Featured Writer for October

Esther Spurrill-Jones

Esther sent an email to me to become a writer for A Cornered Gurl because she had a piece in her drafts that she thought would be perfect for the publication and it was–it is. I have been reading Esther for at least a year now and with every post shared to Medium, she shows that her talents reach far and wide. She can do fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and micropoetry.

I am sure these are probably just a few of her actual literary abilities. When she’s writing, you’re reading. It’s hard not to. And for this, she is the featured writer for October. And now, the piece:


To The Man Who Told Me I Wasn’t a Feminist

“You can’t be a feminist. Feminists are anti-Christian and anti-men. That’s not you at all.”

Image created by author

I was in university. I must have been about 21 or 22. I was attending a campus Christian group/club when the topic turned to feminism. I mentioned that I considered myself a feminist. You and the woman who was leading the group turned shocked looks toward me and proceeded to tell me that a “real” Christian cannot also be a feminist. It was mostly you talking, but the woman nodded along and agree with everything you said.

To be honest, I don’t remember much of your reasoning because I wasn’t really listening. I was so shocked at what you were saying that I just stared at you with my mouth open. I probably looked like a fish. You probably thought you taught me something. You did.

I grew up in the church, so you might be surprised that I hadn’t encountered such blatant religious sexism before. I suppose I had, but it was mostly coming from old people like my dad (you were about my age), and never from women (at least not in my hearing). I was baffled that any person my age could think that a Christian couldn’t be a feminist — at least while continuing to be a Christian — and horrified that a woman could agree. I guess I had lived a sheltered life.

I had known you for a few months at this point, and I had a respect for you as the leader of the group. I lost all respect for you.

You taught me that I couldn’t trust a man just because he is a leader. You taught me that I couldn’t trust a woman just because she is a woman. You taught me that some young, university-educated Christians still believe in stupid, outdated sexist ideas. You made me even more determined to call myself a feminist.

You see, your mistake was in thinking that just because I’m a woman that I will listen to you. I don’t like to do what I’m told to do or be what I’m told to be. Like my Biblical namesake, Queen Esther, I will walk into the king’s court uninvited and ask for justice for my people. “And if I perish, I perish.”


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Prepared

The Inevitable

funeralflower
Tushar Adhikari|Unsplash

Today, I prepared my Living Will & Testament. I had been meaning to draft this up for years, started it, and never finished, but today–it is done. I have all of the necessary mentions, made one of my best friends the Executor and both she and my mom as primary and secondary beneficiaries. Why one of my best friends and not my mom? We have discussed this, my Mom and I. Should I go before her, she is not what one would call a stable person emotionally. She would be too overwhelmed with sadness and grief and probably not the one to execute things accordingly. As grim as death is, in the event of the death of your child, plans still have to be made, funeral arrangements need to be completed, the gathering of souls and notifying them as well must be carried out and well… to be frank, she would not be able to get this done.

My best friend, on the other hand, handles things efficiently and does so in a way that many cannot. Plus, it will not be her first time dealing with death and dying and head-mastering the arrangements. I hate tasking either of them with this, but it must be done. Although I am what most would call young in age, death does not care about that. When I am called by God, I will be called and age will be the last thing on God’s mind. While diligently compiling the list of belongings and making sure Jernee will be cared for and loved when I am gone, I became a bit emotional myself. To think of one’s own death is quite macabre, however, as I stated earlier, this is necessary. I have had a number of peers die “untimely deaths,” and I am certain there will be more. It is not my intention to leave my family wondering what my wishes are nor is it my intention to leave them solely responsible for funding my homegoing.

The nearly three-page document lacks nothing. I went through it with a fine-toothed comb and I am pleased with every item bullet-pointed, including the want to be cremated and have my ashes relegated to my mother who may do what she likes with them at her discretion. I requested a small funeral–family and close friends only. I do not see a reason to have a mass gathering for the purpose of me leaving this earth. The more people at this event, the more my mom and best friend will have to deal with and I intend for their burdens to be light. They will have enough on their plates. Should my Mom go before me, I am the Executor and her primary beneficiary and I will adhere to her wishes as she has laid them out for me. The same goes for my best friend. We talk about these matters, better to do so than not be somewhat prepared.

The only thing left to do now is to obtain signatures and get the Notary Public at my credit union to notarize the document. I will try to accomplish this in the next week or two. I can let out a sigh of relief because after the fall in the shower, nearly two years ago, the one thing bleating in the back of my mind like an untamed billygoat is, “you need a Living Will. Get it done, Tre.”

And now, it is.

Centered

My Great-Grandmother Lucille Tiggs pictured at the far left. I have no clue of when this was, but I love this picture. Not sure who the other people are, but I aim to find out.

I remember my Great-Grandmother being more than sure of herself, she was confident and she had a presence about her that demanded your attention. I was close to her, undeniably and inexplicably close. Her passing more than sixteen years ago now gutted me. I felt as though my world would crumble. Her mind decided to give up on her. She had a form of dementia that beat her to a pulp and shrunk her overwhelming presence to one that we needn’t cower from. 

I do not want to ever know what it feels like to lose your mind, your sanity, your ability to make vital decisions for both yourself and others. When my Great-Grandmother’s condition worsened, her children agreed to have her placed under the watchful eyes of an appointed caregiver. There, in someone else’s home, she was monitored and cared for accordingly by professionals. It was there on my visits to her, that I noticed how aggressive this illness was. She didn’t know me anymore. Oh, she knew that I was family, but she kept referring to me as my older cousin. It pained me to watch her wither, to witness her become someone I did not know. 

Even though she was no longer as smart as a whip and her memory began shifting and leaving her day by day, there was still a sense of groundedness in her. I looked at her and she appeared centered. Was it the fact that she was in her eighties and had been the epitome of strength and tenacity for our family for decades? Was it because I still saw the confident and self-assured reckoning of a woman that she was? I am certain that it was a combination of these things, but now, when I feel as though I may fall or am falling, I think of her. I remember who she was and…

I tell myself that I am of her blood and I am centered, grounded, confident, and sure. 

I am hers even if she’s gone. 

Please, Don’t Shove Your Hatred Into God’s Mouth

 

IMG_20181230_090131
I have this tattooed on my arm to remind me that I am here to love all people no matter what. That is my goal. That is what God wants from me, of me. This is what God wants from all of us–for us to love one another. PERIOD.

It pains me that I am here before you now, sharing yet another piece by a great, solid, empowering Writer by the name of James Finn via Medium. Not only is this wonderful man an advocate for the LGBTQ community, but he also lives and breathes the work that he shares–this is his life. It has become mine too. What I am going to share with you is appalling, graphic in nature, and displays that this world is still hellbent on hate yet calling it God’s love. How? How can one fix one’s mouth and refer to any acts of hate, fear-mongering, and total disdain for the differences in others God’s love?

I will remind you, it is not.

His post, Conversations with a Homophobe is catching fire via Medium (as it should), and it details his conversation with a follower on Twitter who is Catholic and from what I can ascertain, firmly believes that heinous acts against those of the LGBTQ community are well-warranted and righteous performances of what God expects. According to him, we are to be weeded from the garden, cast out, dwindled down in lesser numbers, and all with God’s approval from the Catholic church. I will be the first to tell you of my upbringing– a Southern (based on region) Baptist from a family that was and is devout in Christianity. For thirty years, I trapped myself, kept myself in the closet, knowing full well of who I was well before I knew the term, the label, the explanation of how God crafted me to be. Yes, GOD made me, so he knew who I was before I became this flower of a person, this person who I love so much more now knowing that I am finally free in my own skin.

Being gay, a lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, etc is STILL BEING HUMAN. Where is humanity? Reading Jim’s article, it goes on to explain the reason for his post on Twitter was to bring attention to that of a young man who had been hacked, sliced & diced with  machetes because he is gay and followers of the Roman Catholicism branch of faith took it upon themselves to make an example of this young man. He will probably die.

The young man was attacked because people found out he’s gay. He says they screamed at him about God and sin as they butchered him. They’re all faithful Catholics. They believe what their Church teaches about gay men being evil and depraved. They acted on that belief.”

From the Catholic Catechism:

“Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

Hmm. “Christian perfection.” No one is perfect, but God. We will always be flawed, and if we attempt any such advancements toward perfectionism, something we cannot obtain, we will be further reminded of our humanness–of our flaws. I love my faith. I love being a follower of Christ. I love God. What I do not stand for, what I do not love, is hatred toward any human being made by the hands of God. I do not care about the source, the whys, the hows, the whats–I do not stand for it. If you are a child of God, if you call yourself a follower of Christ, in any branch of the religious world, you are to love others as you love yourself and you are to do so according to the word of God.

GOD IS LOVE.

Please… Please stop shoving your hatred into God’s mouth. He doesn’t speak hate. He never has. He never will. Jim has asked that his article Conversations with a Homophobe be shared to all social media outlets. Facebook has deleted his posts. Twitter has done the same. Why? Because he is speaking against a major religious figurehead and for some reason, around the globe, but especially in the US, we are not to point fingers at those who believe they are on some sort of pious pedestal. I don’t mind pointing fingers, especially if you are wrong. Especially if it hurts people. And most especially, if it kills them. I am not on Facebook. I do not have Twitter. Soon, I will no longer have Instagram. Social media is not my bag.

But, I have a voice, so I am sharing this here.

Conversations with a Homophobe

I am blessed that I have a mother who was fighting for me without my knowledge when family members were sharing their thoughts of who I was or who they thought I was going to be. I am blessed to have a mother who still fights for me. Brothers who have all stated that they are waiting for anyone to fix their mouths and say something against me that is not of their approval. Friends who still stand by my side. Coming out a few months ago was hard to do, but I am more than happy that I did it. As a reminder, you can be religious, faithful, and devout–you can be all of this and not spout hate to those who are in some way, different than you. God is love. Anything else is not of God.

“Love one another.”