Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Friendship, love and acceptance

It's a weird thing to call up a friend and he says, "Sorry, I can only talk for about four minutes because I'm about to go on national television here in a sec." Um. OK. I'm such an underachiever. I was still in my pajamas, watching a movie. But I'm glad for the opportunities that he and others have had recently to tell their stories of time in the ex-gay movement.

In other news, I just got back from a trip to California to visit some folks who have been a bit of surrogate family to me on and off throughout the years. I first lived with Joe and Cheryl (and their baby boy) for 6 weeks when I had just turned 17 and we had been in frequent contact until I moved to Santa Cruz. But even after that I would stop by their retail store whenever I went home for a weekend.

However, we've not been in touch since I moved to Denver in 1998 to start my ex-gay life. When I moved here, I consciously made a choice to leave everything behind. I only had two friends that knew how to get in touch with me, and one of them (my best friend) didn't even know I'd moved here to become ex-gay. Everyone else was told that I'd e-mail them with contact info when I arrived, but I never did.

In 2003-ish, Cheryl sent me two e-mails and I never responded. She ended up being a casualty of my confusion about being ex-gay and struggling with my faith. I didn't want to talk to anyone who was a Christian, and I didn't want her to be disappointed in me, since she was one of the few people who knew why I moved here.

Fast forward to the end of this year when she found out I had a blog and sent me an e-mail. We've been talking ever since and I decided that I needed to see them in person.

The tricky thing about our relationship is that she's a Christian and believes that homosexual behavior is a sin. I obviously don't. She's a very strong and outspoken Christian and I am not a Christian in the way that most Christians are (I am not sure how to explain this and was asked in a response to another post; and will attempt some sort of explanation soon). She thinks I'm wrong about some things that are very important to me, and I think she's wrong about stuff that is very important to her.

However, she is also one of the most loving and accepting people I have ever met in my life, hands down. She will talk to anyone and everyone and make them feel like they are the most important person right at that moment. She gives with one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen.

But it's still hard to navigate this. I want to be loved unconditionally, and I want to be able to give unconditional love. It is hard to have someone think I am wrong. To talk about my life and feel like they are disapproving. But I have my own disagreements with some of her core beliefs and sometimes our conversations end up being along the lines of "I know you don't agree with this, but..." and the other one saying, "You're right, I don't agree with that."

Some people in tricky relationships like these declare certain topics off-limits. The problem though is what you do when the topics are such a large part of who you are. Sometimes it just seems too hard to figure out. Other times it seems fine. But I don't want her to leave out some of her life, and I won't leave out mine anymore (been there, done that, not interested in going back there).

The trip, though, was great and we had a ton of fun (went to the city one day and hung out on the Haight, did the fisherman's wharf thing and the ocean). It was also a bit emotionally draining for all of us. It's a lot to try to figure out and we definitely had more than one tense conversation. But we also had a lot of fun and good times, a lot of closeness, hugs, and time in the hot tub (oh, and In 'N' Out burger too!)

Anyway, if anyone has any helpful thoughts or tips on navigating this, I'd appreciate it. It's a relationship that means the world to me, and I want to be as respectful, accepting and loving as I possibly can, and yet I don't want to ever be in the position of censoring or defending myself again.


  1. I can understand ur problem dear...but this is nothing unusual..why r u naming ur friendship or relationship as gay? U love ur friend and that is more than her upon...make her understand things in ur own way or rather the way she likes to be told...tell her that u respect her beliefs and would never let her go against it but at the same time ur friendship shoudnt be affected for such cause..tell ur friend what u believe..u know sumthing? its easy to convince people about what u believe rather than what u pretend to believe...goodluck..drop by my blog and am sure u would be delighted :)

  2. First of all--wow. Second--great picture.

    Thanks for this update. Sorry we have not been able to chat. I seem to fall asleep at the drop of a hat (and I have the hats to drop)

    This is a tricky relationship because too often conservative Christians cannot hear too well. They are good at sharing the Word and giving the Biblical answer, but not too good at listening. Perhaps us progressive folks are similar, but in most cases, the Christians say little that we have not already heard and to keep repeating it can come down to disrespect and out right abuse.

    Of course we can try to work on talking about issues that we both agree--the environment, the dangers of promiscuity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    So many conservative Christians mean well, but can end up being so rude without even realizing it. Lots of arrogance can come with being a child of the King of Kings. Sometimes we have become little tyrants.

  3. Thanks Robert and Peterson.

    Robert, the issue isn't really with how she's treating me or what she's telling me. She's a wonderful and genuine person and it is not like she brings up the fact that she thinks homosexual behavior is wrong in normal conversation or anything like that. We know what the other believes about a lot of's just for me maybe it's harder because I need to separate out people in the "now" and not mix them up with people who have had similar beliefs but have hurt me in the past.

    Hey Peterson, yes, you do have many so many ways.

    Actually, I do think my friend does hear me and does really make an attempt to hear me. If anything, I think I am perhaps the one in need of more help in continuing to hear her. And we both are making lots of perhaps exhausting (for both of us) effort to hear and learn about each other.

    And yes, talking about stuff we do agree on is important - we do that too.

    I know for me it has been a bit of a wake-up call for me to see the ways in which I am like what I don't like (if that makes sense).

    It was cool though to read Pam's post on Journey and Friendship right after I'd written this...something I needed to read.

    Thanks so much for the input and comments.