The Road to Independence

The first line/second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence reads “WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”

How exquisite are these words and I take them very seriously. My only edit would have been to take out “Men” and insert “People” to include every human being.. If you really take in the words “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”…..ah, how blissful! Yes, these are our rights and if we would only go back to the simplicity of the words, perhaps we could find peace among everyone. The year 1776 was probably a simpler time yet now we are making sure that these documents in place are upheld for everyone where no one is left out. Two hundred and thirty-nine years later, we are still fighting about these three basic unalienable rights and in some cases taking them away from the people for which they serve.

Last week, a family member from the South Carolina murder victims was quoted “hate is very strong but love is stronger.” We have to hold onto that fact and live our lives every single moment to overcome the fear and hate that surrounds us each day. When love is at the forefront in a person’s life, the quality of that life is much sweeter, much more fulfilling and reaps the greater rewards. If you don’t believe me, just recall a time in your life when you felt your happiest. What did it feel like? What was occurring? When the going get tough, don’t we typically wish for happier times or when we felt loved the most? So why would any of us chose to hate? It’s wasted energy which often delivers a joyless outcome for both the giver and the receiver.

We have to stop making life so complicated. Let everyone be happy!! Why is this so hard to do? There has been so much effort to keep same sex marriage from being legal. Crazy!! When people love each other, shouldn’t they marry if they choose? Why keep people from being happy? Isn’t that one of my unalienable rights or is it a conditional right? Once there were laws on the books to making interracial marriages illegal. It was finally legalized in 1966 and people still frown at it. Give it up, and learn how to love!! We are determined to find our slice of happiness in all areas of our lives and pursue it.

Now that a major hurdle was overcome last week with legalizing same sex marriage making ALL marriage is legal, our real work begins. We have to teach people love; we have to erode the gaps of hate to where they are non-existent. We have had lifetimes of putting hate into the culture that it will take a few lifetimes to make love the predominate conversation. And we can do it….I believe we can because love is stronger. Because love always wins!!!!

So as we celebrate the 4th of July this weekend with friends and families, enjoy cookouts and fireworks, I ask that we extend our hand to someone who we may not have welcomed at the last 4th of July. Be a bridge of love, not a gap of hate. Happy Fourth of July and may our road to independence be full of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

One Small Change

My plan was to write about Gay Pride month yet the murders in South Carolina last week have taken front and center attention to matters where we all bear responsibility. Will we ever know the real reason behind these senseless deaths? We have heard so many commentaries, so many accusations and sadly so many political groups hurling blame on one another as to the reason why this young man shot people amidst a prayer group. This is not the time and place for the spin doctors. It is a time for us to change.
Sadly there is still a divide between people whether it is color, gender, religion, sexual preference and any belief that is passionate for a human being. We have wars occurring about matters started over 2000 years ago and in America we are have silent wars brewing about anyone who is living life as they were created. While I am not a regular church goer, I have a spiritual devotion to my faith in God. Help me to understand that if God had a child birthed with any color skin, who are we to say that the human being with that color is any more or less than the next child born? It is a huge responsibility to take on making these judgments. Science research will show that it is harder to hate than to love. So, again I ask, why are we making life harder for ourselves?
When I see a confederate flag flying I scratch my head as to why this is still the case? Yet, many of us probably haven’t given it a lot of thought because we are not living in an area that has the confederate flag flying. Why are we still giving voice or attention to a symbol of slavery and hate? Take it down and make room for a symbol of peace. Approximately 750,000 people lost their lives during the Civil War between 1861-1865 fighting over ideals relating to slavery. And here we are in 2015 still harming one another because of the color of our skin!!!? Why are we subjecting ourselves to harm……….stop it!!! We need to take care of each other, not harm each other.
We as a human race have perpetuated the conversation about different rights based on the color of people’s skin. We give in to jokes, we give in to stereotypes and even though it might seem like a small giggle, we are still allowing the discrimination to continue………..even with our silence. When we are in the company of someone putting a diverse group down, either walk away or tell them to stop. Joining in increases the momentum of hate. Change our own behavior with “making fun”. There are plenty of other topics to laugh at.
With the South Carolina tragedy still front and center, as it should be, we have to pay attention to how innocent and loving people lost their lives that day. Perhaps in their memory there will be a positive shift in America. I pray for that to happen. Let this be a time that we check our privilege or sense of righteousness at the door and open our arms to all people. I challenge us all to make one effort to make sure that this behavior of hate stops. It can be simply saying hello to a person we would never have acknowledged before, be a youth mentor to a kid from the inner city. Help them to open doors of opportunity. And there are so many other ways to live in unconditional acceptance. We can create that type of world and it’s much healthier for our mind, body and soul. Change to Love!!

What does LGBT really mean?

Acronyms are part of our daily life so today I’ll focus on LGBT. For those who don’t know, it stands for Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender diversity. What it really means is Love-Great-Beautiful-Tenderness because that is how the LGBT community has learned to view life because we have experienced the opposite adjectives by being held as different; yet we are ALL very much the same.

Unfortunately, there are still plenty of people who roll their eyes when LGBT is spoken. It’s almost like we are a group of mosquitoes to be swatted away. We are equal and it’s up to some of the human race to not be fearful. Don’t worry, we won’t sting you. More than likely we’ll be the person who helps to heal you as a healthcare or mental health professional. We’ll be the person who helps you buy your house or help your college bound child get financial aid as well as a bunch of other really important life events.

Having lived through times of my life over the 30+ years that I have been part of the LGBT community, I now have a greater passion to see that all people are treated fairly. If I only focus on helping the LGBT community than I am just as much of a discriminator as peers who shun me……and that’s not how I want to live my life. I was taught that God is everywhere and He judges no one, so help me to understand why people have taken on the role that judgment comes from a human being and not God? Stop it!!!

For those who read this and treat all people equally, then you understand where I am coming from. The name of the game is to treat others as we would want ourselves treated….end of story. To those who have issue with the LGBT community, first, thanks for taking the time to read my blog and secondly I have to ask, “What are you afraid of?” We are all in this world together to live a good life, see that our kids and grand-kids have everything they need and to feel loved. So why should any of the controversy matter? I want to be heard just as much as you do. I want politicians on both sides of the house to stop stealing from Americans and I’m kind of done with both parties. So why do you think I’m any different than you? I pray every morning and night, I love my family of origin and my family of choice with an undying loyalty so again I say, we are very much the same.

Pride & Pendulum

Every year LGBTQ communities around the world celebrate what could have been an ordinary night of police raids on suspected homosexual establishments in New York City. During the early hours of June 28th 1969, the Stonewall riots became one of many LGBTQ historical lighting rods. Systematic oppression and mistreatment of the LGBTQ community reached a critical tipping point and aggression was met with equal aggression. Yes, Pride was birth from the womb of a riot. Its screeching cry rocked a nation, empowered a people, and lifted a layered veil demanding to be acknowledged. The pendulum reached its lowest point where potential energy has been fully converted into kinetic energy.

I believe that we are at one of those pivotal moments of kinetic energy where LGBTQ issues are top of mind of talking-heads and decision makers. We must take advantage of this opportunity to stimulate meaningful dialogue, and more importantly, meaningful action.

Solely from a business perspective, June is the month when everyday commercial products and brands are suddenly decked out in jovial rainbow hues, dipped in glue and tossed in glitter. The celebration of same-sex love ooze in ads depicting couples holding hands, blissfully gazing into each other’s eyes and sharing tender bashful smiles. June is a company’s chance to parade their non-discriminatory practices & policies, benefits, and support of their LGBT workers and consumers. Brands are finally utilizing campaigns to foster the message of equality and diversity with a little twist of the arm, I might add.

According to a Google Consumer Survey from August 2014, “Pride campaigns” are in direct correlation with consumer conscious spending. For consumers under 34 years old, 45% said that they are “more likely to do repeat business with an LGBT-friendly company”. My only hope is that companies’ efforts toward inclusion are not merely gestures, but a positive swing in the right direction. How will we ever know? I’m banking on Newton’s Third Law of motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Case in point, of recent some groups are encouraging people to boycott companies like Wells Fargo, Tiffany & Co. for going “beyond being gay-friendly to being public advocates”. This is well within their right; however I plan on being on the right side by continuing being a conscious consumer.

The bridge of inclusion requires deliberate action and a willingness to incorporate groups within a structure. Incorporation is not assimilation, yet it preserves the uniqueness of the entity. LGBT businesses are unique and must be acknowledged as so. I encourage you to support your LGBT owned & LGBT friendly businesses. Also, if you are LGBT owned, by all means become certified through the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to open doors to larger corporations.

We are responsible for keeping the pendulum swinging in the right direction.

Happy Pride!

Lamont Stanley Bryant
Relationship/Business Development Manager
AdNet/AccountNet, Inc.

Honoring Those Who Served Our Country

Last week I spent a few days with my mom in celebrating her 91st birthday. As I write this blog I feel melancholy from missing her. In her twilight years, she has evolved into this gentle spirit, free from most judgment (she still hangs on to a few). She is much easier to be around now than she was over the years. As the youngest of 5 with 7 years between me and my brother, Mom and I As a child Memorial Day was way more than a holiday in our family. It was a ritual where we attended services held at our church cemetery. I remember gathering for the service at 11:00am and listening as the priest said prayers for people who had lost their lives in the war as well as for those in service in the present day. I watched as he walked around the cemetery with holy water blessing the graves of deceased veterans. We did not have anyone in our immediate family who fought in the war but it was important to my mother that we paid respect for those who fought to keep our country free.

Once the service was over, we headed to my grandparents house for our traditional Memorial Day cookout.

As we go into the long holiday weekend excited for an extra day off and the gathering of family and friends for barbecues or getting to the beach as an official start of summer please remember all those who came before us to keep our country free.

If it were the 1960’s, I am sure I would have been demonstrating for “No More War”, marching in DC and whatever college campus I was attending. I wish our world could figure out how to collaborate rather that irritate each other so we can enjoy a peaceful world. Since we can’t seem to get our world leaders on the same page, we need to pay respects to all those who fought on our behalf.

Also remember those who were stateside serving the soldiers. Lady Auxiliary groups served those who fought overseas, USO and various celebrities traveled into the war zones to entertain our soldiers. Remember all the Bob Hope Specials and when Marilyn Monroe sang for the troops? Yet most importantly were all the women who were thrust into the workforce while raising children. They worked in the factories to build war related equipment. Remember Rosie the Riveter?? Women kept the family together and they took care of the men who came home with broken spirits.

So Memorial Day is much bigger than cookouts and having a day off. We celebrate all the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country and continue to make sacrifices. They taught us courage and resilience. I honor you today and every day.