Monday, February 23rd, 2015
The 2015 Oscars had many poignant moments for me. It’s interesting that I remember more of the extras than I do the actual movie awards. But for me, Lady Gaga singing The Sound of Music and the moving acceptance by Julie Andrews, Patricia Arquette speaking out for equal rights for all women, which is a long time battle that is not won yet, were two that stood out to me. Something that I related to more than the others was when Graham Moore in his acceptance speech for his work in writing the script for The Imitation Game, spoke of his experience with a suicide attempt when he was 16 years old.
“When was was 16 years old I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong,’ said Moore who is now in his early 30s. And now, I’m standing here.”
When I was 16 years old I also felt weird. I felt isolated from the others in school. Everywhere I went I wanted to hide, to escape and to find relief. I wasn’t like the other guys at all and I certainly wasn’t like the girls, even though I felt more comfortable around them.
I wanted so much to become an architect but I felt stupid and believed I could never pass the prerequisite classes to sign up for architecture classes. I skipped physical education classes as much as I could and flunked it in 10th grade all because of how much I wanted to avoid being around the guys. I took “COOP, on the job training” in my senior year just so I wouldn’t have to attend school as much and I’d separate myself from more of the discomfort of High School. So I worked a full time job from m my junior year on believing I just wanted to make money and support myself. I was emotionally shut down and did everything I could to avoid the reality of my home life and my personal existence.
I wasn’t a brave soul and therefore suicide didn’t enter my mind but as I grew older and experienced even more the pain of life I began to ponder ways in which I could remove myself from this world. I thought it would be much easier to kill myself then to go on.
Several weeks ago my husband and I were babysitting our little five year old niece, Morgan. We were having loads of fun, laughing, singing goofy songs and just being crazy. At one point Morgan spoke up and said:
“I’m the weird one in my family”
I immediately responded and said,
“Morgan, I’m the weird one in my family too.”
It struck me that at my ripe old age of 60 I finally accepted that I’m weird and I always have been. I’m finally comfortable enough to reveal my quirky personality with more ease. I’ve accepted myself to a point now where I’ve begun to accept my weirdness as a positive character trait. I believe I give something to people around me that brings laughter and fun to their lives too.
Just yesterday we ate lunch with some of our church friends. I said some really crazy things, teased a friend as we often do, talked about sewing, gardening, carpentry, antique collecting, winning the lottery and many other random things that come to my head in one sitting. Yep, I’m weird!
“Stay weird, stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message”
As I heard these words come from Graham Moore I knew they were coming with wisdom and personal life experience. He was offering hope and courage to young people who are like I was, the weird ones in their families. I wish I’d had someone who could have affirmed me when I was 16.
I’ve known some amazing, wonderful, creative, and mysterious weird people. I’ve seen how much they add to my life, to our society. It grieves me terribly to think of those who have not made it to adulthood where they can accept themselves. We are missing part of our family of diversity and I’d like to see more acceptance and support for those that are with us today.
I LOVED Lady Gaga’s performance in the Oscars. The contrast of her beautiful voice, her tribute to The Sound of Music, and her tattoos and reputation for her unique personality and intelligence. It shows something that we can all learn from. Weird people can be well appreciated by others and accepted for who they are. Even in the popularity contest of the Oscars.
I’d like us all to think of the weird people we’ve known and ask ourselves how much color and wonder they add to our lives. The next time you see one of your weird friends, please tell them how much you love them and what their weirdness adds to your life.
I can’t wait to continue to affirm our little niece in her weirdness. She is incredibly intuitive, intelligent, and adds so much color and wonder to our family’s life. I cannot imagine what it would be like if she were no longer with us. I hope she’ll grow up accepting herself as she is and that her strength will lie within her confidence to be who she is.
Monday, February 2nd, 2015
I went to see the Imitation Game yesterday. It was quite provoking in many ways due to the nature of the story being that of a persecuted gay man in the 1940’s. But one thing that stood out to me was the situation with Alan Turing and his engagement to Joan Clarke. I can’t quote it exactly, but when he spoke to her about breaking off the engagement seemingly due to his homosexuality, she said something like, “We can make it work. We have our minds to connect with one another with. We can have a marriage that is unique to us.”
I thought back to my own engagement before my second marriage. What would either of us done if we had been able to have been totally honest with each other. Oh, she knew about my homosexuality. I knew I was still overtly attracted to men. But what I didn’t take into consideration was the impact of my ongoing attraction to men and my totally lack of sexual attraction to women and how that would impact our marriage in the long term.
The Christian culture I was part of and the ExGay movement that surrounded me emphasized the power of God to do anything. Since I believed God was against me having a homosexual relationship and that God was totally supportive of my desire to be married to a women, I believed God would move heaven and earth to heal my broken sexuality as long as I did my part by living a moral life committed to my relationship with God and faithful in my marriage.
But what would have been the case if I’d begun my marriage with the reality that my sexuality would never change? What would my wife have done if I’d said, “I’ll always be gay. I’ll always be attracted to men. I will never be sexually attracted to you and you will never feel that intense love of a man for you as a woman from me?”
What would I have done if I’d accepted that outcome? Would I have been willing to walk down the marriage aisle with full commitment if I’d known that I would never have an emotional and physical fulfillment with her as my wife? Would she have been willing to have married me if she’d known I would never love her as a heterosexual man would and be intimate with her in full attraction and love for her as a woman?
When we got married, the facts were on the table, but they were connected with a false hope that we would not have to live our total married life with the disconnect that was so obvious to us both from the very beginning. I know that I based much of my desire to marry on the hope for change.
Much like what was shown of Alan Turing and Joan Clarke, I loved and deeply respected her as a person, as a companion, and as a woman who loved God. We could see that we would be good, and compatible companions. But our relationship had struggled emotionally due to my anxiety about being intimately connected to her. The anxiety was connected to more than just the sexual intimacy. I had anxiety about allowing her to totally know me and to release my soul to connect with hers.
Alan Turing seemed to deeply respect and love Joan Clarke. They were compatible in so many ways. Joan seemed to see someone in Alan she was willing to love and marry. She admitted in the movie that she saw their minds were something they could rely on in their marriage even if their sexuality was incompatible. But it seems Alan was more realistic than that. He was unwilling to continue with the marriage plans.
Honestly, when I was 34 years old and excited about being married and stepping into a more culturally normal married life, I had my head in the sand about some very important things. I was romantically attached to the idea of being married and more compatible with Christian culture. I wanted so much to continue down the path of healing and deeply wanted to be free of what I internally referred to as “this damned homosexuality.” I believed it was a terrible problem that I wanted to go away. I trusted in what I was taught about God’s healing power and God’s desire to make me a whole person. I determined that to be a whole person, I also had to allow God to heal my broken sexuality.
So I believed to be married would provide a healing place to work with God on my goals. My fiancé’ and future wife believed as I did and I think she was likely as caught up in the romance of marriage as I was. She was a woman who desired to be married to a man that she believed she could respect and love, just like any adult woman.
As I look at those years today, I do not believe I would have wanted to forgo my desire for relational intimacy. I don’t think I would have wanted to live as a celibate married man. I certainly would have not wanted to bring a woman into my life that I knew I could never fulfill in terms of intimate love.
Sadly, it took 24 years to reach the courage to bring to the surface something that was always there but we were unwilling to really face it. My sexuality throughout my tenure of over two decades of ExGay ministry didn’t change, or diminish at all. The anxiety I felt towards intimacy with my wife continued to be problematic and increased over the years. I learned how to stuff it and attempt to ignore it just to survive my own marriage reality.
After twenty years I began to allow myself to be more internally honest and to bring forth the courage to bring my personal truth to the light. I can say I do not regret our marriage, nor do I minimize the positive things about our 24 year marriage. But, frankly, I do regret that I was unable to discern for myself the reality of my life and that I based an entire marriage not on the reality of what was, but the façade of what I hoped it could have been.
As the Bible says,
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, – but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
My heart became very sick, but thankfully, today I have a longing that has been amazingly and wonderfully fulfilled and have found tremendous life!
The movie, Imitation Game, revealed to me many truths that were profound. I’ll be thinking about them for some time.