5 Reasons to Stop Whoring Out Apologies and Sexual Ethics

Okay, look… the whole intention of the words “I’m sorry” is not to make you feel better about your awful decisions, intentional deception or guilt complex. As a survivor of Christian Fundamentalism and the “ex-gay” lie, few things bother me more than when a former leader or current leader starts blabbering about how sorry they are that their chosen beliefs and denial of human rights are something about which they are “sorry.”

So when Andrew Marin says he is “sorry” and runs around in his underwear claiming he understands the gay community because he has binders full of gays (hires gays, like Romney hired women. Samsies, yo), I finally decided to post an open letter clarifying that not all of us are buying it because he also embodies an epic fail to take a public stand on civil liberties for the LGBTQ person of faith.

995755_10201457965989125_1791959249_n

When Alan Chambers, of the “former” Exodus International, issued an apology, which I was in the room to witness, I compared him to the Grace Monster – Bride of Franken-Christ even… and now, only a month later he is asking for donations, at Exodus’s site, in order to launch a “new and improved” version of social genocide. I guess they plan on making the Kool-Aid a little sweeter this time and are looking for a new recipe. It’s hard to say. I mean, if your belief is that the gay person is bad, wrong, less than, not equal, doing something that makes Jesus wag his finger at you… what are they offering – A dating platform so you can meet and marry an equally complicated headcase or sexually dysfunctional companion? Or are they offering a support group for celibate people who stand by some unnatural interpretation of scripture and ignore basic psychological wisdom about the harms of suppression or orientation change? (Harm? Yes. We talk about that at Beyond Ex Gay.)

See, I don’t really know what these guys are up to… in the end, I think it has to do with someone not being loved as child, but I’m not sure.

But now Randy Thomas, another leader, tosses his apology into the ring, from the comfort of his blog. (I mention the comfort of his blog because he was second in command when Alan issued his apology to a room full of survivors in April 2013. Not really sure why Randy wasn’t sorry a few months ago and couldn’t attend but is sorry now. Just sayin’). Randy, a celibate man who apparently “struggles with same-sex attraction” has stood in opposition to human rights and denied the psychological evidence of the harm of “ex-gay” therapy. Now, he issues his mea culpa and that puts this survivor over the edge.

What’s with all this whoring out of apologies and sexual ethics while asking for donations to an ambiguously gay cause? (You’re welcome for this video). 

They have, ironically, made whores out of a lot of sacred things – celibacy, abstinence, grace and apologies, to name a few. These aren’t catch-phrases or political positions… Donating to organizations who make sure people get paid not to have sex is just as damaging as the alternative. I mean, is this some kind of reverse prostitution? I had to wonder this all along, when I met of one of the movement’s “fringe leaders,” Julie Rodgers, who currently states that she is celibate for Jesus, but at least speaks no half-truths about her process. When I asked if Alan would let her speak at an “Exodus-related” event if she was all cozied up with a cute lesbian, living her Jesus-light in same sex love, I felt he scoffed at the suggestion. It’s clear to me she has to be celibate to maintain ties to that area of the apologetic neighborhood. (Speaking of actual apologies, I recently took to that stage to apologize for wanting to put more than my words in her mouth or my beliefs in her heart. No, no, bad Gail. Don’t try to influence lesbians who reject their sexuality. Duh! Oh, by the way… “Why was my apology public?” you ask. Because when leaders actually own their processes, it supports others in doing the same. Vulnerability and changing our ways is what serves as proof of actual apology, ya dig? Keep reading… we will end on that…)

What these organizations/leaders have in common is how they have all cheapened these very sacred concepts! Admitting to wrong-doing or allowing the Sacred to present somehow, in our sexual/sensual relationships… how can one just blog about it but take no official action that supports full inclusion of the LGBTQ person of faith?

im sorry tshirt

In short, I don’t know ultimately, what their intentions are – I mean, getting paid not to have sex seems a little creepy. Apologizing but not standing up for equality seems suspect. It’s just… getting a little weird when the lack of social and emotional intelligence urges these “leaders” to co-create an environment where what is in the heart no longer matters, but what is on the blog is Gospel. (An irony made more apparent when the Christ spoke to the issues of the heart being more important than all else.)

In light of all these slutty-sorries, I figured I would offer 5 Reasons to Stop Whoring Out Apologies and Sexual Ethics, just in case we needed it spelled out.

real sorry1. It’s annoying. No really…  it is. Survivors and their actual allies are tired of it and when there are organizations that truly support the LGBTQ person of faith, who cares if you are sorry? (Believe Out Loud, to name one actual ally)

2. It’s inauthentic. Unless… you have a plan for making sure that your life doesn’t revolve around continuing to take advantage of those you hurt, then, we aren’t buying it.

3. It’s unbecoming. People are watching, ya know? Children… impressionable youth… and all you can exemplify is that you are a person of words but are afraid to stand for equality? Let us know how it feels to be on the wrong side of history, ok?

4. It’s triggering. If you actually cared about the people you harmed, you might realize that when we hear shallow apologies, it actually re-traumatizes some survivors. This goes for any apology. Feel free to apply it to real world matters, like friendships and family. (Or, you know, the ex that calls and says he’s sorry for being a jerk? No, that doesn’t make you feel better, does it? Ick, thanks for the reminder, now go away. Gross.)

5. It’s not your business. Truly. To be the change we want to see in the world, perhaps we should just be our truth, rather than blog it only, right? I mean… sexuality is a personal concern. Why should anyone make money following your example on something so personal? Moreover, why should you make a living on apologies you don’t even mean?

So, with having said all that, I’ll close by highlighting one apology that has mattered since 2007 and continues to… that of my friend and cohort in survivor advocacy, Michael Bussee.

The former leaders involved in the Beyond Ex Gay event have turned the tide for many survivors and the survivor movement thanks them… apology accepted.

The rest of these so-called apologies and projections about sexual ethic… and bridge-building… ?

Meh, call Michael Busse and ask him how it’s done. Otherwise… thanks, but no thanks.

P.S. While you were busy feasting on your piety, gnashing your guilty teeth for having taken a bite out of the gay community, or feeling good about a life of suppression and rigidity…

thinkprogress-homeless-lgbt

How does your sorry sound to them?

I don’t know… because they don’t read our blogs and when I meet them, the last thing I do is mention all this nonsense. Just sayin’. Maybe it’s time to get real…

~~

Gail Author PhotoGail is the author of Enlightened-ish and Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams. She is a hippie pre-school director and advocate, as well as spoken word artist and general badass. She also co-facilitates an online community for survivors of fundamentalist perspectives on homosexuality.

Heal at your Own Rate

When an ex-gay leader comes out of the closet, looking for the light, I want to be a person who welcomes him into the beautiful truth that he cannot and should not crucify himself any longer at the Altar of Heterosexuality. No longer will he pretend he is someone he is not. No longer will he wish he were dead. No longer will he wonder why God is so hateful as to create such a flawed sexual identity. When an ex-gay leader comes out of the closet, I want to be a person who does not judge their history but has benevolence that comes out of abundant grace, flowing from a fount of forgiveness.

That’s a tall order.

I get it.

But it’s what I desire for myself.

When John Smid, a former ex-gay leader, announced his return to sanity this month (a.k.a. that he is a big homo after all), I know it stirred up a storm of reflection among all of us who identify as ex-gay survivors and definitely for those who still identify as “ex-gay.”

The thing about Smid though is that he wasn’t just another guy who led groups at Exodus International (or some over-bearing, manipulative woman at Prodigal Ministries in Cincinnati Ohio). He wasn’t merely facilitating conversations where people come to meetings and get their identities molested. He was a ring-leader at the ex-gay residential facility, Love in Action (which was shut down last month due to low funding and oh yeah, it doesn’t work). Now, I’ve never been to the Love in Action facility but what I imagine is that it magnifies the soul-raping that I attended in therapy sessions and “support” group meetings. Basically, they gathered in a location where no one was around to monitor all of this self-hate and heterosexuality worship, for months on end. They made promises to set you free, taught you that what you felt is wrong and swore that God loves you anyway…

It sounds like gang soul-rape…

So when it comes to healing from the wounds that were inflicted under this guy’s leadership, I can literally only imagine what kind of things went on, the faces he made, the words he used, the hugs he offered, the intentions he twisted, the stories he told, the prayers he prayed. It grosses me out to even try to imagine it.

Rather than going too far in empathizing with the survivors of Smid’s smut version of “healing,” I wanted to share a private encounter that I had with the spirit of my father yesterday and how it relates.

Okay, I didn’t really run into his spirit or anything, but he just died a month ago and I spend a lot of time thinking about him, missing him, trying to access the better parts of who he was and in doing that, I’ve been celebrating one of his quirky habits in conversation. (You may have to read this part aloud to fully come into the journey but come along… it will be enlightening and entertaining.)

My dad liked to speak by inverting letters in words or phrases, which weren’t always appropriate but were silly and sometimes very funny. For example, my name was Dale Gickert or he would call and say, “Hey honey, dow’s your hay?”

In fact, he would have full conversations like this sometimes and it would drive me bonkers. He would be explaining how the V.A. were nucking futs or how the guy hown the dall forgot to meet him at Kentucky Chied Fricken and I would finally exclaim, “Dad, please stop waying seird things to me!

Annoying, funny but well, that was my dad. He thought he was hysterical and only now when he doesn’t call and talk like a goof, do I realize how much I miss it.

So, I’ve been seeing and hearing things in those “inverted” ways since he died and today when I came home, I saw a card on the table that a friend got for me yesterday since I’ve been sick.

It said, “Heal at your own Rate.”

But I read…

Real at your own Hate.

Reel at your own Hate?

Be Real about your own Hate?

In that moment, I thought about healing from the ex-gay movement and Christian Fundamentalism. This healing is something that we do at our own rates but how true it is that part of healing is recognizing when to reel about the hateful things they did and reel because it is still being done!

To be even more honest, are we real about the hate that we have, towards them, not as people, but towards their deplorable actions? (or anyone who has hurt us, intentionally or not)

Personally, I can say that I’ve forgiven the ex-gay leaders of my past and all previous wounds to this date from the fundies. (I’m sure there are more to come.) I can also say, personally, that if John Smid wants to hit up a club with me, I will buy him a lap dance from the most beautiful drag queens in DC but this is me, healing at my own rate.

And that is all that matters.

We have that in common. We all have healing to let in and hate to let out.

This is the homospiritual journey, as I see it.

I’m thankful that I get to share it with all of you, regardless of the stages of our healing or the type of wounds people of “faith” have put upon us. We must forgive ourselves for letting it happen and forgive them but not without proper and full acknowledgment of what it means.

Thanks for being a part of this journey. I’m sending blany messings to you all!

Exodus International, I Forgive You

When you see the end of an era coming upon your soul, resistance is futile… wholeness is the only option.Forgiveness

Exodus International, I forgive you for teaching me that there is a God who is intolerant of me.

Exodus International, I forgive you for pulling me away from my body.

Exodus International, I forgive you for pulling me away from my family.

Exodus International, I forgive you for dividing me from my own mind.

Exodus International, I forgive you for dividing me from my own spirit.

Exodus International, I forgive you for raping my soul.

Exodus International, I forgive you for molesting my identity.

Exodus International, I forgive you…

Not because you have stopped hurting others with your cult tactics.

Not because you aren’t guilty of attempting to control others with ideas about heterosexual supremacy.

But because you taught me how to hate…

And it’s time I surrender that tactic entirely.

Forgiveness is my act of self-love and an act of refusing to hold any space for hate, even hatred for your ways.

I will not have space for hate anymore.

I will not hate myself for being human.

I will not hate God for making me homosexual.

I will not hate people for not understanding how spirituality and sexuality beautifully converge.

I will not hate churches for refusing to honor my commitment to love.

I will not hate this world for being a place where choices are taken away from us.

I will be a person of love.

So, in short…

Exodus International, love really did win out for me.

Because I forgive you for teaching me to hate.

~~

For anyone who has been damaged by the ex-gay movement’s attempt at genocide, know that there is hope and you will move BEYOND being “ex-gay.” www.beyondexgay.com And for anyone who has ever held on too long to an injury to your soul, know that in just wanting to let go, a change will come, the earth will tremble and eventually, forgiveness will find you…

In the News: Exodus shuts down its residential soul-raping facility. http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2011/09/love-in-action-suspends-residential-program/

To read more about my most recent transformation regarding ex-gay survival, follow the “ex-gay lie” category on my blog or view this category from my old site.

Straight Supremacist Warning

Portion of "The Rescue" my unfinished painting

Best $11 movie ticket ever. Last night I saw the movie, “The Help.” I laughed. I cried. I cheered. Best thing wasn’t the colorful (pun intended) and brilliantly written dialogue but the beautiful pauses and well-delivered punch lines exchanged among the characters. I don’t do movie reviews but this flick has me itching to pull an Ebert-move and toss up two thumbs to show my approval! So well done and so… well…

Easy to apply to my blog! (I think my friend leaned over at least 2x and said, “This is going to lead a blog post, isn’t it?”)

So, what was I thinking about my blog while enjoying this destined-to-be-Academy-Award-winning new movie?

I was thinking, “What really is the difference between white supremacy and the ex-gay movement?”

Both seek to hinder the progress of the people who are not like them.

Both seek to recruit young white people to their cause.

Both use unethical and sometimes violent tactics to evoke fear and oppress the people who are not like them.

Rather than making a plethora of comparisons, I thought I would simply take the statement that is on the KKK’s website, and replace words related to race with words related to sexual orientation and add “straight” and “gay” a few places. After reading it over, I suggest that Alan Chambers of Exodus International, Michele Bachmann and Ann Coulter get together to approve this new statement as their straight agenda. Let’s be real here… if you are emulating the KKK so why not own up to it and officially connect yourselves to the Klan? Maybe there’s a tax benefit in it for you.

Read it for yourself and tell me if this doesn’t this sound like something out of Michele’s mouth? Hasn’t Alan played a victim when reasonable people have taken a stand against the genocide of Exodus International? (Remember the Apple App?) Doesn’t Ann repeatedly try to usher in support by cheering on her “moral” majority and claiming the gay people have an agenda?

“There is a war against straights. But our people – my straight brothers and sisters – will stay committed to a non-violent resolution. That resolution must consist of solidarity in straight communities around the world. The hatred for our children and their future is growing and is being fueled every single day. Stay firm in your convictions. Keep loving your straight heritage and keep witnessing to others that there is a better straight way than a war torn, violent, wicked, socialist, new gay world order. That way is the straight Christian way – law and order – love of heterosexual family – love of nation. These are the principles of western Christian civilization. There is a war to destroy these things. Pray that our straight people see the error of their ways and regain a sense of loyalty. Repent America! Be faithful my fellow straight believers. ” (Paraphrasing of statement from National Director of the Knights, Pastor Thomas Robb)

So, to be clear… let this post serve as a warning that those who seek to deny rights or create “separate but equal” space for the LGBTQ community in the workplace, churches, homes or communities are no different from the white supremacists who insisted that African-Americans should piss in a different toilet, drink from a different fountain, or proverbially sit in the back of the spiritual bus that is en route to blessing and full inclusion!

We must refuse to call the ex-gay movement an “alternative perspective” or suggest that it is merely a “controversial” discussion (Shame on you, NPR!)

Call it what it is…

The ex-gay movement is no different from the White Supremacy Movement.

It is…

Hate.

~~

Furthermore, nothing should light a fire under true believers in Jesus more than knowing that in the name of your savior, they are proclaiming this hate. Many kudos to organizations such as Believe Out Loud and Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists who are Christians standing on the side of love! Please visit their pages below:

www.facebook.com/believeoutloud

www.facebook.com/pages/Association-of-Welcoming-and-Affirming-Baptists/207481543481

Ex-Gay Cult Tactics

Do I go onto Exodus International’s site or ex-gay pages and tell them that I believe that if there was a hell, they would be some of the first people through the fiery gates because they are soul-raping innocent victims?

No! I do not! (Granted, I do blog publicly and say such things but the point is…)

Cult members chase after those who find freedom.

Since the radio interview Monday night, I have felt chased. 

There haven’t been any direct attacks (yet) but there have been several posts and comments that I’ve banned from my author page because they were geared at spreading the lie that homosexuals can or should be changed into some mutant heterosexual expression sanctified by a gender-obsessed god.

I reject these tactics and state that while I feel chased by the ex-gay cult and by the memory of the person you wanted me to become, the truth is…

I am chaste… undefiled, free from obscenity, pure and full of virtue not because of anything I’ve done but…

Because of the Divine who purifies my intention and reminds me that the reason I’m telling this story again is because love matters.

Love.

Matters.

To the victims of ex-gay therapy who serve in leadership roles and recruit others into the cult, I want you to know that healthy, happy, whole sexuality is available to you… and you don’t have to crucify yourself to get it.

There is a relationship that is greater than the need to be right.

There is a love that is greater than the need to be right.

There is the right to love and be loved just as you are.

I have that right.

And from the deepest parts of who I am, I do this work so that you too will know, you have that right too.

Don’t let them molest your identity any longer.

You are born beautiful, your expressions are Divine and your thirst for truth will be met when you realize that it’s already inside of you.

Beloved.

As you are.

Right now…

Oh and… um…

P.S.

If you keep posting lies on my page, you will be banned because not only is my page/blog a no-hate zone, genocide is wrong and I won’t let anyone know how they can find out more about supporting you in killing off the LGBTQ community.

~~

To my blog and Facebook Family, I want you to know that I need to go offline for a few days to recover from this “coming out” again. Going inward is a journey towards god but also fuels the security that I need to nourish and keep going. Keep sharing your insights and stories with one another and feel free to share the interview!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/btrplayer.swf

Listen to internet radio with Scott Lindquist on Blog Talk Radio

If the above link doesn’t work, this will also get you to my interview on Open Minds Open Hearts:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/openmindsopenhearts/2011/08/02/open-minds-open-hearts–radio-with-a-purpose

Keep the emails coming and more than anything else, keep trusting that whether we can prove if there is a God or not, we most certainly know that something Divine would welcome, bless and celebrate all people just as they are, no exceptions.

Top 10 Ex-Gay Slogans

Who is the oppressor?I need some dark humor before my Reiki session. As some of you know from my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/homospirituality), I’m having fun with what I’m calling “creative activism.” (uh, a.k.a. satire). I’m meeting with “famous” people (who would never really meet with me) and we are discussing some of the most important issues in politics and religion. This weekend, I’ve been hanging out with Alan Chambers of Exodus International. Today we decided that Exodus needs a marketing make-over (You should have seen his reaction to the word make-over. Wow!)

So energetically, I’m sitting at a coffee shop with Alan and we are brainstorming slogans and taglines.

This is what we came up with:

10. Exodus International: Services include Assisted Sexual Suicides.

9.    Exodus International: Captivating since 1976.

8.    Exodus International: Where Worshipping the Heterosexual never Felt so Gay.

7.   Exodus International: As Close to Hell as You Can Get

6.   Exodus International: Pay Now, Gay Later

5.   Exodus International: The Softer Side of Genocide

4.   Exodus International: Where Men Lie about Men and Women Lie about Women

3.   Exodus International: I Survived Self-mutilation and all I got was this F*cking T-shirt

2.   Exodus International: Now Hiring Psychologists and Counselors. No Degree or Training Required

1.   Exodus International: Celebrating 35 Years of Christian-Funded Soul-Raping

Be sure to check the brochure stand at Faux Community Megachurch near you for these new marketing materials. We are very proud of them. The Lord really spoke through us and people will be moved to change who they are and become their whole heterosexual selves, just like us…

~

Thus concludes my snarkiest post ever!

I’ll publish, right or wrong; Fools are my theme, let satire by my song.” – Lord Byron

~

Dedicating this post to Michael Bussee, a co-founder of Exodus International who has publically denounced the practices and beliefs of Exodus International. Thank you for trying to make it right. http://www.beyondexgay.com/article/busseeapology

Reshared Spring 2013, in honor of an upcoming meeting involving Alan Chambers… only a few years in the making 😉

Update: A spoken word piece on the topic…

Confessions of an Ex Ex-Gay: Part 3

To say I am not looking forward to this series is the understatement of my year. What I thought would be 2 or 3 posts that glazed over the darker experiences about my ex-gay drama has both fortunately and very unfortunately taken on a life of its own to the point that my dreams have  begun to interpret my current conflicts in Christian community through the toxic language of the ex-gays…

At 5:11 am, I awoke from a nightmare that left me gasping for air, clutching my stomach and chest and offering up an echo of dry-heaving as a morning prayer to all of the gods that would listen… and to my neighbors… to anyone within ear shot, I was sobbing and screaming because I’m now giving full voice to what this spiritual raping is all about…

As I stifled my screams into the bathroom towel, turned myself into a ball and rocked on the bathroom floor I thought, “Who is listening to this, really?”

The question went beyond the awareness of the moment and I thought about how there are now nearly a thousand readers who are witnessing this via my writing. I’m not sure I was prepared for that but as I’ve read emails and posts about how my opening up may save lives, change minds and change hearts, I am struck by how the truth has never felt so freeing.

I want to tell you about the nightmare that woke me up this morning and led to this ethereal vomit but I know that it’s going to take me another day or two to hash it out. I’m befuddled by how the “innocent” people of my current life can be portrayed as such hateful people in my dream life but the similarities between my ex-gay past and my present will reveal important trends that I believe keep us all away from Christianity at some point.

The need to be “like” them to be a part of them is ultimately the most frightful experience for anyone with a working, evolving understanding of spirit and his/her own place in this world. The language that Christianity, overall, has assumed for itself is toxic and through this sharing, I hope that is one of the ultimate transformations that some Christians undergo. Being around Christians again, in all their glory is exactly what is prompting this flashback-style process and is reminding me of the traumatic lessons I learned from the ex-gays and fundies. Specifically, I ask the Christian community to ask itself what it hopes to attain by only surrounding itself with people who are like-minded…

So I’ll share more about this nightmare and its effects very soon. It’s the perfect analogy to have woken up dry-heaving because I felt like I was spewing the nasty qi, their awful lies, with every violent exhale from the deeper part of my body. The posts and conversations are like a toxic chemical that is working out the cancer of my soul. It is uncomfortable, leaves me exhausted, turns my blood cold but is somehow killing off that which has been trying to kill me all these years.

I appreciate all of the light, love and prayer support as I unleash myself from the ex-gay lie. These attachments run deeper than I thought but I will not stop until others know that Jesus cannot be used to abuse others, lock them away from their identities or cause them to suffer. I may not arise from this any more of a Christian than I was when I started but I may truly be damned if I don’t get back a pure picture of how to love and be loved by a community of people, Christian or otherwise.

Please do continue to let this story be told and keep telling your own. Together I believe we will shut down the spiritual genocide known as the ex-gay movement.

Humbly, I say… thanks for listening.

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:

A Letter to Ex-Gay Gail

(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. IMG_2896

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.

Sincerely,

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!