What’s your lifestyle?

 

 

openness

 

What is your lifestyle?

 

Do you like to drive sports cars, or Subarus?

 

Do you rather the country to live in, or the city?

 

Home cooked foods, or restaurant dining?

 

Cats or dogs?

 

Straight or gay?   NOT.

 

What question doesn’t look like the others?

 

I know that I have said this here before, and at many other places, but it bears repeating, just because it does.

 

My sexual orientation, nor anyone who identifies themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, is NOT a lifestyle. 

 

It isn’t something that we try on to see if we prefer it.  Sure, we may have relationships that are not related to our true orientation.  There are persons with a heterosexual orientation who do that at times, have relationships with others who are the same gender, even though they still consider themselves as heterosexual.

 

What I am talking about here is much deeper, more thoughtful, more part of who we are than what kind of car we drive, or where we prefer to live.  It is our identity.  Not a tag line or a word of the day.

 

Oh, the power of prayer is mighty, for sure.  But so is the power of the word. 

 

I train as often as I can.  And, I often train on topics of diversity, and the idea that the words that we use to describe a person, a group of people, a behavior, has a lot of power behind it.  Words are not merely, words.  They have meaning and are always used in a very specific way.  Sometimes, the words that we choose are chosen out of fear.  Sometimes out of ignorance of additional information.  But, powerful nonetheless.

 

Words are at the root of effective, and ineffective, communication.  I mean, communication is a two way street.  When we are communicating with one another, we are giving and receiving information.  So, depending on the words that we use and the words that we hear, we can either get along well, or not so well.

 

Words are powerful, meaningful, and purposeful.

 

I have come to understand as I conduct trainings, and try to give people additional information and points of view to consider, that some people will use alternate language in order to be more inclusive, and less restrictive.  For example, I always encourage others, instead of using the word “tolerance”, which seems to send a message of s0mething that needs to be tolerated, to use the word “understanding” or “appreciation”, to indicate that we all bring gifts to the human table.  However, there are always other people that I meet, that will continue to use language that is noninclusive and divisive, in order to maintain a level of assumed power and control over a group.  In the past, the word “lifestyle” has been used as a verbal weapon against me and my friends.  I am a bit sensitive about it, but then again, shouldn’t we all be?

 

I absolutely love meeting and connecting with people.  However, I know that I try to be cognizant of how to show the greatest, deepest respect for another person by the language that I use, and the assumptions that I try not to make.  We are all human; we have all learned certain ideas about others, and it can take a long time to understand what is truth, and what is not. 

 

So, what’s your lifestyle?  Truth teller, or passive listener?

 

You decide.

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13 thoughts on “What’s your lifestyle?

  1. thanks for your comment on my blog, vanessa.

    until i read this post, i had no idea that the word “lifestyle” could be considered negative . . .

    i am totally with you on the word “tolerance” – we “tolerate” things that annoy us. we “live” side by side with people . . .

    i appreciate you visiting my blog and putting out an understanding feeler and not throwing some label at me.

    i am doing the same for you! and i am enjoying reading a bit of your blog. i’ll be back.

  2. Elizabeth:

    What a terrific way to start my day when I read your comment earlier! Welcome to the blog, and I do hope you will find things here that ring true with your heart and soul. Somehow, I think you will.

    I appreciate you coming over to take a read; I may not have the answers that are right for everyone, but I never hesitate in stating how I feel about something; I also understand that if I feel passionate about a topic, so do others, and I really try to respect that. I also know that when people condemn one another, nothing gets accomplished.

    I am so glad that you visited; and you really do have a terrific smile!!! Peace, vanessa

    serendipity: you are so right; the power of words is tremendous; and the way that they are used at times is as weapons. I really appreciate as I age, how much more precise I am in the language that I use, because how each of us perceive words is so different. Have a blessed day!!! Vanessa

  3. Vanessa, I also think some people use the word “lifestyle” because they are uncomfortable or embarrassed by the words gay, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual. It may mean they don’t approve. It may also mean they just don’t know any better.

    My lifestyle is truth teller. And my mantra (just ask my kids) is “It is more important that you love, than who you love!”

  4. Well said! And, good points about the word; I know most people don’t want to hear or say the words like gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and homosexuality; and when they hear them, they kind of freeze a bit. I used to be uncomfortable with the language, but got comfortable by using the language as much as possible in my every day life, no matter what group of persons I was speaking to.

    I am engaging in dialogue today with my church about this very topic; wish me luck!

  5. I can’t quite get my head round anyone even thinking that sexuality is a lifestyle choice. It would be like deciding that “today I shall be male; I’m bored of being female so I shall be male this week and see how that goes”. It simply does not compute at all; I’m female, end of story. So why is it any different for sexuality/
    I give up; people are a mystery to me…

  6. Which of these does not belong, YES! I do find it frustrating that people assert that sexual orientation is a choice. Really? Did you choose heterosexuality?

    I think we are making great strides in our society. There has been major change since I was a child and I have faith that we’ll come as far as freedom and honesty demands.

  7. You are so good with words Vanessa. And I know that the wisdom you possess will be passed onto people for some time, and that eventually, people’s eyes will be open. I truly believe that.

  8. Viv: You are right; it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I do think at times people mimic what they have heard. ANd, I have also encountered persons some here in the blogosphere who use that word to make their point, with no regard for the accuracy, because they fully believe that sexual orientation is a choice. Given the choice, there are days that I am not so sure I would have chosen to be a lesbian. It can be so tough some days…..

    Hayden: I agree with you completely, that the tide is turning. Look at the more accepting attitudes regarding equal marriage; just a few years ago, I know it was much more of a volatile issue than it is today. Speaking the truth will keep us on this path, I know it!

    Leah: I really feel so certain that any change, and any pursuit of justice, comes by influencing one person at a time. Some days, even that one person is exhausting, but I can now see the change happening. It is very encouraging. Thank you for your support, as always……

  9. If I had a choice I would choose to be male, white anglo saxon and protestant (a WASP!) because that way, you have everything stacked in your favour almost before you are weaned. But those are not things one may choose; even the whole catholic protestant thing is about what family you got born into. My own family knows all about the marrying across the divide thing; it isn’t about faith at all as about tribe.
    *sighs*. I really, really don’t understand the majority of people. I know there are some people for whom sexuality is a very fluid thing (sorry, ugh, that sounds like I’m making a risque joke) and they do have some measure of choice. But they are rare, really. I also know there are people who are utterly asexual, and have no sexual inclination at all. They must find the world even more mystifying than I do!
    hugs, anyway!

  10. What an excellent post, Vanessa! In one of your replies here, you say “Given the choice, there are days that I am not so sure I would have chosen to be a lesbian. It can be so tough some days…..” Anytime anyone has ever argued that its a chosen lifestyle (and of course the very word “chosen” has a negative connotation…actually blaming the victim they are deriding) I have always retorted, “Would YOU choose to be gay? In THIS culture?” That usually gives the person some pause…

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