Mathew Shepard died on October 12th, 1998 at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado – six days after a homophobic attack that took place on October 6th, 1998 – and left to die at Laramie, with heavy brain injuries in Wyoming, U.S.A. His injuries were so severe that the gentleman who discovered Sheppard mistook him for a Scarecrow at first glance.
No one should ever suffer at the hands of another human being in such a horrific way, despite anyone’s own personal beliefs. His tragic murder serves to remind us of the importance of tolerance, acceptance and equality for everyone.
The event shook America and the world.
Fred Phelps showing his hatred towards the LGBTcommunity at Mathew’s funeral.
Sadly, some Christian groups thought it was appropriate to protest at the funeral of Shepard. Why some groups think that this is normal behaviour for Christians is beyond most people. All these protests did was show the world the importance of fighting against anti LGBT sentiment.
His murder brought international coverage and led to hate crime laws in many countries. On October 28th, 2009, President Obama signed legislation into U.S law. The act is called, Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (commonly known as the “Matthew Shepard Act” or “Shepard/Byrd Act” for short).
In 2010, a similar law was granted by the UK parliament which now protects many minorities – although campaigns are still running to include the addition of hate crimes against women.
Mathew Shepard’s parents have long campaigned for LGBT rights in order to honour their son’s life and aspirations. They set up the foundation to teach parents whose children who may be questioning their sexuality, to love and accept them for who they are. Something we all need to aspire to.
@JoschKjK talks about a remarkable service that took place in Germany on Human rights day, probably paving the way for more exceptance in the Christian Church for gender and sexual diversity.
On Saturday 10th December it was International Human Rights Day, which we remember the ideals stated in the 1948 UN Declaration, Article 1:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Of course, this includes LGBTQI+ human beings and any other human for that matter, regardless of their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, belief, expression, or any other human element.
However, we are now used to hearing some religious speeches and facts which do not agree with the Human Rights Declaration: some of them even Christian.
Since the new millennium, LGBTQI rights have been recognised more and more,including constitutional States where religion and law are separate entities. Today more than 23 countries have legalised Same-Sex Marriage, which is also a Human Right, according to Article 16: Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.
In the spirit of the Human Rights International Day, a Christian service was given in the evangelic church of the city Halle an der Saale in Germany, led by the priestess Carola Ritter and her team, part of the Middle-Germany Evangelic Women and Germany Evangelic Church: Hier ist nicht Mann noch Frau meaning: here is one neither male nor female.
Service included some chants with organ and guitar, and a retrospection opened by speaking about Human Rights International Day celebration and equal treatment no matter people’s sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, given that even in today’s climate there is discrimination and life threatening situations for LGBTQI people all over the world.
Even in the city of Halle itself there has been an attack against the Gay and Lesbian Meetings Centre. Four Paschal candles were enkindled in memory of the victims in Orlando (USA), Uganda, Turkey, Halle and around the world. Victims of anti lgbtqia hatred and prejudices.
Central lecture (Galatians 3:26-28) was the argument on which the priestess is based, to support equality of LGBTQI people from a Christian perspective:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And their exegesis went about Christian duties of acceptance and respect of all the people, no matter of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity; as well as acceptance of all the given forms of love: this was really amazing, because it links directly with our #LoveIsLove idea. Also the litany of intercession has included pleadings in favour of LGBTQI people and the Christian Community in the sense of becoming wiser every time, since no one is supposed to judge anyone, according to Jesus word.
Finally, the vicaress has also referred to Ellen De Generes receiving the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom on November to commemorate the work she has done regarding the LGBTI rights throughout her career.
This singular service is a very huge gesture by the German Christian Church, where Lutheran Reform began, since in many countries, Germany itself for example, Christian political parties still reject or block any legislation activities in parliaments which intend to recognise the human right of marriage for LGBTI people.
Have you ever been though traumatic event? I have, several in fact. Initially I was offered traditional counselling for several months. Rather than explore the details of the events, the article below aims to educate others with some of the things I learnt along the way to recovery.
Traditional counselling as I understood it, was a process of me just talking about what came to mind about the event and how it has impacted on my life since. The counsellor asked few questions, mostly just allowing me to talk about what was on my mind during the session. Sometimes the counsellor asked open-ended questions about how to repair the damage, or things like “where to from here?”. They would ask questions that would make me think about how I was going to get my life back to relative normal (pre-event), or as close to it as possible. While this method is good for what is on the surface, or conscious part of my mind, it still left a lot buried deep in the subconscious mind.
One day, several years later, something still buried in my subconscious was bought back to the surface by what is known as a “Trigger”. This is an action or event that causes a physical and or physiological reaction. In effect, I was bought back in time to the original event, with all the original feelings of the trauma that I had been though before several years earlier. It was like a “Groundhog Day effect”, as I see it. To all intents and purposes, I was in the same state as the day of the event, back at square one.
While this trigger event had happened and I was feeling like I had lapsed back to the traumatic events, I was also following my path of transition (which I will discuss later). However, much to my delight, I discovered the poet within me. At last I had found a safe way to assess my subconscious and let out those ingrained feelings that had been locked away. Using verbal images to relate what I was experiencing and what was running through my mind, what I had felt then and now.
As my poetry skills developed, I started using a wider variety of writing styles, different rhyming patterns. Some poems didn’t rhyme, others only line 1 and 3 rhymed, or line 2 and 4. What styles work for you is up to you. My counsellor became interested in my poetry and from time to time, I would email some of them to her. Some of my poems are published in articles, social media and other websites, for other people to learn more about from what.
Poem: The Flower
Growing up in a family tree
Some finding the atmosphere happy, thers wanting to go bush
A wild rose has a sweet scent and many thorns
hybrid plants are a mix
Aesthetically pleasing but incomplete with missing scent or other features
Could the same be true of other living creatures?
I am a flower in a way
Coming into bloom
As my body continues its path of change
Bits of me rearranged, Am I a Rose?
Perhaps a Poppy when in red
on ANZAC Day
Honouring those who gave their all for the freedom we have today
So, can I be myself, Loving all in full bloom
or am I to be plucked and put in a vase on a shelf?
Cast aside, pruned and sent to a compost heap
While others dress alike as sheep
In good time you too shall bloom,
in between times,
I hope this poem lifts you up high into the sky,
you are already a soaring butterfly
At last I was beginning to feel better as I continued my path, the poems in effect, disposing some of my baggage. The poet within then started writing about pleasant experiences and observations, a wider variety of subjects, from simple things like the beauty of a sunrise, to potential futures in parallel universes, a model of my ideal world, and how to improve the world in which I physically live.
I found the 3rd person narrative method to be useful, looking at myself as if I was looking from the outside inwards, rather than trying to look from the centre of what I had experienced, outwards though the clutter of triggers, painful emotions and memories. With this technique, I have disarmed most of the triggers, although I know some of them will be there in the background for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, some of them are still in the foreground too, and will more than likely be a part of me for the rest of my life.
Transitioning has also created a few triggers. Being gender-fluid, my gender state changes at random intervals, hours, days, weeks, months and so on. The most common of these triggers is being addressed by my original birth-name and birth-assigned pronouns, which is a Transphobic and Dysphoric trigger; which is often described by Transgender people as “dead naming”.
After test driving many new identifying names, I legally changed my name and gender a few months ago. Test driving a name can be likened to method acting, where you make a number of people you feel safe with, aware of the new name you have chosen for yourself and identify with, and ask them to use it during the test period, to gauge how it feels to be addressed as you identify. This way you hopefully find a “best fit” name that you and those who you value in your life can address you as. I went through several test names over a number of years before formalising my name as it is today. In an ideal world, I would have gotten rid of my original birth-name completely, instead my birth-name is now a middle name and is only to be used to refer to my qualifications when applying for work, paid and voluntary, saving many trees and a lot in reprinting fees. Anyone trying to use my original name for any other purpose is likely to be given either a gentle reminder of “My name is Vicki and I am a she”; or sometimes slightly stronger words if they are winding me up; other people I simply ignore until they address me correctly.
Depending on the nature of the event that has you in counselling, a new name is appropriate way of leaving the unpleasant parts of your past behind you. Sadly, the catch is, those who have known you the longest will find it hardest to adapt to your new name; where as new contacts will only know you by your new name that you identify as. Some people move city for that reason after completing their transition, to leave behind their birth-assigned lives and avoid the dead naming.
Without doubt people who fall within the rainbow family often apear to seach for some spiritual reasoning or explanation that fully justifies the fact that they are not ‘freaks’. Greater percentage of the lgbt community, mostly youths, seem unhappy or unsatisfied in being themselves , not only because of the failed acceptance from their families and friends, also by the perceived rejection from the Divine, as preached for centuries by their religious leaders. In all religions that believes in Abraham as their father by faith have one thing in common, the condemnation of homosexuality, all because of the misconception of the five books of Moses.
I cannot fully convince the general public that one can be both religious and gay, but I would point out the fact that the Divine isn’t homophobic and that the ideology of heterosexual union as the sole form of union was manmade.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostril the breath of life, and man became a living soul”, Gen 2:7
“And the lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helpmate for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof”, Gen 7:18, 21
It is important to note that the above passages had the Divine fully involved; Gen 7:18, Adam was alone, he needed a helpmate, a companion and a friend, not a wife, the Divine did not put marriage in his plan but a platonic relationship, that same one that can exist between flat mates. Many would argue that Gen 1:28, Gen 2:24 does institute marriage;
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth …” Gen 1:28
The whole Bible made us understand that God is love, and if truly he is, then love should have been in him command to the heterosexual union but instead he uses words like, fruitful, multiply and replenish, it is simple, the primary duty of the heterosexual union is child bearing not to be homophobic. The bible leads us understand that companion and love can be found in opposite-sex relationships as in the case of Adam and Eve, Mary and Joseph as well as same-sex relationship as in the case of Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, and Jesus and the beloved apostle John.
It baffles me that no Christian seems to talk about 2 Samuel 1:26; where David professed that his love for Jonathan was more than that for a woman but however many Christian scholars argue that their Love was a “brotherly-love”, but this passage points otherwise;
“And it came to pass, when he made an end of speaking unto Saul that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the rope that was upon him, and gave it to David and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow and to his girdle”. 1 Sam 18:1-4
Now imagine that David was replaced Martha, and on their first meeting Jonathan gave her his armor and garment (an important symbol of his power and status as a prince) theologians all over would be talking about this story as the greatest love story ever and the bases for lot of Hollywood movies but the relationship was between two men, and our bias nature sets in and we see it as just deep friendship regardless of the biblical evidence. The books of Samuel should be regarded as the greatest record of same love and theologians should accept Jonathan and David’s relationship for what it is.
Saul’s words to Jonathan was even more explicit if theologian were to read them without perjury;
“You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen (David) the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse live upon the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established”, 1 Sam 20:30-31
The greatest perceived homophobic part of the bible Lev 18:22 and Lev 20:13 has been used over time to push homophobia in churches, but before jumping to conclusion we need to fully understand why those verses had to be included, hence the importance to treat them both contextually and historically; we need to grasp the concept of Lev 18: 1-3, God instructed the children of Israel not to behave neither like the Egyptian nor the Canaanite in whose land they dwell, Historians hold it that these nations hold fertility rite that were of sexual rituals, these rituals were thought to bring blessings from the god or goddess. During the ritual the whole families including, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts would have sex to derive favor from these gods or goddess. Also included were sex with temple prostitutes, in fact every form of sexual intercourse. This was what was going on in Egypt and Canaan at the time Levitical rules were announced. Chapter 20 is more specific beginning with an injunction against the pagan practices associated with a god named Molech.
“And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people because he hath given of his seed unto Molech and kill him no.” Lev 20:3
Both Lev 20 and Lev 18 included a long list of sexual practices common in the cultic rituals of both the Egyptians and Canaanites. However, neither spoke to the question of whether two people of the same sex can live in a loving relationship with the Divine’s blessing. Historically our model of loving and long-term homosexual relationships did not meaningfully exist in the Canaanite culture. Offspring was essential to survival in the primitive agricultural economy and the rigid distinction between men’s work and that of women. It is therefore not reasonable to believe that the author of Leviticus intended to prohibit a form of homosexual relationship that wasn’t in existence at that time. But some might argue that we take the words in Leviticus as they are i.e. out of context, but they seem to forget that their Theologians and Highest power of authority, the Pope per se, inform individuals that the bible is not black and white.
Another passage of Scripture sometimes used against gay people is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which reads as follows in the King James Version:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
In this passage there are two key phrases relevance. First, the reference to “effeminate” persons, which is often viewed as a reference to nelly gay men. In truth, however, the Greek word translated “effeminate” in verse 9 is quite broad. The word is malakoi, and it literally means “soft.” So Paul is possibly saying that “soft people” will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since we know Paul was not talking about the flamers, we have to ask what he meant. This common Greek word had different connotations depending on the context in which it was used. In terms of morality, it generally referred to something like laziness, degeneracy, decadence, or lack of courage. The connotation was of being “soft like a woman” or like the delicate expensive fabrics worn by rich men. In the patriarchal culture of the time, women were thought to be weaker than men, more fearful, more vulnerable, and vainer. Thus, men who ate too much, liked expensive things, were lazy, or liked to dress well were considered “soft like a woman.” Although this type of misogynistic thinking is intolerable in our modern society, it was common in ancient times and explains why the King James Version translated malakoi as “effeminate.” In recent years, however, some have suggested that, in the context in which it appears in 1 Corinthians 6, malakoi may refer specifically to male prostitutes, who would have served as the receptive partner (i.e., soft, “woman-like”) in sexual intercourse. This translation is reflected in two of the most widely used modern English translations of the Bible, the New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version. Since malakoi was used to refer to men who exhibited the negative traits associated with women in first- century culture, it’s not hard to see how the term might also be used to refer to male prostitutes. They would be viewed as sexually indulgent (a trait associated with women) and as the ones who played a receptive role in intercourse (again, associated with women). One translation technique is to look at the root words alone. Arsenokoitai is a combination of two existing words, one meaning “bed” and referring to sex, and another meaning “male.” Thus, some scholars surmise the term has something to do with male sexual expression — perhaps exclusive male sexual expression, since no woman is mentioned.
Unfortunately, this method of translation often leads people astray. For example, imagine a future translator coming across the word “lady-killer” two thousand years from now and wanting to know what it means. It’s clear the phrase is made from two words, lady and killer. So, it must mean a woman who kills, right? Or is it a person who kills ladies? The difficulty in obtaining a good translation is clear — particularly when we know lady-killer was a term used in the 1970s to refer to men whom women supposedly found irresistible. Man nature is filled with flaws as we are meant to understand through the bible, hence to relevance to ask ourselves two important questions;
How many times did Jesus (the Divine) talk about sexual offences?
How often did he define the Divine’s wishes?
When we have answered the above questions, then we would realise that if neither Christ nor his eleven apostle did not condemn homosexuality, it is not in any ones position to do so. To individuals who identify themselves as GAY, if Christ did not in his three decades on earth condemn you, then surely you can follow him, simply put, you can fully identify yourselves as Christians if you wish.