ones, unless she volunteered to get some help. She refused.

On my Facebook page, a reader named, Lisa Garofalo Allsopp commented, "There are, and have been for a good while, a number of trans-ition vlogs on YouTube that are incredibly honest and informative regarding every question imaginable about gender identity. This one is probably the most poignant and honestly pure answers regarding gender and physiology, for the gawkish and straight-minded. I hope you find it apropo."

This is a very honest video of a young transgender girl talking about her opinion about her gender. Please click here if you cannot view the video below. Please watch it to the end. It's pretty shocking someone who is a transgender female would say this. But I commend her on the right to have her own opinion -- even if it's quite harsh.


Wow, right? Not only would this be a slap in the face for many transgender women out there who have undergone the sexual reassignment surgery, but I can't help all the questions swirling inside my mind. I'm sure everyone has these questions as well. To even use the word "fake" is just harsh. But the thing that makes this "acceptable" is that she is a transgender woman, not a straight cisgender woman who is being downright ignorant. Here's my issue when it comes to transgender people "reprimanding me" on proper etiquette and insinuating how all transgender people think: not all transgender people are alike nor want to complete the physical aspects of their transition. So when "ignorant society" has a question that may offend some, is it possible that they should be given just a little slack when being inquisitive on a very personal matter? Again, in a very perfect world, it would be so wonderful if society would educate themselves. But it's not perfect. In fact, it's so torn apart. So with that being said, maybe the transgender community should speak up more, like the medical student, Hannah Elyse Simpson did.

There is always some sort of "social etiquette" when it comes to talking about anything personal, such as genitalia and asking questions of a sexual nature. Being that I'm a lesbian, (which I hate to label myself with) I've had questions that have literally floored me at times. Questions that were so ignorant I had to hold back and remind myself that some people just don't 'get it'.

"Who plays the role of a man and who plays the role of a woman when you're in bed?"
"Were you sexually abused or hurt by a man?"
"Do you ever bring in a third party?"

In terms of educating society on what it means to be a transgender male or female, I think that it's great that mainstream media is getting more and more public with this, thanks to Caitlyn Jenner. I mean -- don't get me wrong, there have been movies and TV shows that displayed transgenderism, but mostly, people are getting educated about this through the mainstream media. There are times when I have a few questions for my friends who have transitioned and they are so gracious and genuine with me, to which I am so thankful for. I am grateful to have known and still know some wonderful people out there who are transgender -- who actually take the time out and educate me -- who are genuine and sincere friends of mine that I have learned so much from. I've seen their struggles, yet never experienced them. As much as they educated me, I took the time to read up on it and learn more in generalized articles and write ups. But that's not enough sometimes.

Sometimes, we actually have to find it in our hearts -- find the compassion and understanding that not everybody is the same. Not everybody has to have a set gender. Not everybody has to have a set label. Not everybody has to fully assimilate to becoming male or female, gay or straight. We can be who we are: unique individuals with minds, hearts and souls like no other. We do not have to conform to what society needs us to be.

We just need to BE.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!