We Are Valid, Regardless.

Sexuality and Gender are valid, regardless of whether or not they are scientifically backed. In other words, if someone feels they are some identity and tells you Who They Are, just respect them for who they are right there in that moment regardless of the “why”.

When I look back at my childhood, the signs and experiences of my sexual preference leaning more to women are littered throughout a confused flurry of memories and lies I told myself for survival. I’m pretty gay, and I always have been–but I haven’t always known or let myself know. I played straight kind of well–and lived the lie well for most of my life.
I told people I was straight for years, and nobody questioned it. Nobody asked why, or asked if I was sure (except maybe a close friend or two who knew some of my experiences with girls). It was a norm that was expected of me and so it was never questioned until someone knew about my high school girlfriend or something. Nobody really questioned my straightness, or my cis-gender and yet there is this part of society that seeks to ask why we are gay, trans, queer, non-binary, asexual, intersex, kinky, polyamorous even though they’d never ask why THEY are straight, cis, monogamous, vanilla, or binary.
It would be one thing if they were asking “why” to further understand and accept us, to integrate our experiences into their empathetic consideration and broaden their minds to include us in their perception of reality. However, this is rarely the case. As we see, people need to know how to fit us into the boxes their anxious minds have accepted as “Only Truth” and when we don’t fit, they claim we are mentally ill, invalid, confused, disturbed, or just gross.

If I have learned anything about the human psyche, it is that for someone to actually understand something when they are in a space of resistance, their ego’s game must be played. Their resistance must be met where it lives and their ignorant delusion must be validated in order to then be invalidated with broader perspective and fact. That said, I’d like to address the delusional aspects of people’s opinions of us quickly before explaining why they are irrelevant to the validity of our identities and preferences.

For many people on the LGBTQIA spectrum, we either know from a young age or later see that we SHOULD have known from a young age because the signs were always there. It’s something we feel as a truth of our reality at the core of our being, even if we don’t want it to be (due to internalized phobias from an abusive environment). Unfortunately, our community is one in which mental illness is VERY common because the abuses we suffer are extreme and target the core of our being in macro and micro-aggressive ways every single day. Many people misunderstand this phenomenon and think it must be the illness causing the LGBTQIA spectrum identity, but WE can tell you it is the treatment we receive for existing somewhere on that spectrum in a world with limited understanding of that diversity that causes the illness.
The assumption that a person is less valid in their identity because it may be a creation of their mental illness is laughable to many of us, but also probably something we’ve thought about if we were gaslit enough as children. However, since I know that is a suggestion of some of our oppressors, and some of our own abused minds even, I present two counter arguments to those who might believe such things.

First, the most commonly acknowledged treatment for any mental illness is for external parties to BELIEVE THE DELUSION (reality) of the “ill” person because often that is exactly what the person needs to heal themselves and live a healthy life. I generally have a love/hate with the word “delusion”, as it suggests a lack of reality, but the way in which I mean it is not necessarily trying to demean the experience. I think many realities, if not every reality humans experience, is some kind of delusion. We can look at love as a desperate means to escape loneliness, fueled by powerful drugs–oxytocin and seratonin. We can look at religion as a desperate means to escape fear of death and the unknown. We can look at ALL identity as simply facade and ego protection. The more we learn about the mind, the more likely it is that everything we experience is an illusion and creation of the mind–which is commonly know as a DELUSION when it is not shared by others or seen as fitting in to shared reality. This said, if my identity is a delusion, so is yours. Being straight and cis-gender is not a strict reality in history, in nature, in mind, and clearly not in the present world, as my existence proves. The LGBTQIA+ community, who is just as valid in their existence as anyone not in that community, is a testament to that–because all humans are equal in their inherent value and existence, and so are their realities, even if those realities are seen by outer parties as a “delusion”. In short, You cannot invalidate one reality without invalidating them all–or else you are a victim to a supremacy complex and your mind does not inherently see through the eyes of equality–meaning YOU are mentally ill with Narcissist Personality Disorder or something like it. If your eyes do not see through the eyes of equality, truly YOU are the one who is ill–lacking in empathy and the ability to comprehend that which is new or different. Cognitive dissonance. Narcissism. These are the illnesses of ignorance. So either all of our experiences make up the whole, on equal grounds of validity, or none of them are real and we are all useless carbon creatures on a tiny planet in the middle-of-nowhere-whatever-space-is-blah.
Still, that said, even IF my identity were a result of mental illness (which is a result of both Nature [my biological sensitivity] and nurture [the abuses of those who sought to make me straight and cis]), a queer and non-binary identity and life is what my hurt mind needs to exist in this world, that MUST BE ACCEPTABLE. If it is not, the only other choice I am given, personally speaking as a depressive/dissociative/anxious being, is suicide or death by not living. Mental illness is chronic for many of us, and when it is severe it cannot be CURED, only coped with and made less severe. If my coping is to avoid men for the rest of my life and not see myself through the eyes of binary gender, THAT MUST BE ACCEPTABLE or the only other choice I have is death and misery.
So basically, assuming that all humans are valid and equal, and we all exist on an inherently equal plain of reality, even IF someone’s identity as LGBTQIA is the result of emotional trauma, mental illness, confusion, experimentation, etc, IT IS STILL VALID AND DOES NOT NEED TO BE JUSTIFIED BY SCIENCE OR RELIGION TO BE ACCEPTED.
Self identity is, for all of us, necessary for the calming of the mind. Truly, I am sorrowful to anyone who sees themselves strictly through the eyes of others, as I have been there before and it is SO very painful to the core of my being. But even that is my own perception of someone else’s reality, and may be a misinterpretation of how they live their lives. If someone needs, even for a moment, to see and be seen, themselves, as something, why does it matter to you? If that is what they need, and it’s a matter of life or death, why not just let them have what they need to live? It’s so easy. And yes, people do need things for survival and for some of us it is something as abstract as expression of our Selves in a way that is outside the accepted “norms”.

My second, and more important argument is this–you should not assume you know someone better than they know themselves. If you are projecting what you SEE someone as onto them as their identity, you are seeing them, and asking them to see themselves, through YOUR eyes. Basically, If you hold, in your heart, a respect for another human being then their identity should not matter to you insomuch that you don’t accept who they tell you they are. Also, you should try to hold respect for every person you meet as an individual beyond that which you SEE them as. That is respect. That is giving one the benefit of the doubt.
Love is a thing beyond this world and who we are in it, but we have to live every day in a painful and harsh reality too. Regardless of anyone’s spiritual beliefs, just living in a human body is painful for some people, and they should be allowed to seek any perspective they need, so long as it is self reflective and not projective, in order to live in peace with their own mind, body and reality. Identity is something we ALL assume in some form or another. The identities which should be offensive are not the one’s which seek to validate self through reflection and discovery, as the LGBTQIA+ community does. If any reality is to be questioned it should be those realities which actually hurt other people, those rooted in ignorance and supremacy, which lack empathy, compassion, and basic psychological understanding, because those hurt our species and our world. I only say that even because those identities (such as alt-right or evangelical extremists) seek to draw lines of limitation and separatism, breeding a certain assured self-destruction of the human species.

Point is–if someone wants to “Switch to girls cuz men are trash”, still fucking valid.It does not mean all lesbians are man haters, and it doesn’t mean others weren’t born gay. It means, that person found themselves to be prefering women. That doesn’t mean it’s a choice, and it doesn’t mean other lesbians weren’t born gay. It’s a spectrum, all reasoning accepted. If someone wants to “Identify as asexual for now” because they’ve been traumatized and can’t imagine sex anymore and don’t feel connected to sex at all, it doesn’t need to invalidate anyone else, and it shouldn’t be used to invalidate asexuality in general. By the principles of equality, the mind creating our perceptions of reality, and the self being a part of that, that identity is still valid and it may be what they need to heal from trauma, and it may be who they were born as and they are just now realizing it. Asexual is a spectrum on which the “Why?” can be many things–as is gender and sexual preference.

Stop thinking that how YOU see someone from the outside is how THEY experience themselves from inside.

That’s often not the case. And if you think what you see from the outside is more valid an identity for THEM than the one they know and feel from inside their own life and mind and body, YOU are the one projecting. YOU are the one forcing someone else into YOUR delusion. YOU are the narcissist, and YOU are the one who is ill and harming others with your illness.

When someone shares their inner reality with you, their inner experience of themSelves, it is a gift.

It is a serious insight into something and someone so divinely different and yet so divinely the same and your Self. It is the universe meeting itself, it is God, it is love and empathy and vulnerability and faith and grace. It is the connection we all need and seek to some extent. It is interdependence. It is expansion. It is intelligence. The seeing of the world through someone else’s eyes, the seeing of someone else through their OWN eyes, these things are invaluable gifts being shared with you for the sake of mutual growth toward universal love and acceptance. To dismiss them because it challenges your reality is to turn down this gift to maintain the comfort of your delusion–at the expense of someone else AND your self-growth.

So here’s my final statement. Some of us were born this way, some of us discovered ourselves late, some of us still aren’t sure and are exploring to find where we fall on this vast spectrum of infinite possibility, some of us are scared, some of us are hurt, some of us are sure and some of us are questioning, some of us are going to be one thing for the rest of our lives and some of us may change identities with outfits. Regardless, because we know who we are and what we need better than anyone outside of us knows, we are valid and our identity, expression, and preferences are valid. We do not need a scientific, spiritual, or psychological justification to be LGBTQIA+. We do not need societal validation to BE valid. We are inherently just as valid as all others, because no one reality gets to decide what IS and IS NOT truth. It is ALL realities that come together to create the balance of creation and truth in the universe, including those which challenge 2000 years of invented and conditioned imperialist “normalcy”.

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Art is Necessary

The other day I was talking to a vocal student about Da Capo arias from the Baroque. I once had them explained to me as “One emotion or sentiment is expressed, then a major mood shift, then back to the original”. It works, it gets the point across. It’s a reduction of the form itself, but certainly get’s students to understand the performance aspect of those pieces.

As I was discussing it with my student I got a little carried away and it sent me on a thought tangent. I mentioned how everything in humanity evolves together–music, architecture, technology, even human thoughts and emotional processing–because the human mind collectively evolves together the more and more we come in contact with one another.
So, for example, now that we have the internet, intellectuals gain vocabulary and ideas from one another within hours of their thoughts having been thought and shared. Everyone who reads their words and allows them to expand their knowledge will evolve to a new level of understanding and have new words to express something more specifically than it was expressed before. Before we had the quick and constant communication of the internet, there were certainly intellectuals. However, the further we go back in history the harder it was for their words to have been read by the majority of the population. Its not that individuals with their own thoughts didn’t have brilliant ideas and amazing words for to express those thoughts, but not everyone was reading those words, or hearing them, let alone thinking critically about them. Our thought is evolving exponentially faster because of the potential for shared information on the internet–even false information. Those of us willing to read, to access, to critically think and consider, we are growing and learning daily from the collective hive mind of the internet.

As for emotions, I mentioned to my student that our expression and our understanding of complex processes like grief or heartbreak were fully felt throughout the history of time, and often written about, painted or otherwise expressed through artistic means–but those expressions were not always shared or spread as quickly as they are now.
Van Gogh, for example, was a brilliant painter with the ability to use color so that it depicted emotion and feeling. He painted how he felt, not necessarily how reality would see something, but how he personally felt it. Still, it took his tragic and lonesome death for his artwork to be appreciated.
Similarly, Gaius Valerius Catullus (84-54 BCE) wrote words which were beautifully expressive of the process of love and heartbreak. Those words were written before the common era and waited until 1982 to meet their musical match in Dominic Argento’s composition I Hate and I Love. I don’t think any other genre or time period could have expressed the intensity of those words, their imagery, their pain, quite the same as Argento’s did. It took 2,000 years for them to be communicated in a genre beyond written words. It took 2,000 years for that expression of emotion to meet another and become the emotional genius that is I Hate and I Love.

Historically, there were literally less words in the human vocabulary, less specific and universal understanding of those words, less techniques of uninhibited artistic expression with which to convey those words. Even the most expressive works based on human thought or emotion did not travel too far outside their origin as quickly as things have the potential to now.

Music grew, in depth and understanding, from the simplistic understanding of emotion through da capo arias, and by the romantic era you have through-composed arias which literally change feeling from phrase to phrase, moment to moment, bar to bar, note to note–all as a result of the developments that came before it being reinterpreted and pushed further. This is a sign of the human capacity for emotional expression growing! To me, changing mood every other phrase is much more accurate an expression of the process of going through intense emotions like grief. It’s more cognitive of the individual thoughts that lead us through the emotional processing.

Not to say that before then humans didn’t have the emotions or didn’t feel as deeply, but our understanding was limited, and those with understanding didn’t have their expression shared as easily or readily as now. Without the words, or the composition/technical development, or the social/political FREEDOM to express, or the communication for that expression to be widely heard, or the cognition to hear the thoughts that are triggered by our feelings, or the psychology to understand thoughts as thoughts and not as messages from a god–how could some minds develop beyond the necessities of survival and forced beliefs, beyond political and religious censorship?

Words further musical expression. Musical expression furthers written and spoken expression. Art influences art. Art in different mediums makes understanding and emotional growth more accessible. Emotional and intellectual evolution is fueled by artistic expression of the human condition. Art is necessary for humanity to grow.

Art is NECESSARY for our intellectual and emotional evolution as individuals and as a collective existence. It is necessary to our self discovery as humans. It challenges humanity to look at itself in a way that politics and religion fail to do on their own.

Art is necessary. So are other things, like communication, technology, freedom of expression and thought. But art…. all art… is necessary.

Ending the Debate on Abortion Rights

Pro choice vs. Pro life is not a political debate, and we need to stop allowing it to be. It’s an ethical debate, which does not have a place in politics–at least not with situations as specific as abortion.

Let’s go through the reasoning, because as much as we think of this as a complex debate topic, it isn’t in the context of our laws. It IS a complex ethical debate, but in regards to legal right, there is no debate here.

Allow me to elaborate…

If you’re “pro-life” because of religion, that’s cool. But also, your religion is yours and not mine or anyone else’s, so my choice is still mine and your religion does not get to make laws that take that choice away from me. Separation of church and state. That’s it. That’s where your God arguments end. You do not get to put through legislation based on individual beliefs that counter our collective laws and shared reality. We can talk ethics and morals all day, but as far as law goes—you’re done when you bring up god and religion. It has zero place in politics. Done.

Take God out of it and its still super easy. You say its a life and to abort is to take a life? It’s killing someone. Let’s completely skip the debate on when life begins for a fetus. Whether it is at the time of conception, the moment of birth, or anywhere in between is completely irrelevant to the logistics of legality. Again, this is a debate of ethics, which could go on forever. However, one thing makes all other arguments irrelevant–body autonomy.

Body autonomy laws protect us and are already in place in the medical field. I can refuse a dying person my organs because of body autonomy. It may not be easy to watch them die, but I have a choice to say, “No, you cannot use my body or my body parts to sustain your own life.” If my own mother needed a piece of my liver, I have a the choice to say no and live with the consequences of that choice–even if the consequence is the death of my own mother. It is legal for me to refuse. The ethical and moral dilemma of whether or not I could sacrifice a piece of my liver to help my mother live is entirely my own, but legally I am in no way obligated to give her a piece of my liver.

Same principal applies to the medical procedure and choice of abortion. If a fetus cannot survive outside of my uterus and I decide not to allow it to live there– it doesn’t matter whether or not it is a life. It’s still my body and I get to decide who uses parts of it for their own survival. Just like the person who will die without my liver, I have the right to refuse another being the use of my body for their own sustenance and survival if I so choose. Think me a horrid person if you will–I still have the legal right to my own body. A fetus will not live outside of a uterus. It will die. A person needing an organ transplant cannot live without a new organ. They will die. I am not required to give them my organ, even if it is my fault they need an organ. I am not required to give an undeveloped baby my womb for the same reason. Body autonomy.

The reason for becoming pregnant is irrelevant. My body, my choice. It doesn’t matter whether I was raped or just have a really promiscuous sex life and am irresponsibly about protection. Your personal opinions of the reason behind someone getting an abortion, those reasons are not relevant to the debate of legality. Not relevant at all.

Body autonomy is not a privilege of the sexually responsible. It is a natural right of all body owners. I get to decide who touches me, and who uses my body for their own survival.

It’s not a hard debate. Its just difficult ethics and morals–which you don’t get to decide for any other human on the planet but yourself–not even your own children. So you cannot, should not, and will not take away someone’s legal right to their own body because you disagree with their lifestyle, morals, or ethics. That’s manipulative. That’s narcissistic. That’s abusive. When it’s being done on as large a scale as an entire society, it is oppressive.

Also, everyone needs to stop assuming people who get abortions don’t understand the gravity of their decision. Estrogen, a side effect of owning a uterus and ovaries, makes us uterus owners very deep feeling, very self aware, and very empathetic. We understand the gravity of choice. Stop shaming people who already understand the gravity of their life decisions. The only different between the hurt they cause and the hurt you cause is that they have to acknowledge it and you write yours off with your ignorance and privilege. You’re not pro life. You’re not fooling anyone. Get off your fucking high horse and come back down to earth. Your morals don’t make you any better than anyone else. Not even a little bit.

Nobody ever said getting an abortion was an easy choice, but it is now and should forever remain a choice for the uterus owner which takes away the biological inequality of responsibility for the consequences of sex.

This is not a debate of legality. It is a debate of morals and ethics that has been mixed and confused into our laws and politics. When you take the emotions of individual perspective out of it, pro-choice is the only legal reality.

Denying Science is an Abuse of Power

I heard a politician say something that was very important to discuss. When approached by a reporter about the science of climate change, this politician said, “I believe that coal is a necessary power source and does not hurt or pollute the earth.”

He started the sentence with “I believe”. Generally when people do this it is because they know what they are saying is not a shared belief with the person they are speaking to, or the general populace. They say “I believe” so as to not push their beliefs on others, so as not to start a fight but simply to express their beliefs. Its a polite thing, really.

I hung out with a lot of LDS believers when I was in high school. One family in particular always said, “We believe” which was a super nice way to hear about their beliefs. It didn’t feel like they were saying their beliefs were unavoidable fact for everyone, it was like they were just offering their beliefs to the conversation as fact for themselves, and giving the listener a choice to believe or not.

In debates where people are simply speaking on personal morals, ethics, and values, this is a fine strategy that allows for the ego of the listener not to feel defensive or attacked or trapped and so it allows the conversation to continue in a less confrontational way–which is always more productive to understanding and allowing diversity between friends.

However, when the person saying “I believe” has power over the lives of the people/person he says it to, when that person represents a diverse multitude of people, when that person is employed to write legislation that has a real world impact–using personal beliefs to write or influence that legislation is not acceptable. That is a severe abuse of power. That person is saying, “I believe this, and even though I don’t want to hear what you have to say or get you angry or make an argument out of it, I’m going to impose those beliefs on you and make it seem like you have a choice, but you don’t.”

So in the case of this politician, he is using his personal beliefs about coal and pollution, which contradict science, to make decisions that affect our entire planet.

The importance of separation of church and state, in our modern world, is not necessarily the separation of organized religion and organized politics. Spirituality is not strictly about God or religion. It is a separation between the beliefs we hold as individuals (church) and the beliefs we know as a collective species through shared observation or scientific conclusions (state). I like to refer to these things as Individual reality and Shared reality. The truth is that we all hold individual opinions and beliefs, and we need to stop thinking those individual beliefs are only held by those following an organized religion and those collective opinions are right to be reflected in our government.

Our individual reality is the reality we exist within as individuals living our own lives. This reality is lived, hopefully, from your singular perspective, understanding, and belief. It is dogmatic in nature, even if you have cleansed yourself of societal dogma, because it is a construct in your own mind. It is the routine of your thoughts, the motivator behind your life decisions, the roots of your expression of Self. It is based in a series of personal, subconscious beliefs held by the individual which affect the way that person experiences the collective or shared reality. Individual reality is your spirituality, your morals, your values, your beliefs about yourself in the world, other people and the way the nature of the world functions. These beliefs can come from anywhere. They can come from fear, experiences, upbringing, nature, manipulation, society, personal exploration, etc. But they are not always shared or acknowledged by the whole of existence. Individual reality is abstract. It can be understood from the outside, it can be empathized with, but it cannot be experienced by anyone except the individual to which that reality belongs.

Shared reality is the reality we all collectively experience. It is our physical world, the laws of that physical world. Science is the study of our shared reality. Science is an undeniable fact for us all. We cannot deny that the sun rises, that things fall when you drop them, that people’s physical bodies die, etc. Some individuals may deny pieces of it, but the evidence is tangible. You can see it, measure it, and know it to be true. We all can, and not based just on a feeling.

While Individual and Shared reality affect each other, and are certainly interconnected, they are separate entities, separate ideas and should be seen and acknowledged as such.

Going back to the original point, anyone using their personal beliefs to limit the freedoms of our shared reality is abusing their power. My father did it to me growing up. Many parents do it to their children in our society, because our society does it to us and people gain the habits and beliefs of the society in which they exist implicitly if they aren’t careful. My father would impose his personal beliefs on me. His beliefs were based in his own experiences, which were scary but not mine. I did not have the choice or option to disagree and so his individual reality became mine, except while he was very comfortable in that reality, I hate myself and everything I am in his reality because of how he believes. This is called narcissist abuse–and our politicians have been doing it to us for thousands of years.

This politician, who used his personal beliefs on coal to override the collective reality of science and fact, he is abusing his power. He is bringing his personal beliefs, his personal dogma, his personal reality into consideration when making laws that affect the whole, collective reality. He is doing this, not based on facts or things he even dares to say out loud, but based on his personal dogmatic views which are clearly influenced by his own agenda. This happens all the time, actually. It’s manipulation. It’s abuse of power. It’s narcissist abuse, actually. It’s costing people their well-being and lives. It will eventually cost us all our lives and the planet we live on.

Your personal reality is valid–for you. But you do not get to use it to deny the shared reality and impose your personal beliefs on others. Using personal beliefs to deny science and continue to harm the planet is an abuse of power, and a clear violation of our constitution.