“Gay Rights” Photo Reflection: An Advocate Reflects on 12 Years

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…

Equality_2003

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!

Namaste, yo.

~~

RAY_7318Gail 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.

Now that I’m Gay Married… 4 Things Changed

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.

gay_marriage_groundbreakingI 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.

It’s coming…

Namaste, yo.

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

~~

DSC_0354Gail 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.

When She Says She Loves Me… Why Equality Matters

1621773_510262802411101_8063516498862622385_nThe other day, my fiancee and I had a brief, yet looming encounter with a man who felt it necessary to speak loudly about his disapproval of what he called “gay marriage.” As we tried to disengage and stay focused on our own coffee and conversation, it was apparent that unless she said otherwise, I was going to address this man, for aggressively stating his unsolicited opinion over us, from 7 feet away. “If they can marry, it will be a disaster. God made man and woman…” he continued.

I asked my fiancee if she would mind giving me a kiss, as we got up to walk away. She agreed and after we shared an affectionate peck, I turned to him and said, “We are not a disaster,” and we walked away. Before walking away, we both heard him say in a slimy perverted tone, “Well I like that.”

Of course you do, you double-minded, broken old man,” I wanted to say.

Instead, we walked away and I felt this piece welling up in my heart… some words I have never said about marriage equality… some words I’ve never said about the woman who wants to marry me… some words that I hope will mirror what many of us are saying, when we say that equality matters.

Equality matters because when she says she loves me…

She is saying that of all the people who have crossed her path, the day she met me, something changed for the better.

She is saying that of all the outcomes she could have for her life, none of them would be as meaningful without me in the picture.

She is saying that when she seeks comfort, wisdom, rest, joy, or a sense of hope, she considers me a source.

She is saying that if there is a God, this love is the kind upon which God smiles. 

She is saying that feeling safe and loved now includes knowing if I am feeling safe and loved.

She is saying her future and my future now interconnect in ways that make the past a story to cherish and an influence to honor.

Equality matters because love matters… because her words matter more to me than any other woman who whispered, “I love you,” into my ear.

Equality matters… because eventually for some of us, there is one person who comes along and says these things in a way that changes everything for the better…

And what reasonable society would call this a disaster or a departure from what is good about humanity?

This is all we are saying, when we say equality matters. This… nothing more and nothing less.

This post is dedicated to all who have been on the receiving end of an “I love you,” that put an end to all your doubts about why those words matter… and to my fiancee, for being brave enough to say them until I could believe in them again.

~~

DSC_0354Gail 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.

Marriage Equality Humor

Time for a lil’ levity at For Gail So Loved the World… (First vid will take ya to YouTube)

I was happy to see the response from lesbians… NICE!

snapping turtle in color

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.

Would the Real “Progressive” Christian Stand Up?

After reading a post by religion writer, Becky Garrison, I decided it’s time I chime in on the subject of “Progressive Christianity.” This is going to be short and probably not-so-sweet commentary because there’s something rising up inside of me that has to do with newness and perhaps new wine in old wineskins, to draw from the Bible (gasp!)

I propose, right from the start, that what we are attempting to do by marrying two ideas such as “progressive” and “Christian” is already an unequally-yolked union destined for divorce court. Perhaps we are guilty of trying to mix oil and water and calling it wine!

I know, my Christian readers furrow their brows and my atheist readers cheers. I’m openly torn on the subject. I mean, isn’t progressive Christian an oxymoron? (Who you calling a moron?) But then again, wasn’t Jesus a progressive force to be reckoned with, challenging the religious leaders, political leaders and anyone who came in his path to think outside of the “status quo?” Wasn’t Jesus one of the most progressive people of his time and of any age?

As always, my jury is still out, especially because it is comprised of a group of peers who do identify as progressive Christians and that identity seems to be serving them quite well.

But as I read the post that describes how once again Sojourner’s Magazine a “progressive Christian” organization (ahem, business) falls short of being progressive in their treatment of LGBTQ concerns, we have several options. We can do as Ms. Garrison suggests and develop new labels for groups like this. Perhaps “traditionalist progressives” is a working option or maybe we need to go back to the drawing board…

And make a distinction not between progressive and conservative but authentic versus inauthentic.

I hate labels as next as the next Homospiritual Lesbian Hippie Wanna-Be but if we do require labels in order to maintain a conversation, know where someone is coming from and identify obstacles to understanding, let’s go with authentic vs. inauthentic.

Christianity that excludes, promotes division and moves us towards external conflict rather is inauthentic.

Christianity that includes, promotes understanding and draws us towards internal revelation, consciousness and action is authentic.

Let’s try those on for a bit and see how it goes.

I may not be able to prove it’s what Jesus would do, what Paul would say or what the Pope may approve of but it’s what Gail is going to try…

Authentic Christianity.

Maybe the people at Sojourner’s are more comfortable with the “journey” they are on but I wager that not only will business be affected by their policies, flip-flopping and inauthentic expression of Christianity, the people there will begin to listen to the stories of their friends and family members and refuse to work for an organization that doesn’t welcome all, no exceptions.

That’s my creative activism today: I’m sitting with the workers at Sojourners… all of them. We are having a sit-in and we are going on strike because FAMILY matters and inclusion is the only model of family worth emulating.

~

To read Becky Garrison’s article, go here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/what-to-call-progressive-christian-who-struggle-with-lgbt-equality/2011/08/19/gIQA6J9VQJ_blog.html