Posted in 100 Questions

100 Questions Part 6

69. Can you be in love with someone and still fall in love with someone else?

Of course. That’s not an excuse to be unfaithful to the person you’re with, specifically if you’re in a closed relationship.

70. What’s the tragedy of your life?

That I’m not currently holding Kingdom Hearts 4 in my hand.

71. Would your life make a good play?

It would make a boring play.

72. Should people be prosecuted for crimes that were not crimes at the time?

It depends. If it caused significant harm or injury to lasting trauma to someone, then I think it should be considered retroactively a crime, especially if the perpetrator actually intended to cause harm for selfish gain or reasons.

73. Would you fight for your country? Do you feel a sense of loyalty to your nation?

I feel more of a sense of loyalty to the human race than I do my nation. Nations, to me, are basically gigantic tribes that put borders around themselves and try to separate themselves from each other and claim superiority. I think the human race needs to come to a point where we get past having borders and barriers that separate each other and be like one people without the petty divisions and separations we try to surround ourselves and others with.

America is certainly one of the better countries to live in in the world. There are a lot of freedoms here that other places simply don’t have. I don’t know if that will remain in the long term at this current point of writing. There are some very strong extremist movements in the U.S. right now that I think would be very scary if they ever managed to achieve even a modicum of full power. (And I worry they might actually be starting to succeed lately.)

I would never fight for my nation for any cause that I consider to be immoral.

I am all for fighting for any cause that would be for legitimate liberation and freedom of others, but it is extremely unlikely I would ever willingly enlist to fight in any military or physical combat sense. I am a creative person and a writer. I prefer to fight with words and not with weapons.

74. Do you believe in gender equality in every aspect?

I think it’s important to be realistic about the fact that there ARE differences in genders and that each gender has its own strengths and weaknesses. I believe in equality to a point. Specifically, I believe that all the breadth of opportunities should be available to all genders and not restricted to specific genders.

That being said, I think that, taking into account the differences between genders, that I would lean even stronger towards equity over equality. ‘Equality’ tends to gloss over the unique differences between genders and tries to present a ‘one size fits all’ in providing the same opportunities to each gender. ‘Equity’ acknowledges the unique differences of the genders and attempts to allocate the exact opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.

Refer to the graphic below for an example of equality vs. equity in general:

75. Do we have a moral obligation to care for others? To what extent?

I think that not caring about others is precisely the direct cause of all the problems in the world. We are all highly interconnected with each other. There is hardly a thing we do, a decision we make, that does not in some way impact the whole around us to greater or lesser degrees. Sure, we might FEEL like our actions and decisions have no consequences, but the fact is that even the most minor choice can have massive ramifications. And our actions affect not just each other, but the very world we live on that sustains us.

In a world where a small minority of the population controls nearly all the wealth in the world and gobbles up the most resources and wastefully uses even more while many people are denied dignity and the most basic resources needed to survive, where mad despots rush to obtain power irregardless of the people suffering underneath them, where people aren’t treated with love and decency and respect for who and what they are and how they choose to live, love, and express themselves, where people who think of their own group or race as being superior to everyone else and are trying to force their own will on everyone else around them and even sometimes killing those who are different than them, where favoritism and unfair standards create opportunities for certain types of people and deny opportunities for others, where we’ve fostered a world where people can feel alone and isolated and uncared for despite being more connected than ever, where all of us to some extent participate in the rape and exploitation of the earth and its resources to satiate our own immediate gratification while polluting our support system out the wazoo, is it really any surprise that we live in a world of violence, warfare, nonstop conflict, mass shootings, high suicide rates, poverty, monster storms and natural disasters that increase in scope with each passing year; pandemics, division, hatred, unchecked human greed, ect?

All of these things are a direct result of not caring how actions affect those other than our immediate selves. It is not merely a moral issue. When we don’t care for others, we rob ourselves of having the kind of world we say we want to have. We ensure that we don’t have a world of peace and harmony where everyone is given equitable opportunity, where everyone is able to feel loved and accepted, a world not constantly reeling from death, destruction, tragedy, and violence.

It’s ironic that many people, specifically religious people, think ‘heaven’ is something that can only be attained beyond this life, and that in order to have a world free of violence, hatred, war, suffering, and discord, we have to wait until we die and hope we were good enough to get there. In Christianity, specifically, though, to cite one example, Jesus explicitly talks about “on Earth as in Heaven”, and that the entire law rests on “love others as you love yourselves” and that doing such would be the visible inbreaking Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

We do, in fact, have the ability to create the world we want if everyone would just get on board. We could end war, starvation, pollution, violence, ect., overnight if everyone on the planet would simply make the choice to love each other person as their own self and honor who each other is, renounce self-centeredness, and view the world as a holy and sacred place with reverence for all the life on it and not something to be merely raped and exploited for the benefit of man.

We don’t have an “obligation” to care about others. We’re perfectly free to do as we please. But only one path – the realization that despite our races and differences and quirks and customs and what-have-not, we are all one people, that there are enough resources on the Earth to share with each other and allow the entire population of the earth to live with dignity and ample opportunity for a good life, and that loving and caring about others and caring about how our actions affect others, and striving to legitimately create the most just world possible – only that path, is the actual path to genuine life.

76. Do you crave approval and/or praise?

I think everyone to some extent likes to be praised and feel like they’re making a valuable contribution. And I think there is a very healthy amount of praise to accept and feel good about. But do I crave it? Not really. It means more to me that I can make a difference in the world and someone else’s life than merely feeing my ego. I especially don’t crave approval either. I march to the beat of my own drum. I am my most authentic self. If someone doesn’t like me for who I am, fuck ’em. I’m not living my life for them. I’m living my life for me and the others who love me and accept me as a part of their lives.

77. Is there comedy in all tragedy, and tragedy in all comedy?

Life can oscillate between these two poles, and certainly either one can also contain the other, but I don’t think there is any definite rule that each one MUST contain both.

78. Are you ever going to be satisfied?

Depends on what sense you are talking about. If you are talking in a purely materialistic sense, then I am, for the most part, already pretty satisfied. I have a roof over my head, a job that pays the bills, running water, food, computer, TV, ect. I am also blessed by family that loves and cares about me, close friends who have my back and that I enjoy spending time with, and too many other blessings to count. There is nothing else I really “need”. So, yes, I’m satisfied.

I do wish that I had a serious relationship with a life partner, and I wish that I hadn’t gone this far in life still being single, but at the same time, all my basic needs are being met, and the one thing I feel I’m missing isn’t an absolute necessity.

If you’re talking in a goal-oriented sense, then no, and I never want to come to a point where, in that sense, I ever do become complacent and stagnant and satisfied. One of the grandest aspects of life is to be able to dream dreams and come up with goals and strive to improve oneself and shoot for higher. There is always a new dream to be dreamed, and if achieved, a bigger and grander one to be dreamed after that. That is my conviction.

79. When you are sad, do you listen to music that conveys your emotions or music that makes you happy?

My primary genres of music are heavy metal and alternative rock, and I tend to like angsty and dark music, so, I tend to listen to the same types of music regardless of how I feel.

80. Is your music organized by mood or sensation, or do you just listen to everything all time?

Usually I’ll binge through the entire works of a single band at a single time to get really familiar with their music, so I tend to hyperfixate on one band at once, while also keeping up with new releases of bands I follow. And, of course, if the mood strikes me for something specific I’ll load it up.

81. Would you marry a friend if they needed you to (e.g. for citizenship)?

I wouldn’t marry someone unless they were someone I was attracted to and I saw us building an actual relationship together.

82. Are you a deep person?

Yes.

83. Given the chance to live your life on Mars, with no hope of returning to Earth but the promise of scientific discovery and glory, would you take it?

I’m not a scientist, and I don’t care much about glory, so no, I have no desire to leave my friends and family and life behind for such a thing.

84. Are you who people think you are?

Are any of us who people think we are? I think that people are complex, and we don’t tend to show all sides of us to everyone at once. We are always hiding aspects of ourselves in order to fit in around others and not alienate ourselves, and this even includes very close relationships such as significant other or close friends. We may show much more of our true selves to those we are in close relationship to, but do we still truly show everything? That is, I think, often not, or even not at all the case.

And, of course, as one meme I saw on Facebook the other day said… we are all the hero in some people’s stories and the villain in others. Not everyone is going to perceive us the same way. Different people are going to perceive us in vastly different ways. Some people are going to think we’re the best thing ever while some other people are going to think we’re the devil. That’s just how it is.

So I don’t think that any of us are necessarily the people who other people think we are. We are the aspects we show to different people at different times, and we are also the way we are perceived by different people. And beneath it all we are all highly complex, and there are a multiple of factors and variables that make up each individual person.

Hell, are we even the people we think ourselves are?

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Posted in 100 Questions, lgbtq

100 Questions Part 5

56. What do you think about artificial intelligence?

I don’t think that science fiction movies’ various plots about machines becoming so smart they end up trying to take over the world and erase humanity are that far-fetched.

57. Do you think that humans are obsessed with escapism (books, video games, movies, ect.)? Are you looking for an escape? Do you think that’s a bad thing?

I think people are more into escapism than probably ever before in history, and quite frankly there is far more entertainment to choose from nowadays than any other generation ever dreamed. I think that as long as one is responsible and doesn’t shirk their basic life necessities it is not a bad thing per se. I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing what one enjoys in their free time.

One concern I might have is that I think that people might use escapism to try to escape the real world and its problems entirely. (Historically alcohol has been primarily used for this.) Again, while there is nothing wrong with escapism in itself, I do believe in caring about the real world and what goes on and taking part and not using escapism to escape the real world totally. What goes on in real life matters. Taking a part and doing one’s part to make a positive difference matters. I don’t think escapism should ever become an escape or replacement from reality. It should also definitely not be a permanent escape from the problems of reality. There is a definite benefit to taking time away to reset one’s mind and clear one’s head, but real-life problems should never be indefinitely neglected. There is a time to collect oneself, there is a time to confront one’s problems, there is a time to recover. There has to be balance.

As for myself, there is a definite tendency to spend a bulk of my free time in escapism. It’s something I’ve been actively resisting lately, not because I think it’s wrong, but because I have things I want to do and accomplish with my life, and quite frankly it’s simply never going to happen if I spend all my free time entertaining myself. I want to be fluent in Japanese, and I also want to be an indie game designer and prolific game designer. And it’s going to take an awful lot of work.

The biggest difficulty is that I work a lot with my main job, six days a week right now, and I’m typically in a mood of wanting to totally veg out when I’m off. But again, nothing will ever happen with my dreams and goals if I veg out all the time, so I’m having to learn to resist the urge to veg out all the time while still maintaining a proper balance of rest and relaxation.

58. Are we eventually going to ‘run out’ of new combinations for music, art, language, ect.? Is there a limit to human creativity?

No. I believe the potential for human creativity is infinite and unlimited.

59. What do you think the next era of music will be like?

I have no idea and I honestly don’t really care. It will come along as it comes along.

60. What do you think the next era of fashion will be like?

I care even less about the answer to this question than I do the last one. I’ve never personally given a shit about following fashion trends of society at any rate. I will dress how I want to dress and everyone is going to have to be okay with that.

61. Do we live in tumultuous times, or do they just seem so strange because we’re living in them?

The world has always been tumultuous. It is no more or less tumultuous than it’s ever been. I think that nowadays with the invention of news networks and the internet which lets us know everything that’s happening all over the world at all times it feels like we live in a more tumultuous period of history than we’ve ever been, but that’s just an illusion. It’s literally exactly the same as it’s always been.

62. Would you want to meet a clone of yourself? Would you like them?

There should really only be one of me in the world at any given time.

63. How confident are you, really?

Pretty confident.

64. How consistent is your perception of time?

I frequently forget what date it is. I’d be screwed without my phone and my day planner to constantly remind me what date it is. I’ve been known to frequently catch myself dating stuff with the wrong date at work, sometimes even the wrong month and year.

65. What age should people be allowed to vote? Should children and teenagers be allowed to vote?

I personally think 16 would be a fairly reasonable age to let people start voting.

66. How do you feel about the idea of an ‘eye for an eye’?

Matthew 5: 38-47

67. What’s the worst thing a person can be?

Someone who doesn’t care about how their actions affect others, and/or someone who believe that there are some people that are better than others.

68. How do you feel about monogamy?

Personally, I have a strong monogamous base. I have a preference for finding one person someday and being committed to them in a closed relationship. That being said, I don’t have any specific issue with alternative relationship configurations.

If my future partner wanted an open relationship, despite my preference stated above, I wouldn’t really have a problem with it. I’m not a jealous or possessive person. My primary concern would be whether or not there existed a primary love and commitment to each other in our relationship.

Doing things with other people that involve hiding and lying about it is an absolute no. I may not be a jealous person, but my value is that all relationships need to be built on a foundation of honesty and respect for the other. In the end, I’m far less concerned with the fact that my future partner might want to do things with other people than I am with the fact that they might feel the need to lie to my face about it.

The other person is not my possession. The other person is not my object to control. Honesty and respect of the other are the most foundational things.

If I have a future partner and they have a particular kink or fetish that I’m not able to adequately fulfill on the level of someone actually into that kink or fetish (though I’ll give most things a try within reason), I wouldn’t have a problem with them being a part of a kink or fetish community and having experiences with other people in that. I wouldn’t want to deprive them of something that is meaningful or even healing* for them that may or may not be my specific thing.

*I have an upcoming blog post I keep meaning to do on kink and fetish and the positive benefits and, what I’ve found most interesting, healing aspects of kink and fetish. So look for that in the near future.

Of course, if I have a future partner and it is their desire to have a completely closed relationship, then it is closed. No questions asked.

I’m not quite certain how I would handle other relationship configurations like polyamory. I have a friend who is polyamorous and has… at least 4-6 boyfriends and at least one girlfriend, last I checked. I’m not really honestly confident I would be even capable of dividing my attention between that many people. I would date someone who is poly, but it would be highly unlikely that I would ever be poly myself. Again, I’m not a jealous or possessive type of person, so it probably wouldn’t excessively bother me if they were in multiple relationships, while they were my only and primary. The only way such a relationship with me and a poly person could possibly work would be with the knowledge/arrangement that I was going to be primarily committed to them, and they were free to do as they wished as long as there was honestly and open and honest communication at all times.

Trust and respect.

In the end, it comes down to the person and what kind of relationship we can work together to build with each other out of mutual trust and respect and love for each other.

Once again, I reiterate what I stated above that I have a monogamous base and an ideal of a primary relationship dedicated to one person, and I don’t really ever see that changing. However, I also don’t know what the future holds, who I will meet, or how things might come about. So, I consider myself flexible and I don’t place absolutist barriers around myself. I’m more or less just going with the flow and whatever comes about comes about.

Posted in anime, Video Games

Bridget From ‘Guilty Gear’ Revealed As Trans – Thoughts

*Correction #1* A person on Twitter notified me that one of the pictures I posted was not Bridget but a character from the anime Chrono Crusade. I thought the picture seemed off when I was using it but I legit got it from a website that posted the picture claiming it as Bridget. I have changed the image to an actual image of Bridget.

*Correction #2* I have also gotten some responses that Arc System Works hasn’t actually officially confirmed the character as trans. The articles I used for research for this post were worded in such a way to lead to the belief of it being officially confirmed by the game developer. The comments I have received on Twitter have pointed out it’s not been officially explicitly confirmed by the developer per se, and that word choice in the Japanese versions seems to indicate primarily a change in how she presents rather than an overt gender identity change. I have decided to leave my original post unedited due to the fact that I still stand by the things I said in response to Bridget’s change of presenting herself, and I leave this added note here up top as a disclaimer.

Here are the articles I used: https://www.thegamer.com/bridget-trans-identity-trap-origins-guilty-gear-strive/

https://www.them.us/story/why-guilty-gear-strives-bridget-is-such-a-big-deal-for-trans-gamers

**Note: I refer to Bridget with different pronouns at different points in this blog. In the sections related to how Bridget was presented and understood prior to Japanese game development company Arc System Works verifying her as trans, when the character canonically self-identified as a male, I refer to her with male pronouns. Post being officially revealed as trans, I refer to her by the proper female pronouns. This is because I think it is less confusing in parts of the post talking about how Bridget was understood and reacted to during the time I was a teenager (in the 2000s) vs. the present.**

Full disclosure: I’ve never played the Guilty Gear games, nor do I really ever plan to, primarily because fighting games have never really been my thing and aren’t really ever going to become my thing. But, being as much as I am into anime and all things related, including anime video games, I do remember this specific character quite well.

Specifically, the way I remember this character is in a way that I think a lot of people remember this character, particularly for people who know who this character is but who have (like me) have never played any of the Guilty Gear games.

Bridget was a particularly memorable anime game character back in the 2000s for one very specific reason: Bridget was a presenting female-like character who was in fact a biological male.

A little in-game series history on Bridget:

In the series, Bridget was born as a male and a twin in a village where having two same-sex twins is considered bad luck. Thus, Bridget was chosen to be raised as a girl and given a girl name. In adulthood, Bridget rejects this upbringing and sets out to be a man. However, as of currently in the series, Bridget found out that being a man did not make her happy, and she has chosen to follow her own identity as a woman, not because of the superstition of her village, but as her own personal gender identity.

Back in Guilty Gear X2, where the character originally made her debut, she was presented as a cross-dressing but self-identifying boy.

Because this was back the 2000s, it was not at all common to have a character like this in a game. Also, being queer and having queer representation in media was nowhere near as common or accepted today.

Bridget thus caught on fairly popular on the internet and the anime community as the poster boy for a ‘trap’. A ‘trap’ is a male that appears/presents as a female but biologically isn’t. What ended up happening was that Bridget became commonly subject to a type of common game a lot of people liked to do in the anime community called a ‘gay test.’ I remember being a teenager on internet forums chatting about anime online with other people (because anime back then wasn’t mainstream enough yet to find people outside the internet to talk with it about), and in one particular group and chat I was very active on, several different times pictures of Bridget were passed around jokingly as a gay test. Basically, the idea of the game was, because of how feminine and female-presenting Bridget was, were you attracted to him knowing he in fact has a penis? The “humor” of the game was that you had to resist being attracted to this character who looks like a girl but is not. Otherwise, you might just be a little bit ‘gay’.

Of course, no one admitted being attracted to Bridget. It was nothing more than a lark. This was how the character was basically treated like a meme of sorts.

I personally never admitted that I actually did find Bridget attractive. Just like I kept it my deepest, darkest secret that I was bi and attracted to guys and not just girls. Revealing I was bi would have been to subject myself to probable discrimination and ostracization, and because this was also a Christian anime group and this was the 2000s, probably a whole other host of other problems as well.

I don’t have any issue being upfront with the fact that since I was a teenager I have found anime characters attractive. Yeah, they’re fictional, and yeah, they’re animated, but they are also pretty damn realistically drawn, and these were worlds I escaped into and became a very deep part of my life. I have always had just about as many crushes on fictional anime and video game characters as I do real people.

Bonus:

Non-comprehensive list of anime/video game characters I had major or minor crushes on when I was a teenager for the curious:

Sora (Kingdom Hearts)

Roxas (Kingdom Hearts)

Kid (Chrono Cross)

Serge (Chrono Cross)

Korcha (Chrono Cross)

Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist)

Teenage Gohan (Dragonball Z)

Yuffie (Final Fantasy 7)

Zidane (Final Fantasy IX)

Misao (Rurouni Kenshin)

Shinji (Evangelion)

Asuka (Evangelion)

Aisha (Outlaw Star)

Amuro (Mobile Suit Gundam)

Kira (Gundam SEED)

Hikaru and Kaoru (Ouran High Host Club)

And those are just the human fictional characters I had crushes on. We’ll leave the furry related crushes for another time. =)

Oh, yeah. And of course, even though I wasn’t a massive Bridget stan, let’s just say I’d seen enough things of him and enjoyed them, despite never playing the games. Although I never focused a great deal much on him beyond that.

The recent news the other day that the character has actually been confirmed as a trans female actually struck me fairly significantly. It’s around 20 years later. I am no longer in the closet. I am out of the closet. I am openly bisexual and perfectly comfortable being bisexual.

I suppose that when the news of Bridget being trans dropped, it just triggered the memories of those days when Bridget was being used as the ‘gay test’ and I was very closeted and hiding who I was always afraid someone would figure it out. I’ve come an extremely long way. I also felt very proud of the character. I know that Bridget is, again, a fictional character, but to me it strikes me as a sign of major progress that Bridget has been upgraded from a meme-able character to a level of dignity to where, hey, this is who the character canonically is, and that is perfectly okay. Bridget in the series goes on a journey of self-discovery. I’ve also been on my own journey of self-discovery and acceptance, so it feels ironically poignant in a way.

It’s especially fascinating to me considering Arc System Works, the game development company responsible for the Guilty Gear games, is a Japanese game development company. Japan is still quite a way behind the U.S. in terms of LGBTQ equality and acceptance. So, seeing a Japanese game company go so far as to confirm a major and well-known character from their flagship series as officially trans seems to me to be a major step. It’s not the only major shift I’ve been noticing recently, but I think I’ll talk about some of that other stuff in an upcoming post.

At any rate, those are my thoughts on the announcement of Bridget being trans. Congrats to the game development company for taking this step, congrats to Bridget for being herself, and I really hope it triggers more representation of characters like this in games in the future.

Posted in 100 Questions, lgbtq

100 Questions Part 4

**I have decided to start limiting each of these posts to only five questions per post. Main reason being is that I’m super busy and it will give me the ability to maybe post more frequently, plus I’ll be able to feel free to spend more time on certain questions rather than like I’m just rushing through them. For this post, I only have three questions because I’m trying to bring it to question 55, and then each subsequent post will be five questions.**

53. Which beliefs do you have which are most likely to be wrong?

This is actually the perfect question to begin this post with. I’ll get to why in just a second.

The only two beliefs in which I consider to be solidly dogmatic are thus:

First, I believe that unconditional love is the heart of all reality and is what we might call “God”, whether or not we choose to believe in God in terms of being personal/intelligent/engaged or as an impersonal force.

Second, I believe that all beings have the right to freedom and expression of who they are, without judgment or discrimination or having their rights attacked and taken away. I do not believe that anyone deserves to be mocked or made fun of or put down for who they are or what they like. I believe that diversity is good and holy, and that being able to express oneself free and unbound in a manner which harms no one else is one of the holiest things there could ever be.

Those two core beliefs above will never change. And I do not believe for a moment that I am wrong about them. I believe they are the core of all reality.

But other than that, I am pretty much open to the rest of my beliefs changing, should I feel there is ample evidence to warrant doing so. I am open minded to examining new data and rethinking any of my beliefs that do not fall into the two main core beliefs above. I am not afraid to admit when I’m wrong.

The reason I believe the things I believe is because they are what seem logical and reasonable based off my experiences, my study, and my observation. But we are always all of us dealing with limited data, often coming to us with a variety of slants. I know this well, which is why I am not specifically dogmatic about roughly 90% of my beliefs.

Case in point, and this is why this question just happens to come at a most opportunistic moment. Just today I was very seriously considering going back to my last few “questions” posts and George Lucas-ing some stuff. There are a few things I said in my last few posts which, I feel, don’t necessarily exactly reflect my current positions in the couple of weeks since I posted them, because I’ve been doing a lot of rethinking and growing in some ways since.

The main one is that in one of the previous posts (which I’m too lazy to go back and check which one right now) I said that “gender is a social construct.” While the core of what I actually meant by saying that has not changed, I realize now that the language I used in that sentence, was actually not factually correct.

A couple of nights ago I watched this video on Youtube:

This video expanded my thinking on the subject a great deal, and though it stung to realize the professor had a point and that I was wrong in the language I had used for that statement, I was grateful that it had expanded my thinking so that in the end I can now communicate and argue for what I actually meant more effectively.

I was wrong to say “gender is a social construct.” What I should have said (and ultimately actually meant) was: “gender roles are a social construct.”

So yeah. I’m not afraid to swallow my pride and admit I was wrong.

I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking on my general spiritual/religious beliefs lately. It isn’t that things have overwhelmingly changed, per se, but there is some, I believe, healthy fluctuation currently going on as, following something of an inner meltdown about it the other night, I’m starting to arrive at a more solid place where I feel both faith and doubt co-existing in healthy amounts. Over the last couple of days, I feel like I’m better understanding where the core of my faith lies and what role it best takes in my life. But I finally had to come to that place, post-complete deconstruction from fundamentalism, where I could fully admit being uncertain and frustrated, and allow myself to fully be a “heretic”, if it comes to that. I had to let go trying to be certain things because I felt I had to, because I was afraid of what people might say if I reveal I think very differently about certain things, ect.

But I ended up realizing that, in the end, it is my personal faith journey, and my own faith needs to be mine and feel and grow in a personal way to me. It’s okay to be different – even if it upsets some people – because in the end I’m being authentic and honest and fully myself. (And, at any rate, can one fully approach the Divine and have an authentic relationship with it if they’re not being totally honest and vulnerable, even at the risk of being “wrong”?)

I’m not going to talk about everything that’s currently going on in my faith journey right now, because I feel things would veer really off topic for this post, and because quite frankly it’s currently a construction in progress and that not really ready to fully talk about at this point.

But yeah, coming all the way back around to the question… I am on a journey, I have some specific core beliefs that will never change. I know there are probably a number of things I believe that are probably wrong, or maybe not fully formed yet. I am open to being wrong about things and revising my views.

Like everybody else, I’m on a journey.

54. Can humans really understand the complete nature of the universe, space and time?

No. There is a lot that we can understand from studying it. Our knowledge will grow and increase as time goes on.

But I do believe that there is a complex intelligence behind the universe (and most likely, multiverse) and that there is a complexity to all of the created order that we will never fully understand in this particular finite form.

To me it would be like asking if a snail could come to understand the complete nature of the human world and science on the level to which we understand it. It’s simply impossible.

55. Is consciousness what makes someone a person?

Because I am not an atheist and simply not capable of being an atheist, obviously I do believe there is more to human beings than the flesh-and-blood bodies we inhabit, as well as there being more beyond merely the processes that happen inside our brains.

I feel that studies on people who have had near death experiences in particular overwhelmingly point to what we call our consciousness surviving on once our brain functions cease to exist. The biggest evidence to me are the experiences where people are clinically dead or unconscious and yet vividly experience themselves floating above their bodies watching everything that is happening in the room, or elsewhere in the hospital, and upon awakening can recount it with stunning accuracy. In one experience a patient had an out of body experience and floated above a hospital and saw a red shoe on the roof. Incredibly, once hospital staff went to check it out, they indeed found a red shoe. There have also been cases of people blind from birth having near death experiences, and upon coming back, describing what they saw in the hospital room the best they could with accuracy, and describing what it had been like to see for the first time.

So I believe that we are more than just what our physical bodies or brains are. There is a being/soul inside of us which transcends our physical selves – and I believe it is grounded in an ultimate source of Being that we call God. I also believe that consciousness permeates everything – and that all is interconnected, whether we are cognitively aware of it or not.

Of course, the brain itself does play a role in how our individual personalities express themselves in this world. Personality quirks, likes, dislikes, sexual attractions, gender identities, what we would call mental disorders, ect., these are all functions of the brain and affected by biological and neurochemical processes. But the being/soul that lies behind and, I believe, transcends the physical aspects, filters, and limitations, is something that is (what the Christian faith would call the ‘Image of God’ or Hinduism would call the ‘atman’, ect.) something that is unique and beautiful and is what I believe actually makes someone a ‘person.’

Posted in 100 Questions

100 Questions Part 3

36. Have you ever met someone who had a very similar personality to your own? Did you get along?

Sort of. I was helping out at another store after Hurricane Harvey in the department I normally work in, and I met a guy who was like an interesting cross between me and a friend who used to work in the same department in my store. He was obviously the best worker in the place and the one who gave most of a shit, which is commendable, but he also kind of annoyed the shit out of me. I don’t think it was anything specific he did. I honestly think that it was the fact that both of us were kind of used to running the show and taking charge at our respective stores, and his department in his store had some extremely different ways of doing things, and there was a bit of a clash of certain alpha personality traits.

37. Do opposites attract.

I kinda hate this expression because I feel it restricts attraction and tries to put it in a box. My answer is that people attract people, and there are no rules or rhyme or reason, nor should there be.

38. Is your life what you expected it would be five years ago?

No, but quite honestly, it’s better. If I had ended up in the place I thought I wanted to be five years ago it would have turned out to be an unmitigated disaster.

39. Do you know what you want out of life?

Yes. I have some pretty big goals that I want to accomplish as a writer and game designer after I finish studying Japanese. But aside from that, I want to enjoy the journey of life and have experiences with people I care about.

40. What makes a person ‘good’? Are you a good person?

The whole idea of ‘good’ people and ‘bad’ people is something I find to be very fuzzy. I think that everyone is capable of good or bad. To me it comes down to the choices one chooses to make. I try make choices that align with what I see as the highest version of myself. I try as much as possible to always do the right thing.

41. What fundamentally matter to you?

The enjoyment of life and all it has to offer. Not just limited to myself, but freedom for others as well, to express themselves and be fully who they are without judgment or discrimination.

42. Is freewill an illusion?

I’ve already answered this in the last post. Free will is, I believe, one of the fundamental laws of the universe. It doesn’t mean that I don’t think there aren’t some things that might very well be ‘fated’, but I think that depending on decisions we make there are numerous potential paths we might go down that might have different possible ‘fated’ occurrences, and even if such ‘fated’ events do exist, the way we react and choose to respond can lead to potentially very different outcomes.

43. Do you create art? How do you define art?

In the next few months I’m going to start writing fiction again and trying to put out horror short story ebooks on a semi-regular basis. Over the next few years I’m going to be working on a series of self-done indie game projects as I learn the RPG Maker software which will hopefully lead to getting an actual team and forming a legitimate indie game company in the future.

I think anything creative is art. Art can be pictures, photography, music, fiction, movies, TV, video games, ect. I don’t even believe that art is required to be deep in meaning. Everything creative is art to me. Even beyond entertainment, cooking, architecture, ect., anything that involves the human creative process is art in some form to me.

44. How often do you lie? Is all lying inherently bad? Are you genuinely truthful?

Inherently I dislike lying and dishonesty. Unfortunately, there are a lot of cases in which this is an extremely gray area. For example, do I always want to say to my bosses at work what I’m really thinking all the time? Do I want to tell someone something that will unnecessarily hurt them when leaving it alone would cause no harm at all? Do I want to speak out and make waves when I know there is no legitimate positive resolution that will come of it? Do I want to say something truthful to someone which I know will cause them to explode and lead to no beneficial outcome of mutual understanding and learning from one another? Would it really be the most beneficial way to live like Simon Cowell 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Of course, there ARE times when the truth does need to be told. If silence or untruth or not speaking up will result in someone being hurt, whether mildly or moderately or seriously, then I do think the truth needs to be said, even if it’s difficult. I just think that ultimately we should all strive to be peacemakers and strive to build others up without causing unnecessary pain. It gets very gray sometimes.

45. Do you want to be remembered after your death? What for?

I hope that I will die a long time from now having written quite a library of fiction and having built and run a successful video game company with my major video game series idea having been successful and positively impacting a lot of people.

With both my professional and my personal life I hope I will be remembered for having made a difference in the world and people’s lives, and that I will have contributed to having left a lot of positivity that can continue to be picked up and spread after I’m gone.

46. Is true world peace ever possible?

I don’t believe it is possible anytime soon. The human race as it currently is, unfortunately, is far too self-centered at this point and blinded by all the pointless divisions and classifications that we try to put around and rank each other as. For there to be true world peace, there would have to be a pretty massive shift in worldwide human consciousness away from such things and towards viewing all people as intrinsically valuable and recognizing that us, each other, our world, and universe are all interconnected and part of the same whole and that everything we do to others and everything around us, we also do to ourselves. And I simply don’t think that recognition is going to happen within the next several hundred years, maybe several thousand… perhaps a million or a billion. And that would entail us not actually blowing ourselves up or inadvertently exterminating ourselves first. World peace IS possible. It could very easily happen overnight if everyone on the planet were to simply make that decision. But it’s not likely to happen anytime soon, unfortunately.

47. Do you have to suffer to understand the human condition? What is the human condition? How can you really experience it?

I’m not really sure what is understood by ‘the human condition’ because I think that everyone alive experiences being human differently. There are experiences that are universal, but not necessarily experienced by everyone alive. Even suffering itself comes in many different forms and is experienced and reacted to differently by different people. The human condition, to me, is made up of many different things, and can range from birth to death, love to hate, joy to sorrow, companionship to loneliness, and many other things, and I think that how all these things come together in each individual person is different. You can only really experience the human condition in the way you personally experience it.

48. Are you free? Will you ever be? Can anyone be truly free?

It depends in what sense you are defining ‘free’? In one sense, no. For example, I have bills. So, I am obligated to work and have people over me 40-48 hours a week. I also have people who depend on me that I need to be there for. I am also not free to walk outside and break the law. Now, of course, I am in another sense completely free to actually do or not do any of those things, but I am not free of the consequences of those actions. I don’t think it is possible to be truly ‘free’ in any sense because all people and all things are interconnected and interdependent, and there will simply never be any getting away from that.

In a number of other senses entirely, though, I do believe I am free. I am very fortunate to have been born in a country like America that allows me to have a lot of unique freedoms that other places in the world wish they had. I am free to select and work toward the kind of work and career I want. I am not the victim of being born into a specific class caste and being relegated to being a part of that class or caste for the rest of my life without any hope of ever moving up.

Being out of the closet, I am free to be and express myself as I really am. I don’t live in a country or family situation where I am forced to hide my identity and be restricted as to who I can fall in love with and be imprisoned or killed for what I am attracted to or who I fall in love with. Yeah, I know, being on the LGBTQ spectrum, there are people here that hate people like me and would like to kill me, and a number of them are trying very hard to take control of government and attack the rights for people like me, but at present, such people do not have that level of control, and so in that way I have a lot of freedoms that I am very appreciative of and don’t take for granted.

49. Do you hold yourself to higher standards than you hold others?

Yeah. It comes with being a perfectionist and OCD.

50. What do you expect from a friend or partner?

To be a decent person that has respect for others and for themselves.

51. What question could you ask to find out the most about a person?

I think that observing how they act and treat others in day-to-day life says a lot more than any amount of words.

52. Do you justify all your beliefs or have you just inherited/absorbed some?

I don’t believe anything I haven’t thought very seriously about, and I’m always open to my beliefs changing as I acquire new information. Growing up I inherited/absorbed all the beliefs that were handed to me, and that turned out to be such a terrible experience that I don’t easily accept a new belief without a lot of thought, and even then, it’s always open to change. I don’t feel any need to ‘justify’ my beliefs. My beliefs are simply the beliefs I have through experience and studying and how I genuinely interpret life and everything around me.

Posted in 100 Questions, lgbtq

100 Questions Part 2

18. Are you religious? Do you think your religion is ‘correct’?

I’m an active member of a progressive Christian denomination and a founding member of a church within said denomination. While I am a practicing Christian, I don’t really consider myself as being married to the Christian religion. I consider myself more of a Christ-follower than a Christian in the traditional sense. I think that religions themselves are culturally conditioned and arose out of their particular cultural streams and understandings. I do think that all religions are pointing toward something real. I do believe there is a More beyond this physical world and finite life we inhabit, and the major religions arose out of contact with said More in an attempt to explain and institutionalize it in their cultural streams. I believe that Unconditional Love is at the heart of all reality. I think that religions fall into the trap of assuming their institutional, denominational, and cultural understandings are the only correct ones and that religions turn demonic when they try to force everyone to comply with their own understanding or else. Religion especially becomes demonic when merged with government or political agendas as a way of controlling others by alleged ‘divine authority’, in particular in the form of the incredibly dangerous trap of religious nationalism and theocratic agenda.

19. If you aren’t religious, do you wish you were? Why?

I often envy those who do believe the tenets of their own faith without any doubt. I’m not talking about this in a fundamentalistic/extremist sense, nor in a sense of believing in having the ‘right views’ while everyone else is ‘wrong.’ I struggle with being a spiritual person who practices a faith and has spiritual beliefs and who is always constantly afflicted by doubt. There isn’t really any getting away from this. I cannot be an atheist, because I do not believe that there is nothing beyond this physical world and finite existence, and that is not going to change. But I find myself doubting my beliefs, all the time. And what I feel I believe in isn’t always consistent. I do believe in something, but to quote Christian author Phillip Yancey, it feels like I’m always “sneaking in through the back door of doubt.” I envy people who have a solid faith and know what they believe and don’t ever experience any significant doubt. I don’t think I will ever get to that point in my own faith walk.

20. Do you want a grand adventure?

Life is a grand adventure.

21. Do you have somebody, whether it be a friend or stranger, who you think you could have loved if the circumstances were different?

I think that as a result of growing up in cultic religion and being bullied heavily as a kid for being so different, as well as the ways I ended up putting up my walls and pushing others away as a result of all that during my teenage years especially, cost me a lot of opportunities in life. I think that I missed out on a lot of opportunities to make friends. I pushed away opportunities to make what could have been lifelong friends because my self-esteem was so much in the gutter and I couldn’t really process why anyone else would actually like me and want to be my friend. I didn’t have the ability to believe it and anytime anyone reached out to me it sent my brain into a spiral that I didn’t know how to deal with. I had some friends when I was younger, but because I felt unworthy, I found ways to push them away.

I very likely would have had a girlfriend(s) and/or boyfriend(s) by this point if I hadn’t had those walls around me that constantly pushed people away. I had multiple opportunities for sexual experiences as a teenager and chances to explore myself as a bisexual/sexual being back then that I rejected because I was too afraid, in great part due to extreme religious fear, but also an overall mix of other things too.

So, yeah, I think there’s a lot of people I could have loved if circumstances had been different. I can’t really go back and change the past. The only thing I can do today is not repeat the same mistakes of the past.

22. How long does it take you to fall in love with somebody? Is the sensation of ‘falling in love’ or ‘being in love’ better?

I’m going to have to unpack this in parts.

First, I think there is a very big difference between being in infatuation and falling in love. An overwhelming amount of people, I think, make the mistake of falling into infatuation and confusing it with love. They think they are being in love when they are really in infatuation. This is especially prominent when one is a teenager, but the mistake can and does continue into adult life.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have fallen in love once, and while it did start out as infatuation, it ended up becoming something very different. And it kind of hit me out of nowhere. I can’t really pinpoint an exact time when I actually ‘fell in love’, because it was too dominated by infatuation for a significant portion of time and the whole period of time was pretty complex, but there came a point where I realized that I was no longer looking at this person and focusing on their outward appearance or how good looking they were or the things I idealized about them or any of that. It was like was looking straight through them and I could see their soul, and that’s what I became really interested in over the longrun. It completely overrode everything else.

Interestingly, infatuation tends to overlook flaws and tries to not notice them. I think that a large reason so many relationships fail is that a lot of them are built on infatuation and idealism. But feelings of infatuation eventually go away. They are not permanent. People confuse this with ‘no longer being in love’. But it’s really just that the chemicals that you were being heavily pumped with by your body into your brain when you first encountered the person and entered the relationship are no longer heavily operative, and the flaws in each other become more obviously apparent, and if your whole relationship has been built on infatuation up to this point, exactly what do you have left when infatuation ends?

Real love notices the flaws, but accepts the whole package as is. Real love considers the whole person as beautiful even with and despite the flaws. Love is not unrealistic about the flaws but sees the overwhelmingly fundamental good that the person is. Love sees the true soul of the person and is willing to work with and compromise. Because love is more about the inside than what is on the outside, it has the ability to transcend infatuation and externals and become something much deeper.

‘Being in love’ isn’t a phrase that means much to me. Yes, I’ve been in love, but, had the person actually reciprocated my feelings, I wouldn’t have grounded our relationship from that point on based off of whether I felt “in love” or not. Feelings come and go. It would have become more about what kind of relationship I could have built with that person from that point on. I wouldn’t have any trouble remaining faithful to them and being in it for the long haul.

23. Is love about convenience or something more? Can it be about both?

Love that is solely about convenience isn’t real love. But something that starts out as convenience can turn into true love. A prominent example that comes to mind is C.S. Lewis’ marriage that started out as him doing a favor for a friend by entering into a civil marriage so that she could continue living in the United Kingdom, but he ended up falling legitimately deeply in love with her. His memoir about his grief on her passing (A Grief Observed) is one of the most powerful and emotionally raw books he ever wrote.

24. Do you think you really understand your gender and sexuality?

25. How fluid is your concept of gender and sexuality?

I put these two together because I feel my answer is the same for both.

As for gender, I am a completely and 100% cisgender male. There is no fluidity there. As for sexuality, eh. It’s sometimes all over the place. Sometimes I go through periods where I feel I’m primarily one orientation over the other. Sometimes it switches. Sometimes I go through periods where I feel attracted to no one at all. Who I am actually attracted to in either gender is extremely limited and picky. I feel like my sexuality is chaotic-fluid, and I’ve given up trying to understand it and pretty much just rolling with it at this point.

26. What’s the most life-changing choice you’ve made so far?

Deciding to be myself, regardless of what others think. Being open and honest about what I really think and feel, even if it causes me to not be accepted by everyone. Being free is far better than continuing to live a lie and playing pretend just to please people.

27. Are you afraid of growing old?

Yes and no. I have a lot of things I want to do with my life, and I don’t like the fact I have a time limit. I also know that I am currently in what would be considered the “prime of my life” by normal standards, and I’m not looking forward to having more and more limitations as I get older. I find some measure of sadness that this point of life I am currently at now will eventually pass away. I still feel like there is a wide array of potential and opportunity set before me, and I feel some sadness at the thought of actually completing the journey and no longer being in the midst of it and looking back at it as something of the past that is over and done in my twilight years. But as for the concept of actually “growing old” itself, not really. It’s just a part of the cycle of life.

28. Would you want to live forever? How about for a billion years, a million, a millennium, a century?

I already believe everyone actually does live forever. To me dying is simply changing form, not the end of existence. But I do understand what the question is actually asking, and I’m honestly not sure.

If I were to remain perpetually young and be immortal, I could imagine myself finding things to enjoy in this incarnation for a billion years. There would be some downsides to it, though, mainly that I’d be living a billion years getting to know and love billions of people and having the experience of losing every single last one of them as I keep on existing.

But, in the belief system I do lean most solidly towards, I do strongly believe that this incarnation is not the end, and that there are other forms and experiences to be had beyond this life, and as I think of it further, if our world goes in an extremely negative direction over the next couple hundred of years, I’m not really sure I want to live through something like us fucking the planet we live on over into a post-apocalyptic state, whether through climate change, or going through something like a nuclear world war where we nearly completely annihilate the human race and render the planet near uninhabitable.

It makes me think that perhaps there is some benefit for a lifespan that doesn’t typically go over a hundred years.

29. Do you believe in some form of god/s?

I do believe that God exists.

I do not believe in God as a supernatural being out there somewhere that creates by waving a magic wand and micromanaging the world that can be manipulated by how much we pray to or try to appease it depending on His/Her/It’s current mood.

I believe in God as the Source, Ultimate Reality, First Cause. I believe that God is the Ground of Being from whence everything comes out of and is grounded in and a part of. I believe that God is Pure Spirit and Unconditional Love. I believe there is no place that God is not present and that God is in all things. I believe that God is superpersonal and transcends all things. I believe that God transcends even religions, and that God is perfectly capable of having relationships all people irregardless of their belief systems, irregardless of how ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ their belief systems are. I believe the Divine can manifest in many different ways based off how people understand and experience the Divine. I do not believe that authentic experiences of God within a religion or religions is an automatic verification of that religion being completely true or having all the answers and being the ‘One True Religion’. It just simply means that the Divine has a relationship with all of creation no matter what lines or borders or mistaken beliefs we might try to draw around that.

(In theological terminology, I thus reject the view of God known as ‘supernatural theism’ and accept the view known as ‘panentheism’. Specifically, I am a Christian Panentheist.)

(**Panentheism is not to be confused with Pantheism. Pantheism believes that everything is God. Panentheism does not believe that everything is God, but that everything comes from God and is in God.)

I believe in prayer, but not as a means to try to control God or to manipulate reality to our own ends. I do believe in intercessory prayer and that there is a particular power that is unleashed by sincere prayers, particularly those that are grounded in deep love. But I believe that prayer more than anything else opens us up to the Divine and transforms and empowers us to act as a force for good in the world and that it opens up avenues that we can walk through and be that force for good in the world.

Self-centered prayers that are rooted in materialism and ego I believe are pretty much worthless and I don’t really believe have much affect if any at all. It’s not that I believe that God ignores those prayers so much as I believe that God might instead lead us to circumstances to try to guide us out of that ego and pure self-centeredness. In some cases we might be actually given what we want and severely regret it, though that may not always or be at all the result of such prayers specifically.

30. Are your choices fated or of your own free will?

I believe that Free Will is one of the most fundamental laws of the universe and all creation. I believe that our world is made up of the interconnected free will of everyone in action at all times. There is nothing that is ‘fated’ to happen to us. There is simply possibility and probability. We can’t control everything that happens to us, because the world is made up of interconnected freewill all flowing at the same time as the results of decisions being made by every individual at every point of time. This is also why tragedy and suffering exists, because the cost of living in a reality that is truly free, there has to be the possibility of the entire range of actions and possibilities, otherwise nothing is truly free at all. The cost of living according to the law of Free Will is you have to take the good with the bad. We cannot control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we respond to what happens, and how we want to choose to shape our future from that point on.

31. Do you have a hunch about how you are going to die?

Somewhere in my 90s, probably from natural-ish causes.

32. Do you believe in star signs?

I have found them to be pretty accurate.

33. How old do you have to be to be considered an adult?

This is a really tough one because I know some adults that are less mature than 10 year olds I’ve met.

34. Was your childhood happy?

When I was escaping by reading books, playing computer games, and escaping into my own little world by writing ‘movies’ and acting them out in my room, yes.

Otherwise, no.

35. What are you missing from your life?

I would like to have a life partner someday, of whatever gender that happens to turn out to be. It’s not something that I need, but I feel it’s something I’m missing.

I generally feel like it’s an extremely high possibility I will never find that, but there is also a fairly high measure of hope.

Posted in 100 Questions

100 Questions Part 1

So, yesterday I found a list of 100 questions. The list covers a very wide variety of subjects of personal beliefs on all sorts of things. I felt that since I want to strive to make this a somewhat versatile and varied blog which represents all the different aspects of me, what better way than go through each question one by one giving my honest responses to each. I feel that this will also be a good way to fully introduce myself to my followers. It will tell where I stand on a variety of subjects and perhaps foretastes of things I want to talk about this blog. Obviously 100 questions is a lot, and so I will be breaking them up and only answering a handful per post. This should give me quite a bit to talk about for a while, though, and I’m rather excited to get into it, so let’s get going:

1. Are you bothered by your cosmic insignificance?

I do not believe that there is anything or anyone in all of reality and creation that is insignificant. Not even the smallest particle is insignificant. All is part of a much greater, vibrant, living, breathing whole.

2. Do you mourn for a place or person you’ve never known?

There have been numerous people I’ve never met who have impacted my life in a variety of ways, from authors to entertainers and others, and even though I may have never known them personally nor have they known me, it does always sting a bit whenever I hear someone has passed away. There are two particular ones that stand out more than others:

The first is Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. Linkin Park’s music helped me significantly during a time of severe depression where I actually became suicidal. The album A Thousand Suns was a major catalyst in helping me to move through depressive feelings toward significant healing. What is especially eerie is that, the year Chester died, I had burned all 100+ music albums I owned to a USB drive and let them simply cycle through in alphabetical as I drove in my car. The night Chester committed suicide, quite possibly at the exact time he was in the process of committing suicide, the album A Thousand Suns had just happened to be the next album that cycled in and was playing as I was driving home from work. It is tragic that Chester, who was a light to so many of us through his music, was unable to overcome his personal demons in the end. I pray for hope that he found the peace he was looking for in the afterlife and that his light will continue to shine on from above and through all those he impacted.

The other is Rachel Held Evans. Rachel’s writings helped me significantly during my time deprogramming from cultic Christianity and trying to reconstruct my beliefs and my faith, especially as an LGBTQ person who is still a practicing Christian. I actually got to meet her in person and hear her speak at a Houston Baptist church during an extremely tumultuous time with my faith. (I was actually very seriously on the verge of abandoning my faith altogether). It was a very significant day in my life that brought renewal and new life and encouraged me to keep going down the path I was going, holding to my values, and seeking reconstruction and healing and taking that as something to pass onto others someday. Rachel had a significant impact on the lives of many people, especially LGBTQ Christians and those on the margins and feeling ostracized from their faith. I went through rather serious period of grief after her untimely passing, and it’s still hard to acknowledge the reality that she’s gone so soon.

3. Do you really think there is somebody for everybody?

Yes – but I acknowledge the reality that doesn’t mean that everybody is necessarily going to find somebody. I’m not saying that to be pessimistic. It’s just that the fact is that in life there are no guarantees. Nor do I really feel that life ultimately owes us anything.

I fully acknowledge the fact that I might never find anybody. I have a lot going for me – and a lot to offer someone – and good looks by conventional standards – but I’ve also gone my entire life being single, and I don’t consider it out of the realm of possibility that being single could be a permanent state. It’s not that I can’t go out and find someone if I really want to. It’s just that, for a relationship that I’m going to actually commit myself to, I would rather that falling in love be organic rather than forced. It would have to just happen and come together naturally. And there is simply no way of knowing whether or not that will actually happen. I’d much rather have love that is born from friendship and mutual attraction and the foundation of a strong bond. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I would turn someone down that I didn’t know and found attractive if they came up and said they were interested in me. It just means that I’m not trying to force love to happen, because that’s just not who I am. And I am at peace with my decision.

I do believe that everyone has the potential to find somebody, though. And I don’t really believe that there is such thing as a person “so ugly they can’t find love.” At the grocery store I worked at when I was a teenager, there was a woman who looked like she was probably in her 50s or so who would come in, dressed in sexy outfits, skin literally sagging in heaps all over her skinny body. She looked like she could have had severe liposuction at some point. By any normal standards of society, she was not sexy at all, and quite honestly, it was kinda hard for a lot of us to look at. And yet one day she came in with a guy who was obviously her boyfriend, an extremely handsome older gentleman. It knocked a lot of us for a loop – this man could have had literally any woman he wanted. But somehow he chose the woman who was not sexy by any normal societal standard but still chose to view herself as sexy and act like she saw herself. I have seen a number of other people who were not good looking by conventional standards and managed to somehow have “smoking hot” significant others.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The so-called set standards of what society considers attractive doesn’t necessarily match the potential very wide spectrum of attraction that runs through the entire human race and each individual.

And, hell, if the internet and Rule 34 is any indication, humans really have a tendency to be attracted to a wide variety of unorthodox things.

*If you don’t know what Rule 34 is do please do yourself a huge favor and don’t Google it.

4. Do you place any value in gender roles?

No. Gender roles are social constructs. And they always change from one generation to another. They are never as consistent as we think they are. Every person should be who they are and express themselves the way they want irregardless of the gender they are, and they shouldn’t let society or anyone else hold them back.

5. Do you have to be related to be family?

No. True family is deeper than blood or biological relation. Your true family doesn’t necessarily have to be your biological relatives. One might grow up in an extremely shitty biological family and find their true soul family later on in life. True family, to me, is where you find connection, support, wholeness, things that are life-giving. That can be biological family. But it doesn’t have to be limited to just that. It is also entirely possible to even have multiple families, including your biological ones.

6. Are your platonic relationships just as valuable as romantic or family ones?

All relationships are valuable. The different types of relationships add different things to our lives. No one type of relationship contains everything, but all types taken together affect our lives in a myriad of ways that I believe are complimentary.

7. Are you in love? Do you wish to be?

I have had this experience. Sadly, it was not reciprocal. I wouldn’t change having gone through this experience of being in love, even though this other person didn’t see me even remotely the way I saw them. It taught me a lot of things about myself and about life.

First, even though it hurt, I was able to recognize that the very reason it was so painful was because there was something very good behind it. Even amidst the pain, the feeling of being able to love another human being like that was a very beautiful thing that I don’t feel I would have wanted to cut out or excise in any way.

Second, when I fell in love, it caught me off guard in a way I was not expecting. I think that there was some relief in realizing it finally happened to me, even if it was not reciprocated, because up to that point I had been starting to doubt whether or not I believed falling in love was actually real or even possible for me. The fact of having fallen in love proved to me that it was a very real thing and not just a myth you read about in books and movies, and that it was very much possible for me, and gave me the ability look forward to the future with a type of optimism knowing that it is possible to be in love like that with someone in the future.

Third, falling in love taught me the sharp difference between lust and love. Before I fell in love, I couldn’t tell the difference between infatuation/obsession and actual love. Ironically, it probably actually did start out as infatuation. But it turned into something very different. I came to realize that there is a huge difference between being severely infatuated with someone vs. falling in love with their soul and seeing past all the exteriors that infatuation focuses solely on and being to see the other person in a way that transcends all that. It is quite a feeling, and again, even though it came with a lot of pain, I count myself happy that I actually got to experience it.

8. Do you think you can put love into categories (family, platonic, romantic, ect.) or is it just one general sensation.

Oh, trust me, as I have just indicated above, it is definitely NOT just a general sensation. Even if I HADN’T had the experience of having fallen in love, I would not view them as remotely the same. There are very different sorts of love I get from my relationships with my family than relationships with platonic friends, and I’m pretty certain that the love I shared with an actual romantic partner would be highly different than the other two.

It’s not even about sex as a factor either. All of my handful of sexual experiences so far have actually been platonic – I definitely don’t have any regrets and I did enjoy them quite a bit – but I know that those experiences probably aren’t going to hold a candle to if I get the chance to do it with someone I really LOVE or am in a serious relationship with someday. I hope that I get that opportunity someday.

The Greeks were pretty smart when it comes to understanding the different types of love. The Greek language actually has seven different words for different types of love. Check the article below:

The English language, for having probably more words than most other languages on the planet, is surprisingly bereft as all these meanings tend to get subsumed under the same word. But the Greeks knew what was obvious: all these loves are not the same.

9. Would you be happy with a life without romance?

Yes. I don’t need romance to live a happy and fulfilling life. My self-worth and fulfillment doesn’t come from whether I have a partner or not. I am pretty happy with my life right now, even though I’ve never had anybody, and I can’t imagine that ever changing just because I don’t get somebody in the future. Still, it would be pretty nice to have. I think having the opportunity to love another human being and share our lives with each other as partners would be an awesome thing to experience. But I don’t need it.

I used to think I needed it, and I constantly bemoaned that it hadn’t happened for me yet. But I realize now that the main reason I wanted to be in a relationship so bad was that I was chasing an ideal and trying to be ‘normal’.* I was trying to derive my sense of life and purpose from finding someone someday. But now I realize that deriving one’s sense of life and purpose comes from something much higher than all of that. It doesn’t come from other people or material things. If I would have gotten into a relationship with someone during that way of thinking I think it would have ended up being a disappointment, perhaps a downright disaster. I would have been seeking something from the other person that they couldn’t actually give me and would be heaping unrealistic expectations on them. I would be basically treating them like an idol and constantly seeing the idol I was trying to make of them rather than the actual person.

I’m very thankful that the experience of unreciprocated love actually broke through all my layers of ego in thinking and taught me that actual love is something different, and that through my life journey in general I’ve been able to learn that fulfillment and self-love come from a very different place than materialism or idolizing others for what I think they can give me.

And in the end I realized that I don’t need all those things to live a happy and fulfilling life. But if I ever do get the chance to love someone in the future, I’ll be able to love them for who they authentically are and not for what I think they can give me.

*The chasing an ideal and trying to be ‘normal’ manifested differently pre and post coming out as bisexual roughly eight years ago. During both periods, ‘normal’ meant that I was seeking a significant other because I felt that was the ‘normal’ thing to do and I was trying so hard to be as ‘normal’ as possible because I wanted to feel like I fit into society and have the feeling of being ‘normal’. Pre-coming out as bisexual there was another layer to this. Before coming out as bisexual I really wanted a girlfriend not just because I was trying to feel ‘normal’, but also because I was trying like hell to repress my gay side and deny its existence. Having a girlfriend was like having a way to be a chameleon and feeling like I didn’t have a side that made me feel very not-normal and/or that would cause me to have to face disappointing others or even being looked down upon and rejected. Considering that I was not able to deny the truth about myself forever and it ended up eventually coming to a massive boil, I think that if I had actually gotten into a relationship with a girl in this state and ended up marrying her, I honestly can’t see it as turning out in any way but as massive disaster that I thankfully avoided dragging another person through while going through my own self-realization.

10. Are you always going to be a little in love with somebody?

Not entirely sure I understand the question. Perhaps? I have no way of predicting the future.

11. Would you change your appearance if you could?

Not going to lie – I often do fantasize about what it would be like to have that six pack that I refuse to go on a strict diet to actually be able to attain. But overall I’m happy with myself. I’m sure that whoever chooses to get into a relationship with me someday will love me as I am and that’s all that really matters.

12. Do you have the feeling you’ve lost something you might have had in another life – whether it be a person, a place, a world, a language, ect.?

I think that growing up in cultic Christianity deprived me of a lot of normal experiences that most people take for granted. I was not allowed to go to school – with the exception of the 1st grade (where I went to a private Christian school). I was forced by my mom to be homeschooled my entire life. I lived a lot of my young life in isolation from others and not being able to experience a lot of things that are normal for most people. And then I ended up spending my entire 20s deprogramming from cultic Christianity and trying to reconstruct from how badly my head and worldview was severely messed up from all that, and trying to find mental stability and a belief system and system of values that I could hold on to that was all my own that allowed me to finally begin functioning in the world as a normal human being. So, yeah – I missed out on a LOT. In my 30s I’m growing and having experiences that I should have had in BOTH my teens and twenties. It’s not a fluke that I lost my virginity so late in life – and have yet to be in an actually romantic relationship. Those were things that were just simply not possible before considering my background and everything I went through trying to process and recover and find stability and beginning to actually learn to live for the first time.

What’s actually ironic, though, is that if I could go back and change all of it, I really wouldn’t. ‘Cause even despite all the darkness in the end it’s led me to this place, and this life, and I can say that I’m truly happy right now. All of the experiences I’m getting to have later in life that I couldn’t have before, really MEAN something to me, and I am extremely grateful in ways that I think I would have taken for granted if circumstances had been different. If my life had gone a different way and hadn’t gone through that darkness, would I be happy, or as happy as I am now? Would I truly appreciate things as much as I do now, being nearly as grateful for them? I’m not sure, and honestly, I think I would prefer not to find out. I think I’ve come to a place where I can be surprisingly grateful for even the darkness of the past even though I would never want to experience it ever again.

13. Do you believe in reincarnation?

Yes.

14. Would you want to be reincarnated?

I believe that the purpose of existence is soul evolution and eternal growth. After I’m done with this life I would want to go where I would most grow next. I would be perfectly happy with it in whatever form it takes – whether in another life in this world, another world, or realms in the hereafter. I don’t believe that existence ever really ends, and that it’s an adventure that is ongoing, and I’m perfectly content to continue being a part of that process in whatever form it takes.

15. Do you think you’re special, or just another person among billions? Can you be both?

I’ve already answered this above. All people and all things are special and significant. Just by being a part of the infinite tapestry of life makes you, I think, special. My answer has not changed on this and is not going to change.

16. Do theoretical ethical debates have any value? Is it important people discuss ethical dillemas, e.g., the trolley problem?

I think there is value in such debates. I think it is a good thing to deal with hard questions and to place our values on the table and examine them and talk about them. Of course there are not easy solutions – and this is true in number of things in life. But the very fact of talking about them means that we are engaging and examining critically – and I think that can be a very positive thing.

17. Did you have imaginary friends? Do you still have them?

Not since I was four.

Posted in Biography, lgbtq, My Life Story

I Don’t Give Myself Enough Credit

I don’t feel I give myself enough credit sometimes.

Recently I went through something of a borderline-severe burnout. I feel like I’m making so little headway on my life goals, whether it’s social goals, self-improvement goals, Japanese language goals… Ect.

And at some point, I had to stop recently and take inventory of where I’m actually at.

The fact of the matter is, I’ve actually come a pretty damn long way.

It isn’t my fault that I am where I’m at at this point. I feel like sometimes that is strangely the hardest part to confess. Perhaps it’s because in reality I wish that my past didn’t exist and that I had actually grown up normally and hadn’t had to spend my young adult years learning and developing and growing as a person in all the ways I should have been learning and growing and developing in my teenage years.

Add in the fact that I have severe age dysphoria – I am 35 but I look like I’m 22 and still feel and think like a 22 year old – and quite frankly in other areas I can sometimes have the maturity of a 13, sometimes 16 year old, trapped in a 22 year old body that an physical piece of official paper somewhere claims I’m actually 35.

And so often I find myself wanting to be the 22 year old that I feel and look like, while not being able to discount the legitimate greater knowledge I’ve learned as a 35 year old, while still having occasional-to-frequent lapses into the maturity level of a 13 or 16 year old.

I don’t know if anybody out there can relate, but it really is quite the roller coaster ride.

The struggle to want to feel like I’m developmentally normal not necessarily for my actual physical age, but at the very least the age I actually look like, is real. And often I want to pretend the past doesn’t exist and I wish I were developmentally (I mean ‘developmentally’ in a mental, emotional, maturity sense) at a much further level than I already am.

And, of course, I wish I were further along on my actual life goals, not feeling like I am constantly having to fight my way through the shenanigans of life to get a modicum of anything meaningful done.

And I also wish that after 5 or so years of self-studying Japanese I were actually completely fluent. Sometimes I feel like I should be downright entitled to it by now and not still continuing to study every day.

I wish that I still didn’t struggle with heavy paranoia of people, and that getting on social apps to meet new people, find dates, or friends with benefits/sexual experiences, is so damn difficult for me when it seems to come easily to a lot of other people.

I wish that I were more sexually experienced and not just at this point in my life putting my toe in the water and experimenting and learning about myself at this stage which I really should have been doing when I was younger in a more ideal situation.

I wish that I didn’t struggle so much with feeling lost as to my actual spiritual or religious beliefs. I wish that I could say for certain what my actual path is and go all in. I wish that there was a specific spiritual or religious system out there that would feel like putting on a perfect fitting glove. I wish I didn’t have downright multiple personality disorder as to what I believe from one day to the other – some days I feel like I’m very Christian, other days I feel definitely Unitarian, other days I feel very New Age, and other days I feel like a borderline agnostic atheist.

And of course there are still days where I wish I could figure out my own damn bisexual orientation better.

But.

In the end, if I really sit down and think about it, I really do need to give myself a lot of credit.

It’s really not my fault.

And I’ve come a pretty long way considering what I came out of.

It’s not my fault I was raised in cultic extremist religion.

It’s not my fault that cultic extremist religion severely fucked me up in the head and severely stunted my mental and emotional growth.

It’s not my fault that my religious upbringing – and my mom in particular – taught me to be scared of the world and that the world was evil and no one or anything was to be trusted and hammered this in over and over.

It’s not my fault that I grew up being taught mostly fear, fear, and mostly more fear.

It’s not my fault that I grew up in a closed environment and forced through homeschooling and never being allowed to experience being ‘normal’ or having a normal social life. It’s not my fault that I didn’t have the change to become normally socialized until I was well into my young adult years and that I never got to experience major ‘firsts’ in my teenage years that a lot of people take for granted.

It’s not my fault that I feel like I’m so behind in all my goals in life because I spent literally a decade going through therapy from my religious upbringing and studying actual theology, Biblical exegesis, and comparative religion, in order to deprogram myself from cultic religious thinking and reprogram myself in a more normal, sane way of functioning in the world.

It’s not my fault that my childhood and teenage religion taught so much fear around sexuality and an overly fear-based teaching on STDs that it took me so long to have any sexual experiences at all and finally lose my virginity because I was literally so scared to death to actually do anything sexual, and as a result I turned down and missed out on so many opportunities during my teenage and early young adult years because my first few attempts to lose my virginity I struggled with literal panic attacks.

It’s not my fault that attempting to be sexual still elicits these feelings in milder forms, and I still find myself pushing away more opportunities than I embrace because I still haven’t completely eradicated all the fear yet. It was burned too deep into my subconscious from the moment my sexual awakening occurred and is too intertwined with it to reasonably hope to eradicate it all overnight.

It’s not my fault that it’s still hard to meet new people and hook up or whatever because, again, my mom was a very fearful person embracing a very fear-based religion, and all of that was passed down to me in mountain-fulls. I still remember being four 3 or 4 years old in the basket in the grocery store and if my dad were to walk away for a minute I found myself wondering which of the people in the grocery store around me was going to try to kidnap me.

It’s not my fault that I was taught when I was young that being LGBTQ was very not okay, and that I had to hide myself for so long feeling like it was very not okay to be myself, and that I over the long run started experiencing extreme self-hatred and feeling disassociated from my own body and it damaged my ability to nurture authentic relationships with other people and even caused me to push others away.

It’s not my fault that my childhood religion fucked me up to the point that, post-deconstruction, I feel that my ability to find what is real and true to me has been severely damaged by being intertwined and mixed with extremist religion for so long that I often feel kind of lost.

But still.

The other day, after having a bit of a pity party and frustrated vent with a friend over how far I felt I had not come, she urged me to look and see just how far I had come.

I went home and sat down and – still feeling burned out a bit over my Japanese study – I decided to start engaging the language again after a long break and sat down and began playing my favorite videogame (Kingdom Hearts 2) in Japanese.

And…

I’m not fluent.

But I can read and understand an overwhelming majority of it.

I do have a more difficult time if I’m not reading Kanji subtitles. And there’s a lot of stuff like watching Youtubers or news broadcasts in Japanese that still feels a bit too high level for me – but for where I am now, playing video games where I have kanji subtitles to lean on – I can understand an overwhelming majority of it. I can read over 1000 kanji fairly well – maybe even close to 1400. That is a big difference from where I was two years ago and could only read around a couple hundred. I understand far more grammar than I used to.

And as I sat there, I realized I’ve put so much unneeded pressure on myself, to the point to where I haven’t even been enjoying the journey.

Because I am getting better.

And I realized, in that moment, that where I am in my Japanese is a reflection of all aspects of my current life.

I haven’t attained 100% or even 90% of all my goals yet because I’m still in the intermediate stage. But the very fact that I’ve come as far as ‘intermediate’ still really means something.

I’ve come this far in my Japanese and I will still go further.

Ten years ago at my work I was often described by people as shy and introverted and someone who never hardly talked to anyone. Nobody would likely say that about me nowadays. I’m far more social and likely to interact with people around me.

I used to be far too timid and passive and unlikely to speak up, let alone ever be put in charge of anything or other people. I used to be someone that people easily walked all over. The me today is not so much of a pushover. I’m a soon-to-be official assistant manager at my job, and I’ve been growing significantly over the last few years in speaking up, taking charge, and not taking simply taking bullshit.

I’ve gotten better and making friends and maintaining relationships.

Somewhere along the line I did manage to have a handful of sexual experiences and somehow managed to actually lose my virginity.

I still struggle with social apps, but the sheer fact of the matter is that I’m significantly more likely now to actually talk to people on such apps, and perhaps have legitimate experiences from such in the near or close future.

I’ve become to start becoming more comfortable in my sexual orientation – even if it often still feels erratic and all over the place as fuck – and I feel more comfortable in my own skin today than I’ve ever felt in my life.

I’ve made great strides in purging fear out of my life. It’s not all completely gone – but it doesn’t rule and dominate me in every waking moment the way I was taught to let it dominate me growing up.

I still haven’t really completely figured out my own spiritual path or beliefs yet, but at the very least, I do know what core values I believe in above all else, and why I believe in them, and I have a more stable foundation to begin finding my path, a path that is legitimately mine and not dictated by others nor given over to falling into extremes.

From my teenage years through my early young adult years, I experienced severe depression. In my early young adult years it got so bad I briefly became suicidal. Sometimes I forget just how severe the darkness of that time really was. I came through the fire in the end and beat suicidal depression. I haven’t felt legitimate depression of the sort I felt during that long period of my life in several years. It’s gone. It’s not ever coming back. There isn’t a chance I’m returning to that darkness ever again.

And in the end, all of these are very good things. And the best part is, it’s not the end. There is still a lot to experience and a lot of growth to be had.

And as for all the things that I wished I’d had when I was younger, they are still to be had. I’ll more than likely have them in the end. And, perhaps, in a strange way, I’ll appreciate them significantly more than I would have if I’d had them at the ‘standard’ times.

I don’t really know who out there might identify with the things I’m writing here. My personal story is my personal story. But perhaps out there somewhere someone can identify with at least parts of what I’m saying and, perhaps you may find out, whoever you are, that perhaps you are not giving yourself enough credit right now either.

Posted in lgbtq, Uncategorized

It’s Okay To Be Different

I feel like this post is going to repeat a lot of what I said in my last post, but I think that is okay. We are constantly bombarded with messages from society, culture, others, peers, friends, subgroups, ect. about what we have to do to fit in and be accepted and be ‘normal’. These messages are repeated over and over again until we begin to believe them. Therefore, I think there is a fruitfulness to combatting the lie by repeating the truth over and over again. So, I am going to repeat some things I have said before. I am going to be repeating myself in the future. And I’m going to be doing so without apology.

I’ve decided to take the base theme of what I wrote in my last post and turn them here into a series of statements of truth. I feel there may be people out there who needs to hear someone actually say the things below. So I am going to say them, as clearly and loudly as I can.

In my own life, I have found that the things I have struggled with that made me wonder if I was ‘abnormal’ or a ‘freak’ lost their power when I encountered someone else who was the same and was able to proclaim the same things about themselves without shame or embarrassment. Things only hold power over us when we think we are all alone. They lose their power in community, through testimony and shared stories.

And, if I’m being honest, half the reason I’m writing these things is because, while not all of them apply to me personally, some do, and I need to hear these things myself from time to time.

So, here goes. A series of statements that I think are highly important to say:

It is okay to not be normal.

It is okay to be different.

It is okay to like different things.

It’s okay to like that movie or band or tv show that no one else likes.

It’s okay to have that weird hobby you never tell anyone about because you think they might look at you funny.

It’s okay to not fit into any of the hundreds of sexual orientation labels.

It’s okay to be completely sexually fluid and not apply a label to yourself at all.

It’s okay to be long past your teenage years and still be a virgin. (In the most technical sense, I didn’t lose my virginity till I was 30, but after that I still didn’t feel like I actually did it ‘right’ or ‘officially’ until over a year ago, on New Year’s Eve 2021, at 34.)

It’s okay to have a first sexual experience that completely sucks and doesn’t feel like you actually lost your virginity at all. (It’s common) (It happened to me)

It’s okay to love sex and enjoy it responsibly.

It’s okay to not have sex very often.

It’s okay to explore yourself and what you like.

It’s okay to decide you don’t like sex. You have that right.

It is okay to not like sex but still want romance and intimacy. You deserve to have love and affection in your life.

It’s okay to take your time deciding what you like about sex or what works for you. There is no rush to ‘get it right’.

There is not a right way of ‘having sex’.

It’s okay to never have sex at all. It doesn’t make you any less of a person.

It’s okay to have never been in a relationship. It doesn’t make you any less of a person.

It’s okay to never be in a relationship. It doesn’t make you any less of a person.

It’s okay to feel confused.

It’s okay to not know what you want at this time.

It’s okay to give yourself time and space to figure out yourself.

It’s okay to not jump into something you don’t really want.

It’s okay to wait.

It’s okay to go all in for something you really want. Life is short – seize the moment.

It’s okay to make mistakes. Your mistakes do not define you – and you can learn and grow from them.

It’s okay to forgive yourself.

It’s okay to not be perfect all of the time or even most of the time.

It’s okay to have kinks and fetishes. If it harms nobody and maximizes your pleasure and enjoyment, in solo or mutual context, go all for it and enjoy it. Life is short – seize the moment.

There is no right way of having a kinky experience or practicing a kink.

It’s okay to prefer solitude over social situations. There’s nothing wrong with you.

It’s okay to commit every fashion faux pax in the book – if it’s what you like, then go for it and be extravagant.

It’s okay to have made it through a significant amount of your life and not have ‘accomplished anything’. Society places a lot of value on whether or not we have contributed something visible or attained power or status. But the fact of the matter is you simply being alive adds to the people around you. Simply your presence means more than any measure of materialistic achievement. You don’t have to do anything to be worth of existing or being.

You don’t have to do anything.

You don’t have to do anything to be worthy of love.

You don’t have to be anything to be worthy of love.

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

I repeated that several different ways because I felt it was important.

It’s okay not to be the smartest, or the fastest, or the strongest. These are not the things that determine true worth and value.

It’s okay to follow your own path and determine what works best for you.

It’s okay to say no.

It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

It’s okay to ask for help.

It’s okay to ask for space and take some time for yourself.

It’s okay to want to be alone sometimes.

It’s okay to long for love and affection and meaningful human connection.

It’s okay to dance in the rain if you feel like it.

It’s okay to be you.

Twitter: @ZodiarkEstharia

Posted in lgbtq

The Theme of This Blog: Normal Does Not Exist – Difference Is Good

For a while after my first few posts, I struggled for a bit on how to continue the blog and the type of stuff I should write. I ended up feeling like before moving forward I should lay down a solid theme. After thinking about it heavily, I think I know the theme I want to make clear from the get-go.

To be fair, this is probably going to be a somewhat of an eclectic blog. It’s not just going to always be me talking about myself or LGBT stuff. There will be stuff on entertainment and other topics too as I feel the mood strikes me. But as a whole, I think that if there is one thing that I want to push harder than anything else, it’s this:

There is no such things as normal.

And

It’s okay to be who you are.

I grew up living most of my life thinking it was very not okay to be who I was. I’m not just talking my sexual orientation, either. As a kid I was often rather different from other kids. I was pretty much a nerd, and I wasn’t always interested in the same things others were. Being made fun of and bullied early on caused me to learn to hide the things I was interested in. It didn’t come from just other kids, either. My love for anime as a teenager was not really fully understood by my parents back then and along was looked on as a rather immature hobby. So I learned to feel embarrassed of engaging in the things I enjoyed the most. I learned to keep everything to myself and not share my true self with anybody. It didn’t just come from other kids or my parents, either.

‘Normal’ isn’t something that actually exists. What is considered ‘normal’ is defined by society and the culture and subgroups we find ourselves in. And it never stays permanent, no matter how much we want to convince ourselves it does.

To give one example, all of us grew up in a culture that defined “normal” as being blue as the color for boys, and pink as the color for girls. But prior to the 1940s, things were actually the complete opposite! Pink was considered the ‘masculine’ color and ‘blue’ was considered the ‘feminine’ color. Look it up!

We are taught a concept of ‘normal’ as we grow up, from our parents and from the society around us. We might also be growing up in a particular religion or ethnic subculture which also teaches us a definition of ‘normal’ as it pertains to us in those particular subgroups. As we get old enough to have friends and peers, the group itself may develop its own ‘normal’, and we find ourselves hiding aspects of ourselves in order to not find ourselves looked at funny or excluded from the group.

It could range from actually liking that TV show as a kid (or adult) that everyone else in the in-group seems to (or pretends) to all hate, to the young boy who secretly fantasizes about playing with Barbie dolls and dressing in pink. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with liking the tv show that everyone else hates, or with a boy who wants to play with Barbies or dress in pink. The shows you watch, the toys you play with, the clothes you wear, doesn’t harm anyone whatsoever.

It could be the person hiding their sexual orientation for fear of being rejected by their parents or peers. Not wanting to disappoint the people who make up the biggest part of your life can be the most difficult prison. Some people live in this prison all their life.

It could be that person in their 20s or 30s or 40s who hasn’t lost their virginity yet, or has never been in a relationship yet and they wonder if there’s something wrong with them.

It could be that person who doesn’t like sex but craves relationship and intimacy and a future partner and they wonder if they’re some sort of freak of nature.

It could be that person who doesn’t like ‘normal’ sex at all, and they wonder if someone in a future relationship will be able to understand them and if they’ll be able to meet each other’s needs. Or maybe they are in a relationship but they never disclose to their partner what they really like or want and go through their relationship enduring ‘normal’ sex in silence and never really feeling fulfilled.

It could be that person with a kink/fetish that they keep hidden so that people around them won’t look at them funny. There is nothing wrong with it, but because of the way that society tends to look at people who are different or unorthodox, it is a necessity to keep this largely to oneself.

But the fact of the matter is that there is nothing wrong with any of this. There is simply diversity and difference running throughout all of creation. We invent concepts of ‘normal’ because it gives us the illusion of being able to control our environment. By deciding what is ‘normal’, we can imagine that we can actually control nature and attain a grasp on all the things in life we actually can’t control. We set barriers around our own ‘tribes’ with strictly set definitions of ‘normal’ and decide that if everyone else would just fall in line with ‘our’ way of doing things then the world and life would finally go as it should. Even if our ancestors actually did things the exact opposite, we convince ourselves that we are part of an unbroken line of succession carrying the torch of what is ‘right’ or ‘normal’ or ‘decent’. We exclude those who do not fit our definition of ‘normal’ for fear they will cause the complete collapse of the world and control we have sought so hard to build.

The irony though is that all of visions ‘normality’ that we try to maintain sell ourselves far shorter than what we could become. When one takes a good, honest look at the world we live in and when we pay attention to nature, we see that diversity and difference runs through all of creation. Every part of creation has something different and unique to contribute and all of it is interconnected. There is a rhythm and harmony to difference that creates a bigger whole, and all differences contribute to enhancing that whole. The whole would end up being far less if groups of trees and insects and plants and animals suddenly gained sentience and decided that they were going to decide on a universal idea of ‘normal’ and stopped contributing their unique selves and gifts to the environment around them. The entire ecosystem would collapse overnight if they decided to start attacking other trees, insects, plants, or animals that didn’t fit their strict definition of ‘normal’. Imagine if random body parts on your body unionized and decided that they were going to stop being their unique selves, create a universal definition of ‘normal’, and exclude and reject any body part that didn’t fit in to this definition.

Everyone as they are has a beauty and value to contribute to the world and to the lives of others. When we try to compare ourselves to others or repress parts of ourselves in order to fit in, we are living as less than our true selves, and we are thus dimming our own bright light that we have to offer others and the world. When we deny others full participation in society or try to pass laws limiting or taking away their rights, we are unwittingly making ourselves less that we could be by denying to unique gifts and perspectives that might enhance us. The more we try to dim the lights of others, the more our own light is dimmed.

Normal does not exist.

Difference is good.

That is what this blog is about.

Twitter: @ZodiarkEstharia