"Extreme" \ik-ˈstrēm\ adjective: exceeding the ordinary, usual, or expected "Christian" \ˈkris-chən adjective: of or relating to Christianity

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"The Bible"


The bible. Fact or fiction? Loving or lethal? Divine or godless? Here are my thoughts on the infamous/famous book. Please hold your stones until the end.

I once heard that the word “bible” was an acronym for, “basic instructions before leaving earth” and honestly I think that perfectly sums it up. A good book full of basic instructions on how to live your life in a mentally healthy, truly loving and mutual beneficially way for you and all who occupy the space around you.

Now with that said the bible is a book, one with many wonderful and loving messages, but nonetheless it’s still a book written by man, an imperfect man at that. This book may be God inspired (for those who believe) but it was still written by humans, those who (according to the book itself) are not without agendas, flaws and biases, just to name a few of our shortcomings. Not to say that all of the influences of man within the pages are bad, because believe it or not we sometimes do things with the best of intentions and without any concern for what we stand to gain as a result of our actions.

We don’t even really know the authors (or possibly even multiple authors per piece) of the documents contained within this book, the works were originally written anonymously and names were attached to each piece later on down the road by scholars. Books were omitted; things lost in translation and extended periods of time passed from when the events took place and when they were recorded. I can barely remember what I ate for dinner last night, let alone the exact details of an event that happened many years ago…just saying. I’m not trying to tear the book apart; or crap on anyone’s religion; I just want to make sure that we’re all on the same page (no pun intended).

I consider myself a Christian, and I have read the bible many times and honestly it has helped me get through some really tough and unfortunate circumstances in my life, but I don’t just ingest everything I read on its pages like pig dining at the trough. I question things. I trust my own interpretation of what I’ve read. I don’t go into it with a preconceived notion of what the text is supposed to mean because of what I was told it should mean by others. I keep an open mind and form my own opinion.

I consider most of the Old Testament a collection of parables, beneficial and positive lessons for sure, but the stories are not to be accepted as literal events. I do believe most of what I’ve read in the New Testament, which should go without saying or I would be a complete idiot for following the faith. I just don’t believe any man, in person or on paper, can speak for God. The only way to truly fulfill your spiritual needs is by going to Him directly. Speak to Him yourself, because like Frasier Crane, “He’s listening” and always willing to have a conversation.



I do have some questions for those who believe that the pages are divine and full of nothing but accurate historical content.

Why is it that you believe God’s story is confined between the covers? If Harry Potter can go on and on why can’t the bible, is God not greater than J. K. Rowling? I’m not saying that this book is a children’s fairytale, I just don’t understand why people think, as an author, that God is a one-hit wonder. Do we really hold ourselves in such a high esteem that we seriously believe that we can keep Him imprisoned between Genesis and Revelations because it makes us feel all warm and cozy inside?

Why couldn’t He create and inspire additional works, like a New-New Testament? Isn’t that blaspheme to say that He couldn’t continue to grow, to change the world and adjust His word to more adequately coincide with how His children are behaving nowadays? This is not an attack by any means, these are real questions that come to mind when I think about the bible.

As far as His word and change is concerned (because I’m sure I just opened up a can of whoop-ass on myself with many Christians), in the Old Testament He told us to go after an eye if our eye is attacked and then in the New Testament tells us to take the eye poking and graciously turn the other cheek exposing our unplucked eye, leaving it ripe for the picking. Now that’s just one example of the many changes from one testament to the other, and proves the point that His word can, and does change. Whether you like it or not, it’s right there in black and white.



His word is a never-ending “developing story” like in a breaking news spot, and to believe otherwise is ignorant and utterly foolish if you ask me. He is orchestrating change all around us, every new idea and innovation has his fingerprints on them, nothing happens without His approval. Everyone knows that change sucks, but it’s impossible to prevent, so we have to get over trying to be comfortable and allow him to be like a fine wine and breathe. Give the artist his space and let Him make his masterpiece.

This book also gets the blame for lots of the madness that surrounds us in the world today, but truthfully it is not what you read that defines you, it is how you react and treat others based on the information you are absorbing mentally. It’s not the words on the pages that make a book dangerous, it’s the actions of the reader that does. We don’t have to obey everything we read, it is not our master and we are not its slave. The bible is meant to be a companion piece to help make your life on this otherwise dark and dreary planet a little bit easier, not as a means to condemn/judge your fellow human beings.

The bottom line is this, for the most part I love its message and I’m happy to have it in my possession, but I’ll be damned (possibly to hell if I’m wrong) if I’m going to let it persuade me to hate and/or become “holier than thou” because of it. The book should be kept like a diary, something that is personal and near and dear to your heart, not as a weapon used to attack all who oppose your beliefs (notice I said “your beliefs” and not God’s) and those who don’t walk the same path as yourself.

For the record, this rant is not just about the Christian bible either; I’m only speaking on what I familiar with, because I have no doubt these sentiments stand true against any religious and/or holy book. As cliché as it sounds, knowledge is power, but as with Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility. Take what you’ve learned in that book and use it to make the world a better place for all involved, because in the end it will only make things better for you and your loved ones.

One for good measure…



Remember, when you see someone acting the fool in the name of religion, especially your own, speak up and put them in their place or you are just as guilty as they are for destroying its image. One bad apple spoils the bunch…don’t believe me, ask Adam.

MJM

Friday, May 22, 2015

“Mother”


Mother’s Day has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still celebrate our mothers, especially mine because she is the bomb diggity and the best mother ever…just saying.

We all know they totally deserve all the love, attention and praise they receive on their special day, just alone for all the crap we put them through and for the fact that they haven’t killed us as a result of it.

With that said, we shouldn’t limit our appreciation of them to only one day because they deserve way much more than that, probably way more than we will ever be able to repay.

All mothers aren’t the same (I know I was just as shocked as you when I first learned this), you may find this hard to believe considering they all share the same name (which is “mom” of course), but they are all unique and wonderful in their own right.

I wanted to share a little bit about my mother with all of you wild and crazy internet folks, that way you could better understand why I am the way I am, and know exactly who to blame when I get out of hand and start causing a ruckus.

Okay, here goes…

M is for Majesty, because that is exactly how she handles herself, with such grace and class.

England may have its queen, but in all honesty, she is nothing more than a mere peasant compared to my dear mum.

She is our Elizabeth Taylor, minus a few ex-husbands of course.

O is for Outstanding, because that is exactly what she is.

She is one in a million, a diamond in the rough, a beautiful heart in our otherwise dark and dreary world.

She will do anything for anyone; no questions asked and without an extended hand looking for something in return.

T is for Thug, because she may look all sweet and innocent on the outside, but on the inside she has the spirit of a straight up gangsta.

To paraphrase the great poet Charlie Sheen, “She’s different. She has a different constitution, she has a different brain, and she has a different heart. She’s got tiger blood, man”. Winning!

She has knocked out more scrubs than Mike Tyson did in his heyday, and not just with her fists either; I’ve witnessed her putting punks down for a nap with things like cast iron skillets, something you would see right out of a Looney Tunes cartoon.


I don’t want you to think that she just went around attacking random individuals like some crazed maniac, because that’s not the case, all of her opponents had it coming, let’s just say they were all members of the “Ray Rice fan club” if you catch my drift.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the woman can hold her own, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee and cook her ass off like nobody's business...ee.

H is for Humor, because she is one of the funniest mutha fuggers around.

Forget Kevin Hart, Dane Cook and Amy Schumer, my mother will leave you in stitches and wetting your pants like a newborn baby.

Please don’t fall, slip or trip in her presence, because she will laugh uncontrollably like a mad hyena on crack.

I must admit though, it does make the whole experience a lot less uncomfortable and more entertaining for all those involved.

Yo' mama jokes, no problem, she can get down and dirty with the best of them.

E is for Exceptional, because in a time full of such hate, anger and destruction, a beacon of light, hope and love.

She is a shining example of what we as individuals should strive to be, a magnificent representation of what God had in mind when he created us, a pure blessing for sure.

Full of warmth and affection which she openly shares with any and everyone who she comes in contact with.

Makes a stranger feel so welcome that they forget they just met her and haven’t known her for many years.

R is for Righteous, because she is someone who would never intentionally mislead and/or misuse anyone.

Her actions and deeds are out of genuine love and concern for her fellow people, not one of self-bias and/or selfish gain.

Someone you can always depend on, undoubtedly trust and will do everything in her power to put (and keep) a smile on your face.

Well there you have it my friends, a rare glimpse into who my mother is.

Remember; don’t wait for a particular day/occasion to show your mothers just how much they mean to you, because if you do you may just end up with a lost opportunity and lots of unfortunate regrets.

Love you mom.

MJM 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

“Quiet Riot”


Quiet Riot, no this isn't about the heavy metal band, but rather about what happens to the underlying  message when people, and I use that term loosely, decide to riot.

It becomes quiet and unfortunately lost within all the chaos and destruction caused by the masses who feel it necessary to act in this fashion.

I considered comparing these individuals to the beasts who most feel are beneath us, but in all honesty it would be an insult to our animal brethren to call them such; because they are nowhere close to being as civilized as the creatures we share this planet with.

It doesn’t matter what the reason is, there is never a justification to riot and carry on like a bunch of wild miscreants, and it is completely uncalled for and does more harm than good.

You’re hurting innocent people in the process, who had absolutely nothing to do with the unfortunate circumstances in which you felt the need to act out in such a repulsive manner.

One could even say that your actions are just as deplorable as the person(s) you are retaliating against, and in some cases even worse.

Liken it to a child throwing a temper tantrum because they didn’t get what they wanted or their way.

Was the child’s reasons justified, sadly that no longer matters because the actions of that said child eclipses the why and leaves the audience in attendance disgusted and appalled by what they have witnessed.

If you want to do something, help out the family who you feel were wronged, show them that they are not alone in their time off need and that there are good people out there who are willing to lend a hand to help them rebuild their lives for the better.

Trust me; I am certain that most people who just lost a loved one would rather have a shoulder to lean on for support over others vandalizing and destroying everything in sight all supposedly in the name of the deceased.

This type of behavior tarnishes the memory of those who you claim to be fighting for, leaves the masses angry and even more hate-filled than before, so all in all it is not the way to go.


To quote the great Martin Luther King, Jr., “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love”, truly words to live by.

I know some of you live by the old “eye for an eye” adage, but that leads to nothing positive, just a bunch of ignorant people too blind to see the repercussions of their actions and the effects it has on the world around them, including those they claim to love and care for.

With this piece, I am by no means saying that something shouldn’t be done when an injustice occurs, but rioting is by no means the answer and ultimately defeats the intended purpose.

We as a society should not permit this kind of behavior; we should not promote and/or endorse it in any way, because otherwise we are just as guilty as those who are actually out in the streets running amok.

Silence is not golden, not speaking up and voicing your disdain over how things are only allows it to continue as is.

Keeping the fires of hate burning brighter and hotter than ever, and regardless of our involvement or not, if something isn’t done soon we will eventually find ourselves burnt beyond recognition and our world in ash.

As a deterrent to this kind of behavior, I personally, and I’m sure this might not be received all that well by the masses, think that the “Stand-your-ground law” should be country wide and rewritten to include rioters and looters, because they would think twice if they knew there was a possibility their actions would have consequences.

Finally, to those of you who are sympathetic towards these savages and/or try to justify their behavior, this way of thought is like that of a battered spouse, one who believes they are not good enough for anything better and out of fear of retaliation makes excuses for why their abuser acts as they do.

Needless to say this isn’t healthy, you should desire to rise above the madness and establish yourself as something more than just a sheep who mindlessly follows the shepherd because that is all they know.

Use that thing on top of your shoulders for something else other than a hat rack and think before you act, you may just be pleasantly surprised by the results, and I truly believe you will get a whole lot more accomplished in the long run.

MJM

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

“Monsters”


There's an evil worse than zombies, werewolves and vampires combined, and it walks amongst us in plain sight, and even hides right in front of our eyes.

This isn't the plot for some big budget Hollywood Summer blockbuster, but rather the unfortunate truth about ourselves, you know us human beings.

The harsh reality is that we are in fact the evil in which I speak of; we are the things that go bump in the night, the monsters in which we feared when we were younger who occupied the spaces under our beds and in our closets.

It goes without saying that some of us are worse than others, but all things considered we're all capable of performing some of the most heinous acts that would even make the likes of Stephen King cringe in disgust, at a moment’s notice.

You don’t believe me, consider this, when an atrocity happened throughout the history of our world what species was front and center…I’ll give you a hint, it was us.

We make remarks about the so-called wild animals that roam the jungle, where things are fierce and unforgiving, but the truth of it is that we are the only wild creatures walking the face of this world of ours.

Animals live by instincts; they do what they must to survive, to manage this cruel planet of ours, not to ruthlessly attack their own all with the hopes of obtaining ultimate power and total domination, like some “people” we know.

With that said, I think it is only fair that the adjective wild be used only to describe us, and not our animal counterparts who we share this world with, which is unfortunately for them I might add.

I know this may sound cynical, and even pessimistic, but whether we like it or not it’s the truth and no matter how much we tell ourselves otherwise, it won’t change a thing.

We can fight it, we can keep our rage under control as if we were Bruce Banner attempting to tame the Incredible Hulk, but if the past has taught us anything it is that the rage will eventually win over and there will be nothing but a trail of destruction left in our path.


We the people are the problem, not the solution, regardless of how high and mighty we think we are, or how superior we feel towards other species, and once we learn to accept this the better off we’ll all be because the truth will set you free, as they say.

I don’t want you to think that all hope is lost, because it’s not, I just want you to be aware of our place in the grand scheme of things.

The pedestal on which we feel we stand upon is really nothing more than an empty grave, and if we allow it, it will consume us and bury us alive, and we will suffocate and choke on our own misguided beliefs.

Hopefully these words have humbled you, helped you see that we are not the almighty and that we are not worthy of passing judgment and/or condemning our fellow brothers and sisters.


We are equals, and not just with each other but with all that we share this life with, and we should focus on building things and each other up, and not tearing them apart.

Not one of us is better than anyone else; remember that next time you decide to play king of the mountain and try to tell who you believe are your followers what is and isn’t righteous and/or holy.

If we don’t change things now, there may be no time or chance to do so later, so smarten up people and make this world of ours a better place for everyone involved.

MJM

Saturday, April 4, 2015

“Drugs”


As if what we had wasn’t already bad enough, over time they have dangerously evolved from what they once were; on top of the more recognizable ones such as crack, heroine and LSD (just to name a few), we now have synthetic drugs (cannabinoids/cathinones), alcoholic drinks laced with such things as caffeine and prescription pills.

From the shady street corners in the worst neighborhoods to the office of your doctor in the beautiful building in the suburbs, drugs are being dispensed and lives are being ruined at an alarming rate, and unfortunately little is being done to rectify this problem.

The stereotypical drug dealer has been replaced by a man in a white coat armed with a pen and a prescription pad, the crack house has been replaced by the pharmacy, and due to the fact that good old Uncle Sam is getting a piece of his/her action, the authorities are willing to turn a blind eye to the goings-on.

I know that not all doctors are irresponsibly writing prescriptions and/or consciously contributing to the demise of our civilization, however, there are a good percentage of them who are and it needs to be stopped immediately.

We all know that there are many legitimate cases of people needing certain medication(s) to maintain a normal, or as close to normal as possible lifestyle, and obviously those are not the cases I’m speaking about in this piece.

Thanks to the MDs people are being handed prescriptions to their downfall, to their dismay and even in some cases their death.


Next we have the synthetic drugs and the over-the-top alcoholic drinks (when is too much, too much?), which most of can be purchased at your local convenient store, as easily as say buying a piece of candy or your favorite fountain drink would be.

All of this garbage should be pulled from store shelves and destroyed, and people caught selling it should face a penalty equally as harsh as someone who is selling any illegal drug, no exceptions.

Some may say that this is too harsh, or that these things aren’t a real problem, and my response to them would be to seek out a family and/or person(s) whose lives have been damaged as a result of these drugs and ask them how they feel about it; you may just be surprised by what you find out.

Joe Camel wasn’t acceptable, it was said that he enticed kids to smoke, made it look cool with him being a cartoon character and all, but now with that said have you seen the packaging that some of these synthetic drugs and/or alcoholic beverages come in?  

This stuff is toxic, hazardous to our health and our mental well-being, there is no need for it in our society and it does no one any good, even a blind man can clearly see that.


We cannot only go after the users and expect everything to get better; we must start at the top and focus on the real issue at hand, we must cut off the head of the snake if we ever hope to rid our world of these poisons, which means choosing good health and mental stability over profit.

We can’t stand by idly and allow this stuff to happen, we must speak up and make our voices heard, or else things will only get worse and a good portion of our society will continue to walk around in a comatose state and good for absolutely nothing.

Saying, “No” just doesn’t cut it anymore, we must say, “Enough” and do everything in our power to stop the madness and move forward in a positive and productive manner, or otherwise our species will become extinct.

Call me a killjoy if you so choose, but unfortunately I have witnessed the destruction these drugs can cause firsthand, and needless to say it is not something I am too pleased about and/or willing to accept as just what is.

We are playing with fire here people, and if we are not careful we won’t just get burnt, we will be engulfed by the flames, leaving nothing behind but a pile of ashes.

Use your head for something else other than a hat rack!

MJM

Thursday, April 2, 2015

“The War Within”


I believe in God, and I have no doubt that He is looking down on us with despair in his heart, especially when it comes to things like the “Religious Freedom Bill”, which is basically just a license to hate in His name.

When I hear of such things it makes me ashamed to call myself a Christian, and that should not be the case.

We should be prideful in the fact that we follow a loving God, a forgiving God and a God who accepts everyone and anyone who choose to follow him without any conditions.

I honestly think that He is embarrassed of us, that we are letting Him down on both fronts, meaning those of us who claim to be His followers who hate, condemn and judge others while flying his banner, to those of us who just sit back while all this is going on and don’t say or do anything about it.


Not all people of faith are hate-filled; most of us are loving and caring people who use our faith as a way to manage this harsh world of ours, and to make the overall journey much easier and more tolerable.

The problem is that we also allow those who falsely wear the shroud of our particular faith only as a means to spread hate and destruction to act as the mouthpiece for our chosen faith and on our behalf, and that we should not do.

We cannot allow these people to represent us, we must speak up and voice our opinions, otherwise the world is going to believe that we all feel the same way, and with that said make our God look bad and He doesn’t deserve that.

We need to take a stand; we need to show those on the outside looking in that the individuals who are spewing all that venom are doing so without our support and our blessing and that we are not accepting of their actions.


And don’t get it twisted, this is not just about whether you agree or disagree with homosexuality, it goes much deeper than that.

This is about us letting people legalize hate and discrimination in our name and in the name of the faith, which we hold near and dear to our hearts, while we don’t do anything to change things.

Ultimately this kind of behavior leaves a bitter taste in people’s mouth about us and our God, and we should not be okay with that.

This also opens the door for similar bills to come down the pipeline in the future, and sooner or later these people will find something about you they don't like and will have no problem following the same path to make it acceptable to hate and discriminate against you because of it, just imagine how you would feel then.

The hateful come in all different shapes and sizes; they are not just Christians, Muslims and/or any other religion for that matter, so be alert and regardless of where it’s coming from, stand up against it.


When we allow hate, condemnation and judgment to be slung around in His name and we don’t do anything about it, we are just as sinful as the ones doing it, think about that the nest time you come across something of this nature.

Remember, God wants you on your knees to pray, not to allow others to walk all over you and trample your good name and reputation in the process, so get up and do something about it.

MJM

Thursday, March 26, 2015

“God Loves, Even When You Don’t”


There has been a lot of hate as of late concerning the LGTB community (I know what’s new), from a California lawyer (Matt McLaughlin) who wants to make it legal to kill them "SodomiteSuppression Act" for no reason other than the fact that they are gay, to a bill in Michigan “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (Jase Bolger/Mike Shirkey) that would make it legal for people to openly discriminate against them claiming religious beliefs, and these are just the tip of the iceberg.

I know it’s hard to believe being the year 2015 and being America and all, but unfortunately it’s true, this is our reality and not some over the top made-up Hollywood script.

With all this negativity and hate making the headlines in regards to a group of people who want nothing more than to have the same rights and freedoms as the rest of us, I figured it would be a good time to pick their minds to see exactly how they felt about things.

Below are some questions I asked three very open and awesome people, who just happen to be gay, so sit back and hear what they have to say.

Please welcome to Extreme Christian…


Cary Vaughn
Cary Vaughn is a writer and actor in Memphis, TN. If you enjoy acerbic wit and crass humor, you can read him at his website, The Reluctant Cat Owner's Journal (www.reluctantcatowner.com). Since starting his website in 2012, his articles have been featured on HumorOutcasts, LeftyPop, and Scary Mommy. He has been translated into Finnish for Vau.fi (leading parenting website in Finland) and has accidentally appeared on HuffPost Live in a cameo he for which he is still ashamed.
  

Gay Dave
"My Gay Opinion"


Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck

1. How does it make you feel when people of faith, who claim to be all about love, say things like, “gays are going to hell” just for being how God made them?

Cary Vaughn: When I was new to being out, this infuriated me because these people don't realize that until the age of 26, I tried not being gay. I prayed. I hated myself. I ignored who I was supposed to be. It's kind of like that awfully hypocritical saying, "I don't hate the sinner; I hate the sin." When words like that fell into my ears, I would become seriously infuriated. Nowadays, I am pretty desensitized to rhetoric like this. Instead, I feel sorry for those who just don't know how ignorant they sound.

Gay Dave: I think it's totally hypocritical. It's just a bunch of noise that I ignore. I think that people like that have missed the point of their religion and the meaning of love.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: What I feel for people of faith who make statements such as, "gays are going to hell," is sadness.  My feeling is that these individuals are so insecure about who they are, and how God views them that they feel they need to speak for God in a way that they present themselves as more worthy of salvation.  That's not God speaking through them, that is fear.  I feel sorrow for these people, because they are letting fear control them and their actions.

2. They’ve asked scientists and other heterosexuals if being gay is a choice or how they were born, but for some reason they never ask the people who are gay themselves, so with that said, is it a choice or was it how you were born?

Cary Vaughn: I can't speak for everybody else on this as I believe that sexuality is pretty broad, but for me, I certainly didn't choose it. I knew since I was a child. It just happened. As a matter of fact, as a teenager, if I had the ability to choose, I would have chosen not to be. Where I come from, the world is cruel to gay people, and I didn't want to have to endure that, so I stayed "in the closet." People often wonder how, if I was married, I could have sex with a woman. I just tell them that a young man with a sex drive will put his penis in pretty much anything. I had sex with a woman, but I was always attracted to men.

Gay Dave: Oh it was definitely how I was born. Looking back at my life and when I was little, it was pretty obvious. As stereotypical as it sounds, I would always prefer to play with Barbie than GI Joe...although, Barbie did need someone to date because Ken was just her gay BFF. HA! But I always remember being more attracted to boys than girls. That was even before I knew what being gay meant.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I can state without any hesitation that being gay for me is not a choice...it is who I am.  I was born into a family with 3 other siblings (whom I love dearly and they, in turn, love me fully).  For the most, we were all presented with the same set of circumstances in our developmental stages.  We watched the same movies, we played the same sports, we hung around with the same kids and we were given the same set of parental guidance and love.  In the debate over homosexuality being one of nature vs. nurture, the nurturing I received was extremely similar to my siblings, and yet I am the only one who identifies as being gay.  I remember quite early on while watching movies like King Kong, with Jessica Lange, or Jacqueline Bisset in The Deep, and television shows such as Charlie's Angels and Wonder Woman that I didn't have the same reaction as my brothers' to the females that were being showcased in limited clothing.  There was no desirous thoughts crossing my mind.  I did, however, feel an attraction for Lee Majors as The Six-Million Dollar Man.  Even earlier than that I was drawn to Gary Collins in the television series, The Sixth Sense, and to Brian Keith in Family Affair.  At the time I wasn't mentally developed enough to understand that I had an attraction for these television leading men.  And yet, looking back I can see that even at 5 years of age I was attracted to males.  The only choice that I ever had was to live my life as the person I was as gay or lead a miserable existence of deception and self-hatred.  To be honest, I think if I didn't accept who I was and what my sexual orientation was then I would have lead a sexless life.

3. Based on what you already know and experienced from being gay it today’s world, would you recommend other gays to remain in the closet and stay hidden, or kick open the door and let the people know that you’re here, you’re queer and they need to get used to it?

Cary Vaughn: This is such a personal choice. I get uncomfortable when people make generalized statements about what gay men (closeted or otherwise) should do. How can these people have no consideration for individual circumstances? Yes, there is power in numbers, but when you come out, your life changes (at least mine did). Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. A life transition like that requires a person to be in a good place so that they are emotionally prepared for either. I think what's lacking is support for those that are scared of making this change. I mean, coming out is like confessing to a lie. A really BIG lie. It's not easy to confess to the world you lied to them this whole time.

Gay Dave: I think coming out is a very personal thing and you have to pick the right time to come out. As much as I'd love to say that coming out is the best thing ever, for some young gay kids, coming out could cause them to get kicked out on the street or banished from their families. If they're young and in a supportive family, sure they can come out. Otherwise it might be better to wait until they're on their own and can support themselves financially and emotionally. If they're older and already on their own, then it's just best to come out when they're ready. I don't think it's right to out someone.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I would never recommend other gay people remain in the closet, but I can understand why some would want to.  If there is one fundamental truth that I hold dear to and live by it is the words written by Shakespeare in Hamlet where Polonius speaks his last words of advice to his son, Laertes:

"This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."

I cling to these words as a beacon of light...and of personal courage.  I must be true to who I am, and to live as freely, openly and honestly as possible.  If I cannot be true to myself then regardless of what I do or say to others I would be living a lie and being false to those who know me.  This is how I choose to live my life.  I have found peace and happiness in living this way, and I would encourage others to live their truth.  But, I would be remiss not to state that in making the decision to live my life this way I have lost things.  I was asked to leave my high school and not return, I've had family members turn their backs to me and never speak to me again, I lost my best friend, I was shunned by church members and church leaders, I found myself homeless with nothing except a small bag of clothes and eighty dollars in my pocket.  I lost a lot of things by being publicly outed in high school and it was extremely difficult.  And yet, even with everything I lost, I am happy for having the courage to live an open life.

4. What’s your opinion with how gays are portrayed in Hollywood?

Cary Vaughn: My opinion is that it's rather silly to give entertainment the power to persuade mine or the public's opinion. It's merely entertainment. And entertainment (for the sound mind) is only an escape from the real world. I will say, however, that there are certainly more gay role models being portrayed in movies and television than when I was growing up. When I "came out" Will & Grace was a popular television show, and in my inexperienced mind, gay people were either a serious Will or a flamboyant Jack. It was life that taught me that there are just as many varieties of gay men as there are straight men. So with that I say, if you really want to learn about gay men and gay culture, don't use a medium of fiction as a reference. Get out and get to know some gay people for goodness sake.

Gay Dave: I'm surprised at how many gay roles there are now in Hollywood. I grew up in a time when you didn't see anyone gay on TV. I mean there were some "questionable" characters but there weren't out gay characters. Now there's gays, lesbians, transgenders everywhere....I think it's great for gays to see themselves portrayed in the media. It shows gays that they're not alone and gives them characters to relate to. Sure sometimes the roles are stereotypical but sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. HA! But it's good when that's not always the case.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: In terms of how gays are portrayed in Hollywood today I would say that we are finally being shown as people.  It has taken a long time to get to the point of showing gays that are vastly different.  In decades past gays were generalized as being overtly feminine.  I accept and embrace the gay males that openly express their femininity, and love them for the courage they exhibit.  But not all gay men are the same.  We all come from different backgrounds with different views and different feelings.  Just as straight people are different so are gays.  When I was young and gay we didn't have many people who were openly gay that we could look toward to give us a sense of self-acceptance and pride, so many gay people from my generation felt alone and isolated.  It would have been wonderful to have gay male Hollywood icons that I could identify with.  I remember attending the GLAAD awards one year when Marriage Equality was in the earliest public debate and one of the attendees was Elizabeth Taylor.  She took to the stage and said, "I don't know what all the fuss is about gay marriage.  The way I see it is if two people love each other they should be able to get married.  And I should know a thing or two about marriage!  And, I've been very fortunate in my career to have worked with all the most wonderful gay actors in Hollywood.  I worked with Montgomery Clift, I worked with Rock Hudson, and I worked with James Dean!"  It would have been personally incredible to know that these Hollywood A-List actors were gay, but if they wouldn't have had the career they did if they were out and open.  We needed to grow as a society before Hollywood could portray us accurately.  We've finally reached that point, and I'm thrilled to see it.

5. Would you say that most people of faith are accepting of you and your way of life and show you much love, or condemning and constantly trying to change you and/or demeaning?

Cary Vaughn: It wouldn't be fair to make a general statement about this. Some are kind and accepting, others are not. To me, a person's mental stability has more to do with how they treat a gay person than their faith.

Gay Dave: I'm lucky because I live in a state that isn't very religious. So nobody ever tries to condemn me or change me for religious reasons. I've been discriminated against for being gay but never by religious people, it's always been from ignorant people. Some members of my family are some what religious (Catholic) and accepting of me and I work in a company that is owned by a Jewish family and they're completely accepting of me. I came out in the job interview so they knew from the get go. Personally I think Jewish people have had their time being persecuted and they're much more accepting of gays. But that's just my personal experience.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: For the most part, I don't come across too many people of faith that spew hateful sentiments toward me, because the church that I attend was originally founded with its doors open to everyone but with a special outreach to the LGBT community.  I usually take part in the annual Los Angeles Gay Pride parade, and there are always a number of protesters carrying signs declaring that God Hates Fags or Burn In Hell Sodomites, or some other such disgusting, vile words of hate.  This past Saturday, I attended the memorial service for my friend, Rev. Malcolm Boyd, and I was momentarily taken aback by the sight of some elderly man who was carrying a homemade sign of some form of hate.  My husband and I walked boldly toward the protester...all the while holding each other's hand.  I couldn't tell exactly what it said because as we were passing the man to climb the steps to the church he began screaming at us and told us that someone had torn part of his paper sign.  He still let us know that God hates us and that we'd be going straight to hell.  STRAIGHT to hell?  The irony of the statement brought a smile to my face, and I waved to him and said, "God bless you, brother."  I guess that the effectiveness of the protesters' hateful ways has long since been lost to me.

6. Do you ever get tired of hearing straight men say, “I don’t mind gay people, as long as they don’t try anything”?   

Cary Vaughn: Ha. I've never encountered this one, actually. Must be nice to think you're so hot that homos are anxious to "try something." To those straight men, I would say, "Honey, don't worry. Straight men are absolutely terrible at gay sex. You wouldn't do it for me at all."

Gay Dave: I've never actually had a straight guy say that to me. If they did, I'd probably make a comment about them being hot or having a nice ass  just to unnerve them. HA!   

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: This statement must be one that is said to straight men.  I don't ever hear it personally.  I have many friends who are heterosexual, and I would never disrespect them in any way to make them feel uncomfortable.  Although I do have a very dear straight friend who works in law enforcement, and used to work for the bomb squad, that insists on greeting me with a kiss on the lips.  His wife laughs and says that I am one of the very few men he ever kisses that way.  And then there is my straight brother-in-law, Jimmy.  He and I have the most wonderful, mutually-loving relationship.  He's been calling me with the nickname, Precious, since the first day we met.  He grabs my head and plants a big old kiss on me.

(This must be something that only straight men say to each other when trying to come off as tolerant, a half-assed attempt at being political correct I guess.)  

7. Why do you think some people fight so hard to keep gays from marrying, with arguments like, “the sanctity of marriage” and/or the ever famous, “it would lead to bestiality, incest, etc.”, when marriage as it stands between one man and one woman is by no means for the most part respectable and/or holy?

Cary Vaughn: I believe that people fight so hard against same-sex marriage simply from indoctrination and/or social acceptance (my peers are against gay marriage so I am, too). Nowadays, it's as if some are trying to "out-Christian" each other with more and more outrageous claims (such as same-sex marriage leading to marrying a pig or a child), as if it makes them a better Christian if they think up more horrible things about gay people than their predecessor. We've gone from "gay parents stunt the developmental growth of children" all the way to "gays will die out because we don't reproduce." I sit by and anxiously await what these people (who have absolutely no experience with science or gay culture) will think of next. I'm just stumped as to why some people latch on to maniacal rhetoric such as that without considering logic and reason.

Gay Dave: That's easy, it's about discrimination and fear of what they don't know. People who are closed minded can't see anything outside of their own little world. Once they believe something, they can't admit they're wrong about it.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I am not sure why some people are fighting so hard to stop gay marriage.  Maybe some people just are not happy unless they have something to hate.  They NEED to have something, or someone, where they can direct their anger to feel a sense of superiority.  Some seem to be going to great lengths to prevent Marriage Equality from happening, and make outrageous allegations of how it is going to ruin society, or that it will lead to bestiality or incest.  You have to wonder what the world would be like if they were able to redirect all this negative energy and focus it positively on something that they appreciate and would like to see flourish and succeed.

8. Have the actions of people, who claim to be of faith, in regards to gays hinder your feelings towards said faith?

Cary Vaughn: Yes. It's hard not to, though I know this isn't fair to judge a group of people based on a few. But I make these judgments based on experience, not prejudice. I've been emotionally burned too many times in the name of God. It would be stupid of me not to be guarded.

Gay Dave: Oh yeah, I'm not religious at all and I wouldn't get involved in an organized religion. I wouldn't get involved in any organization (religious or otherwise) that discriminates for any reason. I wouldn't join a country club that doesn't allow blacks or an all male club that excludes women either. Unless you're accepting of everyone, I'm not interested. You know what, if someone has a problem with gays that's there problem and not mine, I'd prefer to be told up front and we can both move on with our lives.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: People of Faith are first and foremost people, and we are all human with faults.  And yes, that includes me.  I am not perfect, and I am not a Saint, and I still can grow and learn about topics or issues that I am either ignorant or misguided about.  I accept that in myself, and I accept that in others.  It is rather disheartening to hear people that we would like to believe has a closer connection to God make statements that just do not ring as being from a place of love and inclusiveness, and I can only hope and pray that at some point they will receive a revelation and change of heart.

9. Is it scary being gay in today’s world?

Cary Vaughn: It is. Every time I read a story about violence and emotional abuse against gays (and it happens much more often than you may realize because most of them aren't covered in mainstream media), I always think to myself, 'That could have easily been me or my partner.' I'm getting sad even thinking about this, actually. There are places I don't go because of this. Church, for example.

Gay Dave: Not where I live. But there's certain places in the world I wouldn't go because of the way they treat gays. For me as a teen, being gay was very scary and life threatening but once I became an adult it really hasn't been an issue.

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I have seen such a huge societal change since first coming out in 1979.  That period, and the era of the AIDS epidemic, were scary times, but those frightening times made us strong and fearless.  We found our voice and we used it to help change perception.  Today I see how the groundwork that we did back then has helped mold the general understanding of what being gay really is, and how youths are able to express themselves with pride.  There are still cases where young LGBT individuals are victimized due to their orientation, so I know that we still need to educate some people.

10. When it comes to equal rights for gays, are we as a society making long strides and on the right track, or taking baby steps and even sometimes standing still?

Cary Vaughn: I think we are moving at the right pace. History has taught us that cultural change has a timeline. However, when I first came out, I never thought I would see states legally recognize same-sex marriage in my lifetime. Goes to show you never know. As much as I wish we could wave a wand and create acceptance, you can't change a world's perspective in a short amount of time and you can't force this change. Doing so only creates more resistance and anger, and my life is already full of enough conflict.

Gay Dave: I grew up in a time when gay marriage wasn't even an option. I never thought I'd be able to get married. So now that I can, I still haven't. I've been with my partner for 13 years and we talk about it but more in terms of what it could legally grant us. The institution of marriage isn't that important to us. So when you think about it in those terms (marriage and gays in the media), I think we've come quite a ways in my lifetime. But it's been a slow time coming. I can't believe there are still places that don't allow gay marriage which is saying that we're still ok with discrimination in this country. For me it's not a question of what does marriage mean (is it between a man and a woman or two men or two women), for me it's a matter of who can we discriminate against and who is it ok to withhold rights from. I'd like to think that in my life time I'll see gay marriage in all states and maybe we'll start worrying about more serious issues like poverty, homelessness, and the Kardashian's setting the women's movement back 100 years. HA!

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I am quite proud of the advancements that we have seen over the past 3.5 decades.  When you look at the actual time frame, 35 years to get progress to this point is rather astounding.  We haven't yet achieved all we hoped and dreamed for in terms of equality for the LGBT community...but I'm hopeful to see it come to full fruition before it is my time to be welcomed into Jesus' arms.

11. How do you feel about the "Sodomite Suppression Act" and/or the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”?

Cary Vaughn: When I first read about Matt McLaughlin's proposal, I thought I was reading satire. When I realized he was serious, I kind of laughed to myself (see answer about sitting back and watching what these crazy people will do next) because we all know that a law like this will never pass. The religious freedom bills that are popping up across the US, however, are annoying. It's hard to believe that some still don't understand that for every action, there is a reaction. For Matt, there's currently a petition to have him (rightfully) disbarred (and it's already at 35,000 signatures and growing), and on many occasions, large businesses have threatened to take their money elsewhere if a state signs a religious freedom bill into law (I've provided links supporting this below):



If only the parents of the people who are behind these proposed laws would have raised their children to not be bigots, they wouldn't now be marked in history as an embarrassment to this country. 

Gay Dave: Well I didn't know that these acts existed. I find it sad that people would spend SO much money to try and make discrimination and even murder legal. That money could be spent doing something good for the world instead of tearing it down. I feel the same way about all the money being spent on laws to prevent gay marriage. Use that money to help those in need! Stop spreading hate!

Phillip "Buddy" De Blieck: I am repulsed by the "Sodomite Suppression Act," and find that a person who thinks it would be a good idea to kill a group of people should be locked up from society.  I am all for free speech, but a person who believes this is a justifiable act is a seriously dangerous individual with demented thoughts.  As for the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," I can understand that people have their own personal religious beliefs that drive them, but they probably shouldn't open public businesses.  If they object so fervently to differences in beliefs then they should perhaps find a different line of work.  I couldn't imagine a company putting up signs that says, "We don't serve Jewish people, or Buddhists, or Muslims." 

Needless to say the treatment of the LGBT community in this world of ours is appalling, shameful and utterly ridiculous, and if things don’t change for the better real soon, I could honestly see us fighting another Civil War.

Now of course we all know there’s no such thing as a “Civil War”, it’s an oxymoron,  it’s not like we say to each other before we fire on them, “Excuse me my brother, would you mind if I shot you”.

Nevertheless, that is where we are heading if we don’t make some drastic changes to our way of thinking, but this time instead of fighting over slavery, trades, etc, we will be fighting over people’s sexual orientation, and tell me that’s not ludicrous.

I am ashamed to admit this, but it seems as if a good majority of the negativity that is being aimed at these people is coming from those who claim to be followers of God or some other deity.

Their actions and statements give religion as a whole, regardless of the faith, a very poor reputation.

We, as God fearing individuals (no matter what God you follow) should not allow this, and should do everything in our power to fight the enemies within our walls and cleanse our faith for the betterment of its people and its message.

You may not agree with it, you may not think it’s natural, but the bottom line is it’s not for you to decide and quite frankly you should just mind your own business.

God loves us all equally, and not just the ones you think deserve it or not.

MJM