Sunday, April 30, 2006

Thoughts on church

I stopped by the Stupid Church People blog tonight, just surfing around the internets, as is my habit. By the way, for readers who consider themselves "Church People," the site is more about exploring the way churches work (or perhaps more accurately, don't work), and a place for those who are still exploring what it means to be church people, or to be ex-church people. I see it more as jilted lovers trying to work through their past and stumbling towards their future than an attack on those who attend church.

There was a post by Steve about someone who had also left his previous church:
She said that in the weeks following this decision, she began to find out what her "supposed" church community was all about. Her choice to leave the church was met with mixed reviews, with some people being downright offended. People from her small group that called her on a regular basis stopped calling. People she would call suddenly were too busy to get together. And, in the midst of her personal needs, when she really needed some of these "tried and true" friends, they were nowhere to be found. While she had served this church and loved the people there for years, she felt a mixed bag of sadness and rage at the way she was now being treated.

This lady told me today that it has been in the midst of her crisis that she has discovered what it truly means to be supported and loved by those that genuinely care for her. With some reservation and dismay, she told me that she has found that love and support more consistently from those outside the walls of the church. Many times she has felt like saying a big "F-You" to the church, but has found a safe place to attend, that is allowing her to heal and be restored physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Continue reading First Church of the Ambivalent.

Wow, could I sure relate to that.

What I found so amazing when I'd leave a church, is just how little the people there actually cared about me outside of those four walls. Or maybe they did care, but they didn't know how to translate that caring into a relationship that didn't involve church.

Sometimes I think a lot of us may have approached church in an unhealthy way, looking for it to meet more needs than it can reasonably meet. On the other hand, I feel like that's exactly what many churches promote. Or, like a few pastors and church members I'd run into, they were in love with the idea of being needed and wanted, but didn't like the practical applications of that.

Of course I also rationalized for them that with me there were extenuating circumstances. I was ex-gay, I had "issues," all of that. I had come to believe that perhaps people got into more of a "helping" one-sided relationship with me than they would with others they considered peers. I used to think that all these relationships that didn't work--all these people who didn't want to be my friend when our friendship didn't include going to the same church--didn't work because of me, really. But in reading Stupid Church People, I realize maybe I'm not so special. Maybe there's something about church relationships (in Evangelical circles, at least) that aren't like other relationship.

I'm still not clear on what it is, but here's what I posted in response to Steve's post:
The last few years of my life have been a journey in trying to learn what real relationships are with real people who want to be in my life, not because they feel like they should (which is what the church often fosters) but because they want to.

The flip side of that is not being able to trust people as easily as I think I used to. When I left different churches and found out how superficial the relationships truly were (I actually found it odd that church relationships seemed more superficial than work ones...I'm still friends with many former co-workers, and not hardly with any former church-goers, to whom I would have said at the time I was much closer), I realized I didn't know what it was to trust that someone wanted a realationship with me just because of who I was.

Even now, I find myself asking and questioning why someone would want to be friends with me. What do they want? What are they getting out of it? What is the thing that ties us together that would render the friendship meaningless and "old" were it to disappear (like going to the same church).

I think churches foster a strange kind of intimacy that isn't real, maybe. Or maybe it's based on the wrong things from the get-go.

All in all, I really truly have felt the best in my life not belonging to any kind of church. I still can't ever imagine wanting to go back to one. I almost felt like my real life began when I walked away from church at the end of 2002.
Yeah, maybe jilted lover is a good way of describing some of us ex-church-goers. I don't know. I suppose I don't feel as much jilted as I feel relief for having escaped what had been to me some very toxic environments and empty friendships. I'm still trying to sort it all out. At least I know I'm not alone on that journey.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Support your local sheriff!

Conversation with Mr. PO-liceman today on the phone:

Me: I need to make a report about a stolen purse.
Gruff, grunting, chewing policeman: OK ma'am. What's the address?
Me: Um, where it was stolen?
PM: Yes, it wouldn't do me any good to have the address of somewhere where it wasn't stolen, would it?
Me: Oh, OK. Well, you know, I'm not sure of the exact address. I was helping a friend move, so I was just parked outside of her old apartment, and I don't know her address.
PM: (incredulously) So you knew how to get there but you don't know her address?
Me: Um, yeah. Well, you know, the only thing I know is it's the ____ apartment complex on Florida and she lived in building three.
PM: What do you mean "she lived" - I thought you said this was today?
Me: Yeah, it was just a few hours ago, but I was helping her move from that apartment to another, so technically, you know, she doesn't live there anymore.
PM: (sigh) OK I don't want to know all the details about your friend, Ma'am. I just need to know where this theft occured.
Me: Right, and that's the problem. I mean, I guess I could drive over there and find out for sure and come back here and call you? Can we go with the information I have, which is the name of the complex, cross-streets and building number?
PM: Well, that doesn't help me. I need an exact address to put into the computer.
Me: Well, I guess I'll just have to hang up and call the apartment complex and get back to you then.
PM: You could call your friend.
Me: Well, my cell phone was stolen along with my purse and that's where I have her number.
PM: You don't got it written down anywhere else?
Me: (I have to justify my record-keeping to Mr. Policeman now?) Nope.
PM: (big dramatic sigh) Hang on there, Ma'am, I'll try to look it up.
PM: How about 9110 E. Florida? Does that sound good?
Me: Uh, well, sure, I mean, it sounds good. I just don't know if it's correct. I don't live over there. I don't know what the numbers are. But, um, sure.
PM: Well, I suppose it's as good as any.
PM: What did this purse look like?
(and on we go until I am listing the contents of my purse)
Me: ...and maybe um...five credit cards?
PM: OK, what are they?
Me: (I detail all the card companies I've called, and apparently I list a total of six cards)
PM: That's six cards, you said five before.
Me: Oh, Ok. Well I guess I was guessing, but I have this list in front of me of all the companies I called and everyone that reported purchases, and I guess there's six.
PM: OK, well you just said five before, and now you said six.
Me: Well. (my turn for big dramatic sigh) There were five credit cards, and one debit card.
PM: Oh, OK then.


Seriously, can't imagine why this guy has a desk job and has to work weekends, can you?

But maybe I'm just a bad citizen. According to him, I don't get much sympathy because the passenger-side door was unlocked, the vehicle was unattended for 2 minutes at a time, I kept my social security card in my wallet, I don't have phone numbers written down, I don't write down where my friends live, and I didn't have my license number or license plate on my truck memorized or written down anywhere. He asked what would happen if my truck was stolen, how would I report it? Dang good question, actually. One of the only useful things to emerge from this conversation, actually.

So, folks, here's some tips for you:

Keep a record of your credit cards and the numbers to call if they are stolen. Keep this separate from your cards. Funnily enough, they often print this info on the back of the card. You know, so that after you don't have the card any longer, you can flip it over to get the number.

Write down your license number and license plate number.

Don't carry your social security card in your wallet.

Write down where all your friends live, and their phone numbers.

It's entirely possible that my sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

Calm in the storm

I have this crazy knack for going hyper-calm when something really upsetting happens.

Today my purse, checkbook, wallet, money, cell phone, etc. were stolen out of my truck while I was helping a friend move (hey, it's what good Lesbians do).

Yeah, it's a bummer, and I'm kinda stressed, I suppose. The thieves apparently spent more with my credit cards in 2 hours than I've spent in one year. I have no cell phone now. I have nobody's numbers (which reminds me, if I know you, and I regularly call or text you from my cell phone, please e-mail me your number. The SIM card does no good if it's stolen with the phone, now does it?). No driver's license. My social security card happened to also be in my wallet (that's a big no-no, by the way). I had to cancel my checking account, which means I have to order new checks.

The biggest thing I'm trying to figure out is how do I establish my identity at the DMV to get my driver's license replaced? I don't have a copy of my birth certificate (which is actually the reason I had my social security card in my wallet...I was going to have this form notarized to validate my identity so I could get my birth certificate so that I could get a passport). I guess the DMV has my picture and signature on file. But somehow I have this feeling they don't just let people walk in with nothing to identify themselves and walk out with a valid driver's license.

And since I'm flying in about a week, how do I board a plane without valid picture ID? It's weird to think how much we rely on this stuff now, in our society.

I don't even have any cash right now and no means to get any. I guess I'll get a new bank card in a week or so. And I have a paycheck coming in the mail tomorrow. Of course, I don't think I can cash it without ID? It becomes kind of a catch-22.

I'm sure it will all work out, though. In fact, I went and had lunch with the folks I was doing the moving with, even though I'd noticed my purse missing a bit earlier and we'd determined it wasn't anywhere and had probably been stolen. OK, so maybe that wasn't the best thing - I should have been making those stolen credit card calls. I just figured I'd have time. So maybe the calm thing goes a bit too far.

I mean, I get more upset when someone in front of me slams on their brakes for no reason than I do when someone steals my purse! It occurs to me that maybe this is something I get from my Dad. My dad would drop a screwdriver on the floor and be hopping mad about it. He'd be full of "Oh, for pete's sake" and "Oh for dumb!" (a wonderful midwestern expression). But something major? He just gets pretty quiet and eerily calm. His mind gets analytical and he figures out what to do next.

When I was 17 I got in my first car accident, and it was completely my fault. So I go back home, and I say, "Um....Dad? Do we have good car insurance?" (ha.) He calls up the woman whose car I hit, and he says, "Hi, my name is _____. I understand you had the pleasure of meeting my daughter tonight in the Safeway parking lot."

He didn't yell at me. He didn't get upset. He told me I was going to pay every penny and we didn't report it to insurance. He made me pay for the repair of the other car, and that was that.

I love that about my Dad, and I'm really glad that I've gotten a bit of that from him.

Oh, and send me your number if you think I should have it. Email address is on my profile.

P.S. If you're wondering what this has to do with me being ex-gay, here's the connection(s):

1. I DO Exist! Even if I don't have picture ID, passport, birth certificate, Driver's License, credit cards, or cash. I'm going to make a video about it.

2. If it weren't for Exodus and my time as an ex-gay, I wouldn't even have had my stuff in a purse in the first place! All of this stuff would have been in a wallet in my back pocket where it belongs.

(yes, I'm joking...) :D

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pot meet kettle

So the other day I was driving behind someone that had an enormous crucifix hanging off their rear-view mirror. I was contemplating what would make someone hang such a symbol like that. Do they really need the 10 inch reminder of Jesus' suffering in their face every time they are behind the wheel? Is it because they don't remember the crucifixion without seeing it every day?

As I was pondering this, some brightly colored thing caught my eye.

Why, lo and behold, it was a rainbow lei that I'd tossed over my rear-view mirror the other day after meeting up with the PFLAG/Soulforce gang.


Yeah, cuz I guess I need a constant in-my-face reminder that I'm a gay...Hawaiian?

So yeah. Pot, meet kettle (or as I used to say when I was last year...that's the cat calling the kettle black!)

I wonder how many other times I judge others for something either a. totally harmless or b. something that I also do/have/say/think....probably more than I'd want to know, I'd imagine.

I need to remember the other line I used to say (with dramatic flair) when I was a kid: "To own his each!"

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Well, I've been kinda ranty and not-so-much-happy on my blog lately, so as a reminder that the world is not all bad, I thought I'd post something cheery. I went to the Denver Zoo today with a friend who was celebrating her birthday.

It was fun to see all the different animals--I always feel like a kid again when I got to the zoo (even though I have mixed feelings about animals in captivity, I do enjoy seeing animals up close that I'd never get to see otherwise).

Got to see penguins, polar bears, lions, wolves, all kinds of birds, lizards, komodo dragons, frogs, elephants, three rhinos playing in the water, ring-tailed lemurs and tapirs. Much more, but that's what sticks out. (By the way, yes I photoshopped the above images. I took pics with my camera phone; so not good quality pics + being a photoshop geek = this is what you get)

I left right before a freak mini hail storm swept through Denver (the storm was mini, not the hail). I actually got pelted by a couple of these on my shoulders and they really stung! It was very good we left when we did. And of course...

When I got home, I was greeted by my own wee ones in captivity.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The worst kind of hurt

I just had a conversation with a friend who found out her mother had prayed that if being gay was a sin, that the Lord would take this daughter before she had drifted too far from God (yes, as in "take this daughter" out).

GCB at This Gay Christian's Blog writes about his Beau and the phone call he recently received from his parents:
And among it all comes the proclamation that, among the church gossip and woe-is-me’s about their so-called wayward son, his mother is praying that the Beau and I would have unsettled lives.

This is in line, though more blunt, with my own mother’s proclamation that “God will never bless me.”
A commenter on the above entry related the following:
I know the feeling. My mother sent me a letter saying that she used to (before I came out) pray that I’d find the right woman to marry, but after I came out, she prayed that I would never fall in love (with another man)...So, I remember well the ‘punched in the guts’ feeling of knowing your mother is/was praying against you.

Stephen Bennett (ex-gay superman who claims to be completely heterosexual) recently had as a guest on his podcast the mother of a lesbian. She read this from a letter she sent her daughter:
I pray that your spiritual eyes will be opened and that you will see God's truth. I'm grieving because you are missing all the blessings God has in store for you. He can't bless you. You will never have real joy, happiness, contentment and peace as you continue to live in this gay lifestyle. You may think that you are happy right now, but that will not last. Real joy and happiness only comes when you walk in God's truth.

I'm sure that not only does she believe that God can't bless her daughter, she is actively praying for this as well. And no, this is not my mother (although it easily could be; I've heard my parents pray similar prayers and I've no doubt they are praying these prayers for me right now).

Some prayers or messages gays receive go way beyond the "I hope your life is hell because you are a sinner" type of prayers, though.

(Rev.) John Smid, Director of Tennessee's Love In Action has been quoted in the past as saying, "I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery." (You can read more about the validity of this quote with comments from LIA survivors here).

One early LIA (California) participant, Jack McIntyre, successfully commmitted suicide. His note states, in part,
I must confess that there were things in my life that I could not gain control, no matter how much I prayed and tried to avoid the temptation, I continually failed.

It is this constant failure that has made me make the decision to terminate my life here on earth.

If I remain it could possibly allow the devil the opportunity to lead me away from the Lord. I love life, but my love for the Lord is so much greater, the choice is simple.
[the entire letter can be found in the comments section of this XGW post and additional references can be found here and here.]

When talking to Soulforce Equality Riders who had just been to BYU, they related that one sentiment they'd heard frequently in Mormon circles was that it was better to be dead than be gay.

I really do agree with Soulforce on this issue. This kind of language and these kinds of prayers (especially when related to the child/person in question) do constitute spiritual violence/abuse. There's no other way around it that I can see.

People who pray for God to take out their kids, make their kids lives miserable, and then proceed to tell them about these prayers, are committing a form of abuse, and in my opinion, it's the worst kind. Judy Shepherd has been quoted as saying that "Church hurt is the worst kind of hurt." And parents invoking God against you is one step above that, in my opinion. That, and the implicit lack of unconditional love leaves a wound that may never be healed.

Mary Lou Wallner, whose daughter committed suicide in 1997, has said, "I committed a hate crime. I didn't love my daughter unconditionally."

Friday, April 21, 2006

No more of your love, please

Mike Ensley, who works at Exodus, wanted to make sure that we knew that "the hate" doesn't come from Exodus. Timothy Kinkaid, at Ex-Gay Watch gave the background on the story, and disagreed, eloquently and with many links for people who need proof:
So, Mike, let me give you a timeline for when I’ll realize that hate doesn’t come from you:

When you stop spreading malicious lies such as all gay people were molested or had a poor relationship with their same-sex parent, that gay people do not have committed monogamous loving long-term relationships, and the myriad myths you propagate about the sex lives and “health risks” of all gay people. When you stop seeking to enact laws that would deny rights to gay couples that are taken for granted by straight couples, take away gay people’s children, and – in some states – incarcerate gay people for expressing their love to their partner sexually. And finally, Mike, when you stop lying to gay people about the methods, reach, failure rates, and agenda of the Exodus International.

Once you’ve done that, Mike, get right back to us and we’ll let you know whether you’ve convinced us that hate doesn’t come from you. In the meanwhile, you'll understand why I think that your "love the sinner, but destroy his life at every opportunity in every way" type of message is more likely to result in vandalism than in clean-up.
Thanks Timothy. Thank you for pointing out exactly what Exodus does, all the while saying they love us. Any wonder I see connections between Dobson and his parenting ideas and Exodus and the way they "love us"?

In the land of "Awwww"

Those of you who don't like cute blog entries, run now. Consider yourself warned.

Here's an excerpt from a recent e-mail I received from nephew J. (3 years old)
c,cfd fff'
'////////cXc? cX????Cv... '/x/d''ee'dfdd'ddd'xddxs'
[sizable snip]
jj j j jj j j j j j j jj j j j j j j j jj jjicxZ
xoxoxoxoxopxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxo Love, J

I'll admit things got a bit repetitious at the end, but that's pretty much how three-year-olds are, isn't it? ("but why? why?")

Here's a recent picture of my nephew E. Some kids get cars when they turn 16; E. got his first car at age one (a birthday gift from my parents). My nephews live in the country of Texas (aka God's Country), but I don't let that stop me from visiting as often as I can. Who can blame me? Look at that gorgeous smile. And J is well on his way to a fantastic blogging career; that's obvious. When I don't visit I keep up with both of these guys on the phone. I tend to have to monologue a bit more with E than with J. Although I spend a lot of time saying, "Hmmm? Auntie's not sure what you're saying. Could you say that again? [giving up] oh? Wow!"

Moving onto the kitties:
My kitties have been a challenge lately. They've gone from sleeping curled up together and grooming each other regularly to hating each other's guts. This in all of about 2 or 3 weeks time. Troubling (to say the least) for this doting mom. I took them both to the vet, and had $120 worth of blood tests run on Max but he's healthy as...a cat...

My vet suggested I keep them indoors (they're 99% indoor cats anyway, but when the weather gets nice I let them outside, supervised, of course) because maybe another cat's markings are troubling Max, who is suddenly feeling territorial and taking it out on Sophie. Who the heck knows. So I've been trying to keep them indoors, but failing miserably.

The first pic is Sophie today, who snuck out as I was on my way in. I didn't even notice she was outside until I came back into the kitchen a half-hour later and saw her on the other side of the window, looking at me kind of quizzically. Typical indoor cat, she had no idea what to do when she got her freedom.

Next is a pic of Max hanging out with one of my perennials that is actually growing back (a whole bunch aren't - not sure what I did wrong? I'm still learning the gardening thing).

One last kitty pic. No, I'm not strangling Sophie. She's actually letting me pet her chest and sort of hugging my arm (she used to be a ferral, skinny, sick homeless kitty I adopted right before she was about to be put down, so she's not the most huggable kitty in the whole world). Awww.

A non-gay same-sex tempted homosexual

Justin at GCN wrote a parody of the Major-General's song from The Pirates of Penzance and recently posted it. For a bit of background, he says, "I wrote this song after attending an ex-gay conference several years ago. It was frustrating to see all these people who admitted to continuing "SGA" ("same-gender attracion") but refused to admit they were still gay." I was going to excerpt this, but frankly, I couldn't isolate out the funniest bits. It all pretty much made me laugh:
I am the very model of an ex-gay individual
I've no more gay attractions (okay, maybe a residual)
I go to ex-gay conferences, where folks hold me accountable
They say with Jesus, sga is never insurmountable

I think of God, not Gaynor, when I hear someone say Gloria
I always stay a block away from local gay emporia
I've read 8 books on how to please my wife while I'm caressing her
And probably a dozen more by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

And probably a dozen more by Dr. Laura Schlessinger,
And probably a dozen more by Dr. Laura Schlessinger,
And probably a dozen more by Dr. Laura Schlessing-Schlessinger!

I wrote a tell-all book about my sordid lifestyle histories
It's been at least a month from my last bathroom break at Mister P's
In short, despite a teeny little sga residual
I am the very model of an ex-gay individual

In short, despite a teeny little sga residual,
he is the very model of an ex-gay individual!

My father was a weakling and my mother was tyrannical
In lieu of wrestlemania, my interests were botannical
My peer group had a way of undermining my stability
Because I lacked in football any natural ability

Since "gay" and what I felt were in reality antonymous
I took the narrow path to homosexuals anonymous
The counselors determined after listening to my narrative
My brokenness results from having drives that are reparative

His brokenness results from having drives that are reparative,
His brokenness results from having drives that are reparative,
His brokenness results from having drives that are repar-reparative!

Now, though I hope my obfuscating language doesn't vex you all
I'm told I am a non-gay same-sex tempted homosexual
And so despite a temporary struggle with residual
I am the very model of an ex-gay individual

And so despite a temporary struggle with residual,
he is the very model of an ex-gay individual!

I'll know I've finally made it when my picture is in Citizen
You'll read my testimony in the Christian mags that it is in
I'll testify to Congress without ever feeling ill-at-ease
When I no longer notice guys with looks like Ryan Phillippe's

When body image means no more and I'm content with tippin' scales
When I've eradicated any ling'ring thoughts of Chippendales
When I can get my ex-gay wife to pick up on my simple hints
And when I father children without need of kitchen implements

And when he fathers children without need of kitchen implements,
And when he fathers children without need of kitchen implements,
And when he fathers children without need of kitchen imple-implements!

For in certain Christian circles, having proof of change is critical
A struggle's not enough when testimonies are political
But still, although I'm dealing with my childhood residual
I am the very model of an ex-gay individual!

But still, although he's dealing with his childhood residual,
he is the very model of an ex-gay individual!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Two daddies...two much love

Emma got to go to the White House with her two daddies for the easter egg roll. Trey, at Daddy, Papa and Me writes beautifully about Emma and her fun on the White House lawn on Sunday. He comments about the controversy and says
O'Reilly, the not-so-bright-bulb that he is, was afraid that we'd make parents talk about homosexual sex to their children... but when those parents are explaining single parents or even just other families, do they speak of their sex lives? of course not, no reason with young children, including when talking about our families.
Of course, O'Reilly was right about something, for a segment of our society, this just made it worse. The section that hates us, it just makes them hate us more. It did no good with them. But I don't care about the Perkins', O'Reilly's and Dobson's of the world any more. I am not trying to get their approval or acceptance. I don't even care that the Bushes weren't there. I've given up having them listen to us and as yesterday proved, the didn't want to. I've written our president off. I will talk to the average American, who in the end has a heart of gold and American values of fairness, tolerance and acceptance. To them I direct my words.

Of course, in the end, what matters is that kids like Emma, Parker, Lele and NaNa had a fun day. Susan Mathis, mother of Lele, 10 and NaNa, 8, said
I look forward to the day when reporters won't have to cover a group of families who just want to bring their kids to the White House so they can roll some Easter eggs.

An aside...while I'm on the subject of gay parents, I want to highlight this from Steve at Adamant Sun:
When a constitutional amendment passes (regarding SSM), there are thousands of children who find themselves without health insurance. When domestic partner benefits get outlawed or overturned, there are children who find their legal connection to one parent severed completely.
These kids deserve so much better from their fellow Americans.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Hope rising

Happy Easter for those of you who celebrate it.

For all of us...

May hope be resurrected.

May light shine into dark places.

May we all rise up whole.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

They dared to discipline

I was thinking lately about the things that I was taught to believe about myself--things like being "strong-willed" (in the negative Dobson-esque sense of the word), stubborn, melancholy, lazy, manipulative, wayward, stiff-necked, negative, thick-headed, too smart for my own good, "always trying to get attention," defiant, cold/calculating, and so on.

Sadly, I now realize that many of these messages came from my parents' attempt to parent with inadequate tools and Dr. James Dobson as a guide. He dared my parents to discipline, and boy did they take that challenge and run with it.

I was disciplined and guilted and shamed into submission for many years. It somehow seems appropriate to me that Focus on the Family is such a partner with Exodus. My parent's treatment of me as a child (using Dobson as their guide) no doubt made me all the more vulnerable to the ex-gay message. I was ready and willing to believe myself a damaged and broken person that needed to be fixed, with my sin nature needing to be beaten down and submerged, subdued, and dominated. I was willing to believe that my homosexuality was a part of my own strong-willed defiance gone horribly wrong and satanically out of control.

I can't even look at Dr. Dobson's book Dare to Discipline without wanting to weep. The way he talks about children makes me shudder. He calls them "tyrants" and "dictators" and seems obsessed with defiance. Here's a quote from the first chapter (link):
"I'll never forget a mother...who asked for my help in handling her defiant three-year-old daughter, Sandy. She realized that her tiny little girl had hopelessly beaten her in a contest of wills, and the child had become a tyrant and a dictator. On the afternoon prior to our conversation, an incident occured which was typical of Sandy's way of doing business. The mother (I'll call her Mrs. Nichols) put the youngster down for a nap, but knew it was unlikely she would stay in bed. Sandy was not accustomed to doing anything she didn't fancy, and naptime was not on her list of fun things to do in the afternoon.

On this occasion, however, the child was more interested in antagonizing her mom than in merely having her own way. Sandy began to scream. She yelled loudly enough to upset the whole neighborhood, fraying Mrs. Nichols' jangled nerves...[snip portion]...
The actual meaning behind this conflict and a hundred others was simply this: Sandy was brazenly rejecting the authority of her mother."

He goes on later to state, "When properly applied, loving discipline works! It stimulates tender affection, made possible by mutual respect between a parent and a child."

Does calling a child a "tyrant" or a "dictator" or "brazen" rejector of authority sound like mutual respect?

For parents like mine, who got almost all of their parenting advice from Dr. Dobson, is it any wonder that everything turned into a battle of wills and they saw their child as a "strong-willed tyrant" that needed to be battled into submission? Dr. Dobson is a man who says that "If discipline begins on the second day of life, you're one day too late." What kind of discipline could a one-day old infant possibly need?!?

I have heard of Dobson-style parents commenting on how "manipulative" a four-month old baby is, because the baby will smile when an adult is playing with them, but cry when it is left alone.

There's also the story of how Dobson treated his own dog, Siggie (yes, after Freud) in a battle of wills between man and beast. Dobson relates this story in The Strong-Willed Child:
"I had seen this defiant mood before [defiant mood being indicated by Siggie not wanting to leave a warm spot in the house and go to his kennel, and subsequently growling at Daddy Dobson], and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me 'reason' with Mr. Freud."
You can read the chilling conclusion here.

This is a book my parents, and many other parents in Christian households, read (and still read to this day) in an attempt to learn how to discipline their defiant, strong-willed children.

Dr. Dobson goes on to say, "Perhaps this tendency toward self-will is the essence of 'original sin' which has infiltrated the human family. It certainly explains why I place such stress on the proper response to willful defiance during childhood, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of personal disaster."

I wonder what my parents think of their child-rearing methods now? I was their "strong-willed," "rebellious" and "defiant" child. I was the one who was told I was like "Israel--who were a stiff-necked people." I was the one who was harshly disciplined in an effort to break my strong will and subdue my defiant nature.

Interestingly, I have not had problems with bosses or others in authority. I'm well liked at work. I don't recall ever having much problem with teachers at school, either (well, except for that first-grade teacher who wrote "Christine talks too much!" on my report card). I was always well-liked by the parents of other children. In fact, one of the problems I had with my own parents was that I felt like I could never stand up to them. I could never say what I had to say -- what I was feeling or thinking. Does that sound like someone who is pathologically strong-willed or defiant?

And yet I wonder if they now believe that my willful, rebellious defiance during childhood was perhaps not properly weeded out, and the seeds of that led to this "personal disaster" of me becoming a lesbian. And the really convenient part (at least for them) is that no matter what, it can always be blamed on Satan, or on original sin.

This brings me to another thing I've wondered of late. In talking with other ex-ex-gays or those who have survived fundamentalist upbringings, many of us have in common parents who are absolutely unable to love unconditionally. These parents do things and say things that most parents would not utter to their children no matter how upset they were with them. Is it the idea of sin or satan somehow controlling our lives that gives them license to think of us this way, or talk to us this way? Is it a lifetime of thinking of us as "defiant tyrants" that gives parents the idea that their child is in league with the devil himself?

My own mother once looked at a 5-year old boy and said out-loud to him "get thee behind me, Satan!" because she was convinced that he'd looked at her in a defiant manner that gave her chills and that she could only attribute to Satan. She told our family about this later, with an air of pride that she'd had the guts to speak out against Satan in this manner (nevermind the poor child who probably still remembers that church lady calling him "satan"). For those of us whose parents see us in this light...could this be an explanation for why they are so willing to throw us away, to denounce us and reject us? Do they truly still see brazen and defiant tyrants controlled by satan when they look at us?

My parents often say that they did the best that they knew how to do. And you know, in many ways, they are right. They used the Bible as their guide, and spoiled not the rod. They turned to the Christian guru of parenting, Dr. Dobson, and put into practice his words. They saw what they were taught to see, and executed his parenting instructions with zeal.

Unfortunately, I'm thirty-four years old now, and it seems they still view me as a conduit of original sin, a vessel of satan and as a defiant and strong-willed overgrown child (again, not unlike how PFOX or Exodus views "homosexual activists" such as myself).

If I'm strong-willed, it's only in my determination to heal from this Christian-sanctioned abuse and to rebuild my self-esteem and my own sense of self and self-worth. If I'm defiant, it's because I will no longer allow others to define me with their harmful words and negative views. I will defy anyone who tries to do that. I reject my own mother's view of me when she sends me the following excerpt from an article she's written: "Father I repent for looking at our friends and coveting what they have. [Our friends who don't have children] will never have heartache from children hurting them. They will also never understand Your deep pain over Your children who run from you, and don't honor You. In some ways they (our friends) will never know the depths of your great love either. That knowing seems to be born out of deep pain and loss. I am so aware of Your unconditional love and compassion for Your children. I share that unconditional love for my children with You."

With unconditional love like that...

Thanks, Dr. Dobson.
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Friday, April 14, 2006

How could anyone?

On Wednesday night I went to meet up with Soulforce's Equality Riders. They were here in Denver after having come from BYU, about to go to Colorado Christian University the next day. The local Denver PFLAG chapter was hosting them, complete with some chair massages and vegetarian dinner. I went to the event to see a friend from GCN (who happened not to be there that night, unfortunately).

But still, it was great to see all these folks so dedicated to bringing the truth about GLBT people to college campuses around the country. Having done an action with Soulforce in the past, I know what a challenging, draining, and moving experience it is. I was able to share dinner with some of the riders and spent some time talking to one rider in particular, Carolyn, who patiently and graciously answered so many questions while trying to eat her dinner.

During one point in the following PFLAG presentation, a lesbian and her partner (of 17 years? 21 years? anyway, it was a long time, just in case you're paying attention Alan Chambers) had us sing two songs. The last song was just the simple chorus How Could Anyone written by Libby Roderick.
How could anyone ever tell you
You were anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you
You were less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice
That your loving is a miracle;
How deely you're connected to my soul.
Not surprisingly, this hits me in a pretty tender spot right now. I couldn't hold back the tears. I bought a recording of the song on iTunes and have played it endlessly for the last two nights. I need to hear this message so badly. Maybe someone reading my blog does, too.

Local flavor

Yesterday after finishing a fantastic lunch near Coors field (Denver) my friend and I passed by an old-time barber shop. Intrigued, I stopped and poked my head in. The barber was sitting at a desk hand-rolling cigars. I was right when I assumed that no one did that in Denver anymore, and certainly not your average barber.

So we stopped and talked to him, and found out all about the art of rolling cigars; how they're pressed and made. Clay Carlton explained to us that he'd started a nonprofit organization called "Cigars for the Troops" that sends cigars for free to troops overseas. As he explained to a local newspaper, "Not everyone supports the war," he said. "But everyone supports the troops. This is something that's a direct perk for them. It's something that can be sent to a battle zone and enjoyed." You can read more about Clay Carlton here on his site.

I've gotten mixed reactions from folks to whom I've mentioned this (everything from "Why not send the troops porn while we're at it?" to "That's the worst thing to send them. We put them in harms way and then send them lung cancer?" to "Hey, what a great idea!")

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but around here the yellow "support the troops" magnets are seen on cars everywhere. But what do people do to support them in a literal sense? [An aside, I tried to keep one of those magnets on the back of my truck, next to my "war is not the answer" bumper sticker, but it got ripped off. I guess people don't like the idea of an peace-monger supporting the people who are there.] The only thing I've done so far to "support the troops" is buy a few phone cards for donation at my local post office.

I believe in self-determination, and the idea that I'm not the judge of what someone does with their lives, lungs, etc...and I know lots of guys like a good cigar now and again (and some girls too!)--so I made a small donation to this cause.

If you're in the Denver area, first stop at Buenos Aires Pizzeria (yum! and right near Coor's field - on 22nd between Market and Larimer) and then hop over next door and get a haircut or see how cigars are made (I think Clay's only there from Wednesday to Saturday, though). If you'd care to, drop a little something into the hat for the troops as well.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What often passes for conservative Christianity

I think I've probably been reading Steve Schalchlin's blog off and on since I first heard about it in 1998. He was one of the first people to ever keep a blog (back before they were called "blogs"), and has been doing it ever since 1996.

XGW linked to this recent entry from Steve, and I thought it worth mentioning here. He writes about a call he got from a Christian friend and former bandmate:
Now, flash forward a few years. I'm sick. The HIV has finally taken hold of me and we don't know if I'm going to live or die. Word gets back to T. I get a phone call in the middle of the day.



He details the rest of his experiences--including a recent e-mail he received--with his former friend and bandmate, T, here.

What a sad and poignant story. But what I really want to highlight is this comment that a guy named Mark Poole wrote in reponse:
I'm more and more coming to think that what passes for conservative Christianity among a lot of people in this country is really just a pagan or mystery religion, with large doses of magic and superstition and wrapped in a thin but brittle veneer of Christian symbolism. The bible and prayer and Jesus are wielded like occult tools in a Dungeons & Dragons game. It is sometimes nearly impossible (as in this story) to discern the spirit of Christ or the great Commandment to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.

'nuff said.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Let me sum up

There has been quite a bit going on that I haven't been blogging about, for myriad reasons. Mostly, I think, because I felt it was too private. It involved other lives besides mine. It involved family issues and drama.

But aside from telling my experiences as an ex-gay (and this is really a piece of it), part of the purpose of my blog is having an outlet for what's going on...a chance to get support and feedback, to participate in a community of sorts.

As Inigo Montoya says in The Princess Bride, “Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

To sum up, I am, at this point in my life, an emotional orphan. Meaning I have parents living but they are not participating in my life, or I'm not participating in theirs (there are multiple ways of looking at everything, I suppose).

Of course, knowing me, you know I can't help but try to 'splain a little bit, right?

Here's the Reader's Digest condensed version:
[Edited in 2007; to sum up even further - my family is not perfect, I have deleted just a bit here that really just says, hey, we've all got issues, and unfortunately, I have significant issues with my parents]

I attempted to start some dialog in the beginning of 2005, and that went nowhere (I never got a response until I wrote again at the end of 2005). There has been some letter writing this year, but the main purpose seems to have been to attack, manipulate and guilt me. My original letter was compared to Japan bombing Pearl Harbor, or like me throwing up once on my mother when I was a small child [slight unnecessary snarky comment deleted here].

[As an reason I hesitate to even write about this because, well, I feel like I'm giving ammo to those who want to find out "why" I'm gay, and why I didn't change (see? classic moberly theory! she is looking for a mother relationship in other women! see? she hasn't resolved her issues with her parents, so therefore her sexual orientation can't change!) but I've never pretended I've had the perfect upbringing (I've always said that I could be the poster child for the ex-gay movement for their "why a girl becomes a lesbian" theories--the point I've always made is that no matter how I ended up this way, after all the healing work I've done, my orientation hasn't changed; end of story).] sum up, I am dealing with the loss of my parents, and the loss of a feeling of having a family. I am really done this time. For my own mental health, I need to go on with my life without my parents being in it. If you're about to tell me that I should try harder, or that I shouldn't dismiss family so lightly, just know this is a decision that's come about after many years of heartache (and subsequent therapy) and trying to resolve the issues. I had actually been thinking that I needed to end the relationship in the beginning of 2004, but have spent the last two years trying to see if there wasn't something that could be done about it. Trust me, it takes two and I'm the only one who genuinely showed up.

So it's difficult now to deal with the reality of it, and in the view of many others, my grief doesn't seem "real" (as in, "oh yeah, I fight with my mom, too"), and it's not something I can explain to most people. When I start to cry for seemingly no reason, I can't say, "My parents just died" (which in some ways is what I feel like) and people will understand. I can't get bereavement leave. I can't tell clients I'm late with work because of a death in the family.

I've been told to "get over it" and "move on." But I can't move on without moving through the grief, which is real, heavy and all-consuming. It has been hard to sleep...hard to concentrate...hard to just live my daily life. Combine that with a crazy work schedule and I'm just pretty much toast.

I've been trying to come up with something to do, some kind of ritual to mark this significant time for me. I am collecting items and putting them in a box. Things that remind me of the good and bad aspects of the relationship with my parents. I plan to have some sort of ceremony (maybe bury the items in the mountains somewhere) so that I can have some closure. I'm sending the final letter to my parents this week (I was going to send it today, but realized that I should have it arrive after Easter, so that they can enjoy their favorite holiday freely).

I'll always love my parents, and I'll always wish things had been different. I'll always hope somehow for them to change so that they can be more supportive parents. I'll always hope that they can see me differently. And I'll always cherish the good memories I do have, even as I continue to heal from the bad.

Goodbye, Mom and Dad. I'll always love you, even if it's with a broken heart.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Somebody is shooting at random from a building near where I'm working. At last count there were 14 cop cars and the entire SWAT team outside (this is the view outside the window that is directly at my back). I guess if you want to commit a crime in another part of Denver, this would be the time.

Actually, we're just hoping it's not someone who's gone postal from the advertising agency...

[UPDATE: so now they're saying it's a suicidal guy with a gun in an apartment (just around our corner)...they're going in to attempt to negotiate with him...if you're the praying kind, please pray for this person.]

[UPDATE #2 4:31 pm: Apparently the suicidal guy wasn't even in the building. Turns out he was in Boulder. They broke down his door and the SWAT team is packing up and leaving...but there might be a suicidal guy still running around Boulder. Nothing to see here...nothing to see....move right along, please.]

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The search is over

For my blog fans in the Islamic Republic of Iran...finally, what you've been searching for. Without further ado, here's your Toscano Sex Picture!

Back in the classroom

No, I haven't gone back to school. Although I admit I do consider it now and again.

Really what's up is I've had the opportunity recently to be on some panels in a few college "Human Sexuality" classes. I belong to a speaker's bureau at CSU and sometimes professors like to have a panel of people to share real-life experiences. Because I work freelance I'm often able to schedule around other jobs, as was the case both yesterday and today.

It's a great experience to be able to sit in a room full of people who, for the most part, genuinely seem to want to hear our stories. The panels usually consist of transgender, gay, lesbian and bi individuals, and each of us have unique stories.

The questions we get are always interesting and vary from the typical (for me, it's usually a question of where I am now spiritually, and how my family deals with my sexuality) to the unusual (yesterday we were asked something along the lines of why a femme lesbian would want to date a very butch lesbian--wouldn't she just rather date a man at that point?)

The unusual questions, or those that rely on (often incorrect) stereotypes make me really glad that we're doing this, and that these folks are asking the questions. How are they going to know if they don't ask? And I figure there's at least a couple other people that have the same questions who aren't brave enough to ask. How recently was it that we didn't even have these types of panels and discussion in college classes?

Even if someone goes into the class feeling like homosexuality is "wrong" or a sin, I'm hoping that at least they leave with the knowledge that I'm a human being with feelings. I've put a name and a face to something they may not have had a lot of exposure to, and I'm so glad to do it.

We often get a lot of compliments, too, and people who are so supportive of us--especially those of us who have had a hard time coming to terms with our identites. Today we touched briefly on the genetics (nature/nurture) debate and the idea that being gay was something bad that should be fixed.

I mentioned the theme of "brokenness" that runs through the ex-gay world and spoke of the title of my blog being representative of my new outlook on my wholeness. A girl spoke up and said, "Yeah, you don't seem broken to me at all!" and beamed at me.

What a sweet moment.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Working together

I just delivered 2/3 of the work that was due today. This might be the first time in my life I've ever missed a deadline. Fortunately the client is OK with giving me a bit extra time.

Anyway, I am getting through it, thanks to help from Max and Sophie (and also some good stuff to look at on my nearby bulletin board--click for a larger image).

I'm not Jesus

Just in case there was any confusion.

Over at there's a thread about Stephen Bennett, ex-gay extraordinaire (he believes complete change is completely possible - something even Exodus doesn't say) and his recent press release opposing HIV prevention drugs.

It was noted by Eugene that Stephen is mixing up his parables, saying that Jesus told the woman at the well to go and sin no more, when in fact he said that to the woman caught in adultery.

I added the following to the discussion:
You know, the interesting thing about when people say "well Jesus got angry and drove people out of the temple" or "Jesus told so-and-so not to go sin anymore"...

Am I the only one that thinks...That was Jesus? Did Jesus ever tell others to run around telling other people to sin no more?

I figure when Jesus gives me the ability to truly see in people's hearts and minds...when he gives me an amazing and overwhelming sense of compassion for other people....when he gives me the ability to tell someone everything they ever did in their lives in such a loving and compassionate way that they still want to introduce me to everyone they know, then maybe (just maybe) I'll be able to tell someone to go and sin no longer.

Until that time (and I'm not holding my breath waiting for the above to happen), I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut. Well, about whether you should stop sinning or not, at least--let's not go overboard here or anything.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

No time for blogging

I had a great visit with Brian last weekend. Lots of fun!

But now I have paying clients who actually expect deadlines to be met (what is the world coming to, anyway?)--gah.

Thanks to everyone for the comments on my new blog design.

In the meantime, feel free to comment on the following excerpt from a letter to an ex-ex-gay from her parents:
Father I repent for looking at our friends and coveting what they have [free time because of not having children]. As I looked at them, I realized that they will never have heartache from children hurting them. They will also never understand Your deep pain over Your children who run from you, and don't honor You. In some ways they (our friends) will never know the depths of your great love either. That knowing seems to be born out of deep pain and loss. I am so aware of Your unconditional love and compassion for Your children. I share that unconditional love for my children with You."
With unconditional love (and guilt) like that...
/eye rolling