For Immediate Release – #Recovery In Real Time: A Trauma Survivor’s Anti-Workbook Coming Summer 2016

 

~ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 31, 2016 ~ Cover_#RealTime

Survivors of trauma are gaining increasing coverage in the media. Because of pop culture cautionary tales like the Duggar Family, coupled with a call to action from celebrity icons like Lady Gaga, many are moving away from the standardized textbooks for trauma recovery. Survivors crave social media support and are inspired by self-help-driven tweets. #RECOVERY IN REAL TIME: A TRAUMA SURVIVOR’S ANTI-WORKBOOK by Gail Dickert, provides a modernized guidebook for trauma survivors and their loved ones in 125 hashtags.

#RECOVERY IN REAL TIME is a concise and user-guided walk through a trauma survivor’s on-going recovery experience. With survivor-focused hashtags like #DenialIsContagious, #ReasonCanFail, #LyingIsSurvival, #TherapyIsTerrifying, #WeAreNotNormal, and #MediaDistortsTrauma Dickert’s Anti-Workbook provides survivors and their loved ones with relevant and poignant highlights of the cycle of recovery which includes major stages such as Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

#RECOVERY IN REAL TIME is a non-fiction self-help book with an anti-workbook length and approach that appeals directly to people who desperately need a real time version of Ellen Bass’/Laura Davis’ THE COURAGE TO HEAL. Due to the nature of Dickert’s diverse experience with trauma, #RECOVERY IN REAL TIME offers relevant recovery concepts for survivors of combat, physical abuse, or any situation that was traumatic. This condensed guide meets survivors’ need for digestible yet realistic snapshots of the life-long recovery process.

#RECOVERY IN REAL TIME will be available exclusively through Publishing For a Change, LLC Summer 2016!

Author_Bio_2016_1Gail Dickert is an indie author, blogger, and children/youth advocate who has published two previous auto-biographical works related to grief, personal growth, spirituality, and self-acceptance. Enlightened-ish and Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams currently remain available at http://www.amazon.com. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for conversion therapy survivors and young people. Dickert currently volunteers with the RAINN Speaker’s Bureau and co-facilitator at Beyond Ex Gay. 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. Currently, Dickert resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center. #Recovery In Real Time: A Trauma Survivor’s Anti-Workbook is the first project under Publishing for a Change, LLC, of which she serves as Founder and President. Follow her work at www.homospirituailty.com and beginning Summer 2016, at www.publishingforachange.com.

The Media’s Abusive Relationship with Survivors: Part 2

children_two_rulesI didn’t expect that the “Breaking the Silence” documentary on TLC would evoke the need for a second piece on the topic of the media’s abusive relationship with survivors, but I think that the longer I sit with the reality of what I watched, the harsher the truth becomes.

As an author and advocate for over a decade, on this and other issues related to trauma/recovery, I know exactly what happens when cameras are rolling, disclosure/release contracts are being signed, and the phone is ringing off the hook for “one more interview.”

Judgment is clouded.

That is exactly what I perceive happened to those involved in the documentary that aired on TLC, following the Duggar scandal and tragedy.

I don’t know any of the survivors involved personally and as an advocate for the two organizations featured (Darkness to Light and RAINN), it is hard to sit here and digest the following…

  • An 11-year-old female survivor was turned into a propaganda piece.
  • The Duggar Girls have a superfluous cameo that couldn’t have been more out of place.
  • Key steps in preventing childhood sexual abuse were covered.
  • Adult advocates shared important, brave stories about finding identity beyond their trauma
  • Education on the signs/symptoms and steps to take to get help was outlined…

But right… In a documentary designed to be a CALL TO ACTION to ALL ADULTS on how to PROTECT CHILDREN… An 11-year-old female survivor was turned into a prop.

I have been working with children and youth since shortly out of college, but also even as a young person, I was a camp counselor and actively involved with being a safe place for children/youth – The one thing I have always believed and practiced diligently is that children deserve a space for their childhood experience. Part of my survivor journey makes me what I call a “Mamma Bear” on this topic. Mainly, I seek to ensure that children get what I didn’t have…

Adults who understand and are committed to the healthy boundaries that children need during crucial formative years!

What does an 11-year-old girl know about the effects of disclosing in a media forum?

What does an 11-year-old girl know about how it feels to disclose to potentially millions before she’s barely approaching puberty?

Most importantly, how is her development shaped by having been given a LEADERSHIP role in advocating for her PEERS (other children) before she has even reached the stage of sexuality awareness on her own time frame?

Does she have an identity outside of her sense of being a survivor?

Putting her on screen, disclosing her name, her face, and her story before she is at the PROPER age of development and thus CONSENT, is exploitation.

And yet… RAINN, Darkness to Light, TLC, and the author of some books and a law, all stood behind this dizzying scenario?

The person behind Erin’s Law admitted that she herself, according to the documentary, came into the advocacy scene hard and fast, then stepped back and had to clear up her experience and her story – this is something I can relate to in part because when I first became an advocate in 2004, I realized I wasn’t ready…

But then I stepped back!

I grew up.

I got help.

I lived my life and formed my identity… 

And I didn’t come back into the scene until I was actually ready.

This is the sad reality of what was missing from the documentary – an awareness of long-term effects of exposing CHILDREN to the dizzying experience of a media-related role in advocacy.

I have always believed that children are resilient but even today, when I visited with some of my pre-schoolers, I thought about the 11-year-old who was featured in this documentary last night. As a 3-year-old clung to me during a transition, because she found me to be a comforting and “safe place” for her big feelings, I thought…

All children deserve to have a childhood.

And who more, than an 11-year old survivor who had a PART of hers stolen?

Time will only tell how decisions like this will reflect on child abuse victims, survivors, networks, and lawmakers… some will call the child brave, but let’s be honest here…

When she is ten years removed from this, will she know that she has privacy about her experience, or will she be GROOMED at a young age, to stand with ADULTS in arenas that are NOT DEVELOPMENTALLY appropriate?

Has her path of abuse only continued, now in the hands of advocates of prevention?

I won’t name her here… she will remain in my memory as an 11-year-old girl whose story was misused as a pawn of the media and those involved with this piece. (She deserves anonymity from at least one adult who is thinking of her long-term well-being.)

Now the larger question becomes: Does this lack of judgment on the parts of those involved with the documentary cast a long, dark shadow on the value that the piece offered, when it comes to prevention?

Yes.

Because if we can’t produce a piece about preventing childhood sexual abuse without exploiting a child in the process, we don’t deserve to be speaking about such prevention.

To the brave 11-year-old girl, I am sorry that no one protected her from the FUTURE privacy she deserves on this matter. I wish her many, many years away from the camera and away from books that adults need right now in order to get the messages out…

children_natureI wish her mud puddles, hugs from loving caregivers, friends who know her for her interests, stickers, dolls, cars, coloring books, puzzles, trees to climb, and gardens to grow…

And to the adults…

Slow down and grow-up before you turn on the cameras again. Passing a law, airing a documentary, or writing a book cannot replace our general sense of what is truly right for every child… including those brave enough to trust us to go on camera when we should know better!

Tread lightly out there, survivors. I hope we find the bigger picture and embrace a more careful and mindful approach to our advocacy. We cannot create pawns, martyrs, and heroines and expect a collective shift toward a greater awakening.

To those tempted to boycott RAINN and Darkness to Light, entirely, I urge you to remember that most of their work is done well off camera for all the right reasons. Call them to accountability, but don’t forget that their educational and on-call resources are much needed.

Namaste.

~~

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 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 with her wife, where she serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

The Media’s Abusive Relationship with Survivors

Courage_LiveThe following commentary represents my personal opinion, not the opinions of the organizations named in this piece. (Part two of commentary after watching available here.)

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I have to come to my blog with the topic of the TLC “Breaking the Silence” piece which will air tonight. I have to write because I not only am a two-time survivor of crimes against my body and soul during formative years, but because I am an active advocate both for sexual abuse prevention and sex positive education.

I have to say something because I am not deaf to what survivors are saying and I’m not blind to what we are seeing.

The media has an abusive relationship with survivors…

How do I know? Because I am a survivor.

What is depicted by the media is the ignorance of bystanders, such as when reporters genuinely ask questions like, “Why didn’t you tell someone,” or “Why did you wait so long to disclose?” Furthermore, often survivors are recounting the traumatic details in such a voyeuristic manner that I can’t tell if I’m watching an interrogation or an episode of Law and Order SVU.

I’m not saying that the details of our stories don’t matter – they do! In fact, I arranged a training for my pre-school teachers this week, which was one of the modules designed by Darkness to Light, who is partnering with TLC and RAINN in this documentary this evening. The “Stewards of Children” is a well-designed training module where survivor stories are told in detail, along with an important list of steps that educators/families can take in order to prevent this crime against our children and their innocence.

RAINN also, has been advocating for victims of sexual assault since 1994. Many survivors associate their name with a safe place.

But the recent affiliation with TLC has caused many survivors to use words like “boycott” and “disappointment” when it comes to this documentary.

Such anger and readiness to walk away entirely from reputable organizations is a reflection on our fear (reasonably) that what will come out of cable news will just exploit survivors.

I saw it firsthand when I was a part of a cable special on OWN, which highlighted the survivors of conversion therapy and our interaction with one of the most outspoken hypocrites of the movement, Alan Chambers. (My piece with Sky News also exploited my experience.)

Lights, camera, action – our infatuation with these things has created an unsafe environment for survivors who off-camera, are still just trying to figure out how to do the following:

* Disclose to our loved ones.

* Live transparently among our families or coworkers without losing our boundaries.

* Believe in humanity.

* Trust that what happened wasn’t our fault.

* Separate from the negative beliefs about sex, religion, or community, which likely resulted from the abuse.

* Get online and not go numb when yet another article indicates that all anyone really understands is how to re-traumatize us…

So, if the “media” cannot be trusted with our stories, we have two options…

1. We can continue to boycott everything that screws up the WHOLE picture of our recovery and resilience (Not a bad option).

2. AND/OR we can find a way to bring our stories forward and connect with those who are LIVING out their recovery AWAY from cameras, lights, etc in order to fill in the gaps of what is presented in the media.

Look, I’m not sure what to expect of tonight’s “performance.” Surely I will hear things that will remind me of my own experiences. No doubt, I will see brave faces and hear things that embody the truth of my experience.

There will be gaps. It’s only a documentary. It will not be thorough and it will not be perfect. It’s also possible that when the mic is handed to someone whose belief in God surpasses the healing journey and reasonable psychological needs, I will cringe and maybe even feel sick to the stomach.

If someone blames the victim (or themselves) or even, in a sense, blames god, I may not be able to eat until sometime tomorrow…

But I’m making the choice to watch because I feel like RAINN and Darkness to Light wouldn’t produce something that puts their entire reputation at risk…

Am I wrong? Well, we can all turn to the comment section here and find out 😉 I will be live-blogging through the comments and on my Facebook Page throughout the airing.

Spring nature background with grass and blue sky in the back

Spring nature background with grass and blue sky in the back

In the end, what I can celebrate is that we are aware enough to challenge the media and call them to be accountable when it comes to representing our stories.

I support those who boycott, because I understand.

I support those who watch, because I understand that too.

The truth is that our journey of recovery with ourselves, our families and our communities will not be summarized by a show, a law, or any single movement.

We are brave because of what we do every day, off screen.

Remember that today, tonight, tomorrow – your courage matters.

I applaud the courage of survivors who challenge the “media” and ask questions of leaders who form potentially shady alliances. I also applaud the courage of survivors who take the risk of appearing in the media. Having been there, I can tell you that those who let themselves be filmed and recorded carry scars from those experiences that are almost never discussed on camera or off camera. If you boycott, keep the survivors who were involved in your thoughts…

Let’s hope education shines over exploitation. That is a hope worth having, my friends.

Namaste, yo.

~~

RAY_7279Gail 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 with her wife, where she serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

“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.

My Better Half, My Better Self: A Letter to my Wife

This piece is for lovers… and those who believe in lifelong love, no matter how long it takes for life to present it to us.

To My Dear Wife,

I’ve never known someone like you – your willingness to walk through the uncertainties of all that is unstable, whether it be economic, emotional, physical, or just plain human, is more than commendable. It’s life. As Neruda says, “In your life I see everything that lives.”

IMG_6007You go toward all living things and every corner of humanity. I see it in your work and friendships but pleasure of all pleasure, I see it in how you approach me…

I recently wrote about my survivor experience and how powerful it is that you became the woman who was detached enough to let me be fully present for my recovery process, but also attached enough in love and trust, to bear witness to it.

I think about moments like those, when what moves between us is a flow of honesty… words, facial expressions, silence, an embrace… it is simply, unguarded honesty.

It doesn’t bite back in selfishness or fear.

It doesn’t look away as if it is overly concerned or intimidated.

It doesn’t find tools to help as if it is so awkward that it needs to fix the discomfort.

It loves.

It’s honest.

IMG_6040I have caught glimpses of this intimacy, but never has it stayed so constant, before you. I held out hope for it – like an oasis for my dehydrated soul.

And so you have come to me… and I have come to you. This is our marriage.

I remember all these years of wanting marriage, watching other marriages grow, fall apart, thrive, or end. I’ve been learning about marriage all my life – what makes a marriage look “good” to me and what makes marriage look impossible. Most importantly, I’ve listened to couples speak of when they knew that the one they love was the one they wanted to grow old with…

I knew that the day I met you.

Of course, I didn’t know how to let my heart run with that feeling at first, and that’s okay too – but I learned from others, how to stay open to this kind of love.

One of those “others” was my friend Katie, who you would never get a chance to meet, because her life and our stories could never intersect. She died during a season when the narratives between us were farther than I ever imagined they could be… but I was there when she married the love of her life… I remember her emails before her wedding day, as she discussed the priority of her partnership and their life together. I was there when she spoke of commitment, faith, and a hope for a life full of laughter and mutual acceptance. At her wedding, I remember even knowing that the one I was there with, didn’t compare to the “you” I still believed was out there. I was prepared to settle to never have what I saw in their marriage because I wrongfully believed it was only for them.

It was the way they looked at each other – such grace and such simplicity…

For over a decade of my adult life, I’ve held out hope that what I learned from their relationship could become a part of my life. I held out hope that I could learn from others, that even death could not separate the heart from a lifelong love…

All these years later, here you are, my wife, supporting and loving me as I become my better self… and we get to learn from each other, how OUR marriage will grow.

IMG_6042 (1)Sometimes I feel like I’m late to the game on this – so many other experiences and I’m now well into my mid-30’s as if I’m an old maid… I have my baggage, but I’m here.

We are here. And this is our marriage…

I used to believe that it was really important to correct people when they described their partner as their “better half.” As a woman who values her independence and autonomy, I would mock that concept, even when I was in partnerships before you – I wasn’t anyone’s “half” because I am WHOLE.

The truth is that a marriage is whole, but comprised of two whole people – and in some ways, you truly are the better half of this marriage. And in perfect form, I’ve heard you say the same about me – that’s what loving couples mean when they call the other, “the better half.” It is a respectful and humble acknowledgement that this marriage would be nothing without you, and I in it, am better because of you.

Today, as you travel the globe in your work, my heart travels the depth of relationships – reflections on loss, hopes, dreams, grief, and… all emotions. As I soar above it, I am a poetic jumble of anticipation about how our family will evolve and how our connection will only deepen… but in the midst of that creative chaos, I am here with a sense of peace and acceptance.

I found the one to call “wife.”

And you found me.

On this relevant day, in real time, with a vulnerable voice, I celebrate our transparent life.

That is our marriage.

Te amo, mi amor – my better half, my better self ~
Gail

~~

In loving memory of Katie Reider – (May 23, 1978 – July 14, 2008)

~~

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.

 

 

The Evolution of a Survivor: Emotional Resilience

Darwin_ResilientI’ve been working on a new writing project which dives into survivor experiences, as a means of highlighting what we understand about resilience, grief, and the healing journey after trauma. As I partner with other survivors, advocates, and psychologists, I notice that there is a sense of “strength” in this work. I’m preparing to launch the project as an e-book and it will hopefully highlight our experiences, educate the media, and provide support to those who are finding their way through the healing process. The project has been called “brave” and “powerful” by those who have reviewed the outreach approach and the content… yet…

We need to be transparent about our emotional resilience and its source.

I’m not brave.

I am not even strong.

I just evolved under changing and traumatic circumstances.

When my father emotionally abused my family, I learned to be responsive to change.

Home isn’t safe? I will evolve.

When my neighbor abused my body, I learned to be responsive to change.

My body isn’t safe? I will evolve.

When my church abused my mind, I learned to be responsive to change.

Spirituality isn’t safe? I will evolve.

When my peers abused my spirit, I learned to be responsive to change.

Being me isn’t safe? I will evolve.

To all of us, who have evolved from every unsafe environment and emerged each time as a new species within our own emotional ecosystem, know that I see you.

Others may think we are on the top of the emotional food chain and can handle anything.

And we can… and we will.

But sometimes rather than being viewed as the person who will “always survive,” we koalaknow we want to be viewed as the small and cuddly chipmunk, lower on the food chain, but adorable and cute too. We want to be seen as the butterfly, magnificent in her transformation, but fragile in flight. Sometimes… we are just a koala… looking for a tree branch and a soft place to call home.

Pay close attention to why some people are so “strong.” It may be simply because a tragic evolution required them to learn to stand alone…

I am fortunate because I finally met a woman who could walk this journey with me – recently, when my wife read through the survivor project, she did the unthinkable as a response – she put down the pages, said nothing, and simply hugged me – for those moments, I didn’t have to explain anything.

I didn’t have to describe my writing process.

I didn’t have to rehash anything I wrote.

I didn’t have to outline my plan for publication or my next steps as a writer/survivor advocate.

Before the editing, feedback, questions, or encouragement in the project, there was only the hug.

The best hug ever, honestly.

Because without words, she told me, “I see your resilience is because you weren’t safe…

And with that, I knew…

I am safe now.

My home, my body, my spirituality – me.

It’s safe to be me.

Evolve well, my friends. We are not alone. Namaste.

~~

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.

 

When Abusers Speak for God: 5 Reasons I’ve Had Enough

survivor project unbreakableI’ve seen it in almost every church I’ve ever attended…

Emotional abusers who claim that “hardship” is what “God” intends for the faithful.

I’ve heard it in almost every church I’ve attended…

Sexual abusers who claim that “girls” should be “more careful” how they dress.

I’ve felt it in almost every church I’ve attended…

Physical abusers whose “humility to ask for forgiveness” allow them access to beat their wives repeatedly.

Aren’t we tired yet, of all of the abusers who claim to speak for God?

Let’s just come out and put it clearly in the words of Tori Amos:

God, sometimes you just don’t come through… do you need a woman to look after you?”

As a survivor of conversion therapy, I know all about leaders who speak for God. They spoke for “God” about the “miracle” of healing a person from homosexuality through shame-tactics and brainwashing techniques, sometimes combined with a few false memories and exaggerated gender-norming strategies.

But more than this, I know all about leaders who speak for God when it comes to innocent children…

It was leaders who “spoke for God” who told me at 12 years old, that I could be a good Christian “witness” (or example) to my abuser, if only I would pray more…

I just recently came forward publicly as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse – and a separate attack at age 15, from a “trusted adult” figure in the church. Why did I stay silent all these years, aside from writing about it in Enlightened-ish and a few obscure blog pieces?

The reasons have to do with how survivors stories sound out of the mouths of those who claim to speak for God.

Now with this week’s news of a religious-based TV show being taken off the air because of the scandal involving years of sexual abuse by a man who claims to be an authority on morality, would you think I am going to say anything that hasn’t been said?

Do you think after all I’ve experienced, I would want to shed some light on this for survivors?

You thought right… because if I’m going to lift myself out of this stink that is my newsfeed right now, I have to find my voice.

Overall, I picked “5” Reasons I’ve had enough because I disclosed to FIVE Christian adults that I was being abused by my neighbor… so in the memory of their failure to actually SPEAK UP FOR ME, I offer these reasons.

5 Reasons I’ve Had Enough of Abusers who Claim to Speak for God:

1. I’ve had enough because… abusers don’t get to “spiritualize” their psychological issues.

Child abusers abuse for lots of reasons, but “God” is not one of those reasons. I mean, if God “is” a reason, then that’s another piece. Let’s stop pretending that “God” has anything to do with the mental illness and lack of empathy that abusers have towards their victims.

2. I’ve had enough because… bystanders don’t get to spiritualize our psychological trauma.

Abuse survivors need professional mental health support to recover from these experiences. Trying to “heal” through prayers is like trying to change a tire by drinking a latte. (No, it doesn’t make sense!) It’s time we emphasize the separation of church and… actual mental health support.

3. I’ve had enough because… God really doesn’t have a reputation for being emotionally sound.

Let’s stop pretending like God is actually love. Jesus and some of the other prophets and teachers along the path of spirituality seem to have some sound emotional awareness sometimes, but what we “know” about “God” based on sacred texts is that he/it is the kind of being who likes trauma. (i.e. wars, floods, plagues, human sacrifice, hell, apocalypse, etc.) Trauma survivors don’t need spiritual drama – they have enough actual drama with their healing process.

4. I’ve had enough because… if there is a God, she might not “forgive.”

Let’s pretend for a moment that no one actually believes in the “god” that is presented in sacred texts. Instead of an emotionally unstable bully with strange rules and a hang-up on sexuality, let’s say we believe in a “god” form who is full of sensibility and boundaries. Perhaps we believe in a “god” who balances out the shameful with peace or a “god” who makes wrongs right through justice. If this god exists, I wager she doesn’t simply “forgive” an abuser… she seeks justice and peace.

5. I’ve had enough because… God wasn’t actually there.

Did God “watch” as I was molested repeatedly, against my will, by an older man who knew I was uncomfortable and scared? Did God “watch” as I reached out to trusted religious adults who shamed me further for “allowing” these abusive events to happen? Did God “watch” when I was almost raped by another older boy who was “well-liked” by the church community?

No. Stop it. God wasn’t “there.”

I was there.

So above all, let’s remember the survivor who was actually there... and rather than speaking for a being that did nothing, let’s turn our attention towards the survivors who are finding their voices. Let’s lend our ears to the survivors who are doing SOMETHING, by speaking out, finding a reason to trust, a reason to believe, and a reason to live.

Let’s try that, folks. Because I’ve had enough of hearing from ANYONE who speaks for God.

How about you? Had enough yet?

Namaste, my friends. Tread lightly, walk gently… you know a survivor. It’s time to pay attention and if you speak for anyone, speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

~~

PS. For more information about sexual assault, please check out RAINN.

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.

10 Things to Know about Ex-Gay Survivors

freedom_meme

I step back often, from my role as an advocate for survivors, because no matter how much time has passed, I am still a survivor myself, which means I need time to simply “be” and not be enmeshed in the gross social and religious assumptions and obsessions that are tied to my experience.

Survivors of most hate crimes can relate.

Plus, I’m getting married in 23 days! Who has time to reflect on their drama when there is so much joy and celebration ahead? (Update: Married Nov 2015. #RebrandMarriage 😉 )

When I came across the quote, “She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom,” this post began to form. It is because of the freedom that I have – to love, and be loved, that I am able to recognize the old weight of putting myself and my own needs second to an institution, a relationship, a career – a faith. I will delve into my story again soon, after I enjoy some wedding bliss and my wife may also share her perspectives with my story, as we write together… but until then, I offer you…

10 Things to Know about Ex-Gay Survivors

When you hear about conversion therapy or “ex-gay survivors,” please consider this list as a means of relating to our stories and perhaps removing the stigma associated with our former efforts to divorce ourselves from our sexuality.

1. The ex-gay survivor is a person who stepped into a place of sacred trust with people who projected and idolized profane theology and psychology… but lived to tell about it.

2. The ex-gay survivor is a person who may not want to discuss the obstacles that he still faces when it comes to sexuality because the cult-like logic used to shame him still travels sensitive neuropathways in his brain. Be aware what you can trigger for him.

3. The ex-gay survivor is a person who may not be able to form any kind of positive belief system around religion and should not be pressured to do so… ever. If there is a God, that God will understand. You should too.

4. The ex-gay survivor may not be outspoken about her experience. She may feel that the best path to recovery is showing her freedom by quietly living a life out of the limelight.bxg_Losing_Religion

5. The ex-gay survivor may not have been abused by anyone or anything in their homes, but instead, be a victim of the societal and religious rhetoric and homophobia.

6. The ex-gay survivor may not have known that he had choices to walk away from what an outsider may call a “crazy” or “clearly impossible” goal of changing his sexuality. He didn’t know he had choices because even the word “choice” was a weapon.

7. The ex-gay survivor is a person who knows more about her own identity development that the average person because she has been placing it under a microscope since a very young age. Self-awareness and self-deception are sometimes intertwined and require patience from anyone who would seek to unravel it with her.

8. The ex-gay survivor may not hate the leaders involved in conversion therapy. On the contrary, we may have compassion for leaders or people we went to groups with because we learned so much about them… they were our friends. We may have complicated grief about losing them… even though it was toxic.

9. The ex-gay survivor is a person who spends most of her day learning how to be comfortable in her own skin. She is not “introverted” or “extroverted,” easily compartmentalized into words/phrases you can understand. She is a survivor of emotional/religious/psychological and sometimes physical trauma. She needs space to be.

10. The ex-gay survivor was born perfect… and is learning that… every day.

jung_choose_jpgI look forward to sharing the next evolution of my recovery, as the wife of an amazing woman, who has learned more about me in a day than anyone has ever known. In short, like any other survivor, any other HUMAN, what truly heals and changes us is the ability to find intimacy in a world that has often closed us down… and then… choose to become loved!

The ex-gay survivor is not any different than anyone who has been betrayed – genuine, consistent, and no-nonsense affection and companionship is the recipe for healing.

Much love, my dear readers, friends, and survivors… you are loved, just as you are.

Namaste, yo.

~~

DSC_0354Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose latest 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. 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.

Exodus International: 2 Years Later… Can Survivors Rest in Peace?

bxg_Losing_Religion* Re-sharing June 2015 as TWO years later… same sentiment from last year still holds true*

If you are familiar with my writing or my blog in general, you know that I am a survivor. If you’ve read Enlightened-ish, then you know that my status as “survivor” extends beyond surviving religious fundamentalism and damage from conversion therapy efforts which organizations like Exodus International lied to the public about for decades. I am also a survivor of… life’s darker components such as bullying and sexual abuse. I speak about these things openly not because it is comfortable or even preferred, but because I believe that there is entirely too much fear of authenticity in our cultures of hashtags and half-assed spirituality. Thus, this post, 2 year laters reflects not only on the 2-year anniversary of Exodus International’s closing, but on the collective survivor movement that most of humanity is in, as we all go through an injustice, inequity, abuse, grief, or obstacle that lands us in the awareness of what it takes to thrive in a world that is often not always fair.

When I participated in the Our America piece in 2013, I had a feeling it would transform my understanding of activism and abuse. Recruiting survivors to be taped in front of their accuser: That’s “good TV” and appears at first, to be a motion of activism, but was it abusive as well? A group of survivors is invited to witness a respected journalist (with a net worth of $8.5 million) as she tries to remain neutral in the face of a man claiming to be apologetic about making a living selling lies about homosexuality’s “cure” through prayer and specialized suppression techniques. Are you familiar with the piece which aired a year ago? Here you go: Watch it again. Is it activism? Or is it abuse?

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0SZC3Azsqw”%5D

I personally can’t watch it anymore. Why? Because even in her “review” of her time with Our America, Lisa Ling continued to exalt Alan as a man who she believes was truly trying to attempt something good out of his efforts to apologize – Efforts which led to inequality, genocide, depression, death, and a mental health crisis among gay people, in addition to a spiritually divisive movement within Christianity. (See her respect for him in minute 4:25 of the link) This is tragic when I know from more than one source that Alan pitched yet another publicity stunt to Lisa, after the Our America piece aired. He continued to attempt to latch on the teat of her innocent assumption that behind it all, he was a good guy trying to do good things…

I don’t believe there are any segments at CNN planned, for her to take him on a trip to Africa where she can cover the story of his apology to the people of Uganda, but like I said… I know from more than one source, this guy has an ego the size of Africa – Or a guilt complex equally as large. Either way, any publicity on his face, or those like him, remains to their benefit because it actually reinforces the belief that ex-gay therapy does work. As long as anyone is still asking if the world is flat, there will be yahoos who believe it. Thus, to truly debunk a myth, perhaps we have to let the ignorant move down their paths of baseless beliefs and hopefully they die off like the plague that they are to the collective awakening to science, spirituality and common good.

But we can’t do that, can we?

I couldn’t.

In January of this 2014, when asked to participate in a hearing in Virginia, where lawmakers were given the power to prevent abuses to minors, they tabled the decision… but I went, I testified and I thought I was doing the “activist” thing. Here is the link to that drama/trauma and the consequent interview that I participated in for SkyNews.

Do I look like an activist?” I ask myself.

Or do I look like I am being abused by a system of journalism that continues to cater to the aggressor, rather than the survivor?

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could stay involved with the survivor movement several times before in my experience… but after these incidents, I did step back a bit and begin to ask important questions about who “wins” when survivors speak up.

Ratings for the TV networks.

Listeners on the radio shows.

Blog hits for those who discuss us.

Opportunities to spread the lies, for those who actually still believe this stuff.

As I continued to evaluate my role, what I saw from all of this attention was how it perpetuated itself in online survivor communities. Suddenly I was being re-traumatized on a daily basis through my Facebook notifications and emails. Survivors have accused one another of not being “real” activists. Those who continue to teach/preach suppression accused fellow Christians of not being “real” Christians. Allies who are compassionate to the cause of equality are accused of not being “real” advocates. Trust levels were lowered and meanwhile, the actual story of surviving these injustices is lost in debate and stats like the following, ignored:

Q10Chart_Harm_Info

And so, for me… I have had to redefine what activism really is in my world. I can’t judge those who are making a career of chasing after evil and simultaneously trying to convince themselves it is not evil. I cannot discern the motives of anyone but me…

My motive has always been to make sure survivor stories are told… in all areas of our survival. In fact, that is why my career shift, towards early childhood education made so much sense in 2010… because if you truly want to stop victims from being victims, we have to empower our children not to become aggressors and to stand up for themselves when there are so many words and beliefs that can offend the soul.

An ounce of prevention, is all I can offer.

That is my activism now.

I look back at Christianity and how it is arguing with itself and it is sad to watch. I hear stories of progressives who don’t feel “progressive enough” and I see how the image of Jesus is crucified in blog posts and newsfeeds… I hear survivors who don’t feel “active enough” and pastors who can’t find churches that are “involved enough” in actual justice-seeking, mercy-leading communities and lives…

But I have to wonder about this meme that passed across my eyes not too long ago: exodus_year_later_1When I wrote my coming out memoir years ago, I recognize that there is “A Time to Yell…”

But what if there are activists who move within a very different world of advocacy?

What if we are quietly making a difference by creating positive change in the future, by investing in young lives today?

I’m not saying that the adult survivors don’t matter because, of course, I am one! We need community, compassion and environments where we can freely discuss our healing process. And the world needs justice-seekers, but doesn’t it also need peacemakers?

Do we need to continually share our stories in places that are designed to inflate egos or publicity?

Do we need to make ourselves vulnerable in order to increase ratings and if we do, how does that affect our own quality of life?

For me… I cannot engage in what former leaders are doing now, like it’s some VH-1 pop-up video of apologies, stats and E-True Hollywood banter. I’m over it.

Not over what they did and not over how much attention they still get for doing it…

But for me, being an activist now means being whole in my home, my heart, my health, and in my work.

My fiancee (2015 update: wife 😉 )  dreads this post because she knows that most of the time, when I post about this topic, the attention it brings literally causes me physical pain. But I have assured her, this “years later” post represents the highest intentions of doing what we all wish cult leaders and abusers would do after they have disbanded.

Rest. In. Peace.

Can survivors rest in peace too? Can they look at the places where hurtful words and beliefs left wounds and say, “I learned something and I am going to be okay?” Can they remember their trauma without shuddering? Can they learn to rebuild trust?

Can we… be at peace?

The answer is yes.

But the path to “yes” is different for each of us.

So today, on an anniversary of Exodus International’s shutting down, though it began a shit storm of rebuilding efforts by its leader and continues to be discussed in blog posts from people on both sides of the aisle, creating even deeper division within Christianity and families, I can say…

Happy Anniversary, Survivors.

To all survivors… for every year we make it to the next level, OUR next level, we can celebrate.

Let the media culture do what it needs to do to make a living… but let’s not contribute if it interferes with our own desires to make a life for ourselves.

You have survived much, my friends. I am honored to know your stories and be inspired by the tenacity of them… Thank you, for being… you.

Namaste.

~~

DSC_0821Gail 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.

 

3 Reasons to be Grateful for “Failed” Relationships

relationships_2When it comes to love, it is clear that society as a whole sees longevity as the ultimate goal in a relationship. Endurance and even stubborn tenacity are viewed as the signs of “success” or indicators of a quality partnership. In fact, for those of us who have had several long-term relationships throughout our adult lives, they have named us perpetrators of “serial monogamy.” It sounds like a crime or mortal sin, punishable by a lifetime of assumptions about instability and emotional baggage.

But what if those of us who have “tried, tried again” when it comes to love, know something special because of our ability to get back on that horse and chase after a different setting sun?

I have given this a lot of thought, as a person who survived two 4-year engagements and 1 clusterfuck of an 18-month rebound. Now, I recognize that I’m 36 years old and able to stand back and say, “You know, that was pretty ugly at times, but I’m grateful.” I look at my current fiancee and challenge myself about this rare feeling I have: It feels alien-like really… to envision an actual, sustainable, no-nonsense, adventurous, and aligned future with someone who doesn’t see me as a stepping stone to their healing, an obstacle to their goals, or a season in their ever-changing personal journey.

Can you see that so-called “baggage” coming through my words already? Go ahead… ask yourselves this: “Why was I ever with someone who saw me as a stepping stone, obstacle or season?”

The truth is, for those of us who are serial monogamists, we know the answer, but we’re afraid to tell you. If we tell you “why” we are susceptible to being a chapter in someone else’s love story, we may become victim to attracting a changing tide instead of the whole ocean of possibility that healthy love can offer.

But I’ll take the risk, on behalf of us all… and I will tell you why we allow for this… after I walk you through the 3 Reasons we are learning to be grateful for these seasons of love that others call “failed” relationships:

Grateful Reason # 1: Resilience is our Middle Name

relationshpis_Luna_CaterpillarIt takes a lot to start dating again after a woman tells you that you are the love of her life and she has never met anyone who knows her the way you do… then she leaves you a week before your wedding invitations arrive from the print shop. It takes a lot to believe in love again after a lover tells you that you are the person who completes her and she cannot imagine her life without you… then she calls off her proposal of marriage. It takes a lot to believe in the goodness of relationships after a girlfriend tells you that your friendship means the world to her and she would never jeopardize it… then she cheats on you.

What women can do, to women, to men… to anyone – seems criminal. I can’t even begin to imagine being bisexual and feeling like both sexes are available for these emotional lawbreaking activities. Men equally do this to women – I have no doubt.

But ask the serial monogamist if they still believe in love and somewhere inside of theirrelationships_3_luna_moth broken hearts lie this regenerating caterpillar who still expects that love can remain hidden in a safe cocoon and emerge into this magnificent butterfly or moth. We can be shaken but we are built to last. We are the Energizer Bunnies of intimacy and we have no intention of letting someone ruin us for the one who matters… if you are lucky enough to fall in love with us, we are piece of coal that is living under the pressure of failed relationships and a judgmental society until you prove yourself worthy of our trust… then the shine begins to make its way to the surface.

We sparkle.

We cannot be broken.

And we know how to handle the pressure of disappointment better than those who have had love delivered to their doorsteps on silver platters of good timing and cosmic arrangements.

Grateful Reason # 2: Time is on our Side

dating-2Some of my favorite memories of time spent with my wife-to-be are the conversations around moonlight or candlelight, when I could tell she was falling in love with me but I was cautiously sitting back and waiting… not playing games, not sending mixed messages, but with a patience I was sure I had failed to execute before, with such precision, I waited for the dust of infatuation to settle. Meeting new people is like shaking up a snow globe of romance and at first, there is nothing but a flurry of meetings we call dates or hang-out encounters where we attempt to interview for the position of girlfriend, partner or lover. There is a real treasure in being with someone who will feel their fire of passion for you but not show it right away… because when the critic of romance sees that you are still there, still smitten and not nearly as naive as you let on, the critic becomes the biggest fan of dreaming. Idealism erupts like a geyser and not only has the foundation for trust been laid, there is once again, the belief that this “thing” called love, is going somewhere. We who have “failed” may not rush nearly as much… not because “this time, we want to be sure” (because duh, we always say that), but because there’s nowhere we need to be other than right here in the moment. It’s all we know to trust anymore and in life, not only is that resilient, is refreshing to be around, isn’t it? First dates with serial monogamists may not include sky-diving or sex-capades, but you’re going to be in the kind of experience that can lead to bricks and mortar-style intimacy. We know we are going to put in our time… and we are okay with that, most of the time. 😉

Grateful Reason # 3: There are no Eggs, There is no Basket.

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKn7XAMNV-g”%5D

The art of detachment is one which comes with many heartbreaks. It doesn’t mean we can’t commit and it doesn’t mean that with time and trust, we can’t show up for the joyful surrender that love can be in a committed partnership. (again) I admit that having been in 8+ years of relationships has left me with scars. I thank two partners and one girlfriend for those scars though… because now I do not put all my eggs in one basket, as they say. I do not expect my wife to “complete” any part of me that I cannot already heal on my own. I do not look to her to do for me what I cannot do for myself. I do not expect her to handle me with special care or do anything even similar to a parent or even a confidant. She is not my playmate and she will not become my pacifier. She is my… friend. My very dear, beautiful, sexy, mindful, brilliant… friend.

Rather than saying that “there’s no one like her,” or fill my or her head with platitudes of “meant to be,” I found myself agreeing with my mom who said, after meeting her, “I can see why you want her as a friend… for the rest of your life.”

And this, my lovelies, is how we learn to re-frame the past in order to find a new sound, a new wave, and maybe even a new heart. It helps that when this lover says she loves me, she says it in Spanish sometimes… because the words, “I love you,” are well beyond over-used…

In the end, our baggage is our baggage, but we are grateful because we aren’t committed to our expectations anymore. (Well, except that expectation of loss that creeps in when we are too happy, but that’s why there are counselors 😉 ) By now, we have dated/married or committed to people of various incomes, education, spiritual background, ethnicity, sexual expression or even gender identity. The serial monogamist has seen it all! (And believe me, if you want to really learn something, ask the polyamorous!) I know that couples who married someone at 20 years old and stayed together until their 70’s know things we don’t know, but it’s time we stop selling ourselves short for “failing.”

In fact, isn’t that why we fail?

Let’s get to that point, as promised…

What about our “baggage” and this “pattern” of being in relationships that don’t work out? What is the achilles heel of the man or woman who seems to attracts lessons out of lovers?

The answer is that we are a vulnerable hot mess. The reason that we were willing to be with people who see us as stepping stones, obstacles, or seasons is because we have been unable/unwilling to truly love ourselves and the outcomes we seek.

Shit, it’s out there now, isn’t it?

The problem is we love our lovers more than our goals.

We love our partners even, more than our problems.

We love our would-be-spouses more than the self in the mirror.

But together, as we learn to see the value in these “failed” relationships, we begin to apply principles of self-love and eventually I believe we will attract the type of person we actually can spend more than four years with as a couple…

I’m banking on it, actually.

Because if 8+ years of “failed relationships” provided me with anything, it’s success at being myself. This is a priceless gift that many never figure out…

Succeed at being you.

Mr. or Ms. Right may do better than sweep you off your feet… this person will beautifully support you in keeping both feet on the ground when you need it or walk patiently through the muddy and sometimes unfamiliar path of partnership. Be grateful for their past as they are ever-so grateful for you, in their present.

Namaste, my friends… and to my lovely wife-to-be… please continue to mirror that beautiful hope that I remember so well, the first and second times around… third time is more than my lucky charm. It’s the pot of gold at the end of a double rainbow filled with butterflies, endless cliches, and so much pink glitter, we can hardly stand it. Te amo…

~~

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.