Vulnerability Series… because Pain Matters

vulnerabilityWhen I wrote Enlightened-ish, I knew I was taping into something unusual… looking at spiritual awakening through the lens of a raw, complicated and emotional grief process was just plain weird. I mean, who writes from a place of vulnerability? Who writes and publishes words that are part of a process? Who dares put in print what will potentially fade with age and healing?

I did.

Responses to Enlightened-ish vary, but almost all of my readers so far use words like, “floored” or “brave.” I don’t feel very brave and I didn’t write it to shock anyone… I wrote it because it wasn’t written and I wished that someone would have spoken to me as freely as I spoke to myself, honestly. Grief was intense and separating from suicidal ideation, toxic spirituality, unhealthy relationships and aligning myself with psychic intuitions and energy healing all within a period of a few months was… well, it was weird!

What remains though is that the book is involved in saving lives, namely my own.

And now, as I have considered what to write about next, I look at the pain in my body (Managing chronic pain since May 2013,) I realize the same thing that happened with my father’s death and the face-to-face experiences with death – the book I want to read hasn’t been written.

No one talks openly about pain in a way that feels real. There are affirmations designed to make it go away, medications pushed in order to silence it and plenty of belief systems orchestrated to diminish or mystify its value.

I am embarking on a vulnerability series that will start as a blog, but as you can expect… will end in another book.

Why?

Because like grief… pain matters.

And it matters now…

Not 3 years or 2 months from now, when I am finally out of pain.

It matters now, while I type uncomfortably from my couch, between treatments… now, while I am on medical leave… now, while I can barely walk in the mornings and now, while I learn to celebrate pain’s meaning without demeaning my spirituality, relationships and dignity.

It is my highest goal to write what has not been written… and while I expect to do mighty things for my online friends and loved ones once the royalties catch up to the investment of self-publishing, do not be mistaken.

I write these weird things for myself.

It does not make me selfish and it does not make me a narcissist.

It makes me a writer and a person who becomes the change she wants to see in the world.

I want to see more transparency.

I want to see people share their stories.

I want to see people own their shit, establish their dreams and become a part of the whole that is our human condition.

I do these things because pain matters… because we matter… because I matter.

Namaste, my friends. Please share the links to the book and stay tuned… because if you think Enlightened-ish was raw, just wait and see what will come out of physical pain…

To buy Enlightened-ish, click here. Feel free to follow the process here on Facebook.

~~

Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. She has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. “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. Her new book, Enlightened-ish became available April 25, 2013 and chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. 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.

 

Phelps, Fear and Loathing – Death Doesn’t Become Us

Fred-Phelps-720x360When I think of Fred Phelps on his death bed, I think only one thing: Even death won’t end his brand of evil.

Now, of course there are many opinions out there about how we should respond to the news of Fred Phelps pending death. Folks in the gay community, or particularly, anyone with a heart and soul that isn’t marred by fundamentalist religion, are trying to find a way to reconcile themselves to his passing. Some jest about picketing his funeral with signs and protests while others are hoping to turn the other cheek and share some kind of “eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” mantra. (Taking morally superior high-ground? How Phelp-ish of us? Barf.)

Here’s the thing that I notice when I take off my rainbow hat and matching ascot and also set aside any preconceived notions about barfy words like “forgiveness” or “healing.”

If I put on my pre-school professional hat, what I see is how fear of death affects people. I see it in children when we address the passing of some of our animals at our school. When a goat died a few years ago, we had a funeral, shared memories and laid out flowers on a mosaic stone that was made by our children. Still to this day though, some of the children come up with wild stories about what happened to the goat. They are so confused, yet somewhat excited about death – it brings out their brave curiosity and their incredible story-telling skills. When we lost some ducks to a pack of coyotes, children were telling stories for weeks – in one story, I found out that the Director (which is ME), actually wrestled a coyote trying to save the ducks. Unbeknownst to me, a child’s infatuation with trying to understand what happened, created a sense of heroism in their leader that was entirely inaccurate.

Death scares the shit out of us, folks.

It scares us into a lack of social and emotional intelligence where we start making up stories, projecting outcomes and claiming to be, and in this case, ironically, superior in our understanding of such unknowns. This fear causes us to emotionally, psychologically and spiritually travel down as many creatives paths as it takes before either the Grief Train derails or it comes into a stationary place where we can get off and get on with our lives… peacefully, but more aware than before we got on it.

So, Phelps is dying – well duh. He’s human. And the man isn’t even dead yet, but because of media attention combined with our fear (and empathy for one of his children, at least), we are now asking ourselves how to respond not to Fred Phelps, but our own fear and loathing about mortality.

Here’s what I know – as a woman whose father’s death changed her life to the point where she had an Enlightened-ish experience – death brings out the weirdest, most challenging responses in people. It is a mirror of our own mortality and a mirror of any unspoken needs to reconcile to others and to ourselves. Worse, for some, it reflects a need to reconcile with their images of a God-figure, which may be gracious or somewhat moody about mercy.

So as you post and reply to this story, of course remember that he is human too and that “only God can judge,” if there is one. But largely consider that regardless of his legacy and how foul it will be, you have a legacy. I will have a legacy.

What we are probably reconciling in any public figure’s death is that we are in fact, not far from that end ourselves.

What we have in common with Phelps is this – we too, will die.

And so the larger question isn’t how do we reconcile death, which cannot be predicted…

But how do we reconcile ourselves to life, which is comprised of the choices we make, the people we love and the threads and blogs we opt to share?

Much love, my friends.

In memory of Matthew

~~

DSC_0354Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. She has appeared in FOX DC News, Sky News 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 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. Her new book, Enlightened-ish became available April 25, 2013 and chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. 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.

And the Oscar Goes to… Ironic Stereotypes!

1898093_10151940862420778_2062419657_nPost Oscars, the interwebs are a buzz with accusations of stereotypes about Jared Leto’s portrayal of a transgender character in that one movie, while the rave is all about that white boy with the twinkle in his eye whose hero is himself in a few years. Meanwhile, we have a new beautiful, dark-skinned goddess of beauty in the young woman who played a slave girl…

With great contempt for the blind following of Lupita and the blatant disregard for the person of Leto, I offer 3 Reasons to Stop Talking about the Oscars and Get Global:

1. Lupita came from a life of privilege. In her acceptance speech she pretty much admits that a lot of people suffered, while success landed on her table like a silver platter. Thanks for the humility, but we were too busy stereotypically finding affinity for the skinny, black girl who says something about achieving your dreams. She went to Yale School of Acting. Who goes to Yale for acting? People of privilege, that’s who! Her father is a PhD-wielding, high-ranking Kenyan politician and whether we realize it or not, people of privilege come in all shapes, sizes, colors and orientations. Where is the outrage that a slave girl part wasn’t played by someone… who came from nothing?

2. Leto came from next to nothing. So he chose a role that didn’t portray the most accurate depiction of the transgender community – As a gay woman, as a WOMAN, I see films every day that depict versions of my faith and identity that are horribly inaccurate and lead to additional stereotypes. Remember that big movie last year, which depicted bipolar disorder in a way that made me wanna punch someone in the face, then laugh about it? You know the one I’m talking about – yeah. Played up on every stereotype and made it look like my ten years of silence about treatment were completely justified. Silver Linings, my ass. That wasn’t my story and watching it with others who knew about my diagnosis was painful.

3. June Squibb came from a little bit of something and a little bit of nothing. If you know the mid-west, you know that Illinois is about as generic as any other part of the United States. To come from generic and have the kind of talent she has, is pretty impressive, but then again… stereotyping worked to her benefit in this. I mean, they needed an old lady. And they got a talented one at that. Not to say she deserved an Oscar but I’ll say this – a white woman gets passed up every day for promotions and still gets paid less than her male counterparts. So… while we were watching the movies…

Lots of generic people were doing something extraordinary – like going to work, going to war or going insane, but making the best of it because of their own private resilience.

Truth be told, I didn’t see any of these movies in the last year – why? Because I was unable to sit comfortably for the last 10 months due to chronic pain.

I’ll say this – when they do a movie about me, I don’t care if that person has chronic pain. I care if they can act and represent the story in an artistic way that matches their personal integrity.

That’s what Lupita did…

That’s what Leto did…

And that’s what June did…

It’s called acting.

Now… while transphobia needs to be addressed and no one wants to have their names butchered (I hear Idina actually changed her name to Adele, just because the Almighty Travolta said it that way ;) ), what I know is that we have to take a deep breath and realize that Hollywood isn’t a mirror…

But our responses to their mishaps are a reflection of us… and our own front porches that need to be swept, ya dig?

We are our worst enemies when it comes to stereotypes…

We cannot help sometimes, but perpetuate the need to act, be pissed or have an opinion…

How much greater good would we be in the world, if we could amplify the need to understand?

Let’s ask one of Lupita’s childhood servants. (No, it’s not confirmed she had one, but anyone with a global understanding of politics in Africa knows it’s likely.)

Okay then, how about this – consider this post a Requiem for a Stereotype… and when you’re watching Son of God, don’t think for a minute that the actor is a Christian, let alone… Jesus. And if you aren’t sure what it’s like to come from a life of privilege, be raised by a single mom, be transgender, have a diagnosis of a mental disorder, or… be old, ask someone who knows. Simple enough? Okay thanks… Can we get back to global issues now?

5 Reasons to Lose Christianity… but Find Jesus

It was with great trepidation that I prepared this post, but now, as I share it, there is a sigh of relief in my soul…

After years of trying to identify as a “Gay Christian” or a “church-affirming” person of faith, it seems that the logical side of my brain has had deep conversations with the part of my soul that is tired of drama. Together, they have agreed that the most effective form of spiritual abuse prevention is to avoid triggers.

And Christianity triggers me at the core of who I am – an emotionally awakened, self-regulating, gay woman with an altruistic mind.

First, let me offer an important backdrop for this discussion before I offend most of you with my experience.

We’ve all seen it in social media and even personally witnessed it in some local congregations:

Christianity has been undergoing a very powerful re-branding effort.

At first, this seems to be a good idea, as it is not a faith that has been known for love or kindness to… well, anyone who isn’t white, male and straight. I truly want to get behind the “progressives” who talk about not being “that kind of Christian,” as they follow Jesus’ teachings and attempt to paint a nicer, softer version of this politicized religion on the stained canvas of spirituality.

However, as a Bible College Graduate and a woman who thinks about this topic more than any healthy person should, I recognize that the reason that there is so much conflict over Christianity is the simple fact that its “holy” book is laden with highly disturbing passages, analogies, stories and directives in the name of a God-figure.

Moreover, being progressive right now means big bucks. It means more blog hits, increased interviews, acolades of “bravery” from those who have been wounded by the church, and a false sense of pride in a “new” movement in the faith. (As if the United Church of Christ folk haven’t been teaching this progressive stuff long before it was made cool… I digress).

What we know about the Christian Church is that it is losing popularity… why? Because it should. It’s archaic, draped in a toxic history, shrouded in conflict… and basically the idea of finding community in our modern age is no longer tied to religious beliefs. More folks are happier to stitch and bitch at the local Panera, rather than tithe and survive at dogma-soaked congregational settings. Community, while always difficult to establish, is easier to access and try out, be it through Meet-Ups or the fact that, oh I dunno… we have cars and public transportation, so we don’t need the same local presence that we used to need in order to feel connected. We find out about common interests and we value them much more than our belief systems. Oh yeah, and this social media thing seems to do a good job of helping people feel more connected (perhaps at the expensive of emotional connection at times, but again, another post).

We also know that Christianity is losing popularity because it has this set of beliefs about LGBTQ people, women and overall concepts of social justice that don’t fly with the younger generations. (Did the Biblical writers bother to speak out against slavery? Nope. Sure didn’t. On the contrary, it kinda said, “That’s okay. Slavery happens.” Young people (and yes, some older folks too) do not want to be told what to do based on a book written by men in a time in history that is barely relevant to their own. More and more people are interesting in conversations, not sermons… and giving to the actual community, where it’s tangible and they feel the immediate effects, rather than investing in a pastor’s salary or a building fund. (Your local non-profit… where real church happens?)

However, what the Church is doing, in its well-designed re-branding effort is to make itself hip. Doing as the Romans, they have their loud music, powerpoint screens, even social justice projects, and giving illusions of “cool” when behind it all, the fact remains that there is an extrinsic authority that regulates the Church – the Bible.

Various interpretations and various texts to argue about – but in the end… it’s their holy book – Their script, their point of reference and their reason for the season of known as “Christian.”

But without the Bible, tell me this: Would there be a Christian Church?

I wager there would not be.

Without a book claiming to have authority…

Without a building claiming to be sacred…

Without a leader claiming to be anointed…

Where would the Church be?

It would be in the people.

And thus, we would possibly see that the teachings of Jesus would have some room to grow… once they are no longer confined by books, buildings and budgets. (Oh and egos, but that’s another thought altogether).

So this leads me to a very direct and poignant call to support a great exodus from Christianity. Hanging on to Jesus’ teachings may be the hard part and it is optional, in my opinion because some of his teachings are socially and emotionally under-developed. But without any further ado, I offer you something that will upset many of you. For others though, it may put the nail in the church coffin. You have been waiting to hear that it is safe to walk away. It is safe to lose Christianity… here are 5 reasons why…

1. Lose Christianity because… their holy book is profane.

Unlike most spiritual texts, Christianity’s “holy” book is grossly tied to violence, inequality, 1947957_278200805670461_1195406355_ncrimes against humanity, injustices towards women and minorities and frankly, a key plot twist that never sounds appealing – child sacrifice. The older I get, the more I realize that killing your son has got to be the least creative option for achieving justice. I would like to say, “Hey God, I hear you made hummingbirds, dinosaurs and the ocean, but when it came to retribution, your creativity leveled out at killing your kid? Epic creative fail.”

1782130_278199992337209_142745578_nOne of the most obscene Biblical passages regarding God’s need for justice/righteousness is when he turns two bears on a group of 42 bratty kids for making fun of one of his prophets, Elisha. Yeesh. I want God to get my back, but what’s with all the child-murder? I work with children… In fact, I work with about 42 every day and if they say mean things at times, it’s because they are kids. Doesn’t God know they are just testing out hurtful words vs. helpful words? A book that tells this story about that God should be banned, at least for anyone under the age of 18!

 

2. Lose Christianity because… you don’t need to be the house negro to make a point.

Ouch. Did she just say that? Actually, I’m anonymously quoting a friend who made that statement in regards to LGBTQ Christians. We can make our points about spirituality without subjecting ourselves to the system that keeps the white folk empowered (straight?) and the colored (gay?) scrubbing windows and able to come in from the rain at night. We all know that Jesus is not the same as “the Church.” Do you really think that if he was hanging out among any of this today, he would recognize these “churches” as what he meant when he said to gather and share? The Church is a system and in the end, the return on investment is low for its inhabitants, as its owner (pastors and politicians) reap either financially or psychologically. (Oh, there’s the ego conversation again…) There is a safer way to find spiritual community than surrendering your identity to the system.

3. Lose Christianity because… they can’t seem to reel in their rogue right-wing.

1602068_275828789240996_643552855_oOften times I hear progressives and conservatives isolate themselves from one another. “Fundies” are viewed as the enemy while I hear “liberals” are just as much a problem for those who believe in “Biblcally-based” things like marriages, families and 401k’s. For a religion that they are trying to brand as one of love, there is a schism deep within itself that is undeniable. If these two groups could figure themselves out, I may take the whole lot more seriously, but when you tune in and really listen to what’s going on, you can see this: One side of the coin despises the other side and claims they have different values. They are on the same piece of silver, no matter if you flip it 40 times and apparently Jesus isn’t even enough to bring them together! If the progressives are so grand, rather than recruiting the de-churched or those who happily walked away, why not take all that liberal “Jesus is love” stuff and lavish it on the brothers and sisters of the faith? In short, even Jesus said, “Get your backyard in order before taking over the neighborhood.” (Or some shit like that… a plank eye comes to mind, but thankfully, Bible College was a long time ago ;) )

4. Lose Christianity because… their God is kind of unstable.

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Be it the Old Testament or New Testament, the holy book has a way of making the Creator sound like a petty father who can’t determine whether to smite or smother. It’s a simple fact that the religion is based on God “loving” the World that he SENT HIS SON TO DIE. Meanwhile, there are rules and regulations that differ based on interpretation and no routines are established for what “really” pleases God. (Do justly, walk humbly and seek mercy rings a bell but apparently even that is too vague).

AZ_Refuse_ServiceWorse yet, is when Christians ignore the absurd nature of the God’s supposed decrees. When I saw this sign to the left, I didn’t think, “Yeah, you tell ‘em.” After I thought, “Don’t you know how to spell virgin?” I thought… “Why am I the only person who thinks that it’s ridiculous to make so many excuses for this strange holy book? It’s full of nonsense at times!

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Even more emotionally unpredictable and illogical are the belief systems themselves. For example, prayer has a complication in that it is entirely unreliable, yet it is a key ingredient of the faith. Exactly what part of the brain is working to monitor something so circular and illogical as prayer? If prayer works, does that mean that I have influence over God? If I do have influence, what does that say of this egomaniac God who only blesses those who know how to talk to him/her/it properly? As a person who teaches social and emotional intelligence, I have to say, this god could use some lessons on being assertive vs. aggressive, as well as learning the power of choice in order to maintain healthy relationships.

5. Lose Christianity because… you have the Freedom to Be and Leave.

I wrote about this in Enlightened-ish and am sharing an excerpt below because I think it’s time that the bigger picture of our core beliefs be considered. Sometimes we stay attached to Christianity because it’s our cultural reminder of family memories. Sometimes we stay out of obligation because “they aren’t all bad” or because we like the community and we’re too busy to find it elsewhere. Sometimes we stay because of actual convictions related to the cherry-picking of verses that matter to us. (Cherry, or cotton, I don’t know. Ouch). But in the end, beliefs are in fact chosen… and if Christianity is too violent, dramatic, unstable or just plain illogical for you… the Freedom to “Be” and Leave means you have options. I can’t promise that other religions are any better (as most are male-driven and seem to reflect a lack of social intelligence) but perhaps a fresh start will feel good after all of the lost friendships, church-hopping, blog-bantering and arguments in your faith journey.

From Enlightened-ish: A Grief Memoir about Spiritual Awakening:

“For as disillusioned as I felt about the church prior to my father’s death, I never intended to write about anything specific related to my time in a progressive church… Leaving the Christian Church became a key breakthrough for my spiritual awakening. 

“I cannot have my spiritual journey tied up in the success or failure of an organization. It sounds like high-risk behavior for a spiritual person to place all his or her eggs in the collection basket so for me, I cannot support a place where my investments are not diversified. The ROI for the Christian Church would make my spiritual portfolio plummet.

“Many members of the community had hoped I would stay connected, in spite of how this place contradicted my core beliefs (core beliefs discussed in depth, in Enlightened-ish). I didn’t trust any of the leaders to understand where I was coming from in separating from the community. The gossip and lack of emotional intelligence had become toxic. I cut ties altogether with some subgroups of the church. Once the standard operating procedure for conflict management became, ‘Efficiently shuffle things under the rug and psychoanalyze one another,’ I knew my time was up… I gave myself the freedom to “be” and “leave.”

In the end, religious leaders benefit from having followers because those followers surrender their most valuable resource: The ability to self-regulate. If the Bible, a pastor, or even God regulates you, you are not on a path of becoming a self-actualized person

And I know this, because I was once a person who falsely believed that surrendering “my” plan for “God’s plan” was a part of being a loyal, obedient and even wise follower of Christ.

This manifesto, coming from me, is pretty bizarre really – a woman who dedicated her life to Jesus at a crucial age, attended years of church camps, graduated with honors from Bible College, served several churches in youth and pastoral leadership positions and even continued to engage in “bridge-building” with people on the progressive side of this conflicting issue.

But it’s time.

Because the truth is… the Church is not an ally to itself, let alone an ally to the rest of the world. (Um, exactly what teaching is behind hate/discrimination bills? Church teaching, that’s what.) For every minute we spent trying to criticize it or rebuild it, we lose time that could be spent focusing on the person of Jesus, our relationships with our neighbors and the ability to self-regulate during conflict in order to reach peaceful, mindful communication.

So, what about finding Jesus? (Yikes, can it even be done? Well if you are still reading, let me sum this up already so we can all move on!)

Jesus was probably the most misunderstood and messed up figure to ever try to be a spiritual teacher and healer. Imagine that, without social media and the written word, I died today, but 70 years later, less than twelve of you tried to write up some thoughts about my life. Good grief, I hate to think of how you would portray me, even if you loved me ;)

And so it goes… we can go on a search for Jesus, if we feel that he matters… that may be valuable to some of us…

But what the Christian Church has shown us is that it is time to let it go of their business.

Because for many, it is nothing more of a reminder of a broken culture, a crucified faith and a burden to our collective ability to Love One Another. And if it weren’t for the Bible, we would probably be church and no one would have authority over how we live it out.

Walk gently through these explosive thoughts… and know that even if you stay involved with the organized church, this isn’t a judgment against you… but having been there, what I know is that a part of you wonders why you’re doing it. If you ever get tired of the drama, it is in fact, safe to walk away (even if just for a season).

No matter what, I wish us all the ability to breathe deeply as we seek to reconcile ourselves to… ourselves.

~~

This post goes out to three “influences” in my cyber communities. The first is a blog post from a Facebook friend. Please check this out and know that the content is well-prepared by a former Christian leader. It is honest, raw and will probably make you re-think your position on homosexuality and the Bible.

The second influence is a Facebook Page called, “Holy Shit.” I do not know the admins (yet), but I stumbled upon their page and found myself feeling at home, revived and encouraged by the satire, the honesty and the community. I know I can’t please ‘em all, but as I lose readers with this post, I know there are ten-fold to gain. Knowing we are not alone – What a valuable influence for us all, no matter what we choose.

To the folks at CTofBM, this doesn’t mean I love you any less either. You remain supported in your chosen frontline duties of the Christianity Branding War… but if you ever fold up shop and call it quits, no judgment here ;)

~~

DSC_0821Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. She has appeared in FOX DC News 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 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. Her new book, Enlightened-ish became available April 25, 2013 and chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. 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.

 

Barfy Word of the Week: Forgiveness

forgiveness_1I can hear my mom already saying, “Gail, you’re an eloquent and gifted writer… you can do better than using the word ‘barfy’ in a post.”

She’s right.

But I am so tired of sounding educated, being concrete and failing to use my greatest gift when dealing with difficult or frustrating conversations: The gift of snark.

Let’s talk about forgiveness – but not in the “You’re so bad that God totally had your brother killed on a cross so you better say ‘Thank you’ and show some respect” kind of way.

Let’s leave Christianity (and religion) out of it and talk about something more interesting than church, theology or political actions related to both – let’s talk about… relationships.

More specifically, let’s talk about how relationships are influenced and sometimes destroyed by the barfy word “forgiveness.”

Before I identify the 4 Barfy Misuses of Forgiveness, let’s agree on the meaning of the word forgive.

Oh wait, we can’t… and isn’t that part of the problem? This is exactly why “forgive” is a barfy word in the first place.

There is no way to identify a single definition of the word that resonates with ALL people. Like most words in any language, forgiveness (and sister words like “I’m sorry”) has become tossed around like dollar bills at a strip tease. (A degrading and useless gesture for a beautiful but complicated woman? I digress…)

So… that is the characteristic of a barfy word – a word that has been overused to the point that for some, it elicits pleasure and for others, it elicits pain… or proverbial puke. (Stay tuned for more Barfy Words of the Week as I go through the dictionary of my experience with friends, the church, grief and social media).

Without further backdrop, I present… the 4 Barfy Misuses of Forgiveness:

1. Forgiveness is a spiritual decision.

(We are trying to leave religion out of this, aren’t we?)

BARF! Forgiveness is no more a spiritual decision than drinking water is an act of terrorism. What do I mean? They are entirely unrelated! Forgiveness, when turned into a spiritual decision subjects yet another meaningful moment in a relationship to precepts and concepts higher than the two people involved in the conflict. Forgive because it’s spiritual? C’mon. Just because religion tries to make a concept spiritual doesn’t mean it is… think about it. I won’t give you examples. It’s a good exercise in independent thinking to fill in that blank.

forget-with-generosity-those-who-cannot-pablo-neruda

2. Forgiveness is good for both parties.

BARF! Forgiveness is good for both parties the way having my body operated on is good for me and the medical doctors who leave a syringe in my stomach (NO, this didn’t happen.) The point is, yes, sometimes forgiveness is good for the person receiving it and edifies the person offering it, but it can also leave behind just as many connections as the allegedly burden of unforgiveness. Here’s an example: After my father died, I wrote a lot about forgiveness and grief in Enlightened-ish. A Chapter entitled “The Freedom to Forgive and Forget” had a lot to do with how some of my friends entirely blew it when it came to “showing up” for me during that time (lack of exposure to death, lack of concern, lack… lack… lack). Instead of forgiving them, I posed the concept of forgiving myself for putting any expectations on them. Later, I tried to make up with one of my lifelong friends who had been disappointing, to say the least, in regards to real life and death matters in friendship. I forgave her… which was good for her. Unfortunately, when my mother got sick less than two years later and I had hoped a lesson was learned, I was the one with the surgical item left in my stomach. She came around five months after realizing I had been hurt (again) and literally told me I had to forgive her… why? Because I did it before or because it was good for her? Barf. When we forgive the people who don’t know how to love us as we have stated we need, it’s like they leave a surgical instrument inside of us… they will be back to get it… and it will reopen all the wounds that were presumed healed by “forgiveness.”

3. Forgiveness heals the wounded.

BARF. When my partners and I went through breakups, one of the worst things we did to each other was repeatedly discuss the anger, resentment and needs to forgive one another. Several times we tried to be friends or reconnect and eventually it was clear that the concept of forgiveness was exactly what was keeping us unforgiving. Nothing makes me feel more free than knowing that they can go be healthy in their lives and I can go be healthy in mine without fear of having to “forgive” them again. What healed the wounds was… Time. Lots and lots of Time. Would I say I “forgave” them or would I say, more accurately, that I forgot them? I remember the good… and I cherish the lessons, but I absolutely do not carry forgiveness for them in my heart. My heart is too full of more useful things like peace, joy, simplicity and hope for the present and the future.

4. Forgiveness equals maturity.

BARF! Forgiveness in a relationship doesn’t equal anything! Placing a high value on forgiveness is doing what we said we wouldn’t do in Item #1. It’s also failing to recognize other options, like righteous indignation which fuels the advocacy fires among some who stand up for the oppressed. (Picture Fat Amy… it fuels her hate fire. I digress yet again) This week, I managed to alienate a small handful of people because of what was perceived as snide remarks about bipolar disorder (came about that. oops) and then on the topic of gender sensitivity in a random FB update. I am not an idiot about either topic but things taken out of context combined with their righteous indignation for the oppressed people who make up both of those communities exemplifies the value of unforgiveness. Projecting onto me, their needs to be heard, was of course, not necessary… but maybe it was, for them… Are there people out there right now, standing up for people with bipolar disorder because I’m some bitch who made an insensitive comment in regards to my own diagnosis? Okay. Good. Why? Because we need more advocates and if thinking I’m a jerk fuels your advocacy for a shared work, I don’t need the ego boost – I’m your jerk! Furthermore, do I “forgive” them or ask them to “forgive” me or is it more mature to put life into context and just let people be and hope for a better outcome next time? Why psychoanalyze it or equate it with anything other than life, love and the pursuit of mutual understanding? Ya win some, ya lose some. Maturity is more acceptance than some convoluted concept of “forgiveness.”

So in conclusion, maybe you don’t like my 4 Barfy Misuses of Forgiveness blog post… that’s okay. Maybe forgiveness, for you, feels amazing and you can’t wait to forgive, it feels so amazing. You wake up every day, hoping someone takes a giant dump on your life so you get this fantastic opportunity to forgive. Awesome. Do that. Good for you.

Here’s what I know – I would rather understand, than forgive or be forgiven.

Today, I told a friend that I am sorry for my part in a conflict we have been having…

A few weeks ago, a lifelong friend told me she was sorry for being an awful person and that I shouldn’t forgive her.

Two days ago, I said something stupid to my fiance, in a lazy way and it hurt her feelings, which I addressed by making jokes and owning my words.

These three scenarios and countless like it are not “forgiveness” in the barfy way that is taught by ministers or counselors – it’s just people being in relationship and agreeing to stay in relationship because it’s mutually beneficial in that moment.

And that’s all we have, folks – the moment.

Rather than asking to see things made right for any perceived or actual wrong, we could do a lot better by one another in relationship by recognizing that this is a phase – life. It will be gone before we know it… trust me, you’re gonna die. I’m gonna die.

Let’s stop obsessing over forgiveness and just give ourselves over to the beautiful temporary moment when we can think back to how we handled conflict as children… this is not a blind call to turn the other cheek and subject ourselves to abuse. It’s a mindful call to toss less dirt, share the shovel more and in the end, go play on the swings with another kid if someone is being hurtful in the sand. No harm, no foul, no forgiveness. Just another choice.

And for those who destroy the sandboxes altogether, stealing the innocence of our shared journey… those “major offenders” who don’t “deserve” forgiveness… I will say this – Unforgiveness may be an ounce of prevention in some cases. Stay angry. Anger makes the flowers burst forth from the ground and claim the light as fuel for a more colorful, freeing existence where all can BE… without limitation or oppression.

Namaste, lovelies.

P.S. Ask me how I felt about the F Word before my dad died… interesting, isn’t it?

~~

DSC_0354

Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. She has appeared in FOX DC News 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 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. Her new book, Enlightened-ish became available April 25, 2013 and chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. 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.

 

Straight White Girl Syndrome: Recognize the Symptoms

meangirls_whiteWell, after coming out about bipolar disorder (and dealing with the subsequent racket from critics, claiming they know best how I get to discuss my experience and break my silence) I decided it was a good idea to piss off some more people and share my thoughts about another mental illness in my country. It isn’t talked about often because of the usual stigma, but I think it’s time we lift the veil on this condition.

I was out to a favorite restaurant with my fiance, enjoying our hippie, gluten-free, lesbian-ish dinner when we began to give each other looks of dismay and disbelief based on what we were overhearing from the women next to us.

Ugh is it LGBT or GLBQ? I just don’t know… like… ugh,” one white 30-something woman said to another.

Yeah, I don’t know,” her co-worker/friend replied. “She’s just so unclear and says weird things anyway.”

They continued to banter in a way that would have been offensive until I realized they had the dreaded condition: Straight White Girl Syndrome.

SWGS (It will be in the DSM-VII, I’m sure of it) affects millions but only those with the most chronic of symptoms can’t help but make public displays of it.

PDI’s (Public Displays of Ignorance) are a severe symptom of SWGS and probably the number one indicator that you’re having a mental health breakdown.

Other indicators of the condition include saying things like this:

I can’t even tell if he’s gay.”

Like, how am I supposed to know how to talk about them?

I guess they are just abbreviating something with this LGBTQ thing.”

Rather than being deeply offended by the conversation, I decided that these women and those like them deserve the benefit of the doubt… and it was my duty to respond to their PDI’s with…

Public Displays of Affection.

It helps that my fiance is Latina and PDA was probably going to happen anyway, but it was a conscious effort to provide these poor women with an opportunity to see something loving, nurturing and playful in action. I had a feeling their only exposure to a LGBTQ person may have been Will from Will and Grace… so, we gave them a little show…

After they threw singles at us (just kidding), I started this post… and waited…

My fiance and I had kissed… joked together… held hands…

Dammit.

No response.

They didn’t gawk and they didn’t start muttering to one another under their hands.

Instead, they just completely missed the entire experience of what was happening and ordered their salads.

And so it goes, often with severe cases of SWGS – ignorance is…

Bliss.

So next time you see one of these women, I want to remind you that they deserve your compassion. They actually have no idea what they are talking about, how they sound and don’t mean to be offensive.

I know, I know, you wanted me to interrupt their conversation and tell you about how I educated them and they had a “Coming to Gay” experience during which apologies were made and then they signed up for PFLAG meetings…

Sorry.

Instead… this is your “live and let live” post of the day.

Why?

Because we are not always called to change the world at every hour, of every day.

It’s dinner.

We came. We saw. We ate.

And all is well with the world.

Your highest work as an advocate and educator in the world is not merely to tell your truth to others, but to live it out within your own worlds, ya dig?

And just because you have an opinion about another person’s life doesn’t mean you have to say it to them… live your truth, be your truth, but don’t worry about changing the world every minute.

As for bipolar disorder or the entirely fabricated SWGS, here’s an idea: Take your time and understand people before judging them and telling them what you think. In the words of Pete Seeger, “It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with…”

I may not approve of him ending a sentence with a preposition, but dammit people, we gotta do better.

The benefit of the doubt gives us the benefit of dialogue.

And you can quote me on that shit, right there.

You’re welcome.

Namaste, lovelies.

~~
458190_254963957940988_1997742215_oGail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. She has appeared in FOX DC News 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 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. Her new book, Enlightened-ish became available April 25, 2013 and chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. 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.

America’s Selfie: You’re Bipolar. Admit It.

#americathebipolar, yo

Your spirituality…

Your take on civil liberties…

Your political news…

Your sense of patriotism…

Your moods…

You are ready for a new wave of innovation when it comes to your iGadgets and yet you cleave to traditional values like a conservative dry humping Biblical passages about keeping women silent in churches and homosexuals in hell.

You are ready for dialogue as long as it’s on Twitter and Facebook, but haven’t found a way to tell your friend you miss her or remember to stop by your neighbor’s house to give them that piece of mail that has been sitting on the kitchen table for a week.

You know who you are and think for yourselves, but sometimes you want to live in 1960 and keep gays drinking from fountains of muddy religious poison while the white rich people drink from the fount of youth. (Yes, Kansas, that is for you.)

This week, it was my birthday and I was remembering something important about my young adult life: The decade I was diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder.

Nope, never came out about that before – you’re welcome. (Yay mental illness. Let’s discuss.)

Nah, just kidding. If you want to hear that story, be a publisher and email me, telling me how you will make that story a best-seller because of its rare take on a common mental disorder. Oh wait, I haven’t written it yet. I’m still working on a book about chronic pain and promoting my Grief Memoir, Enlightened-ish. Alas, let’s get back to America’s Bipolar ways because the only reason I mention my decade as a product of the bipolar diagnosis is because I don’t want to take a handful of hate-comments from folks who say, “How dare you, you don’t know...” blah blah – I do.

That’s how I know I’m accurate.

Here’s a recap of a few stories in the last two weeks that represent rapid cycling, mood swings, lack of self-awareness and mirrors of the bipolar experience:

* Turns out my ex-gay survivor story will be shared internationally through Sky News. Egads, here comes the raw truth about that experience. But… it’s progress. Progress, at the expense of vulnerable sharing. Wee, the roller coaster of volunteer advocacy work. (Because Oprah’s Network was just the beginning…)

* I saw that while Virginia lawmakers couldn’t figure out why “touch therapy” by admitted child molesters shouldn’t be banned in our state, a judge managed to make some history and pave the way for marriage. Nice, Virginia. Pretty bipolar of you.

* Kansas did… oh lord, what DID Kansas do? Announce that all of our previous notions about Mississippi being the most backwards state in the USA are now inaccurate? Dorothy, grab Toto and let’s get the hell outta here! The Wizard is apparently a straight-supremacist.

* Then some Kansas religious leaders did this - BAM, take that, America’s far broken wing on a mentally disturbed eagle of liberty.

* NFL hopeful comes out… A hero is made and some commentators get it right. Wee, equality is on deck.

* American Idol even had its first openly gay contestant on this week. That’s okay, Keith Urban was caught crying at that Same Love performance a few weeks ago… see, acceptance. It’s all good, right?

* Nope. Meanwhile in Texas and the secret life of Ted Cruz… good lord, enough said.

America, what I know about bipolar disorder is that if your moods are not regulated by an inner wisdom, you are having an episode and it’s time to seek treatment.

So… what rules America’s mental health? Is it the of handful companies who own our “news” media or is it the drug companies and health insurance industries that keep us too medicated and over-tested to do anything but tweet, twerk and project on one another until all the blogging in the world leaves us blind?

I don’t know, America. But I gotta say… I was able to treat and manage my diagnosis… perhaps it’s time I come out about that… you look like you could use my help… after all, you and your religiously-driven, need to know mania may be the reason for my experience all those years.

Until then… go ahead, America. Take your selfie. 

Namaste, my friends. And if you need to cry – check out Ellen Page’s coming out vid. This is beautiful and brave. Love it. You will laugh, cry and feel hopeful as simultaneously you remember every awful thing you had to overcome – perfectly bipolar in all 8 minutes.

And when you’re done trying to figure out what language is American, have a Coke… imported from Mexico… because it doesn’t have the high fructose corn syrup that keeps our moods bouncing from state-to-state.

coke_selfie

 

OMGail, America! Then Kansas said, “Nevermind, we’re not that wacky down here.” Thanks for proving my point within HOURS of this post. Nice. Wee, pass the Lithium!

It’s love, yo.

engagement_photoDid she complete me, in that mini-me kind of way?

No.

Does he know you better than you know yourself?

No.

Can she read my mind and answer my question before I ask?

Sometimes.

Can he feel your pain and intuitively know what is bothering you?

Sometimes.

Will she be there forever and able to walk through every obstacle I should face?

I hope so.

Will he be loyal to “us” and all that you are planning together?

I hope so.

Love is not always, love is not never. Love is often a lot of “no, sometimes and I hope so.

love is_1I grew up hearing love is always patient and kind. No it isn’t. It’s sometimes patient and often, it is kind. But no… it is not ALWAYS these things.

I grew up hearing love NEVER fails. Yes it does. It fails to understand boundaries and sometimes it fails to understand commitment. But does it succeed sometimes too? Yes, we hope so.

I grew up hearing love is all you need. Is it really? Food, water, shelter and the basic ability to be comfortable in one’s own skin – that’s all we need. Love, it is a need, but all? Nope.

It’s love, yo. Maybe it’s time we calm the f*ck down about it and stop asking it to be some kind of savior-force in the world. Love isn’t gay or straight. Love isn’t right or wrong. Love isn’t yes or no. Love doesn’t save or free us. (Why do we need saving anyway? Isn’t that part of own jobs in the world, as self-actualized adults? I digress.)

It’s love, yo.

It’s imperfectly loyal and tragically disappointing all at the same time as it’s increasingly vibrant and terrifyingly exciting.

It’s messy, like a 3-year old’s finger painting and sometimes it’s clear and simple, like a speed limit sign you shouldn’t ignore.

It’s sensual and intimate, as it is exhausting and quiet.

It’s love, yo.

Perhaps it is how Hafiz wrote about it…

It happens all the time in heaven,
And some day

It will begin to happen
Again on earth -

That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are
Lovers,

And women and women
Who give each other
Light,

Often will get down on their knees

And while so tenderly
Holding their lover’s hand,

With tears in their eyes,
Will sincerely speak, saying,

My dear, 

How can I be more loving to you;

How can I be more kind?

~ The Subject Tonight is Love ~

love_annoyingMaybe rather than putting definitions on what love is or where it comes from, or how we prove it is real, we would do well to simply ask ourselves what it is that love does

This Valentine’s Day and this year, perhaps, we can just ask, as Hafiz did, “How can I be more loving to you… how can I be more kind?

And then we learn together that love is no… sometimes… we hope so…

But ultimately, love is… more.

More loving.

More kind.

Namaste, my friends.

~~

I dedicate this post to my fiance – because always and never are for fools… I’ll take the lady who finds the sweetest words that make me blush… even while eating Chipotle. The woman whose voice sounds like home and whose eyes transport me to the safest places I’ve ever been… the friend who learned with me that intimacy starts in the soul. No, we are not perfect. Sometimes, we are incredibly magical. Are we forever? Well, we hope so. Above all things, we are now and we are together in this resilient, open-hearted, and soulful adventure. We give each other Light… and that… is love, yo.

The Truth about Proponents of Conversion Therapy

This essay comes after my involvement with the House of Representatives Subcommittee in Virginia on Thursday, January 30th, where I, along with other survivors, represented the truth of conversion therapy. (Audio links to the entire event at end of this post. You’re welcome) APV_Survivor_PhotoAfter the party-line vote of 4-1, to “gently table” a bill that speaks up for those who cannot represent themselves, I opted to speak to Christopher Doyle, a supposed beneficiary of and proponent for conversion therapy. I figured, if I can face Alan Chambers, what could this guy say that would surprise me?

When I walked up to Christopher Doyle, I thought, “Okay, what’s this guy’s real story?” What I said to him, verbatim in that moment was, “So, you guys trying to be the new Exodus International or what? I mean, we saw how well that turned out…” We half-laughed at my statement and he went on to say how little he cares for Chambers because he (Chambers), isn’t an educated man. So, refreshing as the moment was, to agree on Chambers’ lack of education on sexuality, religion or psychology, what was more disturbing than Chambers’ misguided heart was in fact, Doyle’s larger-than-life ego. We spoke for no more than 7-10 minutes, as I probed him (not in the way he would have liked, don’t be dirty), about topics related to psychology, adolescent development and the differences between actual abuse survivors and those who are in fact, homosexual without disease or disorder for being so! He didn’t seem to want to bend on his position that there are those who can change their sexual orientation but what became most interesting was how he spoke about “unwanted same-sex attraction.” Unwanted SSA, as they call it, can be likened to what you call a straight or bisexual person who would really like to have some support in making their choices regarding sexual identity. It’s a person with mommy/daddy issues who unfortunately, sexualizes those issues. Anyway, let’s get back to this ego thing because it was a bizarre encounter and folks who know me will understand why this was so entertaining, yet disturbing.

We spoke about his ethical duty as a licensed psychologist to treat anyone who came through his doors… and so I, out of some sick curiosity said, “Well, would you treat survivors of conversion therapy? Would you treat, me, perhaps?

Would you believe the guy said, emphatically, “Yes!” Furthermore he stated that he could “first start by helping me deal with my anger.”

Awe… my silly, silly anger… anger, for being told that my father must have molested me and made me gay.

My silly, silly anger, for standing up for other survivors who have experienced suicidal thoughts, self-mutilation, depression and isolation because of their exposure to conversion therapy.

My silly, silly anger, for how the church and state have joined together in an effort to annihilate a population, causing an underground Nazi-ish phenomenon.

He is willing to help me with that.

How lovely.

So, reminder – a good psychologist will not look at your anger and see a problem. In fact, a good psychologist may see how your anger fuels you, inspires others and serves you in truly healing yourself, as you learn to express rather than suppress.

And… I digress again… dammit.

So, here we have me and Doyle and my very sick stomach and his hairless face and spineless psychology…

And up walks Delegate Krupricka, the only Democrat on the committee willing to stand on the right side of history during this vote. He interrupts my private challenging with Doyle, shakes my hand and thanks me for my testimony…

And I snap out of it.

What the hell am I hoping to accomplish in talking to Doyle anyway?

Well, Mr. Doyle hands me his card and I see it all come together… is he willing to help survivors, does he bill himself first as a psychologist, a helper of the people, a voice for the voiceless? Do I get a card which says something about the voiceless and how he represents them?

Nope.

I get…

This…

 doyle

And so the clarity hits me about the whole circus in which my truth is currently being manipulated.

Politics, Gail. This is politics.

I think of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (cue old movie buffs) and I picture myself collapsing under the weight of the political machine so I decide it’s time to end this conversation. I say, “Okay, Chris… it looks like I may see you again. Maybe we will talk sometime…

But honestly, after it was all said and done and a few days later, when I finished an additional and unsuspected interview for Sky News, it occurred to me that we probably won’t talk again.

I’ve said so much. And just like the last time I spoke before a camera and investigators who were hoping to represent the truth of my story, I can say, “This is enough… for now.

Standing firm with other survivors, I will continue to write and connect with allies and victims as they come out of that cult-like environment, but for now, the cameras are off…

Unless of course, Anderson Cooper calls. ;) My gay male friends would never forgive me for refusing to interview with him lol

What I learned from my day on the small political stage was that magic tricks aren’t just for the professionally trained, but also the politically diabolical. I also learned… that some supposed proponents of conversion therapy are really, simply put, political consultants who operate from hatred for those not like them.

role_physical_painNow – here’s your “coming to Gail” moment – For me, every time I engage in open/public conversations about my exposure to and recovery from Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE), I literally encounter an increase in physical pain. This started after the Our America taping in April 2013. (Not an increase in books sales, speaking gigs or new clients… because I have never used my survivor story or my volunteer work at Beyond Ex Gay as a platform through which I promote myself or my career.)

Just pain. A chronic pain that seems to come and go at various levels of awful without much cause otherwise. It is my “biofeedback mechanism” that says, “Take care of you” and it’s also my body’s way of saying, “Stay away from that!” It has many messages actually… and that is the book I am writing right now, which I’m expecting will reach an audience that has never heard pain discussed quite so openly.

But I don’t need any more “book fodder” when it comes to this pain and so… when my life goes on temporary “pause” every time I choose to bring my story forward for public consumption, I have to take it all in stride, ya know? Unlike the proponents of conversion therapy, I have a real job, supporting positive work in the world and I don’t make money on manipulating anyone to believe what I believe…

I get physically sick after being in the presence of those who twist survivor stories or misrepresent their own in order to suppress the truth of what goes on behind closed doors. When I talk to a legitimate therapist afterwards, about these public encounters, it becomes clear why I get so sick…

How frustrating it is, for example, to know that “Touch Therapy” becomes a way for would-be molesters to feed their need for power over the vulnerable.

How frustrating it is, also, to know that sometimes false allegations of abuse are made and healthy relationships with parents are threatened.

How frustrating that folks with mommy/daddy issues are claiming to be gay in the first place, let alone discussing change orientation? They weren’t gay… they sexualized their relationships with their parents for whatever reason and yes, should be in therapy… but no, that has nothing to do with being gay!

It’s similar to how a person with an eating disorder goes through the world… with a negative perception of food, nourishment and body image. That’s all these proponents of conversion therapy are – sexually starved or sexually overfed, hurting people with some unhealthy views on nourishment.

So, when a small and very strange group of extremists within my culture opt to redefine “gay” in a way that makes it look unhealthy for those of us who are just fine with who we are, I’m going to get sick, find it painful, and get angry…

Because the public deserves better out of people who calls themselves ministers or psychologists.

These conversion therapy believers do need therapy… and now because of their twisted ideas about sexuality, so did I!

So this week, I asked my therapist why survivors work with other victims. I asked, “Why does a rape survivor work in victim recovery and rape prevention?”

I can’t quote what she said, but I can come back to what I said in the question… and that was the word prevention.

That is why we do what we do…

Not because we like talking about the trauma and not because it’s easy. We aren’t “removed” from it and it’s not like it happened in another lifetime…

We just know that this stat matters…

thinkprogress-homeless-lgbt

 

And we hope to be a voice that ends a type of manipulative therapy which undermines a child’s ability to trust, talk to and grow with… her parent.

P.S. To the 4 republican delegates who sat in front of our stories, I wish you nothing but awareness of the shameful failure to protect our young people. Your party line and your religious beliefs will be responsible for another teen suicide today and every day, until you send a message to our young people that they are not pawns in a political game. You have your codes of ethics. I strongly consider taking a red pen to the section known as integrity.

To the 6 or 7 unnamed people who came up to me after my testimony and thanked me for sharing, I just want you to know that in that moment, you were the angels that were absent when I was 12 years old. Your kind words sustained me at that very second you thanked me for my courage. Thank you.

To Delegate Krupika and Delegate Hope – thank you for the kindness in your eyes… and to be perfectly honest, Chairman Peace… thank you, for the genuine confusion and curiosity in your eyes. May your children, Camden and Harry, always be protected from anyone who would seek to undermine your relationships with them, in the name of religion or psychology.

For more information about the bill that was “gently tabled” and the work of Alliance for Progressive Values, click here.

For more information about survivor stories, check out our survey results and testimonies at Beyond Ex Gay.

For more information not related to any of this political/religious nonsense, stay tuned to my blog. I didn’t come back from a sabbatical just to talk only about this stuff ;) Love and light, my friends.

As promised… the links to the hearing, in several parts. (FYI you will need headphones to hear. Quality on upload was not the best)

Delegate Hope

APV Organizer

Gail Dickert

Survivor #2

Opposition #1

Opposition #2/Doyle

Vote

 

Through the Lens of Rest

DSC_0493Making quiet moments near a Volcano

A cyber sabbatical was probably the best decision I made in response to the events of 2013. It’s only been a few months, but when our cyber-worlds are full of lists, advice, stories and ongoing political bantering, it’s natural to wonder, “What would happen if there was one less blog to read for awhile?

What would happen if I didn’t post my every thought on Facebook?

What would happen if I just… disappeared from the cyber worlds until I felt better about the roller coast that was 2013?”

The world didn’t come to an end.

I didn’t implode into an artistic black hole where my words lost their power and my mind spiraled into oblivion.

No one accused me of being selfish or unconcerned with the altruism that drives my writing process.

On the contrary, I took care of my body, reinforced some boundaries about self-care, healed my heart, and lo and behold, got engaged! (No, I didn’t just meet her ;) )

engagement_photo

That’s quite a return on investment for just a few months off from daily connecting to cyber worlds, isn’t it?

Well, it wasn’t just about what I choose to disconnect from, but what I opted to immerse myself in during this time. More specifically, because of some time away, I “saw” how the way I viewed the world was through lenses of activism, success, chaos, and healing. (Not bad lenses, from time to time, at all!)

Now, though, through the lens of rest, I look at the last few months and see how sometimes, what we think matters the most is a distraction from what we need more.

Through the lens of rest, I see how sometimes, what we need more is less -

Less time with others.

Less information about what’s going on in the world.

Less awareness even, about how we can get involved with positive social change.

Less activism, less pouring out, less martyrdom and more…

More rest.

DSC_0354The lessons learned by time spent with Frogs

I share here within this piece, a few photos from my trip to Costa Rica, where I met my fiance’s mother and father and where I also feel like I met the mothers and fathers of Rest. In a sense, as I traveled these coastlines, forests and fields, I began to sense that I am a child again, not just of Charles and Irene, but of Warrior and Serenity (which is what some say their names mean).

During my time off, I became, in a sense, born again.

I am now… spawn of Rest. ;)

And I am a different person…

I can say that you will see me posting, blogging and engaging not like someone taking a blow torch to both ends of the candle and not like someone who makes a living on having opinions and experiences to share.

Rather, you will observe, at your own pace, at whatever level you are interested, a woman who is making a life…

Viewing life through the Lens of Rest…

bees

Clarity, details, pace and passion can all be viewed through these lenses.

DSC_1092

Peace, curiosity, and the gentle unfolding, all viewed through these lenses.

And beauty… not in spite of pain or because of pain, but co-existing with pain, will be as clear as a blue ocean in the Caribbean.

surfer_1Come by my page. Gaze. Explore. Breathe.

That is why I’m here.

And also then, sometimes… why I’m gone.

Namaste, my lovelies. I’ve missed you.

DSC_0821Hola from where coffee becomes fuel

P.S. During my sabbatical, I had over 40,000 hits on my website. So, I have to say… guess some of you were busy ;)

~~
Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. She has appeared in FOX DC News 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 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. Her new book, Enlightened-ish became available April 25, 2013 and chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. In late 2013, Gail launched a small business designed to support others in writing their memoirs. Teaching Memoirs is currently reviewing new client applications. 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.