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I am nobody. I am a single voice in a world of billions. When I speak, you cannot hear me above the sound of your own apathy and ignorance. You are too busy to take the time to listen. So I speak louder. I raise my voice above the norm and hope that it will reach you. I scream until my lungs can take no more, but you still hear nothing. I cry out in frustration and anger.

SEE ME. HEAR ME. FEEL ME. I need you to know and to understand.

But you can’t. Or maybe you won’t. I don’t exist outside of my direct impact on your life. So life goes on. For you. You go to parties, go shopping, and take enough Instagram photos to line the pages of a thousand albums, while I remain stuck where I am, watching as hate propagates and lives are forever altered. I’m chained to the very same spot, desperately hoping that this time I’ll break through; this time my voice will carry; this time the world will hear me.

I am your brother, your son, your cousin, your coworker, your best friend and yet, I am nobody. I do not matter because you do not allow me to matter.

When will I matter? When will you hear me? When the gunshot echoes through the room and metal meets bone? When my silence joins your own?

You need to listen. You need to hear the things that you aren’t ready or willing to hear. Before it’s too late. Before I am just another cold body in the ground, remembered not as a person, but as another statistic. You can choose to ignore me, to pretend that you can’t hear me, but I will not stop speaking. I will not stop screaming until my organs fail or you deign to listen, whichever comes first.

I have seen the worst of this world and I ache with feelings that I can’t even articulate yet because I haven’t had enough time to process what’s happened. I am heartbroken. I am inconsolable. I am outraged. All I can think about is how angry I am.

I’m angry that I’m afraid to hold my boyfriend’s hand in public.

I’m angry that my family needs to worry about my safety at gay pride events.

I’m angry that my sexual orientation precludes me from donating blood when my brothers and sisters are bleeding out.

I’m angry that forty-nine men and women were slaughtered in an act of hate.

I’m angry that young men and women will stay closeted because we have given life to their fears.

I’m angry that I can be fired in the majority of the United States based solely on who I love.

I’m angry that you’re changing the narrative to suit your own agenda.

I’m angry that you vote for people who demonize, belittle, and deny my existence.

I’m angry that you you think “tolerance” is the message we need to teach our children.

I’m angry that you think I chose this.

I’m so unbelievably angry and I’m so unbelievably tired of being angry. But the anger, the outrage, the heartbreak are all I have because you can’t hear me. I am nobody. I am a single voice in a world of billions and I am falling on deaf ears.

Maybe one day you’ll listen.


My heart goes out to the people in Orlando, the loved ones of those we’ve lost, and to everyone else who has been affected by this act of hate. I have nothing but love for all of you. The loss of even one life is a loss for us all.

Until next time…stay classy.

-C.M. Berry

With anything in life, it’s difficult to know where to begin when embarking down a new path. How do you know if you’re taking the “right” first step, heading in the “right” direction, doing what is “right” for you? How do you ignore that constant, unsettling feeling of uncertainty that comes from wondering what if?

What if this is a mistake?

What if this isn’t really want I want?

What if I don’t do this and regret it later?

We spend countless hours on that what if notion, wondering whether or not the choices in front of us are going to be the ones that bring us to our greatest happiness, all the while remaining stationary as we wonder. We put so much effort into that fear and that uncertainty that we waste copious amounts of time we could be spending on doing what it is that we’re worried about doing.

At some point, we need to stop wondering; we need to stop thinking so much and instead focus more on doing. In order to move forward and begin something new, we need to actually move forward. We need to stand up, make a decision, and take that first step.

We need to simply begin.

Last year, I did just that. I began something. I began the next chapter in my life: the long and arduous journey of self-discovery and continuous self-improvement that I desperately needed. I quit my long-time job, uprooted my life, and started over in a new zip code. I dropped myself into a world I knew nothing about and found myself considerably outside of my comfort zone.

I thought that these major life changes would free me from the perpetual funk I was in. In a way, they did; Boston gave me so much of what I needed. It gave me hope, perspective, and boundless promise. I didn’t realize, though, that these major life changes were only small parts of the bigger equation.

I woke up each day in a new city with new obstacles to face: learning a new job, embracing the multitudes of people around me, adapting to the geography of the area, meeting the financial needs of a city life, etc. I had thought that I could meet those obstacles head on, but found that despite the courage to uproot my life and make those major life changes, I often lacked the courage to expand my day-to-day horizons. I developed social anxiety, became a stickler for routine, and became far too comfortable behind closed doors. The world around me continued to move forward while I remained still, frozen in this state of uncertainty and fear.

Instead of my comfort zone expanding to meet the demands of my situation, it remained small, but solidified its defenses. My bathrobe became my best friend and my anxiety became a crutch, one that I could lean on whenever I came far too close to the edge of my comfort zone. I had so drastically altered my external world with the move and career change, but I had never taken the time to allow my internal world to catch up.

My anxieties gave way to inactivity and inactivity gave way to mindless eating, resulting in a tremendous weight gain. My first year in Boston added sixty pounds to my frame and several sizes to my wardrobe. As a result, I lost a large chunk of my confidence, the majority of my sense of self-worth, and all of what I consider to be my greatest gift: my voice. I stopped writing, stopped braving the world beyond the necessity of my work life, and stopped sharing myself with the world. My romantic relationship suffered, my friendships stalled, and my world more or less came to a halting stop. Somewhere along the way I stopped fighting for myself. I stopped wanting things out of life and stopped fighting for the things that I had initially wanted. I became a casual observer of life instead of an active participant.

As is often the case, we can’t always see how bad it’s gotten until we reach a point at which something or someone gives us the swift kick in the ass we need. For me it was several things: My father had just had another heart attack, my scale refused to lie to me, and I saw the beginning signs of diabetes; the very same ones I saw my father experience as I was growing up. I had to make a decision to either continue down a reckless path or to take back my life one step at a time. It didn’t matter what the first step was going to be or whether or not it was the right first step; all that mattered was that I actually take a step. And I did. I took the most logical step possible: stop the what-ifs and resolve to make my health and everything that encompasses the number one priority.

How I feel about myself matters not only because it connects to all other aspects of my life, but also because I can’t give my best to others when I’m not even giving my best to myself. No matter how I look at things, no matter what scope I use, it all comes down to my health. As soon as that realization came, the rest began to follow.

I talked to my boyfriend about everything, made a list of foods I was no longer allowed to bring into the house, and stopped the primary source of the problem right in its tracks. I joined an online community of like minded people going through the same struggles and I started using the site to track my food, exercise, weight, mood, and overall nutrition.

It’s been a little over five weeks now and it’s amazing to me how dramatically my quality of life has already improved. I’m physically stronger, mentally sharper, and emotionally light. I’m still considerably flabby and I have a long way to go before I’m content with my body and overall health, but I’m certain – probably more certain than I’ve ever been – that these changes are going to help me reclaim what I’ve lost.

Some days I think about my goals and I feel overwhelmed and intimidated, but then I remind myself why I am doing this: I want to be around to see my nieces and nephews grow up. I want to be unburdened by the physical limitations of my body. I want to be the best possible version of myself. I can’t do that in the state I’m in. It’s time to move forward. It’s time to not only push the boundaries of my comfort zone, but to move beyond them entirely.

If I don’t push myself, who else will?

If I don’t save myself, who else will?

If I don’t fight for myself, who else will?

Until next time…stay classy.

– C.M. Berry

With my three year coming out anniversary now behind me, I often think about how my decision to share myself with the world was, is, and will be the single greatest decision of my life. It was a turning point, the beginning of a period of exponential personal growth, and a profound experience in ways that I couldn’t even begin to describe. In what seemed like no time at all, I transitioned into a better version of myself. I look back at my coming out period with pride and a feeling of self-worth that didn’t exist beforehand, which makes it so very strange to think that those months of pride could fade away so quickly and be replaced with an overall bad taste in my mouth.

I always thought of the gay community as a haven of sorts; a safe place in the storm for misfits and outcasts. It didn’t matter who you were, where you had come from, or where you fell on the sexual spectrum. You had a community of people to support you and as long as that community existed, you had a home. Maybe I was naïve to think that everyone in the community would be welcoming. Maybe I was stupid to think that everyone in the community would be kind. Maybe…just maybe…the community that seemed so great at first is no community at all.

In the three years that I’ve been openly gay, I have taken more wrong turns than I can count, trying to navigate my way through a sometimes terrifying and hostile new world. I experienced new things and new people, challenged myself to evolve in new ways, and broadened my scope of the world and in turn my understanding of what it means to be human. I made numerous mistakes and learned a great deal about myself and others as a result.

Despite the wonder and brilliance of it all, I can’t help but feel that my view of the gay community has shifted from a place of pride to one of disdain. In a matter of three years, I’ve witnessed so much that makes me wonder if there are more things wrong with the community than there are right. I often wonder if we’ve become so focused on the bigger picture that we’ve neglected the individual parts that make up the whole.

With greater acceptance, a larger group of allies, and equality on the rise, the gays of today unquestionably experience the world in a very different way from those who came before us. We forget or just don’t know about our predecessors. We are ignorant to the atrocities our community has faced and know nothing of the struggle and sacrifices that had to be made for us to be where we are now. It’s no wonder that we’ve become a group of individuals that is focused on categorical exclusion, interchangeable relationships, and misplaced pride.

For a community that is rooted in the need for inclusion, so many of us are quick to exclude others based on any number of things from physical appearance to socioeconomic status to even a proper level a masculinity that is determined arbitrarily. We somehow forget or just stop caring about the fact that we know exactly what it feels like to be on the outside; to feel out of place and unwanted. Yet we choose to make others feel this way with our actions and words. We are often cruel, unwelcoming, and (to my astonishment) elitist.

We label any and everyone. On any and probably every gay-oriented phone app or dating website, you’ll notice categories that are based on physical characteristics. You have twinks, chubs, jocks, bears, cubs, chasers, otters, etc. The entire gay world is broken down into categories and subcategories that only serve to isolate and alienate those who do not fit a particular mold. We’re continuously made to feel like we have to pick a category and stick to it in order to maintain the status quo.

With the majority of people having computers and smart phones, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that behind every online profile there is a person; a person with thoughts, feelings, and an identity that we often overlook because we see these people as interchangeable. In a world of online profiles, you and I are each one of many; nothing more than a list of attributes on a screen that can be discarded at the drop of hat no matter how much time and effort we have invested in the cultivation of new relationships. These programs that are meant to bring us together only serve to tear us apart. Instead of getting to know one another, we find reasons not to.

Maybe it’s because we’ve gotten so wrapped up in what it means to be gay, that we’ve lost sight of what it means to be human. We get so wrapped up in the need to embrace gay culture and find our place in the gay world, that we lose sight of or ignore the fact that we are all just human beings. Being gay is just a small piece of what we are; it by no means defines us in any substantial way. While pride in who we are is great, it is our humanity that connects us to every other person.

So why do we continue down this path? Why do we place such great value on the things that will only bring unhappiness and negatively impact the community to which we belong? Why do we allow ourselves to lose sight of where we were, where we are, and where we will one day be? Maybe I can’t answer these questions. Maybe instead of trying to answer them, I should be focusing more on small ways to fix the problems that we will inevitably continue to face.

No matter the reasons and no matter how we proceed, there is one thing I am sure of: as we move forward, we have to face the reality that change will continue to come in all shapes and sizes; some of this change will be good and some of it will be bad. Some will test us in ways that we never thought possible. It is our responsibility to ourselves and to others that with these changes we create a generation of men and women who are equipped to carry us further to the point at which “gay” is just another trivial word with no more weight than any other descriptor. This can only begin with open discussion, education, and an honest look at the state of world in which we live. Our community isn’t perfect, nor is it entirely broken, but we cannot ignore that there are problems we choose not to face. So I leave you with words that we’ve all heard before: If not now, when? If not us, who?

Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry

Do you have any thoughts on the above? Do you agree or disagree? Feel free to comment and thanks for stopping by.

I’ve lived in Boston for two weeks now and to say that it is a culture shock would be a very large understatement. There are quite a few things I’ve learned in these two weeks; things that have surprised, annoyed, and impressed me.

1. Drivers here are nowhere near as bad as people seem to think. In fact nearly everyone I have come across has been considerate. I think the misconception of Boston (and more generally Massachusetts) drivers comes from the the reality that driving conditions and road types vary from one place to another. If you’re not from an area, you’re more than likely going to have trouble driving there. It took me a bit to adjust to the way the streets work here and I have no doubt that my adjustment has been problematic for the locals.

2. Nearly every gas station is full service. I may be generalizing here, but I have come across only one gas station in my somewhat immediate area that is self-service. It’s a ratio of close to ten to one here, which is something to which I am not accustomed. I’m the type of person who hates full service stations because I am put in a situation where I feel obligated to tip for something that I can easily do myself. No bueno!

3. There are more one way streets than anything else. It seems like nearly every single street in Greater Boston only goes in one direction, which for someone from Western Mass is very confusing and makes adjustment difficult. My guess is that in terms of urban planning, there is a very good reason for it, but I have yet to figure out what that reason is. Maybe it’s just because the streets are so narrow and compact.

4. The rate of obesity seems small here. I initially thought that there would be a greater distribution of overweight and obese people because of the mere fact that so many jobs here involve office work, which contributes heavily to a sedentary life. I guess I never really took into account the amount of exercise people get solely from walking and commuting to and from work. Parts of Western Mass are rife with people on motor scooters. Pittsfield has a motor scooter store right on one of it’s main streets; the very same main street where people ride their scooters up and down with no real destination. While some may actually have medical conditions, my guess is that many do not.

5. There is a Dunkin Donuts on every corner. Some corners even have two. Being that I am from Massachusetts, I am well aware of how we “run on Dunkins.” I had no idea, however, that it was THAT prevalent in the Boston area. I have at least a dozen all within a one mile radius. Imagine how much money Dunkin Donuts makes from the people of this city who are just too lazy to make their own coffee in the morning.

6. Everything is closer than it seems. I keep on flashing back to my freshman orientation at UMASS during the summer before school. The campus seemed immense to me at the time. When I returned in the fall and spent a few days on campus, however, I came to realize that the campus was nowhere near as large as I remembered it. Everything was within walking distance. While Boston’s many attractions aren’t within immediate walking distance, the city and surrounding area really isn’t that big. What makes it seem so much larger is the number of people and buildings per square mile. In actuality, Boston is arguably small.

7. If you want good food, you’re going to have to pay more. While out here I have ordered food from several places. Many of those places were on the cheaper side and epitomized the idea of “you get what you pay for.” In the past I came across numerous little gems where the food was great, the service was unbeatable, and the value was actually value. It will probably take some time to weed out the duds around here, but (from what I’ve gathered) if I want good food, I need to get over the idea that I can get it cheap.

8. Diversity is an essential part of the city’s continued growth. While Western Mass definitely isn’t a stranger to diversity and various cultures coming together, it seems like Greater Boston is home to even more cultures than I could have imagined. In my immediate area alone, we have countless individuals who speak languages from Spanish and Portuguese to Creole. The communities here are much larger than that of Pittsfield and offer more of a chance to interact with people of various backgrounds and ethnicity.

9. Boston is a proud city. Many of us think we understand the pride that this city exudes, but there is no way we can fully comprehend it until we’ve lived here, interacted with the locals, and experienced many of the things that the city has to offer. It may sound crazy, but in my two weeks here I can already feel the strength in its people and the solidarity running through their veins. The city continually shows it’s strength and the community is definitely not to be trifled with.

10. The possibilities are limitless. With any big city, opportunities are abundant and options are without bounds. When it comes to food, employment, entertainment, shopping, etc, you have more options than you know what to do with. Boston holds so much promise on so many levels; something that Pittsfield and many other western mass cities and towns lack. It provides the means to be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. What could be better than that?

It’s definitely going to take some time to fully transition into big city life and find my niche in this little part of the world, but I have no doubt that with enough time and experience, I’ll find whatever it is that I’m looking for and maybe in the process find a little bit more of myself.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry

I’m not usually crazy enough to write about the disappointment that comes with a show’s series finale. I complain a bit and then get over it. For some reason, though, I feel like one of my favorite shows failed me last night and I’m going to rant for a moment about why I feel this way. If you’re not interested in my pointless rant, you can turn back now. If you are interested, onward!

I’ve spent years watching How I Met Your Mother and somewhere along the way I fell in love with the characters, the story, and the laughs and heartache that came with both. As the show grew I feel like I grew along with it, learning more about myself and about others from these fictional characters that felt more real than many of the people we come across on a daily basis. With that being said, I find myself in awe of the train wreck I witnessed last night on the Monday night lineup. I watched as a show of nine seasons was dismantled in less than an hour with a storyline that destroys all of the growth that we’ve seen in these characters over the years. While some (with me using that word generously) things served to uphold the story and deliver a finale worth watching, the rest only served to disappoint.

ALERT: Spoilers Ahead…

1. Years of character development is lost in a single episode. The writers spent an entire season on Barney and Robin’s wedding only to have their marriage unravel within three years. We see the characters grow and develop as they grapple with the challenges of their lives and love, only to watch as they revert back to who they were.

2. The entire show hinges on Ted’s story of how he met Tracy; the very same Tracy that he meets and apparently loses to some illness all within the confines of a forty minute episode. We see little snippets of their happy life before it’s yanked away and we’re plunged back into the drawn out Ted & Robin crap that got old a long time ago. This is oddly reminiscent of Sylar in Heroes, who simply would NOT die, despite how much his ridiculously drawn out life damaged the effectiveness of the story line.

3. We’re made to believe that Tracy is Ted’s epic love. We suffered through heart break after heart break with him throughout the years, waiting for that perfect somebody to come along and change everything. The story shows and overtly says that THIS love is different; it is something else entirely. Yet we come full circle to the blue French horn and Ted’s love of Robin; something that completely discredits how epic his love for Tracy was. Depending on how you look at it we’re given two (more or less) epic love stories that can’t possibly exist without diminishing the other.

4. The perceived concept of the show contradicts the reality. For a show that is titled “How I Met Your Mother” we are given so little of the mother to begin with and then forced to watch it become a story of how Ted took the long and winding road to Robin, which makes Tracy a wasted character beyond her use as a human baby factory and turns Ted into the man he was in the very beginning.

It would have been more effective to show how Ted and Tracy met without providing an epilogue that only serves to ruin their union and the nine seasons that precede it. Knowing now that the writers had this in mind (most likely since the beginning), I probably wouldn’t have wasted my time waiting this long for something that would only disappoint. I didn’t need a happy ending for Ted and Tracy; happy endings are rare and altogether unrealistic. I did, however, need more than what we were given. I needed a reality based on character development; not the poorly constructed, jumbled mess of nothingness I witnessed last night.

Maybe the writers wanted everything to come full circle from the very beginning, but in doing so they destroyed so much of what they created and left us with the impression that Ted is still a chump, Robin can’t find happiness within herself, her work, or anyone else besides Ted, and Tracy was more or less useless, despite how she was written to perfectly complement Ted. We’re left with a steaming pile of crap. On that note I leave you…

Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry

Breaking The Chains

In the last week I’ve come across countless posts on Facebook that involve a chain letter to “raise awareness about breast cancer.” The chain letter involves the poster choosing one of several statuses. When a person has then “liked” the status, the original poster forwards the chain letter to that person and the chain continues. The letter I’ve come across, which may just be one version of many, has the following message:

“Oh dear,dear,dear. You should not have liked or commented! Now you have to pick one of the 14 below & post a status. This is the 2014 breast cancer awareness game. Don’t be a spoil sport, choose your poison & change your status.1) Damn diarrhea 2)Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket. 3)Anyone have a tampon. I’m out. 4) How do you get rid of foot fungus. 5)Why is nobody around when l am horny? 6) No toilet paper, goodbye socks. 7)Someone offered me a job as a prostitute but l’ m hesitant. 8)l think l’m in love with someone what should l do? 9)l’ve decided to stop wearing underwear. 10)l still love my ex. 11) l really don’t know how to tell anyone and l’m sick of hiding it l’m gay. 12) Guess it was 2 good 2 be true l’m pregnant. 13)Just won $7000 on a scratchy. 14)l’ve just found out l’ve been cheated on for the past 5 months. Haha…”

I generally don’t allow myself to be bothered by trivial things like this, but as I kept on seeing this same post with multiple apparent coming out proclamations, I became more and more irritated by it for several reasons:

1. Pretending that you are coming out is not only disrespectful to those of us who have gone through the grueling and emotionally charged experience, but it also makes a mockery of the entire ordeal. Coming out is to publicly acknowledge an acceptance of oneself with everything that entails: the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. It is an experience that towers over all others in our lives because it is the single defining moment that determines the course of the rest of our lives. It allows us to find our strength to stand against those who hate us for something we cannot control. It is an individual and simultaneously shared experience that many of us cannot have because we were too afraid or forced into it before we were ready. It is difficult, terrifying, rewarding, and reaffirming. Few of us take it lightly because it is that momentous and it means more to us than you can ever know.

2. There is no actual information pertaining to breast cancer awareness anywhere within the confines of the letter; not a single fact or resource. To say that you are taking part in raising awareness for a cause is an outright lie.

3. If there was information in the letter, your status would confuse the message. It seems counterproductive to create a chain letter with statuses about things that have nothing to do with the real message. Yes, you are guaranteeing that more people see it by shocking people into commenting or “liking” the status, but you are inadvertently putting focus on the wrong thing and taking away from the cause. It would be far more useful and effective to educate those around you with relevant information.

4. This letter is considered a “game” of sorts; something that I do not for the life of me understand. Doesn’t a game have a purpose? Without a message actually attached to the chain letter, it serves no purpose but to spread a purposeless message. Isn’t a game by definition also supposed to be inherently fun? I’m not seeing the fun in misleading your friends, taking part in something with no purpose, and pretending to be part of a cause.

5. You’re damaging the credibility of yourself and those around you, even if your intentions were good. I feel like your future posts won’t be taken seriously now and you’ve taken away from any real difference you could make somewhere down the line with real information that actually pertains to the cause.

Many of you may have meant well, but you can’t honestly tell me you didn’t think some of these very same things. You’re intelligent people, but for some reason you feel compelled to share a letter that only propagates disrespect, perpetuates a lack of understanding, and discredits a cause worth fighting for. This isn’t meant to shame or scold you, but rather to make you aware of how spreading this letter not only comes across to the masses, but how it negatively impacts them as well. With that being said, I think it’s important to critically evaluate what we choose to share and pass on through social media; there’s no telling what effect it will have.

Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry

Today was the end of something that someday will seem so far away, yet oddly important; something that changed me in ways that I didn’t think possible. This letter is for all of you have been there at one point or another in the beginning stages of my professional life.

Dear Friends,

As I sit here, thinking about my very last day of work with the company that I have been a part of for nearly seven years, I find myself reflecting on the times that many of us have shared. I was hired at eighteen in my first week of college and remember thinking at the time that I would never stay beyond the four years ahead of me. As time went on, though, new opportunities presented themselves and relationships formed. I found myself becoming part of a family of sorts; dysfunctional at times, but always with an underlying sense of unbreakable togetherness.

These years have been filled with sadness, frustration, laughter, and some of the best memories a person could hope to have. I’ve learned more from my time here than many people could imagine. Among these things, I’ve learned patience, (some) humility, and a deep respect for others, which in turn allowed me to find an even deeper respect for myself. Many of you gave me the strength to be myself without fear of what that would mean. You have changed my life simply by being in it and few if any of you can see the far reaching impact you have had not only on me, but others as well. You were more than just coworkers; you were and always will be friends.

With that being said, it is with a semi-heavy heart that I move onto the next chapter of my life; a chapter filled with opportunities for personal and professional growth, and a greater sense of who I am as an individual beyond the walls of an organization that has only stunted this growth.

There is so much more I want and need to do and these things can only be done if I step beyond my comfort zone and into the vast expanse of the unknown. With any luck, the things that you have taught me will help me to become the person I was always meant to be. Words cannot express how grateful I am to have met each and every one of you and I have no doubt that our paths will cross again some day. Until then, keep your heads up and never lose sight of the difference that each one of you makes on a daily basis in even the smallest of ways.

Sincerely Yours,
C.

Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry

I have watched for years as customers have physically and verbally abused their children in the grocery store. For those of you who don’t live in Pittsfield, this is a common thing. My guess is that it is even common in many other areas. Every time I wanted to speak up and say something, I worried for my job. I recently quit my job, though, and I now feel comfortable openly addressing the “parents” who have done this time and time again. With that being said, I have written an open letter to them. If you are from Pittsfield, have seen this type of behavior, or are just a parent who agrees with what I have written, please share. Also, any and all comments are welcome. I think discussion is important to facilitate change. So here it is:

Dear “Parents,”

I use that term loosely because in my mind you are not parents; you are simply individuals that brought children into the world without any concept of the ramifications of your actions. You care more about yourselves than you do about the lives that you created. You walk around abusing, belittling, and neglecting those who depend on you because in your mind they are nothing more than a burden or indentured servants.

Day in and day out I watch as you drag them around the store by their arms, scream in their faces, and treat them like they are beneath you; you – the very same people who do not know how to properly present yourselves in public. You yell to people more than thirty feet away from you about personal issues that nobody wants to hear about, you are condescending and rude to those around you, and you clearly didn’t look in the mirror before you left your homes because if you had you would have seen that you look dirty and unkempt.

I, not being a parent, cannot attest to the difficulties that parents face. I can, however, understand that there is nothing easy about it from the outside looking in. I would even venture to say that it is probably one of the most difficult jobs there is. I’ve seen how much work my siblings have put into raising their children and I am in awe of the ways that both have developed as a result. While sometimes they complain and undoubtedly want to give up, they never treat their children the way that many of you treat yours. It is one thing to discipline a misbehaving child; it something else entirely to physically and verbally abuse your children, in a public setting no less.

Your children will become the product of their upbringing. Their actions will mirror your own and a chain of abuse and neglect will only continue and worsen throughout their lives until there is nothing left but broken human beings with the mental health and substance abuse problems that are sweeping this world. Some will get past the abuse; they will even go on to do great things in spite of everything you’ve put them through. Many, however, will engage in self-harm and fall victim to the voices you’ve put into their heads, telling them that they aren’t good enough to be loved, until they take their own lives.

I can already see it in so many of them; those who haven’t yet learned how to hide the emotional and physical scars that you have left on them. I look into their eyes and I only see the manifestation of everything that is wrong with not only you, but the world as a whole. I see sadness, neglect, and everything you’ve taken from them: self-worth, self-esteem, and the light with which they were born.

The fact is that if you are not prepared to raise your children with patience, kindness, and love, you are altogether unfit to be raising hamsters, much less human beings. Do yourselves and this world one of two favors:

Give your children their best shot with others who will love them unconditionally and provide the type of environment that children need

OR

Tie your respective tubes.

Either way, we’re all better off.

Sincerely Yours,
C.M. Berry

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time…stay classy.

The Jury Is “Out”

This morning while I was engaging in my normal morning routine of perusing my Facebook feed, I came across several posts about Congressman Aaron Schock, whose sexuality has come into question once again. Journalist, Itay Hod, made a rather overt attempt to out Schock on Friday with a post on Facebook that includes the following (taken from Huffington post):

“here’s a hypothetical: what if you know a certain GOP congressman, let’s just say from Illinois, is gay… and you know this because one of your friends, a journalist for a reputable network, told you in no uncertain terms that he caught that GOP congressman and his male roommate in the shower… together. now they could have been good friends just trying to conserve water. but there’s more. what if this congressman has also been caught by tmz cameras trolling gay bars. now what if you know that this very same guy, the darling of the gop, has also voted against repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, opposed the repeal of doma, is against gay marriage; and for the federal marriage amendment, which would add language to the us constitution banning gay marriage and would likely strike down every gay rights law and ordinance in the country?”

Schock has clearly been very adamantly against progress for the gay community for quite some time now, contributing his vote and voice to countless hurdles that our community has faced from his vote against the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” to his support of the federal marriage amendment, which would ban gay marriage and unravel all positive legislation that the gay community has accomplished.

To be perfectly honest after coming across this story this morning, I couldn’t care less whether or not this man is gay. His sexuality (like that of any other person) is more or less inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. While he is a public figure and has some clout in the political arena, he is just one of many who opposes my basic human right to a happy life. I simply don’t care about it or him as an individual. I do, however, take interest in another aspect of this story; the question that it brings to the forefront of my mind: Is it okay to “out” someone who maliciously acts against a group to which he (speculatively) belongs?

My initial response is that it is never okay to “out” another person because I too have been where that person has been. I remember the terror and remember every stage I went through to get to where I am now: the sadness, the fear, the isolation, the anger, etc. I know firsthand how difficult it is to live with something you can’t control and to be unable to accept it as a part of yourself, allowing it to gradually chip away at you. I remember the shame that others inadvertently made me feel and the weight I felt upon my shoulders every day leading up to my acceptance of it.

To even think that I could have been outed before I was ready to come to terms with my sexual orientation is a terrifying thought because there is no way for me to know if I would have been strong enough at the time (both mentally and emotionally) to cope with the situation.

Coming out is such a profound thing for most gay individuals; so profound in fact that if outed too early or before being equipped with the tools to handle it, the results could be catastrophic with depression, anxiety, and self-harm, which often leads to suicide. When outing someone, there is no possible way we could know how that person will respond.

With that being said, we are now faced with the opposing side to this, which touches upon the fact that there are arguable circumstances in which a person needs to or should be outed. We have a public figure who is meant to represent the people (arguably all people and not just his party), but chooses to campaign against the basic human rights of a group. He has been steadfast in his opposition and will most likely remain so if he continues down the path that he’s on. If we add in the idea of this man – this public figure – being the very thing that he has been fighting against, we are faced with a tremendous amount of hypocrisy that understandably angers those who he has done and will continue to do harm against.

Let’s strip away this man’s sexuality for a minute. Let’s just take him at face value as either a man who does good or a man who does evil. If this man is a man who does evil, which many would argue he does, then don’t we, as those he has trespassed against, have a moral obligation to intervene in a way that may have a positive impact on the masses, but a negative impact on this man as an individual? Isn’t it our duty to act? Furthermore, couldn’t our intervention be seen as a positive action that will benefit everyone (including him) in the long run?

These are the questions that we are faced with, among countless others; questions of moral obligation, character, and the lesser of two evils. These are questions that bring about the age old struggle between right and wrong, and the middle ground that we must sometimes take.

While I want to believe that he is a just a man trying to navigate this world like the rest of us in the best way that he knows how, I can’t help but think that his actions – done out of fear or simple ill intent – negatively impact an entire community of people; a community that has been fighting for years to not only be heard, but to be recognized as an equal. For that I’m left to wonder if maybe there are circumstances in which we have to do the wrong thing in order to do the right thing, no matter how unsettling it may be.

These were just some of my thoughts regarding this story. Feel free to share your own in the comments below. I’d love to know what you think.

Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry

28 Days Of Thanks

Everyone this month seemed to have a daily Facebook post that said what they were thankful for. I decided instead of bombarding people with these posts I’d just make a list and post them all at once on my blog. So here it is:

28 Days Of Thanks:

1. I am thankful for my boyfriend, Henry, who has been able to tolerate me for the past seven months and hopefully many more.
2. I am thankful for having a roof over my head. There are many people out there who are not as lucky.
3. I am thankful for my job. These days they are hard to come by and while I may not love it, I am grateful that I have it.
4. I am thankful for my brothers and sisters, all of whom I have grown closer to over the years.
5. I am thankful for all fourteen (soon to be fifteen) of my nieces and nephews who remind me on a daily basis that life passes so quickly and every moment with our loved ones counts.
6. I am thankful for my friends, both near and far; the ones I see frequently and the ones I seldom see, but will always be connected to through the memories that we share.
7. I am thankful for my new positive outlook on life; one that challenges me to do better and to be better.
8. I am thankful for my art; my ability to convey and share myself without the use of words.
9. I am thankful for my parents, who are continually teaching me things both directly and indirectly throughout my life.
10. I am thankful for the kindness of strangers; strangers who remind me to be kind to others in turn.
11. I am thankful for life’s innumerable lessons, which have shaped and molded me into the person I am today.
12. I am thankful for the people who take the time to help me find my way when I am lost.
13. I am thankful for the people who inspire me on a daily basis, like my friend Tim, who inadvertently changed my life by simply being in it.
14. I am thankful for the two years that I have now spent as an openly gay man and the strength that I have gained because of it.
15. I am thankful for those who have taken a stand for marriage equality. We’ve seen significant strides in the last year alone, which gives me hope that one day I will feel whole and equal to those around me.
16. I am thankful for my amazing coworkers, who bust their asses day in and day out, despite how trying it can be at times.
17. I am thankful for my health. I’ve faced quite a few hurdles in the last year, but things are definitely looking up.
18. I am thankful for a nurse named, Jenny, at BMC who kept my spirits up while I was in the hospital back in August. My emotions were all over the place after my experience at the ER and she made things a little more bearable.
19. I am thankful for the men and women in the armed forces who keep us safe.
20. I am thankful for the opportunities that I have been given, both professionally and personally.
21. I am thankful for a college education, despite the disgustingly large amount of debt that has come as a result.
22. I am thankful for progress.
23. I am thankful for the small changes people have made to try and undo the damage we’ve done to this world.
24. I am thankful for the ability to critically evaluate two opposing points of view and find balance and understanding.
25. I am thankful for forgiveness; both my ability to grant it and the ability of others to do the same for me.
26. I am thankful for my readers. Life is very hectic most days and I appreciate you taking the time to read what I have written.
27. I am thankful for caffeine.
28. I am thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry

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