I rarely turn on the television anymore.
We live in a world dominated by “Reality” TV; where housewives, dancing stars and undercover bosses have become escapist entertainment. This is because the true reality of today is one rife with violence and hatred. We are now forced to rely on reality TV to escape the harsh realities we are faced with daily.
We've turned our back on each other; while the media has had a field day portraying this hatred and negativity we’re forced to face as a society.
Truthfully speaking, I’ve never understood how people can hate so deeply.
Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve had an incredible appreciation for all types of people in the world.
My parents raised me to look beyond the color of someone’s skin, their religious beliefs, or their sexual preferences. All were equal in their eyes, and they made a valiant effort to install that within myself and my siblings.
This has allowed me to see people for who they are, and not what they are. In doing so, I have met people incredibly unique and highly talented. Though I would never know that if I just looked at the surface.
Nor would you.
I’ve listened to them, learned from them and grown from them.
What I have always found fascinating, though, is that no matter where I go - or whom I speak to - everyone shares a similar desire; to be loved.
Sadly we live in a world that has told us that the concept of true love can only exist between a man and a woman. That people in same sex relationships simply do not deserve to be celebrated in the same fashion as their heterosexual counterparts.
If you disagree with me, think about the word “Wedding" and tell me what's the first image that comes to your mind. A bride ... and a groom?
This is the way we've been trained to think. But what exactly makes it right?
Finding love in this day and age is no walk in the park, regardless of the color of your skin or whom you worship. For those like myself, who are attracted to the opposite sex - when we do find that love, it's widely accepted. The only challenges we face in our relationships are the ones we impose on ourselves.
For those that are attracted to the same-sex, it’s not that simple. And it’s nowhere as easy - or widely accepted.
In fact, they are also forced to face extreme oppositions - and from the most unlikely places.
Let's talk about a few ...
Catholic Church : Blessed Are Not Thou
It's no secret that the Catholic Church is opposed to same sex relationships. They have blatantly said that same sex couples have no place in God's kingdom. They are forbidden to get married in the Church, and are looked at as sinners of society.
This is one of the oldest religious institutions in the world. It has over a billion members.
We get angry if a friend doesn't agree with our relationship. Imagine a following that largely opposed to your love?
Coming from a Catholic who's always put God first in my life and am beyond thankful for all of my blessings, it's mind boggling to me that the Church calls same sex relationships a sin, when the real sinners are the men within its four walls molesting little children.
Beyond that, priests are men, and if all of my years in Catholic School serve me correctly, God is portrayed as a man; Jesus, His son. So they can devote their life and love to Him, but Jack can never love John?
Loving someone should never be a sin in a world drenched with hate.
Government : We, the "Certain" People
Ireland most recently approved same sex marriage by popular vote, making it the first Nation in the world to do so.
It's 2015. Yes, it’s taken that long.
Here in the United States, we have told same sex couples it's okay to get married, but only in a certain number of states; it's not accepted by our Nation as a whole yet.
In fact, most recently, a certain popular US city tried to give business owners the right to deny service to gays and lesbians.
This happened right here, in the Land of the Free.
The sad part is certain politicians running for President in 2016 use equality as a campaign booster. Only problem is, years ago those same politicians strongly opposed it.
Why the sudden change of heart?
I guess if it will help make you the next President, it's worth fighting for.
Professional Sports : Personal Foul
Forget your God given ability. If you decide to step onto the court or playing field, the media will scrutinize your ever move.
It will drive the ratings of any talk show, sports radio show and it will give SportsCenter anchors something to talk about for weeks on end.
All because you prefer to love the same sex.
And while there may be only a few in professional sports, there's a slew of gang members, domestic violence offenders and murders that make millions to play professional sports.
Men who drag their wives out of elevators, men who stab people in clubs, men who kill innocent people for no good reason.
Athletes much rather play the game with them than an individual whose preference on attraction is different from theirs.
We can’t say for certain if thats entirely true, but that’s how the media portrays it.
Makes total sense.
Home : Family Matters (If they Accept You)
I think we all have this desire to find someone whom our parents can love.
Someone who can sit at our diner table and feel as if they have been there for years.
In my search for a woman to spend my life with, I always think about how she'll fit into my family and how accepting my mother and father will be. It’s important; I want them to love her as much as I will.
Besides, she's going to be their daughter as much as I am their son.
Beyond that, I’ve always strived to make my parents proud; in everything I do. I’d never want them to look at me as a disappointment.
And so when you think about gays and lesbians, one can’t help to think about and try to understand the pain inside when their family turns their back on them.
I’m not saying every family does, but there certainly are ones that do.
What does that even feel like? And how is rejecting your own child acceptable in this world?
I imagine it creates a feeling of emptiness that’s almost unfathomable to think about.
Where do they turn to if a society is unaccepting, and their family is embarrassed of who they are?
Put yourself in those shoes for a moment. Think about that before you judge.
For those who argue that all is equal in the world, there's solid evidence that states the opposite.
According to a New York Times article published a few years ago, same sex couples denied marriage benefits will incur anywhere between $41,00 to $467,000 more in expenses over their lifetime as opposed to their heterosexual counterparts.
That's equality? No, thats expensive.
I’ve spent the last eight years of my life working for a company that values diversity. During that time I’ve met some the brightest and kindest people in the world. All of them have this amazing drive to be successful, a strong appreciation for life and - most of all - they’re incredible people.
A good amount of those people happen to be in same sex relationships or have an attraction to the same sex.
So when people will inevitably ask me what I know about the struggles they face, I’ve heard their stories first hand.
Every single day. For eight years.
When you invest in people for who they are and not what they are, you learn quite a bit about their life and their journey. They let you in, opening your eyes to more than anything you can find in books or on television. That is the definition of reality.
It’s simply not our place to judge anyone in life.
Regardless of the color of your skin or whom you may decide to love, we're all equal.
At the end of the day, everyone deserves the opportunity to love and be loved.
We need to respect that.
Not individually. Together.
The foundation for peace is love.
And love must always rule.