How Gay is my Marriage? #RebrandMarriage Series

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As my wife and I move through through our newlywed months, I’m beginning to wonder if the ideas I had about marriage aren’t particularly “gay” after all. There’s all this drama over what grown couples want to do – for what reason? Why did I ever believe that there was something “wrong” with my sexuality? I know the years of conversion therapy and the rhetoric from church leaders didn’t help. The Bible College folk were not any support either… of course there is small town mindedness and the government’s stand against equality up until the last 8 years…

But why – I mean REALLY, what is it about marriage equality that ever bothered people so much?

Is it particularly gay that I wake up every morning and feel grateful that all the steps that I took, no matter how painful or difficult, still led me to this beautiful woman?

Marriage_3Is it particularly gay that when we argue, I realize that being right is still not as important as making sure I know when to admit when I’m wrong?

Is it particularly gay that I love her family and getting to know them means the world to me, even though we have to deal with being across the globe from each other?

Is it particularly gay that our dinner conversations consist of questions about the dog, our schedules, laundry, a book one of us is reading, or what is going on in our friends’ lives?

Is it particularly gay that when she goes away on travel, our bed feels empty and I miss feeling her arms around me before I fall asleep?

Is it particularly gay that we look back on our time of dating and chuckle at how rigid I was to make sure that everything we wanted was for real before we “wasted time” on too many giddy “I love you’s?”

Is it particularly gay that I get incredibly inspired by her success in the world and celebrating her unique path is one of the easiest things I’ve ever done?

Is it particularly gay that we have dozens of inside jokes that would make other people roll their eyes and consider our intelligence lacking? 😉

Is it particularly gay that my wedding day is something I remember as the best day of my life so far?

Is it particularly gay that we believe that we can buy, make, or share things with each other that will keep our love interesting and magical?

Is it particularly gay that sometimes there’s nothing magical about cleaning, paying bills, making appointments, or discussing our differences?

Is it particularly gay that I’ve never met a woman who knows me so well and can welcome everything that no one else could understand?

Is it particularly gay when we look into each other’s eyes and see the person with whom we want to grow old? Marriage_quote_1

Is it particularly gay that I know this is the woman with whom I want to grieve any of life’s inevitably sad or tragic moments?

Is it particularly gay that I am a better person, a better citizen, a better employer, a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend, a better writer, and maybe even a better dog-owner… because she is in my life?

What do you think?

Perhaps the question isn’t “How Gay is my Marriage?,” but how much stronger would all marriages be if we were all… particularly open to a love like what my wife and I worked to find, labor to protect, and hope to cherish for years to come?

Maybe if this is gay marriage, everyone needs one!

And maybe that is the real threat – redefining marriage as particularly amazing...

Perhaps we are re-branding marriage after all…

#RebrandMarriage Series starts now… 😉 

~~

RAY_7318Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

 

 

The “Gay” Things I See in my Wife: The #RebrandMarriage Series Continues

flag_Court_gavelThis week, if the Supreme Court of the land chooses to move my country into a full scale acceptance of marriage equality, I want it to be clear that what it means to be married to a woman is pretty simple. For those who are apparently so confused by the thought of two women living together, sharing life together, and respecting one another – it’s important that you see what I see. Specifically, let me point out the “gay” things, so you have more clarity.

Here’s a random list of “gay” things I see when I look at my wife…

When I look at my wife, I see a woman whose gay thirst for knowledge is balanced with self-compassion.

When I look at my wife, I see a woman whose understanding of gay hope is balanced with the reality of injustice.

When I look at my wife, I see a woman who has spent her life putting others first but is committed to her own gay well-being.

When I look at my wife, I see a woman who questions everything mindfully, but also knows how to let go and let gay life happen.

When I look at my wife, I see a woman who will let our children become who they need to become as we gay support one another as partners in parenting.

When I look at my wife, I see a woman whose commitment to seeing the gay good in others has never been overshadowed by all the difficult scenarios she has faced.

what we seeSo… to opponents to marriage equality, I ask…

When you look at my wife, do you only see a woman who is married to another woman? Did you ONLY see the word GAY in the above list? (Go back and reread it without the word, duh 😉 ) Do you think her thirst for knowledge, her hope, her well-being, her life, her support, or her ability to see the good in humanity is particularly different because of sexuality? How silly it sounds to think or believe we are so different…

How sad for you, that your heart is so closed and your mind so warped, that you cannot see a woman for who she is, how she loves others, what a gift she is to me, and how my I’m a better person because she is in my life.

If you look at “real” marriage as simply two opposite gender bodies cohabitating, perhaps you need to consider what we “gays” are doing as we #RebrandMarriage.

Let us, the “gays” with the agenda of love, be the ones who #RebrandMarriage. So far, when I look at marriage, I see it as a lifelong journey of looking at the woman I love and seeing her with respect, admiration, and acceptance.

If that’s awkward for you, that defines your views of marriage, not ours.

Namaste, Supreme Court. You will see what you are looking for and if you’re looking for justice for all, you will see love is legal.

— For more information to find out how “gay” your marriage is, follow this link. —

~~

RAY_7318Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

 

Florence + the Machine: When Musicality Meets Magic

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All photos by Gail Dickert 2015

In all of my years of blogging, I haven’t felt the need to pause and discuss just how important concerts and music have been in my healing journey… but last week, when I saw Florence + the Machine for the second time at Merriweather Post Pavilion, I was fully captivated by the musicality and magic that exists when she enters the sanctuary of her stage. The scene cannot be represented with my words and even my photos from the concert or the videos that I’ve seen uploaded only paint a sense of her performance…

Truly, you would have to be standing there, in the front rows, as she extends her body, voice, and soul into the immediate aura that is, her audience.

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Photos by Gail Dickert 6.9.15

There are musicians who can perform and there are performers who are musicians, but what Florence and her magical machine offer in those hours of singing, movement, and direct engagement with the crowd is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Specifically during this tour, I saw such light, reverence and passion coming from her back-up singers and brass ensemble. From the entire band, there is a collective force of some of the purest energy I’ve ever encountered… and I work with children! 😉

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Photos by Gail Dickert 6.9.15

There were times I didn’t know whether I should be cheering, laughing, crying, bowing, or lying back as if I were blissfully staring into a sky of stars on a cool summer night.

Her performance, with her surrounding “machine” took me back to a sweet and innocent place where I could flirt with angels, feast on the inhibitions of childhood, and reconnect with both the internal and global peace that comes with being in harmony with others who were open to love and being lifted out of their own baggage.

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Photos by Gail Dickert 6.9.15

I know that every performer carries a humanity that would probably make fans blush or “lose respect” – we are in fact, human, no matter how many perceive us as imperfect in our art. For me though, it is the humanity that I perceive in Florence’s art that causes me to pause in gratitude, like I have found an artistic mentor or temporary guru in my path towards self-awareness and healing.

I am one who has never truly known how to be vulnerable. I can “do” vulnerability and “choose” it, but to embody it to the point where I don’t even know it is my state of interaction is the goal of my whole existence. She appears to me, to already have that down and maybe I am a fan with an inaccurate picture of her “real life,” but that is okay – that is art… it draws us to be clear about what we dream, how we hope, and what we choose as a priority for our lives.

So to close, I want to thank Florence + the Machine as well as her devoted FANS –

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Photos by Gail Dickert 6.9.15

… because it is the collective energy that can be felt at her shows that surely empower her to bring the magic to her musicality. When you’re at one of her shows, there is a cosmic pause that affirms all things vulnerable, all things love, all things broken, and all things… human. There is a deep surrender to the Heartlines that connect us all. I cherish this music and the experience of her profound lyrics and presence.

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Photos by Gail Dickert 2015

Namaste, Florence + the Machine… for the badassery you’ve brought forth for yourself and for all of us – your interconnected web of love and light otherwise known as… your fans.

“Oh the river, oh the river, it’s running free. 
And oh the joy, oh the joy it brings to me.
But I know it’ll have to drown me,
Before I can breathe easy.
And I’ve seen it in the flights of birds,
I’ve seen it in you.
The entrails of the animals,
The blood running through.
But in order to get to the heart,
I think sometimes you’ll have to cut through.
But you can’t…

DSCN1545We will carry…
We will carry you there…”
– Heartlines, Florence + the Machine

~~

RAY_7279Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

Detours in Dating: Do Boundaries and “Breaks” Matter?

love_quoteBuilding a path to marriage is not easy but Yani and I have started discussing writing some parts of our story and how we found each other because it doesn’t seem like there are a lot of authentic accounts about “real life” obstacles and drama that can occur in the season of “dating.” We will get more in depth about this in the coming months, I’m sure… but for now, here’s my attempt to capture boundaries and breaks and how they mattered to us.

So many fairy tale stories paint a picture of lovers whose very breath seemed incomplete until the other came along and whisked them away in a wild series of grand gestures. I, like many, have wondered about how those stories were going to translate into my reality and often set myself up for some grand disappointments because of such expectations. Nonetheless, as a married woman now, I look back on some of those “things we got right” and laugh… allow me to paint a more realistic picture of when you can tell if the one you love now is the one worth waiting for until the fog lifts on forever.

One afternoon before we were engaged, I met up for brunch with Yani and explained to her that I felt that what she wanted out of a relationship and what I wanted were not aligned.

We weren’t “officially dating,” but I needed to let her know that what I was seeing was how we didn’t seem to be focused on the same things and she “probably couldn’t have a relationship with someone like me.” (Yes. It was classic “It’s not you, it’s me.” 😉 ) Though I was deeply in love with her and consistently hiding that feeling (well, hiding it from her anyway), I moved from being emotional connected, to settling into a more “rational” approach to our relationship. Basically, I informed her that I wasn’t saying, “this will never happen,” but I was seeing red flags that made the timing off… and I knew timing was everything in a relationship because I had two long-term relationships and one not-so-beneficial rebound that all proved the importance of timing!

So, in some sense of boundary and restraint, I broke her heart over brunch…

What happened next is what defined the rest of our relationship (and continues to define our marriage!)

We decided to go to Barnes and Noble, stay for several hours among the shelves and stories, and still laughed and flirted like two teenagers in love!

books_2

Perhaps it was retail-therapy that first led us there or maybe neither of us really understood what to make of my perspective on holding back until the timing felt right.

But I do know that at some point in the store, I looked at her and got chills all over my body like I had been immersed in a frozen lake. I had the distinct thought, “When you marry her, this short pause will make sense…

Taking time to align was difficult and maybe even risked her trust or passion, but how respectfully we walked together after that moment, even as it hurt, defined a willingness to go through things together that shaped what is now our marriage!

Setting the boundary of “wait” actually took the pressure off… somehow, it magically allowed us to continue a PG-13 relationship until “we knew” it was right to take any new steps together as a couple.

While I may sometimes look back and wonder if I was right to set a boundary until the timing felt right, I do also wonder if I was just scared… But I’ll never regret it because it was her presence at the bookstore post “boundary” that taught me who she is – a woman who respects me more than any other woman I’ve known and a woman who can trust that what she wants will come to her in due time if it’s meant to be! A gracious, joyful, trusting… friend for life.

I was already in love, but within those aisles of books, I saw I was also, very safe to consider choosing this love.

And so months later, I did.

So here’s what I believe about these detours in dating, when we feel the need to “break” or set a boundary: Our ability to trust in perfect timing and stand up for ourselves even if it means being uncomfortable with bad timing is what shapes mutual respect for this individual we claim we love. If we truly love this gorgeous soul with all its magical and unique views on a life well-shared together, we can handle a pause…

Te amo, mi amor. May we always find ourselves freely written and bound only by a spine of alignment, well-read… and deeply-respected.cute_love_book_quote

~~

RAY_7318Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

4 Reasons I’m Worried about Jenner… #JustBeCaitlyn

cJenner4 Reasons I’m Worried… but it’s not what you think!

So, Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner – name and gender identity have been changed. It’s official. Get on board. If you think THIS is the biggest of Caitlyn’s problems, let’s get real. Actually being a transgender woman is going to be the easiest considering the following:

1. Jenner is linked to the Kardashian nonsense. Instead of being tied to an Olympic legacy, she is best known as being part of all things Kardashian. Over-coming THAT stigma may be harder than being trans!

2. Jenner is linked to a fatal car crash. Good heavens, this really happened and she is not going to forget her involvement in that tragedy whether she is in a dress or in lounge pants eating bonbons in her million dollar home.

3. Jenner is linked to the Republican party! God Almighty, what could be worse than being trans? Being trans and Republican!

4. Jenner is linked to every muther-effing social media outlet ever created. Wanna see the cover of Vanity Fair on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, CNN, FOX News? She’s such a presence on social media that even MySpace has covered this story. (jk. What’s MySpace?) Point is – she has lost all chance of having a private experience and while she took that risk, it seems like one that may not have been well-calculated.

I worry because she’s associated with reality TV (and nothing more).

I worry because she has some real-death drama on her hands.

I worry because her political affiliation must cause an immense amount of internal conflict.

I worry because in giving up her biggest secret, she may have no chance at living a simple life… into retirement. I mean, she’s 65, people! A little respect for our senior citizens maybe?

Anyway, part of this post is intended to be in a bit tongue-in-cheek, but honestly, it’s the kind of stuff I think about when I read what is happening to emotional and social connections between people who think this subject is a “discussion” up to our “opinion.”

Let’s stop and think about it for a minute –

The average transgender person has a lot more to deal with than Caitlyn, but let’s face it… Caitlyn has a lot more to deal with than the average ANY GENDER person! 

So I say… she looks better in a dress than this lesbian ever would… and I was only uncomfortable being a girl until I realized it was okay to be a lesbian! 😉 Sooooo I don’t know what it’s like to be her. 

But I hope she survives everything that is coming her way – and learns to #JustBeCaitlyn – in whatever ways she can, after having lived a complex 65 years on this Earth!

In the meantime, for more information about how to really show up for this conversation and how trans issues affect us all, check out these links from GLAAD and other organizations…

http://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender

http://www.leelahslaw.com/

http://transequality.org/issues

Walk gently in those high heels shoes, Caitlyn.

~~

RAY_7318Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

Are We All Josh Duggar?

Shadow_Work_JungNo.

Of course we are not all troubled child molesters whose family used both political influence and the tyranny of silence to cover-up years of damaging child abuse…

Of course we are not all religious fundamentalists who would rather protect the “idea” of family values and pontificate about purity instead of standing up for the girls whose innocence was taken from them…

No.

We are not a sensationalized, sex-starved, patriarchal, mis-educated, and delusional media-created family.

We are not loud-mouthed, anti-gay, pro-oppression bigots whose message of hate has claimed the lives of countless unnamed victims.

But… here is what social media has shown us to be:

We are people capable of judging victims for not forgiving.

We are people capable of terrorizing survivors for “making a big deal” of something that happened “years ago.”

Collectively, as a society, we are people who are uncomfortable with the dark side of our own human condition, which includes, ironically, the side which judges its own dark side!

We are having a traumatic response, collectively, to the trauma of what our culture accepts, how it discusses trauma, and how easily we turn on one another when tensions arise! 

At our lowest vibration, when our minds are weakest, or our hearts are shattered, it’s really important to demonize anything that keeps us feeling in control of our own shadows… It’s the way we make ourselves feel better. This phenomenon is something I observe as an empath and one who studies social and emotional intelligence in children.

It’s also something I understand as someone who dated a survivor of the Quiverfull movement. I can say that nothing in my life brought out my own shadows more than being around someone who had yet to reconcile that oppression from her childhood. I was certainly no help! I can say that now, but at the time, it was much easier to just look at her and consider it all crazy. Her family, her mind, her experiences – it was easier to call it crazy than recognize the crazy it stirred in me!

shadow_jungIn the end, this projection of “evil” in the “other” is a deep and complicated effort to justify one’s own existence and experiences as well as account for the shock in our core that says, “This should not have happened!

If we could just objectively address the weakened mind and broken heart behind it all, there would be no time for these distractions and judgments.

If only we could be brave enough to speak up for survivors instead of vilifying the dark side, we would find that the trauma survivor has endless knowledge to share with us…

Because the survivor doesn’t fear the dark side anymore.

She’s been there.

He’s seen it for himself.

They understand how to overcome darkness not by hating it or judging it, but by knowing it, sitting with it, feeling it fully, and ultimately, accepting it.

We, as survivors, understand… that unless we face the reality of our own shadows, we all become Josh Duggar.

A man whose shadows were dismissed.

A man whose shadows were “forgiven.” 

A man who never had to answer for or own his shadows.

That, my friends, could be any of us…

Are we all Josh Duggar?

No.

But could this collective fear of facing our shadows combined with survivor-shaming and a lack of perspective in owning shadows lead us down that path?

Yes.

Tread lightly and move gently through your truth.

P.S. I dedicate this post to the Quiverfull survivor I dated… because every shadow deserves to be loved.

~~

RAY_7318Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

 

When Abusers Speak for God: 5 Reasons I’ve Had Enough

survivor project unbreakableI’ve seen it in almost every church I’ve ever attended…

Emotional abusers who claim that “hardship” is what “God” intends for the faithful.

I’ve heard it in almost every church I’ve attended…

Sexual abusers who claim that “girls” should be “more careful” how they dress.

I’ve felt it in almost every church I’ve attended…

Physical abusers whose “humility to ask for forgiveness” allow them access to beat their wives repeatedly.

Aren’t we tired yet, of all of the abusers who claim to speak for God?

Let’s just come out and put it clearly in the words of Tori Amos:

God, sometimes you just don’t come through… do you need a woman to look after you?”

As a survivor of conversion therapy, I know all about leaders who speak for God. They spoke for “God” about the “miracle” of healing a person from homosexuality through shame-tactics and brainwashing techniques, sometimes combined with a few false memories and exaggerated gender-norming strategies.

But more than this, I know all about leaders who speak for God when it comes to innocent children…

It was leaders who “spoke for God” who told me at 12 years old, that I could be a good Christian “witness” (or example) to my abuser, if only I would pray more…

I just recently came forward publicly as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse – and a separate attack at age 15, from a “trusted adult” figure in the church. Why did I stay silent all these years, aside from writing about it in Enlightened-ish and a few obscure blog pieces?

The reasons have to do with how survivors stories sound out of the mouths of those who claim to speak for God.

Now with this week’s news of a religious-based TV show being taken off the air because of the scandal involving years of sexual abuse by a man who claims to be an authority on morality, would you think I am going to say anything that hasn’t been said?

Do you think after all I’ve experienced, I would want to shed some light on this for survivors?

You thought right… because if I’m going to lift myself out of this stink that is my newsfeed right now, I have to find my voice.

Overall, I picked “5” Reasons I’ve had enough because I disclosed to FIVE Christian adults that I was being abused by my neighbor… so in the memory of their failure to actually SPEAK UP FOR ME, I offer these reasons.

5 Reasons I’ve Had Enough of Abusers who Claim to Speak for God:

1. I’ve had enough because… abusers don’t get to “spiritualize” their psychological issues.

Child abusers abuse for lots of reasons, but “God” is not one of those reasons. I mean, if God “is” a reason, then that’s another piece. Let’s stop pretending that “God” has anything to do with the mental illness and lack of empathy that abusers have towards their victims.

2. I’ve had enough because… bystanders don’t get to spiritualize our psychological trauma.

Abuse survivors need professional mental health support to recover from these experiences. Trying to “heal” through prayers is like trying to change a tire by drinking a latte. (No, it doesn’t make sense!) It’s time we emphasize the separation of church and… actual mental health support.

3. I’ve had enough because… God really doesn’t have a reputation for being emotionally sound.

Let’s stop pretending like God is actually love. Jesus and some of the other prophets and teachers along the path of spirituality seem to have some sound emotional awareness sometimes, but what we “know” about “God” based on sacred texts is that he/it is the kind of being who likes trauma. (i.e. wars, floods, plagues, human sacrifice, hell, apocalypse, etc.) Trauma survivors don’t need spiritual drama – they have enough actual drama with their healing process.

4. I’ve had enough because… if there is a God, she might not “forgive.”

Let’s pretend for a moment that no one actually believes in the “god” that is presented in sacred texts. Instead of an emotionally unstable bully with strange rules and a hang-up on sexuality, let’s say we believe in a “god” form who is full of sensibility and boundaries. Perhaps we believe in a “god” who balances out the shameful with peace or a “god” who makes wrongs right through justice. If this god exists, I wager she doesn’t simply “forgive” an abuser… she seeks justice and peace.

5. I’ve had enough because… God wasn’t actually there.

Did God “watch” as I was molested repeatedly, against my will, by an older man who knew I was uncomfortable and scared? Did God “watch” as I reached out to trusted religious adults who shamed me further for “allowing” these abusive events to happen? Did God “watch” when I was almost raped by another older boy who was “well-liked” by the church community?

No. Stop it. God wasn’t “there.”

I was there.

So above all, let’s remember the survivor who was actually there... and rather than speaking for a being that did nothing, let’s turn our attention towards the survivors who are finding their voices. Let’s lend our ears to the survivors who are doing SOMETHING, by speaking out, finding a reason to trust, a reason to believe, and a reason to live.

Let’s try that, folks. Because I’ve had enough of hearing from ANYONE who speaks for God.

How about you? Had enough yet?

Namaste, my friends. Tread lightly, walk gently… you know a survivor. It’s time to pay attention and if you speak for anyone, speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

~~

PS. For more information about sexual assault, please check out RAINN.

RAY_7318Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

Discussing Childhood Sexual Abuse… Because I Finally Can

Child_abuse_StatI am coming up on one of those strange “anniversaries” of a life event I used to think I would be more comfortable forgetting. However, after 25 years, it seems my natural response to this milestone is to speak out for a 12-year-old girl whose voice was ignored…

Briefly, I disclosed that I am a sexual abuse survivor when I entered into the Chapter called, “The Freedom to Survive,” in Enlightened-ish. As some of my readers know, one of my major concerns with AuthorHouse as a publisher was how they indiscriminately selected portions of my grief memoir as “previews.” Out of context, the story of my childhood molestation was shared as if it was central to the entire book, which violated my ability to tell my story, not to mention my rights as an author. Nonetheless, that triggering incident (unresolved legally), started to inform me of my healing steps when it comes to discussing childhood sexual trauma.

Specifically, the incident reminded me that under no circumstances does anyone have the right to tell my story out of context, let alone edit it, or sway me from my own healing journey.

So today, after taking a few weeks to decide if I was ready, I took another “step” in telling my story. I decided I would send in an application to a local support and advocacy network for sexual assault survivors. I don’t know where it will go, but as I shared the news of my steps to story-telling with a fellow survivor, I realized I had misspelled the name of the organization on my application to their program.

You guys know me… exactly how likely am I to miss something that important in any written communication? I mean really… gasp! Right?

I sat with the reality of my gaffe for about an hour, wondering if I should feel ashamed or embarrassed, then I recognized that it was the perfect mistake for someone trying to overcome shame! Why? Because what has always mattered in my writing is not WHERE I share what I have been through but THAT I SHARE AT ALL.

I am not sure yet what will come of having sought out a volunteer venue through which I can discuss my survivor story or advocate for communities to require their adults to do the ADULT thing and report perpetrators when sexual abuse is suspected…

But what I can do is sit here with pride and recognize that after all these years of passively walking on the eggshells laid out by society, family, friends, neighbors, or religious communities, I am actually quite proud of my story.

I am proud… because when he touched me, almost 25 years ago, and silenced a naive and trusting girl, he had no idea I would turn out so full of love and ready to shake up anyone comfortably denying the voices of our young people.

Abuse_Stat_Relationship_VictimI am proud… because when he told me, almost 25 years ago, that “no one would even believe I didn’t want it,” he had no idea that I would grow up and become so clear about what vibrant, whole, and mindful sexuality can be!

I am proud… because when he told me he was a “friend,” 25 years ago, he wasn’t able to forever destroy my definition of genuine friendship.

I am proud… because when the shame started, 25 years ago, there was an end to something – an end to my innocence.

And an end of innocence is actually the most useful tool a survivor has – with the end of our of innocence eventually comes the powerful command of the reality that can heal us all.

I’m proud of my reality.

My reality now is that I am survivor of childhood sexual abuse and in that reality, I am equipped to say that there are ways we can protect ourselves and our children.

I am equipped to say that there is healing for those who do the work of forgiving themselves for NOT HAVING THE POWER that they deserved to have all along.

I am equipped to write that there is justice for those who wonder how heavy the burden of memory will be for the rest of their lives.

I’m ready to discuss childhood sexual abuse… because I finally can… without shame.

And even when I miss a step, it happens because I’m not frozen in the past – I’m taking steps.

Because I’m finally able to focus on the voice, not the venue or the audience around me…

Report_Abuse_MemeThe true audience is the 12-year-old girl from Pennsylvania, who lacked an adult ally who could do the adult thing, and report her perpetrator.

She is listening as I write for her…

One step at a time – all is well.

Walk gently, my lovelies.

Namaste, to all who cannot forget what it’s like to always remember their stories. I see you and we’re all moving through it together at whatever pace feels natural.

~~

PS. For more information about sexual assault, please check out RAINN.

RAY_7318Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

How Gay is my Marriage? #RebrandMarriage Series – Part 2

empathy_1Empathy begins when we make attempts not just to “understand” the world through someone else’s eyes, but to feel it. For me, poetry is that art that urges feelings to reign over thoughts, giving the colorless, race-less, gender-less, ageless, HEART a voice. Poetry is a bridge to empathy.

When people ask me about gay marriage, my eyes do not see the word gay… I hear it, but I do not even know what it means as I used to, because marriage, to me, is all about Eyes Forward.

I’ve written a short series of poems below, called Eyes Forward. May these words serve as a bridge to empathy and add to the conversation of Rebranding Marriage.

Maybe the evolution of “gay” marriage can draw us all into a deeper appreciation of coupledom and spousal connections. Marriage has, for too long, been about property, achievement, reproduction, or religious-based institutions.

Maybe it truly needs to be rebranded by those who seek it for love… with eyes forward, let empathy begin to give sight to the hearts blinded by fear and hate.

Namaste, yo. #RebrandMarriage

~

Eyes Forward I

Set your gaze upon her soul
until the sound of her breath
gives you the chills that wake you up
from the fever
that has locked you away
from the passionate heart
that once saw her and said,
“Can she be a reason to believe in the One?”

~~

Eyes Forward II

Her head doesn’t turn.
The noise of other lovers fades faster than the buzz of a honey bee.
Her walk is fixed
Unless there is a crawl towards our marriage bed,
Where yield and surrender
crash gently upon the waves of confidence and permanence.

 

Her head doesn’t turn.
The sweetness of other lives turns sour upon the reality of now.
Her stance solid
Unless there is a swing of her hips towards our dance,
Where rhythm and sense
Move freely within the confines of blessing and strength.

~~

Eyes Forward III

We don’t blink to hide, but to rest.
We shift to learn, not to avoid.
We roll to release, not to mock.
We don’t stare to reject, but to appreciate.

 

We don’t sleep to flee, but to discover.
We glance to inform, not to judge.
We wink to flirt, not to trick.
We don’t see to define, but to find clear vision.

~~

RAY_7318Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

 

A Conversion Therapy Survivor Responds to Her President

Born_Perfect_ObamaAs many of you know, I’ve taken a step back from doing interviews in reference to my survival story from conversion therapy…

But I found myself drawn to “give voice,” to my experience of hearing that our President is tuned into the needs of survivors, their families, and specifically, our vulnerable young people. This is a very tender moment in my healing journey and I recorded it as a means of responding to our President’s call to ban conversion therapy. I invite you to give attention to this voice, in honor of all those who have yet to find the courage…

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

~~

2ND_6541Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

 

Gay in America: A Meditation for the Soul of our Nation

 

“The truth is that I owe years of dysfunctional relationships, shame, sickness, and even mental health misdiagnosis to the efforts of Conversion Therapy. At what point do we stop trying to change what we don’t understand about another person’s sexuality? At what point do we accept that we are all whole and born perfect? If you think that the anti-gay legislation has nothing to do with harmful Conversion Therapy, you are missing the point – being gay is NOT A CHOICE and it’s the belief that it can be changed that continues to plague our global reputation and taint our interpersonal relationships.

pride_american“We live in the land of the free, a place where many come to discover who they are professionally and personally, and yet we tolerate this bigotry in the name of “faith?” This hatred is not what our founding fathers had in mind… not why soldiers fight and die… not why we pay taxes… not an American value and when it is practiced, it send ripples of discontent to the true heart of our national spirit.

eagle_flag“So there is a rising, deep in the soul of our nation that I believe is ready to speak up and be heard, stand out and set a new standard, innovate peace and resist bigotry… I still believe in my country even though its present is as tainted as its past… because even if being gay were a choice, I live in a land where choices would matter too. Today, I choose to hope for an awakening…”

~ Turtle Whisperer, Gail Dickert ~

~~

Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.