There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and
do not pretend to be anything but who they are.
“So what can I change in order to work with the Church?” this question was presented to me as an idea or a thought if I wanted to keep working with the religious institutions and organized their members. (with very good intentions).
So if I was considering, or may be thinking about coming back to the church of my roots, this consideration has totally disappeared in one talk over dinner. My integrity as a human being and as an organizer has been questioned just for the fact that I have decided to live an openly, honest and free life. So it is better to live a life in secrecy, hiding who you are, than to be able to celebrate the beauty of the diversity in the land we live? Well according to my latest incident, yes it is. Secrecy and hiding is more important, valuable and respected, than freedom and vulnerability.
So, if you as a man or woman could change something of your nature as human being in order to work with others who are not very thrilled of you being a man or woman, what would this be? May be the way you dress, some traits of your personality or would you change the support of other women just to be able to get under the umbrella of an institution?
I believe I am a pretty balance person; I am not wild or crazy, but I enjoy who I am. It took me 39 years to realize that and to really celebrate the beauty of myself. I have always enjoyed joking with people, and being able to engage in good, deep and profound conversations. I know I could be fun to be with, and also because of the magnitude of my heart, sometimes get into very deep and down moods. I am a seeker of spirituality, believer of God in the many ways He or she will present to us. I accept others and sometimes it is very hard to understand the ones who are close-minded towards people who are different, and because of this I am also guilty of being close-minded to the people who do not accept who I am as a person.
I have never experienced discrimination due to my race or country of origin, and that could be because people think I do not look “Mexican”, especially because they have stereotyped Mexicans, and they do not realized that my country has 100 million in population with a very diverse group of people. I am white, tall, green eyes and “gordito” (a big guy), and my oldest sister is skinny, blond and blue eyes, both born and raised in Mexico. But in the last 2 years I have experienced a lot of discrimination and bigotry from people specially coming from religious institutions; and let me tell you I have not get used to it yet.
Discrimination according to Merriam Webster dictionary is defined as, the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually, or the treating of some people better than others without any fair or proper reason. When people act in ways that discriminate others, usually are called bigots, “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially:
one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance” (Merriam Webster dictionary).
When I first faced discrimination was while I was still a local pastor in the United Methodist Church and I was not re-appointed in my position because of my personal decisions, and eventually my credentials were discontinued. During these times I received a couple of very disturbing comments of what I believe were people speaking out of their own ignorance about the subject. I remember a parishioner, who was my friend before she came and fellowship in my congregation, said: “one thing is to accept the fact you are getting a divorce, but another is to know that I have, as a pastor, a person who “celebrates his identity and is open about it” (I omitted the correct terminology in respect of people that may read this). Another great friend whom I have respected and loved for many years told me in a very loving way that if I continue with my decision to live this path, I was on way to death and hell. A good friend told me that the United States protects youth from people like me (referring to my gender).
I thought that leaving the church to go and work outside of the walls of the institution was going to be better, but that is not the case. Bigotry is the illness of our times, is spreading faster than any other illness I have seen, and it seems that it is getting stronger and less educated. Again I am confronted to the fact that this small virus lives among us and it is extremely contagious.
Once we get ill by the venom of this virus, fear becomes the first symptom. Suddenly there is nothing you can do besides thinking the many ways you could get in trouble. There is a strong paralysis in your mind, and there is no way you could move at all. Fear covers you, and attacks every cell in your desires, will, strength, and sanity. People will come with all kind of home recipes to battle this illness: a chamomile tea, a bubble bath, go swimming and distract yourself, watch a movie, go hiking, take some days off, etc. But the reality is that the only way this will go away is when you are able to regained strength within you, and face the fear and bigotry by the bull’s horn. (In Mexico we have a saying “fight our own problems by the bull’s horn”, meaning that you need to face your fears just as they are, and be brave and courageous). This morning I saw this quote in the Facebook profile of new friend: “Courage faces fear, and thereby masters it” by Martin Luther King Jr.
So going back to that question, Do you think I should change as a person in order to adapt myself to the perceptions and idiosyncrasy of others to be a better community organizer and fight for social justice among our communities? Did Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Harvey Milk, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Cesar Chavez, Mahatma Gandhi, or Cardinal Romero changed in order to transform their communities? Lamentably most of these people, with the exception of Mother Teresa, were assassinated from people who did not agreed about their philosophy. They were brave individuals who challenged the bigotry in their countries, who created an antidote for this illness, but they were not able to see the change, nevertheless they created a legacy.
In today’s world there are many people, who are risking their lives, status quo, jobs, or even the dream to live and stay in their country for the sake of justice and human dignity. To be recognized as important and value contributors of the society they live in spite of being undocumented, queer, poor, foreigner, outsider, native, indigenous, different, or even just an ally who will support their causes. This is the world I am proud of it, and I will join them in the front lines of the battle, even if I am rejected, excluded, persecuted, tried to be silenced, defamed, or betrayed. These are the times to be unafraid, and I should learn that from the younger generation whom I proud.
Yes, I am Mexican, an immigrant, a big guy, supporter of my undocumented brothers and sisters, proud of the DREAMers who are willing to walk thousands of miles for their cause, and yes! I am Queer, Unafraid, Free and Proud.
Nobody can take this feeling away from me, simply nobody.