Monday, June 13, 2016

Pride, Muslims and the state of hate in America

I haven't been online much this weekend because of graduation stuff, but I want to comment on the shooting in Florida. Admittedly, I've not read much about it since I've not been online much. I skimmed a few stories this morning. What I understand is that this was an act of hate - an attack on the LGBT community, and I'm sure it's no coincidence Mateen planned to execute this violence during Pride Month.

To hate a group of people that unconscionable to me. I have also seen many posts hating on Muslims during the last 24 hours. Keep a few things in mind. ISIS in not a religion. It is a terrorist group. We simply cannot stop letting people into our country based on religious beliefs. Blending together our differences is much of what makes the United States great. If we turn one away, we should turn all away. Islam is a religion, and yes, has some horrible people within it, but so does every other religion on the face of the planet. Look up Christian Mass Shooters on Google. Mormons, Catholics...have all participated in mass killings.

People are also bashing Obama for letting "these people" into our country. Mateen was born and raised right here in New York. His parents are not terrorists, radicals or extremists. They and his ex-wife said he was not overly religious and don't think religion played a part in this violent act. Sure, he was a Muslim, but more so, he was a terrorist and LGBT hater. When terrorists claim they have committed violence because of their religion, there is usually another motive, be it political, social, or personal (studies have been done to support this).

I will never waiver in support of our LGBT community. I'm supporting the Pride Foundation this month through my business. I know I have alienated and probably lost some of our customers because of it, but I am okay with that. I stand behind my ideologies, my convictions, and my values.

I am proud to be a person who does not judge, stereotype, or hate others based on their race, religion, culture or sexual preference. I judge people on their character. How they treat others and live their lives.

If you want to lay blame, let's look at the gun violence itself. I don't want your guns taken away from you if you are a responsible gun owner. But it is time to admit, and the facts prove it, that the United States has too many guns within it, and those gun are killing too many people. I don't know what the answer is. I don't know how to NOT get guns in the hands of mad(wo)men and terrorists. But is seems like a good place to start would to be to limit their options. No one should be able to kill 50 people and injure numerous others single-handedly within a matter of minutes. No one.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I resent your intolerance...

This month of June at my day job I am selling two limited edition wines with commemorative labels and donating part of the proceeds to the Pride Foundation. It is after all, Pride Month. I started selling them on the 4th and have mostly received praise. I've not had any opposition to this until yesterday.

I had one customer come in trying to find a bottle of white for his wife. He said she likes Pinot Grigio. Unfortunately, I am out of Pinot Grigio for another few weeks. I told him I had a Chardonnay, a dry Riesling, and something more to her taste, a Viognier/Pinot Gris blend. That blend happens to be my Pride White. He said he could not buy that wine. That he and his wife are conservative Christians and he wouldn't hear the end of it if he brought it home. "No worries," I said. I was polite, as was he. Of course I disagree with his ideology, but whatever. He bought the Riesling and went on his way. 

Later that day I sent out our monthly email newsletter that promotes all of our events and campaigns. Among cooking class, art night and ladies night, I also mentioned our Pride Red and White wines and how we would be donating part of sales back to Pride Foundation. Now, this is not the first time we've done this. We've done this for Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, Breast Cancer Awareness, Autism, many other non-profit organizations and numerous schools. In October we will be doing the same thing for Domestic Violence Action Month.

I received two emails asking me to take them off our mailing list. One was simply, take me off your email list PLEASE... After receiving the second one, I can only assume this is because of our support of the Pride Foundation.

The other stated, and I quote, "I resent your sending 15% to Pride foundations. They are an abomination. Take me off your mailing list."

I am not sure how to respond. I am the manager and will be buying this place soon, but for now, I am not the owner. If this had happened when I ran my own business I would have told that person to fuck off I don't need your business anyway.

But I'm not running my own business...yet.

The other day, I had a customer, who supports LGBT rights, ask me how I came to do the commemorative label and offer my support to that community when my name and heritage would suggest otherwise. (family name Aquino, heritage, Italian, grew up Catholic).

I told her that although I was brought up Catholic, most of my family were very liberal and have always been welcoming of others regardless of their race, religion, sexual preference, culture, etc. We believe that everyone is equal and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.  We are all human, we all laugh, cry, hurt, heal. We all bleed the same color. 

I cannot speak for the rest of my family, but I cannot and will not believe in a god that does not love all mankind. He is supposed to be all loving, all forgiving, merciful. Anyone who follows him and preaches his words and his works should emulate him and offer all human kind the same love, forgiveness and mercy. Yet far too much, bible verses are picked and chosen to fit in with agendas. How about these ones?:

John 8:7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them,  “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

Romans 3:23 ...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...
Matthew 7:1  Judge not, that you be not judged.
Don't get me wrong, the bible also talks about judging. Judging what is good. Using the right judgment. Test everything and abstain from evil. I know many that belong to the LGBT community. They are good. That is the right judgment. Are they all good? Of course not. But neither are all Christians, Mormons, whites, blacks, women, men, and so forth and so forth. There are bad apples in every bunch.
But they are not abominations or evil because of who they love. 
Many of them are even Christians! Whoa, I just blew your mind right there, right?
And let's keep in mind that these quotes, regardless if what agenda we're seeking them for, come from a book thousands of years old and translated millions of time. 
I defend my business decision to support LGBT rights and the Pride Foundation. If I lose customers over it, maybe they're not the type I want shopping in my store anyway. I will not back down from my convictions, ideologies, or values to make a few more bucks. 
And anyway, I've sold a lot more bottles than I've had complaints, so there's that.
Happy Saturday everyone. Come to the shop and see me sometime.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

I think I might puke

Tonight my 2nd child, my baby, my youngest daughter graduates from high school. I am at an intersection of sickness and denial. My stomach is in knots, not only for this child but for both.

My older daughter moves to Montana to play soccer in August. My house will be void of the laughter, screaming and messes made by college students. At times, the idea of that comforts me. My house will be cleaner, my electricity bill will decrease, my groceries will last longer. However, this child and all of her friends who consider my home their second, some of them their first home, will be gone. My house will be silent, close to empty. I'm not sure how that will affect me.

My younger daughter will probably still live at home. She wants to go to school, but she has decided to work through the fall and then decide where to go. For her, I think this is a wise decision. Though she will be here, she will have a full time job. She is very independent and likes to go out with her friends. It would not surprise me if she moved out sooner rather than later.

At times I'm like, "When are you leaving already?" Because I think I'm ready and want my basement back, and my house clean, and to enjoy a pee or a shower without interruption (yes, this continues well into their young adulthood). My body wash, underwear, forks, coffee cups, and shoes won't disappear anymore.

But where will that leave me?

Alone. Old. A single person with adult children, shower items, pieces of silverware and clothing intact and accounted for.  I will have all the time in the world on my hands outside of work. Cleaning less, cooking less. No more nagging at them the way mothers do, to do their homework, clean their rooms and pick up after themselves. This is ideal, right?

Then why do I feel sick?

All I can do is wish for their happiness, health and safety. Pray that they don't get hurt. That they succeed at whatever it is they want. For me, I wish to find someone to fill some of that void. To spend some time with so I don't resort to 20 cats or talking to myself...too much (I already do that anyway, just a little, I swear).

So here I am writing this blog on the night of my last child's graduation. Sick, worried, sad, proud, happy, overjoyed really. And I know we have the summer, most of it anyway, but I can't stop thinking about the silence and emptiness of this house. My big yard. My life. My heart.

But every parent reaches this point, right? The time to let go. To allow our children to become the adults, the unique people they were meant to be. And for me to become something other than Mary and Rachel's mom. For me to find whatever it is that is out there beyond motherhood.

Congrats to all the graduates, both college and high school in this class of 2016. And to all you parents going through the same thing...I feel ya.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

20 Minutes of Action

I know, everyone's already said everything there is to say. No. there is never enough you can say about injustice and rape culture. Not until it ends, which we all know will be never. When people like Brock Turner states a thing like, "I thought she liked it because she rubbed my back." So, the whole thing about her being unconscious didn't give you reason to doubt her willingness? And when Brock's father says that his 6 month sentence - 6 MONTHS - "is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action." I mean, he can't even enjoy a ribeye steak any more. God forbid!

What price has Brock's victim already paid. If you've read her statement, you know her payment began by not knowing where she was or what she was doing when she finally regained consciousness. She kept paying by being told she had been sexually assaulted, then poked, prodded, and swabbed. She had pine needles pulled out of her hair. Her payment continued with photos taken of her entire body - every scratch, abrasion, bruise, and yes, she even had to spread eagle and let them photograph her vagina. That is just where here steep price begins.

She couldn't even tell her parents or her boyfriend because she had no idea what had really happened. Her payment again came in the form of finding out what had transpired that night through a news outlet, with the rest of the world instead of finding out privately first from investigators. Yes, a steep price was paid, but by the victim, not by former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. He committed a crime of the foulest degree and he got caught.

Then the courts even participated in the rape culture when the judge, who could have handed this vile rapist up to a 14 year sentence, gave him a measly 6 months. Why bother at all? In his words, a longer sentence would have a "severe impact" on the sexual predator. Really? Now shall we talk about what kind of impacts a sexual assault can have on the victim?

We've already heard from the victim herself, She felt empty, afraid, devastated. She couldn't eat, sleep, she isolated herself from everyone. She was victimized all over again by having to prepare for trial, by inane and violating questions from the defense. She was helpless and at the mercy of the court because of her lack of memory of the entire event. Brock could tell any story he wanted.

This process lasted over a year, but a victim's suffering continues long after that. Her "severe impact"
will last longer than Brock's jail sentence. Many victims of sexual assault end up suffering from PTSD, depression and dissociation. They may have anxiety, trust and anger issues and the feeling of helplessness. To cope with their feelings, sexual assault victims tend to turn to drugs and alcohol to numb their pain.

Yes, Brock has to serve 6 months. His victim may be serving a lifetime for his crime.

I am tired of hearing statements like boys will be boys, she shouldn't have been drinking, she was dressed like a whore, she was asking for it.

No one wants to be raped.

We shouldn't have to live in fear of leaving our houses because there is a chance we might be raped. We shouldn't have to worry about having a few drinks because some asshole might think that's a good time to sexually assault us. I shouldn't have to worry about showing too much leg or cleavage because some jackhole won't be able to control his dick.

And we've all heard it before, but we should not be teaching women rape avoidance, sure, we should know self preservation, but it's not our responsibility not to get raped. It's a man's responsibility to not rape us. Boys should be taught to respect females. That rape is bad. How if she is drunk, cannot speak for herself, or unconscious, the answer is always no.

People like Brock, his dad and Judge Fucktard help keep us in that same rape culture cycle that seems will never end. Victim blaming, re-victimization, and the good ol' boys will be boys irrationalization.

This is not a man's world anymore. Women aren't home birthing babies, cleaning house and having your dinner fixed with martini in hand when you step through the door after a long day of work. We  live in a world of equality. Stop being little bitches, man up, and see the way real men act. They don't rape and they don't make excuses for rape.

My Dad. He's awesome.

John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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