Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Can You Pray the Gay Away?

Yesterday in Phoenix, a local chuch decided to do its part in ridding the world of gays and lesbians. The Church for the Nations partnered with Exodus Internation and held a conference to "cure" homosexuality. According to sources on site at the conference there were over a hundred people in attendance.

The most revolting thing I heard about this conference is the number of kids who were forced to attend. Now I don't want to condemn or express hatred towards these parents as I'm sure some of them are honestly confused about this and may actually have good intentions. Parents generally want whats best for their kids and let's be honest, when you take into account the social stigma (harassment & bullying) and institutional homophobia (legal employment discrimination, the federal Defense of Marriage Act) the world is not always friendly toward members of the LGBT community. I'm sure many parents (and actually many gay folks themselves) would choose to live a life free of discrimination and bias. Take away the gay and you take away something that many people are going to hate you for.

But we need to focus on two certain inalienable facts that this conference and all in the ex-gay movement tend to forget. First - homosexuality is not a choice. And second - Christ never condemned homosexuality. The organizers of Exodus Internation have made themselves the deciding factor on what is moral and right. They have created an agenda not generated on fact but rooted in their beliefs. Nothing wrong with that per say, the basic foundation of the church is living a life based on faith (evidence unseen). But here's the problem, and it's been the problem I've found repeatedly in institutions of faith, people are using their beliefs to preach hatred, spread intolerance and wreck lives.

I've been told since I was a kid that homosexuality is a sin. This "sin" is based on the one line in Leviticas that man shall not lie with man as with a woman. Jesus Christ himself never condemned nor ever spoke about homosexuality. His basic message was this, love God and love your fellow man. But for some reason preachers still resort to Leviticas. So I'm a bit confused. If I'm a sinner for my homosexuality, does that make people that wear polyesther sinners? Leviticas also states that men shall not wear clothes of mixed fabrics. Are people that eat shrimp sinners? Leviticas also states that men shall not eat shellfish. But I won't digress. The hypocrisy of the church will always astound me. I am however tired of the condemnation of the LGBT community especially since it is contributing to lowered self-esteem, questions about self-worth, issues with guilt and shame and tendencies toward suicide.

Luckily there were two local LGBT organizations on-site to protest the practices of this organization. Chris Hall of C.A.R.E. (Central Arizona Rainbow Equality) and Meg Sneed of H.E.R.O. (Human and Equality Rights Organizers) actually attended the conference while many of their parnters stood outside and protested. I want to commend these individuals for their actions. Those outside rallied about the ignorance of such and event and those inside gathered knowledge and tried to provide resources for those LGBT individuals that were there involuntarily.

I do know this, years of research by psychologist have determined two things about gay conversion practices. First and foremost, they don't work. Second, these practices can cause harm. Donnie McClurkin, probably one of the countries most famous ex-gays has stated that his desire to have sex with men has not gone away, but he no longer acts on them. Oh really Donnie, doesn't that mean that you're still a homosexual? A person that is cured from their homosexuality should no longer have attractions to the same gender. A person that refrains from having sex is abstinent not "cured." Theres a difference.

Gay is what I am. You can not get rid of my gayness just like you cannot get rid of my blackness, my height, or my brown eyes. I can purchase contact lenses and change my eye color, in essence hiding who I am, but the reality is this - I still have brown eyes. So you cannot pray the gay away. What should be done is embracing the person with unconditional love and encouragement and a support system that will allow him/ her to succeed inspite of the obstacles the world is going to throw at them.

My prayer for those young people struggling with homosexuality is this: May God grant you love. May God grant you self acceptance and peace. May God grant the world understanding of same-gender attraction. And may God rid the world of hatred.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

The OUTside of Relationships Season 1 Episode1: Falling

The OUTside of Relationships Myspace Video

I love Quincy and Deondray and it's obvious they love each other. Ithink they have words that need to be heard for Valentine's Day. The topic of this video was fallin in love and I think they're so exactly right on everything they say.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

10 Secrets for a Lasting Relationship

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching I figured I would do a special post for those in relationships, working towards a relationship, or desperately wondering why they’re not in a relationship. Last month marked fifteen fabulous years I’ve shared with my partner. I keep hearing from my single friends (and good God there are a lot of them) about how difficult it is to find and keep a mate. So on the eve of Valentine’s day I feel I need to offer this challenge to those struggling to find their “happily ever after.” Maybe the problem is you.

I keep hearing the same arguments over and over and over again: “He just wasn’t my type.” “The dating pool is so shallow here.” “All men are dogs.” It may be time to do some personal reflections because the problems do always lie externally. Remember, the only common denominator in all those bad relationships have been YOU! And I don’t want you to take this offensively. I am in no way trying to be judgmental or sarcastic. I am sincerely trying to offer helpful advice that could point you towards a relationship that is mutually beneficial, fun and long-lasting.

Unfortunately I’ve witnessed friends repeatedly make awful relationship decisions. Now I know what works for one person does not necessarily work for the next. But there are some truths that are just universal and I feel apply to almost all couples.

So below are some notes from me that I hope will help you in your quest for the love of your life. These are my laws of relationships that all should abide by. I hope you find them helpful.

Law 1. Relationships are not based on sex alone. I have quite a few friends that are meeting their “dates” on hook-up sites. Oftentimes they meet on Adam4Adam or Craigslist and their initial face-to-face contact is exclusively to have sex. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. It is important to have a healthy sexual release. But be a realist. Know that a hook up is just that - a hook up. And for those that really do enjoy courting and dating, in the beginning the sex usually is phenomenal. As time goes on, the limerace disappears and the sex may not happen as often. This is the normal progression of a relationship. This is not a sign that it is time to flee.

Law 2. There is no happily ever after. Far too often I have witnessed friends dismiss potential partners after just one disagreement. And usually it is over something petty, trivial or just plain stupid. I mean really – is it worth leaving someone great just because he/ she didn’t replace the roll of toilet paper. In all relationships there is going to be some discourse. The only way to stand the test of time will be to reflect on how you react in the rough times. I’m not saying you need to stay in an abusive relationship, but I am saying that you will never find someone you agree from now through eternity.

Law 3. If you were miserable before your relationship then you will be miserable in your relationship. Many people long for the perfect relationship because they think it will end whatever unhappiness or depression they are experiencing in their life. I have some really shocking news I have to share with you. You will never find happiness by looking for it outside of yourself. As much as I love Anita Baker’s You Bring Me Joy, that joy is only fulfilling if you already have self love. Having a special person in your life is not going to make you happy if you cannot make yourself happy. I hate to be the one that disappoints you but that’s just the way it is.

Law 4. The perfect mate does not exist. Don’t expect to change your partner into what you want them to be. Don’t think that with your help you can make him/ her into a better person. You must love and accept your partner as is – flaws and all. This is a tricky law because it is still very important that you know what your boundaries are. You cannot expect to love a person long term that doesn’t respect you and your boundaries. If smoking cigarettes is deal breaker for you then why in the world would you think can make a smoker “the one.” There is a difference between boundaries and preferences and people often mistake the two. Know your boundaries and if you enter into a relationship with a person that does not adhere to them that is more a bad reflection on you than on your mate. Your significant other will never live up to all the things that you want in a partner. Be able to love him/her as is.

Law 5. It is okay to have separate interests. My boo loves computer gaming. If he could he would marry his computer. I really don’t get it. I’ve tried playing World Of Warcraft and it held my interest for all of thirty seconds. I have an ungodly almost supernatural love of music. NeoSoul/ R&B. Hip-Hop. Pop. Even country. My partner could care less about new music Tuesdays but each week I have to check billboard.com to find out which artists are releasing something new. I don’t harass him about his computer time and he doesn’t bother me about my CD collection. And we have found a way to meet in the middle. I love all comic movies (X-Men, Fantastic 4, Spiderman, etc). Now we have discovered Comicon and we can both have our geek tendencies fed together at one event.

Law 6. Common Values are a Must. Different interests are one thing but different values are a totally separate subject. One thing I’ll agree with my old pastor on is this - “you must be equally yoked.” That means that the core values, principles and morals of one partner must be shared by the other. Let’s be real, a Christian and a crackhead trying to make it work just aren’t going to go the distance. A person that values monogamy is not going to last long term with a person that is interested in an open relationship. You must have a moral center equal to that of your partner.

Law 7. Don’t Always Take Advice From Your Friends. As much as I think this is a no brainer, this is really one of the biggest culprits in ending relationships. I want to know how is it that my friends, most of whom are single, feel they are equipped with the knowledge to save my relationship. Now if you’re talking to someone that is in a successful long term relationship and may actually know a little something about how to make one work, by all means listen. But oftentimes your friends speak from their own viewpoint. Just because they would react a certain way in a situation does not mean that is the way you should react in a relationship. Do what works for you and what feels right for you.

Law 8. Keep People Out of Your Business. For many this rule ties closely with the last rule (regarding your friends). You know how people say “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” That should apply to what happens between you and your partner also. If there is trouble in your home and you need external help, go to a professional. There is nothing wrong with seeing a couple’s counselor. But be weary of sharing all the intimate, personal details of your relationship with others close to you. The reality is people do not always have your best interest in mind. Misery really does love company.

Law 9. Allow your partner room to grow. As I stated earlier, Chris and I have been together for fifteen. I am not the same person I was fifteen years ago. He is not the same person he was fifteen years ago. Change is a necessary part of life and as your partner evolves you need to give them the space they need to become the person they are destined to be. With patience, love, acceptance, respect and communication, everyone involved can have personal development that helps (not hinders) the relationship.

Law 10. Don’t Take Your Partner For Granted. It takes two people to make a relationship (or three or more if you’re into that). The point is, you cannot always be “me” focused if you want your relationship to last long term. Sometimes you need to give your mate the attention they need. Do something to show your affection. You will be surprised at how far a spontaneous massage or breakfast in bed or an unexpected gift can go. Do something to show your partner that you care.

I hope this advice helps someone. These rules have worked for me and I really think if you apply them in your relationship they will work for you also. But I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know everything. So if you have any additional tidbits that can help someone in their relationship, please feel free to share.

My Fitness Journal

Over a week ago my significant other signed us up for a gym membership at Lifetime Fitness. I finally made it in to talk with the membership advisor Friday night. Chris didn't exaggerate - this gym really is amazing. This place is like the cadillac of gyms. Jason - my membership advisor signed me up for a health assessment today.

At 11:00 AM I walked into Lifetime Fitness ready to find out where I currently stand and what I need to do to accomplish my goals. As I drove over I had to ask myself, do I really need a professional to tell me how fat I am? But I proceeded anyway. There was some good news and some bad news. Turns out I weigh about twenty pounds less than I thought. I won't tell you how much I weight, I'll just say this, my scale at home only goes up to 250. That was the good news. The not so good news was that according to my results my body age is 47. My body age is almost a decade older than my real age.

So its time to put in some work. I have to get my body age to match (or beat) my real age. I know I can do better. I don't drink water, I mean at all. My daily fluids include soda and coffee. That ends effective immediately. I actually changed my diet over a week ago thanks to my friend Marla. She works with me and has helped me modify how much and what I eat. This was a recent change but lets see how long we can sustain it. And finally - it's time to get moving. I have a desk job so I get almost no physical activity in my life. It'll be up to me to take advantage of the equipment and the classes that Lifetime Fitness has.

I'm gonna need prayer and support and encouragement as I go forward. I know I have friends that will be rooting for me. My partner used to be physical trainer so I know I have what I need at home to keep me focused. So here we go . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

National Black AIDS Awareness Day

In case you didn't know it, today (February 7) is National Black HIV/ AIDS Awareness Day. It is a day when many cities will host events that address HIV and its impact on the African-American community. For those that are unaware, Black folks only make up twelve percent of this country but we make up half of all new HIV cases. It is unfortunate but we are the new face of HIV for the U.S.

HIV is listed as the number one cause of death for African-Americans between the ages of 25 and 49. And the trend over the last few years has been toward an increase in numbers (not a decrease as we would like to see). Somehow we are missing the message. HIV, a preventable disease, is on the rise.

It is estimated that about twenty-five percent of those individuals that are HIV positive are unaware of their status. This means that they are unknowlingly contributing to the transmission of the virus. This is why it is so important for us to get tested. Knowing your status is the all important first step. Knowing your status means you get yourself the treatment you need if you are positive. Knowing your status means you respect yourself and your partners. And knowing your step means that you are doing your part to eliminate HIV transmission.

I still vividly remember my very first HIV test. It was 1993 and I was at the Pike County Health Department in Troy, Alabama. Looking back I had really not engaged in any risky behaviour at the time but during this period any sex was considered risky sex. In the early 90s there was no such thing as a rapid test. You had to wait two weeks before your results came back. Two very drooling weeks. Fourteen of the most painful, heart wrenching, mind numbing days of my life. When your two weeks were up you had to call the office to get your results. I had already heard how things would go. If all was well they would give you the results over the phone. However, if you were told you needed to come into the office, then this was a very bad sign.
Exactly two weeks later I called the clinic to find out my results. As my granny used to say, "I was nervous as a whore in church." I gave my name to the person that answered the phone and my heart stopped at her reply. "Jason, were going to need you to call us back tomorrow or come to the office tomorrow." I honestly didn't know how to respond to that. I couldn't think. All I could do was say "Okay." The following day I drove down to the office only to be told that "all is well. You're test came back negative." Turns out my results were not in yet on the first day that I called.
Almost two decades later and I have to say this disease has changed so much. The lifespan of individuals infected has changed. The resources available to positive individuals has changed. And the community affected has changed. However, for those individuals that still refuse to get tested and ignore all the data available about HIV - if you choose to remain ignorant, you will be infected/ affected exactly like those we lost in the 80s (back when we knew almost nothing). So I encourage to to get in the know to take care of yourself, your family and your friends.

Get informed. Get involved. Get tested.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Learning Our History

Who says the future looks bleak for the LGBT community? My faith in the young people of our community is being affirmed more and more everyday. The teenagers in this video took the time to sit down with some more mature individuals from our community to learn their stories.

I think this video is sooo powerful. I love the fact that two different generations have come together to create such a beautiful and educational narrative about LGBT life. One of teens in this video said it perfectly. "There is no class on gay life so if you want to learn anything you have to go to the source."

Because the LGBT community was invisible for so long, now that there has been an emergence of gay culture, we do now need to document our history. We need to learn what it was like for our community members back when it was unlawful, immoral and even psychologically inappropriate to be same gender loving.

Great job to all involved in this project. Please continue to keep up the good work. More stuff like this is needed for the community.