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Monday, December 23, 2013
Friday, December 20, 2013
a rainbow ribbon on my coat
for the past few weeks.
That’s a good question.
I wanted to wear the
colors with pride, but
I fear being judged
I took me weeks
after I got the ribbon
to work up the courage
to wear it.
It sat patiently
on my bureau,
staring at me
as I put my make-up on.
“Put me on, too,”
the rainbow ribbon
would say to me.
I pretended not to hear.
I avoided eye contact
with the ribbon as I put
the eyeliner down
and rushed out the door
to face the day.
God challenged me.
“What are you waiting for?”
He asked. “You already have
my approval. You don’ t need
anyone else’s approval.
Be not afraid, for I am with you.”
I realized then that
wearing the ribbon
was not about me
being brave or proud or free.
It was about being obedient.
It was about glorifying God.
It was about standing up for oppressed people of God.
It was about solidarity with my LGBT brothers and sisters
who do not blend in as well as I do.
Being a femme bisexual
because I am assumed to be straight.
But I get the benefit of
not worrying about kids asking me
“Are you a boy or a girl?”
So for all the kids who really
have it pretty bad, maybe I should
wear my ribbon loud and proud
so they hear me say,
“You are not alone!”
And so far,
no one has spoken a word of
prejudice to my face for wearing
a rainbow ribbon.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
I was rereading my prayer journal from the first month in my coming out process and it was full of good reminders.
Here it is, straight from my journal:
Judi made a good point today in our one-on-one conversation--by rejecting potential friends if think they will reject my sexuality, I am not being loving towards them. How can I claim that my bisexuality is a gift I can use to love others when judge people for judging me?
Lord, how do I move forward? Placing the blame on the other person doesn't seem nice, but neither is blaming myself. Do I blame the devil?
As I learned in the scripture passage today about Jesus casting out demons, Jesus did not come to obliterate the devil but rather to remove him from where he does not belong. Judgment does not belong in my relationships and interactions. It's not about destroying judgment but removing it from myself. Lord, cast out the demons of judgment in me.
I can only control my own actions, not the actions (and reactions) of others. I shouldn't expect love, I should just give it. Give it unconditionally, even if the person is underserving. Because that's how you love me, God. I never did anything to deserve your love, yet you gave everything for me.
I know that you will give me the love and the strength I need. I feel you pushing me, saying, "don't stop loving. Don't harden your heart. You have all the support you need from me. Trust in me to sustain you."
Now what does this all mean practically for me today? Well I guess I should talk more openly to the people around me about what's going on with me. I should be present to them, share my voice with them. I shouldn't withhold this important part of myself I assume they won't be supportive. I should also not assume this topic is off-limits and taboo in this Christian environment. I should share myself and be vulnerable--without having an agenda. I shouldn't be trying to change their minds. All I can do is open the door to this conversation and not be bitter if they aren't ready to come in.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Saturday, November 30, 2013
- “Coming out was one of them most incredible experiences of my life because of how much support and love I received from everybody. My mom and dad told me they love me no matter what, and are proud of me for embracing my sexuality. My siblings and extended family were touched that I would share such personal information with them.”
- “My family and my home feel safe and supportive. The people I surround myself with are 100% safe, accepting, and understanding. In these places I feel normal and I have so much internal peace.”
- “The most supportive person in my family would have to be my little sister. She’s more understanding because she’s also member of LGBT.”
- “Support does not necessarily mean understanding. I don’t think they understand.”
- “My mother has been this sort of weird combination of supportive and unsupportive. She didn’t react badly when I told her, but rather she sort of changed the subject”
- “My mom very painfully referred to my sexual preference as a ‘phase,’ completely belittling the significance of the connection between me and my partner.”
- “My girlfriend's family is not as supportive as my own family when it comes to being gay. Her grandparents still do not know that we are together, yet I have met them many times as ‘just a friend.’ It is heartbreaking that her family has not come to fully accept us as two females who love each other. When I am around them, I feel like I have to hide who I truly am and how I feel about their daughter.”
- “A family member I’m afraid to come out to is my Godmother. She’s been a true mother to me and I’m not exactly sure why I’m afraid to tell her. I guess it‘s her ambiguity on the LGBT rights and until I get a better understanding of where she is I’ll tread carefully.”
- “The family member I am most afraid to tell is my father. There seems to be something more concrete and serious about telling my dad. I know that he won't mind, or even judge me. He will love me just the same. However, the fear I experience is very real. What if my dad chooses not to love me after he finds out? What if he expresses anger or disappointment? I love and care for him immensely and could be really hurt if he disapproves.”
- “There is a certain pair of relatives who I definitely am not excited to come out to. I’ve never been close to them because we have very different values. They’re part of a Christian church and political affiliation that don’t support LGBT people. Telling them I’m gay would be stressful, but since I’ve never highly valued our relationship, I wouldn’t be personally crushed by their resistance, just annoyed and infuriated.”
- “Family for me is such a huge part of my identity that losing that would be an incredible challenge to how I view myself. Although I don’t think my family would completely reject me, but the even slight suggestion that my sexual identity and my familial identity might not be compatible is quite terrifying, especially when both are so much a part of who I am."
- “I’m really not sure how to come out to my extended family, which is really religious.”
- “I feel half-closeted, hyper-sensitive, and on egg shells. This isn’t their fault, I think it’s something going on with me. I’m ‘out’ technically but I’m not myself. There’s a wall of fear and intense sensitivity that’s stopping me from making progress with my family. I’m keeping the wall up for now but eventually I need to start pushing toward that fear and pushing down that wall. I need to help educate them and tell them more about an incredibly important part of my life, which is that I’m gay. I need to get to a point of calm and confidence where they can voice their honest feelings and I can help them work through them instead of feeling crushed and defensive. I think some of them might still feel a bit uncomfortable, grossed out, disappointed, or just confused.”
- “One of my great-aunts once took food out of my refrigerator given to me by my older gay cousin (who is married with a partner); she warmed it up in the microwave and then threw it out in the trash claiming that she couldn’t eat it because it was made by gay people. I was completely appalled by her behavior coming into my home acting the way she did. I felt disrespected and even if I wasn't a member of LGBT I’d still be displeased with her actions, not only because no one forced her to eat the food but also because this was her own family she was talking about yet she could insult them so casually.”
- “I decided that even if some people are upset when they hear I am gay, I still want to come out to them because the movement is bigger than my concerns of what others might think about me. I am standing up for what is right, and not hiding myself from certain people just so that they can be "protected" from knowing my truth. Not being able to come out to certain people is just awful. I didn't come out as gay so that I would have to keep hiding it!”
- “One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t decide people’s answer before you’ve even ask them the question. It’s unfair to them and to you. People can surprise you if given the chance.”
Saturday, November 23, 2013
In humble prayer, I approach this blog post despite my own fears. I fear offending people, saying the wrong things, and challenging my own opinions. But in trust and obedience to God, my love, here it goes.
Homosexuality can be a sin, but so can heterosexuality. Neither is inherently sinful. Sin does not come from our actions but in our intentions behind our actions. Allow me to explain through experience:
Much to my surprise, I fell in love my best friend, a woman.
The night right after I told her, I remember lying in bed thinking how I did not even mind that she could not reciprocate the feelings. What a different kind of love this was for me, something truly unconditional. I thought, “This is the healthiest love I’ve ever felt.” But before the thought had a chance to settle, I grabbed it and tried to smother it. I lay awake for hours, disgusted that I could call these feelings healthy. I was confused my disgust because I always supported the LGBT community. If it wasn’t wrong for them, why did I think it was wrong for me?
We went to yoga as usual the following morning and I felt nauseous the whole time. I was so ashamed of my attraction to her. I avoided making eye contact. I felt naked. I longed to disappear.
I went home to shower and thought, “God, it would be so much easier if I was just dead and did not have to deal with these feelings.” God scolded me with hot water and slapped it in my face. He washed me, purified me, and quenched my thirst. When I turned off the shower, the noise of my mind was silenced and all was quiet. I stepped out of the tub and vowed never to turn back to that place.
I allowed myself explore why I thought this love was healthy. I processed it they best way I knew how—writing. I wrote this:
“In the past, my physical attractions to men have been greedy and lustful. It was not about love. Now, I see it less as something that I want to receive and more of something I want to give… I want to show her that I trust her with all of myself, the good and the bad, the physical and the spiritual, the past and the future.”
I could not define my love for her as sin. The devil does not have dominion over love.
About a month after I told my best friend I had feelings for her, God sent me to a Bible Camp for a week of scripture reading with other college students. It certainly was not my idea. I thought I was far too fragile to be trapped in a room with Evangelical Christians reading the Bible that I they used to condemn me. But I trusted God to take care of me.
We read through the first half of the Gospel of Mark. Homosexuality was never specifically mentioned in the scripture. Instead of condemnation, I found a lot of affirmation. As Christ said,
“Whatever goes into a person from the outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer… It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mark 7: 15-20).
Jesus went on to list things that defile including fornication and adultery. I sat by a creek to process this passage. What was God saying about homosexuality? As I watched the water, noticed how clear it was. As I listened to it dance, I realized that God was saying that what makes sexual acts sinful is the evil intentions behind them. The acts are actually made clean by God and beautiful as this water, but we make them murky by bringing our dirty intentions to it.
Although I never physically acted on my attraction to my friend, I could not say that act would have been inherently sinful. I would be sinful if I touched her without her consent or tried to pressure her into becoming physical. Even if she did consent it could become sinful if we used each other for selfish gain. But just as God blesses a married husband and wife when they honor each other through sex, he blesses a committed same-sex relationship when they honor each other through sex.
For me personally, I think it may be easier to avoid the temptation to sin in sex by being in a relationship with a woman. My sexual experienced this with guys has been damaging. I have been manipulated and coerced to do things I already said ‘no’ to. I now assume that guys will leave me if I don’t consent because that has been my experience. I am always very aware of the physical part of the relationship with guys, but with girls I find it easier to focus on the emotional part. With girls I find myself attracted to their whole person and therefore more respectful of their bodies.
Sex can be sinful if it comes from a place of lust. Love that is unconditional, selfless and pure is not sinful. May Christians recognize that same-sex relationships are not any different than opposite-sex relationships; they both face the same temptation for evil and potential for good.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
|This empty frame once held a picture of me and an old friend. She stopped talking to me after I came out to her.|
“I’m disappointed that you haven’t talked to me since I came out to you. You really let me down.”
Those are the words I sent to a girl who used to be one of my best friends.
We met in high school and stayed in touch well after graduation. We would drive down to the beach and talk about our faith, boy problems, and hopes for the future.
A couple months ago, she texted me that her grandfather’s health was failing. I called her right away to comfort her. At the time, I happened to be coming out to people for the first time. I wanted to tell her there on the phone but knew it was not the right time or place yet.
About a month after her grandfather passed, I came home from college for the summer and could talk to her in person. Since she comes from pretty sheltered Catholic family, I knew she would probably think that being bisexual was sinful. But I wanted our friendship to be authentic and that couldn’t happen if I kept my orientation a secret. I hoped that even if she could not support my bisexuality, it would not change how she felt about me.
One day after going shopping together, I sat her down on a bench on Main St. in our hometown and I told her how I fell in love with a girl.
She thanked me for being honest with her and admitted that she thought homosexuality was a sin. She pleaded me not to give up on men. I tried to explain that gender is not a requirement for my love. We walked back to our cars and hugged goodbye. She promised we would still be friends.
The whole summer passed without a single word from her.
When I moved back in to my dorm for the fall semester, I stumbled upon a frame she gave me with a picture us at her graduation. I almost broke down crying. I thought I had gotten over her rejection but apparently I had just buried my hurt. So I decided to just be honest with her about how I felt and text her:
“I’m disappointed that you haven’t talked to me since I came out to you. You really let me down.”
And her response:
“Even though we haven’t hung out, I haven’t forgotten about our friendship. I’ve been praying for you that God will always give you guidance.”
Her reaction set off a volcano in me. She may as well have said that she was trying to 'pray the gay away.' Her use of the word ‘friendship’ also bothered me. I thought that if she really cared about me she would push me to do what she thought was best for me, even if I disagreed. Like the frame she gave me said, a “true friend reaches for your hand and touches your heart.” I felt she was avoiding my touch like I had a disease. I went on to say, “I can’t consider you a friend anymore.”
At church the next morning, I felt bad about what I said. I confided in a gay mentor of mine named Dick. He told me the story of his father’s journey towards acceptance. Dick’s father cut off ties with Dick for years after he came out. It was not until a family funeral that his father finally realized he wanted to repair their relationship. Dick told me not to give up on my friend. All I can do extend my hand to her. It cannot force her to accept it—to accept me.
Right after mass, I texted her to apologize for saying we were not friends anymore. I said, “I don’t want to give up on our friendship… seeing your picture yesterday reminded me that I still care about you.”
She never replied. I haven’t heard from her since. She defriended me on Facebook.
Some people tell me that a friend who doesn’t accept you for who you are is not a friend worth having. I should celebrate all the new and strengthened friendships that came from coming out. Yet every time I think about this one friend, my heart aches with hunger.
Although it hurts me, I don’t take her rejection too personally. I recognize that she did not want to question her faith. My news scared her to her core. She is avoiding me in part to avoid challenging her beliefs. But the way I see it, she will never grow spiritually without facing her spiritual fears.
I believe something good will come out of this situation, even if I never get to see the result. I don’t regret coming out to her. It opened her eyes to a subject she was uncomfortable with. Her stereotypes about LGBT people are cracked now that she has a personal connection to someone who is bisexual. Maybe the next time someone comes out to her, she will be ready to face her spiritual fears and develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian.