Monday, December 28, 2015

On Recent Loss

My family and I have experienced a lot of loss lately. Most recently, just over the past Christmas weekend, we lost my grandma Nancy to a cancer which she’d been battling. Just a month before that my Aunt Stephanie passed away after being struck by a vehicle. A while before that Jarrad lost a cousin at a very young age, and just before Jarrad and I were married his grandmother, one of the kindest people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, passed away unexpectedly after a stroke.

I haven’t spoken about this much; because I’m not very good at talking about death and loss, and also because it’s admittedly difficult for me to show signs of weakness or to express my emotions in most situations, but there are some things that I’d like to say – in particular about the two most recent losses of Nancy and my Aunt Stephanie, which are both weighing heavily on my family and me right now.

I want to start out by saying that the loss I am experiencing at the passing of my aunt and grandma must be nothing compared to the feelings of those in my family who were even closer to them both. My dad has lost his sister and mother, my grandpa his wife and daughter, and my cousin Aja her mother and her grandmother; and all in about a month’s time. I can’t begin to imagine what that must feel like. My feelings of sympathy and love for them are greater than my own sense of loss.

My Aunt Stephanie was one of the most accepting people I’ve known. She had a contagious laugh. She kept smiling right up until the end. Even when dealing with multiple health issues she stayed optimistic and happy when she could. She was among the first people in my family to reach out to me when she found out that I am gay and tell me she loves me regardless and would support me. Since then she would ask about Jarrad, wish him Merry Christmas, and make him feel like part of the family. She kept in touch and made sure we knew that she loved us and was thinking about us. I stayed connected to her and in touch with her more than most of my other extended family.

I regret not staying in touch more. I regret not having more of a chance to see her when she was still alive and not letting her know how important she is to me. And I regret crying the last time I did get a chance to speak with her when she was on the phone – sounding like a blubbering fool when I was saying goodbye – or at least that’s how it seemed to me. I wish I could have said something else, or something to help her feel better.

Aunt Stephanie

Nancy is for all intents and purposes my grandma on my father’s side.  I call her Nancy as she was not a blood relative, but was married to my grandpa when I was young. Alongside my grandpa, my dad, and my stepmom Debbie she helped me grow up. For a while, when I was staying with my dad, I lived with them all in the same house. I remember a lot of the little things she’d say to me when I was growing up. Recently it was mentioned by my dad in a Facebook post that she would say “I’m going to kick you to the moon,” whenever her kids or grandkids were misbehaving, which brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. I fondly remember asking her to try and have various foods and her response being, “Oh I like it, but it doesn’t like me,” as a reason for her to abstain. She was always kind, and stubborn, and she loved me and I loved her back. I’m glad I got a chance to see her and give her a hug at my sister’s wedding a couple of weeks ago. And I’m glad I got a chance to talk to her on Christmas, the day before she passed.

My grandma Nancy

I feel a little out of place when grieving alongside the rest of my family. My family on the Pipoly side are mostly religious – mostly Christian, and when they grieve they use their faith to comfort them. My beliefs don’t give room for that, however, and while I envy and support them, I’m unable to change my beliefs just because doing so would provide me added comfort. My mind just isn’t wired that way. So instead I have to figure out how to grieve in my own way.

I’ve been fortunate up to this point to not have lost any close family members, so this is all new to me, and it brings up questions about the future and about my life and it’s a bit scary. Am I getting to the age now where I’m going to start seeing more and more family members die? How soon? How am I going to be able to deal with that? How frequently? How many trips in the next two years are going to be to attend funerals? Honestly, right now I have no idea. Death is a part of life, but I don’t really have any experience with nor do I know how to handle it. I’m also getting to that age where I’m realizing just how fast time passes when you’re looking back at it. You can be looking forward to something… and it seems like it will take forever to get there, and then suddenly you’re looking back at it, and at everything else, and it’s like it all took place in a second. That realization brings up other questions and concerns which this isn’t the place for.

I want to wrap this up by summarizing what the true intention of this post is. I wanted to express my memories of Aunt Stephanie and Nancy – reiterate how much I love both of them, and share that they’ve had a very positive impact on my life and that I will never stop thinking about them. I want to share just how much I love my family and let them know that I’m here to support them as they go through this difficult time. And I wanted to share some of my feelings, both to help sort them out in my own head, and also in case anybody out there is curious about how I’m dealing with things but doesn’t want to ask.

I love you Aunt Stephanie and I love you Nancy. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and for being a part of my life.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Current LGBT Attitudes, Their Repercussions, and My Experiences as They Relate.

The supreme court decision this past Friday was momentous and should be celebrated. The amount of support that we've seen around this country this past weekend is amazing. We're seeing this country change for the better - a little more every year. People are changing, minds are changing, and every day we get a little closer to where we need to be. That said, it's important that we remember that the fight is far from over. The supreme court exercised it's legal authority and upheld its responsibility to protect the civil rights of the citizens of this country, but it was not a position made by popular vote. There are still plenty of places in this country where it's unsafe for two men or two women to walk down the street holding hands. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) youth especially are still living a nightmare all over the country when dealing with rejection from their family, friends, teachers, and fellow students. Hateful legislation still remains and people of influence and power are still fighting to withhold basic freedoms of the LGBT communities.

Here are some statistics, with references listed below, on some of the struggles that the LGBT community, in particular the youth, face. Below that I will discuss some personal experiences and share some of my thoughts on why these statistics are as high as they are and what people can do to change them.

  • Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) youth are up twice as likely (some studies show up to 4 times more likely) to attempt suicide than their straight peers, and over 8 times more likely if they come from a rejecting family.
  • LGB youth suicide attempts are 4-6 times more likely to result in injury that requires treatment from a doctor.
  • LGBT adults are up to twice as likely to suffer from major depressive disorder.
  • Because of victimization at school and at home LGBT youth are more likely to have high levels of drug use and have unprotected or risky sex.
  • LGBT youth are at greater risk for homelessness due to running away from home due to stress or being kicked out of their home. Studies show that between 25% and 50% of homeless youth are LGBT.
  • Half of gay males have a negative parental reaction when they come out and a quarter of them are thrown out of the home.
  • Nearly half of transgender people have seriously thought about suicide, and one quarter have made a suicide attempt.

I consider myself to be fairly fortunate in my coming out experience and any history of persecution or bullying. My family has either been openly accepting of who I am (thank you) or have at the very least kept their opinions to themselves and still made an effort to accept Jarrad and I as part of the family. My most difficult struggle was, and in some ways still is, an internal struggle. I did not really come out to myself until my early twenties. For most of my life before then I believed and spoke openly about homosexuality being a sin. I was a very devout evangelical Christian. Who I was as an individual revolved around what I believed and who I thought I was in the eyes of God. Imagine me trying to reconcile the slow realization that I was gay, and had no choice over the matter, with my belief that it was a sin and that by "choosing" the gay lifestyle I would be choosing to abandon the type of life that God wants us to lead. It's a familiar struggle for many LGBT men and women.

My slow departure from my faith coupled with this struggle of who I was set the stage for confusion, depression, and the formation of some bad emotional habits. For the record my realization that I was gay was not the reason that I began to question my faith. I fully believe that someone can hold deep religious convictions and still identify as LGBT, and that the two are not always contradictory. The reason that I personally began to question my faith was my inability to reconcile the teachings of my faith and the Bible with what I was learning in college. The overwhelming evidence and facts I was being exposed to contradicted the beliefs that I held, and once water started seeping through the cracks in the dam I'd built there was no stopping its eventual destruction. The purpose of this blog post though is not to discuss my faith, and the only reason I bring this up is to show how my struggle with my faith coupled with my realization that I was gay was incredibility difficult for me to wrap my young brain around. It left me feeling empty, unsure of who I was, and with lots of holes in my life and gaps to fill. If the coming out process for me was this difficult, I can only imagine how hard it must be on younger youth without the supportive family and friends that I had, and the inability to live independently and provide for themselves.

None of this is easy for me to talk about. I haven't shared it with many people, and I don't think I've ever written it down before, but I think it's important to do so. I believe each of us has to do everything we can to fight against the remaining anti-gay propaganda and attitudes in this country, and if sharing some of my own experiences or confronting difficult situations can help, then I think it's my responsibility to do so. Kids are literally dying in this country and lives are being destroyed due to hate and nonacceptance. This is not something any of us should be taking lightly.

So now I want to ask yourself two questions. "Am I part of the problem?" and, if not, "Is there anything more I can do to help?"

Are you part of the problem? I'm not going to spend time talking about Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson, or the blatant anti-gay hate speech you may see on the news. I doubt I have many "God Hates Fags" followers on here, or even the "If you're gay then you're going to Hell" crowd. Rather I want to address those individuals who take a more "loving" approach to discrimination. Those who preach, "Hate the sin, love the sinner," or "You're wrong, but I love you," in response to the LGBT community. In many ways these attitudes are even more dangerous than outspoken hatred. It's easy to laugh at and ignore someone who calls you a faggot and tells you that you're going to hell. But saying, "I love you.. but who you are is wrong," sticks with you, it cuts deeper, and it's not as easy to dismiss.

Imagine you are a 14 year old boy who is struggling with who he is. His world has turned on his head. His whole life he has heard his family, his pastor, people who he looks up to talking about how the feelings he's having, uncontrollably, are wrong. He's afraid to share who he is because he's surrounded himself with these people and knows nothing else. But then it comes out - maybe by accident, maybe because he believes he is wrong and he wants help to change, maybe he's one of the few brave enough in this situation to actually share who he is. His response is a hand to the shoulder and the kind words of I love you, now let's see what I can do to fix you. The words speak love, but behind his parent's eyes he sees disappointment even if it's fleeting. And then, rather than growing and learning to live and love who he is he is convinced to take steps backward and to fix himself - which of course does not work, and instead leads to self hate, doubt, depression, and then thoughts that he's not good enough, he can't fix himself, maybe it's better to just die? This is very common among young boys and girls who just need to be accepted for who they are.

If you're saying "Hate the sin, love the sinner," when it comes to LGBTs then you are part of the problem. Not only that, but you are deceiving yourself into thinking that because you throw the word "love" in there you are potentially having a positive effect on the individual by showing them that you love them, as God does. But really your words are no more Godly and no less harmful then saying, "You're African American, but I love you anyway." You are adding to the statistics above. Even if you have not had a personal experience with an LGBT individual you are still propagating these harmful believes into society. You are part of the climate that encourages suicide and breeds depression and hate. To put it bluntly, you have blood on your hands.

Is there anything more than you can do to help? I'm going to start this one off by saying my intention is not to tell anyone that they aren't doing enough, or that they should be compelled to go out and start a movement, or that they should in any way feel guilty if you just keep to yourself on the matter and don't do a single thing. For some people that might be enough. Nobody knows what's going on in your head besides you and nobody knows the pressures you are under, the struggles you are facing, and the reasons you may have for keeping quiet.

There's a lot that people can do to help - a simple Google search will bring up tons of great opportunities. But I'm going to only ask two simple things - and this is only if you're able to do so. The first thing is this; speak up, let people know what you believe, and tell people when they're wrong. It can be easy to scroll past an anti-gay post on Facebook or ignore a comment by a friend or family member. A lot of times it's easier that way. Most people don't want to start an argument, or put themselves into an uncomfortable position. But remember, these people are in their own ways promoting depression and suicide. So just let them know that you disagree. Let them know that they are wrong. Be respectful, they are probably good people, they probably don't want to hurt anybody. But they need to know that spreading lies and information that puts children at risk is not okay.

The second thing is hopefully an easier one. Just tell people that you love them for who they are. You would be amazed how much of a difference this could make. Let a transgender boy know that you support who he is. Let the high school girls timidly holding hands in your church know that you are okay with how God made them. That they are special. That no matter what they are dealing with it gets better. And you don't have to limit this to the LGBT community - everybody deserves to know that they aren't born broken. Everybody deserves to be happy. So just say I love you, and you should be proud of how you were made. You just might save someone's life.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

WolfCop Spoiler Free Mini Review

This Sunday we watched WolfCop, the story about a town drunk who happens to be a cop, and also a wolf.  It's pretty much what you'd expect; lots of bad puns, sex, boobs, and werewolf dick transformation. So if that's what you're looking for then this is a great movie to pick when you've had a couple of drinks and are trying to find someone on Netflix. I did, and I found it to be quite enjoyable, and deserving of the sequel that they're already working on. I give it 3 1/2 paws.

3.5 of 5

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

So I have a blog.

My first blog post is about why I'm starting a blog (meta?).

Well, more specifically, why I'm creating this blog and what type of content you can expect to see here. That is if you read anything further than this post, or even this sentence, which I fully expect you not to do.

Outside of things like MySpace, LiveJournal, Facebook, etc. I've never really had a blog. Part of me has always wanted to create one, both as an outlet to share my ideas and thoughts and also because I'm an attention whore, which I fully admit but am not particularly proud of. So I've asked myself; what do I want to write about, and what might you want to read about, and is there any overlap there? I don't really know the answer to any of those questions, especially the last two, so I've just decided I'm going to write about whatever the hell I want, and if you want to read it, awesome, and if not... well eventually I'll probably just stop writing. As much as it may exercise the mind to write I can't see myself maintaining a blog that nobody reads. In fact, who knows if I'll keep maintaining this blog either way. This is only one post after all and hardly a commitment at this point.

Some of what I imagine you will see on this blog would be entertainment reviews (movies, video games, TV shows, etc.), commentaries on local and world news, commentaries and thoughts about science and religion, and stories about my life. I occasionally (rarely) write short stories which I may post on here as well. I will no doubt re-post articles and news stories on here that I find interesting or maybe some pictures and YouTube videos that I think fit the theme of this blog well.

I am, of course, a furry, and I'm proud of it. I plan to celebrate that in my blog so you will see many things being discussed from a furry perspective, or about furries, or about my experiences with them. I'm a fursuiter (see photo below) and goofing off in suit is one of my favorite pastimes. I'm sure you'll be seeing photos and stories about that as well. This blog is going to be by furries, for furries but with content that hopefully non-furs can enjoy as well if they stumble across it.

It's me. :3
Last but not least I won't be censoring myself on this blog. I'm not out to intentionally be offensive or cruel, and I generally like to consider myself a decently mannered fox, but if I have something critical to say about your religion or I feel it's appropriate to talk about a particular sex act or use a specific swear word, I will do so. The only thing I can almost guarantee I will not do is share information trusted to me by other people, or information that I feel would hurt or violate the privacy of a specific individual.

So then I think that's plenty wordy enough for an introduction to this blog. I'm not exactly sure what to expect from it - maybe it will fade away into nothing, maybe people will actually read it and I'll continue posting. Time will tell. Thanks for reading to the end of this first post though! I do appreciate it and hopefully it wasn't too boring.

- Kit