Since INTA Gems & Diamonds has been a sponsor of Miss California USA for the past five years, a lot of people have been wondering what I believed and felt about the gay marriage question at the the Miss USA pageant this past Sunday. As with all the California State titleholders, Carrie Prejean, Miss California USA 2009, worked with my family and we’ve supported her since she received her title.
On the live televised broadcast, Carrie was asked a question about gay marriage by Perez Hilton. Personally, I fully support Carrie’s right to speak her opinion and I continue to support Miss California USA. Civil rights and equality has been a difficult path for many years. Free speech and being able to voice one’s opinion although controversial is an important component of our nation’s heritage and growth. And, it is important for those who dissent to be able to have a voice. From a positive prospective, this controversy has expanded the conversation about gay marriage especially here in California.
I am gay and my family knows and they are supportive of me. I have very loving parents and a straight brother who care for me immensely. We are very close. So much so, that we all work together in our family business.
Nevertheless, I am a very private person. I have never in my life publicly addressed being gay or how it has affected me growing up or in my career. However, at this moment, I feel that I need to say something especially since Carrie is speaking publicly about gay issues in the news media.
It is also important to know that I was raised Christian. I attended Christian school, and went to church every Sunday when growing up. I have experienced much love from the Christian community. So, I am glad that I received a Christian education because it has taught me about love, respect and kindness.
I am still very spiritual and support religions of all faiths. I also pray regularly. My Christian upbringing has had a profound and positive affect on me. So much so, I made a trip to Israel to visit the Holy sites in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee a week before the Miss USA pageant in April.
I spent Easter and Passover in Jerusalem. I also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is said to be the place where Jesus was buried. In addition, I visited the Western (Wailing) Wall which is one of the holiest sites for the Jewish faith. At the Western Wall, the tradition is to write prayers and insert them into wall. I wrote many prayers that day for myself, my friends, my family, the world, and of course a prayer for Carrie Prejean to become Miss USA 2009.
I took a photo of the prayer note and after inserting it into the Western Wall, I sent a special email message to Carrie. She responded that she was thrilled and thanked me for the prayer I said for her.
My family and I followed the pageant and were extremely excited over Carrie’s performance… Top 15, 10, 5… and then the final question was asked. She was so close to becoming Miss USA! When Carrie was asked the question about gay marriage by Perez Hilton, I was quite surprised how Carrie answered the question. As you can imagine, Carrie’s opinion on the subject did not concur with my own. In addition, I have learned that her own sister also disagrees with her on the subject of gay marriage.
This Monday after the pageant, I sent her an e-mail and a text. I was hoping for a response, but to date I have had no response from Carrie. As we know, she’s been quite busy lately. In any case, I know that this will be an on-going discussion that will not be resolved overnight or in a blog post, but I hope that people start to understand how important equality and civil rights are for all people.
On Easter Sunday in Jerusalem where I wrote my personal prayer note for Carrie, I also wrote some more prayers and inserted them into the Wall. One of them said……”I pray for people to be good and kind to others who are different from themselves. To recognize each is special and unique.”
I posted this prayer to my Facebook profile with the comment: “A prayer for those in the world that are different and may they always be treated well by those who have the ability to make others feel accepted in the world.”
I wrote this prayer because it’s been very difficult for me and my family to hear negative comments about gay people in the news media. This prayer was for people to be mindful of others and always treat others with kindness, especially when one is given the opportunity to do so.
I am glad that gay people and other minority groups have made tremendous strides in the area of civil rights in the United States. Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go.
Gay people are an important part of our society and have made significant contributions to our nation. So, at this moment in California, I pray for support, love, respect, dignity, and equality for all.