I am a Southern male. (Pause as the shock sinks in to readers across the world.)
There are so many connotations that come with the term “Southern.” Some people think that there are confederate flags flying everywhere. Some people think of Gone With the Wind. Some people think of mint juleps and family retainers. That’s not to say that they don’t exist in the South, but they aren’t as common.
I was talking with my colleague Beatriz (who is from Brazil) who asked me about my family and our background. For the record, my father’s side is kinda hazy. I know that on my father’s side there is a nice Irish side (based upon my own research) and most likely a Germanic side (my grandmother’s last name being Snipes). My mother’s side is far more unique. Her father was half-Dutch and half-Chinese – a true Eurasian. Her mother’s side is, most likely, Germanic as well. With the exception of my maternal grandfather, my family has their roots in the South. My paternal grandmother has lived in the same town all of her life.
With my paternal grandmother (my paternal grandfather either died before I was born or I was still a baby when he passed away – which one I am uncertain although I am leaning towards dying before I was born), presentation is everything. She is truly a Southern woman who is set in her ways. She will get dressed up to go the grocery store or to take the garbage to the dump. She thinks “hell” is a curse word. If I ever told her I was gay (and I might just for shock value one day), she would say that she knows I’m gay – after all, I’ve always been a happy person.
In the South, religion and going to church is a big deal. One of the first questions you get asked when you move to one of these towns is where do you go to church or what religion do you practice. It’s their mission to get you to come to their church and become a member. Sometimes I wonder if people in the South believe in God or do they believe in religion. If you have to ask what the difference is, let me explain – religion, in my opinion, involves the pomp, circumstance, and events associated with the church. Whether it be communion, prayer, confession, etc., that to me is “religion.” God (or whatever you want to call the “greater being”) is the actual deity to whom you put your faith and beliefs. So do you want pomp and circumstance or do you want God?
For me…I’m a guy who was raised in the South (and have a slight accent on certain words otherwise you would never know). When I came out, I had a hard time reconciling the religious beliefs I was brought up with and my sexuality. Thankfully, someone directed me to the “gay” church – St. Luke’s Metropolitan Community Church. For the first time, I could worship God without hearing the rhetoric that God hates gays or we should hate gays or anything like that. I was one of those people who loved the contradictions in the Bible. You’re supposed to love one another but hate gay people. I never understood that concept.
What am I trying to say…I have no idea to be honest with you. I just needed to get that out…I’m sure there will be more ramblings like this in the future.