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The End.

I started this blog on July 16 2012.  I began writing to help me process through being gay in a straight world.  My blog is titled “Why Am I Gay?”  While I still am not sure that I have arrived at a definitive answer, I now realize that it really doesn’t matter much any more. I will never know why the God that I loved and served and gave my life to betrayed me.  I begged you to fix me.  You can’t claim to create someone “perfect” then change the rules in the middle of the game, requiring me to be born-again because I wasn’t born right the first time.  Which is it?  Am I perfect or broken?   Did you make a mistake?  You can’t claim to be all kind and loving, then change the rules.  You loved me when I was pretending to be straight, but you turned your wrath to me and condemned me to hell when I chose to be honest.  Remember, it was your idea that we shouldn’t lie and pretend.  I had to free myself from your wrath by calling out the contradiction where I saw it.  I could no longer do the mind aerobics to get myself to believe in such a bi-polar deity.  I do know that I no longer subscribe to the aforementioned God.  It really doesn’t matter much any more.  We’ve both moved on I guess. What I do know is that I have finally found freedom to be me whether there is or isn’t a God.  It simply doesn’t matter.

I don’t subscribe to the notion and common phrase that, “gay doesn’t define me.”  That’s pure  doo-doo right there.  I am gay.  Gay does define me and I have chosen to embrace that.  It’s taken me 47 years to get to this place, but I’m finally at a place where I no longer wonder or care what people think about me.  I don’t rent out space in my head any longer.  So with that in mind, I’m writing my final post to this blog.  I’ll replace it with a blog about do it yourself design and decorating ideas.  That is a passion and love that I’ve always had.

To those who read just to see what a train wreck looks like up close.  I hope you’ve been enlightened and that you enjoyed the view from up close.  To those who read to keep tabs on me and my family so that you had some good fodder for your lunch after church on Sunday… “Bless your heart…”  To those who read because you know someone or you yourself have a similar story, I’m thankful for the camaraderie and I hope that I helped in even just a tiny way.  For those who read to further stand on your self-righteous, religious wall of “truth,” I bet you still haven’t found what your looking for…everything is so black and white to you isn’t it?  Finally, to those who read with genuine care, concern and support, I felt you all the time.  No, I mean it.  I really felt you. YOU are the people that I will forever keep close to me.

On January 1, 2012, my now former wife “caught” me texting a man that I intended to meet up with. While I probably could have lied my way through it,  I decided that day to stop lying and come clean with her about my sexuality.  I chose to come clean with myself. We were both deeply hurt. She suffered.  I suffered and our children suffered. It was a horrible difficult time.  Somewhere though, I felt relief and retreat.  Up until that day, I had made a plan to kill myself so that my family would never have to know the shame and pain that I was suffering, and they would never have to live with knowing that their husband, dad, son, brother, cousin, employee, pastor, deacon and/or neighbor was gay.  I had been taught my who life that gay was right next to murder on the sin scale.  Actually in some circles, it trumped murder because gay and pedophile where the same thing.  So I did everything possible to hide.  I was hiding to protect you my family and friends…I didn’t want to bring you shame.  I had it all in place.  I planned it to be an “accident” so that my wife and daughters would get double payout from the life insurance.  They could live such a great life without me.  Getting caught literally saved my life.

We lost family and friends through the process of our eventual divorce and my “coming out.”  People and family that we loved, cherished, honored and trusted.  We heard the stories you told, we saw the posts on social media about our integrity and faith.  If you scroll back, they are still posted there.  This shows me that you have no remorse. You were even asked to take it down and you refused.  We know that you lied about us and to us.  You were the only one with the information that you shared.  We were starting to see that the “dirt” that you always knew about others was the same dirt that you would throw at us when we figured you out. We know that it came directly from you. We felt your abandonment and judgment.  We heard about it when you told people that I became gay because I started hanging around gay people and that I was likely watching gay shows… I didn’t have any gay friends at that time and I certainly hadn’t seen any “gay” shows.   Well…Those relationships are broken beyond repair.  Some things cannot be fixed.  I must admit that I felt some vindication when your family member came out…Its all judgment and contempt until that same event comes to visit you.

I will not wear the shame and guilt of those broken relationships.  I made multiple attempts and by multiple, I mean at least three… to restore and reconcile, but my “lifestyle” was something that you were unwilling to accept. I heard you say it with your mouth. You didn’t want the truth… you wanted to be right.  Well…You lost.  I lost.  I will not set myself on fire to keep someone else warm.

Yeah, I’ve always been a bit of a wild-card.  I get that.  I still am actually. It was my defense mechanism.  Its a tough gig to fight your whole life to keep a secret that is destroying you from your mind to your body and to your soul.  Yeah I kicked and screamed toward the end, but maybe you’ll be a bit more sensitive to the next person that you encounter that is literally on the rail of the bridge about to jump off. Even a gentle dog will attack you if you corner it.  I was cornered.  My secret was about to be exposed and my life as I knew it was over…at least that is what I hoped for.  Why couldn’t I just die already…

To the people who opened your heart and mind to the possibility that LGBT people like me and my daughter don’t choose their sexuality…  To the people who opened your heart and mind to possibility that the fundamentalist and evangelical church just may have this gay thing all wrong… To the people who, with reservation, embraced us and cared for us even when you didn’t quite understand or comprehend, you are appreciated and loved. No really… I appreciate you.  I’m hugging your right now in my heart.  I must admit, some of you who reached out in support and love, shocked the hell-outta-me.  I mis-judged you.  No really… I got you all wrong.  I was wrong.  To those that I counted on to love me and help me.  To see past the past and help a dying soul that was kicking and screaming (we call this terminal restlessness in hospice)…  wow did that hurt.  ouch  ouch  ouch!  I got you all wrong too.  In a bad kinda way.

I always somehow knew what people thought of me, no honest…I saw the looks, I heard the whispers, I got your “jokes” and your “I’m just kidding” crap. I knew that your “asking for a friend” was really about me.  I hear you loud and clear. I wondered if my own parents and siblings thought the same.  I had a high-pitched voice.  I loved to sew, paint and landscape.  I talked a lot and I ran from violence and sports. I only went to football games to watch the cheerleaders and wished that I could cheer with them. Damn did I want to be a cheerleader. I went to basketball games because the uniforms allowed me to see beautiful arms, legs and the occasional “junk” when they pulled on the shorts just right for that free throw. I played little league and biddy basketball in hopes to somehow dispel the perception that I was a “pussy.”  I loved music, I loved to sing and dance and girls…wow did I love the girls.  I was called fag, queer, girl, cock sucker and every word on the planet to emasculate and humiliate me.  I remember each of your names and I still see your faces.  Especially Patrick who always sat in the back of the bus… but Patrick, you are just the kind of guy that I would dream about at night.  No really, I did.  I was too creative for my own good, I’d rather be in home economics instead of  welding, but then y’all would really know that I’m gay.  The chore of going to school was a daily fight in my battered soul. I lived in a constant state of terror and distress. I lived every day begging god to just let me die in my sleep.

Every time a friend died (Chip Parro, Kelly Hebert, Philip Frederick) I deeply wished that it was me.  Why couldn’t it just be me!  The internal torture was too much.  Why I didn’t follow my plan to commit suicide on the campus of Franklin Junior High and then again at Franklin High is beyond me?  Even my therapist questions how I survived such terror and abuse.  He is baffled at my strength to survive.  I suffer to this day with a bit of PTSD. Even while I was serving in ministry in an evangelical church and attended an evangelical bible college, (In an effort to get god to make me straight) I was confident of the perception that people had of me.  They were right I guess.  But the mistreatment is unforgivable.  You, of all people, were supposed to be different.  But you were right.  That Chet guy is gay!

Before I bid farewell to this Blog, I will take some time to tell  you where I am today and why I’ve chosen to discontinue this blog.  I’ll do so between tears and deep reflection.

I will always love my former wife.  She is the only woman that I have ever loved.  I loved her because she loved me.  She literally saved my life and held me up when someone should have held her up.  I had nothing.  I was down to 120 pounds.  I was taking anxiety and depression medications with very little relief.  I was nothing but an empty shell.  She is not a victim.  We both suffered.  We both hurt.  She taught me what true friendship and true love is.  Our daughters are beyond lucky to have her as their mother.  I give thanks to her parents who guided her through life and helped her attain the skill set that she has.  I still feel discomfort from time to time about not being able be the man that she so richly deserved.  Christa, you are as righteous as a human being can be.  You are true, your are honest and you are honorable.  You will never need for anything as long as there is breath in my lungs and a beat in my heart.  I will paint your walls, sew your draperies, manage your home improvement projects, clean behind your fridge, clean under your dishwasher, hang your pictures, put your trash cans at the curb and move your furniture every damn time you move!

My daughters are adjusted.  Their counselor reports that rarely has she seen two more well-rounded children that have walked through such a life-changing traumatic event. They had to witness their daddy sobbing and sever anxiety for several years with no way to process and understand what was going on. I am beyond grateful that my two children will never know that being gay is anything less than normal. They will never fear judgment, shame or guilt.  They will never plan their suicide because they are different than the “rest of the girls.”  They will always know that love is love.  My gay daughter as well as my straight daughter will never feel afraid to come home and tell me about her new crush.  The rules will still be the same.  NO dating till you are 15 and NO boyfriends or girlfriends in your bedroom ever!  No weddings until you are 30 or have a masters degree… This daddy will stand up for the human and civil rights of both my straight and gay daughters.

The final reason that I’m discontinuing this blog is because I need to. I just need to.  It’s time.  It’s time to broaden my awareness and destiny….

I met Daniel on Feb 12, 2016.  We have been together since that day.  I gave him several opportunities to run like hell the day we met (I literally did zero editing that day… I talked for over three hours)up until the day that I asked him to marry me… on June 12, 2016 while we were on a trip to Naples, Florida.  He said yes!  Since that day, I’ve struggled with unintentional reservation.  I’ve been afraid that by loving Daniel, that I was somehow “unloving” Christa and that has caused me some guilt.  I need to resolve that in my heart and my head. The love that I have for Christa is completely different from the love that I have for Daniel and completely different from the love that I have for my daughters.  It’s simply incomparable on any level.

Daniel affords me the ability for me to be me.  Exactly as I am.  He requires nothing more and nothing less than me being me. I am Chet and I can only be Chet.  He lingers in Home Depot while I oooh and aaah over all the gidgets and gadgets and never says an impatient word or sighs in frustration. He will even suggest that we go to Lowes if I didn’t find what I needed or wanted at Home Depot.  He lets me be silly and nutty without a complaint.  He does roll his eyes sometimes though.  He listens as I talk incessantly and lets me go on and on and on for hours at times.  He lets me name off all the plants and trees that I can name and runs all over the creation trying to find the perfect table and chairs for our house. Which we still haven’t found.  He lets me pick paint colors and rugs without conflict.  He even took my car to the car wash.  He texts me just to tell my that I’m sexy and good lookin’ and just to say I Love you.  He goes to the grocery store and comes home with all the stuff that the girls need for lunch and even buys them ginger ale and ice cream sandwiches.  He cuddles Bill the Chihuahua and Prince Ali the cat and I think that they like him more than me.  He makes breakfast every Saturday an Sunday for me and the girls. He’s a trained chef so I’m not talking ’bout bacon and a couple scrambled eggs… He makes low-carb cheesecake just for Christa and goes over to her house with me while I do her “Husband” chores.  He jumps right in with my parents who are hanging curtains over at Christa’s.  He helped me pick out the perfect gift for my dad on fathers day.  He lets me cry when I need to cry and sends me links to songs when I’m least expecting it.  He makes me sangria and tells the girls how silly that I was when I had one glass too many.  He cooks low fat and low-carb when my blood test results are less than stellar.  He can tell when I’m worrying and will just let me worry till it settles down.  He encourages me to find my passion and do it.  He makes the girls dinner when I’m late getting home from work.  He sweeps the front porch and wipes down the dusty front door because he knows that a clean front door is a happy front door and that makes me happy.  He cleans the toilets every weekend and loads the dishwasher all wrong.  He lets me sneak his clothes away and take them to the cleaners so that he doesn’t have to iron for hours on Sunday.  He goes every week to check in on his mom 40 miles away from our house and takes her to run her “granny” errands.  He lets me obsess about almost anything like should the table be round, oval, square or rectangle.  He watches Candice Olsen’s Divine Design with me for hours and lets me watch all the cooking shows with him and explains all the ingredients to me in English.  He lays in bed with me every night until I fall asleep and then gets up and goes to sleep most nights on the couch because my snoring is too loud and he’s a soft sleeper.  He showers in the dark and goes downstairs to dry his hair because he doesn’t want to wake me in the morning.  He kisses me before he heads out the door when the sun isn’t up yet and I’m still snoring.  He sorts and washes all the laundry. He helps me be a better dad and a better person just by being near me.  He accepts that Christa and the girls are permanently embedded into our lives.  He loves them too.  He lets me clean up all the dishes when he cooks. He lets me unload the dishwasher and reload it the “right way” without getting all pissy and pouty.  He puts my piles away when they get too big and out of control. He lets me hang up his slacks and dress shirts on “nice” hangers so the collars stay nice and the creases stay in place. He’s funny and should be a writer for a comedy series.  And Damn can that man dance.

So there you have it. It’s time for me to embrace the life and love that I truly deserve with Daniel.  It’s time for me to accept and embrace my life with him with zero reservation…intentional or unintentional.  It’s time for me to stop blaming myself for being gay.  Its time for me to stop feeling bad because I have normal needs like love, touch and companionship.  Its time for me to be the fiance and husband that I am capable of being.  Its time.  I love you Daniel Gray.  Thank you for loving me.

 

 

 

 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 8, 2016 in Journey to Authenticity

 

Now & Then

This journey truly began in August of 1969.  I became aware of my journey about age 4.. the exact time evades me.  I was baptized Catholic at birth and later converted to Assemblies of God (Pentecostal) somewhere around Jr. High.  Some of you remember that conversion, some don’t.  Nonetheless, my journey continued.

At a very young age, I knew that my attraction to men/boys/males was was legitimate. However, as I grew up in the deep south of Louisiana, I quickly became cognizant of the unacceptability of my inherent, genetic make up.  This began the hiding, shame and all the ugliness that goes with being gay in a straight world.  At least the world as I knew it.  Growing up in a very, very, very small town with only one stop light only added to my confusion, but I didn’t even know at the time that my geographical location could effect my upbringing and cause life-long consequences.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  But I knew that something wasn’t “A-Ok.” I was a stranger in my own mind and body. 

As a Catholic, I prayed the rosary, took the sacrament of communion and went to confession. I attended mass, catechism and bingo.  Ah yes… Bingo.  It’s a Catholic thing for all of you unfamiliar with it.  I was an altar boy and spent a lot of time at the church.  I was always infatuated with the “secrecy” of the church. What was behind that altar?  What was under the robe?  How did the water turn holy?  Was that real wine?  What was the wafer made from? Where did the priest live? What was in the priest side of the confessional booth? Could he really NOT see you?  Call me inquisitive.  Inquisitive I still am.  I love to seek and find the “why’s” of life.  Sometimes I never found the “WHY.” Why?  Why would god make me Gay and forbid me to live true to myself.  Why would god give me desire for men yet force me to deny it?  Sometimes the “Why” never comes.

I always wondered if god was real, how could it be?  Was I too inquisitive for my own good. But as a good Catholic and later a devout Pentecostal, I chose to just accept things as they were.  Just believe and embrace with a blind faith. Sit down, shut up and enjoy the ride.  I embraced it, loved it and lived it.  I even went to Bible College and became a minister with the Assemblies of God.  I was “sold out for JESUS!”  I gave him my all.  Honest, I really did.  I was a bona fide legalist, fundamental, evangelical christian. I was “all in.”

But I never really felt that god gave ME his all.  He was withholding something. Something very necessary to my life and faith. I felt broken, defective and sinful.  I sang amazing grace… that saved a wretch like me….  always with the emphasis on “wretch” and never the “saved” part of the lyrics.  No matter how much I prayed, preached, fasted, tithed, worshipped, spoke in tongues or repeated the “sinners prayer,” I never felt “saved.” I never felt whole like he promised. I somehow got skipped over when it came to completeness.  Why. Why. Why did he make me gay?  What a cruel thing to do to such a good kid like me. 

I believe religion that teaches that one is wretched and that we can do nothing and be NOTHING without god is dangerous at best. It’s a control tactic. In fact, it was the church that taught me to dislike myself.  Heck… what did I do?  I was born.  That’s all.  I was born.  Nothing else.  I did nothing to become so “wretched.”  It was the evangelical church that taught me to dislike myself so much that I MUST be “born again.”  Born Again???  Why do I need to be born again?

I love the Catholic approach to being born again.  A good catholic said to me once, “why do you evangelicals need to be born again? Don’t you believe that god got it right the first time?”  It still makes me giggle, but now,  yes… yes I believe that I was born right the first time. No born again needed here.  Thank you very much.

In my evangelical teachings, I was taught and I preached that god didn’t make mistakes. That god was good and fair and just.  He was perfect and he created us perfect. How then would he create a wretch, a loser, a broken, confused, hurting man?  I believed that I was a big fat nothing, I had nothing to live for. I felt that it would be better for everyone if I were dead and gone. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to carry out my planned suicide…out of fear of going to hell.  I felt powerless and useless without god, but yet it was god who made me this way. Oh the misery.  How could a loving god allow someone that loved him and dedicated his life to him be so broken, so defunct, so lost and so down-trodden even after being born again?  It just stopped making sense to me.

That was then.

Today is a different story.  I’ve realized that the authentic me is a happier me.  A braver me.  A more peaceful me.  A more loving me.  A more humanitarian me.  A more “godly” me.  I’ve realized that I don’t have to be religious to be a good and moral person.  Some of the most moral people that I know have no form of “religion” in their lives. They just treat others they way that they wish to be treated. Just plain and simple human kindness and character. 

I’ve come to understand and accept that I no longer have to be christian to be kind and have good things happen to and for me.  Heck, I now realize that I don’t have to give 10% of my income to a church or ministry to be “blessed.”  I don’t have to comply with the rules and regulations of church and christianity to live a happy and successful life.

When I made the choice to live authentic as a gay man, I was promised by god’s people… the very people that I ministered to… that I was no longer living in god’s will.  I would go to hell, be stricken with cancer or other diseases that would take my life, be financially destitute and likely homeless and begging for food.  Yes, all this from those that would fight till the death telling you what a loving and caring being that their god is… as long as you play by their rules…the bible.  This caused me great confusion.  How can he be so hateful and angry and so loving and kind at the same time???  It doesn’t compute for me any longer.

So when I say that I’ve chosen to be agnostic, I’m not saying that I’m atheist, although I see nothing inherently wrong with atheism.  I’m saying that I can no longer accept, subscribe to or identify with the god of modern evangelical, legalistic, fundamental christianity.  It no longer serves my highest and best needs as a human being.

So this is my now.  I don’t subscribe to a punitive hell.  I don’t describe to a literal interpretation of the bible. I don’t subscribe to religious rules and regulations.  I have made my choice. My choice to live a meaningful life.  Because humans have a 100% mortality rate.  We will all be gone one day. We will all soon die.

Where will we all be when we die? I dunno.  Life is a mystery, and so is the afterlife.  I’ve got one shot at this. One shot at living a happy, healthy and whole as my authentic self. I won’t live another day for anyone other than me.  By me, I mean everything that is a part of me.  My children, my friends, my family and animals…don’t forget the animals.  I refuse and reject living to please and fancy others and their religious rules and regulations that are not a part of who I wish to be. I won’t live my life for anyone who rejects my inherent being as a good, moral, kind gay man.  I was born right the first time.  I don’t need to be born again.  Requiring one to be born again assumes that someone or something wasn’t right the first time around.  I’m no mistake!  God got it right the first time.

So if you’ve read this blog from the beginning, you’ll see that I was a right-wing, republican, evangelical christian and living my life in a way that was pleasing to others.  I am no longer any of that.  This is my now. I do not blame or deny my “then.”  In fact, my then has guided me to my NOW.  I did the best with what I had.  When I knew better, I did better.  In fact, once I knew better, I was self-obligated to do better.

Life is a about choices.  I am free to choose which door I will enter into today.  When that choice no longer fits my highest and best need, then I am free to choose again.

Don’t let your then rule your now.

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2016 in Journey to Authenticity

 

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I Don’t Belong

From time to time I will blog when I am in a current state of “funk & blah.”  Yes… I just created that lil diddy. You may use it. You’re welcome.

I do this to capture the sincere and brutal reality of coming out after being closeted for 42 years due to evangelical religious oppression and societal bias.

I did my best to retain my faith after coming out.  Unfortunately evangelical religion has taken up arms against the gay community with guns blazing to force us to believe as they believe or go back into the closet. As if torturing us with threats of burning in a punitive hell our whole lives wasn’t hateful enough. That story has already been told, so this brief sound bite is for those readers that have not read my blog from the beginning.

So back to my “funk & blah.”   I was recently meeting a man for an impromptu coffee date. A resident physician man at that.  It was my lucky day… He was smart and cute. With the potential to be moderately rich. I digress.

We agreed to meet at Starbucks.  I arrived before he did. He overslept due to a late shift the night before in the Emergency Department.

As I placed my order and waited for him, I unintentionally began to notice all the men wearing wedding rings. Go figure. I kinda got gut-sick. Sadness slapped me and within no time I realized why taking off my wedding ring 4 years ago was like ripping off an unhealed scab. I weep as I write this.

I gave it to my former wife at one point so that she could sell it. But at some point I took it back. The memory and representation was much too much to process. That ring currently is in the console of my car where I will take it out from time to time and reminisce. I will likely never part from it. It will always be a tribute to the blood sweat and tears that I put into my marriage and family.  I cannot erase my history. I won’t even try. There is way too much value there.

I remember being in high school, college and the time between college and when I got married. I always wanted a wedding ring. I used to get fake rings and pretend that I was married. The ring part was super important to me.

The ring represented love, commitment and most of all it meant that I belonged to someone.  It meant that it wasn’t all about me.  It meant that someone counted on me and needed me. It meant that no matter what happened, that I wasn’t alone and I was important to someone. Again, I weep writing this.  Sometimes life just sucks damnit.

So as I sat there waiting for Dr. Coffee Date to arrive, a sudden awful feeling of “I don’t belong to anyone anymore” rushed over me in a not so welcomed way. I literally wanted to run to my car to get my ring and put it on so that I could belong to someone. It was a sick sick feeling.

And out of courtesy, please don’t be tempted to send me notes or quips about how I belong to God/Jesus. I cannot do enough brain aerobics to believe in a god that would allow such anguish, confusion and pain to someone like me that committed his life and career to serve others. It just doesn’t line up any longer. I’m happily agnostic. Namaste.

So I journey this journey.  I adjust as adjustment presents itself.  I cry as needed and I hurt as hurt is inevitable.  But this is just one stop along the way. Survivors don’t survive by happenstance. They intentionally survive. I shall live with brazen intention. I will return to a place of joy.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2016 in Journey to Authenticity

 

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Maison du Solstice

Such an odd title I know. It’s the French translation of the English words House of Solstice. 

Huh???  What’s that?  We will get to that soon enough. 

I’ve always admired how people named their homes. I’ve further wondered how those names came to be. I’m very curious and I ask lots of questions.  At times it gets me into trouble. Meh! Who cares. 

My blog has evolved over the past few years, but my original intent was to give an accurate portrayal of what it’s like for a married man to come out as truly being gay after being in a supposed heterosexual marriage with children. Read previous blogs for those details. 

Today was an excruciating day for me and I’m sure for my former wife and children too. But this is about me. Today is the day that the home which our family has lived in for almost 10 years closed escrow and transferred to another family. 

This is no ordinary home. It was one of my most prized accomplishments.  I worked long hours as a new home sales agent to purchase this home for my family. This was THE home that was going to be our forever home. (Whatever the hell that means…)  I sewed almost every window treatment.  Installed the moldings and window casings. Faux painted the handrail to match the light fixtures that I hung. I made my master suite resemble a fine resort. The girls rooms were rooms that every kid dreams of. I customized the cabinets with a professional glaze. I ordered wood floors and stair treads. I installed granite counters and designed a pool and back yard that was lush and welcoming. The front yard was a showstopper and once I even got a letter from the homeowners association telling me what a great looking front yard that I had. I built shelves and storage for the pantry and laundry room. It was MY work. What I always wanted for my family. A family that I always dreamed of. I was a lucky, lucky man. I had achieved a life long goal. Oh and the parties and events that I hosted. THE BEST!

But as life sometimes does, it began to change. I could no longer hide my secret. I was dying inside and out. It wasn’t going to end well for me or my family. Most of you reading this knows the history of what came next so I won’t belabor that. 

The time came to put the house on the market. There were days of excitement to begin a new chapter as a gay man and father of two daughters. There were days of extreme shame and guilt for simply being me. A gay man. 

The house sold and today was my final trip through that home to take one last look. My mind flashed memories both good and bad. I walked to the breakfast room where I was sitting in the fetal position sobbing and trying to think of a way that I could disappear forever. I stood in the shower where I stood for almost two hours once in running water just hoping that I could just die and be gone forever. I cried just thinking about it. 

But…

I also stood at the top of the stairs where my girls would get the sofa coushion and slide down the stairs laughing historically. I stood in the third-car garage (my shop) where I built a fireplace surround and mantle from the plans in my head.  

 I stood at the bathroom sink where I watched my former wife brush her hair and put on makeup as we talked and laughed. I stood in the playroom where the girls played and had shows that I attended. I stood in each of their rooms where we cuddled and kissed each other goodnight. I stood in the backyard by the pool and remembered all the fun we had and how lucky we were to have such a nice pool. I stood in the kitchen where we dyed Easter eggs and carved pumpkins. The memories just flooded my mind and heart as I sobbed. 

So it’s hard to call it just a building or just stuff. It was a safe house. A place that we called home. It was magnificent. 

So today I want to give 3155 South Porter Street in Gilbert, Arizona a name that I will always remember. It shall be known as   Maison du Solstice. I chose French because that is my heritage. 

But why the word solstice?  Im happy that you asked. Let me start with the Webster definition of solstice. “A furthest or culminating point; a turning point.”

  You see I had to get to the furthest point of my big gay secret to begin to turn around to my authenticity and reality. I had to get real with myself and set myself free from my irrational guilt and shame. I had to act bravely to ensure that my children had a father and that other men and women who are in my place could know that it does get better and suicide would not resolve being gay. It would wreak more havoc that being authentic. 

So just as we have seasons and solstices on planet earth, we have seasons and solstices in our lives. 

So farewell Maison du Solstice. You have been good to the DeRouen family. 

Now on to Chapter Two. 

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Journey to Authenticity

 

I’m Defective

I’ve entered a new phase of “coming out.” 

Ummm… Chet, I thought that you “came out” over three years ago?  Yes. Yes I did, but in a predominately “straight” society, coming out is almost daily for a man my age. 

When I mention that I have children, I usually have to “come out.”  When I mention my former wife, I have to “come out.”  Again and again and again. Can you imagine having to “come out” as straight almost daily?  I gets exhausting. 

Because of the nature of my career, I meet new people every day. I meet with families and individuals on a very personal, intimate and emotional level. It is very difficult to NOT get personal. Discussions of death and dying make it difficult to be stoic and strictly professional. Not to mention I’m super bad at a poker face. I’m built to hurt when people hurt and cry when people cry. I wear it as a badge of honor. 

This week while meeting with my therapist, we began to process why I have been feeling deeply depressed with thoughts of suicide,  lonely, lethargic and extremely apathetic. 

After going through several painful scenarios, we arrived at a probable explaination. An explaination that is difficult to say and difficult to process. But I promised myself that I would be transparent and honest through this journey of self-acceptance. If for no one else but me. 

IM DEFECTIVE!  Thats it. I’m effing DEFECTIVE. I cannot remember a time in my life where I haven’t felt defective. I felt it in kindergarten, I felt it in elementary, junior high and high school. I felt it deeply in college and I felt it through my marriage and I feel it now. I feel like somewhere in the creation of Chet, something went terribly wrong. I’m defective. I’m gay. I pulled the short straw. 

Why Chet, why do you feel defective?  Why do you feel less-than. Why do you feel like you don’t belong? I’m glad that you asked. Let me tell you. 

Unless you have been under a rock on the moon, you may have noticed in the news the outright attack on me and the gay community by many people. I’d be unnecessarily dishonest to pretend that it doesn’t affect how I feel about myself. Especially while its perpetrated  by the very sect who themselves claim to be defective albeit “forgiven.”  Which I guess gives them the right and authority to piss on the defective that don’t subscribe to their need to be forgiven. What a bunch of condescending pricks. Yes… I went there. I’m angry damnit. My therapist said that its time for me to get angry so that I can push past the guit and shame if being me. 

And no I’m not lumping Everyone together. But if the shoe fits…  If you, for one second believe that Kim Davis of Kentucky is justified in her abuse of power toward my gay family, then  YOU are a perpetrator of labeling people defective. You are the problem. 

I constantly feel like if I somehow weren’t gay that I would still have my marriage and intact family that I’m so proud of. There would be no need to sort through our belongings and decide who gets what.  There would be no need to take the wedding pictures down and put the wedding photo album away. There would be no need to move into separate homes. There would be no need to sleep alone in an apartment when I could be sleeping down the hall from my children. But I was born. And I’m defective. I’m not whole. I’m not a full human. If only… If only I were born straight and privileged. This chaos is all my fault.  

I peruse the Facebook postings of family and friends. I read the mocking  picture-grams. I read the posts about standing up to and fighting aganst the gays. It’s an all out war against “those people” the defective ones. 

Don’t tell me that you love me but you don’t agree with my “lifestyle.”  You have just communicated to me that I am irreversably defective. Oh Yes You Did… That’s exactly what you say every time that you refer to my being as sinful. That’s exactly what you say when you compare my being to that of a murderer, filanderer, theif, rapist or pedophile and all the other “feelings” and desires that you may have been born with. 

I see the posts about how being gay is a choice and being gay is wrong and being gay makes one defective. Unfortunately there is no money back guarantee. Not return policy. No manufacturer limited lifetime warranty. I just have to suffer through my defectiveness while the rest of the world gets a pass?  I don’t think so!

So that is my next phase of “coming out.” I will work diligently to reject that I am defective. I will permanently eradicate from my life people and organizations of people and books… (Yes even “holy” books) that refer to me as defective. 

It’s not something that I can unlearn overnight after a life of religious legalism, brainwashing, dogmatism and fundamentalism. It will take some time and thought restructuring to fully achieve. 

Onward!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 5, 2015 in Journey to Authenticity

 

Just Let Go

Today is just one of those days when I just need to write. It will likely just be rambling all over the place. I have no idea how this will turn out. 

I read a this quote the other day. 

It’s easier to read than it is to actually do. In fact it isn’t something that can be done overnight. It will be a process. Possibly lifelong. 

Tonight after attending a class, I was driving home. While I’ve been living in my apartment since March, I still find myself almost turning into the neighborhood where I used to live. The place I have lived for almost 10 years with my “three girls.”

My new place is just 2/10’s of a mile away from my former home but it may just as well be 10,000 miles away. I feel very far away.  Ya see… This new home is a one bedroom apartment. And as I write this, I now know why I chose it. 

I didn’t want too much space because it is void of the life that I once had. It is void of my daughters. It is void of my wife. It is void of what I thought my life would be at age 46. 

Being alone is simply not for me. I’m wired to have a companion. I miss my friendship and relationship with my wife and children. I’m soooooo sick of driving past my house and coming home alone to an apartment that is void of companionship. It is void of who I thought that I would be at this time in my life. I had plans. 

I miss sleeping knowing that my kids are just a room away and thst if they have a bad dream or get restless, that they can come climb in bed with Christa and me. I miss touching Christa when we go to bed and telling her how much I love her. I miss getting up every day as a family and getting the kids off to school even if there is some yelling, crying and frustration.  I’m  not built to be alone.  

So I drive past where my sweet Christa and Casslyn and Carly are fast asleep and I come home to an empty apartment that is not my home and I scream at the top of my lungs… “I don’t know how much longer that I can do this. It’s breaking me down!”
But I manage. I do my best to focus on the bravery that I displayed by being truthful with who I am. Being truthful to Christa. Being truthful to my daughters. Being truthful to society and my faith.  Being truthful with myself. Even at the cost of so, so much. The price has been high. The finer things in life cost more than the average things. 

 But it isn’t without hurt and adjustment. It isn’t without crying and at times sobbing. It isn’t without anger and frustration. It isn’t without feeling abandoned by God while at the same time calling upon him. 

Not to change my situation. No. No. No.  But a prayer of help. Help to adjust to where he has allowed me to be right now. I don’t believe in a God that sits in the clouds and waves a wand and sprinkles fairy dust to fix and change things that makes me uncomfortable. I ask him to help me adapt. I’m not weak. Far from it. 

I would be weak had I remained in a closet of shame and lies. It takes real resilience and strength to give up everything that I thought was real and to embrace the authentic person that God created me to be. That takes power. That takes Braun. 

So I look at myself in the mirror and I say to myself… “self,” you are strong!  You is kind, you is sweet and you is m’potent. You are good. 

So I will wake up in the morning and drive 2/10’s of a mile to my three girls home and help get them ready for school and make them breakfast. Because I can. I can because of the grace, kindness and understanding that Christa affords me to be the father and helper that I promised I would be over 17 years ago in front of family and friends at that church in Springdale, Arkansas. 

I am letting go of what I thought my life would be. 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2015 in Journey to Authenticity

 

Left Out :-(

Left Out :-(

The past three years of coming out have been bitter and sweet. Kinda bittersweet. (See what I did right  there?)

Growing up Roman Catholic and Pentecostal “CatholiCostal” (Assemblies of God) made being authentic (gay) next to impossible. Factually I sincerely believed that I had somehow offended god because I was gay. I believed that I was being punished.  Being punished by God for not behaving properly was a constant threat from both the Catholic and Assemblies of God churches.

Over the past three years, I have loved and hated God. I have even more hated God’s followers. Genuine sincere hate. It was Gods people that raped me of any sort of normality when I came out. I was living in literal hell and torture at the hands of God’s people.

With that said, I was encouraged to leave my faith and political affiliation as they would never accept me as a gay man. I was hell bent on at least keeping my faith.  After all, it was God who gave me the gift of being gay.

The political affiliation was a no-brainer. I’ve always been sensitive to social issues just as God is, but it took me three years to complete a new voter registration card.  I am just plain sick of the “Repugnant” picketing and screaming about everything that they are uncomfortable with. The faith issue became much more difficult.  This almost cost me my life as I planned my suicide on multiple occasions.  I fully intended to eradicate myself from this bitter life.

My entire social structure was based inside the church. More than 90% of my relationships (Family and Friends) were within the scope of the church. I was an altar boy in the Catholic church and a licensed minister with a main-line Pentecostal denomination (Assemblies of God). I earned a degree from Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri which is the former flagship Bible College of the Assemblies of God denomination.  We were taught to call it a fellowship and not a denomination. The church has played the semantics game from the beginning of time. Due to failing enrollment CBC was “absorbed” by Evangel University.

All that said, I have been struggling to find my place back into a faith community.  I have tried “gay” churches, I have tried “unity” churches, I have tried “liturgical” churches and I have tried “community” churches. Denomination simply isn’t in my vocabulary any longer.  I would become Atheist and/or Agnostic before I ever affiliate with a denomination again.

So I set out to find a faith community that met my requirements of being “upbeat” (non-liturgical) and at least welcoming/accepting of LGBT people.  I have resolved in myself that there is not yet a church here in the East Valley that will be both accepting and affirming. I’m OK with that for now.  I contacted the Pastor at the Church that I was attending just after I had come out.  He agreed to meet with me and we discussed my concerns about being gay and being the father of a gay child.  I want a place that is safe for me and my children to be a part of to practice our faith without the fear of being rejected, made fun of or ignored.

He assured me that we would be welcomed and that there were several other LGBT people who attended as well.  He made it clear that not EVERYONE would be welcoming if they knew that we were gay.  I promised that I wouldn’t wear my “Queer for Jesus” T-shirt.  Up to this point and short of some anxiety and nervousness, I’ve been doing well in my new endeavor to renew my faith.  Until this week…

This week started a new series regarding relationships.  Yeah, the big “R” word. It’s always an exciting topic when you are SINGLE.  (can I get an amen from the single people???)  The illustrations were of course flooded with examples of Man/Woman Boy/Girl relationships.  Of course there was the obligatory reference to Adam and Eve.  While nothing derogatory or positive of same-sex relationships were spoken, references to partners and or partnerships were clearly void.  After about the third or fourth reference to Man and Woman, I began to get a lump in my throat and a sick lonely feeling in my stomach.  That feeling you got when back in school, team captains were selected and then they got to pick their team from all the “rest” of us lined up along the fence.  That feeling of not wanting to be the last one selected but inevitably you were.  Yeah… I know that feeling real well.  Its my life story.

As the tears welled up (or maybe it was my allergies..) I felt alone.  I felt left out.  I felt again that I was not welcomed.  (And please don’t tell me how to feel).  I felt second or last class and suddenly the message became unpalatable and unrelatable to me.  I felt dejected.  Not intentionally but unintentionally.  I don’t think that it was malicious, but nonetheless it caused me angst.  I wanted to run out.  So I quietly gathered my belongings, made no eye contact with anyone and attempted to sneak out of the back door.  No such luck…a big burly machismo man at the top of the stairs asked me if everything was OK.  I smiled gracefully and gave the obligatory “I’m OK” and left to my car to gather myself.

As I sit here and write this post, I am reflecting back to a point in the message where the pastor stated that regarding relationships, “rules without relationship will result in rebellion.”  It just stuck to me like bubble gum to my shoe from the hot asphalt…  I get the “rules” I really do.  But is not the relationship with the gay community worth more than rules?  We are human.  We love, we feel, we pray, we need, we want… just like anyone else.  We are human and to expect us to somehow not desire relationship and partnership is flat-out insane.  Lets pretend for a minute that the Bible instructs you to reject those who are part of the LGBT community as a rule in general (that is not biblical by the way) would not that “rules without relationship will result in rebellion” not cut both ways?  “Rebellion/Hate comes from a relationship based on rules.”   Think about it.

I did everything that I knew possible to relate to my wife for 14 years.  The harder that I tried, the harder that it became.  I was making her miserable and falling deeper and darker into shame, guilt and depression.  I simply could not grasp the Male and Female relationship.  I was not designed to be heterosexual.  I was created homosexual.  If you are not gay, don’t even attempt to explain or relate to me.  You cannot possibly ‘get it.’  There is a reason that faith-based programs that once claimed to change peoples sexual orientation have had a 99% failure rate and have shuttered their doors.  Admitting that they caused more harm and suicides than any other faith-based “recovery” programs.  God will not fix what is not broken and will not heal what is not sick.

The Bible is full of “rules.”  No need to go to the obvious.  Why then would we select just ONE rule and stand on a mountain and declare this as the only rule that we are going to enforce?  Consider the idiocy of that for just a minute.  Let’s call out the divorcees, the seafood eaters, the mixed fabric wearers, the abusers, the speeders, the gossipers… No? Why? Because they are rules… rules without relationship will eventually cause rebellion.

SIDE NOTE:  When I do find the man who I will marry (its legal ya know), I will never shop at Shane Co. jewelers.  Why?  I’m glad that you ask.  Their commercials which we all know by heart, exclude male same-sex partners/boyfriends.  The commercial says your girlfriend this… your girlfriend that… even a female gay couple qualifies…but not gay male couples… when it would be so easy to just use the word partner or significant other. I’m pretty confident that this is intentional.  No company with that much marketing savvy would “forget” that it is now legal for same-sex marriages and not make a simple marketing correction.

OK now I’m back from my rant about Shane Co.That was free.  I won’t charge you for reading that part.

So where does that leave me right now?  I’m so glad that you asked.  I’ll be back next week to the same church.  I believe that the tide is coming in and changing.  The key is education.  Allowing people to talk to me instead of talking about me.  If I run off and cuss and scream, then I don’t allow people to approach me.  IF they cannot approach me, then they cannot talk to me.  They are left to talk about me.  I will create a safe place for your to talk to me.  We may walk away in disagreement, but at least you will have a fresh view of what its like to be both gay and christian.

That leads me to my final points of the message that I heard today regarding relationships.  Don’t give people what they deserve, give them what they need.  Give them grace.  To listen is to love.  The win is not in WINNING the argument, the win is in the winning of the RELATIONSHIP.  If anyone knows me, they know that I love to win the argument.  While I won’t tolerate disrespect, shaming or swearing, I will entertain a sincere person that wishes to engage me in sincere dialogue without throwing “spiritual swords.”

If you are sincere about learning more about why “so many people are coming out” and what the church and faith communities can do about it, please, please, please consider reading and or listening to some information that will help you move forward in unity with the LGBT community.

If you just wish to make fun, banter or discover more fodder to feed your hate, then this is not for you.  These resources are only for people who desire to be educated and learn.  Education comes after you listen to both sides.  Listening to one side is not education it is ignorance.  There is a difference between being taught and being educated.  Being taught is listening to one person’s opinion and making it your own.  This is also know as blind ignorance.  Being educated is listening to and considering all points and then taking a position.

http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Bridgeless-Canyon-Kathy-Baldock/dp/1619200287/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1439754240&sr=1-1&keywords=kathy+baldock

http://www.amazon.com/God-Gay-Christian-Biblical-Relationships/dp/1601425163/ref=pd_bxgy_14_im

http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Gender-Sexuality-Reframing-Relationships/dp/0802868630/ref=pd_sim_14_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=14NQYVVX6JN923GK47MM

 
4 Comments

Posted by on August 16, 2015 in Journey to Authenticity