Now that I’m Gay Married… 4 Things Changed

Well, we all know that gay marriage is significantly different than “traditional” marriage, so from about a month into this arrangement that threatens the family, I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned now that I’m Gay Married.

1. Being gay married changed the way I sleep.

Every night before we go to bed, we have this gay ritual of thanking the gay fairies for their bountiful blessings upon our gay marriage. It’s a little over the top, but whatever. It’s all part of tearing apart the fabric of humanity.

2. Being gay married changed the way I breathe.

I had no idea that between every blissful breath, I would be required by the Gay Bylaws of Ruining Traditional Marriage, to state, “I’m here I’m queer, I’m married, now!” every time we go out in public. Again, it’s a bit excessive and perhaps somewhat annoying, but I guess this is Gay Marriage. I have to adjust. I still feel bad for my local coffee shop barista. I mean, it’s just an iced tall chai, but now it is an Iced Tall I’M GAY MARRIED chai. Yeesh.

3. Being gay married changed the way I think.

Being conscious of all the gay things I have to do as a part of this agenda can be very exhausting. When I started to write thank-you cards for the wedding gifts, I was really distracted by the importance of tossing in political and super gay words into all those cards. Duh Gail, you’re gay married… be sure to mention Stonewall, Pride Parades, and how it feels to pave a rainbow path to eternal damnation when you’re thinking of your wedding day and all those beautiful friends/family members who shared those moments with you.

4. Being gay married changed the way I eat.

All this gay food is really different in gay marriage. At every meal, to keep it balanced, we make sure we have a food from every level of the gay food pyramid. We have something organic, something local, something pink and something purple, etc. I never thought the Gay Marriage Dietary laws would be so complicated but again, I’m Gay Married now… life is different.

And satire – well, satire is long gone. I mean, the honeymoon period couldn’t be more annoying. The way we look into each other’s gay married eyes and say things like, “Our gay married life is so fun and I gay love you so much,” would really frustrate most people. But we can handle it. We are gay brave. Our gay married bliss is really just a burden we are willing to bear…

Seriously now, folks.

This piece is in response to a very unexpected encounter I’ve recently had with the 1996-1999 version of myself and an oppressed personal history in Cincinnati, Ohio. I look back at it and sometimes I hope to divorce myself from it. But, if being gay married has taught me anything so far, it’s that I don’t want to divorce myself from my self-hating, spiritually suffocated past…

I want to move towards it with sarcasm and gentility… today, sarcasm, clearly.

But soon, I will have to integrate the fact that every silly thing I have long renounced about the religiously-based prejudice towards gay people was in fact, a fire that used to fuel my own warped beliefs…

I always hated the phrase, “There but by the grace of God go I,” but looking back on a tainted history of faith experiences, lost community, and broken friendships, combined with a limited worldview and laced with self-hate, I do wonder how I got here…

Anyway, I jest at how “gay marriage” changed me when the truth is, it didn’t change me.

It has done nothing but allow me to BE me.

I’m a month into this marriage “thing” and there’s nothing “gay” about it – it’s a sacred union of two people who are still in a honeymoon phase of long gazes, endless inside jokes, stomach butterflies of joyful overwhelm, and tearful conversations of gratitude.

gay_marriage_groundbreakingI can only say one more thing about it all right now: Share this post not because sarcasm feels good (and it does 😉 )  but also because you can remember a time when sarcasm was the only tool you had in admitting your own shortcomings. Sometimes we need to laugh… sometimes grief taps most gently on the doors of our hearts through snarky reflections and eye rolls…

And then comes another layer of forgiveness… brace for it.

It’s coming…

Namaste, yo.

And many thanks to Over the Rhine, for being a mirror of music, art, community, marriage, and faith – unbeknownst to them, my journey from 1996-present has their music as a personal soundtrack… And in true honeymoon bliss, I say that until next blog…

I’m wide awake
And the world can wait
” – OTR, The World Can Wait

[youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCLu464SxOk”%5D

~~

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.

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.

995755_10201457965989125_1791959249_n

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…

~~

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.

Ex-Gay Survivor Translates Exodus Cult Speak

Many of you know that Exodus International continues to operate an annual conferencelight_trees and while the attendance has dwindled over the last few years, as a survivor of these shaming, inaccurate and harmful messages, I often feel the need to speak the truth about what goes on behind closed doors. A few of my colleagues at Beyond Ex Gay and other survivors in various online communities also find themselves reading about conferences, blogs from current leaders and other affiliates and smacking their heads. We know from experience that what they are selling is still a storyline that involves suppressing sexual behaviors in order to “please” a heterosexually-obsessed god-figure and manipulative church leadership. In an effort to debunk the myth that these conferences/teachings offer the LGBTQ person a healthy or safe atmosphere for coming to terms with sexuality and faith, I offer this year’s Exodus Conference listing along with a translation, from a survivor’s perspective.

This note goes out to all survivors, of any fundamentalist teaching that draws you to divorce yourself from the body and creates inequities in your faith experience and communities. Namaste, my friends. Let the light shine…

2013 Workshop Listings:

“From Rejected to Accepted” – Survivor Translation: Co-dependency is cooler than you think. Try it. We will make sure you like it.

“Looking For Love in All the Wrong Places” – Survivor Translation: Your broken heart is a direct result of being gay, duh.

“If We Had to Do it Over” – Survivor Translation: Sugar-coating 101: How Exodus Got Away with Lies about Change Orientation

“The Power in the Telling” – Survivor Translation: You Can’t Pray Away the Gay, but you too can talk about it endlessly because misery and company are the match we believe is made in heaven.

“Pursuing Sexual Purity” – Survivor Translation: Have sex only if it is work. Natural sexuality isn’t pure. Ever. Sorry.

“Let’s Talk: Masculinity” – Survivor Translation: Gurl, you look great in those pants. I mean, dude, nice top. I mean… Be a Breadwinner. Done and Done.

“The Facts vs The Truth” – Survivor Translation: No, not facts about sexuality, gender or psychologically-sound facts. That’s just the Gay Agenda. We will give you the truth according to the Gospel of Exodus. Please avoid all psychological resources prior to this workshop. The only pre-reads required are books by our Savior, Paul the Apostle.

“Let’s Talk: Femininity” – Survivor Translation: Dude, let’s grab a beer. I mean, brother, I think you’re cute… I mean… I’ll have your babies. Done and Done.

“The Bible, Gender, and Personal Identity” – Survivor Translation: @$(@)&%)&!!!

“A Well- Connected Woman” – Survivor Translation: ??? lol

“Why I Don’t Give Up” – Survivor Translation: Those activists are a real pain. Don’t be a quitter. It’s bad for business

“Celibacy and The Christian Life” – Survivor Translation: Safe sex means making out with Jesus. Got it? Unless you’re male. You should make out with Mother Mary. Wait a minute…

“Making Your Marriage Work” – Survivor Translation: Five reasons to have sex even when it doesn’t feel good.

“What I Wished My Parents Would Have Done For Me” – Survivor Translation: We still blame parents. Sorry if that totally isolates you from them but hey, more time for cult activity and isolation. Perfect.

“Help…Someone In My Church is Gay” – Survivor Translation: I have a crush on a girl in the pew next to me and she smells good. HELP! 

“So, What’s Our Story” – Survivor Translation: After almost four decades of these lies, we still don’t really know and we don’t expect you to know either. Thanks for paying the conference fee. ‘Preciate it.

“Life After Your Son or Daughter Says “I’m Gay”” – Survivor Translation: Life after death? Yes that’s what it feels like as a child tells you they are gay. So sorry they did this to you after everything you did for them. Try not to mention hell though cuz that will throw them on to your scent. P.S. They may go to heaven, but here’s 3 Steps to Making their Life Hell on Earth.

“How Should the Church Respond?: A Christ-like Response” – Survivor Translation: Because the Golden Rule is too complicated.

“Improving the Relationship with Your Gay Child” – Survivor Translation: !@$(@%!
Alternate Translation: We can’t reconcile ourselves to our own sexual orientation and relationships with our friends and families but we are an excellent source for educating you on how to do it. Go figure.

“Discovering Our True Identity” – Survivor Translation: Cuz those gay couples out there are totally not real. False identities. It’s like they don’t even exist. In fact, they aren’t happy either. Don’t fall for it.

~~

 I dedicate this post also, to Michael Bussee, an original founder of Exodus International, whose commitment to seeing it disbanded inspires many survivors on their healing journey. In response to this current list of workshop titles, Michael said, “his could easily have been a list of workshops from 10 or 20 years ago.  The same focus on homosexuality as some sort of addiction to overcome, a “false identity” to be denied… And Exodus claims to be changing?”

Looks like same ingredients, different label, if you ask this survivor.

Cheers, Exodus. Survivors raise their glasses to what we expect will be your last conference. Your reign of social genocide ends in 2013.

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IM0CtA2OFI”%5D

Heal at your Own Rate

When an ex-gay leader comes out of the closet, looking for the light, I want to be a person who welcomes him into the beautiful truth that he cannot and should not crucify himself any longer at the Altar of Heterosexuality. No longer will he pretend he is someone he is not. No longer will he wish he were dead. No longer will he wonder why God is so hateful as to create such a flawed sexual identity. When an ex-gay leader comes out of the closet, I want to be a person who does not judge their history but has benevolence that comes out of abundant grace, flowing from a fount of forgiveness.

That’s a tall order.

I get it.

But it’s what I desire for myself.

When John Smid, a former ex-gay leader, announced his return to sanity this month (a.k.a. that he is a big homo after all), I know it stirred up a storm of reflection among all of us who identify as ex-gay survivors and definitely for those who still identify as “ex-gay.”

The thing about Smid though is that he wasn’t just another guy who led groups at Exodus International (or some over-bearing, manipulative woman at Prodigal Ministries in Cincinnati Ohio). He wasn’t merely facilitating conversations where people come to meetings and get their identities molested. He was a ring-leader at the ex-gay residential facility, Love in Action (which was shut down last month due to low funding and oh yeah, it doesn’t work). Now, I’ve never been to the Love in Action facility but what I imagine is that it magnifies the soul-raping that I attended in therapy sessions and “support” group meetings. Basically, they gathered in a location where no one was around to monitor all of this self-hate and heterosexuality worship, for months on end. They made promises to set you free, taught you that what you felt is wrong and swore that God loves you anyway…

It sounds like gang soul-rape…

So when it comes to healing from the wounds that were inflicted under this guy’s leadership, I can literally only imagine what kind of things went on, the faces he made, the words he used, the hugs he offered, the intentions he twisted, the stories he told, the prayers he prayed. It grosses me out to even try to imagine it.

Rather than going too far in empathizing with the survivors of Smid’s smut version of “healing,” I wanted to share a private encounter that I had with the spirit of my father yesterday and how it relates.

Okay, I didn’t really run into his spirit or anything, but he just died a month ago and I spend a lot of time thinking about him, missing him, trying to access the better parts of who he was and in doing that, I’ve been celebrating one of his quirky habits in conversation. (You may have to read this part aloud to fully come into the journey but come along… it will be enlightening and entertaining.)

My dad liked to speak by inverting letters in words or phrases, which weren’t always appropriate but were silly and sometimes very funny. For example, my name was Dale Gickert or he would call and say, “Hey honey, dow’s your hay?”

In fact, he would have full conversations like this sometimes and it would drive me bonkers. He would be explaining how the V.A. were nucking futs or how the guy hown the dall forgot to meet him at Kentucky Chied Fricken and I would finally exclaim, “Dad, please stop waying seird things to me!

Annoying, funny but well, that was my dad. He thought he was hysterical and only now when he doesn’t call and talk like a goof, do I realize how much I miss it.

So, I’ve been seeing and hearing things in those “inverted” ways since he died and today when I came home, I saw a card on the table that a friend got for me yesterday since I’ve been sick.

It said, “Heal at your own Rate.”

But I read…

Real at your own Hate.

Reel at your own Hate?

Be Real about your own Hate?

In that moment, I thought about healing from the ex-gay movement and Christian Fundamentalism. This healing is something that we do at our own rates but how true it is that part of healing is recognizing when to reel about the hateful things they did and reel because it is still being done!

To be even more honest, are we real about the hate that we have, towards them, not as people, but towards their deplorable actions? (or anyone who has hurt us, intentionally or not)

Personally, I can say that I’ve forgiven the ex-gay leaders of my past and all previous wounds to this date from the fundies. (I’m sure there are more to come.) I can also say, personally, that if John Smid wants to hit up a club with me, I will buy him a lap dance from the most beautiful drag queens in DC but this is me, healing at my own rate.

And that is all that matters.

We have that in common. We all have healing to let in and hate to let out.

This is the homospiritual journey, as I see it.

I’m thankful that I get to share it with all of you, regardless of the stages of our healing or the type of wounds people of “faith” have put upon us. We must forgive ourselves for letting it happen and forgive them but not without proper and full acknowledgment of what it means.

Thanks for being a part of this journey. I’m sending blany messings to you all!

Confessions of an Ex Ex-Gay: Part 3

To say I am not looking forward to this series is the understatement of my year. What I thought would be 2 or 3 posts that glazed over the darker experiences about my ex-gay drama has both fortunately and very unfortunately taken on a life of its own to the point that my dreams have  begun to interpret my current conflicts in Christian community through the toxic language of the ex-gays…

At 5:11 am, I awoke from a nightmare that left me gasping for air, clutching my stomach and chest and offering up an echo of dry-heaving as a morning prayer to all of the gods that would listen… and to my neighbors… to anyone within ear shot, I was sobbing and screaming because I’m now giving full voice to what this spiritual raping is all about…

As I stifled my screams into the bathroom towel, turned myself into a ball and rocked on the bathroom floor I thought, “Who is listening to this, really?”

The question went beyond the awareness of the moment and I thought about how there are now nearly a thousand readers who are witnessing this via my writing. I’m not sure I was prepared for that but as I’ve read emails and posts about how my opening up may save lives, change minds and change hearts, I am struck by how the truth has never felt so freeing.

I want to tell you about the nightmare that woke me up this morning and led to this ethereal vomit but I know that it’s going to take me another day or two to hash it out. I’m befuddled by how the “innocent” people of my current life can be portrayed as such hateful people in my dream life but the similarities between my ex-gay past and my present will reveal important trends that I believe keep us all away from Christianity at some point.

The need to be “like” them to be a part of them is ultimately the most frightful experience for anyone with a working, evolving understanding of spirit and his/her own place in this world. The language that Christianity, overall, has assumed for itself is toxic and through this sharing, I hope that is one of the ultimate transformations that some Christians undergo. Being around Christians again, in all their glory is exactly what is prompting this flashback-style process and is reminding me of the traumatic lessons I learned from the ex-gays and fundies. Specifically, I ask the Christian community to ask itself what it hopes to attain by only surrounding itself with people who are like-minded…

So I’ll share more about this nightmare and its effects very soon. It’s the perfect analogy to have woken up dry-heaving because I felt like I was spewing the nasty qi, their awful lies, with every violent exhale from the deeper part of my body. The posts and conversations are like a toxic chemical that is working out the cancer of my soul. It is uncomfortable, leaves me exhausted, turns my blood cold but is somehow killing off that which has been trying to kill me all these years.

I appreciate all of the light, love and prayer support as I unleash myself from the ex-gay lie. These attachments run deeper than I thought but I will not stop until others know that Jesus cannot be used to abuse others, lock them away from their identities or cause them to suffer. I may not arise from this any more of a Christian than I was when I started but I may truly be damned if I don’t get back a pure picture of how to love and be loved by a community of people, Christian or otherwise.

Please do continue to let this story be told and keep telling your own. Together I believe we will shut down the spiritual genocide known as the ex-gay movement.

Humbly, I say… thanks for listening.