Friday, October 28, 2005

The true purpose of marriage

Jason Kuznicki at Positive Liberty has written a fantastic and compelling argument for same-sex marriage.

He argues that "the reason for marriage is neither solely to produce children, nor to seek romantic fulfillment, nor merely to contract with the government for rights or benefits. I propose another model, arguing that it explains the institution of marriage much better than the common reasons given for it in the same-sex marriage debate."

Here's an excerpt (but please read all of the article!):
Marriage is not, as Young and Waring imply, merely about choosing a steady sexual partner. On the contrary, it is a reciprocal agreement with another individual (and often with God), to look after the total well-being of that person and of any children that might come into your mutual care.

This total well-being encompasses all aspects of life, including not just the sexual, but also the spiritual, social, economic, psychological, and physiological best interests of the partner. Ideally, it lasts from the time the marriage is solemnized until the death of one of the partners.

It cheapens the covenant to say that marriage is just about sex, or just about rights, or just about children. Marriage is about all of this — and more. Marriage is a complete, all-encompassing, nurturing relationship. It’s about care for the whole person, so much so that no one else in all the world is quite as important.

(Hat tip: E at Paradoxy)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Chick Magnet

Click on the chick ( you would never have known!) to see this great Japanese site selling sewing patterns for kitty costumes!

Hmmm. Is it just me, or does that kitty not look very happy? [Edit: the English version of the site seems to be down--now linked to the original Japanese]

Here's me with my furry baby girl.

Somehow I have this feeling that she wouldn't go for this. But I'm so tempted! I would love to dress my cats up for Halloween, although I imagine that after I finished trying to get a costume on either of my kitties, I'd be the one getting dressed up at the E.R.

How much is 3,800 Yen anyway?

My little girl just reminded me that she already has a favorite halloween costume, thank you very much:


Jim over at Straight Not Narrow has this to say about choices:
When I woke up this morning, I made a number of choices. I decided to get up early and check e-mail. I chose to feed the cat and play with him. I stopped for breakfast on my way to work. I made those and numerous other decisions before the sun was fully over the horizon today.

I did not decide that today I would be a heterosexual. In fact, I've never made that choice. Even before puberty descended upon me, I was attracted to cute girls, and that has never changed. It just came naturally.
Read the whole thing.

While I'm not sure what trusting God to sort it out in the end means, I do hope that posts like these will make people stop and think. And for every straight person who has ever asked me, "When did you start being a lesbian?" I'd like to respond, "Probably about the same time you started being straight."

Oh, and while I may not have chosen to be a lesbian, I choose every day to be happy. I choose every day to stop hiding who I am. I choose every day to tell the truth about my life.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Alan Chambers supports equal treatment?

Alan Chambers (president of Exodus) posted a rare comment today over at Ex-gay watch. He agreed with XGW that heterosexual and homosexual crimes deserve equal punishment, saying, "I am not a proponent of unequal treatment."

What's really noteworthy though, in my oh so very humble opinion, was a response from Timothy. Here's a snippet:
I'm glad we've found an item we agree on. Perhaps this can be a stepping stone. We can next agree on equal treatment outside of jail.

We can agree to oppose sodomy laws because they are based on unequal treatment. We agree that we will not call Lawrence v. Texas the immoral legalization of homosexual sodomy imposed on us by activist judges.

We can agree that laws banning gay marriage are wrong and must be defeated because they apply unequal treatment. We agree to stop pretending that marriage will somehow be harmed if it is equally applied.
Read the rest here.

Alan is known for the occasional drive-by posting, so I don't expect him back to discuss equal treatment. Still, while I admit to choking over his post (Exodus opposes the overturning of sodomy laws) and cheering with Timothy's response, I continue to hope that Alan will not always remain blind to the half-truths and double standards that characterize his position on these issues.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Current reading

I snuck off from work today to hear a great talk by Abigail Garner, author of the book Families Like Mine. She is an amazing activist and speaker. She talked of her own experience growing up with two dads and being raised in the queer community while not being queer herself (she calls it "culturally queer, but erotically straight.")

I was incredibly impressed by her story and her passion for giving voice to these often overlooked children of GLBT parents and the challenges they face. I also learned a bit about what kids go through because of outward homophobia in our culture, or just because of the expectations that others place on them.

If you know someone who is GLBT/queer/what-have-you and is raising kids, I'd recommend this book. I think it's also just great reading if you want to learn about what it's like to have a gay mom or dad. There's important information and analysis, as well as a beautiful personal story. I only just started reading it today, but if the book is anything like the talk I heard, you will be enlightened and challenged by this strong and amazing woman. Check it out!

Friday, October 14, 2005

In the groove

Sometimes it's easy for me to forget about the bigots. And I'm not talking Fred Phelps, although these guys come in a close second. I don't use the word "bigots" lightly, but when referring to the American Family Association ("2,213,226 Members Strong and Growing!" boasts its site) or the Traditional Values Coalition (with a membership of over 43,000 churches), I don't have another word that fits. I'm sickened at how many "Christian" members these organizations have.

My family used to regularly get publications from these two hate groups when I was in my teens, and while I don't like to speculate on where others stand with God, the people who founded these organizations do not have any clue whatsoever about the very Christian concepts of grace and mercy.

Generally I try not to read anything they write or say if I can help it, but thanks to a post at exgay watch I stumbled upon this tidbit from the October 11 broadcast of American Family Radio's Today's Issues:

WILDMON (President of American Family Association): And let me just say one other thing, and we'll go on to our next caller. And I'm not a psychologist, or a psychiatrist, or a social scientist, or anything like that. But I have heard from people who know and understand these things that two of the most difficult sins or bondage to break out of are alcoholism and homosexuality.

SHELDON (Chairman and founder of Traditional Values Coalition -- and a
Reverend): Oh definitely, because the groove is built, and I've talked to many psychotherapists who are Christian, and they say once you enter into that lifestyle -- Now, you may have gender identity conflict -- that's the medical-scientific name for homosexuality -- where you're attracted to the same-sex person, but once you enter into the culture, into the music, into the gay bars, into the gay literature, into the gay theater, and all of that kind of -- and gay travel -- once you immerse yourself into that, you have really put yourself into a groove that only a sort of an exorcism can release you from.


Well. Wow indeed.

Wow because I have gone through some exorcism exercises in my ex-gay journey (and I know I'm not alone in that). I wouldn't recommend that route to anyone.

And wow because...since when is "gender identity conflict" the medical-scientific name for homosexuality? I'm not in any conflict about my gender, and I'm quite happy to be the gender I am.

Wow because I don't even really know what they're talking about. Gay travel? Gay theater (is there theater that isn't gay)? And what's this gay music about? I obviously did not get the brochure.

Are there other queer folk out there, like me, who just don't feel queer enough after reading these kinds of things? I've never done any gay traveling (I do fly to visit my sister on occasion but I don't remember the option for traveling in the gay section of Frontier Airlines). I tend to like music that, unfortunately, has not been historically gay-friendly. Sometimes I feel like a sad excuse of a gay (er, I mean, gender identity conflicted) person.

In other news, Tim Wildmon agrees that there is "evidence of homosexuality and lesbian people on programs like HGTV and Animal Planet." Horrors! Perhaps one of these days I ought to get cable so I can see those "lesbian people" for myself.

And in case you didn't know, the TIME reporter who wrote the recent cover story on gay teens is really a "homosexual activist posing as a 'Time' Magazine Journalist!" It's also reported that he "carefully smears ex-gay ministries like Exodus International and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) by pointing out that some individuals struggling with same-sex attractions lose the battle to overcome these life-controlling behaviors."

Only some? How about "most, if not all?" And since when is telling the truth synonymous with a smear job?

[I'm trying to count to ten; it's not working]

This homosexual activist is signing off. It's hard work "posing as a production artist at an advertising agency" all day long. But I guess it's the price I pay to maintain my homosexual groove.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The power of the truth

I just got back from telling my story at the meeting tonight. I think that was the largest group I've seen so far (but I haven't gone very many times yet). It was a bit intimidating at first, but then I realized that everyone was on my side and supportive.

It was fantastic. And I didn't throw up on my shoes!

Everyone seemed engaged and supportive. I even got quite a few hugs afterwards!

It is amazing to tell my story; to feel the power of telling my truth.

Just six months ago, I sent the following message to Peterson after seeing his show:
"[Your show] made me see how much being in the ex-gay world both helped and harmed me. I saw before that there were ways in which it helped me, but what I didn't realize until just this week was how much shame I've taken on from that whole world, and how I feel like I lost my sense of who I am.

Before I started the ex-gay path, I used to know who I was, and so did other people. I was proudly queer, out, didn't care who knew. Now I struggle with the shame of my being gay...when I'm around folks who feel I've failed, and my shame in being around "out" folks who haven't questioned all this and wasted time and money on something that wasn't meant to be.

Sometimes I feel like being involved in ex-gay ministries is like an incomplete sex-change operation or something. It changes you enough that you can never go back, but it's damn hard to go forward too. And where do you fit after that? I feel sort of forever marked. Forever ashamed at the wasted years and the damage I've done to myself. Forever changed on some levels that make me not fit very well with the gay community, but not able to fit in the straight world either."

I read that bit of writing tonight as part of my talk, and it really hit me how far I've traveled in the last few months.

I'm amazed at who I'm becoming.

Talk about it!

Today is National Coming Out Day ("Talk About It" is the theme) which also happens to be the first time I'm speaking in front of people about my coming out, going back in, and re-coming out story. In preparation for this, I ate a good breakfast this morning, wore my favorite clothes (the aqua shirt a friend gave me, and my pink socks with stars on them!) and jewelry (the ring is a present to myself and the necklace is from a friend in Australia).

I happen to be working at an agency today where people have known me since 2000. When I told one person that I was speaking tonight, they said, "Remember when you threw up on your shoes out in the agency parking lot because you had to give a presentation about advertising production?" Hmm. Yeah, thanks for reminding me. That was about 4 years ago. The only other time I've spoken in front of anyone was about a year later when I gave my testimony of change and God's healing power for my church's youth group. Both times (in spite of the vomit incident), I ended up doing just fine, and even got compliments on my speaking ability. I am choosing to remember that instead. Although I am wearing crocs today, so at least they are washable (just in case). I didn't plan that, though--most people who know me are aware that I have 7 different pairs of crocs and am almost never seen without them (unless there's tons of snow, like yesterday).

I'm actually more excited than nervous about tonight. I feel really good about telling my story (my truth), and I feel like it's so needed. I've been getting some help and advice from Peterson (who's a talented writer, actor, and speaker) so I'm very thankful for that.

I'll be sure to report back!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Speaking out

I'm in the middle of preparing a presentation for my Womyn's Circle at the Denver GLBT center on National Coming Out Day. It was going to be the first time I would be telling a bit of my story in public, except that I beat myself to it by going on the John McMullen Show rather unexpectedly last week and telling my story on his Sirius OutQ radio show! That was completely unplanned, but gave me the boost I needed to move forward with this blog, among other things.

I have felt so passionate about speaking out lately. And I've really been wanting to be more out in my day-to-day life as well. In the last week I've told my acupuncturist (after seeing him every week for a year, he's beginning to feel something like a friend), and I've also directed a coworker to my blog. After so many years of hiding behind ambiguity, I just want to be real and authentic. One of the biggest negative consequences of my time as an ex-gay was the shame I internalized.

In church, I always felt so broken (a word I definitely internalized from my time as an ex-gay) and felt like I would never be at the same level as everyone else. I was, of course, forgiven (just like murderers and thieves), and also loved (because God had miraculously given people the ability to love someone like me). In all the "forgiveness" and "love" out there for my "brokenness" it was a constant reminder to me of my inherent inferiority.

On the other hand, out in the real world, I couldn't be honest about being ex-gay and pursuing change, because I thought most people would find that really ridiculous. So I've lived the past 6 years being vague about my life, being ambiguous and asexual.

That's just not good enough for me anymore. I want to live my life and be who I am, and be proud of what I've come through and what I've learned. So now it's time to step out of the dark and into the light. And in the process, I hope to illuminate some of the dark places in the ex-gay movement as well. Truth will always rise above. Of that I'm convinced.

Monday, October 03, 2005

My escape from the straight lifestyle

One of the things that bothers me about many ex-gay testimonies is that they often talk about how horrible the "gay lifestyle" is, and how shallow and drug-, alcohol-, and sex-filled it is. I guess they never consider the fact that there are queer folks who don't live like that.

I was amused recently by the realization that most ex-gays' characterizations of the "gay lifestyle" fairly accurately describe my former "straight lifestyle." In the years prior to my coming out, I had a drinking problem, slept with people I didn't know, and used drugs when I partied with friends.

Oddly enough, since coming out in 1994, I've been celibate and alcohol-free and drug-free. Guess I won't be recruiting anyone into this fantastic party-like gay lifestyle with my story, will I?

While I admit that I might be one of the few people on the earth to have not had a sexual relationship after coming out (and one of the fewer still who might admit such a thing), I know I am not alone. And while most other gays and lesbians might not share my story, I know there are many out there who live pretty typical (probably boring) lives. I know I'm not alone in waiting for the right one. I'm also not alone in deciding to get my act together and quit drinking and start living in a healthy way. Straight and gay folks alike do this all the time.

What I'd like to see are ex-gays taking personal responsibility for the choices they made when they identified as gay, instead of trying to paint the entire gay community (whatever that is) as a degenerate bunch of shallow, alcoholic, sex-crazed drug addicts.

But perhaps I can turn this into a new career opportunity. I think I'll start touring around the country telling people how dangerous and damaging the straight lifestyle is, and how I found hope, healing, sobriety, and health in the gay lifestyle.

For the record, here is a snapshot of my gay lifestyle (don't read if you are the squeamish kind!): Alarm clock goes off. Take a shower. Dress. Feed the cats. Eat. Work. Eat. Work. Feed the cats. Eat. Play with the cats. Spend time on the computer. Talk to friends on the phone. Water plants. Read e-mail. Do dishes. Undress. Go to bed. Sleep. Repeat with minor modifications.

Pretty harrowing, isn't it? Almost makes you feel kinda dirty just reading the nitty gritty details...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Basics

I am a woman on a journey. I am making my own acquaintance after many years of trying to be many things I am not.

I grew up in a conservative, fundamentalist Christian family. Most of my education came from small Christian schools and church. My education about sexuality, and homosexuality in particular, came from the various Focus on the Family books and publications by the American Family Association. Understandably, I was not able to accept the attractions I had for women.

Following high school and a year of junior college, I attended one year of an intensive discipleship training school where our only subjects were God and the Bible and how to live in a way that would please God and bring others to Christ (if you are familiar with YWAM, this school was like a one-year-long YWAM DTS school). This was a time of great confusion for me as the school was quite cultish, but reinforced everything I had grown up with. However, I couldn't continue to maintain the facade needed to live this life, and by the end of the year I looked great on the outside, but inside I was a mess.

It was when I graduated and left this college to attend the University of California at Santa Cruz (go banana slugs!) that I began to be able to face the truth about my life. In 1994, three years after my graduation from the one-year Bible college, I came out of the closet with all that "coming out" entails. Predictably, my family was upset. They did not kick me out (I wasn't living at home anyway), nor did they stop talking to me. But they were very upset, very unsupportive, and quite understandably given their religious framework, they grieved this news. In their grief I felt rejected. I was also treated badly by most of my remaining Christian friends.

In 1998, because I believed the lies of the ex-gay movement that said, "Change is Possible!" I moved to Denver, CO to take part in an Exodus-affiliated ex-gay ministry. I believed the half-truths that were told because I wanted to find a way to reconcile faith with my sexuality. I mistakenly thought the only way to do that was to work to change my orientation.

After five years of ex-gay ministries (including Exodus and Living Waters), deliverence (what some might call exorcisms), and reparative therapy, I began to realize that in spite of many other positive changes, my orientation had not changed. It was easy to ignore this fact because on the surface, so many things looked "ex-gay." I'd healed from significant childhood abuse. I discovered my feminine side. I became comfortable in my own skin. But I was still attracted to women. And finally I had to face this truth.

That's when I started realizing that being an ex-gay does not mean a change in orientation, but a change in behavior. The term "ex-gay" does not mean that someone becomes heterosexual. It just means that the person has stopped behaviors associated with homosexuality. I never remembered reading that in all the ex-gay advertisements!

In 2003 when I could no longer live with the lies, I started to slowly peek my head back out of the closet. Recently, I have started to speak my truth about the ex-gay movement and counter the lies it tells. It's scary, but at the same time, completely necessary--for me, and for others.

I am rising up from the ashes. I am beautiful. I am who I am.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A New Beginning

This is the first post of my new blog, where I'll be blogging somewhat regularly (hopefully) about issues related to my ex-gay experiences and my ex-ex-gay status. Stay tuned!