What Made Me Gay?

Sign from Tommy Wells at Cap Pride

Vacations are great for uncovering memories about repressed sexuality. Okay, maybe it’s not quite what vacations are for but my time away is resulting in a lot of moments when I find myself in an internal dialogue with portions of my soul that I’ve apparently neglected. And we all know what blogs are for, right? Blogs exist as a means of taking inner dialogue and making it free and accessible to the public, duh!

What is on my mind tonight is my first known memory of being attracted to the same gender. After hanging out with a lifelong friend and watching Daria, which, mind you, was proceeded by playing with two small children, sipping a soy chai that gave me a headache and discussing the role of archetypal psychology in spiritual life, I recalled my first known memory of being a girl who liked girls.

Her name was Lisa.

She was blonde, had blue eyes and is probably living in a small Pennsylvania town with her husband, white picket fence and 2.5 kids by now. I doubt she is a full-grown lesbian such as me but one can never know. She would likely be a femme lesbian because I can tell you for certain that at age 5, her favorite color was pink, her hair was always perfectly brushed back or in some kind of kindergarten’s version of an up-do and her purses were full of notes from all of the boys who were constantly giving her their crayons, letting her borrow their scissors or bringing her pieces of candy.

I would never have guessed it but this memory is so “plain as day” that I’m struck by the simplicity of it all. What I remember most about her is how hurt I was when she stopped being friends with me in the 2nd grade, after Danny invited her to his birthday party and she realized that boys made her feel the way girls made me feel.

Such a tiny story set the stage for every rejection I would face as a lesbian. Of course, my high school memories of a popular blonde girl are quite clear in my first book (http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/BookDetail.aspx?Book=240831) and the damage of being outed in high school may still play out in the new book but who would have thought that my first memory of having a crush on a girl actually goes back to kindergarten?

It leads me to answer that timeless question that came up for me while I was in the ex-gay “therapy.”

What “made me” gay?

We had a litany of responses for this “important” question. After all, if I could identify what made me so broken or sexually handicapped, I would cure this spiritual and social disease.

The more obvious answers were to blame my parents. Either my mother was too attentive or not attentive enough or my father was abusive or too involved. (Basically, according to reparative therapy, one of your parents screwed up but there’s no telling for sure which one.) If it wasn’t your parents, it could be because of sexual abuse or yes, because of Satan. (Church lady has spoken. Dana Carvey fans would love it.) However, we all know that not everyone who was sexually abused becomes attracted to the same gender and what even further unravels their “logic” is that some lesbians report healthy relationships with their mothers and some gay men happen to have fathers who showed plenty of unconditional love and support.

Despite the fact that reparative therapy is years behind me, it left scars and anytime I think about what I put myself through (and barely escaped) in the name of “change” and “god,”  a part of me crumbles…

Until nights like tonight when out of nowhere I remember leaning over the craft table at a small town school in Pennsylvania at no more than 6 years old and telling a little girl named Lisa, “I like you.”

What made me gay?

Clearly, my homosexuality is as natural as my curly hair and no more a product of a fleshly lust than was Lisa’s affinity for the color pink.

So before I go to bed tonight, I wanted to say a little blessing into the memory of my kindergartener self:

“You can reach out and take the hand of the one you like

Until someday it becomes the hand of the one you love.

Because the heart isn’t male.

The soul isn’t female.

And love… doesn’t come in pink or blue.

Love isn’t black and it isn’t white.

Love is colorless and like air, it will be everything you need it to be.”

~~

Meanwhile, I need a good laugh after all that so here’s some Church Lady with Justin Bieber:

Why Gay Pride Matters

In the spirit of equality, togetherness and reaching out to any first-timers in this month’s Pride celebration, I’ve carved out some time in my Pride Weekend to write a letter to an anonymous friend who is valiantly working through her coming out experience. I think that knowing me makes it a little difficult at times because I’m so very comfortable with who I am but I remember when I wasn’t… so this is dedicated to my dear friend but also to anyone who is coming out… and to all of us, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender or queer, who know what it’s like to feel small in this big, big world.

~~

Welcome out of the closet ~

The closet was certainly a comfortable place so let’s start by acknowledging that it was somewhere known and a place where you could predict your own behavior and your interactions with others. You knew your “wardrobe” and what you enjoyed wearing in this world and while you were trapped in the semi-darkness, darkness can be soothing when light is blinding. So, an affinity for being hidden is natural…

But that isn’t your story anymore. All of these rainbow flags and colorful people can be overwhelming! I remember my first gay pride parade and how uncomfortable it was to see so many “proud” people, holding hands, kissing one another, laughing loudly, dressing wildly. I thought, “Wow! They are so pretty” but I was frightened at the same time. I felt like the whole crowd could sense that it was my first time and like a pride virgin, I was shy and reserved, confused and my stomach was in knots. So many people… celebrating what? Themselves? Their sexuality? Their friendships? Love? Their leather chaps and feather boas? What the?!

I saw more SKIN at a pride parade than I thought was legal. I thought, “Is this what Woodstock looked like?” and I wondered how on earth I would fit into this “freak” show. But that was the first year…

Over the years, I’ve learned that Gay Pride matters not because we get to wave our freak flags but because we become part of a community that sticks up for one another and agrees that only in diversity can the oneness of creation truly be manifest on earth. Does it sound hyper-spiritual? Well, I guess that’s what I call “homospiritual.” Gay Pride is this one month in the year and sometimes only a few hours when people identify with one cause: Equality. The events aren’t really about sexuality at all.

It’s about equality and how there’s room for everyone in this big, big world!

So this year, as you participate in some of the wacky events that make up the culture of gay pride, I hope that you can take a deep breath and realize that no one is asking you to become like them, full of flamboyant traits or over-the-top expressions of your sexuality. Rather, find YOURSELF in the crowd… not by literally looking around in the crowd and identifying with anyone, but realizing that in this crowd, you matter. Just as you are…

And whether you come out entirely, to your family and every friend, co-workers and acquaintance you ever meet, the point of this month and this weekend is that you fully come out to the crowd and realize your unique, intrinsic worth in a community.

And recognition of oneself, in the midst of a crowd… that’s not a gay pride matter, that’s a human matter. We have the gay pride phenomenon to thank for reminding us all that we are worthy of a celebration, because of who we are, not because of who we love or what we do.

So enjoy yourself this month and this weekend. The rainbow love and light that awaits you out of the closet is exciting but it is a hard adjustment when you’ve been told that you don’t matter and sameness has been worshipped rather than diversity. Be gentle with yourself and know that in time, you will know like I do that being a lesbian doesn’t make me special… but being myself does.

I love you.

Gail