Dear Representative Ragan

,I am a tolerant person.  My Christian upbringing taught me to love my neighbor -- nothing in the Bible says he or she has to be like me in any way before I do.  I would like to ask you to seriuously consider an idea I have.Your response to Mitchell Gilbert's email to you prompted this email. 

First, there is NOTHING "loving" or Christian about bullying.  I am and always have been straight, but I was bullied in middle school and high school because I was tall, broad shouldered, chubby and a bookworm with excellent grades.  People whispered that I was a lesbian because I didn't spend all my waking hours flirting with the guys and gossiping with other girls about the guys and shopping and doing my hair and nails.   I didn't bat my eyelashes at them and tell them how big and strong and smart they were.  I knew I couldn't compete with the cheerleaders and drill squad, so I just didn't try.  I was also still mourning the loss of my father 5 years before, longing to have a "steady" and terrified of rejection.  Sports bored me, as did guys who talked about them all the time.   Fact was, the boys in my school were mostly not smart enough to interest me even if they had been looking at me. 

 I have never known any feelings of being attracted to a woman sexually.  I have female friends I love deeply, but there's nothing sexual about it.  

My sophomore year in HS, I met a guy a year ahead of me.  He was extremely popular, good looking, friendly, charming, intelligent, and he liked me.  I got my first kiss from him.  He told all the popular kids to invite me to their parties. (I was too young to date yet because I had skipped over 1st grade).  When I arrived, he'd rush over, hug me and introduce me to anyone I didn't know, telling them how smart I was and how witty.   [edited to remove some too personal data about someone else]  Always the gentleman.  No groping, no pressure for anything but to be there and have fun.  He came by my house almost every day to talk, do his homework while I did mine, sometimes eating dinner.  I loved him simply because he was loving to me.  That was 1967.   We had one date to a movie in August 1968.  In August of 1969, just before he left for college, he told me he was gay. 

What he did for me was build my self-confidence, make me feel beautiful and lovable.  That's the greatest gift any man can give a woman. 43 years later, we are still friends who can say anything to each other.  He has been with the same man longer than I have been married, which is going on 23 years.  However, in his professional life, he still has to pretend to be straight because he lives in the Deep South.  

For the first time this year, he began speaking out about bullying of gay kids.  What set him off was the suicide of Jeffrey Fehr.

Your response indicated that you know about trans-gendered people (you may call them hermaphrodites).  Do you know how they come to be the way they are in terms of genitalia?  It's not genes, Rep. Ragan, it's the flow of hormones through the placenta during gestation, during the development of the genitalia.  Think of it like mixing paint -- the right amount of blue and amount of white, and you get a soft baby blue.   The right amount of red and white, and you a soft baby pink.  All developing fetii require some testosterone and some estrogen.  What happens during the development to create someone with both genitalia is that the amounts  get out of proportion and maybe the timing is wrong too -- that is, from my understanding of these things in "normal" development, the estrogen and testosterone flow into the placenta at different times, not at the same time. I'm not a doctor or biologist however, so I may be misunderstanding what I read on that score or mis-remembering it.  At any rate, something goes wrong with the mix, and instead of blue or pink you get lavender (both kinds of genitalia).  I know someone born this way, and as an infant they made her into a "woman."  She is currently a lesbian. 

 I might point out, though, by your apparent definition of what makes a person like men or women is their genitalia.  Logically, that would make these people bisexual.  They have both gender's genitalia so they should be able to have sex with men or women.Or perhaps you would say that if they have breasts they should not have sex with women because that's homosexual?  If they also have a penis (and these are usually non-functional) they should not have sex with men, because that would be homosexual?  Celibacy doesn't work for most people.  We have seen that with priests.  Why would you say it should work for people who have one genitalia but find themselves attracted to people with the same genitalia? 

 Human beings crave emotional connections, except perhaps sociopaths.With that desire for emotional intimacy comes a desire for touch by the beloved.  

Before I make my final points, I'd like to address your comments about "feelings,"  what most of us would call attraction.  Surely you don't expect us to believe that "feelings" didn't play a part in the woman you chose to marry?  I can promise you that if I didn't have "feelings" both emotional and sexual toward my husband, I would not be married to HIM.  I'd lay dollars to doughnuts, you would say the same thing about your wife. 

 I have no idea why my friend from high school has an attraction to men, but I have a speculation, based on the science of how people with both kinds of genitalia come to be. Now I've read the research, and the jury's out on what makes someone gay or lesbian.  One thing they do seem to have established is that the structure  and chemical flows in the brains of gay men are more like those of women, and the structure & flows in the brain of lesbians are more like those of men.  My theory is that perhaps the hormonal flow through the placenta has an error in the mix, not as severe an error as to cause both kinds of genitalia to develop, but "off" enough that the development results in the body of one gender but the brain chemisty of the other gender.  To return to our paint analogy, perhaps you get mauve or periwinkle  -- a kind of "bluey pink" or "pinkish blue" pastel.  Something to think about.

Children are fragile emotionally.  Bullying is never OK.  Moreover, haranguing doesn't make people change:   it doesn't make them lose weight, or start exercising, or gain self-confidence, or become straight.  It CAN make them sink to such despair that they kill themselves.  Why would you think that it's OK to do it out of religious convictions?  It is abuse of another human being, and NOT what God commanded of us.  You took exception to Mitchell Gilbert's words to you.  He was angry and he harangued you.  

What I do know is this:  God made all of us, and He commanded us to love one another as ourselves.  I am angry too.  Over my lifetime, I have lost a couple of good friends, a boyfriend, a couple of co-workers and neighbors, and a precious student (I was a teacher) to suicide.  Know this.  If I had a gay or lesbian child, and we lived in Tennessee, and this bill passes, and my child killed himself or herself after being bullied by other kids under the protection of your bill, I would hold you morally responsible and seek a wrongful death conviction for you and the kids who did the bullying.  Haranguing, even on religious grounds, is emotional abuse of another human being and it is wrong.  It is wrong in the eyes of God as per the Second Commandment, and it is wrong from a human rights perspective.  It is wrong for the US and its reputation for protecting the rights of all Americans, the guarantee in our Declaration of the inalienable rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." 

 I will be praying that you reach a deep enough understanding of the Second Commandment to withdraw this bill and end bullying and emotional abuse of anyone.  God works in truly mysterious ways, Rep Ragan.  Consider that perhaps God created gay people to bring you to a deeper understanding of what loving others is and is not.  I don't know what your religious upbringing is, but I was taught in Sunday School that none of us can conceive of the mind of God, and that His mercy is available to anyone He chooses to bestow it upon.  From where I sit, you are presuming to know the mind of God.  Wouldn't it be ironic if He admits my beloved gay friend to heaven and you end up in hell for this bill?  It could happen. It's God's place to judge each and every one of us.  So I do not judge your righteousness.  I merely offer you a perspective to think about.  God be with you.

Anne Nelson
This has been a DAY!  When I say that, you should understand that it was full and somewhat maddening.  It was, however, a gorgeous fall day in Houston!  The cooler weather is simply in a real gift from God to a city that baked, parched, and nervously watched fires for so long.   As the sun was setting, I was preparing my front planter box for the beets, carrots and green onions I'm planting in it.  Half the box is done..just finishing up the rest.  From the pine across the street came the call of what I'm pretty sure was a Great Horned Owl.  Peace flooded back into my veins, after having been disrupted earlier in the day by two separate events.

The second of these, which I shall discuss first, involved walking out to hear my neighbor telling my husband that the heavy trash he put out today, thinking it would be picked up tomorrow morning, needed to be removed from the curb "or you might get a ticket."  Last month, my husband had put this stuff out, only to discover when the truck came around that last month was the "limbs and yard waste only" heavy trash day.  So he hauled the stuff back inside our yard.  After decades of living across the side street from this neighbor and his wife, I was immediately suspicious that he had already called the city to complain about this trash.  Never have I met a more O-C, anal retentive, appearance means everything, house proud couple in my life.  Mind you, they don't like government interfering in their lives, but they're perfect (just ask them), yet they are the first to call the city government when a neighbor offends their sense of neatness of property.  What I wanted to say to him was "Oh, so you've called them and filed a complaint already, have you?"  I KNOW he has, and that he redeems himself by "looking nice" and "warning" us that we could be ticketed.  It makes him "look nice," he thinks. 

This I know;  they used to regularly call the city and have my widowed mother ticketed when they were first married.  Always, they would "warn" us.  Now heavy trash for our house can be easily seen ONLY by this couple.  The two houses behind mine and his are screened from seeing the "unsightly" pile by a fence on my side of the street and thick plantings on his.    So I know it's he who wants to not look at it.  Granted, someone might drive by and be so enraged that they actually remember to call when they get home, but what are the odds?    After all, the traffic on that street even at rush hour is maybe one car an hour.   This month, I fully admit that we got the wrong's the 4th not the 3rd like we thought.  What else is true, is that we are allowed to put heavy trash on the Friday BEFORE our scheduled pickup...which would be the day after tomorrow.  Did I say "anal?"  What the heck is the big deal about TWO days early?  DID I say "anal?"

When he went home, I started working on my planter box, and then I got so mad, I went around to the back gate and started struggling with the top mattress on the pile  to get all the stuff inside my fence.    I got the mattress off the pile and down into the ditch (no culvert or driveway here).  When I tried to roll it over to get it up the slope, I folded it and then tried to flip the folded package.  The mattress sprang up and hit me in the face, leaving me flailing around trying not to fall backwards into the ditch.  Please don't ask me why I tried this same thing twice more before giving up.  I think I thought I should be able to make it work!  If I were 28 and not dealing with active lupus, I'm sure I could have!  However, I realized on the third try I was defining "insanity."
So I called my husband's name and "help" our bedroom being at the back of the house.  I figured he could hear me.   From down the street , toward my "behind" neighbor's house, a man answered me. 

"Who are you calling?  What do you need help with?"  I could not see him because of the pecan tree foliage.   

"I was calling my husband to help me with this stuff."  I looked in the direction of the voice, and saw a man who looked like a street person, riding up on a bicycle, a paper bag with a beer can in his hand.

"What's his name?  Where is he?" he asks.  I told him the name and said that he should be inside this back bedroom, pointing as I answered.  I thought perhaps this guy would cycle up there and knock on the window and and tell my husband.

"What are you doing trying to move this stuff, ma'am?  Let me do that for you."  He got off his bike, and grabbed the mattress and WHOOSH inside the fence it went.  Then he spryly stepped back to the pile and grabbed the next item.  By the time he got to the third one, my husband came sauntering out.  Together they moved the rest of the large heavy furniture inside the fence.  I moved the cushions and a lightweight broken chair.  It took maybe 5 minutes from the moment the man had called out to me.  He kept telling me "Don't worry about those, ma'am, you'll wind yourself."

I asked my husband if we still had any of the beers he'd bought for the carpenter my brother had hired to do some work around the house before my mother died last November.  He went inside to get them, and I chatted with this fellow.  He used to live two streets over, but then lost his job.  His mother had died and he had no family, working as a maintenance man in a nearby apartment complex, and odd job man for some other people in the neighborhood.  I asked if he was living rough, and he said he was living at a local motel which he named, and which I know to be cheap and about 4 miles away.  I learned he was 10 years younger than I am, where he went to junior high and high school.  He's of German heritage and grew up here in Houston.  I told him his eyes reminded me of my mother's father, whom I had adored and who died just after we moved to this house in 1957.

My husband came out with two beers for him, and he protested that wasn't necessary.  I told him "We can't drink them, and the guy we bought them for quit drinking, and this is the only thing I've got to thank you with."   Now I know many would think it was wrong of me to give beer to someone who possibly is an alcoholic.  I would think so myself most of the time.   What I have learned however, are two things.  One, each person has the right to their own vices, and you cannot make them choose not to indulge in them.  Second, given the circumstances of his life, those two Guinness dark beers might be one of the few pleasures he has in life.  Maybe I learned something else too.  Some people who don't look so savory and whose lifestyle might be objectionable to others have wonderful hearts and generous souls.  I think I knew that already, but it certainly struck me that my neighbor merely "looked" kind and wasn't, and this stranger opened his heart to help someone without asking any thing in return.

"No need for that," he said

"You were a blessing when I needed one," I said "This is my way of thanking you." 

"And this is your thank you!"  he said, and smiled, lighting up those those pale ice blue eyes with the glow of heaven.  I wonder, might Jesus not return as someone like this?  A down and out person living day to day, or a welfare mother who made "bad choices?"  Or would Jesus come back as someone who looked and lived like my neighbor -- always neat and tidy but trying to control the behaviors of others?  When the Bible talks about "denying Jesus"  could it be talking bout passing by someone like my angel of today as "unsavory?" 

Having taken so much time and space writing this, I will save the other story for another post. Anyway, I'm hongree!  Thanks for reading this.  I'll be interested to see if anyone leaves any comments or fills out the form on my homepage.