I’d like us to introduce ourselves–let one another know who we are and what we’re about. Below are some possible places to begin your comments.
This is something different for us here, although I’ve seen it a lot of other places.
- Most of you are interested in LGBT issues: What sorts of things do you do in this regard? Are you LGBT or a straight ally?
- Many of us are, or were, affiliated with a faith community: where do you fit into all that?
- Is there something that would enhance your work? People? Materials?
- What is it in your life that gives you the most gratification, feels most rewarding?
- I am soliciting your input, so if you’re, like, uber-industrious, it won’t be taken as boasting or bragging to talk about it.
- What are some of the challenges you face?
- What are you feeling optimistic or pessimistic about right now?
- While I’d prefer to make your comments public, if you want them kept private, I won’t publish them. Just say so.
- If you’re dyslexic, or can’t spell or type, don’t worry. I can either keep your comments private or clean ’em up. I did teach freshman composition, you know!
Thanks in advance. I’m looking forward to reading what you share with us.
– I’m a straight ally, female, mid 50’s, married, a mom and grandmother. I’m a strong advocate on the internet for LGBQT issues, but am not involved in anything in the “real” world, partly due to medical limitations.
– Raised RC, attending an Anglican church in Canada, for 15 years. I consider myself very progressive, both in my faith and in my political/social leanings.
– Was an RN, but am medically retired.
– my two granddaughters are 3 and 5 and I am very involved in their lives, and they bring me and incredible amount of joy and purpose.
– I have several medical challenges, but by pacing myself and being very flexible in my schedule, I have a full and fullfilling life. I require a LOT of time to rest, and find the internet invaluable in keeping me connected to the world, interested and always learning.
– I can’t say I’m either optimistic or pessimistic. I think I’m a realist, but that still leaves room for hope and joy.
I enjoy my grandchildren, too, ages 4, 8, and 10. I have been transcribing stories from the younger two, hoping to get them used to hearing their thoughts read aloud. There is so much I’d like to tell them.
The internet is very important to me. Thanks for your online advocacy, Suzanne. It is important to actively support whatever it is we feel passionately about.
My granddaughters are 3 and 5 and I babysit them regularly. It’s a wonderful gift and I marvel at the miracle of them everyday. To have an input in helping them to become compassionate, loving people, is exciting. I’m much more attentive and patient with them than I was with my son and daughter.
By the way, this is a wonderful thread. I’m really enjoying hearing about your readers!
Same here on all this. I’m more attentive and patient than with my own.
It’s good to know more about my readers, what their concerns are. There’s diversity here, but some common threads, too, like optimism in the face of challenges.
And I was hoping that you y’all would get something out of it, too, like you have.
First, I just want to thank you for all of your work.
I am a gay man. I am a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, who served up to the rank of Captain in the Air Force and who taught and coached at the Air Force Academy, hidden, under DADT. I grew up in the COGIC/Assemblies of God, evangelical and charismatic traditions.
My experiences with God have been very real, very tangible, and very supernatural. In fact, at no point in my life have I ever doubted the Love of God for me. How could I… it has always been present. I also could reconcile quite easily in my mind and spirit that fact, that God does in fact love and accept me, even though some scriptures, may at first glance, appear to show God’s contempt and condemnation of me.
At one point in time I was working to become a chaplain in the military, and I pulled away from all organized religion, the final straw being the manner in which they dealt with my sexuality. I promise you it was not the main reason, but it was for certain the final reason. I will definitely say that I learned about love and the power of love to transform first in the church, but I cannot say that it is reserved for just those who claim the title of Christian.
I am a coach to this day. I am an expert in personal and corporate culture development, and a certified NeuroPositive Life Coach. My entire purpose is to help people tap into their greatness inside, and to learn to develop and cultivate it in the most beneficial and authentic way. I’m defnitely an Isaiah 61 kind of Christian, and even a “Valley of the Dry Bones” type of Christian. I think we are here to breathe life, and to empower one another.
Right now I am learning to reconcile the freedom to be me.. with all the coding to do things a certain way, or behave a certain way, that i received in organized religion. Learning to walk boldly, even in the face of the clobber passages that people use, but so often out of context.
I’ve even re-engaged with a church lately, and the pastor and I have already had words regarding him speaking about Referendum 74 here in Washington, that if it passes, will allow the law passed to allow marriage equality to stand. I miss the fellowship, and the praise and worship, but I really don’t miss the preaching…. At times I feel like I won’t find what I’m looking for unless I start my own church.
I’m always looking for clients, the work I do is neurological, and is a form of the same type of resilience training the army now is being trained in to help our soldiers fight PTSD. I am looking for fellowship with other Christians who are gay, and who accept the tennants of Loving your neighbor as yourself.
I also want to author a book about neuroplasticity and the coding that we develop through our organized religion! http://reigngroup.us
Looking forward to getting to know the rest of you!
Church is like that, isn’t it–a mixed blessing. I’m reminded of the verse in Revelation. “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it.” (Rev. 3:12)
To be a pillar, one thing you need to overcome is slavish dependence on the opinions of others. Pillars are the people upon whom others depend — and a wise leader is preparing people to stand as independent pillars themselves, without dependence upon their leaders and mentors.
Of course the opposite problems, pride and stubbornness, need to be dealt with, too.
You know, Jesus said wherever two or three people gather together in his name, that he’s there in the midst of them. Certainly there are two or three people in your town who would get together with you for Bible study and fellowship. (hint, hint)
My name’s Duncan (obviously), and I was born in and live in Iowa. I’m straight with a lot of gay friends and relatives, so grew up thinking there was nothing wrong with it. Still think that way, as a matter of fact. I’m a pretty faithful Christian, but am not affiliated with a religion, nor likely to be. I don’t work, can’t work, for that matter, due to numerous disabilities ranging from ‘oh, what a bother’ to ‘you can’t have lived this long with THAT’. I struggle to find things to do to fill my day. As to what I find most fulfilling, it’s stuff like this – standing up for people who need help, whether it’s an extra voice in a throng, or a person to step between them and a bad thing. I do this because when I was little, a strong man stepped between me and bullies who thought an epileptic wasn’t a fit person to suck the same air they did.
If you’re asking about hobbies, I draw comics and write stories for fun, and collect animal pictures to put on my fb page – it relieves stress and gets the word out for the endangered ones. I live alone with two cats. They inform me that I am the pet, and they’re the actual people, so I think I’ll leave it there.
I just looked in on your animal pics–what a menagerie you’ve collected! They’re very cute!
Thanks for standing between bullies and their victims. For me, that is a cup of cold water for someone thirsty.
Do you post your comics anywhere?
I wish I could – I bought a state-of-the-art Epson 4-way copier, scanner, printer and fax for that very purpose – but so far, I haven’t been able to scan ANYTHING onto my computer…arrgh. Still, drawing them is fun.
Hi Ron, I appreciate very much your informed and articulate statements. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As a gay man, retired United Methodist pastor, who continues to try to help others overcome their fears and misunderstandings of LGBTQ persons, I am grateful for the friends and allies who share in these efforts.
Ed, you’ve been a reader here for a long time. I appreciate your input and comments. Are you part of the Reconciling Ministries Network?
(For those of you who don’t know, the RMN is a United Methodist group working for full-inclusion in UMC churches.)
I am a straight ally former conservative Lutheran now liberal Methodist. I was a member of a rural United Methodist church that we chose because it was warm Christian community, then gradually realized that it was pastored by a lesbian and home to several gay couples. We went through a painful process of becoming a Reconciling Congregation that split the congregation in half.
I am also a pediatrician and a father of 3, one of whom is probably gay (therefore I need to be anonymous on here). I work hard to normalize attitudes toward homosexuality and provide gay parents and gay kids with a safe place to talk about their feelings and struggles.
I feel immensely proud when I can tell two moms that they are both the kid’s parents in my mind, even in what can be a very backward society. I am feeling optimistic about a changing tide that is not unlike the racial equality struggles of 50 years ago.
I have a question. How do you feel about the disruption your congregation experienced in the process of becoming a Reconciling Congregation? Most pastors are afraid of losing members, especially these days in UMC churches with the hierarchy threatening church closures.
We voted on becoming a Reconciling Congregation in 1995, which seems a million years ago now. Actually that was the 2nd vote – the first time the vote was tabled until we could spend a year in education, discussion, prayer, and discernment. The lesbian pastor I mentioned above retired before the second vote, and the new pastor came in with open eyes about the situation. We definitely struggled financially for several years, especially because some of the wealthier families left. There was never any suggestion that we might have to close, however. Now, the congregation is stable, neither growing nor shrinking, and financially sound. There really isn’t any conflict any more – people who are uncomfortable with LGBT folks find their way elsewhere. It’s great that a whole generation of kids have grown up in the Reconciling setting now. I’m convinced that it’s the best church in the world 🙂
I am a trans-woman and activist in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. I’m also a former pastor who in more recent years stepped back into church life and a spiritual journey through All God’s Children MCC in Minneapolis.
I blog about trans and recovery issues and am eye-ball deep in a new book, tentatively titled To Know the Difference: A Trans-Woman Discovers the Serenity Prayer. Upcoming stuff – a Trans 101 workshop on Oct 21 at AGC designed to help build bridges of understanding between trans and the rest of the world, including LGB folk. I’m also the Transgender Content Lead for OutMN Film Festival 2013.
And thanks for contributing to the greater mission with your blog!
You’re certainly juggling a lot there!
Good luck on your book, Denise. I know how difficult that is. I’ve been working on my own project for longer than I hate to admit!
I just posted your link in my blog roll. Hopefully it’ll help my trans readers. Good luck and God bless!
I am Patricia and I will be 54 in 24 days. I am a cradle Anglican working part time as the church administrator for a Presbyterian church, and as the “office administrator” (but really the favourite Auntie) in a university chaplaincy. I also direct a community choir and do proof reading and editing.
My wife and I have struggled with our church “membership” as the Anglican Church of Canada does not treat us as full members. The unpleasantness around our wedding would make you sick.
I work on two fronts. At the chaplaincy, I show the face of “gayness” to the students so that they understand how normal I am. I am working at helping LGBTQ students on campus to realize that all Christians are not their enemies. For amusement, I go on Huffington Post and correct people’s bad understandings of the Bible when they are using those understandings to support a hate-filled agenda. Doing so has helped me to build my own understanding of the Bible and to develope my debating skill.
As a course of normal living, I refer to my wife whenever appropriate. Sometimes people’s eyeballs bounce, but that’s okay. I continue to be pleasant and I normalize for them what being gay is.
At church, I volunteer in music ministry, singing in the Sunday morning choir and directing a once monthly service of Evensong. I have led Bible studies and I knit prayer shawls as well as far too many hats and socks for the bazaar.
The most rewarding thing in my life has been living fully in an equal, supportive and understanding relationship. A close second is singing in the choir.
One of the constant challenges is our Bishop. I refer to him as the PHA, the Pointy Hatted Asshole, and with good reason. He claims to be an ally, but it seems to me that he is only when it suits him politically.
As for what would help me in my work . . . more straight allies. The oppressed cannot educate the oppressor.
Not to dither, Patricia, but it seems that you’re educating oppressors and potential oppressors every day! And hats off to you for it, too!
On the topic of straight allies, have you worked with (m)any effective straight allies? Or is there a paucity of straight allies in your experience?
I don’t count the people that I meet in the course of everyday living to be oppressors. What I really mean is the hierarchical structures (church, government, business) that continue to oppress through stupidity, through thinking that that is what the majority wants, through sheer pigheadedness, etc. If faced with enough straight allies who make no bones about equality being important to them, change can be made faster. I get so tired of people talking about gay people continually “whining”. We need more voices in the mix.
I have worked with many straight allies, quite a few of them were clergy. The biggest source of straight allies is young people. They just don’t even see why this should still be an issue. Unfortunately, youth is often not listened too. We need people of all ages to hoist the flag and make themselves heard.
Very helpful input, Patricia. You’ve got my mind percolating. I’m internally grateful to you.
Thank you for the laugh, love the description of your bishop, sad that that is the case though. The Anglican bishop where I live is LGBT* positive and I am grateful to be where I am knowing how much others struggle with intolerant people in the hierarchy.
Straight ally – I live with an obvious disability, so am a part of a group that was once also excluded based on manufactured misreadings of texts to exclude people. I write a lot about such things at my website.
If you are interested in the subtle and not-so-subtle techniques to marginalize and co-opt minority groups, you’ll want to check out Tim’s site:
One of his recent posts discusses the fact that Helen Keller has been co-opted and domesticated by society, robbing her of her real-life edginess.
“Who Stole Helen Keller?”: A birthday observation
Another post discusses how the Indiana governor is trying to subvert the mission of the Indiana School for the Deaf by inappropriate appointments to its board of trustees.
Disability politics: Words Made Flesh
Thanks for this work, Tim.
I work as the music director for an Episcopal congregation, thoroughly enjoying one of the few full-time music director positions in the Diocese of Maryland. I have four choirs and an orchestra at the church, as well as terrific concert series. I conduct a community chorus of seniors. The average age is 76, the oldest member being 91. It is the most fun thing that I do. I also direct music for professional theatre productions in Baltimore and at venues like the Kennedy Center. I am a commissioned composer.
I am a gay man in a committed relationship of 22 years. If the popular vote in Maryland upholds the freedom to marry law passed by our legislature this year, then we will probably marry shortly thereafter.
I grew up in a Fundamentalist Baptist household. My father was one of the founding members of the Religious Right movement, and the president of one of the chapters of the Moral Majority. I personally know or have known many of the people who are the faces of religious intolerance in the United States.
My personal practice is to try to extend to others the tolerance and kindness that I wish they would extend to me. This is totally exasperating for me to attempt because I am so passionately concerned about justice. But I know first hand that by keeping a steady course of engagement and education, I make a difference in many peoples’ lives on the subject of homosexuality.
I am very engaged with politics and civics, but look to the Manhattan Refutation as a place, almost a refuge, where I can come to explore faith issues, find encouragement, and revel in the honest search for truth by people of all opinions and backgrounds. That is why I get a bit put out by those who use the page to promote their specific political parties and candidates on the site. I like a vacation from political campaigning when discussing so personal an issue.
I frequently use comments made by Ron, and his insightful articles, in my effort to educate those who are not progressive in their thoughts about homosexuality and scripture. I am grateful to all who come to this page and share.
James, have you ever written about your experiences with your father and the Moral Majority folks? I for one would be fascinated to read your first-hand account of what that was like.
Hopefully you will be married soon.
For anyone interested, the Manhattan Refutation is a FB group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/213683684151/
Thanks for the kind words and interest. Actually, it is difficult to write about my father and his milieu, especially since his death.
And I am afraid that as I age, my recollections may not be totally accurate. For instance, I was recently recounting a sermon illustration of my father’s which had a profound effect on me. My mother spoke up and said, “No, that is NOT how it ended, it ended like this,” and she proceded to give a fully different account of the illustration. Then my sister spoke up and said we were both wrong and give a third recollection. Obviously our memories are affected by what we want to believe. But when I do write, I try to give as accurate an account as I can.
I also do not wish to cause pain and hardship for the families of many of the people I would need to mention. Several of them feel a great deal of shame over the activities of a relative in regards to oppressing others. I recently made the mistake of writing a piece using the actual first name of a young man who came to an unfortunate end. The piece went viral and had enough detail to dredge up painful memories for various people involved. I deeply regret that and it has caused me to reconsider what I write and how I express myself.
James, they say that’s a novelist’s problem, that their characters will reflect people they know. But you’re not a novelist.
I’ve had to make decisions like that myself, but only a couple of times regarding people I know personally.
For all your frustration, you’re a kind man, James.
Gay, Catholic grandfather, now 61 yrs. A South African at a Catholics school, I grew up with a firm conviction that Christians should necessarily be involved in working for justice, and inclusion for all. My life in South Africa pretty well matched the rise and fall of formal apartheid – from which I draw numerous parallels with the importance of working similarly for justice and full inclusion inside the churches, for women, and for sexual and gender minorities as for all others.
Since relocating from S Africa to the United Kingdom a few years ago, I have become actively involved in this pursuit, working with London’s “Soho Masses” for LGBT Catholics, at my blog/website “Queering the Church”, ( http://queeringthechurch.com )
and wherever else I think I can make a contribution.
Catholic and gay myself, which gets most of my attention, I am also acutely conscious of the strides being made by other denominations, and the valuable contributions of our many straight allies in faith – such as Ron, and many others, and especially the support of our families. As a father and grandfather, I am also passionate about matters of marriage and family equality: I am proud that my daughter is so much an ally, that she is on record as saying “Gay parents? I recommend them”.
Although unpaid, this has become in effect my primary, virtually full-time employment.
I admire the Catholic church’s well-defined tradition of social justice work.
Your Queering the Church blog is impressive, and it seems that your life is very satisfying.
I know what you mean about your “primary, virtually full-time employment.” That’s the way it is for me, too. In fact, that’s true for a lot of the people introducing themselves, here. I still remember the first time I was filling out one of those online forms and listed my occupation as “activist.”
I’m Kate, a 25 year old straight ally and newish mom 🙂 I have many friends and family who identify as LGBTQ. I have grown up in an artistic community, so I was surrounded by the LGBTQ community and it was never an issue for me. You love who you love.
I am currently involved in a non-denominational church which was formerly associated with the “CCCC” denomination (which I think is a Canadian thing, but I’m not sure). This has produced some problems because the CCC church was formed when a group of people left the United Church over the “gay” issue. My husband and I have had many conversations with my brothers-in-law about how we’re “supporting an anti-gay church”. But we are also trying to actively work in our church to change minds and hearts. People in our church are well aware of my views on this subject, which has sparked some heated debates in the past, but I feel like sometimes people only hear/see what they want to…
As far as gratification in my life, right now my world revolves around my 14 month old son, and trying to break into the teaching profession (super messed up in Ontario right now). I am determined to raise our son in a similar manner to myself, so he understands that his uncles are married because they love each other, and some day when they give us cousins for Thom he knows that their family just looks a little different from ours but their love is what matters most!
Congratulations on being a mom, Kate. There is nothing more delightful, for me, than to hear my grandkids continually expanding their vocabularies and conversational skills. (Of course that would excite a blogger, wouldn’t it?)
You know, when it comes to church involvement, everyone does what works for them. We pride ourselves in being non-judgmental, but even we are the most judgmental when it comes to issues with which we have struggled.
I was about to say that I think most of us realize that our perspectives on other people’s involvement with their churches is individual and subjective, and that we really do extend freedom to people to make church-related decisions even though we may feel uncomfortable with them.
But am I being too generous there? Are people really as tolerant of diversity on this topic as I would like? Or perhaps generous the wrong word. Maybe our passionate disagreement is a measure of the importance of the issue.
Me: I am a gay, commercial real estate agent and member of Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
Faith community: Currently I am a stand for transformation within the church and gay community. My church is wrestling on being affirming and fitting into its “love your neighbor” mission and philosophy; it’s an exciting time for me.
Enhance my work? No, it’s my dream job.
Most rewarding? Relationships in work, business, and community; being a contribution for others in whatever area is important to them.
Challenges: Balancing the fight of flight dance when defending the space of everyone having the right to a belief. Juggling being a single, gay, Christ-following father to two young children.
Pessimism never did anyone any favors, so I choose optimism this day…for all its joys and pains.
It sounds like your fellowship is going through some interesting times, Brian. I assume that “fight or flight” dance refers to the tension in your congregation over being an affirming church. How does that actually get played out?
Anonymous above shared how his United Methodist congregation split over the issue. Does that seem like a possibility in your church?
Kids are great, aren’t they? People do muse, however, about how nice it would be if we could skip the teenage years!
I am a middle aged straight woman, married, with three boys and one granddaughter. I spend my days taking care of toddlers and I wouldn’t change a thing. Children are easy, they take you just as you are with no judgement and no expectations.
I was raised by two mothers and even though they are no longer together, I still have two mothers and love them both dearly. My godfather is gay as is his brother and one of his sisters, and family get togethers were extremely wonderful growing up. I never knew I was different until someone in high school told me my life was screwed up and I was a “freak”. That really upset me, and has been upsetting me every day that I hear people voice such ridiculous opinions. I am most comfortable around people who are gay/lesbian because that feels like home to me, and when I hear people spouting their bigotry it’s just as offensive as if they were insulting my own children. This is my family they are talking about, my friends and it’s not okay with me for that to continue.
I was brought up in a non-denominational church after my mother was ex-communicated from the catholic church. I no longer attend church after horrible experiences with the church trying to “cure” my mother and the misery she suffered because she tried very hard to be someone she wasn’t. The church tried to convince me that my other mother was evil and I had to stay away from her. It was horrific to me and I still carry some baggage because of that.
I find helping people very rewarding. Anybody who needs help, I do what I can to help. I give rides to whoever God leads me to pick up from the side of the road, carrying an elders grocery bags, buying someone a cup of coffee, I donate to the various homless shelters around me, I park my car in an area known for the homeless and pass out coats in the winter, etc. I try to follow whatever I feel lead by God to do.
I’m feeling very disheartened by the social/political climate these days. I find it so extremely hard to understand how some people feel that it’s okay to hurt so many people who are just trying to be who they are. I feel very angry when ignorant people suggest that being gay/lesbian is a choice and “these people” are choosing to “sin against God”. I have never understood how people could think that a God who created everyone and never makes mistakes, would select an entire group of people to turn His back on and all they ever did was be exactly who He created. It has never made sense to me and I’ve tried several times to express myself to these misguided hateful people, but was never able to do it with the scripture back-up until I came across your blog. Your blog has been such a blessing to me and has brought me a lot of comfort. It has vindicated what I’ve felt my whole life. I really hope I’m making sense, it’s hard for me to put my thoughts into words sometimes and I mess it up a lot. =))
That’s who I am in a nutshell.
You really do have a heart for people, Tempal. I admire your involvement in people’s lives, how you incarnate the love of God in how you live your life. You have that in common with a number of others here. I’m afraid I’m too much of an intellectual, actually shy in many ways, and sometimes appear as aloof. Oh well!
I looked at your favorite quotes, and this anonymous one made me chuckle: “It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.”
Now that’s self-deprecrating humor at it’s best! Doncha love irony?
You said you’re feeling disheartened. What I saw in your comments was your sense of justice being offended. I am convinced that our anger at injustice toward others is one of the chief proofs of our being created in God’s image. And God’s response? Step in and do something about it. (We call that the Incarnation.)
I loved all the responses so far by allies and other LGBTQ replies. Ron has asked me to articulate on how I came to be positive about my life and my Christian faith. I have a very long story but will try to give a Readers Digest version. I am 62 year old gay man. I felt through the years that I liked other guys. I wanted to be normal, I thought, I even went to a psychiatrist when I was 22 years old. He told me that I could change my orientation if I slept with a female. So I started dating and eventually married thinking that all my feelings would go away. I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and try to push back those feelings. I like numerous others tried to pray the gay away.
After about 30 years of doing that, I realized that God loved me if I was the only person on this earth. Things started to change. But before they did, I was diagnosed with cancer. You know, there was a peace that came over me and I knew that God had it all in control. I had so much other stuff to fret about, I didn’t really have time to worry about cancer. After eleven months of chemotherapy and really no illness from it, I started to attend a cancer support group. I wasn’t getting any emotional support at home.
After being in the hospital for 5 days with a reaction to a med that they gave me, I realized through somethings that I could no longer go on with my marriage. After my chemo, we separated and eventually divorced within the next 6 months. During that time I came out and then went back in for a year, still trying to be a heterosexual. Someone remarked to me that you know when you thought you were gay, you were much happier. That was a sign from God, because the person that told me that was a Christian and was very against me being gay. I came out again within the next month and met my partner and have been happy ever since. But we had a few episodes of breaking up, and I started counseling. I knew all this time that God loved me no matter what and I was as free as a bird to live my life as a gay man. I forgot back up there that I was in Houston and the first chemo treatment I was in the hospital listening to a fantastic minister that was so positive about everything that I wanted and have continued to listen to him every Sunday since (10 years) now. I have had miracle after miracle in my life since accepting that God loved me. During counseloring I realized most of my emotional issues were from the bullying and being controlled by people in my life.
I haven’t lost any of my positive thinking during this time. I have had a few trials but nothing that I haven’t been able to handle by the grace of God. If you had known me before this transformation, you would see the difference. There was negativism around me all the time, and I kept trying to make everyone else happy that will never be happy while I was dying constantly within myself. Surviving cancer set me on a new track, I wanted to live, I wanted the best life I could get. As I said before, miracle after miracle showed me that God is there for me and if I trust Him to take care of everything, He just keeps blessing and blessing. I used to be a loner, now I have so many great friends that I can be who I was born to be. I try to minister to people and tell them that God loves them no matter who they are. We have been told so many mean things through the years to control us so that we can go to heaven. (that’s what they say).
Those same people will send us to hell for anything they don’t believe in. A few things I have learned: don’t talk about the devil, Praise God, He is awesome. Reflect on the fact that He is an awesome God and has more power than the devil. Don’t believe what others tell you about what God is telling them for you. You have a relationship with God 24/7. If we only have a relationship with God on Sunday, we don’t have much do we! Now, you have to find all of this for yourself, I am just telling you how I have come to love God and know that He loves me. I asked God to lead me and show me what He wanted in my life. He continually shows me each and every day. There are so many times that I should have died through the years but I now know that God has a purpose for me and I am fulfilling that purpose. It might not seem right to some people but I know it is what God wants for me.
I am not perfect, so don’t think that, but Jesus was my perfection. I believe that God wants us to be honest with Him and ourselves and really with others. I have never been put down because I am gay, I hate to hear of others being ostracized but it happens in this life. Don’t let that get you down. What God puts in your heart, go with it and start the most fabulous life that God has for you and me. About 7 years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer again. Another miracle, I have been cancer free for the last 7 years and praising God and His son Jesus each and everyday. I relate the illnesses because I want people to realize where I have been and where I am now. Life is good. I want everyone to realize it and enjoy every minute of it. May Peace come into everyone’s life and God revealed by your life!!!!!
Johnny, thanks for this positive and uplifting testimony. The change in your outlook and attitude sounds like it was a wonderful experience. You’re blessed that you were able to keep a vital connection with your original faith (minus the lies), and not have to sever your ties, which is a painful experience.
Thanks so much for sharing!
My writing has appeared on this site before. My name is Ted Hayes, a gay male, in his 80s and who frequently introduces himself by saying, “I am in my 82nd year of life out of the womb and in my 35th year of life out of the closet.” I knew I was different during pre-school years but did not emerge from the closet until I was 47 years old since I lived in the Bible Belt in the dark ages of the earlier 20th-century years when coming out was unsafe. I am now retired from a varied career: chemist, Southern Baptist minister, college professor, and human resources counselor.
I am a widower. My partner of nearly 30 years died in 2009 at the age of 95. My life is a thing of greater beauty simply because he was a part of it. Ours was my only live-in relationship. His first partner preceded him in death after a 39-year relationship.
I am the oldest founding member of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center in Kingston, NY. We started with 28 founding members. With a membership of over 1,600 members today, including allies, we are arguably the largest rural community center of its type in the United States. It is with that group that I spend most of my free time. In March of this year I was honored as the first recipient of the Center’s Founders Award.
I am a notorious writer of letters-to-the-editor. I decided that was one thing I can do to fight inequality by addressing ignorance when it raises its ugly head in our greater community. I vowed never to let a denigrating remark about my brothers and sisters to go unchallenged. I wrote the letters (175 over the last 17 years) whether or not they were published, even though my cumulative publication rate is around 90%. I have been called many unsavory names, some of which would not be suitable here but were deemed printable by the newspaper editors. Go figure. “8>)
At one point I was asked to write a series of articles for a newspaper in another area of the state. When the series appeared, besides a great deal of both positive and negative feedback, I received three different threats on my life. One was serious enough to report to both the local law enforcement and to the FBI. To show the level of stupidity with which we must deal on a regular basis, the most serious threat came by snail mail and was signed by the writer who also gave his address. I wanted to notify officials with the understanding that if I were to turn up dead under mysterious circumstances, they would have at least one suspect. Such is life in rural New York. But I love it here.
Since I no longer belong to any religious body, my primary means of contact is through occasional invitations to speak. I enjoy speaking in churches, high school and college classrooms and for any other opportunity that presents itself. One particular address was for the Center’s initial community-wide conference in 2006. It was videotaped and has since been used in churches, PFLAG meetings, high school and college classrooms in various parts of the country.
Spinal deterioration (arthritis) is slowing me down, now. Whenever possible, however, I just grab my cane and go.
Ted, you have done such a great service to your community. Gee whiz! A model rural LGBT community center, continuous testimony in the local papers on behalf of your friends and neighbors,
Your detractors remind me of one of my favorite quotes, from Winston Churchill: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
Is your 2006 address available online or on DVD?
Ron, I have a DVD of that address but I am not enough computer savvy to upload it. I can send it to you if you will contact me by email and give me your snail mail address. Be glad for you to have it.
Got the link, Ted. Thanks!
I tried to be involved in organized religion for nearly 30 years [starting at 9 yrs old (and fought for truth ever step of the way)].
The best time in my life as a follower of Jesus was when about 8 friends and I would meet together in my home, talk, discuss, read, and pray. Those times and people are long gone from my life and suffering from Late-stage Lyme disease, I haven’t met many people the past couple years, because I’m working toward getting treatment.
I suppose I was hoping for a link or something where a person might connect with like-minded followers.
Reading through the information above was good (and much I’ve already learned from study). I simply was looking for a “what now” possibility. I’d set something up myself, but I’m far too sick presently.
I’m not a conventional believer. I don’t believe in the infallibility of the Bible (although I believe the truth is in it) and I believe most people have completely missed the true teachings (meanings) of Jesus.
In any case, if anyone has a real suggestion, let me know.
When I became truly sick, I lost everything – my business, home, vehicles, most of my work equipment, but most difficult was the loss of “friends”, family (no big surprise), and fellow “believers”.
I’m literally fighting for my life completely alone and I do believe Jesus was clear in His teachings that I shouldn’t have to face this alone (meaning fellow followers would stand together).
Just to be clear, I have reached out to “Christians”, believers, and churches over and over.
p.s. Sounds more like a rant, but I’m completely serious and not just venting or ranting.
Blessing to you all.
My best experience was in an interdenominational Bible study I attended for several years in high school. A bunch of us in Oakland piled into a car every Tuesday night and drove to a church in Walnut Creek. For me, that is the epitome of fellowship.
I have never lost everything, so I can only imagine what you’re going through. More and more I am convinced that we cannot rely on others to serve us a ready-to-eat church experience. We are going to have to create for ourselves the “church” experience that God leads us to create.
There is nothing arrogant in this. It’s just a pragmatic reality. The churches are bogged down in their inherited brick and mortar, many (like mine) fighting to simply keep the doors open.
No individual Christian is automatically obligated to take on an unbiblical burden, a futile way of life passed down by their forefathers.
It’s interesting that you should be looking for a link. I know for a fact that there are tens of thousands of people tired of doing church the same old way. Everywhere there are scores of people within a hundred miles of one another, but no one has figured out a way of putting these sheep without a shepherd in touch with one another to form their own home fellowships.
But that doesn’t help you in your immediate situation, I know.
I’m a tad late to this thread, lots of work to do at school this week.
A bit about me:
I’m a woman who is transsexual and live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I also identify as a lesbian.
Currently I am attending university and on a path of discernment towards ordination in a mainstream denomination. I am also involved politically, specifically in the push to increase trans human rights in Canada.
I am not ‘stealth’ and do not hide who I am and where I come from in life. I’m working on building ministries for trans people and their friends and families in the region.
One of the big challenges is overcoming the constant hateful speech coming out of conservative Christians that is drowning out those of us who are progressive or moderate.
Another challenge is connecting with others who are trans and Christian, in order to work together and support one another.
I also blog about my journey, http://taliacjohnson.ca and one of the challenges is how to communicate my faith without turning off those who have been very badly hurt and wounded by their faith communities and others who call themselves Christian when they came out as trans, gay, lesbian etc.
I am always happy to talk to people, educate and be supportive. If asked a question, I am usually happy to answer, but if a topic is off limits I will say so and ask the person asking to respect that.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (eh!)
Not late at all, Talia. Having such intolerant extended family certainly can be difficult sometimes. Thanks for the work you do, neighbor to the north!
I just posted your link to my blog roll.
Take care and God bless!
H. My name is Jo, I’m 52, female, straight, never married (in a 9 year long distance relationship with a great guy — it works for us). No kids, but have older parents with health issues. I’m an administrative law judge with the NY Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.
I have a lot of gay friends and my partner has gay relatives and friends, Because I’ve been active in some interfaith websites over the last decade or so (met my partner on Beliefnet) I have a lot of friends from all over the country and the globe with a wide variety of beliefs, religiously, socially, and politically. Due to various issues (health, time), I mostly hangout on Facebook now & my friends are there too. I am committed to promoting LGBQT equality through Facebook, and letters to my senators (I wrote a bunch to Sen. MacDonald before the marriage equality vote in NY & thankfully he was one of the four Republicans to vote for it – it’s cost him his seat, I think, unfortunately).
I grew up Church of the Brethren in Ohio, but they don’t exist in NY so now I am a member of the Reformed Church in America. I love my local church and am seriously upset at the general synod’s actions regarding this past summer on the “homosexuality issue” as the reports put it. My whole church was very downhearted and my pastor questioning his calling. I/we have decided to fight for sanity from within, rather than leaving. I used to be more active in my local church (Whole Life Stewardship Chair, Consistory member etc.) but had to back off the last couple years.
I have a chronic condition/illness called Gastroparesis which is exacerbated by stress and during the bad times it is very delibilitating (during good times it is still life altering but manageable, and life is good still). My job is very stressful — I’ve learned to balance it mostly.
Two years ago my middle younger brother was killed by lightning while celebrating the harvest of a community garden he had helped create in Rockville MD — he was life flighted into DC but never regained consciousness after I got there. I had to drop out of everything at church to deal with the grief and with the pain from the GP. Since then my parents have developed health issues requiring multiple surgeries. I’m starting to be ready to get more involved with the church again, but I have to move slow to make sure I don’t tilt into a bad time again from too much doing.
In life I’m usually optimistic. God is with me and holds me up. How can I not be?
Sounds like you know all about resilience, Jo.
I’d like to send a note to Senator MacDonald to thank him for the sacrifice he made. That kind of courage is rare, although I recently heard about a senator from Massachusetts who voted similarly, and lost his seat next go-around.
I don’t believe in threatening people with hell, but recently this verse from Revelation is meaning more and more to me.
“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
I admire courage.
Sen. McDonald has courage….and heart. People with disabilities have also lost a great advocate if he loses. He’s already lost the Republican primary, but he remains listed on the Independent line. To give you an idea of the person, watch this, for his comments at the time : http://youtu.be/7k3CE80Az3E He’s one of the few Republicans I ever voted for & the only one I’ve ever donated to; he’s a stand up guy. I’ll vote for him again. He deserves the support.
Since the NY legislature isn’t in session now, I’m giving you the address to his district office. Senator Roy J. McDonald
433 River Street Hedley Bldg., Suite 1004
Troy, NY 12180
I am in my upper 50’s, straight ally, married, with 4 grown children, 2 grandchildren.
I mainly grew up in “Bible” churches, was an ordained pastor in both C&MA and Church of the Brethren, over 20 years I pastored 3 churches and taught in a Church School. Now I am on Disability due to a long term chronic pain condition. At the present we are not attending part of any church. That is mainly due to my chronic pain and the fact that once I had to leave active ministry due to the disability the churches I was part of discarded me. I cannot think of a more polite way to describe what happened.
With the extra time on my hands a few years ago I began a fresh look at what the Bible really said about sexuality.The result of my research was that the line I had been taught was not supported by the Bible and that God is fine with straight and LGBT people.
That research paid off in a big way when my middle son called us from college to tell us he is gay. Since the issue was already dealt with in our minds it was a time of support and standing together. Unfortunately, my parents and extended family are not supportive at all and the condemnation from them is very obvious.
As I improve I plan on restarting my blog, when that happens I will let you know.
This blog is a blessing and reading your point of view and the comments is a blessing.
You’re certainly dealing with a lot of things simultaneously: disability, ingratitude, and tensions in your village and tribe. I’m sure there could be more stressors, but I think you’ve got enough on your plate.
So how’s your son doing? I know that just because we’re loving and accepting, our kids still have the ordinary problems of life.
Thanks for your kind reply.
I definitely do not go around looking for more stressors!
All my sons are doing well. The middle who happens to be gay has his dream job with a wonderful company. He also is in a fantastic relationship, unfortunately marriage is not in their near future. However, as I told him that is not a “moral” issue with me simply because at present they are NOT allowed to get married and even if they did it is not officially recognized. Enough of that rant.
Dan, I feel so refreshed just knowing that you and I share an online presence here on the Pastor’s page! Your tale is equal parts heartbreak and inspiration. Please let me know when you DO resume your blog.
Hey, Ron! I’m still way behind on reading your “normal” entries, but I (slowly) jumped on this one … I wish my attention span were a little longer so I could read ALL about these wonderful brothers and sisters. (Hi, brothers and sisters!)
I am a rabid straight ally and self-described “cis bro” (“cisgender” is the opposite of “transgender”) who has argued with a Catholic priest face to face; marched around Focus on the [narrowly defined] Family’s Colorado Springs headquarters; phone banked for civil unions here in Colorado; collected and delivered postcards for civil unions; testified before the House Judiciary Committee in favor of civil unions; been some of the “straight comic relief” for my church’s OutSpirit (GLBTA etc.) group since its inception in 2004; marched in two Denver PrideFest parades; volunteered with (and even been paid by) ONE Colorado; given money to the Human Rights Campaign, the Courage Campaign, and ONE Colorado; sparred with fundamentalists (and conservative United Methodists!) on Facebook and LinkedIn; abandoned a toxic former friend (a conservative atheist) from college; signed countless petitions on change.org and elsewhere; etc. — not necessarily in that order!
I was baptized at Grace UMC (which now happens to be Reconciling) in Des Moines and did a little growing up at Faith-Westwood UMC (apparently more conservative) in Omaha. When I was six years old (in 1983), my parents and I moved to Colorado and were extremely blessed to find St. Andrew UMC (then in what is now Centennial, now in Highlands Ranch)! As of Sunday, March 21, 2010 (by a 92.7% vote!!!), we are the second-largest Reconciling UM church in the Western Jurisdiction — which recently voted to IGNORE the 40-year-old homophobic language in the global UMC’s Book of Discipline!
The most rewarding thing in my life is knowing that I’ve made a positive difference!
Challenges? Nah, none of those … *chuckle* *sigh* Frustration, impatience …
Optimistic: That President Barack “Pro-Equality Rockstar” Obama will be thoroughly re-elected!
Pessimistic: That the fight for equality within the UMC will get worse before it gets better …
Okay — go have a snack!
Why does the energizer bunny come to mind? Even the “beating the drum” part. 🙂
Do they ordain lay bishops? I nominate you!
Yeah, yeah, I know. “If nominated I will not run. If elected–watch out.”
But I don’t want to be limited to moving diagonally! ;-D
Yep — I have my dad’s “if I ever think about running for office, kick me” gene.
I am 61 years of age, a male in a relationship with my male partner, 20 days my senior, fpr over 36 years. We met while unloading a moving van for a mutual friend.
I was the youngest of 8 children of a minister in the God’s Missionary Church. The small Holiness (Wesleyan-Armenian style) denomination had a few dozen small congregations, mostly in Pennsylvania an Florida. I was born in Bucks County, PA, and first memories occurred in nearby Allentown. I was dedicated by the General Superintendent of God’s Missionary Church. He prayed that I would become a preacher. We moved often while I was growing. I attended 12 schools by the time I graduated from 12th grade at the Penn View Bible Academy.
By the time I graduated, I was fully engaged in random sexual encounters with various men who I would meet on the street or in public accommodations. This kind of activity dominated the next 8 or nine years of my life. I tried to stop and at first, expected God to perform a miracle to cure me! But, I knew I couldn’t stop, even though I was constantly wracked by guilt. I knew it was no use asking for help in the church. I attended college sporadically, but I was hooked on my self destructive activity. I realized early that my problem was with my activities, and not my sexuality, but I seemed cornered. Was it possible for me to be gay, but somehow not be promiscuous? There was no way I could be Gay AND Christian! I discarded all other church rules along with attendance. It must be entirely wrong!
Meanwhile, I found time to substitute gay activism for my former church- centered activities. I had taken up Bible study and church doctrine very early on and was considered an outstanding church youth with great potential to become a force in our church youth group. I was “fervent” as a “Christian” youth, though with many ups and downs. But, I was ten times more fervent in my belief that gay lifestyles must be legitimized, and discrimination ended, and was boldly and blindly outspoken in my new-found cause!
I became very heavily engaged un an upstart statewide movement spurred by Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp’s early foray into an attempt to make our state one of the earliest to lead with changes in our state’s response to this relatively new human rights cause. In 1975, I was appointed one of 16 community activists to the newly formed Governor’s Council for Sexual Minorities. Shapp was alone in this Executive Order. The state Legislature was vehemently opposed. But the Executive Order required all PA government departments under the governor to provide a representative for official meetings, as well as services such as work areas, phone connections and supplies as required. Travel reimbursement came from the Governor’s budget.
I remained actively committed all these years, although the Governor’s Council only survived a few years. In 1976, I met my partner, Jim, a school teacher, and found it necessary to be more cautious of my public participation. Teachers made a very easy target for social conservatives!
In 1975, I had also initiated the formation of a local gay rights group centered in Northumberland County, PA…”Susquehanna Valley Gays United”. The membership voted to focus on social functions, but approved my use of the group, as President and because I was the only member publicly out, for my activist purposes. I issued frequent announcements and other information to the local print media and participated in live radio talk programs, reached out to local colleges with open campus discussions for student participation, usually inviting outside activist friends from other parts of yhe state to facilitate. Also, I suggested a panel discussion for a show on our local public TV channel. This was all to keep the momentum going and get the public accustomed to hearing our issues. Also, about this time, a statewide rural organization was formed by members of local groups around the state, excluding Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to advocate for greater participation in areas of the state where our issues had found little support as of this point. The statewide group was called the Pennsylvania Rural Gay Caucus. An immediate focus of the group was to lobby for greater rural inclusion on the “Governor’s Council”.
After relocating to Lancaster and curtailing my public participation, I remained involved in other ways whenever I could. I joined our local chapter of NOW which was very focused and accepting of my help. We were still trying to get the ERA ratified so it would become a part of the US Constitution.
My efforts to bridge the gap with my family over my life changes provided me and Jim with constant projects for reunions, anniversary celebrations for my parents (and his parents) and other efforts to resume a feeling of family unity were all successful only in keeping us busy. Fiftieth, 55th, 60th, and 65th wedding anniversary celebrations for Mom and Dad, annual summer reunions, and Christmas get togethers, all spearheaded largely by us, came and went, but no breakthroughs.
I became more and more bitter about this stubbornness as the years marched on. I began to question all religious beliefs, wondering if anything, including God, was real. I wasn’t sure if I believed in any part of the Bible or any of what I was taught, and realized also that I had been written off by the church and most of my family. I knew it would be difficult to have much influence on my parents or siblings, although my parents and several of my siblings truly loved both me and Jim..there religious proscriptions were unlikely to change with regard to homosexuality. I had my hopes pinned on my 18 nieces and nephews, who were just three to about 20 years younger than me, thinking they would be more likely to see things differently.
As of this writing, I must say, even those who are the most informed and successful are not willing to grant us their support for equality. I have recently been informed by several that they would support a “civil union” for me and Jim, but a marriage is for a man and a woman. Some of them will not even talk about these issues, but I see their likes and posts on Facebook, so I know where they stand, I guess the ones who have told me directly they will not accept marriage are deserving of a bit more credit than those who won’t discuss these issues?
I am trying to divest myself of my unbelief, and find some source of faith again. It is a long, difficult road back. I am relying heavily on the posts and blogs inspired by this site and other similar contacts. Thanks so much, Ronald Goetz, and the rest of you who are putting so much energy and time into helping me and many others left in similar situations!
As a blog writer, I would hope that my composition skills would be up to specifications 🙂
I am a 23 year old gay man just discovering the balance between an authentic Christian life and how to live it out in community as a gay man in the conservative, Bible-belt-wearing, GOP dominant state of South Carolina.
Without needing to state the obvious challenges, life is further complicated by being semi-out of the closet and in a relationship.
As a musician who loves modern music, I just wish I could find a church that is as modern as it is accepting, but ironically the only places that are affirming are “more traditional” in their services, so I’m left feeling dissatisfied with worship, but still loved for who I am – which is fine for now, but I’d like to have the whole picture. I guess moving to a more progressive state might make a difference in that department.
On another note, I enjoy blogging and reading blogs intersecting faith and sexuality, and will continue to do so more and more publicly as I spring forth out of the dusty hole we call “the closet” into a bright, sunny allergen-filled world we call “the rest of the house”.