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I Have a Right to Love Who I Choose and So Should You

My thoughts are confused, sad and angry for all the hate that is out there in the world.  I watched the movie Bully and have been reading articles about gay kids, any kids getting bullied.  I see news about kids committing suicide even after we tell them, it get's better.  Does it? That's what I want to know.

I remember a time when I felt like I knew the right way to do everything.  I grew up Catholic and I have always been one to follow all the rules because yes it made me feel like I could be the best, most perfect and maybe inside my mind, better than the rest.  I knew by being a good kid that I would be the "good girl" parents and teachers would honor and I wouldn't make anyone worry about me or fear my mistakes.  I learned from other's mistakes, I didn't need to make them or hurt myself or others in the process. While that has taken a toll on me as a growing adult I realized perfection isn't everything and that even me, my religion and my own family is not infallible.  I was bullied, made fun of, pretty much for 15 years.  I gave my peers and easy target.  I was sensitive and desperate to be cool, to belong and I didn't know how to NOT care.  I just wanted to be liked, to fit in and no matter how hard I tried it seemed that trying made it worse.  But I didn't ever once feel unsafe in school as it was a private Catholic school.  It was intimate and safe and I never felt like I had no where to go because I had a church right there. God and my loving mother to come home to.  Sometimes it felt like the end of the world.  Well everyday felt like the end of the world.  I was always crying.  I was the singer, the crybaby, the teacher's pet, the shortest one.  I was so many things.  But what they couldn't touch, was that I WAS ME. No one else could touch that.  My heart, my love, my hope for redemption when I would be grown and be somebody.  And none of those silly words or actions against me would matter anymore.

I am not gay.  But I cannot imagine what it would be like to be me then AND feel like no one would love ME.  Not just because kids pick on kids but because I didn't fit inside certain standards that because of my heart and my soul, I didn't deserve to live, or be happy or belong.  The word catholic means Universal and we capitalize it to recognize the universal church.  Everyone is welcome. But while that is true there seems to be people left out.  I don't know how to change or evolve traditions that have been developed over time but I mean it took until Vatican II in 1969 to turn around the altar so they didn't have to look at the priest's back and so he could speak English and not just mumble in Latin.  I have loved my religion and loved my upbringing, relied on my faith to get me through and enjoyed my communities.

I have many gay friends and some family members.  I have never thought anything different about them even me, being a Catholic-Christian.  The marriage issue hadn't come up until I was in college. And I had been on the fence for some time until it clicked one day.  Who are we, as a people, to tell people who to love or how to do it?  Who are we to say who deserves it or not?  Who are we to limit someone's pursuit of happiness, I thought it was protected in the Constitution?  While I lived in a loving Catholic bubble through 18 years of Catholic Private Schooling I did think that some things were wrong.  I did have limited perspective because I'd never existed outside of my community.  I have thought that people who had sex outside of marriage were selfish sinners.  I thought that if you were on birth control it was just an excuse to have multiple sex partners. I thought if you did drugs or tried them you were a bad person with bad influences or terrible parents.  I thought that if you weren't Catholic, you didn't know God's love like I did.

Now my parents were divorced when I was 5 so I already was an outcast because I didn't live with both parents.  Though even so divorce was a sin wasn't it?  Did my mother not deserve to be happy?  Am I going to be a bad kid because my parents can't be together?  Why won't kids be my friend over something I have no control over?

Now imagine a kid searching their soul to be "normal." (There's no such thing) Imagine a kid realizing they are gay.  They didn't choose, they know that they are a boy who likes boys or a girl who likes girls and they think, "Oh, no. Now what? Who will love me now? Will my parents hate me? Will people hate me? Can I every marry the one I love? What sort of life can I have knowing I belong to community, society, religion that tells me that I am an abomination? What do I do now?

Not just bullying on the bus, or calling names, or making someone's life miserable at school, this is life or death for these kids.  Kids are killing themselves and seeing no way out because parents, teachers, priests, the internet, bullies are saying YOU DON'T HAVE RIGHTS BECAUSE YOU'RE GAY.  You DON'T belong because you're gay.

It doesn't matter what someone does on their own time.  I used to think it did matter to me.  Because I lived a Catholic life.  I didn't do drugs or have sex or bully people or steal things.  I went to church on Sundays and didn't curse and loved my family. I was surrounded only by people like me.  I only knew this type of people who did things like me.  If anyone else did it differently I would think I was better than them because I made different choices.  I admit it was naive.  But I didn't know any better. I Wanted everyone to follow the RULES LIKE I DID. Because I spent so much energy doing the right thing, I didn't bother to even question whether or not it was right for me or whether or not I wanted to live life this way.

I've lived in Los Angeles for eight years now.  I needed to leave humble San Diego suburbs to see the world.  While I still haven't seen the world I am definitely on my own and I definitely am not the same Conservative Republican Catholic kid I once was.

I've used birth control and I have had boyfriends. I have gay friends, straight friends, bi friends.  I have friends who do drugs every weekend or some who just drink and many who make the best of Coachella.  I have friends with kids, friends who've sinned, friend's I've forgiven. I surround myself with people who don't always make choices like I do. This me, an accepting me, is a very different me than I thought I would be.  I was against abortion and gay marriage and now I beg to question...who am I to tell another person what to do with their heart, mind or body?  Sometimes it does seem that people without a religion are the most open minded and the most accepting of all people.  My world got a lot bigger.  No more in a Catholic bubble anymore.  But just because they aren't like me doesn't mean they or less than and doesn't mean I should tell someone how to live their life better.

Many Christians in the past have berated me for not being like them or quoting the bible or all that.  It seems to me many "Christians" just want to feel like their way is the right way and are always first to point a finger instead of offering a hug, forgiveness or love.

It's not about what everyone else does or thinks, it's how we love each other that will keep our society growing and strong.  We need to take care of each other.

While my religion made me who I am today I have become less attached to THAT way of living and more influenced by being a moral and good person, searching for what makes me happy and accepting that EVERYONE ELSE will do whatever they WANT.  It's not my job to JUDGE or CAST STONES. It only my job to love myself and love others.  To keep an open heart and to know we all deserve and have a right to the pursuit of happiness.  We as a society need to stand together and love our children, love them and make them feel hope for the future that the world will open it's eyes to acceptance.  That one day we don't see each other as black, white, male, female, gay or straight.  We will be brothers and sisters put here to love and thrive.

Now let's teach our kids that close minded adults, Christians and nay sayers can evolve into a people who can look past our differences and becomes a more humble society, one that has flaws, and one that can embrace change, embrace what it possible...I have hope... IT WILL GET BETTER.

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