Archive for the ‘spirituality’ Category

A few months ago I posted a series of Twitter/Facebook/Blog status updates that I compiled into a blog post entitled Jesus Loves You! But I’ve heard rumors… I figured that would be the end of it, but about two weeks later I got inspired again and began another round of Jesus Loves You! updates. Since the first round, John Henson, the brilliant Welsh minister and author of Good as New–A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures, has become a Facebook friend. (Do buy his book–it is stunning) He spiced up the daily updates with his own analysis on Jesus. Lots of lively commenting ensued from loads of different people including Deborah, Fredrick, Brett, Tania, Eddie, Susanne, Rabbi Nina, Jean–well loads of people. I also got tons of affirmation from Friends when I attended Quaker gatherings this summer. So many lurk in the Light. 😛

Like the first set this one brought out all sorts of Facebook friends who I rarely see. Some of the Jesus Loves You! updates really struck a chord, got people laughing, thinking, remembering, connecting. There is a move afoot to print some onto mug. Personally I think some would be perfect on a thong.

I purposely choose phrases that are ambiguous or have multiple meanings to let the readers decide what it all means for them. For me many of them serve as commentary to how Jesus is marketed by some churches–Jesus the product. There is also one Wizard of Oz reference there that confused a lot of people (which speaks to what an old gay guy I am that now people don’t get Oz references.) See if you can spot it. Some also speak to the challenges many of us have faced with the Christian faith as it has been taught and practiced and the double-standards we experienced. Some are just fun with no deep abiding meaning that I can extrapolate. I sometimes just like playing with words.

Check ’em out. Which is your favorite? What do they mean to you? Have some of your own you want to add?

Jesus Loves You!

  • Jesus Loves You! No purchase necessary to enter. Employees and families are not eligible. Void where prohibited by law.
  • Jesus Loves You! Side effects may include dizziness, exaggerated feelings of depression or elation, changes in sex drive & impotence.
  • Jesus Loves You! Yet you worry, that in spite of all you tell yourself (and all you’ve done) you still look fat in those jeans.
  • Jesus Loves You! Unconditionally. Well, kinda.
  • Jesus Loves You! He arrives at your door a battered beast seeking shelter, refuge.
  • Jesus Loves You! But he doesn’t like to brag about it.
  • Jesus Loves You! But he works weekends.
  • Jesus Loves You! But look out for the in-laws!
  • Jesus Loves You! Most scholars now agree that he looks nothing like his current Facebook profile photo.
  • Jesus Loves You! But he gets kinda weird when you start asking lots of questions.
  • Jesus Loves You! He loves you not. He loves you. He loves you not…
  • Jesus Loves You! With extra strength cleansing power! Those tough sin stains don’t stand a chance. Now in lavender or lemon-scented blood.
  • Jesus Loves You! Although he does live in an exclusive gated community & only let’s the ‘right’ people in.
  • Jesus Loves You! Christ Update 4.0 bulked up w/ new spiritual security enhancements & now compatible w/ Buddhist & Pagan operating systems.
  • Jesus Loves You! Behold the Lamb of God! (Yeah, he’s into that whole furry scene)
  • Jesus Loves You! Have seen this Savior? Last spotted in Roman-occupied Palestine circa 33 AD.
  • Jesus Loves You! You are truly lovely and extraordinarily worthy of love and then more love.
  • Jesus Loves You! Consider the lilies of the field before an ecological nightmare annihilates them!
  • Jesus Loves You! He ascended up to heaven & seated himself at his Father’s right hand, thus ending a 33 year custody battle.
  • Jesus Loves You! The exact whereabouts of the Savior is still unclear. Sources close to Jesus claim he mutated, became air-born & went viral.
  • Jesus Loves You! Why look ye for the living among the dead? He was forcibly removed from the planet 2000 yrs ago by his Father’s henchangels
  • Jesus Loves You! Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
  • Jesus Loves You! First Crusade Cola© then Inquisition Fruit Punch® and now Jesus Lite Energy Elixirâ„¢–fullness of life w/ 75% less wrath!
  • Jesus Loves You! “I am the Vine; you are the branches.” An invasive specie of global proportions.
  • Jesus Loves You! Purveyor of loaves & fishes since 33 AD. “Our cod is an awesome cod!”
  • Jesus Loves You! Do not fear the monster lurking under your bed or the one living in your heart.

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Some of you may shudder when you see or hear the words Emotionally Dependent Relationships. This is especially true if you attended an ex-gay program that warned against the perils of emotional dependency.

Today I received a voice mail from a friend who attended Love in Action with me over ten years ago. Just the other day when we spoke on the phone he sounded chipper with a wonderful attitude about himself and life in general, but on the recorded message his voice sounded desperate. If I hadn’t understand the words in his message correctly, I would have inferred from his tone of voice that he had spent the night strung out on crack cocaine engaging in multiple unprotected sexual encounters. He sounded defeated and demoralized. What terrorized him? It wasn’t a “sexual fall,” as we called it back at Love in Action. No, he encountered the specter of emotionally dependent relationships.

Now this is a guy who has not really had sex with another guy in his whole life. Like some who come to a place like Love in Action, he pretty much always had sexual feelings for guys, but he was much more interested in a romantic relationship than in hooking up. The staff drummed it into him that his drug of choice came in the form of intense relationships with other guys. Explicitly and more subtly they stressed that such relationships were unhealthy, abnormal and sinful.

For many of us, the results of these teachings exacerbated our feelings towards the object of our affection along with the toxic feelings of shame and fear. Ex-gay ministers taught us to distrust strong feelings towards anyone, especially anyone of the same-sex even if that person was not gay or lesbian.

Christine Bakke recently wrote about this topic and did some art work which she shares in her blog post In Mesh. She writes,

The biggest problem I still face is fear of close relationships with others – especially women. Fear of “emotional dependency” or “enmeshment.” Fear of needing someone. Fear of…I don’t know. Just fear, and now just a consistent inability to wholly participate in friendships with others.

I know that it’s not true – that while some relationships can be unhealthy, most are not. And closeness and yes, even at times emotional dependency should not be demonized. There are times when we all need others, and to be shamed for relationships that we had while ex-gay, those that others deemed unhealthy; relationships that may have been getting us through some of the tougher moments in our ex-gay process…it is a great harm and a great disservice to us at a time when we were the most vulnerable, and the most laid bare, needing others around us.

Those ex-gay providers who expound on the hazards of enmeshment and emotional dependency most often target lesbians with these teachings, but gay men also fall under the sway of these misguided ideas. The fear and shame-soaked lessons about emotionally dependent relationships gave us false and dangerous guidance that still affect some of us today years after we left the ex-gay world.

We may not always be conscious of it, but today some of us still hold others at bay not allowing them to get too close lest we form some sort of negative bond with them. We secretly hold the beliefs that we are emotionally broken, flawed, dangerous. We live independent lives without deep and intimate connections with others. And when we begin to feel a drawing closer to a person, so often doubts and fears seem to come out of nowhere, and before we know it, we squash the blossoming attachment.

The reality is that humans need intimate, meaningful relationships.

It is not good for man or woman to be alone.

The concept of a single person is an abnormal modern construct. Up until recently most of our people lived in family units of some kind. The lone hermit was viewed as the rare saint or more often the town crazy person. Not everyone lived with a romantic and sexual partner, but they lived in families made up of all sorts of configurations. Modernity created the single person who so often lives detached from other humans except for business transactions, work, and long-distance family ties that tenuously hold people nominally responsible for each other.

Not that I want to bash the single life; I am single myself. But many of us long for something more. That longing comes from legitimate need—a human need, just like we as humans need physical touch. Without it we begin to grow depressed, to detach, to fade.

All sorts of research has been conducted that highlights the positive affects of skin to skin touch. After I have spent extensive time with someone who loves me, and we held each other, cuddled and touched, I felt joy even weeks afterwards when we were physically far away from each other. I’m not even talking about sex here (not that there is anything wrong with sex), but simply the human need for touching, holding, being physically present with another.

Jesus and the disciples created deep relationships among each other that were dependent and full of physical intimacy. (Look in the Gospels yourself, and you will find plenty of examples). From my time in the Mediterranean and parts of South America and Africa, I witnessed wonderful expressions of physical same-sex intimacy among friends. Physical and emotional intimacy and dependence can be healthy and healing.

Some ex-gay teachings on intimacy and relationships run counter to our natural, healthy human needs. They instruct us to divorce ourselves from reality, from our genuine needs as well as from our sexual orientation. They demand that we live lives devoid of physical intimacy except for the rare cases when ex-gays marry someone of the opposite sex. Other than that all relationships and forms of intimacy remain suspect and taboo. They allow us to be intimate with the Spirit of God, but we need to avoid physical and emotional connectedness with other humans.

no, No NO! We need to live in reality. As a Christian and lover of God, I know this to be true–God desires truth in the inmost part. We need each other. We need deep and meaningful relationships and that human touch—emotionally and physically. We need to depend on friends and lovers and loved one and have them depend on us to supply each other with the things only humans can give to each other.

As a Christian I recognize that this is how God set it up. Sure ultimately I know that God supplies all my needs, but just like God supplies my nutritional need through healthy veggies, legumes, fruits and grains, I receive God’s love through other people. God provides me so much of what I need from the emotional and physical intimacy I share with others.

In fact, in regards to these teachings, I see the ex-gay movement as an Ex-Human Movement. In some ways it mirrors what the modern world pushes on us, that we can make it all on our own, except instead of God, the modern world provides us with materialism.

No, we need each other, and when we don’t have our emotional and physical needs met, we mourn, we feel the loss and the pain of detachment, of emotional solitude. At those times I need to acknowledge reality and express my need to myself, to God and to others. It is not a matter of whining (and yeah some of my friends get tired of hearing it), it is a matter of being present in the pain of unmet need and then putting into words, images, prayers, sighs, and groans what we long for, what we need. We ask, we seek, we knock.

The false ex-gay teachings on emotionally dependent relationships rest on a faulty foundation. They overlook reality and in turn paralyze people and force them into a stagnant way of life. The best way I can think to counter lies like these is with simple, rational, truth. Then I can begin to detox from the noxious teaching that enabled me to be an emotional stranger for so long.

Then Jesus said, “Lazarus come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them “Take of the grave clothes and let him go.”

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Prayer Fresheners

Doug, one of my hosts here in Portland, jokingly confessed that he assumed I would spend my spare week here in his place in silent meditation filling his home with a mystical holy aroma, as if I were a plug-in spiritual fragrance–a Gladâ„¢ Prayer Freshener. Well, I do my part, but I can’t take credit for the wafting up of any sacred scents.

Yesterday Doug, his husband Bruce, and I went to West Hills Friends Church. This is a semi-programmed Quaker church. Unlike my normal Quaker meeting, this one has leaders who give sermons, lead songs, say prayers and do Bible readings. Lots more bells and whistles than I normally go for, but a great service all the same.

They had about 20 minutes of silence, which I confess was my favorite part. I’m unprogrammed that way, but I can see the value of a semi-programmed meeting, especially for folks who are new to Quakerism. It can be daunting to pop into a Quaker meeting where no one starts anything. We just sit down in silence with no welcome or introduction. I imagine the newcomer thinking, “When is this going to start?”

This Sunday, one message that came through, first in the sermon and then in messages out of the silence, was that we must not judge by the exterior of the people around us. Although it may not be obvious at first (or 10th) glance, a bit of God is in everyone. One woman spoke of St. Francis and how he created the first manger scenes with living people. She said that with his draw towards the lowly, St. Francis must have put some of the ugliest people in the choicest roles of the nativity. The woman went on to say that she has begun to construct a mental nativity with the most difficult people in her life as Mary and Joseph, shepherds and wise men. That screaming baby on the plane gets casts as the Baby Jesus (I somehow think that even Marvin would approve).

This got me thinking to a message that has been knocking around in my heart for the past several months. Jesus is reported saying over and over again that the Kingdom of God is within. Then there is that wild parable about the man who finds a vast treasure, so vast that he must bury it in a nearby field. Then he goes and sells all he has so that he can purchase that field.

In thinking of that parable, I see the spiritual life as a great treasure hunt. So often I pray prayers of petition–Lord, I need this or that. Give me strength or courage and wisdom. And I need it now! But then I remind myself (or is it the Spirit?) that the Kingdom is housed within, not without in some distant land farther away than Narnia. Christ has given me everything I need for life and godliness. So then I shift my words, Thank you for the strength, wisdom and courage; now help me locate them within me.

When it comes to the difficult people, opponents, and even declared enemies, I try to turn it into a treasure hunt, a quest to find God within that person (and yes even family members). Somewhere lurking behind the challenges, the bitterness, the rejection, there is a vast treasure to discover.

Considering all this I suddenly feel drawn to silent prayer right now so that I can have ears to hear and eyes to see what is initially imperceivable but as real, or more real actually, than the overabundance of Right Guardâ„¢ body spray I doused over all myself this morning. Hmm, maybe Doug will mistake that is a sweet aroma wafting up to heaven, filling the house like a holy incense. Hmm, does the Holy Spirit come in Mountain Fresh?

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They say a picture speaks louder than words. So here are three photos of where I am staying this weekend in Colorado. Sweet! The air is crisp, clear and fresh. The Colorado regional meeting of Friends (Quaker) brought me out to Colorado to deliver a keynote address about inclusion. I will also lead an interest group and help facilitate a session with the teens.

Traveling in the ministry (which is technically what I am doing since I received my travel minute) becomes a dicey thing for me. For one I am a comic and a theatrical performance artist. I work from a script most times. Among unprogrammed Quakers I have gotten the impression that Friends value it when a speaker does not spend too much in preparation before giving a message.

How often I hear people praise speakers who go to the podium without any notes. The message I hear inferred is that one needs to wait on the Spirit/Light and be led in what one says. Too much preparation may limit the intent of the Spirit. As a result, when I start outlining a talk, I experience Quaker guilt (which is far less severe than Catholic or Evangelical guilt). I wonder if I should primarily spend time in silent worship listening to what God has for me to say trusting that when I get up there I will know how to proceed instead of writing notes.

But then I feel like I’m being lazy or irresponsible for not having a plan and a specific direction before I get to the podium. Perhaps somewhere in the middle of that tension lies the answer. I have heard that George Fox spent hours in the fields preaching to the sheep before he spoke to his fellow humans. I often talk through the many ways of saying something before I appear on a TV or radio program. Shoot, even when I go to the doctors or have to talk to a friend about something important, I rehearse various scenarios out loud.

Today I spoke on the phone with my friend Doug in Portland, told him my dilemma and some of my thoughts of where I would like to go/feel led with my talk today. This helps because Doug knows me and my work and we have spent time together in silent prayer over the last year. I got off the phone feeling at peace that it’s going to work out fine with or without notes.

Perhaps the biggest barrier is discerning between what I think the group needs to hear with what I need to say, even if it makes little sense to me. In my mind I may have a clear idea that can be reinforced or influenced by the leaders among a group, but the Spirit may have a completely different direction for me. I’m aware that this kind of talk may drive some of my atheist friends mad. But part of my belief system is that I trust that in each of us is something of God–something wise and beautiful and merciful and thoughtful and revelatory. It is like that treasure that Jesus spoke about in the parable where a man went and buried the treasure and then purchased the field where he hid the treasure.

Sometimes I think that the spiritual life for me is a treasure hunt–a quest to find the treasure buried deep in other people (often a challenge when I am faced with someone who stands as my opponent), and the work of unearthing the treasure that lies within me. We have this treasure in jars of clay, so looking at the packaging, we can so easily assume nothing of value exists in ourselves or others.

Part of the work of worship for me (even when I am not sitting still and quiet) is to tap into that hidden treasure part of me–that kingdom of God within me that Jesus promised–the comforter, the teacher, the seed, the Spirit. And just maybe I can share a little bit of what I find with those around me as I receive from them the treasures they have discovered.

And if all else fails, I can tell a joke.

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I mentioned in my previous post that I have begun to work on some new projects. One of these is fixing up my cottage that is located in the New York State Catskills nestled in the hills of Sullivan County.

About two years ago I got some land with the cottage on it. Lovely little building that used to sit on the nearby lake but over 70 years ago before someone relocated it up the hill and settled it on the property that I now own. The cottage sits on a grassy ridge overlooking a meadow. All together I have two acres of land.

Although a nice looking structure, years of neglect left it desperately in need of a new roof, some other structural work and major clean-up. The floors sag from rot. In other words it is not yet ready for habitation. But last week workers finished the roof, so it will no longer leak, and I can begin to get to work on the interior. My plans include keeping it simple. A wood stove for the heating system. A composting toilet. Some solar panels to help with the electricity. And clean open spaces. In the meadow I will plant some fruit trees–apple, pear, peaches–then put berry bushes along the border of the meadow–blueberry, blackberry, etc. Some of the land I will let go wild to give animals a place to live.

Now I am not one for physical exertion. I hate breaking a sweat, but after five years of doing lots of brain work, it felt great getting dirty and sweaty this weekend as I worked on the property. While working remembered the first job I got when I attended Nyack College back in 1983. An elderly couple needed someone to clear out the brush from their back garden. I worked for three days steady clearing bushes and weeds and trees that had grown up over twenty years. Such satisfying work (I guess I can see why President Bush prefers brush clearing on his Crawford ranch to his actual job).

Saturday would have been my 17th wedding anniversary. October 6th. That date crushed me every year since our separation and subsequent divorce. I used to fill up with shame and regret and sadness. I couldn’t face the end of the marriage. For years I couldn’t even go through the few things I had in storage from the time of the marriage. This year I remembered the date, but did not feel the weight of it.

They say time heals wounds. Perhaps. For me art and prayer and tears and talking and counseling and friends have brought the deepest healing in my life. For so long I felt like my leaky broken cottage. Broken in part because of wrong choices, mainly the choice to live a heterosexual life instead of facing the reality of my orientation thus causing pain and suffering for the people I loved.

For the past 9 1/2 years, as I emerged from the ex-gay life I lived, I have been rebuilding my life. I have pulled down walls, riped up floors–deconstructed before I could begin any kind of reconstruction. Severe work, dirty work–the basics. I labored to make my life habitable and had little time for window dressing or gardening.

The wonder of our lives is that we can rebuild. We can heal. We can emerge, scarred perhaps, but also strong and healthy and ready to embrace life anew. No wonder the resurrection and spring and the phoenix and all the ancient symbols of new life speak so deeply to so many people. They are not just old stories for us to celebrate, but hopeful patterns for us to experience today.

I know that people reading this blog have suffered genuine heartache and loss and damage because of their time in the ex-gay movement, or a marriage to a spouse who tried to go straight, or because of religious teachings designed to cage us instead of free us, and all sorts of other forms of abuse. Sometimes it feels absolutely hopeless. It can seem like the walls and ceiling have fallen on our heads, and that survival, let alone a peaceful fulfilling need life, seems impossible.

Yeah, I know that feeling. That deflated exhausted feeling. So exhausted that the thought of making a move winded me, weighed me down to the point it became an accomplishment to just get out of bed. Some of you know what I’m talking about. Plowing through that muck takes energy and support. Not something we can do alone, although it seems we to go it alone much of the time.

What is that scripture I heard quoted so many times? Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Some nights last for far too L O N G. We may pine for the night to engulf us and silence the pain. But yet a crazy spark remains in us, sometimes mirrored for us in our friends and those who love us best. We hear a word or a story or see an image that gives us hope, even for a brief moment, and me continue to press through the muck.

One day, someone very dear to you will thank you for the all the hard work you have done to rebuild this precious life of yours.

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I shared the other day how Christine Bakke, Daniel Gonzales and I went to New Life Church in Colorado Springs to share some of our stories as ex-gay survivors. You can read about the event here and see our collages designed by Christine. Below is some video where we tell some of our stories and why we went to New Life.

Part One

Part Two

Why Go to New Life Church?

Earlier today I called and left a message for the pastor who asked me to contact him. I look forward to chatting with him.

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Jose Luis Maccarone lived as an ex-gay for over 10 years. I first met him during my time at Love in Action when he came for a visit to the US to share his testimony around the country.

In 2000 he moved from his home country of Argentina to Madrid, Spain and become Exodus Interational’s first missionary. After serving as an ex-gay missionary for a few years, he came out gay.

Last week Jose Luis and I spent a day together, and he wanted to tell some of his story. In this series of videos, Jose Luis shares some of his ex-gay survivor narrative, what it was like to live as an ex-gay, the good and the bad that came of his experience, his recovery and a message to his former clients.

Jose Luis shares some of the reasons why he became ex-gay.

In this video Jose Luis talks about life as an Exodus leader and missionary

What good, if any came of your ex-gay experiences and how were you harmed?

Jose Luis talks about his recovery from the ex-gay movement and speaks to the people who he had ministered to as a missionary and ex-gay leader

Shortly after I posted this entry, I received the following e-mail from Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International.

Please make sure to note and clarify that Jose was a missionary with the Exodus International that now is called The Exodus Global Alliance. He was not affiliated with the ministry Exodus International that I represent. Though there is a connection to the two ministries, he was not one of our representatives.



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Tonight in Portland (PDX) I got to revisit SMYRC, the Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center. A youth center started by youth some years back, it is a safe space for LGBTQ youth to hang out, play video games, enjoy Dance Dance Revolution, do hair, work on theater, and just be with friends and caring adult volunteers.

They do a GREAT job at keeping the young people safe with very clear guidelines about appropriate, respectful, acceptable behavior. The room filled this evening with all sorts of Queers–goth, butch, fem, genderqueer, latino, Black, bisexuals, questioning, transgender and whatever.

When I attend the True Colors Conference each year, I hear folks in my generation (Generation X) say how they wish they had something like this when they were growing up, it would have made all the difference. Yeah, I tend to agree. If I had SMYRC growing up, I think I would have found myself so much sooner and would have saved myself and others years of turmoil and heartache.

Last January I presented Queer 101 to the group and during the Q&A session we talked about faith and spirituality. The young people really connected with the topic, one that at times does not get much airplay in the LGBT press or community discussions. In large part because of that discussion in January and the resourcefulness of Mark Middelton, one of the adult volunteers, they now have a weekly spirituality group.

Together they are going through a book by Cherie Carter-Scott called If Life is a Game, These are the Rules. The first rule that they have looked at and discussed together is:

You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.

They’ve been talking about body image and that intimate relationship with self. Over coffee at
Pix, (heavenly evil all in one cafe) Mark and I reflected on those queer people who refuse to come out of the closet and be real in front of their friends and family. Mark noted that we have to be the first people to love us and then model it for others. Where was Mark when I was a teen? (Okay, he wasn’t born yet).

You can read more of the rules here.

Tomorrow morning at the Q Center I lead a talk called Faith, Families and Queers: Surviving, Thriving and Having Fun. I actually have no clue what I will say. I know some about faith and some about fun, but the family part…hmmm. We’ll see. I would like to share some of the transgender people I have been finding and communing with in the Bible. Their stories astound me, so hidden, yet so essential.

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The workshop that Momma and I presented on Saturday was a HUGE success. (nearly as huge as the news I get to share with all y’all next week 😉

Loads of people packed the theater–all sorts of folks–young old, queer, straight. our theme was spirituality and sexuality, particularly being queer and being spiritual. These two usually diverge.

Much of my life I assumed I could not have my God and my queerness too. I had to choose between one or the other like a child in the midst of a bitter custody battle. Each side smeared the other and often with plenty of evidence to back the claims.

At a recent presentation in North Carolina, an audience member remarked in the after-show feedback form the organizers provided,

After all the damage the Church has done and still does to LGBT people, how could anyone in their right mind choose to be gay and Christian?

I understand the sentiment. Worthie (Momma) and I spoke about this throughout the weekend. So many queer folks we meet who once had a faith background come OUT and want NOTHING to do with God or religion. Makes total sense. Even many “open and affirming” and gay churches are not always the safest and healthiest places for queer folks. The hierarchy, the baggage others carry and the theology itself often oppresses rather than encourages.

Then among certain types of conservative Christians many people believe and proclaim that LGBT folks do not have any valid spirituality. They talk about our “lifestyle” and continue to propagate the lie that we all live immoral and irresponsible that will bring destruction to society itself. I heard such talk in the brief BBC interview of James Parker on staff at Living Waters ex-gay program in the UK.

We see that there are more serious health implications for people who live a gay lifestyle. Even the gay research shows that this is a more fragmented lifestyle and relationship choice. So actually we are trying to equate, I believe, something, um, that is less healthy for society with something that is in the best interest of society.

Perhaps Parker learned from his US counterparts how to allude to “research” without actually citing sources or even the actual findings of the researcher.

For someone who stresses concern for the fragmented lifestyles of gay men (and with a course called Journey into Manhood, it sounds like they are most concerned for the welfare of men), Parker would do more to help gay men live more unified lives which would include a full embrace by the church and society. Instead organizations like his, perhaps seeking to do good, actually cause people to become even more fragmented.

When folks like the leaders at Exodus say things like, The opposite of homosexuality is holiness, the message comes across loud and clear. You cannot be queer and live a holy life.

Yet, in our workshop, participants clearly stated that they believe same-gender loving people and other queer folks need to live responsibly as they adhere to a moral code. They expressed vales of self-respect, loving choices towards others and most importantly an integrity to do what they have come to understand is God’s will for their lives.

The divide runs deep though where many of us feel unsafe both in church and in the “gay community”. I have said it before, it is sometimes harder to come out Christian among queer folks than it is to come out gay among church folks.

But when I came to made senses and came out of the closet, I had to rediscover and drag out ALL the parts of me, not just the gay part. Early in life I had a significant personal encounter with the divine. I am wired for God, and to deny that is to deny part of myself. As a Quaker, in the silence of meeting for worship, and in my own quiet times as well as through healthy relationships, I have begun the process to fuse all the parts of my personality together and stop the insanity of living out of little separate boxes.

As queer folks, as straight folks, as Christians, pagans, atheists, queer Christo-centric and quite eccentric vegan Quakers, or whatever identifiers we use, we can live authentic lives. Such lives always cause trouble for some or for many around us. For some we defy logic and history and “research”.

But the coming out experience is one of becoming real, becoming solid, becoming ourselves. Some of us are wired for spirituality, and no one should allow some religious folks or any other folks to shove us back into our closets–closests that functioned much more as tombs.

In the words of a sorta drag queen (and Good Witch of the North) Come out, come out wherever you are.

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