“That thing isn’t even human!!” Those are the words I heard come out of my mouth upon seeing my first transsexual person, and it bothers me to this day that I said them. It was 1979 and I had moved to Hollywood, California, from a small town with a population of 3,000, which was basically an all white, Christian community. You can imagine my awakening when I learned how much diversity there is in Los Angeles.
A friend had taken me to a Hungarian dance and upon our arrival most everyone was already in a circle in the center of the room learning a new dance. Standing in the circle was a very tall person who looked like a woman. My friend said she was a transsexual and told me what that meant. I was immediately disgusted; hence the words “That thing isn’t even human!!” Because I was so appalled and horror-stricken, we decided to leave and go elsewhere.
At the time, I was attending a large church and was very steeped in my fundamentalist beliefs. Anyone who didn’t believe the way I did, or who did not live up to how I was taught they should live, was wrong and going to hell. My beliefs were packed so tightly inside a box that there was no wiggle room for anything new.
Not long after the above incident, I had gone into a Hollywood Christian bookstore. I was the only customer so the clerk and I struck up a conversation in which he began to tell me about his current situation. He proceeded to tell me that he had been a man, became a woman, was saved, and was in the process of becoming a man again. I didn’t know what to say, though I do know I tried to remain calm and not say anything to betray my ladylike manners.
Just then two others came into the store. I recognized the man from an acting class, but did not know the woman he was with. We began talking and to my horror once again, he began to tell me about the woman he was with. She had been a man, went through the process of becoming a woman, became saved, and was going to become a man again. Apparently, they were told that in order to be a Christian, they could not be a transsexual.
You can imagine how stunned I was. My mind raced trying to find a polite way to run out the door. Before I could leave, someone suggested that we hold hands in a circle and pray. Next thing I knew, I was standing there, and on each side of me I was holding hands with one of these “freaks.” I could only try not to panic for I knew it would be over soon and I could make my escape.
But then something happened. While someone was praying, I heard the words in my mind very clearly, just as if someone were standing there speaking them aloud, “Karen, these are my children, too, and I love them just as much as any of my children.”
Talk about stunned! Did I really just hear those words? No one in the circle spoke them. Therefore, they could only be from one source. God…the Universe…Spirit…my Higher Self. Regardless of who spoke them or where they came from, I heard them loud and clear. I may not have had an instant turnaround in my thinking or beliefs, but a seed was planted; a seed that would continue to grow and manifest until they took hold years later and I was no longer affected by homophobia.
I learned that we are all children of the Universe (or the God of your understanding) and that we are all loved equally. I don’t understand what makes someone gay. But I also don’t understand what makes people fall in love, or how a child can be conceived and grow into a human, or any other wonderful mysteries life bestows upon us.
Since then, I’ve met and gotten to know so many wonderful people who happen to be gay. Today, many of my friends are gay and I love them dearly. They are some of the nicest, kindest, most accepting people I know. It pains me to see the discrimination, even hate, which they have to deal with in our society, much of it being propagated by religion and politicians. Those claiming religion should know better, especially if they profess to belief in Jesus. Jesus made it very clear in John 13:34-35 when he said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus did not make any exceptions. When he says “love one another,” he means everyone regardless of their color, race, religion, politics, sexual preference, gender, rich or poor, and the list goes on.
History has shown us that since the beginning of humankind, discrimination, hatred, bigotry, and ignorance have been perpetuated against various cultures and groups of people. But history has also taught us that the human spirit is strong and we will prevail until all are loved and accepted equally. American Indians, Jews, Japanese, gays, Muslims, Mexicans, woman, and so on have been discriminated against and/or oppressed at one time, or continue to be to this day. What history is also teaching us, though, is that oppressing any person or any group of people is not our natural state of being. People all over the world are standing up for each other and standing up for groups of people who are being harmed in any way, shape, or form. People are starting to “get it.” We really are one and it really is all about unconditional love for all beings.
Today, I believe in our oneness and that we are all equal regardless of our apparent differences. I try to love and accept all people. More and more people are learning that we really are all connected to each other and when we harm one, we harm all, including ourselves. People on this great planet of ours are awakening. Will we see all people completely awakened in our lifetime? Probably not. But we can awaken one person at a time, and like a domino effect, we can change the world.
Published in the Upper Cumberland Pride Day Guide May 2013. Copyright 2013