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Monthly Archives: November 2017

Forgive Me

Forgive Me

It has been nearly 8 years since I stepped into my authentic self and came out of the proverbial closet.  In May of 2012 many of my family, friends, colleagues, cohorts and acquaintances received and email from me publicly sharing my personal story of living a closeted life, my impending divorce and my decision to embrace my life as a gay man.  A life that I did not choose.  A life that I did not want.  A life that would call me to face discrimination that I was not yet ready for.

It was about that time that I began this blog.  I had, at different times in my life began writing journals and/or diaries only to go back to read them, tear them up, burn them or throw them in the trash.  I didn’t like what I had written, I didn’t like seeing my thoughts on paper.  I was afraid that someone would find them and read them, I was ashamed of who I was, my thoughts, my desires and my life as a whole. Angry Guy I used this blog to kick, scream and claw my way into an authentic life.  Many of you have read my writings and determined that I was a very angry person even though I claimed that I wasn’t.  You labeled me a “back-sliding” christian that was simply trying to “justify” his new “lifestyle.” Sometimes you were correct.  Mostly you were not.

I am reminded of a video that I watched on You Tube where a senior citizen is asked to give an invocation at a senior-based corporate event. Ok… I’ll give them a plug… The event was a conference for Home Instead. Here is the link to the video… (Home Instead, Mary Maxwell)   Her invocation was scripted and contained some very comical moments, the part that resounded within me was when she asked for those around her to be patient with her through her senior years as this was her first time being old.  She had never been “old” before and that she was learning along the way.

There is a quote that I have learned to practice and embrace.  Don't judge“Don’t judge people for the choices they make, when you don’t know the options they had to choose from.” Take that in for a minute.  Think about it…It’s ok.  I’ll wait…  Take all the time you need.  I often joke that I was the worlds best parent… until I had children.  The “I would never…” and “what I would do is…” just didn’t work out in real life like they did in my head.  It didn’t take me long to realize that parenting is hard work and all the planning in the world won’t get you the results that you thought you’d get when it comes to infants, toddlers and now teens.  I learned to be more patient with parents, especially those who had never been parents before.  They were learning along the way.

That leads me to this.  When I began to embrace and accept being gay, It caused so many, including myself to question my faith, my life and my innate identity.  For my entire life up until this point, I had learned, taught and embraced that homosexuality was a choice, a sin and socially unacceptable.  I believed at one time, that god could and had “healed” me from this “sin” and/or “disease.”  However, I had come to a place where denying my attraction to men was no longer working.  I had done everything under the sun to eradicate this from my being.  It was as hazel as my eyes, as brown as my hair and as innate as my DNA.  I am gay.  Plain and simple.  I was deeply hurt that a loving god would create me gay, yet demand that I live straight or be lonely and unfulfilled like so many well-meaning bible-thumpers had like myself had once believed.  I would be required to live a celibate life, void of companionship, partnership and intimacy.  It was the price that I had to pay for god to love me.  I had somehow offended god so profusely that a life of being alone would be my lot.  My thorn in my side.

I don’t know how this fits in to this particular post, but I want to say it and this seems like a good place to say it.  Many have questioned how I could “walk away” from christianity and my former faith.  I too have questioned that.  I didn’t arrive at this decision easily. It wasn’t easy to do.  It was one of the most difficult decisions that I had to make.  In fact I didn’t “WALK AWAY” from christianity and my faith.  I walked “PAST” it.  There is a difference.  We all have a destination. We all have a place that we need to get to.  In order to get to our destination, we must walk PAST some things to get there.  Furthermore, I believe that there are things that we are OBLIGATED to walk PAST in order to get to our destination.  You may disagree.  That is because your destination is not the same as mine.  I have no desire to live in a “heaven” that is filled with people who make it their business to belittle, exclude and condemn me and my community here on planet earth.  I’m not an atheist, even though I have no issue with Atheists.  I have found that most of my atheist friends are some of the most moral and friendly people.    I’m agnostic.  Because I’m ok with saying “I don’t know.”  Something I wish that I had said more when I was in ministry.

During my infancy of living as a gay man, I made some infant choices, said some infant things and behaved in some infant ways.  I’m not apologizing or making excuses, I’m stating facts.  I had choices to make that I had never made before.  I had never come out of the closet before.   I never had to reveal such private and personal information before.  I never lived as a gay man before.  This was new territory for me.  There was no “Coming Out for Dummies” publication that would guide me through this process.  Throw in the religion piece of the puzzle and you will quickly see that I was swimming upstream in a turbulent river. I didn’t have a chance at survival.  Especially among those of the religious community.  Up was down.  Down was up.  God was mad, People were hurt, things were said, things were NOT said, I was angry, I was happy… nothing was right, nothing was wrong…  Suffice to say, I made some mistakes.  I was learning along the way.

I said and did some things that were not my proudest moments, and so did you.  Yes you.  Yes you did, and I did too.  I said some things publicly that should have been said in private.  You did too.  I did some things that I should have refrained from.  You did too.  I made some choices that I should not have made at that time.  You did too.  We were both learning along the way, a we likely hurt each other.

I had never lived openly as a gay man before.  I had never deconstructed my faith before.  I had never made the choice to leave my faith before.  I had never been through a divorce before.  I had never come out to my spouse, children, parents, siblings, family, friends, cohorts and acquaintances before.  This is new territory for me. I was doing my best. I made some mistakes.

In your defense, you likely had never had your son, husband, father, brother, co-worker, friend or acquaintance come out as gay before.  Especially one who was an evangelical christian and minister.  We were both in uncharted territory.  There was no right or wrong.  No good or bad.  Just overall bedlam.  I would dare to say that you did what you did and said what you said, for the most part, in sincere and good faith.  Well… some didn’t.  Some were just plain hateful and still are.  You know who you are.  We will just let Miss Karma handle her bid’ness in this case.

Let me be clear.  This doesn’t excuse, dismiss or eradicate the things that we said or did.  No, this is the opposite.  This calls those things to light.  It’s giving it a name not a pardon.  Apologies still must be offered, wrongs must be righted and things once ignored must be acknowledged.  While some relationships have been restored, some have been revamped. In contrast, there are relationships that simply aren’t worth either.  Remember that part about having to walk PAST some things to get to your destination?  Yep. There are some people that you must walk past as well.

Before I go today, there are two more things that I need to say.  Only one will apply to you.  You can only choose one.  There is a difference between the two.  The difference lies within you.  Sometimes we “feel” that someone has hurt us, when in fact they did not. It was you who misinterpreted, misread or simply made up a scenario in your mind that caused you to feel the way that you do. Those are your insecurities, your demons, your issues.  I cannot and will not take responsibility for clouds that are in your sky, hurricanes that are in your ocean or  clutter that you have placed in your closet.

  1. Forgive me.  That is a statement.  This I offer to those whom I intentionally did nothing, yet you somehow feel wronged by me.
  2. Forgive me?  That is a question. This I offer to those that I intentionally hurt or harmed.

 

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4 Comments

Posted by on November 30, 2017 in Journey to Authenticity

 

Who’s Clapping?

Who’s Clapping?

Clapping EmojiTonight I went out alone to see a movie.  I needed to get out of the house and make an intentional effort to not isolate myself when I’m feeling less than self-confident.  While I realize that many people see me as an extrovert, I am at heart, an introvert.  I’ll write about that some other time.

The movie that I chose to see was LBJ.  I don’t read movie reviews and I don’t choose movies by other peoples opinions. I had no expectation either good or bad.   I just needed to get out.  I greatly enjoyed it, but I triggered something inside of me that I need to process through.  At a place in the film, Mr. Johnson is to make a speech.  Someone tells him that there will be people who will not be pleased with his position on civil rights.  Mr. Johnson respond with “we will know whom those people are because they will be the ones who won’t be clapping.” This was the second time in the recent that I heard a reference.

Pay Close AttentionI saw this post on Facebook recently, and it stunned me. Stunned me because its true.  I have experienced this truth from people in my life that once clapped for me.  As a minister and singer in church, there were lots of people who clapped for me who are no longer clapping for me.  These are people that have been dear to me.  Family and friends alike. People that I love and people that love me.  However somewhere in my life’s journey, they have chosen become un-supportive of my “position.”  Un-supportive of my being, un-supportive of my identity.  Un-supportive of my love and un-supportive of my authenticity.  Mostly un-suportive of my “lifestyle.” They stopped clapping for me.  Some intentionally and some unintentionally.  Some stopped clapping for me simply because they are concerned that others may not agree with them affirming me.  Some have been malicious and some just don’t have the ability to relate to me any longer because I’m gay.  Something that I kept secret until I fell out of the proverbial closet in 2012.

It’s no secret that I am active on social media.  I enjoy it and I offer no apology.  I post about many different things.  Some political, some funny, some religious or irreligious and some about human rights or LGBT issues.  I realize that some of my positions are controversial to some.  We don’t have to agree with someone to want the best for them.  I have noticed that some of those that follow me on social media will “like” a particular post and will bypass other post with no acknowledgment.  I’ve even noticed that there are times that I will post on another’s wall and particular people will “like” some comments but will not “like” my post or comment even when my comment was in line and agreement with similar posts.  This isn’t a new revelation for me. I’ve noticed this for years.  I pay attention when people don’t clap for me.  People Not Clapping

I have at times, exercised my opportunity to unfriend some people that I feel are simply “watching from a distance” or just “keeping tabs” on me.  Some have even RE-friend requested me.  With much skepticism, I have accepted their request hoping that somewhere along their journey that they may have come to a place where they can “clap” for me again.  This hasn’t always been the case.  Maybe they have and maybe they haven’t.

Today I needed to acknowledge to myself and to them, that their choice to not clap has hurt me and did not go unnoticed.  So now I’m giving myself a standing ovation.  Because I can.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 11, 2017 in Journey to Authenticity

 

Return to me.

In my last post, I stated that I was leaving my blog.  I needed to move forward and begin a new chapter.  I believed that abandoning my blog was the solution to finding a new road to travel.  I have been through so many changes since publicly stepping into my authentic self as a gay man in May of 2012.  Divorce, loss of family, friends and leaving my christian lifestyle had taken it’s toll on me.  I was now in a relationship with a man that I intended to marry.  I was rounding the corner to a life of love and fulfillment that until now, had only existed in my dreams.  It felt good to feel good. I didn’t feel like I needed to continue to question why I’m gay.  I was feeling pretty confident in my skin.

Well I have heard it said, that life is what happens when you are making plans.  So life happened.  The wedding did not happen and the relationship ended.  I won’t use the word devastated, because I believe that words are powerful and I am very particular about saying what I mean and meaning what I say.   I was not devastated with the break-up, but I was definitely caught off-guard.  I’m bummed, confused and sad.   Without this blog, I did not have a place to tell my secrets, my hurt and my lack of understanding what was going on.  I did not have a cathartic outlet to do a “brain dump.”  I quickly learned that I best express my feelings through written text.  Specifically this blog.  So I am returning to my voice.  I am returning to my expression.  I am returning to me.

I find myself in a very disrupted disposition right now.  I can barely think a clear thought.  My anxiety is high and my A. D. D. is in full disorder.  It’s a combination of hurt, anger, frustration and sadness.  I feel  physically ill and disconnected.  In fact, its all that I can do to refrain from bursting into tears at this very minute.  I’m holding back because I don’t want my kids in the next room to share in my brokenness. I don’t hide much from my girls, but I try not to burden them with things that they have no responsibility for and things that they cannot fix.  So for now I hold it together.

Today I was reminded that my world forever changed when a rich, white, heterosexual, un-christian man was elected largely by Christians to be the 45th President of the United States.  Sadly his supporters happen to be those that have proved over and over again to be the self-serving, unkind, inconsistent and hurtful people.  I know, because I used to be one those people.  I believed that my God and my political party were a reflection of each other and if you chose another god or party, then oh well…  You suffered the consequences of your choices. We all know that Jesus was white and republican…right?

Some of these people happen to be friends, family and people that I care very much about.  It seems to not matter to them that people like me are hurting, afraid and in general, tentative about our place as gay people in this United States of America.  In fact these people that I care for are already doubling down and making plans to cast their ballot again for this same un-christian, verbally abusive, child-like, adulterous, gambling, cut-throat, cheating, lying person to represent their “christian values.”  It cuts me to my core and hurts my heart that their concern for humanity has taken a back seat to profits, patriotism, privilege and Pietism.

I am sad not only for myself but for my daughter who is also gay.  She is now surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and extend family who did not stand up for her or others who happen to be different.  Who do not have her back.  We wake up every day and journey into a world that is still straight, christian-only and masculine.  Religion and political party, have been chosen over people and humanity.  But I have resolved in my being that I will never be able to change their perspective in my lifetime.  I feel like being complicit is what they have come to be.  It cuts deep.

I don’t want to win, I want us all to make it.  Unfortunately we live in an America that has forced us to take sides.  There are winners and losers. We are divided and our president is incessant with his choice to foster and incite this climate while the evangelical community praises his “tell it like it is” approach.  We will stand our ground on ignorance alone to be declared the winner.  We’ve lost the art of understanding, respect and the willingness move to the center.  We are right-fighters.  We don’t listen to hear, we simply listen return an answer.  We want power.  We want privilege.  We want what we want.  We want America to be solely christian and we are willing to do what we have to do in the name of God. Because when we do it in the name of God, then it must be right.  We want to force every one of you to comply with what we believe is truth, moral and Good.  Damned be the rest of you.

I’m listening, I’m pliable, I’m willing.  Maybe that once-failed, untimely, insensitive intervention attempt would yield some understanding.  I want to understand and to be understood.  I want to respect and to be respected.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Journey to Authenticity