The Truth About Texas

Texas is the butt of many jokes, specifically about how conservative it is.

While it may be a red state, Texas isn’t always the hell it’s been made out to be.

I’ve lived half my life in South Texas – San Antonio, and the other half in North Texas – Dallas. I’ve always lived in the suburbs so my experience stems from that. Cities like Dallas, Austin, and Houston are all incredibly progressive and you’ll find more democrats than republicans there. San Antonio is a little different. There’s a heavy catholic influence so people tend to lean more conservative, but there re still more progressive people in the city than other places in Texas.

The high school I went to was predominately white, but also had a sizable asian population. While there was the occasional super republican kid who spit out all the bigoted phases they heard at home, most people were pretty chill. I came out to a few of my friends at the time, and while they were shocked, it wasn’t a big deal. There were LGBTQ+ kids who were out and dating and most people didn’t care or at least didn’t care enough to say anything.

You will see protesters outside planned parenthood or standing on an overpass with their open carried guns, but those kind of people are everywhere. Even in the most liberal areas in the US there are still conservative people. I think most people would be surprised how many progressive and moderate people live here.

My narrative may be different from someone who grew up in a small town. The small town conservative mentality reaches much farther than the South though. Being LGBTQ+ in Texas isn’t always the death sentence its made out to be. While I would never want to erase the struggles of people who have experienced abuse for being LGBT in Texas, I think it’s important for people to know that isn’t everyones narrative. There are happy LGBTQ+ people who live in the South and people who come from religious families who have positive coming out stories.

Do I daydream about living in San Fransisco where most people identify with being LGBTQIA+in some way or another? Yes of course, but for now i’m pretty happy right where I am. I want to see the Texas legislature be reformed and more sane people go into power. These past few weeks a lot of bigoted laws have been put into place, and that has to change. I don’t think running to leave Texas the first chance I get is going to help anyone, and for now I want to stick around and do my part to make Texas a place where everyone is respected and receives the equity they deserve.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

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There’s a Person Behind Your Politics

There is a person behind your politics,

or rather people.

Every decision you make and law you put into place affects the happiness, well-being, and prosperity of others. You can’t take the people out of politics and only think about policy, because every decision thats made affects someone else’s day to day life.

Reproductive rights, gun laws, immigration laws, LGBTQ+ rights, health care, all these things not only affect peoples happiness, but are also the difference between life and death. There is no other way to look at it in my eyes. This horrific “Muslim Ban” is tearing apart families, and will be the cause of death for many. The federal judge may have put a hold on this, but people are still being detained and treated like criminals. How can we turn our backs on our fellow human beings, cover their mouths, and let them suffer?

I’m tired of seeing white, middle class Americans having a “I got mine, but I don’t want anyone else to get there’s” mentality. Selfishness rules this country. Just take a look at the laws we put in place. We legalize weed, because people want to have the right to get high, but on other “progressive issues” the same people vote against them. People vote against marriage equality, and against reproductive rights. They want to give themselves the most rights, while restricting everyone else.

I think the problem with a lot of politicians is that they don’t think about the people they’re affecting. Immigrants and refugees are just another bullet point on a piece of paper to them. I’m happy to see so many people going out to airports to protest. Americans are riled up and angry as we should be. I will not stand behind anyone who would let another human being suffer due to their religion or ethnicity.

I believe you shouldn’t restrict others rights based off any beliefs you have. If you are anti-abortion, then don’t get an abortion, but don’t make it illegal for other people to have control over their bodies. If you’re against marriage equality, guess what, you don’t have to marry someone of the same gender, but don’t revoke the basic human right of marriage from another person.

Think about real human beings when you make decisions that will affect others lives. I want to live in a world where we treat one another with love, and compassion. I want to celebrate our different cultures, and the things that make us unique. If you’re an immigrant, practice Islam, or have family and friends in any of the countries that are now “banned” just know you are loved and wanted here.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

Femme isn’t Feminist?

I’ve seen some wacky ideas on the internet that people try to label as feminism.

One of them is that women “conforming” to wearing feminine clothing is anti-feminist. This is almost comical to me, because feminism is about supporting all genders in any way they want/feel the need to express themselves. Yes, feminism has made it more socially acceptable for women to dress in a more androgynous or masculine manner, but it isn’t a requirement to claim the title.

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I usually dress pretty femininely. I wear makeup when I go out most of the time, and in the past I’ve had long hair. I shave my legs, and get my eye brows waxed.  None of this discredits me practicing intersectional feminism. It’s quite silly to think that clothing would determine your morals and values. On the days I dress more androgynously I’m not any more/less of a feminist than the days I wear a dress.

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When I think of people believing that women must only wear dresses and skirts, I think of the 1950-1960’s. In my Grandparents church they had problems just this month with the choir director not letting people join if they wore pants. She claimed the Bible says it’s evil for women “to wear men’s clothes,” FYI that’s not in the Bible. How crazy right? Luckily even though the other members are also super conservative, they let her go of that position because they all agreed that kind of attitude wasn’t okay.

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Wear whatever you want, and whatever makes you most comfortable. It doesn’t matter your gender, sexuality, weight, height, ethnicity, etc. you can wear anything you want. There are no rules when it comes to clothing, it’s just another form of self-expression. If you want to wear short-shorts and low cut tops, do it! If you want to cover up, and dress conservatively, do that! Other people shouldn’t be dictating what you can and cannot wear.

Be authentically you and don’t apologize,

Alyssa

 

 

Happy Holigays?

I live in Texas, which I feel like I’ve made that abundantly clear, but if you didn’t know, now you do. Unfortunately this means the majority of my family is super conservative, and I’m going to have to see them at Christmas.

We normally spend two days at my Grandmother’s house on Christmas, but now that both my parents work full time, we will only be going on Christmas morning and leaving that afternoon. I love my family, but I don’t have a lot in common with them, and my extended family doesn’t know I’m gay.

It’s not that I’m too scared to tell them or don’t want them to know, I just don’t want to hear their responses. I think most of them would be too shocked to say anything, but at least one of my uncles would probably be rude about it. All my “coming out” experiences have been positive so far, and I really don’t want that to change. I know that at some point I’m going to have someone reprimand me for my sexuality, or a random person on the street yell at me when I hold a girls hand, but for now I’ve only experienced love and kindness.

Of course I won’t wait till I get engaged and then drop the bomb on them, but I have no plans to do it anytime soon. They probably wouldn’t come to my future wedding anyway.  I’ve told my mom that she can tell whoever she wants, but I don’t think she feels ready to tell other people herself. The only bad thing about not telling them is I feel like I can’t be myself around any of them, and it’s exhausting.

At Thanksgiving it took all of ten minutes for my least favorite uncle to say something racist. Ten Minutes. I am very opinionated and have a spit-fire attitude a lot of the time, so being around them is hard for me. It isn’t only the fact that I’m gay, its also that I am WAY more progressive than all of them, identify as a feminist, and generally can’t stand their bigotry. I mostly just don’t speak a whole lot at family functions , or I ask other people about their lives. Every single time either one of my aunts or my Grandmother will ask me if I  have a boyfriend. No, and I never will.

My immediate family is so supportive, and for that I will forever be grateful. Many people have terrible coming out experiences, and I cannot imagine the pain that must come with that. This holiday season, spend time with the people you love, and those who love you back. Just because someone is related to you, doesn’t mean you owe them anything. Family can have so many different definitions, and if those people aren’t the same people as your biological family, thats okay. Holidays can be hard when your relationship with your family is rough, but know there are other people like me out there who will love and accept you.

Lots of Love This Holiday Season,

Alyssa

Political Correctness & Respect

There’s a couple of words/phrases that I hate in the English language and one of those is “political correctness,”  “politically correct,” or “PC culture.” This probably stems from me living Texas and 99.9% of people I’ve heard use this phrase have said it in way that  complains about society moving towards respecting everyone, and mocks the idea of avoiding offensive language. I will never understand why someone would not change the words they use to make others comfortable or to respect them.

I believe in respecting all people. Respect peoples pronouns, and gender, and sexuality, even if you don’t think you “should have to” or don’t believe it’s “real.” (That’s another post in its own.) Don’t use racist and/or derogatory terms to refer to a people group. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t respect others with your words. It seems as black and white to me as not walking up to someone you find unattractive and saying, “hey, you’re ugly.” That is uncalled for and so is being “anti- PC culture,” and continuing to use language that hurts other people.

The biggest argument I have seen against political correctness is that some see it as a form of censorship and is “anti-free speech.” I couldn’t disagree more. Using those kind of excuses only dismisses those who have been discriminated against, and those who are trying respect others and progress in society. I personally  don’t want anyone to call me a dyke or fag just because I’m a lesbian. If another LGBTQIAP+ person I’m close to does it as a joke it’s okay with me because I like that kind of banter and humor, but it you are heterosexual or a stranger, I would be offended. That kind of speech is used to oppress a people group I belong to and I’m not okay with it. Just like I’m not okay with someone using hateful and derogatory  words to tyrannize someone else. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences, and some of those consequences hurt other people, and continue to systematically oppress people groups.

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I also mostly see white people complaining about political correctness. Is your freedom and power in America not enough for you? I’m white, and I’m going to call out other white people and say, how some of you treat your fellow Americans, and fellow human beings is wrong and it needs to stop. Some of it stems from racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia – you name it, but I also think a lot of it stems from laziness. Some straight people are too lazy to learn about pronouns and sexualities that aren’t as common. Some white people refuse to stop using racist terms, or supporting organizations with racist names and values because, “back in my day nobody cared; everyone now is too sensitive,” and they have used them for so long it has become a part of their daily vocabulary.Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon
I don’t agree that people are too sensitive now. We are moving towards a culture that has greater respect for one another – even though we are from that kind of society. I watched a great video on political correctness and respect awhile ago that inspired this post. In that video Franchesca Ramsey describes political correctness as, “Avoiding words that exclude, marginalize, or insult people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.” I love that definition, and I think it hits the nail on the head. Personally I want to love, respect, and empower everyone around me. I want all people to feel special and worthy no matter what society tells.

I have used the word respect a lot in this post, because that’s what I believe this boils down to. Respect. If you truly loved and respected others, you would take the time to better yourself and learn the kind of language to avoid. One  bible verse I like is Proverbs 2o:27, ” A person’s words are the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being” Essentially we should use our words to respect others and show not only God’s love, but also what our hearts look like. Even if you aren’t religious, good morals preach to show your love and to be “pretty on the inside.” Treat others with love and dignity, when speaking to them or about them. Celebrate diversity, while respecting those who are discriminated against, and validate their hardships.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Reproductive Rights & Ohio Abortion Laws

If you haven’t heard Ohio has proposed a bill to ban abortion after a heart beat is able to be detected, which is normally around 6 weeks. At six weeks most people don’t even know they’re pregnant, especially if they weren’t trying to get pregnant. Governor Kasich vetoed that bill, and has instead passed a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks, and charging anyone who performs an abortion after 20 weeks with a fourth degree felony.

Abortion is a touchy subject, and it is one that my opinion has changed on over the years. I used to believe that it was only okay to get an abortion if you were a victim of rape or incest, but I realized that women shouldn’t be revoked of their reproductive rights until something horrific happens. I also believe being pro-choice doesn’t equal pro-abortion. Being pro-choice for me means that I want women to have complete control over their bodies and the right to make those hard decisions if they see it in their best interest. I’m gay, so I’m probably never going to experience accidentally getting pregnant, but I want the right to have control over my body, if something did happen.

The majority of women who get abortions have other kids, or are below the poverty line, so the problem isn’t really teenage girls being irresponsible and not using protection. The problem is with men putting pressure on women to have unprotected sex, when the women know they can’t handle a (another) child or don’t want one. Many people get abortions because they know they can’t afford a child, when they are barely making ends meet as is. People who get abortions aren’t monsters like the media so often makes them out to be. They’re scared women who are having to make a difficult choice, and if you can’t see that, then you don’t have much compassion in your heart.

With this bill, you can still get abortions after 20 weeks if the mothers life is in danger, or the fetus is pronounced “unviable.” The thing is though, that the vast majority of fetuses aren’t even viable until 24 weeks, so the “viability rule” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Why should a woman’s life be in danger for her to make decisions over her own body?

There are many situations when someone may get an abortion well into their second trimester. The father of the baby may leave the mother, or one of the parents looses their job and they know that they can’t afford a child.

I don’t believe abortion should be used as birth control; thats we have many different contraceptive options. Ever since abortions became legal in America the number of abortions has been lowering every year. This lowers as women are able to get an education, get jobs, and have reasonably priced birth control available to them.

With Donald Trump being inaugurated in January, places like Planned Parenthood are in danger. Even if you are “pro-life,” being anti-Planned Parenthood isn’t a logical choice. Only a small portion of what they do is abortions. The majority of what they do is STI screening, mammograms, counseling, and helping people pay for their birth control. If birth control was more widely available at a reasonable price – or even free, then I believe abortion rates would lower. If you ban abortion or make it hard to get one, people aren’t going to stop getting abortions, they will just get them in an unsafe manner, in back allies like women used to. Banning abortion also won’t stop young people from having sex, and neither will abstinence only sex education.

I’m happy Kasich vetoed the bill, but having any laws restricting reproductive rights is a loss in my book. Tell me your opinion below; I’m always open to views that oppose mine, as long as you keep it respectful.

 

Feminism and Identity

TW: brief suicide mention, stalking

 

I identify as a feminist, an intersectional feminists to be exact. Until a few years ago I was taught to believe that the feminist movement only consisting of “man hating” women. That couldn’t be more incorrect.

For me, I identify as a feminist because I believe in the equality of all genders. It doesn’t matter is your a man, a woman, or non-binary, everyone deserves respect and equal rights. I’ve got to say I have a really hard time understanding how anyone could not identify as a feminist. I know a lot of people believe in the values of feminism but are too scared to take on the label due to its stigma. My response to that? Cowards don’t get things done. Cowards don’t lead movements, and cowards don’t change the world. Sure there are going to be some people who will role their eyes, and try to invalidate your experiences, but they are simply the problem and not the answer.

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This past summer I went to San Antonio for a funeral. If you’ve been to San Antonio or live there, then you know the Riverwalk is a big deal. I lived in San Antonio for a long time so I have been many times, but since I moved away it had been a while since I visited. I was alone with my mom, and we were leisurely walking down the riverwalk, looking at the restaurants and stores. I noticed a man following us, and he was acting odd. We both started to get nervous so we stopped to take a picture, in hopes we would get ahead of us, but he stopped too. It was then that we could see he was taking pictures of me. I felt completely violated, and disgusted. We went in some shops and tried to lose him but he continued to stalk us and showed up where we were later, so we left.

This is one out of a million reasons why we need feminism. I am not some object you can exploit, and masturbate to later. Not to mention I’m a minor, which in my opinion makes the whole situation 1000% creepier. This isn’t the only time I’ve felt disgusted or violated because someone tried to sexualize me while I was going about daily life. I am an average looking girl, I am very short, fatter than I’d like, and have a flat chest, and a small butt. My body type isn’t one I’d  expect people to go out of their way to look at, so I know girls who have a larger chest, wide hips, or a big butt have probably experienced this much more often than I have. I also know this experience is mild, and so many people in this world have had to go through much worse.  If anyone has treated you like this, I am deeply sorry.

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Feminism is also for men. We need to crush the idea that men have to be hyper masculine, or emotionless. Men are more likely to commit completed suicide, and I believe that societies standard of men having to “be tough” and not show their feelings contributes to this. If you’re hurting inside, you should be able to share what you’re going through without others telling you to “suck it up.” Men shouldn’t be used for money, and expected to bring in more income than any other party in their household solely based off their gender. Some men are disabled and can’t work, and that’s okay. Others are happy being stay-at-home dad’s, and I think that should be normalized.

Feminism is 150% for non-binary and trans people. ALL genders should be respected and have equal rights. Everyone deserves to go to the bathroom they’re comfortable in, and should be respected by the correct pronouns being used. I am cisgender so I have not experienced the hardships of being trans, but I am here to validate anyones experience of gender inequality. Your passport, and driver’s license shouldn’t state a gender that you don’t identify with. I hope our world will shift to better respecting others gender identities.

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And finally, of course feminism is for women, all women. Feminism is for women who work 24/7, and stay at home moms. You deserve to be treated as an equal to men, and you should have the right to get your opinions and ideas heard. I want my children to grow up in a world where women are presidents, and CEO’s, and doctors, and lawyers. I want all girls to know they CAN do anything they put their mind to, and they ARE capable of doing anything a man can do. Living in America, I’m pretty lucky. I get to go to school, and I can achieve my dreams of going to college due to my economic status. Girls in other countries often aren’t allowed to go to school, and many people here in America can’t afford to go to college.

I hope if you began reading this article by rolling your eyes, that you see at least one aspect of feminism a little bit differently now. And if you started off this article by thinking “Yay, I love feminism!,” I hope you found my take on this interesting and insightful. In the end I think feminism is all about loving and respecting all people, but hey that’s just me.

– Alyssa