4 Reasons to Write your Epitaph Today… Yes, Really

It’s pretty clear that none of us are getting out of here alive, so while we have this limited amount of time to consider what kind of impressions we hope to leave in this world, perhaps a little dose of silly with our sacred will light the path this week.

Four Reasons to Write your Epitaph Today

Epitaph_Funny1. Life, as we know it, will end in death. – Yes, it’s true for every one of us, that we all die in the end and staying connected to that grave reality (of course pun intended) is one of the reasons I was able to produce and publish Enlightened-ish this year. In 2011, I saw firsthand how death affects the living, first in March when I witnessed a suicide and the second time, in September, when my father passed away. I’ll tell ya, nothing makes traffic jams, gossip, relationship trauma, church hypocrisies, and self-imposed drama look more like a waste of time than having the crushing reality of one’s mortality thrown in your face. In the end, there is an end. So why not give some thought now, to how it’s going to sound to those who are still here after you’re gone? Legacy. Think about it.

2. Life, as we know it, is sometimes very dark. – Yes, it’s true that we are all building great castles in the sky, with our dreams, books, blogs and highest intentions, but we also are equally aware of the “darker” side of the human experience. Writing your own epitaph gives you that moment to consider the “ick” and perhaps even the “negative” parts of the human condition. Indulge in it just a little bit… it won’t kill you, will it? (Damn the puns are too easy.)Epitaph_Poignant

3. Life, as we know it, requires insights. – Good heavens, we are missing the mark when we fail to reflect on our own lives. Of course, there is a balance to this and we need not become narcissistic in our self-evolution, but imagine how much easier your life would be if you could access your internal hindsight wisdom before it becomes hindsight! Reflection is good for the soul… it may not be like this “on the other side,” but as far as being human goes, the more aware we are of our own motives and obstacles to peace and self-accountability, the better!

epitaph_mg4. Life, as we know it, is meant to be lived. – Epitaphs represent the silly, the complicated, the direct and the meaningful experiences in the human condition. Ultimately, they represent that a person’s life was in fact, lived, and hopefully, with abundance and with every ounce of passion, determination and vulnerability that we can muster. So… writing your epitaph is a way of creating a mantra that can anchor you personally, in all that is going on around you so you remember what you’re all about when it’s all said and done.

Having said that… I took a stab at writing my own epitaph… and here’s what I came up with:

Gail Dickert: 1978 – ?:¬†“She loved like her life depended on it… until it killed her.”

Namaste, lovelies ūüėČ

P.S. (If you’re a Bible-friendly person, you will recognize my epitaph as it relates to I Peter 4:8. It’s been a personal mantra since I first read it, at age 12. I expect to go out making sure people wonder how this Bible College Grad became a hippie, lesbian Turtle Whisperin’ homospiritual ūüėČ )

By the way, speaking of legacies, I have the honor of sharing a review of my first book Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams, here. It’s really powerful for me, to know that my coming out memoir would make my tombstone proud ūüėČ

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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.

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.

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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).¬†[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_7UnNDJ4bA”%5D

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.

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDiYeJ_bsQo”%5D

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…

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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.

I am Strong. Scrunchie Strong.

Today, I made a striking confession that almost led to the worst thing that can happen in the first world problems of cyber community: Being un-friended on Facebook.

But I took a risk, knowing that it was more important to speak my truth, without shame or fear of judgment. I made it clear that I am my own person, I do not conform to status quo and I will not back down on my rights.

On July 19, 2013, at approximately 11 am, I let it be known that I would, in fact, wear a scrunchie today, without fear of being judged.

Cue gasp, right?

Women who wear scrunchies in public are some of the most demonized of all women. Carrie Bradshaw forever shamed us on the show Sex and the City and ever since that episode when Berger’s writing career unraveled because of her sharp and unnecessary judgment, CVS shoppers have been terrified to walk down the hair product aisle for fear that they would be mistakenly perceived as going in the direction of said scrunchies. Women have joined support groups, discussing their attraction to their former scrunchie-wearing days and some have reportedly shaved their heads in efforts to have no affiliation with hair, simply because of this cultural impression that scrunchies aren’t acceptable hair attire. (And don’t even get me started on the Levitical code regarding elastic and cotton combined.)

It’s been a tough decade, for scrunchie-wearers.

But¬†today, I came out loud and proud about my use of said hair accessories and in honor of scrunchies and how they have served me, I’ve decided to share more about my scrunchie-affection and actual, live¬†photos that show the more intimate details of my scrunchie and me. (Consider this a warning, as some photos will challenge your currently held beliefs about public displays of scrunchie-ness.)

In truth, my scrunchies have outlived even some of my partners and been there with me in times when not much else would hold back my hair. I mean, think about it ladies. Washing the dog? Scrunchie is there. Changing a diaper? Scrunchie in place. On a morning walk? Don’t forget the scrunchie. Random sex-capade at 8 pm after an excitable Happy Hour? Did he mind your scrunchie then? No, he did not.

Scrunchie_Choices

All those things aside, this evening, as I went on my nightly walk, which is designed to keep my back loose, as I work through some complicated pain issues, I started to consider my many companions on my walks. My thoughts… my concerns… my spiritual guides… my goddesses… my angels… my dreams… the pain… and… my scrunchie.¬†As you can see from the first photo, my scrunchie was present when I made choices on my path – A loyal companion, no matter what road I go down.

Scrunchie_Shade

Later, my scrunchie and I were spotted by the police, who almost cited me for inappropriate scrunchie usage with a hat, but I told him I am a Buckeye fan and we exchanged the O-H-I-O chant and he let me go. After he left, I hid in the shade with my scrunchie, contemplating the deeper meaning of shade, comfort and how nutty Ohio football fans can be even in the off-season.

Scrunchie_FlowersIt wasn’t long before I thought, “A Facebook status isn’t enough.¬†It’s time I write about this relationship that I have with my¬†scrunchie.” So I started thinking of all the little places¬†that we go together. Here is a photo of us stopping to smell the flowers. Go ahead, try and tell me the last time you and an actual person stopped to do that? It hasn’t happened, has it? Ahh, but a scrunchie takes risks. A scrunchie makes time for you, doesn’t it? A scrunchie doesn’t rush you because it prefers your company and can stay in the moment with you.

Later, we came upon a weeping willow tree and I thought about a childhood friend myScruncie_Willow sister and I used to visit, whose grandmother had a large weeping willow in her yard. I thought of Mrs. K and how high up her grandchildren climbed. Even my sister made her way to the thinnest branches to sit while I stayed near the bottom, no more than 4 feet off the ground, out of fear. I told my scrunchie my memories of that tree and my scrunchie listened. No reaction, no accusations Рjust listened. Good scrunchie.

Scrunchie_Simplicity

Finally, on my way home. I stopped and considered the simplicity of my walking exercises, the last few months. The pain seems to lessen, if I keep to a regular routine and forego things like sit-down meals, sitting down to write, or basically anything that involves the seated position. It’s a true inconvenience and while my tolerance for pain is apparently quite high, I shirked the suggestion of an epidural and until a better diagnosis is reached, I walk… I have a routine that helps, even when it hurts. Furthermore, my many companions have no opinions about my treatment plan. In fact, one companion told me today, “You are strong. Scrunchie strong.”

There’s a passage in the Bible about being “jars of clay,” and I remember that, upon further contextual analysis (Bible College Degree coming back to haunt me), the reason the “jars of clay” analogy was used was because clay jars were something usual… something ordinary. The writer wanted to send the message that something “typical” or otherwise “commonplace” could be the very container that manifests a more powerful light than anything that had been seen before. I liken it now, to a scrunchie. We, our lives, our sacred journey and yes, even our scrunchies, are “treasures” that exist to show the surpassing, expansive and inspiring Love and Light that exists for us all. (That, my friends is 2 Corinthians 4:7 done hippie Gail-style).

Scrunchie_EstateAnd so, as I gazed upon the Mount Vernon estate, which is the land of my cousin, George Washington, I sat with a mantra, “I am strong. Scrunchie strong.” May you pull it into your daily lives, so that with every ordinary thing you do, you become connected to and more aware of the light that is moving through you…

Through the pain, through the doubt, through the interpretations and through all the judgments that others have about who we are…

Be strong. Scrunchie Strong.

These are my words. Namaste, yo.

P.S. Seriously… stop judging people for how they hold up their hair. I mean… can’t you judge them on their sexuality or something else instead? ūüėČ By the way, my new pre-requisite for dating. Must love dogs… and scrunchies.

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Gail 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.