Archive for May, 2016
Tuesday, May 31st, 2016
We love red, or blue. We love a good steak, or hate brussels sprouts. Some like it hot, others cold. Some are tall, others short. Blonde hair, or black? Why would we ever believe that our sexuality or our gender is more black and white than anything else? We are far too complex for such things to be so clear-cut. We have to come to the place where we see things as they are, not in the manner we are comfortable with. Difference is truth.
Some men are very attracted to those who are female. Within that attraction there are “leg men” or men who love breasts more than anything else. Some men are attracted to Asian women, others to those with darker skin. Some women are drawn to the soul of a man more than their physical appearance while other women find facial hair, or muscular bodies really turn them on.
Why do we think a man couldn’t be drawn to another man, or a woman romantically attracted to another woman as a part of nature’s design?
We have the reality of a person coming out of the womb with their body not so clearly designed as to represent a male, or a female, known to us as “intersexed.” So, if the body can be diverse in it’s genital formation, why do we not believe that the brain, or chemistry could also be found on a continuum within gender formation?
With culture there have been lines drawn to make us believe that there is a sexual, or a gender norm; male, female, heterosexual, homosexual. As a culture we’ve tried really hard to put all people into those boxes and anyone that seemed to not fit was deemed abnormal, or flawed. Some have even called homosexuals, or transgendered people a “freak of nature.”
What if we were to accept the continuum of gender, and sexuality as just that a normal part of life? What if we accepted that people might have fluid sexuality? If we look at the bare facts, this is true. People do not fit into nicely formed black and white boxes., never have and never will.
When we treat people who are sexually diverse as though they are a freak of nature, we get people who are damaged in the depths of their soul.
Let’s use our intelligence to think, to observe, but most of all to love others as we respond to the diversity of nature’s design. We do it with flowers, with animals, with the universe. Why can’t we do the same thing with our fellow humankind?
Thursday, May 19th, 2016
I am very passionate about the subject I’m about to approach. I’ve often felt insecure voicing my opinions but underneath it all, I’m following my own beliefs more today and feel at peace with the integrity that this brings to my life.
I’ve always felt a certain kind of empathy for women. I heard conversations between men that made me squeamish. There was often talk that put women in an inferior position and a lot of references to women as sex objects. I was uncomfortable about those conversations. As I got older I could see the impact that had on women in general. I saw some women had become subservient to men in their lives. But I also saw the way this impacted men and how it encouraged an elitism that I could see within the male population.
When I entered the culture of modern evangelicalism I was taught that women were to be in a lesser position regarding leadership and they needed to be careful when voicing their opinions. For many years I was in a church that taught emphatically that women were not allowed to preach in front of men, they weren’t allowed to be leaders or pastors. There were a few occasions where women were allowed to “share” things on specific subjects because only women could have thoughts significant for the subject matter.
I went along with this teaching for many years believing that what I was taught was coming from the Bible and who could argue with the Bible? Right? But underneath it all I was growing uncertain about those teachings and the impact I could see that it had on women, children, and the family. I could also see how this line of thinking brought an underlying bravado to men and an outflow of arrogance in many men’s lives.
Over time I changed my views to align more with what my heart was telling me. There was a female pastor that I grew to appreciate and respect. As I heard her speak, it was obvious to me that her wisdom and knowledge were good and necessary for all people regardless of their gender. I was challenged to change my viewpoint largely through what I began to see with my own eyes. I came to see that women are equal. Women have a significant voice, a significant place in culture, relationships and families, but this place was not static. I no longer believe that there is one certain role that women should play. I began to accept that I was really egalitarian with regards to men and women, roles, and society. I could even see how the images of “pink vs. blue” were stereotypes that kept boys and girls bound into gender roles that were legalistic and caused fear in the case of a boy liking pink. There are so many other stereotypes that bring the same types of developmental barriers to the uniqueness of individuals regardless of their gender.
I also saw something deeper. I could see that women were subjected to the potential of being sexually abused from their childhoods on up into adulthood. I could see that many women were sexually abused even in marriage when there was a dominant position of authority taught to be held by men. I heard discussions that women needed to provide for men sexually, that women should not be sexually dominant and that women needed to keep up their appearance so as to please the men they were married to. Also, teachings within conservative circles where women were responsible for tempting men with their bodies and they needed to “cover-up” and dress conservatively in order to help men not be drawn to them sexually. I’ve virtually never heard this same kind of teaching regarding men. I could see that many women believed they needed to always be pleasing and attractive when so many men are actually not clean, not well kept, and have no concern for being sexually pleasing to their wives! It’s so easy for me to see the double standard.
Please understand, I believe there is some truth to people being careful so as to not cause one another to stumble and there is a responsibility we all have to watch ourselves so as to not draw someone to us for inappropriate attraction. But, women are not solely responsible for these things.
As I moved into a gay relationship I was challenged personally by these former teachings. I talked with my husband about how we should consider roles in our relationship, our home and in our sexuality. I was troubled as I felt at times like I was more like a female than a male. As we talked, I discovered that I was bound by a strict code of male / female roles, and superiority. I once believed that women needed to care for the home, that men needed to be the providers, and that those were the best for our homes and our culture. I was challenged to look deeper into what I really believed.
As I thought about these things I realized they were not what my heart was telling me to follow. I began to see strengths and desires that transcended those former ways of believing about gender and roles. I could see that people could thrive through living and functioning in their strengths without attachment to cultural norms. I could see women leading, teaching, earning, and protecting, and men nurturing, managing the home, raising children and receiving from women things that were helpful. I can also see how men and women can go back and forth in between these roles. At times leading and providing, other times subjecting themselves to others and receiving provision. I found more freedom and encouragement to express myself in a variety of ways as was best for the time and for my own wellbeing.
Most significantly, I can also see how all of this effects our culture and our relationships and sexuality. With a strong teaching of women being subjected to men and the role of men always being the leaders, in my opinion, it plays far too easily into the temptation of men to dominate and to expect things that they deem rightfully theirs such as always respecting men and their leadership roles, and sexual provision. I can also see how often women forgo their own needs and desires in deference for the desires of the men around them. This leads me to see the underlying anger and discouragement that so many women live with. Sometimes this goes on for their entire lifetime.
So, as I think about the recent bathroom dilemma and trans-sexuality, I can see this play out. Most of the vocal opposition concerning the reality of transsexuality and the need for respecting and providing for the needs of those impacted by this, come from those who hold to a strong male dominant, leadership position. I also see there is a vocal presence from women who have been harmed by male sexual dominance and the need to protect girls from sexual predators.
In these matters, women’s voices are important to expose what has been hidden behind the patriarchal system. One such voice is Kasey Rose-Hodge….a brave woman who has written some things from her viewpoint that align very well with my thoughts:
Dear creepy heterosexual men guarding our bathrooms,
My entire life, I’ve been told to fear you in one way or another. I’ve been told to cover my body as to not distract you in school, to cover my body to help avoid unwanted advances or comments, to cover my body as to not tempt you to sexually assault me, to reject your unwanted advances politely as to not anger you. I’ve been taught to never walk alone at night, to hold my keys in my fist while walking in parking lots, to check the backseat of my car, to not drink too much because you might take advantage of me. I’ve been told what I should and shouldn’t do with my body as to not jeopardize my relationships with you.
I’ve been warned not to emasculate you, to let “boys be boys”, to protect your fragile ego and to not tread on your even more fragile masculinity. I’ve been taught to keep my emotions in check, to let you be the unit of measure for how much emotion is appropriate and to adjust my emotions accordingly. I’ve been taught that you’re allowed to categorize women into mothers/ sisters/ girlfriends/ wives/ daughters but any woman outside of your protected categories is fair game.
So to those of you who think you’re being helpful by “protecting” me, and my fellow women, you’re like a shark sitting in the Lifeguard chair. I wasn’t uncomfortable until you showed up at the pool and the only potential predator I see is you.
Your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives and daughters don’t need you to walk them to the bathroom for safety. Your fathers, brothers, friends and sons need to walk themselves away from their own double standards. Women are sexually harassed and sexually assaulted on school campuses, on the street, at their jobs, on the Internet, in their own homes, in ANY public place. And it has been excused or ignored for so long because of what you and I are taught from the first years of our interactions with each other: You, as a male, are not accountable for your own actions. It’s MY responsibility, as a female, to not “provoke” you. But then you get to Knight-In-Shining-Armor your way through life for those in your protected categories and I am expected to applaud you. Why the outrage now over bathrooms? Why aren’t you outraged every single day?
If you’re telling me that there are high volumes of boys and men out there, in schools or in general, who are just waiting for a “loop hole” to sexually assault girls and women, we have bigger problems on our hands than bathrooms. The first problem would be your apparent lack of knowledge of how often it happens OUTSIDE of bathrooms, with no “loop holes” needed.
This isn’t about Transgender bathroom access. This is about you not trusting the boys and men in your communities and/or fearing that they’re all secretly predators. Why do you have this fear? How many fathers have panicked when their daughters started dating because they “know how teenaged boys can be because they used to be one”? How many times have girls been warned, “Boys are only after one thing”? A mother can bring her young son into the women’s restroom and that’s fine but a father bringing his young daughter into the men’s restroom is disturbing because men are assumed to be predators and “little girls” shouldn’t be exposed to that.
So instead of picking up your sword and heading to Target or the girls’ locker room to defend our “rights”, why don’t you start somewhere that could actually make a difference? Challenge your children’s schools to end sexist dress codes and dress codes that sexualize girls as young as age 5. Advocate for proper (or any) sex education classes in all public schools by a certain grade level. Focus more on teaching your sons not to rape vs. teaching your daughters how to avoid being raped. Stop asking, “How would you feel if that was your mother or sister?” It shouldn’t take the comparison to clue you in to what’s right or wrong. Question why you’re more worried about your daughter being around men than your son being around women in bathrooms and dressing rooms. Stop walking by Victoria’s Secret with no problem but covering your son’s eyes if a woman is breastfeeding in public. Stop treating your daughter’s body as some fortress you’re sworn to protect as if that’s all she’s got to offer the world.
Kasey’s words have become viral over the Internet. I’m not surprised. She had the courage to speak her truth and it resonates with many women, as well as men who have listened to the true heart of women who have become honest with themselves.
I would love to see a major transformation in our culture to see people as equals and to move away from traditional roles that have been dysfunctional for many, many years. What may have worked at one time is no longer functional and is causing harm.
We all need to do some soul searching.
Monday, May 9th, 2016
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I have many, many friends who are LGBTQ. As I read through FaceBook I was rapt with the diversity of comments, celebrations, joy, and sadness sent back and forth between children and their mothers.
Having been involved in ExGay ministry for so many years, I knew hundreds of families that wrestled with homosexuality and transgender issues to no avail. Hope was deferred by the lack of desired changes. Parents hoping beyond all hope that their kids would not have to endure being gay and children wanting so much to please their parents through their expended energy to find change in their sexual orientation.
Today I’m in contact with many of those whom I’d worked with through Love In Action. I knew the families, saw the love and the pain exchanged through Family and Friends weekend participation. Now, I see the outcomes after so many years of walking through the journey. Did their kids change? Is there still a desire to see change? Have they accepted homosexuality as a part of life that isn’t so bad? Some parents have loosened their grips on their expectations of change. Others have joined their kids in accepting homosexuality as part of their lives and no longer see it as a sinful unhealthiness to be healed. Some parents continue to hold out for change and continue to convey a message to their kids that God would want them to be different.
I’ve seen some of the LGBT kids have been able to navigate through their parents’ struggles to find a love relationship with them. Others have found their freedom through an emotional separation from their parents. Then there are those who live a life of conflict, ambivalence and emotional manipulation back and forth in a love-hate relationship experience. It certainly isn’t easy.
I know many of the backstories in families that remain distant and conflicted over homosexuality within their life of their family. I also know what were once the painful realities that have now become glorious testimonies of love and acceptance that have produced an incredible depth in the love relationship between parents and their children.
Yes, another Mother’s Day has come and gone. Some left feeling at peace, others with deep conflict. Ultimately the resolve comes in the form of conversation. A willingness to speak and to listen and to place no boundaries on what can or cannot be said. Always with respect and a listening ear, this is the way through the circumstances.
We don’t have to agree, or have the same standards. But we will do well to love and value one another even more so when we don’t.
Far too many parents and their children stand at arms length away from each other in fear that we’ll lose one another. But in reality, the space between us is a loss. It’s a loss of what it could be if the gap were closed.
FaceBook was filled with diversity yesterday and I felt joy, and sadness as I read through the posts. There is hope but and it may come before next Mother’s Day.
A beautiful letter for mom’s of LGBTQ kids.
Any time you write a post to moms, there’s always the risk of leaving someone out. Today I (Alise) am writing to one specific group of moms – the moms in Liz Dyer’s group for Christian moms of LGBTQ kids. If that’s you, you can email Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org to request information on how to join.
I see you today.
Standing in church,
wondering if you belong.
Wondering if you can share
the pictures of your son
and his boyfriend at prom.
Wondering if you can send invitations
to your daughter’s wedding,
when the people in the pews
knew her as your son.
Wondering if your daughter,
with her suit and shaved head,
will be turned away
at the ladies room.
I see you today.
Not sure if you’re ever going back
to church, after being asked to keep silent
about your gay child.
Hurt over and over again
by a religion that valued rules
Forced to choose between
your flesh and blood family
and those who claim to be your spirit family.
Told you are mutilating your trans son,
told that your love is lacking
because you won’t call your daughter
I see you today.
Not sure if you are ready
to fully embrace your child
after he told you, “I’m gay.”
Feeling torn apart by guilt,
ripped in half by lost expectations.
Wondering if you can love Jesus
and your lesbian daughter.
Learning terms and phrases,
that remind you that your child
isn’t like other children.
I see you today.
Holding your child’s hand proudly,
knowing that there can be no boundaries
when it comes to loving your offspring.
You fight fiercely,
you love unconditionally,
you cry deeply,
and you laugh joyfully.
You don’t let others tell you
what love looks like.
You’ve felt it,
and you refuse to allow it
to be quenched.
I see you today,
you moms of queer kids.
I see you,
and I love you.
Written by Alise
Another beautiful letter, from Susan Cottrell:
Dear Beautiful Child of God,
YES, YOU ARE a beautiful child of God, I don’t care what anyone has told you. I feel a bit helpless here. If I could, I would open a home to welcome you and other LGBTQ kids who have been disenfranchised by their families.
I can tell you what I would say if you were my child. I will speak to you from my heart, to say the many things your parents, and your church, should have said but failed to.
To read the rest what Susan says in her letter, click this link:
Supportive resources for moms / parents:
Susan Cottrell, Freed Hearts Ministry
Sara Cunningham – How We Sleep at Night
A christian mother comes to terms with her son being gay through a personal journey that starts with the Church and ends at the Pride Parade.