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!

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.

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!