Sunday, September 11, 2016

I'm Moving To Another Blog

I hate to do this to people, but I can't stand the word "atheist" being in the address of my blog any more. My focus, when I started this blog, was that it was okay to not be evangelical, like my family and school wanted and thought I was.
But now I have more important things to focus on. I discovered, only a few months after starting this blog a few years ago, that I wasn't straight. (My body really fooled me with that one--I was twenty-three!) So now the focus of my life is, "It is okay to not be straight." And not only okay--it is good, just like being straight is good! 
And I now know from experience that sexuality is much harder to accept in oneself than doubts or non-belief. Knowing that you are okay, and feeling okay with yourself, are two very different things.
Atheists are not my target audience anymore. I don't care what one believes or doesn't, for the most part, as long as they are LGBT affirming, or at least don't stand in the way of our rights or protections.
I don't care about labels in regard to beliefs anymore, and the word "atheist" in the address feels so constraining to me. So I got a new blog called This is what I have to do, to protect my creativity. I may repost some of my favorites from this blog, but I will leave this blog up also, so that anyone can see my old posts if they like (there are almost 200 blog posts on this one, so reposting every one would not be practical).
I don't know what I am, exactly, in regard to belief, what my label is. But I don't care anymore. Sexuality is a much bigger deal, at least in my life, and I'm sure for many others too. The word "atheist" in the address bothered me and restrained me, so I'm doing what I have to do.
Always protect your creativity. Do whatever you must, to protect your creativity. If something is constraining you, even if you think it shouldn't, you don't have to go along with it.
I don't know if this will work out in the long run, but in the meantime, I feel so much better. I feel more free now to write about LGBT issues, getting rid of stuff, and caring for disabled chickens; or anything else that strikes my fancy. This blog has served me very well; I have had such a good time with it! But I'm also glad to move on. Here is the link again, if you wish to follow me to my new blog:
Thank you.

Monday, July 18, 2016

My Love Has No Buts: The Absolute Best Case For An Affirming God

Though I try to avoid discussing LGBTQ issues, almost all the time, I recently found myself in such a discussion, in the comment section on a video of a trans man's transition. And surprisingly, this little argument did not upset me, because I realized something while discussing this--and told the other person as much.
(Though first, I shut another transphobe up by telling him that it would be all right, that he would someday be able to come out and transition, and that in the meantime, I could be his friend if he needed one. Haven't heard from him since. Maybe he really DID protest too much, as I suspected! I certainly hope she is all right.)
I think my great discovery will become apparent in this exchange:

Transphobe: "Because we should all love and support a mental illness"

Me:  "Even if you think that, they are harming no one, and Leelah Alcorn killed herself because her parents tried to "treat" her against her will. She's not the only one, either, by far. It's either supporting a "mental illness" or dead trans kids. And I guess we all know what you would rather have.
With this attitude, you will kill your child, if it is trans. I'm not joking or exaggerating--no one intends to kill their kids by driving them to suicide. But it happens, and far too often. And it CAN happen to you and your kids."

 Him: "I'm saying that we shouldn't encourage people to be trans. We should try to help them be normal, but we should never actively praise and love a trans person. I would still love my child if he was trans, but I would much rather he be normal"

 One particular phrase stuck out to me here: "We should never actively praise and love a trans person."
I think that was a Freudian slip, right there! How many times have Christians (I don't know if he is one, though he unfortunately sounds like one) said that Jesus was all about "actively loving" people (even if they don't use those exact words)?
Jesus went out of his way to love people, especially those judged sinful by society.
(And remember, also, that he only told people to stop sinning literally two times--once when he saved a woman from the consequences of her sin--death--and another time when he had healed a man of chronic illness. What have anti-gay Christians ever done for LGBTQ people, especially of that magnitude? Jesus earned that right; he didn't just sit on his butt and judge! He even told a young man that his sins were forgiven, before the man had said anything at all about repenting. He also said it was faith that saved/healed people, not repentance. People make repentance an idol.)
The man I was arguing with, though, said that we shouldn't "actively love" someone! I still can't believe he said that. He said that we shouldn't go out of our way to love someone. I don't think he meant to--but subconsciously, I think that's what he really meant. At the very least, he is very much hobbled in his efforts to love a trans person, because of his beliefs. And that's why I don't think his beliefs true at all.

Me: "We should never actively praise and love a trans person." I can't believe you just said that! You literally said we shouldn't love a trans person--then you want me to believe that you will love your kid if they are trans?...Have you ever listened to a trans person's story? If so--then why are you hurting people like this?
And most of all--why wouldn't you just be grateful that your child was still alive? That's what I would be! Why wouldn't you?"

Him: "I will love them, buy I would never want or like them to be trans. We should treat it as any other mental illness, which it is. You can still love them, but you should never praise people who have it"

Me:  "BULLSHIT. They are being themselves, and harming no one. And it's often down to either being themselves, or killing themselves. So YES, I will praise the shit out of them! And your trans kid will turn to someone like me for help, and not you--because your love comes with caveats, and mine does not."

I had gotten upset at first, but now I wasn't.
And I will praise the shit out of them! :) I realized that I am at an advantage here. I can simply say to a trans person, "I love you," while he can't. He has to say, "I love you, but..." I win! =D
 And frankly, I think that is the best case for an affirming God I've ever heard of. Not having to say, "I love you, but..." My love has no buts.
I don't have unconditional love, with conditions (caveats about behavior/identity/love are conditions). I don't have to hurt people, in order to love them. Especially when they are harming no one, and my potential objection would be to their very identity, their very self--or their love.
I remember wishing, many years ago, that I could be LGBT affirming as a Christian. And now I can, though my relationship with God and the concept of God is a bit more complicated now ("Atheist Journeys" is an old name, so you can see where I've been in my personal journey, and I now feel stuck between the affirming Christian and atheist worlds). I can be affirming. I can just love people, without hurting them (if they are not hurting others, which is the case for most LGBTQ people). I don't have to contribute to a culture that often drives people, especially teens and kids, to suicide.
And I can praise the shit out of them, if the occasion calls for it. :)        
And that is just one of the many great gifts that comes from losing a very conservative faith.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Too Much Hetero--Needs More Gay

I hate most romantic stories in tv shows and movies. Almost all of them are filler, something the writers have to resort to when they run out of ideas that are actually good (or something they do when they're too lazy to think of something better). When it's done well, romance can be an interesting part of the story. But at least nine times out of ten, it is not. My dad calls it "gratuitous romance." And I like romance, but only on the rare occasions where it's well done, and not the whole point of the show.
I resent the writers trying to manipulate me into rooting for Ross and Rachel (Friends), Eric and Donna (That 70s Show), Jim and Pam (The Office), Ron and Hermione (Harry Potter), Leonard and Penny (The Big Bang Theory), Rachel and Finn (Glee). And these are just a few examples, off the top of my head, of couples I'm supposed to root for, when I can't stand either of them (except Ron and Hermione; they're not so bad--but I hate them together).
Most fictional couples have absolutely no compatibility. Either the book or movie  simply makes them get together, or the actors do not go well together. Even Ron and Hermione feel nothing but jealousy and insecurity towards each other, not actually liking each other. They're not in love; they have fragile egos. I am halfway through the sixth book in the seven-book series, and I get the sense that they don't actually want each other; they just don't want anyone else to have each other. And there is no foreshadowing for Harry and Ginny Weasley, except that...he likes her perfume. Yeah, I'm sure that's plenty to go on! We don't even see him thinking about her, except as a Quidditch player. At least with Cho Chang, he thought about her and had a crush on her.
But the best I could possibly say about most of these couples (other the the Harry Potter characters) is, "They deserve each other," and sometimes I can't even say that, because the man is a jerk and the woman is just bland. Except in the case of Rachel and Finn (Glee), in which case, he is just bland and she is spoiled and selfish.
And have you noticed one thing that all of these different couples have in common?
That's right, everyone--they're all white.

But there's another reason I can't stand any of them. None of them are matching.
It's refreshing to see couples that are matching--boys with boys and girls with girls. Anything else just looks weird. (I have never seen any seen any non-binary characters in tv or movies, though I'm sure a handful exist. I'm not so sure if two "enbies" or N.B.'s, even exist as a couple in western media. I imagine it would neat to see that, but sadly I don't know from experience.)
I like straight people, but sometimes, I just look at a couple of them, and think, "That is so weird! They don't even match!"
Now, I'm bi, so I may not be in a matching couple someday. But that doesn't mean I want to look at other non-matching couples. Matching couples are more aesthetically pleasing.
And no, I'm not trying to make a point about people who are "okay" with us being gay (meaning they don't want to stone us to death, arrest us, or try to change us against our wills), as long as we hide our love and who we really are--when they don't have to. (This point is just a happy byproduct of what I'm talking about here.)
My main point is, that there is way too much hetero-saturation in media. I get sick of romance in general, especially straight romance. Almost all of the time, even the parties in the romance are not bisexual at all--not even one partner. It's not even mentioned. And ironically, the fictional gay couples that I have seen have seemed to actually love or even just really like each other, though a few times it has seemed as if they only liked each other's looks (like in the movie 4th Man Out, on Netflix, in which one man simply likes another man's looks and is therefore infatuated). For the most part, though, gay couples just seem more convincing. Maybe I'm just sick of so much hetero with no inclusion of LGBTQ people at all (except for when we're the butts of jokes).

Even Disney has made us the butts of jokes. A few days ago, I finally got around to watching Disney's Enchanted. It was funny, sometimes, and yet...
 The straight couples get to sing and dance and kiss and live happily ever after--even the background characters that dance with Gizelle while she sings about true love. The one apparently gay biker, who appears for five seconds to smile at the prince...his capacity to love is never even acknowledged, and we never hear from him again. He is nothing but a joke, without even a follow-up "joke" later in which he smiles at a man...and the man smiles back. Even that tiny little thing, would have satisfied me. But no, apparently, they forgot that we have the capacity for real human emotions--true love included.
Of course they didn't mean to snub us--that's not the point. You can be rude and hurtful and non-inclusive, without even meaning to be.

I avoid fictional straight romances, as much as I can. And some people would say that that means that I am being rude and hurtful and exclusionary. As if fictional characters can have their feelings hurt by my actions.
But the fact is that the most popular movies and tv shows, in general, do not feature very many gay characters, much less gay romance. And I as a consumer can seek out what I want to watch, without harming anyone. And it's not exactly easy to constantly see people who almost always are included, when you often are not.
Some people say that tv shows and movies are "catering to 10% of the population," when they include LGBTQ characters. As if that's not literally dozens of millions of people! But they also forget that these shows are not just "catering" to us, but to everyone who loves us--AND accepts us, and affirms who we know ourselves to be, and wants us to be happy. And those people are about 60% of the population, from what I've read. And that is hundreds of millions of people, in America alone.
But I don't just want gay characters and romances. I want good gay characters and romances. I stopped watching Glee in part because, although I enjoyed Kurt's (the gay boy), Santana's (the lesbian girl), and Unique's (the trans girl) coming out stories, I got tired of Kurt and Blaine having their little dramas, and Santana singing love songs to Brittany. Combine that with Rachel and Finn, who both made me gag, and not even the beautiful and hilarious Jane Lynch could keep me watching.
I have found a few great movies and such about LGBTQ people, which I will get into at another time, since I don't think I have the space here. But almost everything, as my new favorite Youtuber, Rantasmo, says, desperately "Needs More Gay."

Friday, July 8, 2016

Almost-Inclusion: Dumbledore Revisited

I call this entry "Dumbledore Revisited" because about ten years ago, when I was 15, I was on a panel of teenagers that my local newspaper printed, called "Truth of Youth," in which we answered questions put forth by our editor or the readers. I was asked what I thought of the then-recent announcement of Professor Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series being gay.
Back then, I was confused about what I thought, or should think, about LGBTQ issues, but desperately wanted to believe that God was not someone who burned people in hell for something that harmed no one and gave people love and happiness. I desperately wanted to be a Christian, too, but I just couldn't see how I could ever read my bible or pray any more. It was not a good time in my life.
I also had conservative relatives who read my entries faithfully, and I was not at all ready for the religious onslaught that would await me if I dared to voice my hopes about God aloud; or my uncertainty that homophobia was right at all; or my own confusion in this matter. I just wanted to figure this out for myself, and not be told what to believe or what was true (according to them). And I wasn't ready to give this issue much thought at all, because it was so emotional to think about--much less to say these things aloud. I didn't want to serve a sexist and homophobic God, who had more rules for women than for men, and who insisted on his own way, even at the expense of others' love and happiness. And most of all, I didn't want to believe God was like that. This issue was all wrapped up in the issue of my own faith, and the crisis I was going through at the time (and still am, sometimes).
I did not know what to do. I was stuck. I thought it was annoying, that Rowling had simply made that announcement without actually putting it in the text. I thought she was just trying to get more attention and therefore sell more books. But I secretly wanted to be gay-affirming. I did not know any gay people at the time (that I know of, of course--and other than my mom's lesbian coworker, who was fired shortly after Mom started working there). It was so foreign to me, the experience of being gay. (My, how times have changed!)
But I liked to read about other people's experiences, which I think saved me from being indoctrinated by my Christian school, even after I started homoschooling (I left that typo in, because it actually seems to make my point even clearer). And it was hard to imagine growing up gay in a conservative or homophobic home. (Boy, was I clueless! Bisexuality must be the most confusing sexuality, because your straight side fools you for so long.)
But I felt compassion for these people, even if I couldn't imagine their struggles and feelings. And I hoped that God would not punish love (or femaleness).
This must be part of why LGBT issues are so personal and dear to me--because in addition to affecting me and those I love, it also reminds me of this struggling, uncertain time in my life. Even just writing about this is more emotional for me than I thought it would be.

What I said back then was, "Well, I don't know who Dumbledore even is, but if he's gay and happy with himself, more power to him! His lifestyle doesn't affect my life, so why should I care what he is?"
It was the shortest answer I had ever given. They wanted us to typically keep our answers around 150 words.
I meant it, too. I thought Rowling was trying to sell more books, and she may have been. But I hated Christians' efforts to change or pester gay people. I wished that they would leave them alone. I wished a lot of things. This was before I discovered the very freeing fact that bible scholars had different theories for how God inspired the bible, and not all of them were literal! My life changed, the day I read that in a very conservative (A-beka) Christian curriculum. I was finally free! I knew that no good god would ever inspire homophobia and sexism, after all.
But this was before I read that interesting little I quietly, secretly disagreed with the bible, and with God, if he inspired it. I couldn't help being born female, after all, and so shouldn't have additional rules, restrictions, and burdens. And the gays were harming no one, so why shouldn't they be allowed to simply live their own lives?

Now I am about halfway through the sixth book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. And the only indication, so far, that I have seen of Dumbledore's sexuality is based on a stereotype. Through magical memory peering, Harry sees a much younger Dumbledore, wearing a "flamboyantly cut" plum velvet suit. Now, I get the appeal, since I own a pair of plum velvet overalls. But I doubt that a straight man would have the courage to wear a suit of such material, though straight wizards may dress like Oscar Wilde all the time.
And though I'm glad that Rowling took a stand in favor of...acknowledging that gay people exist and can be good, I guess?...and I did not appreciate at the time how hard it might be to do so--I can't help but be disappointed. This isn't exactly representation. This isn't exactly having two young wizards or witches cuddling up and holding hands in Hogsmeade (a nearby village to the magic school, which the older students take trips into) on Valentine's Day. This isn't exactly a trans-wizard or trans-witch going to St Mungo's (a magical hospital) for magical gender reassignment. This isn't exactly a student feeling like a witch one day, a wizard the next, and acting or looking accordingly.
Everything about this is so frustrating! I have no idea how much control Rowling really had over her writing, especially when it became successful and was picked up by Scholastic Publishing. But this is not enough!
For goodness' sake, I shouldn't have to be grateful for the scraps of recognition we get, that aren't even in print. I know this was ten years ago, but LGBTQ representation is still woefully lacking--even magical LGBTQ representation!

I cannot believe how my feelings about this have changed. I used to think that people were forcing gay or trans characters into media, in order to win points with certain people. But now I see the controversy whenever any character is even hinted to be LGBTQ.
Now, when there is an LGBTQ character or gay romance or coming out story, I eat that shit up. I specifically seek out entertainment with these storylines. I write about Buzz and Woody as a couple, and Bo and Jessie as a couple, and gay and transgender superheroes. I can't get enough of it.
I get so sick of most straight couples in media, who have practically no chemistry except for being in close proximity to each other, and maybe hating each other (yeah, that's healthy!). And nothing brings out my lesbian side more than straight women in movies and tv whining or talking all about guys. And now that I know I'm not straight, I know how much I'm erased.
And I consume all of the real and fictional coming out and romance stories that I can, because I want to learn as much as I can about this subject. I have only known I was bisexual for about two years now. And I have a feeling that this is a subject that one may never stop learning about. The more I learn, the more I want to learn.
And I want all of the media I consume to have characters like me. I don't want to be left out of love stories, or any stories. I want to be represented, or have people similar to me represented.
And in one of my now-favorite series, there is not one indication save for dressing like a typical wizard--Lockhart in the second book was more stereotypically "gay." (With his flamboyant dress and his flirtations with his hordes of middle-aged female fans, he was probably based on Liberace, in fact--my own theory.)
Not one throwaway line about a man Dumbledore was in love with or something. And his time is running out--I know our ONE single gay character out of hundreds, who is apparently supposed to represent transgender people too, bites it at the end of the book I'm reading.

So I changed my mind--I DO care about the announcement that Dumbledore is gay. And I hate it!
I hate it--because it had to be an announcement. It is almost-inclusion. And almost-inclusion is simply not good enough. It's not even almost good enough.
This is so very frustrating!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

More Restful Sleep, With Simple Hand Placement

I went to what is called a "polarity therapist" a few months ago, for help with coping with the shooting at my school, Umpqua Community College, and losing a beloved kitten about a month before that. I was unfamiliar with what it was, but basically (as I explain it, as an amateur), it's about putting your body in balance with itself.
The left hand has a negative "charge," the right hand a positive "charge." The left hand is associated with calming one's system down, the right with adrenaline and gearing your system up ("fight or flight"). Some people may not believe all this, but she really helped me, so it works for me.
The middle finger, interestingly enough, has a positive charge, the pointer a negative charge. The fingers alternate, with the thumb being neutral. There was so much that she showed me, but since this article is about sleep, I will talk about what has helped me with that.
One trick to calm down your nervous system, whether you're going to sleep or not, is to place your hands, right over left, in the center of your chest, and rest them there. Since the left is negative, and the right positive, the left hand will calm you down, and the right, on top, will let you know that you are protected.
This has been a problem for me, when sleeping, because I start out on my stomach, though I always wake up on my back. But for the past few days, I've been doing this anyway, moving my hands over a bit or stopping when my fingers get numb. Sometimes I have turned over on my back, too, though it is not the most comfortable position for me.
I still have trouble with anxiety, when I first lie in bed (most of the time, it's hard to tell what I'm even anxious about). But at least now, I know that I won't always have anxiety; it will change in a few minutes. I have put off going to sleep for a long time, before, staying up very late, because I was afraid of lying there and being anxious or grieving. I still have problems with the negative emotions, lying in bed, but now at least I know the anxiety will end in a few minutes.
And doing this is soothing. Try it right now. It is soothing to put right hand over left, over the center of your chest--over your thymus, which is one of the most important pieces of your immune system. I think it helps your immune system, to soothe and support your thymus, and give it lots of love.
I have just discovered I could still do this while lying on my stomach a few days ago, and so I don't know the long-term results yet. But this has helped, so far. I do this sometimes when I feel anxious, whether I'm lying in bed or whether I'm awake.
I still stay up a little late, later than I want to theoretically--but for the past few days, I have been more rested than I'm accustomed to being. I have had more restful sleep, even if I don't yet get enough. And I always had the feeling that tiredness contributes to my anxiety, which makes me not want to go to sleep, because I know that I'll just lie there and be anxious--so that the more tired I was, the later I stayed up, ironically. I have a feeling that being more rested will actually make it easier to go to sleep earlier.
In any case, this simple hand placement--right over left, center of chest--has made me feel much better physically and emotionally. And I'm hoping that it will create a cycle of feeling good physically, mentally, and emotionally, which will lead to me feeling better and better.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

How To Respect My Relationship With God

 I wrote an article a few days ago, in which I talked about possibly telling my family to respect my relationship with God, if I must--especially after they find out that I'm bisexual. I was thinking a lot about that entry in the "Bi-Laws," and especially about my ex-friend, Pastor Assclown, and all the other condescending and awful people on the web and in real life.
This site may be called "Atheist Journeys" on its address, but my own journey is a bit more complicated than that, so for the interests of simplification, and being acceptable to my religious family, I refer to my spiritual journey as my relationship with God. I don't think of myself as an atheist anymore, but simply as me. However, I think these guidelines would apply to anyone, atheist or otherwise.
And I don't debate anymore. I am sick of it, especially because most of the people who want to debate, violate many of these guidelines. So these guidelines are in the context of everyday interactions, not debate. I am tired of debate, tired of not being listened to, and tired of inevitably being hurt. In fact, trying to make me debate is another way of disrespecting me and my wishes.

This is kind of a way to vent about the things I've seen and been subjected to over the years, so that's why it's not as happy as some other posts. I also write this mostly for myself, so that I know what I think disrespect looks like--what I will take and not take from others. Hopefully this will also inspire others to think about what they will and won't take.
I don't plan to tell any of these rules to my family, unless I have to. Hopefully, I will not have to. I honestly don't know what to expect from them, much less from each person individually, but I don't want to accidentally convey that I expect them to do these things. But I've got them written down now, so I know what treatment I'm worthy of (the opposite of these things), and I see the warning signs and won't be mistreated.
Here is what I think respect looks like. If you have any other ideas, put them in the comments.

How To Respect My Relationship With God:

1) Don't talk down to me. 
Don't talk to me as if I'm a child in Sunday School, as if I'm a new believer, as if I don't understand Christianity or the bible, or as if I've never read the bible. Saying that you disagree, and why, is one thing, but saying, "No, you're wrong, and here's why," is quite another, and very disrespectful. These are beliefs that I have come to after years of very active, very pious Christianity, after all.

2) Don't try to find something wrong with me. 
Don't ask me if I've ever accepted Christ--as if I simply forgot to pray the sinner's prayer and mean it. Don't ask if I was a Catholic (if you're a Protestant), which is Protestant-speak for "Did you try to earn your way into heaven with works?" Don't try to find something wrong with me or my faith, in any way.

3) Respect my "no."
Don't try to debate me, if I don't want to debate. Don't try to "witness" if I say I don't want to talk about it. Don't try to force a message on me that I don't want to hear. Even if you think that indicates something negative about me--don't do it.

4) Don't make pronouncements about my Christianity/character/relationship with God. 
This should be a no-brainer, but don't claim to know my heart. That is very disrespectful.

5) Don't accuse me. 
Anything starting with "You're just..." or "You just want to..." is probably incredibly disrespectful. Likewise for accusations of idolatry, making God in my own image, etc.

6) Don't make pronouncements about my eternal destination.  
I don't give a crap if you say you think you're warning me. Everyone thinks that they are warning others! If you do this, you won't be in my life. This includes "What are you going to say to your maker on judgment day?" (To which I usually reply, with lots of attitude, "I'll say, 'Thank you very much,' because he will have said, 'Well done!'") 

7) Don't use prayer, or anything else, to be passive-aggressive.
I've never had this said to me, to my recollections, but there is the infamous case of "I'll pray for you" being used as a passive-aggressive insult--either to atheists, or those other Christians who don't agree. But it's not just that. There is also talking about "God's laws," etc. This is much like number one. Don't use Christian or religious rhetoric to hurt others.

8) Don't expect me to believe or listen to you, while you are not willing to listen to or believe me.
If you want me to believe you, when you say you don't hate me, then you get to believe me, when I say I don't hate you. You are too old for the "I know you are, but what am I?" defense.You also get to believe me, when I talk about my own story, or love of God, or anything else. If you don't listen to me, I won't listen to you.

9) Don't use "Christian insults" and think I'm too dumb to notice.
Don't call me "lukewarm." Don't call me a "Cultural Christian." Don't call me a "Cafeteria Christian." Don't ask me if I am anything that you know is considered negative to Christians. Don't ask me if I pick and choose what I want to believe, or if I don't care about God's laws. Don't accuse me of these things.

10) Don't use excuses to do other things on this list. 
I don't care what your excuse is, or how much you love me, or whether you believe you are speaking the truth in love, etc--I'm not taking any of this shit from anyone. End of discussion.

11) And most of all, don't be hurtful. 
I know it's hard to stop and think about your words when you're in the middle of a conversation, but most of what this list boils down to is this: If it would be hurtful for you, then it's probably hurtful for me, too. And, well, don't try to hurt me, for any reason. I shouldn't even be having to say this, to people who try to claim the moral high ground in everything. :) Don't try to hurt me, or others, and don't make excuses for trying to hurt me or doing unintentionally hurtful things (see the last entry). You might say that you would want someone to warn you--but I know that you wouldn't want someone to continue bothering you, if you said no (see number three), even if they believed they were saving you (see number ten).

I'm not sure if someone is capable of treating another with respect, if they do not feel respect for them, especially in religion. I used Christianity, because that's what I'm most familiar with, but anyone is capable of doing these things--even, for some of these things, atheists. But the question of how one feels about my relationship with God or spiritual journey, and how that affects how they treat me, is another matter entirely. All I know is, if anyone in my life (even my family) insists on doing any of these things, for any reason, they're not going to be in my life.

As for anyone else, remember to stay positive, and dwell on good and happy things whenever possible. Lists like this are a necessary part of life, but remember that that doesn't mean that life itself is bad. Vent as much as you need to, and then, when you feel better, try to be as optimistic as you can be. Dwelling on negative things is not good, but sometimes talking about them, to a journal, a therapist, a blog, or simply another human, can be cathartic.
If you have any other suggestions for boundaries, please add them below, so that others can benefit from them. Thank you.

The Bi-Laws: My Thoughts On Coming Out

My mother tells me that the last time she saw my uncle, her brother, he wanted to gossip about an acquaintance who, at 72, "decided to be gay" and had gotten a boyfriend.
"Good for him," she said (and the way she related it, I could tell she really meant it). "If he's happy..."
My uncle walked away.
I love my mama. 

Ever since then, I've been thinking a lot about how our family will react when or if they find out that I am bisexual. I don't want to hide the fact that I like both men and women--that I am, well, blessed, or at least that's how I feel. (Not that straight and gay people aren't blessed or fortunate, but personally, I feel doubly so.)
This is not the whole of me by any means, but I don't want to hide it; I want to be confident and unafraid to be open about it.
If I ever have a chance, I would love to do what I call a "Pied Piper Coming Out." It's named after one of my favorite comic book characters (who was one of the first gay comics characters, and one of the first already-established characters to be "made" gay), and his very casual approach to being open about who he is.
It was in The Flash Volume 2, number 53, all the way back in 1991. Piper was sitting with his friend, the Flash, on a random rooftop, playing with his pipe (literally, not a euphemism). I will paraphrase their conversation here:
The Flash says, "Hey, Hartley, you're a former villain--have you ever met the Joker?...Do you think he might be gay?"
"No, I don't think he's gay, Wally, just psychotic. In fact, I don't think I've ever met a gay villain."
"Not one?" Wally asks.
"Nope. Well, except me, of course...You knew, didn't you?"
 I always loved his approach. He acted like it was no big deal--because it was no big deal.
 I want to do likewise. I did shock my grandfather once when I used the term "husband or wife" to refer to my future spouse, but I can imagine him simply putting it out of his mind. (Ironically, that day, after having lunch with my mother, grandmother, and Papa, my mother and I walked into a store where Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" was playing. I think that explains some of my baby-themed coming out dreams since then.)

My mom says not to worry about them--that my grandfather will get over it if I fall in love with another girl, and that I don't need my homophobic uncle's help to become a mechanic. So this has made me feel much better.
I also had a dream a few weeks ago that I spontaneously developed the ability to breastfeed, without ever having to have a baby. It was amazing! I was making so much money as a wet nurse, and helping babies, without the responsibility of motherhood--until my grandfather found out and was very grieved by it. To him, it was like prostitution, even though I "sold my body" to feed babies, not to satisfy dirty old men. It was not  rational at all; it made no sense.
When I woke up, I realized that the dream was trying to tell me something--that his knee-jerk reactions might not make sense, that he might even be hurtful, but that that was not my fault. And that I could try to help him see reason, but that it wasn't my fault if he didn't. This dream really helped.

I also thought of another thing that makes me feel better, an idea which I plan to use in one form or another, even if I only have it in my own mind. I thought I would share it, in case it helped anyone else.
I wasn't sure where I was going with this idea, but it came to me the other night, and I started writing it down. I call it The Bi-Laws (The Bi-Briefs? The Pan Papers? The Lesbian Laws? The Trans To-Dos?...The Gay Agenda?)
They are a few simple rules for how I expect to be treated when they find out. I don't know if I'll give them a copy, or if they would even want to listen to me if I tell them about the rules, but I feel better just having them written down. How I want to be treated is now formally set in stone, and I won't settle for anything less.
Here they are. They are only a few, but they are most stripped-down, important ones:

1) No matter what you say about me, don't talk crap about my friends. Thank you. 

2) I don't debate. I will answer questions, though, if you are nice about it. 

3) I have my own relationship with God/Jesus, and it is very important to me. Please respect it, just as I respect yours. 

4) There is no reason we can't still treat each other with love and respect--like family. 

Other than forms of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse, which I thought were obviously a no-no, I think this covers just about everything.
Treat me with love and respect--no yelling or other abuse. Treat me with respect, just like always--and I will do the same for you.
 Respect my relationship with God (or, my spiritual journey, but that's none of their business). Don't tell me I'm not a true Christian, or try to dictate how I live and with whom I find love (or try to prevent me from finding love). Don't try to make me lie and say that I'm straight, don't try to make me hide in the closet, don't try to change me, and don't try to get me to deny Christ. This covers so much, potentially.
Don't try to debate me--no baiting me with your questions, or asking pointed questions designed to wound me.
Don't talk shit about my friends--no blaming my possible future girlfriend for turning me gay, or my theater friends for making me think it's okay (I thought it was okay years before I ever knowingly met a gay  person, not counting my mother's lesbian coworker). 

I obviously won't get to explain everything all at once, and I wouldn't want to. But when I encounter behavior that somehow violates one or more these four basic laws, I'll recognize it. And I do want to nicely communicate some of my expectations to them up front, if possible--even if I don't do it in writing. With the one about my friends, I may or may not have to communicate that one right away. I also want a chance to answer my grandfather's concerned questions, but I'm not interested in my uncle's possible questions that are designed to be hurtful.
I will have to think a lot more about how to use this list, but I am glad that I put my rules, the bare minimum of what I will tolerate, in writing. At the very least, I know the rules for others, and I will not forget or second-guess myself. It's in writing now, and it is official. And I feel so much better.