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Posts Tagged ‘lgbt’


So Here We Are

Monday, March 25th, 2019


SoHereWeAreTextMy heart has been heavy the last couple of days. I’m overwhelmed with the number of LBGTQ people who are suffering with the effects of PTSD in their current life.


I began to evaluate my own life while talking with my husband, Larry, last night. Damn, just the trauma alone of growing up as a gay boy in this culture is traumatic enough then when you add to it, life events, family struggles, painful relationships, loss, grief, identity struggles, and on and on, it’s really tough.


The effects that all of that has on us is incalculable. I look back and see so many ways in which I have been wounded and the ways that I have endured things that were really tough for me, I can see the rejection I’ve felt that seems to continue in many ways. I’ve hungered for some relief but it just keeps going.


And yet, AND YET,

These life circumstances make us into who we are, trauma and all. There are some people who surround us who actually see through our pain into the beautiful people that we are in our colorful ways! They see our introspection as insight for their own lives. They see the unique views of life that we bring to the table as a challenge to their own process of development. They see our tears, often invisible, as a tenderizer for their own rocky parts. They love us just because, because of who we are and how our lives bring something unique and incredible to their own.


There are those who don’t get it. For whatever reason they don’t see through our lives into their own. That’s okay. Nothing we can do will change that. But I recognize that I MUST look around me to see the crowd that is closest to me, who love me, who appreciate not only my pain, but my impact on their life.


Phew, trauma? Yes. PTSD? Yes. But here we are, here I am.


Some reflections I’ve collected from a FaceBook Post:


I try not to dwell too much on what I have been through, but instead try to find ways to be an example or offer a hand up to those who are struggling with their gayness.


While things have gotten somewhat better for our youth since my years growing up gay in the 60s/70s, there are Still Parents throwing their children out the door and onto the streets as well as Bigots attacking LGBTQ folk for sport.


I am thankful you talk about your experiences. So much of our history is lost.


*********

John, thank you so much for posting this. Yes, so much pain and sorrow and shame — and agree with Kevin, the consequences of my pain and suffering had devastating effects on my relationships. I had no idea how to communicate, how to deal with conflict resolution, how to dream. I am writing my story and this has been profound — facing the process of healing. I’ve also created a workbook based on Ezekiel 34 that has also brought so much healing into my heart and mind.


One thing that continues to haunt me is the underlying feeling of guilt… and I know it is just a side effect of the misinterpretation of Gen 3, the Fall, and being told over and over again and being JUDGED by media, family, society, church that I am different, wrong, perverted, odd, and I need to change, to dress more feminine, etc. etc. I participated in the judging and misinterpretation too as I was a ex gay leader as well. I so wish I knew then what I know now. What a heavy responsibility leaders have… to make sure they are a true shepherd and not a wolf.


I am so sorry for the pain I may have caused anyone by not having the attitude of compassion and love… but one of conforming to a false religious experience. My heart needed to soften and my mind needed to be renewed. It is my mission and passion to unravel the lies I was told and present the beauty of the metaphoric truth of Scripture –which is GOOD NEWS and brings peace and compassion and inclusion. If anyone is interested in this healing tool, connect with me and I’ll send you a free PDF.


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The evidence of the neurosis among gay men is all around our community. When you begin to demean and diminish the character of a young boy at an early age, it has to have a life-long effect. And it does. It not only damages the person, but it negatively effects every other person in his life.


We struggle with our relationships because of the emotional damage inflicted on us by parents, religious leaders, educators, classmates, coworkers and society in general…and then they openly critique and criticize the social symptoms of that damage.


We as a community are also guilty of inflicting damage when we treat each other like hunks of flesh rather than persons. When muscular bodies and substantial genitals become the measure of a man…we have joined the ranks of the “damagers”.


*********

John, what’s worse is that there really has never been enough research on PTSD in rural gay youth. Why? Because it’s a largely inaccessible population (at least it was when the research was most needed). The military has helped strengthen PTSD research, because we have access to that adult population… but gay kids living in Paris, Texas? Nope. Not so much.


As an aside: I’d also like to see more resiliency research on gay youth from backwoods Texas, etc. My unofficial hypothesis is that one reason gay folks are often successful, genuine, and kind, is because of the traumatic experience coupled with the resiliency that the trauma solidified. Great great post my friend!


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Thankful we are friends. Thankful you show me grace when I don’t always understand because I traveled another road. Thankful you make the effort to understand my journey, too.


 

A Response to Andy Comiskey About Mixed Orientation Marriage

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016


mixed-marriage-3I discovered An Open Letter  to “Every Man who Leaves Wife/Kids Because He is ‘Gay” written by Andy Comiskey. You can go to this link to read it:

Letter by Andy Comiskey


Here’s my response:



Reading your article with interest. I met you, Andy, over twenty five years ago. We were many who had chosen to marry women. At that time I found no one who would even speak as you have here. I held my struggle tightly to my chest out of my own fear that someone would discover my weakness. I had not found what I seemed to see others had found. I didn’t find what appeared to be an intimacy that was as fulfilling in those I saw within the community of Exodus.


I struggled intensely with shame, with an intimate disconnect within my soul. As you mentioned above, unlike many you may know, I didn’t hide. I sought help through many years, decades actually, of conferences, one on one counseling, leadership retreats etc. I absorbed all of the things I taught hundreds of times over. I held tightly to what I was told in that God was a big God and there would be healing. I believed there would come a day when I’d find the true intimacy I sought after with commitment and with deep longing and fervor.


I went for sessions of inner healing. I was told I was a misogynist. I sought inner healing for that. I was told I had unforgiveness in my heart towards my family, my mother, my childhood abuses. I believed the diagnosis, the assessment by those who seemed to know. I was told over and over that I was broken, that I was sexually broken. I believed them. I sought healing for those too.


I was married for 24 faithful years. I acted upon all of the things I taught were necessary to find healing. I had thick blinders on my eyes, my hands and my heart. I separated myself from anything that might “tempt” me back to my gay lifestyle. I was as honest with my wife as I knew how to be. There were no secrets other than telling her point blank that I had no sexual desire for her and that I never would. I held that to myself out of the concern that it might wound her heart.


Finally one day, after many, many years of complete celibacy including masturbation, I admitted to myself that I would never find the intimacy I desired so deeply within my heart. I felt alone, isolated, and starving for human affection. I also admitted that I knew deep within that God would never leave a heart longing as I was experiencing. I also admitted to myself that God is forgiving and that all of my sins, past and future were laid at the cross.


I made a conscious decision to trust God more than I ever had in my life at His word. I separated from my wife after becoming completely honest with her. She was heart broken. But I had been heart broken for most of our marriage and she was too. It seemed to me that her heart was cold, not with me, but from me not being able to look at her with the kind of desire that a wife wants from her husband.


I am now married to my husband. The healing that I longed for for over three decades is occurring. The brokeness I was told I had that caused my struggles, I realize was brought about by others looking at my life from the outside with preconceived ideas. I recognize now that I was heart sick and I am no longer so. I’m now heart filled, peace filled, full of joy that I never believed was possible.


I’m not saying this is for everyone. I truly believe a SSA man or woman can find true, loving intimacy with their opposite sex spouse. But I did not and it was killing me, and my wife to remain together. It was closing my heart off to God and others due to the emptiness, a void that was extremely significant.


I’ve now discovered my heart again. It’s far more than accepting the part of me that is gay, it’s far more than finding my gay self, it’s finding me. Finding the John that has been hidden deep inside since my childhood. I recognize myself again! I spent 30 years in the wilderness of trying to be everything that was expected of an ExGay leader, a Christian man and husband. I made a career out of searching for the missing pieces and trying to gain freedom.


Many lives were negatively affected by my pursuit of perfection, my attempts at a healing that never came. I lost a comfortable connection with my daughters due to my dishonesty and religious facade that I believed was truth.


Not every story is the same. Above all, God knows each of us intimately and walks with each of us uniquely along our personal life journey. I’m trusting in God’s heart for me, his redemption, and restoration of the soul that came along to me when I was born.


To pressure two people to continue to live in marriage that are not a match, and that feel the pain and agony of the mismatch, is not healthy for them, or their families. If the soil is workable, than work it. If its not, then move to a new field where it will be.


I’ve often said if I were Catholic, it’s likely my marriage could have been annulled because of the deception with which we married, not known deception, but one later discovered. From the first night together I knew it was a mistake, a horrible mistake. Sadly, within some faiths, once one has signed on the dotted line of a marriage commitment, there’s no out, no turning back, no matter how soon it’s discovered, no matter how terrible it may be to continue.


Peace to all who find themselves married to the opposite sex and yet are conflicted. Sadly, there wasn’t more honesty in years past. Many, like myself, married amiss with false information, wrong expectations, and found themselves to be terribly unequally yoked.


Peace to all of those who are successfully married as well. I know some who have found that.


This is a discussion that must be explored before one is married. A discussion with all of the cards on the table, an intimate and honest evaluation of the heart of two people must be had. A discussion that includes, “Do you realize that your intended spouse may never find you intimately attractive? Are you wiling to go a lifetime living in celibacy? Will you honestly accept your spouse as a great roommate, but not the sexually intimate marriage you’ve hoped for your whole life? Are you willing to make a lifetime commitment to someone who will possibly experience sexual frustration and angst most of their life and that you will never fully understand it? Will you forgive and allow restoration considering your spouse may be tempted so deeply they commit adultery in search for fulfillment for their physical and intimate needs? Will you sign that you’ve heard, and discussed all of these things before got married?”


We need to do a better job of preventative planning so we won’t have to do so much damage control later.


 

Gender and Sexual Diversity In Creation

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016


diversity quoteWe 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?


man and womanWe 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.


two asian menWhen 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?


Uniquely You Word

 

Mother’s Day

Monday, May 9th, 2016


MomYesterday 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 lizdyer55@gmail.com to request information on how to join.

https://knittingsoul.com/2016/05/08/to-the-moms-of-queer-kids/


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

over relationships.


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

an abomination.


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:


http://www.patheos.com/blogs/freedhearts/2015/08/19/if-you-were-my-gay-child-this-is-what-i-would-tell-you/



Supportive resources for moms / parents:


Susan Cottrell, Freed Hearts Ministry

https://freedhearts.wordpress.com


Liz Dyer

https://serendipitydodah.wordpress.com/about/


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.

http://www.amazon.com/How-We-Sleep-At-Night/dp/1499725388




 

A Very Difficult Discussion

Thursday, April 7th, 2016


diversityWith all of the news and media messages reacting to North Carolina and Mississippi’s attempt to construct ways of dealing with diverse sexuality, I’m struck with something as I ponder all of this. I’m rapt with an intense reality of how hard it is for us to be empathetic towards one another’s personal experiences and to truly listen to one another’s hearts.


While reading a FaceBook friend’s post about this this morning that said, “The answer is simple!” I immediately got defensive in my heart thinking, “It’s NOT simple!” But what is the answer? How do we respond to a person’s need for privacy, comfort, or just a sense of protection when it comes to going to the bathroom? Or how about feeling comfortable where we expend most of our time and energy at our place of employment, or searching for resources for a very special celebration such as a wedding? Is it possible that we can construct laws that truly protect freedoms in our current culture for all?


I’m not sure we can satisfy everyone or even the majority. But one thing I do think about is what would happen if a woman who is very private about her body, her gender, her children; would sit around a discussion table with transgender men and women who have struggled an entire lifetime hoping to find safety and authenticity? What if that table included adolescents, senior citizens, businessmen, farmers, migrant workers and others to discuss how to handle the use of public restrooms? Is it possible to have that dialogue and truly listen to one another without having to have it our way?


As I worked through my defensiveness over my friend’s FaceBook post I had to sit down and attempt to look through her eyes. I had to reread the conservative political post she pasted into her status update and try to hear their words, their experience. I finally realized that it’s not just about a transgender male seeking to be validated in their assimilation to what they believe to be their true and authentic self. It’s also not just about a man who feels threatened while standing at a urinal with someone walking behind him who looks more like a woman than the other man standing next to him. It’s also not all about a mother who is taking her children to the bathroom and a very masculine looking person walks in beside them. We are not all one kind of people with the same experiences in life.


Truly, it’s not all about any of them, but it is about each of them. Each one has their point, their experience, their needs for comfort and safety in a very personal space, equally. But how in the world could this possibly be resolved when we’ve built our entire culture based on pictures of a body with pants and a symbol of a body wearing a triangular shaped dress. Humanity isn’t that cut and dried!


I believe that in time, our younger people will be less likely to see people in such simple forms. I think this dialogue is opening up the discussion to a more real and honest discussion. I think we’re really struggling with a transition of generational experience and opinion. The more mature are living with something hitting them in the face that is extremely uncomfortable such as gay marriage, transgendered people becoming public all around them. With the more public exposure we are seeing and hearing LGBT people who are finally free to live more authentically and are unwilling to go backwards into the closeted life that was painful and stifling.


The dialogue is occurring and it’s strained. People are reacting, over reacting, and fighting with laws and protests against their fears. Our culture is shifting quickly and it’s painful.


But in the long run, I think we are getting better. We’re getting healthier, stronger, and over all I truly believe we are becoming more loving towards one another. Sometimes it’s hard to see through the media representing a public battle, but ask anyone who has been maligned in the past due to gender, color, sexuality, or any other differences and I think you’ll find more who are happier, more free, and living a fuller life than in years past.


A friend talked the other day about an increase of sexual abuse in a particular county here in Texas. I said, “I’m not sure there’s an increase, but the culture is now more able to talk about it, revealing more cases and creating a greater need for people who can deal with the reality of what has always been.” Yes, the need is greater, but I think sexual abuse and child abuse has always been far to frequent but we didn’t talk about it, and certainly didn’t give our kids permission to bring out.


We’re learning how to deal better with special needs, sexual abuse, LGBT people, women and children through this needed but very difficult exposure. Bringing these things to the light exposes the ugliness that has been lurking in the dark for far too long. Now, we just have to sort through the things that are on the table. It’s clumsy and we’ve made many mistakes in our attempts to resolve the uniqueness of diversity within our culture. But take a deep breath. We’re not through yet.

stay positive

 

A Life Lost to Suicide

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016


bb04fec3aa1dc09590b4dd91583b7db9Throughout the years I was involved in leadership with ExGay ministries those in the LBGT community often said that we were causing suicides. I often dismissed their accusations, as I perceived them to be attempts only to discredit our work. Sadly last week, January 15, 2016, Jim, a man that was in the Love in Action program back in 1994 committed suicide.


In 1994, Love In Action was considering a move away from San Rafael, CA. As we discussed our plans, during Jim’s  program time with us, he came to me saying that his church back in Memphis, TN would gladly welcome our ministry there. He introduced us to his church leaders, and as a result, we chose to move the entire ministry to Memphis in December of 1994. At that time, Jim was excited about being involved with an ExGay ministry. He was hopeful that he might find freedom from what he believed was a besetting sin. Jim finished the program, moved with us to Memphis and stayed in the program for a follow up year. He seemed to do well and to be thankful for his involvement.


But, along with so many who were part of the Love in Action program, after they moved on, they evaluated their participation and had mixed reactions. When I reconnected with Jim a couple of years ago I discovered he was really struggling with his life and had lost a great job because he was so discouraged. After twenty years of trying, he found his life was under severe depression. He had not had any change in his sexuality as he had heard could be his experience, and yet he was really trying to maintain his relationship with God. After so many years of hearing messages of shame and guilt about being a gay man, he just couldn’t seem to get over his internal discouragement.


A long time friend of his wrote this upon Jim’s death:


Jim left this life today. I knew him 32 years. We were in school together and moved to Gatlinburg for summer jobs from college. Jim was a survivor of the Exodus program. I blame them directly for this. Christ died for Jim, and Jim loved the Lord. No one can separate us from Christ’s love. Thankful, so very thankful we had just spoke on the phone. All my love, Jim.


I’ve reconnected with close to 200 men and women who were involved with Love In Action during the time I was there (1996-2008) I cannot tell you how many struggled intensely with depression afterwards. As I think back to the overt and covert messages that were communicated through Exodus International and through Love In Action, clearly we are accountable for laying out a message that conveyed that people were broken, deceived and wounded because they were gay. We encouraged them through messages of hope that they would experience change if they believed, followed biblical instruction, obeyed and repented of their homosexual temptations and behaviors.


LGBT people have heard messages like:


  • “If you’re gay, you are an abomination!”
  • “Until you repent, you’ll never find a good relationship with God, or others!
  • “If you’re gay, you must submit yourself to God and God will heal your brokenness.”
  • “You’re gay because you had a negative relationship with your dad, and you were overly enmeshed with your mom, or you were sexually abused.”
  • “You were emotionally dependent on that man that you were so close to. That’s sinful and you have to break that off and can never talk to him again!”
  • “Don’t believe the lies the devil tells you! You are not gay!”
  • “Maybe you could get married to a woman and that will help you to not act upon your homosexual inclinations.”
  • “Stay away from anything gay, or connected with your homosexual lifestyle.”


Hearing those messages over and over laid out a negative foundation of belief that some people never overcame. These messages were especially destructive since they were connected to one’s spirituality and relationship with God.


But it wasn’t just Exodus leaders that hold accountability for the discouragement that so many within the LGBT community face. I was part of the communities in several churches throughout my years at Love In Action. Exodus messages were not unique, but they are the messages I heard from the pulpits of many of those churches, through the fellowship discussions, and from radio and television venues. Much of the doctrine and theology I had in those days came directly from those who were teaching me how to live the Christian life and how to overcome my sinful temptations towards homosexuality. I heard the messages loud and clear.


I’m so very sorry for all of the ways I was involved in communicating these shaming and erroneous messages. Jim’s life was clearly wounded by them. He never found his freedom in this life. For this, I am deeply grieved.


Jim’s struggle in this life is over, but the horrific and negative effects on Jim’s life while he was here, will be remembered for a very long time through those who knew him and most closely heard his pain. Jim’s sweet temperament, his kind soul, his beautiful voice will also stand out as unforgettable.


We must continue to evaluate how we have dealt with LGBT people wrongly. We must continue to look deeply into ways we have been complicit in shameful, degrading, and accusatory ways we have spoken towards the LGBT community. We must be willing to admit where we have judged LGBT people as being worse, more depraved, and in need of deeper repentance than others.


join_the_fight_against_lgbt_suicide_button-r70f400623e1948cf88320df5785c5651_x7s24_1024How many more beautiful lives are we willing to lose?


An excellent article by a friend, Stephen Long,  on this very struggle.


Homosexuality, Depression and the Church by Stephen Long


 

It’s Not About Being Happy

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015


It’s Not About Being Happy, Caitlyn Jenner!


must be happySo many people believe that we have to be happy in order to represent a successful life. Is life all about pursuing happiness? Is God’s first priority to give us a happy life? Many years ago I let go of that expectation. I’m not necessarily pursuing a happy life.


Caitlyn Jenner’s story has certainly brought out many diverse reactions and comments. Something that stood out to me yesterday was from someone who said that it’s not likely Caitlyn will be any happier now. He said that none of the transgender people he’d known of were happier after transitioning.


I hope Caitlyn isn’t expecting to live a happy life. That could be a very disappointing thing to pursue. I’ve read stories of transgender people who got depressed after their transition, which doesn’t surprise me, really. There isn’t a one size fits all result of someone choosing to make such a huge life transition. Maybe they didn’t find happiness in the end. Did they miss the real benefit of coming out while they were pursuing happiness? Was their depression due to external realities?


For me, the transition from being ExGay to being an out gay man and marrying my husband hasn’t made me happier! I can’t say I get up each morning with a huge smile on my face and say, “Oh, happy day!” I have days when I am happier. I also have days where I question my transition and feel some pain and discouragement. I don’t think I’d be human if this weren’t true.


I’ve heard from men who go through tremendous struggles after they come out publically. I know women who face many daily emotions that are unhappy after they admit they’re lesbian. There are many consequences that stem from moving into a fuller gay experience. Loss of friends, rejection from family members, job changes, and guilt coming from religious convictions and experiences all become a reality.


I’m sure that Caitlyn will go through tons of feelings stemming from reading the comments on line from people who think she’s done a terrible thing. Not all of Caitlyn’s family is supportive of her transition which no doubt brings about lots of discomfort and pain. So, what’s in it for Caitlyn? What was in it for me to come out after living in such a public ExGay story for so many years? Was I looking for a happier life? Have I found a happier life?


No, I haven’t found a happier life.


But one thing I have found is a deeper inner peace. I’ve experienced a greater sense of integrity and personal truth. I wake up each day with less angst, less fear of the deception that I lived in for so many years. I no longer worry about lying to someone, or hiding parts of my life from friends and family. I wake up knowing that today, I am honest and have integrity. That’s worth it’s weight in gold.


For so many years I felt like I was two people, the public story, ravaged by the inner turmoil of a life by trying to be someone I couldn’t be. I think this is what Caitlyn has been through too. I think her experience will be like mine. I think she will find many days when she is very unhappy, or even grief stricken. I believe she will discover rejection at a very deep level that will be very painful and will produce unhappiness. But from what I have seen and heard from her in her interviews is that she has found a life experience with a deeper level of integrity. I think she will wake up most days with less angst of the double existence. Think this was her motivation and hopefully she will find that to be significant to her new life. In her potential unhappiness, it is my hope she will discover a deeper peace that will smooth all of this out.


I believe in time Caitlyn will find more happiness but if she doesn’t, I trust that she will find more peace, just as I have.


Does God want us to be happy?


’ve heard many times that living a life with God isn’t about God wanting us to be happier. It is my belief that God does want us to live in integrity and honesty. The TRUTH does set us free. My personal truth has set me free from years and years of anxiety. Well, maybe sometimes I am happier. But when I’m not, I do have that deep inner peace of living in truth today.



 

I’m Weird

Monday, February 23rd, 2015


Graham MooreThe 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”

-Graham Moore


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.


 

Banning Sexual Conversion Therapy

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014


homo-therapyAs the Executive Director and on behalf of the Board of Directors of Grace Rivers Ministry, I’d like to make the following statement regarding the banning of Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy.


At Grace Rivers Ministry, we believe that a person must make healthy, authentic, and respectful decisions about how they will act upon their sexual desires. We believe people should be given the freedom by loved ones, the culture, and religious institutions to make those decisions without condemnation or coercion within appropriate limitations such as rape, pedophilia, sex slavery or sexual acts that will emotionally or physically damage another person. We also believe that a person considering marriage to a person who has a different sexual orientation should do so with great caution, counsel, and honesty with themselves and the one they are considering marrying.


We know that within religious culture there is vast disagreement as to what the Bible says or doesn’t say about homosexuality or transsexuality. Due to these diverse perspectives we believe a person should also have the freedom to believe and to follow their religious convictions in their actions and sexual relationships. However, we do not believe that a person’s sexual orientation can be changed through counseling, conversion therapy, Reparative Therapy or religious practices such as deliverance, or exorcism.


We believe that messages that communicate that someone’s sexual orientation can be changed through such processes or that one’s orientation should attempt to be changed to conform to society or religious belief can be tremendously harmful. At times these messages or practices can even be toxic to a person’s sense of self and psychological well being.


It is also our experience that when a person marries someone with a different sexual orientation (“Mixed Orientation Marriage”) that this marriage is destined to have great complications including the probability of divorce in time. We advise an honest evaluation of the potential effects prior to making the decision to enter into a mixed orientation marriage.


We stand against counseling practices aimed at changing one’s sexual orientation. It is our conviction that it is far better to provide support, counsel, and mentors to help people accept their sexual orientation as it is. It is within these supportive actions and relationships that we believe a person can far better make healthy and appropriate decisions as to their sexual practice and relationships.


Psychological problems, addictions, unhealthy relationships and the potential for suicidal ideations and actions can come as a result of coercion to change, or condemnation for individuals whose sexual orientations are different from the hetero-normative. When youth struggle with accepting their homosexuality or transsexualism and they do not have healthy and supportive mentoring, this can delay their emotional and sexual development causing immature, harmful and potentially damaging consequences.


I have personally been negatively impacted and I’ve experienced the consequences brought about by sexual conversion therapy. I also have led hundreds of men and women through sexual conversion therapy over a period of two decades. I’ve seen the harm and painful outcome of this inappropriate attempt to alter or change a person’s sexual orientation or identity.


We believe that sexual conversion therapy should be considered harmful, destructive, and should be banned as the toxic practice that it is.


John J. Smid, Executive Director

Board of Directors, Grace Rivers Ministry

www.gracerivers.com

jjsmid@gracerivers.com


BornPerfectWe support of the Born Perfect campaign. NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights)  has launched #BornPerfect: The Campaign to End Conversion Therapy in the next five years by passing laws across the country to protect LGBT kids, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices.