Monday, October 12, 2015

My Coming Out Story: I am Atheist

SPECIAL NOTE: This post is special to me, because I am approaching the 10 month anniversary of the Strength In Number blog and this is the ONE HUNDREDTH post! When I started this blog in January, I never knew that I would reach over 20,000 followers and 100 posts. The goal of Strength In Numbers was and is to be unfiltered, uncensored and write the truth about issues and give opinions that did not have the influence of respectability politics. Know that I will continue to strive for those goals and reach new ones as this blog evolves, may this blog continue to intrigue and entertain you (scroll to the bottom of this for my top 10 posts)! - Ashton P. Woods

In my previous installments of the "My Coming Out Story" series I talked about my initial coming out as gay, then I talked about being homeless,  some of my experiences with tragedy & triumph and finally about how I was led to my current home Houston, TX. This post will center a more recent period, the last two or so years where I finally came out of the Atheist Closet.

I remember the day it happened (coming out Atheist) and it was much like when I was questioning about my sexuality. I alluded to the fact that I am an Atheist without fully revealing it. Seems to be a theme, if you remember my first post: "The few things that I remember about this conversation is that it was a warm and sunny day in New Orleans and Mary, a classmate and I were talking about random societal issues (yes we were pretty advanced). During that conversation I blurted out, "I think that I might be gay..." and then the conversation continued with a thoughtful acknowledgement of my statement. That day turned out to be a precursor to when I would actually come out as gay and the way my life would change."

Christian privilege - is the system of advantages bestowed upon Christians in some societies. This system arises out of the presumption that the belief in Christianity is a social norm, leading to the exclusion of the nonreligious and members of other religions through institutional religious discrimination. Christian privilege can also lead to the neglect of outsiders' cultural heritage and religious practices.

Religious discrimination - is valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe. Specifically, it is when adherents of different religions (or denominations) are treated unequally, either before the law or in institutional settings such as employment or housing.

Atheism - is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.Most inclusively, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.

What I said in this post (above) is very similar to what I did on that sunny day in New Orleans, and I know it wasn't as clear. I was really saying here that I never truly believed in a higher power and total dislike for the need of religion, ALL religion. I maintain that I respect the beliefs of all and the right to believe in a higher power. I actually touched on this in a previous post and stated, "The truth is that I see religion as a means of social control and domination for those who are in control of governments and other institutions that are used to govern. It does not mean that do not respect a person's convictions or belief in a higher power, and in my acceptance, I am exposed to the constant barrage of God this and prayer that memes, comments and posts via social media. The problem comes when I decide to make a post in reference to my Atheism, someone tries to flex their privilege and respond with some chastisement about how THEIR God is the real deal, mind you, I don't comment on others' posts when it regards religion! I have constantly question whether or not I want to go to certain events because someone will try to guilt me into a prayer circle or saying grace at a dinner."

Being an out Atheist brings on a line of questioning where folks like to challenge one on his or her morality. Let me be clear on the fact that  I still know right from wrong. My thought is that you do not have to believe in something, a higher power in order to do the right thing. by the same time in 2014 I had become fully comfortable with being an Atheist, as illustrated (left). Clearly, learning to be comfortable with my sexuality helped me to become more comfortable at a more rapid pace talking about and being out about my Atheism.

Over the course of that year, basically 2014, I lost friends who I thought would be more open minded about my willingness to show all of who I am.  One cannot be truly intersectional without being true to all of his or her identities:

The point is that, it is ok to be who you are, remember to respect others always, BUT demand that same respect back. If you don't get that respect, shut it down and move on. To those of you reading this post that are religious, please remember that being Black does not equal Theist. Black Atheists, Non Believers, Humanists ACTUALLY exist and for Atheists over all,  please stop trying to appeal to our sense of morality in hopes that we will come to your church, because yours is the best one. when someone tells you they don't believe, the default should not be "come to church with me next Sunday" or "I am working on you..." it should be a question of how you can be an ally...

Top TEN posts (SO FAR):

10. #HERO: Meet The Opposition of Proposition 1 - Houston Area COGIC PAC

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