Forgiveness and PRIDE

Mettle. Spirit. Lions. Flamboyant. Impressive. Yes. Celebrate Pride.“I would like nothing better than to see you die, Mr. McKinney. However, this is the time to begin the healing process. To show mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy. To use this as the first step in my own closure about losing Matt… Mr. McKinney, I’m going to grant you life, as hard as that is for me to do, because of Matthew…Mr. McKinney, I give you life in the memory of one who no longer lives.”
— DENNIS SHEPARD, father of MATTHEW SHEPARD, in his Statement to the Court 11/4/99

AARON MCKINNEY and RUSSELL HENDERSON, nearly two decades ago, beat MATTHEW SHEPARD striking him 19 to 21 times in the head with the butt of a .357-caliber Magnum Smith & Wesson pistol. They then tied his dismembered body to an A-Frame fence in Laramie, Wyoming, leaving him to die.
He was beaten so badly, AARON KREIFELS, the mountain biker who discovered him the next morning, said that he could not tell if it was a human form that he saw. He thought it was a ScareCrow. Sheriff REGGIE FLUTY reported that SHEPARD’s face was caked in blood except where tears had left tracks along his cheeks.

That was in the Autumn of 1998.
It seems like it was Two Weeks Ago.

Two weeks ago —
It seems like it was Eighteen Years Ago —
OMAR MATEEN entered PULSE NightClub in Orlando Florida.
He killed 49 innocent people, and injured 53 more.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

It is something we celebrate.
Being who we are.
Being Proud.

I remember dancing in Clubs back in my twenties,
Extended groups of friends going out together.
The Ice Palace on 57th Street was only a dollar to get into on Tuesday Nights.
We would drink only water. Who could afford alcohol?
We would take over the Dance Floor.
And we would dance the night away.

I don’t think that any of us ever gave a thought to some fellow-American walking into the club with a Firearm of Mass-Destruction and killing us all.
I don’t think it entered our minds.

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Are these kids Heroes because they were gunned down by someone who tapped into powers of destruction beyond our imaginings?
No. They are not Heroes for how they died.
They are Heroes for how they Lived.

One may Wonder what Courage it takes to go to a Club at night and Dance?
Have you forgotten what it is to be twenty-something?
Do you not remember the pain and confusion and what it took to get dressed up and go dancing?
Have you had the experience as a Gay Person of walking into a Gay Club,
Discovering for the first time, People Just Like You, Dancing Together and Kissing without Guilt, Fear or Self-Consciousness?
Asking Someone of the same sex to dance?
Finding a way to be YourSelf?
To be Proud of the Person God made you to be?

This is the Pride that we Celebrate.
Not the behaviors of MCKINNEY, HENDERSON and MATEEN.
That is what happens when there is no Pride,
Bred by the shame of Religious Extremism, Governments, and a Culture that say it is not OK to be who you are.
All three of these men have been confirmed to have issues with their own sexuality.
Anyone with a basic knowledge of Psychology can tell you that the Orlando Massacre was not about ISIS.
The Opposite of Pride is Destruction and Shame.

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

These Kids at PULSE did what was necessary to Live Life as the people they were.
They danced and they celebrated and they Loved.

Fifty Members of Congress must not be feeling any Pride.
They might have saved the Lives of all those Kids — or even just some of them.
But they Voted “No” to reasonable Gun Reform last December.
Here’s the List:

Senators who Voted against BackGround Checks and how much they received from the NRA

Senators who Voted against BackGround Checks and how much they received from the NRA

Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Our Congressional Representatives made a choice not to save these Kids
Nor the Kids of Newtown,
when they allowed BILL CLINTON’s Federal Assault Weapons Ban to expire in 2004.
They live their lives disaffected.
I do not know how.
But I do know that theirs is a Life of Shame and Destruction
Allowing the money they take from Gun Lobbyists who bribe them
To supersede their responsibility to the Citizens they are in Office to Serve.
They cannot step onto the Dance Floor with any Pride whatsoever.
They are Corrupt.
As responsible as if they’d carried that SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle into PULSE NIGHTCLUB themselves.
There is no Pride to living on the take.

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Pride is CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT)’s noble filibuster for Gun Control,
after which the Senate voted once again to do Nothing,
Pandering to the Lowest Common Denominator.
Voted No on Gun Reform
Vote them Out in November!
Make your Voice Heard!
Stand Proud!

Pride is JOHN LEWIS (D-GA) and more than 40 Democrats sitting in the House of Representatives earlier this week, peacefully protesting to demand a vote on Gun Control Legislation.

Pride is the Members of the Orlando Theater Community,
Learning that the Westboro Baptist Church was planning to Protest the Funerals of those slaughtered at Pulse NightClub,
And building Angel Action Wings (first Created for the Funeral of MATTHEW SHEPARD) with Donated Materials and Labor.
The Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s Company Members are wearing these Angel Costumes with Large White Wings to block the hateful anti-Gay Picket Signs of Westboro Baptist Church Members.

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

A Meme from the Internet

A Meme from the Internet

Pride: prīd/ noun. 1. A sense of one’s own proper dignity or value; self-respect. 2. Mettle or spirit in horses…. 3. Zoology A group of lions, usually consisting of several related females and their offspring and a small number of unrelated adult males. 4. A flamboyant or impressive group: a pride of acrobats.

Celebrate Pride.

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

How do we Forgive?
49 Innocent People were Killed in Orlando.
50 People were Killed.
But we state it as “49 Innocent People, and the Killer.”

When I wrote
my Post on meeting the People of NewTown for the first time,
I described it as 28 Souls who were killed in the shooting.
A friend corrected me:
“You wrote ‘The Souls of the 28 people killed that day are present in every Kindness’.
20 children were killed and 6 female educators.
That’s 26.
27 was Lanza’s mother and 28 was Lanza himself.
As she was an enabler and he the perpetrator – those killed in every Kindness were, in my opinion, only 26.
I never count 27 and 28 in the number for obvious reasons.
Nor does anyone in Newtown.
Not sure if you want to adjust.”

I referred him to ANNIE LAMOTT’s FaceBook Post about the Loss of ROBIN WILLIAMS, in which she stated,
“Here is what is true: a third of the people you adore and admire in the world and in your families have severe mental illness and/or addiction. I sure do. I have both. And you still love me. You help hold me up. I try to help hold you up. Half of the people I love most have both; and so do most of the artists who have changed and redeemed me, given me life. Most of us are still here, healing slowly and imperfectly. Some days are way too long.
And I hate that, I want to say. I would much prefer that God have a magic wand, and not just a raggedy love army of helpers. Mr. Roger’s mother told him when he was a boy, and a tragedy was unfolding that seemed to defy meaning, “Look to the helpers.” That is the secret of life, for Robin’s family, for you and me.
I knew that those children at Sandy Hook were caught in God’s loving maternal arms at the second each crossed over, and the teachers were, too. I believe the shooter was too, another child of God with severe mental illness, because God loves, period. But this is controversial…
We all thought after Newtown that gun control legislation would be passed, but no–not one new law…”

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

And Now, here it is, for me even a bit closer to Home.
Do we count the Mental Illness of OMAR MATEEN?
Some find it easier to think that his last-minute pledge to ISIS was the cause…
More Likely, his tormented Sexual Identity in the face of Religious Extremism and Judgement was the cause…
His Murder and Massacre…
Do we count him as an Innocent, as well?
Do we count ADAM LANZA as an Innocent?
ADAM’s Mother?
What of the Others?

If DENNIS SHEPARD can forgive,
And Grant Life to those who took it from his Son…
It must be harder for him than it would be for me.

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

To be honest,
I find it hard to forgive
What Pride Celebration could be complete without mention of the man who Laughed at the AIDS Crisis, as we Lived through it, burying So Many Loved Ones?
Have you seen  “When AIDS was Funny” the Documentary directed and produced by SCOTT CALONIC, and released six months ago?
It is less than 8 minutes long, and it captures the footage of LARRY SPEAKES of the REAGAN Administration Laughing at People with AIDS.

What a Disgrace.
658,992 Americans Lost to AIDS.
SPEAKES died of Alzheimers.
REAGAN died of Alzheimers.
Makes sense — People trying to forget what they did.

A Meme from the Internet

A Meme from the Internet

When NANCY REAGAN died 3 months ago, I felt no sadness,
Only relief that the last remnants of that tyranny were over.
NANCY & RONALD REAGAN are touted as a Great Romance, because she took care of him when he had Alzheimers.
But the Truly Great Romances of that Era were the Courageous Men I saw take care of Loved Ones all the way to the End, who had AIDS.
Men who giving no thought to themselves, were willing to give Everything to the Person they Loved, as they slipped away So Much Less Comfortably than Mr. REAGAN did from NANCY.
Republicans tend to romanticize the REAGAN Years
While wondering how something like DONALD TRUMP could have happened.

A Tweet reposted on FaceBook

A Tweet reposted on FaceBook

What REAGAN did during the AIDS Crisis was place Making Money for the Very Rich above any value for Human Life.
Exactly what our present Republican Congress did just three days ago, denying any restrictions on Accessibility to Guns by Terrorists.

A Tweet reposted on FaceBook

A Tweet reposted on FaceBook

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

ALEX PANETTA, in MacLean’s Magazine, reported that “Many of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting [are] mostly gay, mostly from [a] Latino community still seeped in homophobia… [In Mexico’s] Jalisco state, a government worker was fired for reacting to the massacre with the cruelest kind of machismo in a social-media post: ‘Too bad it was only 50 and not 100.’”

How homophobia has complicated the grieving process in Orlando

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

ROGER JIMINEZ, a Preacher in Sacramento, delivered a Sermon the day after the Orlando Shooting, wishing Death on the LGBT Community, saying of OMAR MATEEN, “I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job because these people are predators.” And “We don’t need to do anything to help. As far as I’m concerned, Orlando is a little bit safer tonight… If we lived in a righteous government, they should round them all up and put them up against a firing wall, and blow their brains out.”

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old

DONNIE ROMERO, a Fort Worth pastor said of the Victims of the Orlando Massacre, “These 50 sodomites are all perverts and pedophiles and they are the scum of the Earth and the Earth is a little bit better place now,” adding, “There are several dozen of these queers in an ICU in intensive care … I will pray to God like I did this morning and I will do it tonight that God will finish the job”

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Author of LIFE’S LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK, reminds us,
“Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness.”

Can I forgive OMAR MATEEN?
I don’t know.
But I can, much Easier than I can forgive
Certain Members of Congress
And the Westboro Baptist Church,
All murderers in their own way — each condoning a lack of Respect for Life,
Equivalent to those who wield the guns,
Some Creating and Protecting the Access that puts the Guns in these Murderers’ hands.

A Life Journey involves Forgiveness,
At Least when it’s done Well.
And it Happens.
It comes, like Grace.
So I shall continue to work in this Direction.
Celebrating Pride.
Working on Forgiving those whose Hatred I do not — I cannot — Understand.


The Altar at MCC Church this Week

The Altar at MCC Church this Week

The Legacy lives on.
The Shame Lives on.
My Pride Goes On and On and On…

LORNA LUFT posted on FaceBook a few days ago, one of the Most Hopeful Messages of Pride I have Ever Seen. In Celebration, I share her Words with You:

I left the Stonewall Inn after doing a portrait sitting for Playbill Magazine in honor of the Inn becoming a national monument.
To say it was emotional is an understatement. Victoria and I stood outside and looked at all of the tributes for Orlando and just sobbed.
Then I went inside and the owners couldn’t have been more gracious to me; telling me lots of stories of what my mother meant to them, what her passing did on that famous night June 28, 1969, thanking me for standing with the LGBT community, and how grateful they were for me to be there…
After the shoot I went outside and thanked the NYPD. The Inn is all barricaded off and is being protected and guarded by the NYPD. Of course, all of them were too young to know the story of the riots so the owner proceeded to tell the history to these young police officers. They were all shocked.
As they stood there in their flak jackets and armed with machine guns, I thanked them again and again. Then we all took pictures together.
To think 47 years ago they came in to arrest people and now we were all hugging each other. It was a powerful moment for us all.
I think Mama would be very proud.
Love you All

A friend's FaceBook Post of a New Mural going up  in Greenwich Village, New York.

A friend’s FaceBook Post of a New Mural going up in Greenwich Village, New York.

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