Hi everyone, I’m Rich, my pronouns are he/him. My wife asked that I repost this “article” I wrote as an Ally for our Queer and Allies affinity group at work. I’m proud of my company’s investment in DE&I and love being able to share in the support of everyone.
Let me start by introducing myself and we’ll get the basics out of the way.
I’m a white dude, obviously. I was born in Texas, lived most of my life in Utah and as of last year I now live in Washington state.
I’m married to my wife, Alie, and have three adult children, so we’re empty nesters with a fur baby up here in the PNW.
Let’s break that all down in the context of first impressions and general assumptions.
- Being born in Texas; If you were speaking to me right now, you might assume that I’m “hiding” an accent. I do have a slight accent that comes out when around southerners, but I was an army kid in an army town so the backgrounds were extremely diverse.
- Telling you I have lived in Utah most of my life, most people would assume I’m LDS. I’m not.
- Having three kids and being married to a straight woman, you’d immediately think I was straight, however I’m Bi.
Bias or assumptions, however you frame it, don’t speak to someone else’s journey. Mine, like everyone’s, is a sum of all the parts and the community identities we juggle.
My LGBTQ+ journey so far has been as a strong supporter and Ally. More visibly coming out doesn’t change that.
In a nutshell, I struggled with my own feelings and thoughts in a world that has a very rigid view of “normal”.
As we all know, your journey is affected by other’s where they intersect. Both positively and negatively. Ultimately people just want to have a say in their journey, especially when it’s core to their identity.
Let’s be honest, this is why politicizing people’s identity is a problem.
I was raised in a very conservative Catholic family, enough said. Like anyone in my situation, my inner identity was always different from what was considered “normal”.
I had crushes on boys as well as girls, I had a couple brief relationships with men while not married. I wasn’t “normal”. The reality was it was just easier to succumb to the pressures of normal society. I mean I could go either way.
If you know me, you know I like to tell a story, and there is a lot packed into that last statement. I won’t digress here, but would be happy to have a dialog over a beverage of your choosing.
Being an Ally has always been important to me. I hope that I can show people they’re not alone in what you’re feeling. These worlds are not easy to navigate, by any means.
Yes I’m part of the community, but my journey as a monogamist bi – to add another label – has been to give into the pressures of what other people see as “normal”. A privilege if you will. We won’t go there today…
Even as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I consider myself an Ally first. But Why? Because, my struggles are not as difficult as other groups in my community.
I’m not implying that anyone’s journey is easy and pain free. Like anything there’s a spectrum, but as an Ally I choose to put more effort in supporting and speaking up for those who need it.
I ask you to join me as an Ally for all communities of people who just want to live their own journey without the pressures and biases of “normal”.
Much like our own journeys, everyone’s “normal” is equally as different… To be cheesy.
So, if you’ve known me for any real amount of time the details of this post probably won’t surprise you. If you haven’t known me long, or maybe don’t know me at all, it might surprise you a little.
I’m an atheist.
I’ve been an atheist my whole life. I’ve joked that it all started with the truth about Santa but that isn’t true. I’ve always not believed. I don’t come from an atheist family, and I didn’t really know any others growing up – I mean, I am in Utah – but that didn’t keep me from being open about my thoughts.
The first time I ever said I didn’t believe in a god I was still in elementary school, and didn’t even know there was a word for it. It wasn’t something that I had prepared to share, it just kind of came out. We were lined up for lunch and I was getting lectured by a girl named Jenny about the fact that my weekend activities had not included church. I justified it by explaining that if there was a god he should understand having dinner at my grandparents’ house was more important than being in church. I can tell you my answer wasn’t received well by the other 12 year olds.
Through my life I’ve been questioned about my beliefs, accused of lacking morals, been called confused, weird, and lost. In college a group of dorm-mates held an intervention for my roommate out of concern I was going to lead her to Satan. (I tried to explain that I didn’t believe in him either, but they didn’t think I was funny.) Some statements towards me have been humorous, some have been hurtful, but overall I’ve made it a point to let them go. I don’t spend any of my time trying to convert others, and try for the most part to be polite when I refuse the attempts made on me. Living by my own rules of respect has made things easy with my family and beautiful friends. Lately though, its been getting harder and harder for me to be nice about things with the general religious public.
I don’t need to convert people to my beliefs. I don’t care if you believe in God, or gods, the moon, or pasta in a magical bowl. I don’t care if you want to follow every word in the bible, or just every third word. I don’t care if you want to follow the declaration of Samantha Black Crow in American Gods, or the Tao of Pooh. I don’t care if you want to allow yourself to be offended by coffee cups – or coffee for that matter – by two adults deciding to tie the knot, or the sight of women’s knees. You can believe in a special place for your next life, and a warmer place for the rest of us, or you can believe that we’ll all come back as cats. The list of what I will allow you to believe is longer than you may think. Your beliefs are your own and I don’t want to interfere with them. As long as you keep them your own.
The thing that seems to get lost for some out there is that fact. Beliefs are personal. You are blessed with the right to follow the beliefs that fit best for you. For a certain amount of time you are even allowed to make sure your kids follow your beliefs. But once you’re outside of your house – outside of your personal circle – your beliefs end. There is nothing out there that allows you to require your beliefs be followed by anyone else. And don’t even start with the whole “we’re a Christian nation” catch-phrase, because I’ve looked it up. I’ve actually looked a lot of it up. I’ve studied religion as an outsider for years. Almost since I was 12. At times I’ve been able to tell followers of a faith things about their faith they didn’t know. And I was right. And the truth on that old line is that we are not a Christian nation. Our constitution actually disallows our leaders to establish any national religion, or declare one religion over another. It’s called the Establishment Clause, if you want to look it up.
You will always have the right to live your life according to your religious beliefs. And even if I don’t agree with them, I will always support the idea that you have that right. (Unless there’s torture or blood sacrifice involved. There’s a different set of laws regarding all that we have to follow.) But, while I support you, I will also support your neighbor, the guy you work with, and the kid at the car wash to have the right to live as they believe. And while supporting you all, I will always insist that our nation’s laws follow legal standards and the constitution, not the bible or the torah, or your favorite Italian cook book. And I will insist – absolutely insist – on respect. Respect for me, respect for your neighbor, and respect to you right back. And if we can all get there, if we can agree to something as simple as respect, oh, what a world we will be.