Dan Lopata

Live, Love, Listen

Archive for the category “LGBTQ”

TransParenting Intro

I battled with the idea to make this an entirely separate blog focusing on being the Dad of a transgender son, but decided that Live, Love, Listen is the appropriate place. This blog is about the things that are important to me, and the self-centered person I am, or maybe a the person I am who wants to see a better world for all thinks it should be important to you. So it remains here among my music, running, and humanist posts.

We recently came out publicly about our son, and now I find myself in a time of Listening. I’ve been overwhelmed since he came out to us, then to the family, then to his school, and now us coming out to everyone, and overwhelming expresses itself in form of depression for me. It has been a struggle, I’ve been overeating, not exercising, buying pop tarts and birthday cake fudge stripes. I’ve been binge-ing on Netflix, and distant. Fortunately I had to go to the ADK with Amy and that got me hiking.  And, fortunately, I am now in a place that I recognize my depression and the things I do to myself. So currently I’m engaging in running again, took a couple of my kids hiking at Stony Brook State Park, and getting to sleep a little earlier by only watching one Netflix episode of the many shows I’m following. I’ve got some gigs coming up too that I’m excited about. So I am engaging in taking care of myself. This is the result of learning how to listen, listen to others, my therapist, and my body/mind (sorry about the dualism there).

Other things I’m listening to are the responses to our coming out. (Names omitted):


– Sky is very lucky to have been born into such a kickass family. And hopefully the world is changing quickly enough that he won’t have to experience the hate and fear that his predecessors endured.

– I liked this post. If i could like it numerous times without it actaully unliking it i would..sending my love and support

– I have learned over the years that it is the most important thing to be yourself, and be true to yourself no matter what. Sky has done one of the best things for himself.

– Dan & Amy, I’ve yet to meet Sky, but I already adore him because he is your child & I do so appreciate the 2 of you. And I admire all 3 of you even more now. Count me among the legion surrounding you all with love and support. Bravo!

– I am truly impressed by you as parents stepping out into YOUR Authenticity. Many parents of a TrueGender child are not willing to join their child on the frontlines of their life in such a way

For those of us who are living in our Truegender, our actions are acutely tied to the support system that embraces or expels us. We have known who we are for a longer time than those in the ever widening circle of our lives and our choice to Reveal and live our True Life should be as simple as pulling back the curtain. Sadly, that is not possible in every community. Sky will benefit from your continued Unconditional Love and he will also thrive in the local LGBTQ community and the larger public community of Upstate NY, which is exceptional in its acceptance of gender diversity. Sadly, locality and environment really do impact our progress and future success in realizing our intentions. I honor you, Dan and Amy, for YOUR commitment to transition in YOUR life as Sky approaches a fuller understanding of his own challenges.

For my part, I can attest to experiencing no external pushback which has been instrumental in my own measure of Self Confidence in processing what I need to and proceeding to actualize my hopes, dreams and ambitions. Continued therapeutic guidance has been essential for me to staying on track, but I am sure you and Sky are well aware of its benefits, judging by the strong United front you present.

My sister is an active board member of PFLAG in Chicago and force of nature in the LGBTQ community there. If you haven’t already, I invite you to join PFLAG and add your energy to its mission. We are also blessed by having the Gay Alliance of Greater Rochester and The Empty Closet as such a strong resources locally.

The timing of this announcement could not be better timed, coming just before our annual Pride Celebration. I will not soon forget being a Pride Parade participant months after I initiated my full disclosure and experiencing the love and affirmation radiating from the sidewalks 2 years ago. For me, after decades of self-imposed suppression it was a triumphant tear-filled coming home at last. I can only hope Sky feels the same welcome I experienced and banks that joyous validation.

Please accept my offer of availability to you and Sky, should you need counsel, confirmation and companionship on your journey. We are all pioneers, representatives of a larger Global initiative that invites every Human Being on the planet to live Out Loud, Unapologetically as who we really are and embrace the opportunity to evolve to a new level of Human Understanding and in the process, Change the World.

– I don’t often love facebook posts, but, when I do, I love facebook posts.

– He is so lucky to have you. You must have created a loving and supportive environment for him to be so brave, so young. Congratulations.

– Congratulaions on the freedom this will bring for him. You should be so proud of him. And what great parents to be so supportive (as it should be).

– His ability to be comfortable in his own skin and willingness to share this with others stems from your acceptance of who your children are and allowing them to be themselves. And loving them all the same. I hope my girls will feel this love from us too as this is the most important job as parents. Nice work, Dan. And your Sky is a little brighter today.

These fill me with hope. But I still get stuck and look for the bad; like digging to see who hasn’t “liked” our post, and routing out all of the anti-LBGTQ news, and recognizing that the Pope believes the Church should ask for forgiveness but refuses to change doctrine. Still, even with all the negative, I look at court cases, I look at responses to my post, I look at the great State of NY (We are fortunate to live in the Greater Rochester Area which has been called the San Francisco of the East), I look at the rest of the country, and I am convinced at times that the war has been won. What we are witnessing is the last, desperate dying cries of bigoted people hiding behind their “Holy Books” while the majority of us see right through their thin veneer.

Yes, Trump, the GOP, and Religion are still extremely dangerous to the health and safety of the LGBTQ community, but the courts are ruling with us, public sentiment is on our side and we will win. Remember that vitriol was just as intense during the Civil Rights fight, and even though we still live in a racist society, the laws were changed and the Civil Rights war is won with constant changes to make things better, and we all know who the bad guys were. We are witnessing this again, and if I believe the arc of the universe curves toward justice, “We Shall Overcome” again.

But this doesn’t happen by declaring “victory” and sitting on our laurels, we must continue and take the fight to them. It is time to stop playing defense and start asserting our rights, our strongly held beliefs that are in line with human rights, not religious rights. And demand that others’ rights to discriminate end at the boundaries of the church yard.

 

Coming Out

Today I follow the lead of my most amazing child, and with his permission, share some news. My son Sky, who you may have previously known as Shira, chose the brave path of coming out to our family as transgendered at his 13th birthday party.  Following the sharing with family, he again chose to do something no other student in his district has done, and courageously individually addressed each of his classes to share his new name and respectfully request that going forward his classmates and teachers use his name and the pronouns “he, him, his”.  Saddened by a world that makes it so that my child needs to be brave simply to be who he is, we hope that by our love and support, and continued efforts to use empathy and kindness for ALL human beings, things will get better.  We chose this method of communication so that we could begin important dialogue if needed and because we do not feel the need to “come out” to each person we encounter individually. We understand that there are risks associated and are fully willing to handle whatever comes next in support of him.
A few things our family (including Sky) would like you to know:
1. If you’ve met him, you already know that Sky is an amazing, bright human being with incredible gifts of empathy, humor, and kindness. Most recently he has found joy in supporting dramatic performance as a back stage crew, having supported the high school production while just in 7th grade.  Being transgendered male is only one part of his identity and we all ask that you do not lose sight of the WHOLE awesome human he is.  If you have not met him, you are in for a treat when you do.  We also ask that you use the name Sky, and the male pronouns.  Sky understands that this may be difficult at first because of what you may be used to.
2. We will try to answer whatever appropriate questions we can. Note, we are not experts in this field and won’t have all of the answers to questions you may have. I would recommend utilizing resources at The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley (GAGV), Genesee Valley Gender Variants (GVGV, or GV2), or a library as we also won’t have time to be your personal researchers on this topic. We respectfully ask that you use validated sources and not just rely on what someone randomly tells you about what transgender is or isn’t. A few places to start: 
3. We will NOT answer personal questions about transitioning (hormones, surgeries, etc).  This is not anyone else’s business. 
4. Please do not “feel sorry” for us if you think this is an affliction, if your personal beliefs tell you this is “wrong”, that someone of his age couldn’t know, etc.  All of these sentiments represent a lack of acceptance for a fellow human being. You may feel sorry for us if you are sorry that we have to live in a decidedly LGBTQ-phobic society. I would ask that rather than feeling sorry, you actively participate in making our society more LGBTQ affirmative and accepting.
Thanks in advance for your love and acceptance.
-Dan and Amy

LISTEN, LOVE, LIVE, RANT

Let’s start with LIVE:
I cannot fathom the idea of taking another person’s life. Yet we see this happen on a daily basis, and if you are LBGTQ the chances of having a violent crime perpetrated against you up to and including murder is much higher than the general public. The Extraordinarily Common Violence Against LGBTQ People in America.
How can we let people LIVE? There is a common phrase and it is emphasized in 12-step groups, “Live and Let Live.” It is probably the most important message I learned when I attended 12-step meetings. Today I struggle with it because of the number of people and organizations who seem to ignore this principle, or change it to, “Live and Let Live, but only if you’re living exactly the lifestyle I believe you should live.”
LOVE:
I think people change that principle because they lack empathy, they lack love. Yes they will say they are only giving, “Tough Love” or that they only are trying to get people to change their ways out of “Love”. But I’m going to cry foul on this. How is it loving to not allow someone the same rights as you because you don’t accept their particular lifestyle even though it has ZERO effect on your life? Because that is essence what you have done when you vote in people who block legislation that affords equal rights to the LGBTQ Community… NOT SPECIAL RIGHTS; EQUAL RIGHTS – The same rights every cis gendered white male have in this country (Notice I singled out the most privileged group that systemically and socially have the most rights in this country). Giving someone else the same rights that you have is NOT taking your rights away.
LISTEN:
Please listen to me. By not granting the LGBTQ community equal rights in hiring, housing, benefits, etc. you put this entire community into a class that is less than. This idea that classes of people are less human than you is exactly what has enabled genocides from the Holocaust, to Pol Pot’s exterminations, to Serbia/Croatia, Armenia, The Kurds, etc. etc. etc. I mean, if these people aren’t human, then killing them is no worse than killing animals we consider scourges like the passenger pigeon.
Look, I know the argument, “But what about my strongly held Religious beliefs?” What about them? People who claim this as an excuse for discrimination, which is by its very nature dehumanization, are typically from a monotheistic, Abrahamic Religion. All of these religions prescribe a death sentence for people who don’t conform:
New Testament:
Romans 1:27-32 New International Version (NIV)
27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Old Testament/Torah:
Leviticus 20:30 (NIV)
“‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
Quran:
Quran (7:80-84) – “…For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds…. And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone)”
More Islam:
Abu Dawud (4462) – The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.”.

Abu Dawud (4448) – “If a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death.” (Note the implicit approval of sodomizing one’s wife).

Bukhari (72:774) – “The Prophet cursed effeminate men (those men who are in the similitude (assume the manners of women) and those women who assume the manners of men, and he said, ‘Turn them out of your houses .’ The Prophet turned out such-and-such man, and ‘Umar turned out such-and-such woman.”

al-Tirmidhi, Sunan 1:152 – [Muhammad said] “Whoever is found conducting himself in the manner of the people of Lot, kill the doer and the receiver.

So do we allow people to kill homosexuals because the source documents of their “Strongly held beliefs” tell them to do so? I mean where is the line? And, is it so hard for you to see that any action you take against another class of people dehumanizes them? Upon review, it is not surprising at all that we see acts of violence against the LBGTQ community, we basically allow it and encourage it by giving legal shelter to the institutions that encourage, even proscribe it.
If we indeed believe what our Constitution says, that ‘All … are created equal’ Why do we write laws that allow some people to be more equal than others as Orwell said?
LISTEN again, I am not saying that you aren’t free to practice your religion, the First Amendment grants you that right. What I’m saying is that your rights end where someone else’s begin. No, even if your Religion says so, you do not have the right to discriminate against someone else in this country based on race, religion, gender, or gender identity, because at that point you have impeded on someone else’s EQUAL rights. If you say that your religion allows it, then it is you who are asking for SPECIAL RIGHTS under our rule of law. Yes there is a separation of Church and State, but understand that it doesn’t mean your Religion, or any Religion is its own sovereign state within our country. The only Sovereign Nations within our borders, other than the U.S.A. belong to those we stole this nation from, Native Americans. It is high time we all understand this so we can allow ALL to
LIVE
LOVE
LISTEN

 

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