Let’s Hear it for New York!

I can’t sleep, I can’t stop smiling and I can hardly imagine what may happen if I stay up all night on the computer, networking with the millions of people in the United States and worldwide who are cheering and crying tears of joy as a show of solidarity for the historic legislation that passed in New York tonight!

There’s such an incredible synergy at work in this country tonight and I tread lightly on the connection that I’m making… but my soul seems to gravitate to another time when I felt this awareness of national consciousness…

I haven’t felt this connected to the entire country since September 11, 2001.

As we were equally exposed to tragedy then, there is a rush of truth in how we can also equally celebrate the progress of the great state of New York tonight! This state deserves to be a beacon of hope to all who want to live free from oppression and fear… Tonight, Lady Liberty is standing tall for all of us. If she could, I would ask her to energetically take a bow because she has made a statement that is louder than any oppressor’s, foreign or domestic!

Equality is for everyone,” she shouts!

Love is a family value,” is her song.

And more, she has words to the those huddled masses of LGBTQ people who worry that we will have to hold our breath until we are fully recognized as citizens worthy of equal protection under the law… her words are that we will all someday breathe freely!

So, if for only tonight, we can know that our rainbow lamp is held high and New York, were it the entry point to the United States, would extend dignity and respect to all people no matter who they love.

I’ll try to sleep but in addition to having “An Empire State of Mind” (Glee’s version) in  my head, I’m also feelin’ some Flo + the Machine and must share. Let’s believe that the dog days are over!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWOyfLBtuU (Flo + Machine, Dog Days are Over)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APjJwt7rc6I (Glee Version of Empire State of Mind)

~~

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

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!

Waving the Freak Flag: Part 2

(Here comes part two in my “Wave your Freak Flag” series which is aimed at celebrating my wacky homospirituality and my gay pride at the same time… because I can. Happy Pride Month!)

I was scribbling a poem about love (and how it disappoints if intimacy isn’t in its proper place) and the sentence that tripped me is, “She teases me with virtue and pleases me with purity.” How much of a burden do I feel now knowing that I shared such a cheesy line with my readers?

Cheesy, first because I’m writing love poems and it’s not even February.

Cheesy… mainly because I used the word “virtue.”

Virtue? Who uses that word? It sounds like a religious buzz word, some kind of gunk in your teeth or at best, an accusation. (Virtue? Why, I never!)

I can’t think of a more sexless word than virtue and I was immediately frustrated to see it pop up in a love poem. I thought, “Am I trapped in a medieval poetry contest… and losing?”

Much to my chagrin, it turns out that the word virtue isn’t nearly as obscure as I originally thought. I sat with it for a while and decided that if I said it over and over again, it would start to fill in its own blanks about its value.

I wrote “Virtue is…” on a piece of paper and waited for the words to flow. As the thoughts came, I discovered something revealing about myself, my understanding of a feminine god and my spirituality. As I wrote, I recalled the only place in the Bible where I remember the word “virtue” and it was in relations to Proverbs 31, which is grossly overused by Christians as the description of the perfect woman.

Turns out, I can do one better than the writer of the 31st chapter of Proverbs. Go figure. (What did Solomon know about virtuous women? Let a lesbian take a stab at this topic…)

~~

Virtue is exploring sexuality with a rose in one hand and your integrity in the other.

Virtue is working hard when no one is watching and hardly watching when nothing is working.

Virtue is running out of ink and deciding to dance.

Virtue is knowing when to read between the lines and when to blur them.

Virtue is a willingness to be wrong but compassionate when you’re so very right.

Virtue is having a clue and a cause and the means to not only take a stand but take a knee.

Virtue is not a word fit for a poem, but a trait fit for a queen…

Ahh, to my beloved Queen, the goddess, the one from whom all blessings flow. This creature here, down below, is deepening her connection to the beautiful world she has been given but learning boundaries that one could never have attained were it not through loss and pain. And so I bow to your wisdom and say, “You tease me with virtue and you please me with purity.”

~~

Whoa, all that said and suddenly the writer of Proverbs 31 sounds like he is rattling off a task list while my words come out rushing out from the soul of a love-sick feminist hippie.

Yes! Taking a little red pen to the Bible is much more enjoyable than I ever thought possible.

But here’s the thing that is tripping me up and I’ll share briefly then leave you to ponder it. If this is virtue, in all its esoteric glory, what say ye on the matter of purity?

And pray tell, what does love got to do with it anyway?

Well, I’ll leave you Tina Turner fans on that happy note and close by giving a shout out to a peculiarly sexually progressive yet purity-driven lil’ group called Les Be Pure (www.lesbepure.com) Their work on the Facebook site www.facebook.com/GayChristians is interesting and promotes healthy sexual purity and while I’m not 100% sure what that means as defined by the Church, I’m diggin’ their approach. This isn’t an official endorsement of their theology because I’m way too liberal for that but it is a place to go if you’re looking for some purity in your life and you think you can’t access it because Christianity has the market cornered on it. (Which we all know it doesn’t…)

Namaste and Happy Pride!

-gail