(This post reflects a creative tangent I took a few weeks ago, when I started writing letters to “versions” of myself that are still going through a transformation. This letter is what I would send to myself, if I could turn back time and find a way to get myself out of the toxic environment of ex-gay “ministries.” Exercises in self-healing aren’t the most comfortable but they may be the cheapest and most effective… give it a shot.)
Dear Ex-gay Gail,
When I heard that you were going to an ex-gay ministry I wanted to stop you but I knew that you would have to suffer this for yourself. No one could look at you and “tell you” that you are beautiful, just as you are… it’s as if you don’t learn something unless you first suffer. I don’t know why your path so often involves suffering but I figured that you would have to hear them call you evil, lost, and broken before you would learn to stand up for yourself. Sometimes that’s the only way people learn… they have to be bullied, to learn what a bully is and learn how to stand up for themselves. It saddens me that you allowed yourself to be bullied by those false teachers, none of whom would be recognized in any substantial psychiatric setting as reliable practitioners… you let yourself believe them though because they told you they were representing what “God’s will” was for your life. I can understand that. We all want to be viewed in the favor of something or someone but they took advantage of you in ways that I never thought were possible by “Christians.” It’s a tragic thing, to hear about now, how they treated you when you told them about your first kiss with a woman. You were so free and aware, satisfied and fully present in your body and in your soul but they turned you into a lesson and into a project. The place where you went to help you find your identity is the very place where you lost it.
When I think of the lies that they ingrained you with, about community and the false intimacy they created in the name of restoring intimacy… I think of what Jesus wrote about those who cause little ones who believe to stumble. (Mark 9:42) The vulnerable, who seek out support from those with knowledge and resources… when they are led astray by bigoted, pompous, graceless teaching, it would be better for them to tie a rope around their necks, attach that rope to a rock and be tossed into the sea. That is what Jesus says of those who hinder those who believe in grace…
You were like that; a child, seeking the comfort of someone who was knowing, people who could guide you to truth and light. Your intention was pure and while they argue that theirs too, is pure, you know the unfortunate truth that their intention was only to create a community of people who behaved a certain way, believed certain things and chose a specific path. There wasn’t anything about individuality or becoming true to oneself, with a unique perspective, fearfully and wonderfully made. No, it was about becoming the same.
It was an incestuous pool of theological and psychological smut. Watching you drown in it was horrifying…
But I’m so proud of you now, for knowing deeply that you are beloved, by any and all gods, angels and creatures with choice because that is what is Divine in this world. Likeness isn’t divine. Diversity is Divine.
I know it’s been extremely sad for you these last seven years specifically, as you’ve tried to harvest community among Christians only to find that the ground was too difficult to break, the rains too infrequent, the seeds, planted in such shallow fashion. Yet, for the last year, you’ve encountered a community of faith where you can be exactly as God made you to be. You are different and not tolerated but entirely celebrated among these people. You are blooming and growing in ways those people from your past would never imagined…
Those people, at Greater Johnstown Christian Fellowship…
Those people, at Prodigal Ministries, in Cincinnati Ohio (affiliates with Exodus International)…
Those people, at Cincinnati Christian University, in the counseling department and in the classrooms…
Those people, at Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, in the Youth Ministry program and in the counseling center…
Their message was that you were not okay as God made you.
Their message was that you should change.
Their message was that you should sacrifice what is natural for what is comfortable for others but what is abusive to you.
Their messages are no longer choking our the life force of your inner garden.
They are like weeds that have finally submitted to the evolution of the forest. They do not pop up often but even when they do, they are hardly noticeable in the presence of your oak tree-sized faith in your identity.
What God has restored, let no man, woman, creature, organization or church dare tear asunder.
That is my message to you.
In every step, you have learned to arrive.
In every question, you have learned to receive silence.
In every answer, you have learned to receive acceptance.
In every face, you have learned to offer grace.
And in so much grace as you offer, you will continue to receive.
Gail, the one who is loved.
I dedicate this post to my online community on my author page (www.facebook.com/homospirituality) and to my “real world” community at Convergence. Life is full of risks… love may have the greatest risk but it clearly has the greatest reward.
Author Update May 2013: Didn’t work out so well in the Christian Church after all. Details in Enlightenedish, yo. Also, if you watch Our America in June 2013, you will see a whole new truth being told about the Survivor Movement. Just sayin’. Whew, what. a. ride!