In an effort to purge some of my memorabilia from relationships past, I sat down with boxes of cards, poems, photos, and keepsakes from the last 12 years and came across a portrait of something more powerful than my difficult past… Something beyond finding love after religious and sexual trauma…
I found a series of news articles from June 2003, highlighting the major headlines that shaped the movement for equality in America. I saved these articles, just one month after graduation from Cincinnati Christian University, where I was closeted for years. All of these articles, I cherished, a year year before I published Coming Out without Coming Apart.
I placed these news articles in this collage below…
And I leave this photo with you, to begin your own reflection on what we have accomplished in the last 12 years. We have a long way to go…
But looking back on half a generation of advocacy work represented in this short photo reflection, I can say the following:
I finally believe that I am whole.
I finally believe that my country can learn to respect my dignity as a citizen.
I finally believe that I can choose faith or I can leave it if it does not lift me higher.
I finally believe that my bedroom and my body are mine.
I finally believe that my President is on my side.
I see evidence that Love really does matter.
After all we’ve seen in the last 12 years, maybe we can finally believe that we DO belong…
One can hope.
Consider for yourselves, how far we’ve come and perhaps you can believe in our ability to go even farther!
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.
Well, we all know that gay marriage is significantly different than “traditional” marriage, so from about a month into this arrangement that threatens the family, I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned now that I’m Gay Married.
1. Being gay married changed the way I sleep.
Every night before we go to bed, we have this gay ritual of thanking the gay fairies for their bountiful blessings upon our gay marriage. It’s a little over the top, but whatever. It’s all part of tearing apart the fabric of humanity.
2. Being gay married changed the way I breathe.
I had no idea that between every blissful breath, I would be required by the Gay Bylaws of Ruining Traditional Marriage, to state, “I’m here I’m queer, I’m married, now!” every time we go out in public. Again, it’s a bit excessive and perhaps somewhat annoying, but I guess this is Gay Marriage. I have to adjust. I still feel bad for my local coffee shop barista. I mean, it’s just an iced tall chai, but now it is an Iced Tall I’M GAY MARRIED chai. Yeesh.
3. Being gay married changed the way I think.
Being conscious of all the gay things I have to do as a part of this agenda can be very exhausting. When I started to write thank-you cards for the wedding gifts, I was really distracted by the importance of tossing in political and super gay words into all those cards. Duh Gail, you’re gay married… be sure to mention Stonewall, Pride Parades, and how it feels to pave a rainbow path to eternal damnation when you’re thinking of your wedding day and all those beautiful friends/family members who shared those moments with you.
4. Being gay married changed the way I eat.
All this gay food is really different in gay marriage. At every meal, to keep it balanced, we make sure we have a food from every level of the gay food pyramid. We have something organic, something local, something pink and something purple, etc. I never thought the Gay Marriage Dietary laws would be so complicated but again, I’m Gay Married now… life is different.
And satire – well, satire is long gone. I mean, the honeymoon period couldn’t be more annoying. The way we look into each other’s gay married eyes and say things like, “Our gay married life is so fun and I gay love you so much,” would really frustrate most people. But we can handle it. We are gay brave. Our gay married bliss is really just a burden we are willing to bear…
Seriously now, folks.
This piece is in response to a very unexpected encounter I’ve recently had with the 1996-1999 version of myself and an oppressed personal history in Cincinnati, Ohio. I look back at it and sometimes I hope to divorce myself from it. But, if being gay married has taught me anything so far, it’s that I don’t want to divorce myself from my self-hating, spiritually suffocated past…
I want to move towards it with sarcasm and gentility… today, sarcasm, clearly.
But soon, I will have to integrate the fact that every silly thing I have long renounced about the religiously-based prejudice towards gay people was in fact, a fire that used to fuel my own warped beliefs…
I always hated the phrase, “There but by the grace of God go I,” but looking back on a tainted history of faith experiences, lost community, and broken friendships, combined with a limited worldview and laced with self-hate, I do wonder how I got here…
Anyway, I jest at how “gay marriage” changed me when the truth is, it didn’t change me.
It has done nothing but allow me to BE me.
I’m a month into this marriage “thing” and there’s nothing “gay” about it – it’s a sacred union of two people who are still in a honeymoon phase of long gazes, endless inside jokes, stomach butterflies of joyful overwhelm, and tearful conversations of gratitude.
I can only say one more thing about it all right now: Share this post not because sarcasm feels good (and it does 😉 ) but also because you can remember a time when sarcasm was the only tool you had in admitting your own shortcomings. Sometimes we need to laugh… sometimes grief taps most gently on the doors of our hearts through snarky reflections and eye rolls…
And then comes another layer of forgiveness… brace for it.
And many thanks to Over the Rhine, for being a mirror of music, art, community, marriage, and faith – unbeknownst to them, my journey from 1996-present has their music as a personal soundtrack… And in true honeymoon bliss, I say that until next blog…
“I’m wide awake And the world can wait” – OTR, The World Can Wait
Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose new 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 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.
(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!