I loved listening to CBC radio when I lived in Canada. I just logged on to their website, and found this program about how advertising has been used to change public opinion. There’s even a short segment about an Ikea ad – aired only once – that featured a gay couple. Have a listen.

http://www.cbc.ca/ageofpersuasion/

Advertisements

Friday night I attended a Freedom 2 B(e) discussion night. In many ways it was pretty much what I expected: a bunch of GLBT Christians sitting around and talking about faith and sexuality. There were about twenty men (no women) there on Friday night. All Christians, all gay (presumably). Wow. I didn’t expect to be tongue-tied… but I really felt like I had nothing to say all night. [I didn’t even think to ask why the ‘e’ in ‘b(e)’ is in bracket(s).] The brief conversations I had before and after the meeting seemed terribly awkward. The few words I said during the actual meeting only came out when I was directly asked a question… I had lots going on in my head, but nothing was going to come out, even if I wanted it to. And this is a man who leads psycho-educational and therapeutic groups for a living! It is so different not being the group leader!

So I reflected on what was going on for me that made it seem so difficult. I think the feelings that overwhelmed me were relief and acceptance. Not to mention the feeling of “wow, I’m in a room with 20 gay men and there’s nothing overtly sexual going on” (I’m NOT getting into what might have been happening covertly); or “wow, I’m in a room with 20 gay men and there’s no one telling us how we can find freedom or deliverance from our sexual proclivities.” The feeling of relief came from being relieved of the straight disguise that I necessarily wear in my daily life. The feeling of acceptance, of it being okay to be on the outside the same man that I’m okay with on the inside.

So, mostly I listened to the conversation, and watched people. I was amazed at how articulate some of the men were – they could tell their stories, or spout off a list of facts with great eloquence. I noticed the ones who weren’t talking (it wasn’t just me). I admired Anthony Venn-Brown’s ability to lead the group – to contain some members and to draw information out of others. I thought about ways the group could be run differently – what I might have done if I were the leader, and what might have helped me feel a bit more comfortable, instead of feeling overwhelmed by my own internal responses to the setting.

I also took notes, at Anthony’s invitation. I thought at one point that the notes would make excellent blogging material. It would also make a great academic paper, which I would love to submit to a journal some day. So for now, I just give some of the points that stood out for me, and we’ll see if I expand on them later.

Most of the conversation centred around the question, “what are the specific needs of GLBT people from church backgrounds?” Here are some answers that were given (and which I have taken license to edit to fit my own understanding):

  • the need for a ‘transitional space’ where GLBT Christians can safely begin to be themselves, in terms of their sexuality and their faith, without fear of either ‘being cruised’ or of being condemned to hell
  • the need for like-minded people to know and to talk to
  • resources to assist in the process of reconciling faith and practice with sexuality
  • education around making choices about sexual activity, including safe-sex
  • non-judgmental safe space within the church
  • skills for effectively and respectfully communicating their stories with church leaders
  • support in “coming out” as a Christian
  • GLBT-friendly discipleship
  • an advocate, someone who will speak for GLBT people within the church
  • an advocate, someone who will speak for people of faith within the GLBT community

So, there you have it. I am moving forward in this journey of self-acceptance. Since the last time I blogged, I have moved to another country with my family, found new work, become re-acquainted with both friends and relatives, found a new church home (I think), and I feel like I have a new lease on life, in spite of the difficulties that seem to be in my way.

Well, it’s been a while again since I’ve posted.

Lots has happened since June/July, when I last was posting regularly. I hope to get to detail some of it in the coming weeks.

The big things include:

  • a conversation with a pastor, which I alluded to in my last post
  • my wife’s conversations with her sister-in-law and brother about my sexual orientation
  • another conversation with John from New Direction
  • attending a youth event with my 12 year old daughter at which Brian Pengelly was speaking
  • being challenged by family members for reading The Audacity of Hope who seem to think reading anything by that mega-abortionist Barack Obama is a sin

Of course, the other big thing is our plans to move to Australia or visit for nine months. (I guess nine months is a time period pregnant with possibilities!) My wife is still not excited about moving to another continent with her gay husband who a year ago was asking her for a divorce. I can’t blame her. So, we go for nine months, and next July we’ll make a decision. In the meantime, we’ll be able to attend my niece’s wedding there. And there’s also the high probability that we’ll attend my sister’s funeral, unless a miracle happens.

Having written this, I guess it would be no surprise to you to hear that things are tense around here. We wait, and we wait. We are waiting for a visa for my wife so she can work while we’re in Australia. We wait for news about my sister’s health. We’re waiting for news about her first granddaughter, whose birth due date was now three days ago. We wait for the results of the Canadian election on October 14th (This is also significant because I’m working for Elections Canada at the moment… on the 14th I’ll be out of a job.) The economic news does nothing to help the atmosphere either (although I am hoping that lower commodity prices might translate into lower airfares!)

So, that’s it for now. It’s hard to trust God right now. Harder than ever. My wife (an ordained minister) is really struggling with what she believes. I’m struggling with all sorts of doubts and temptations, too. I must say that leaving her for a relationship with a man is the farthest thing from my mind right now. We need each other, and our kids need us too.

Pray for me, if you can.

And I’ll try to be “back” soon.

Highly Recommended

 

Superheroes, Saviors, and Sinners Without Secrets by D.S. Reade

 

This book was loaned to me by one of the leaders of New Direction in Toronto. Just by reading the back cover I knew I would enjoy this book. The title itself was one I could identify strongly – I too want to be known as a “sinner without secrets.”

 

Dave Reade is a gifted story-teller. His prose is in the style of Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. Professionally, Reade is a counsellor, and, even though he does not really talk about his work, I can see him as a master of Narrative Therapy. I am sure that writing this book was a therapeutic exercise by which he retold the story of his life.

 

Reade has been through places I can identify with. His journey with faith and homosexuality has taken many turns. He talks about the sexual abuse he experienced as a boy, and his reluctance to recognize it as such. He talks about riding a bicycle across America. He tells us about his difficulty fitting in with his straight male friends, in spite of his deep desire to be in honest relationship with them. He tells about God giving him a new name. He tries to explain why he has hope, even when he’s not really sure why. In fact, his chapter about hope reminded me of this recent post from College Jay.

 

Reade is definitely made a Side B decision for himself, but honestly talks about his desire to be in a monogamous relationship with another man. He also talks about his struggle as he seeks to live the celibate life that he believes that God has called him to.

 

I found this book challenging, uplifting, encouraging, honest, real. I recommend it to any gay Christians out there who, like me, haven’t quite figured out if they take “Side A” or “Side B”. Somehow reading this book assured me, once again, that being in this storm of sexual identity is quite okay, and that I don’t have to have all the answers right now.

 

I think this book would be particularly helpful for straight Christians who don’t quite “get” homosexuality. It’s not that he explains it. He is simply honest in describing his journey, the emotions he goes through, and how his desires continue in spite of the choice he has made to be celibate.

 

Thanks, Dave Reade, for sharing your story with us. Thanks for telling us your secrets.

 

 

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted. The summer has been busy, and I’ve had lots of conversations both with my wife and others on this issue of sexuality. I’ve been challenged to take down this blog… I’m reluctant to do that, though. I feel like this blog has contributed greatly to my processing on this journey, and I believe it can help other men and women on similar paths. It also stands as a reminder for myself of where I have been, what changes have taken place in my thinking, what has challenged me. If this storm ever settles, I don’t want to forget what it was like to be in the middle of it. I want others to know that it is okay to be in this storm.

 

Why is it okay to be in this storm? Firstly, because there is nothing wrong with questioning what I believe. There is nothing wrong with speaking the truth about what I feel and experience on a daily basis. Whatever the outcome, in many ways I believe that this storm has been the right place for me to be.

 

It has been hard, oh so hard, on my wife and on our relationship. But I believe that ultimately this is good too. I feel like I no longer need to hide the struggles I go through as a gay man married to a straight woman, and one seeking to do it in the most honest and faithful way possible. I ache some days over the pain she is experiencing, but I know that in the end there will be good that comes out of it. And I feel no guilt over it, because I’ve only resolved to be honest with myself and with my wife. I also believe that eventually my children will understand that, just as it is important to know and understand what one believes and why, there will come times when the experiences of life will severely challenge those beliefs. They need to know that it is okay – healthy, in fact – to be honest about their feelings, and it is okay to wonder about the nature of truth and how we find it. I don’t want my journey and my struggle to be a secret known only by myself and a few close friends. I often think that my journey would have been easier had I known some of the struggles my father and grandfathers had gone through. Maybe knowing about my experiences and struggles will help my children on their sojourns here.

 

Why have I been encouraged to quit this blog? Well, for starters there have been some things on here that my wife may not appreciate the whole world knowing. For that reason, I may go back and edit or hide some of the more personal posts. Secondly, there are also some posts that contain links to other sites that do contain some porn or other material that I do not wish to be associated with. These links were made to illustrate the different paths individuals choose to take on their journeys with same-sex attraction. I will remove some of these links, not for the sake of censorship – everybody has the right to express their views, their loves, themselves – but out of deference and respect for the men and women in my life who are journeying most closely with me through this storm.

 

I have done a lot of reading over recent weeks, and I hope in the coming weeks to post more about what I have read.

 

In the meantime, let me recommend to you D.S. Reade’s memoir, Superheroes, Saviors, and Sinners Without Secrets. While our stories are vastly different, I also find I have much in common with David Reade, and there are parts of this book I think I could have written myself.

 

 

The Invitation

By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

I came across this poem late last year, soon after I announced to my dear wife that I needed to leave her to embrace my real self. I thought it was about time to post it on my blog, since it so radically impacted the way I see myself.

This poem still speaks to me, but maybe not in the same way. While I still believe in being authentic, in being true to yourself, I’m still no clearer about what that means. The line that says, “I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself,” maybe could say, “I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to the truth.” At least that would open it up to the possibility of that there is some greater truth in life than what I know and what I experience. On the other hand, the truth that I am gay and am unlikely to change is very obvious to me, and I see no point in denying it, or belittling the fact by calling it “same-gender attraction.”

Not sure where I am going with this… I feel melancholy… I want life to be easy…

I just spent an hour looking at soft porn on youtube – a waste of time, maybe. A giving in to my desire to be titillated, maybe. But I still see it somehow as a recognition of who I am, sinful though it may be…

It’s been a while since I posted. Certain events (which I will not mention here) have contributed to me being a little more focussed on simply being a Dad and husband. Well, some sort of husband (just not a very amorous one). This might continue for the next few months, while I try to take a break from pondering the issues surrounding my sexuality.

That might be hard to do. For example, let me tell you about Phil (we’ll call him Phil, although that’s not his real name). Phil is a neighbour around the corner. I can see the back of his house from my front porch. Since this is small town Ontario, I also know Phil’s two brothers. One of them I am 99% sure is gay. He’s in his 30s, still lives with his parents, and every time I see him he sets off my gaydar. But I don’t think he is “out.”

But let’s get back to Phil. Phil has three kids, slightly older than my three. He is rather quiet. Not just in a shy way, but in a way that makes you nervous for him. And he always seems nervous. He’s also generous, and kind, always willing to help out in a neighbourly way.

This morning Phil tried to kill himself. I was working a night shift, so I missed the “excitement” on my street at 4 am today. My next-door neighbour was already up, when suddenly his front porch lit up. He thought his porch was on fire, so went to look, and there was a man on the street in front of his house totally ablaze. Within seconds the flames died down, so the man when across the street to where he had left a jerry can, and proceeded to douse himself and set himself ablaze again. My neighbour called emergency services, and the police were there in minutes. He was eventually taken away in an ambulance… he had been wearing only underwear, which was burnt to a crisp, his hair was burnt off, and no one knew who he was. Of course, no one could recognize him with the massive burns he had. It wasn’t until much later in the day that we learned that it was Phil.

I have no idea why Phil might have done this. But I couldn’t help thinking that maybe Phil is gay and was finally sick of living a pretend life. That maybe it was an issue something like the one I described back in this March post. I could be, and probably am, totally wrong. I only tell you this story to illustrate the point in my opening paragraph. I try to take a break from pondering my own sexuality, but when something like this happens I can’t help but think that sex is part of the issue.

Well, if you pray, pray for Phil. The rumour is they airlifted him to a Toronto hospital.