Saturday, December 6, 2008

a different view than what is expected, or How I came out as a straight ally

Some are confused by the fact that I was "wronged" by my husband who came out as gay. Some assume that I'd be angry, not just with him but with ALL gay men. There are those who I used to go to church with that are puzzled when I actually support and affirm loving relationships between gay individuals, and that I openly advocate for gay marriage. How did this come about? I will try to explain.

First of all, I loved my husband, Ray, I was crushed and confused when he was depressed, but he finally told me the reason. The reason was that he was gay - always had been, but had denied the fact and denied himself. Everything about my mental and emotional framework came apart. My perceptions were that it was impossible to be Christian AND gay. As I read and learned, I had a hard time, but I found many sources that say our sexual orientation is a given (and some people, I understand, have a more fluid sexual orientation). And I began to realize that there are people who believe that there ARE gay Christians.

In the months following Ray's big reveal, I sought information. I did not go to the counseling office at our church. I knew what those "answers" would tell me - the same conclusions that had resulted in Ray's self-hating and condemning results. It was hard to be alone, anonymously calling mental health offices, asking, "Do you have experience dealing with marriages where one person is gay and another is straight?" I'd call from my cell phone, I didn't identify myself except by my first name. I'd ask them to please return my calls - and I heard from none of them.

The first book I read was by Mel White. It is called, "Stranger at the gate." Mel's story was sometimes difficult to read because there were descriptions of his earliest crushes, and he included his attractions to men during his marriage. Even so, I immediately was struck by his love and commitment for Jesus throughout his life. I was also impressed that he and his wife, Lila, remained close even though they parted and ended their marriage. I was afraid for my future, but reality was
hitting me, too. Ray and I both cried a lot.

Online I somehow found Peterson Toscano's blog. I read links posted alongside his entries. I knew he had compassion not just for the gay person in a marriage, but also for the spouse. I began to write comments and send e-mails, anonymously, and Peterson responded. I had a connection!

I began to understand something new: there is a difference in what I'd been told in church (gay and Christian cannot co-exist) and the fact that there are good Christians who believe in Jesus, hold to his teachings, and they live their lives with integrity, even though they are gay. What a shift in my thinking! I could not even wrap my mind around my fundamentalist mindset - it was a turning I had never considered. I'd go through stages where nothing I thought made sense, because to accept these new ideas meant that there was no hope that Ray and I could stay married. What an awful conclusion.

As Ray and I talked over several months, in my mind I could accept what my heart could not: Ray needed to leave. Leave our home, our kids (all were college age or older) and he had to leave me. He needed to heal in many ways, and it would have to be away from all the familiar surroundings that he knew and where he was known. I had never imagined this, it was surreal.

I cannot minimize any of what has happened to us - and it seems simplistic to put it here in words. These words can't explain what this has done to my faith. Faith is part of my life that even though I've been disappointed (devastated), and I cannot give up on God. I believe God is present in my life, knew all about this before it was revealed to me, and that there are reasons why I only know the past and present rather than the future.

But I also know that God knew RAY, that he created him (just like he makes us all) and that when Ray came out, it was not "coming out" to God. Because of the way our life transpired, I can look back and see that our path was ordered by God. Ray's songs made him loved, made him successful. But it was the songs about his inmost struggle and hope that Jesus would win out, help him, that endeared Ray to his listeners. Ironically, these are the same listeners who now have (mostly) turned against him because of what the struggle was. (Our website has received thousands of negative and cruel messages, as well as many, many supportive and loving ones as well.)

Since 2004 I have talked to all kinds of people: gay, lesbian, straight, bi and transgender. I've talked to Christians of lots of denominations, and to some I've "come out," as the former wife of a gay man. They seem surprised that I'm gay-affirming, which means I accept and value people who are not straight. I find support for that in the scripture that says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." I think that covers us all.


petersontoscano said...

I thank God for the day you stumbled onto my blog! I so cherish our friendship and I marvel at the way you have taken hold of the life around you sought out answers and stepped further and further into the light of reality, understanding and sanity.

sta┼Ťa said...

Carol, I am so glad you found Mel White's work, and Peterson's as well.

"...when Ray came out, it was not "coming out" to God.

That's really important to remember.

May you continue to know love and blessings.

seithman said...

Peterson is a fantastic guy.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Your post was touching.

-- Jarred.

MMW said...

Hi Carol
My husband is a pastor and he just told me on 11/14/08 that he is gay. I moved out on 11/25/08 and we will be getting a divorce in the near future. We are still good friends and I just told him that I guess you just have to be who you are. We were married almost 6 years this coming february. The scripture you gave John 3:16, is correct and christains have to understand the God made us all. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that who soever believeth in Him should not parrish but have everlasting life." And that is His word, and and christians that what we have to abide by. My emotions right now are up and down, but I trust that God will continue to be with me and these tears and this loniness I feel will soon disappear. Continue to stay blessed. MMW

scott said...

Howdy Carol. i'm so glad to have found your blog.

Mel's and Peterson's works are great. i found Bishop Gene Robinson's book, "In The Eye of the Storm" very helpful.

Though church was an important part of my early life, once i awakened to being gay i felt rejected by it and walked apart for 25 years. Church and music had been intertwined for me and i also walked away from singing & playing the piano.

People like Bishop Gene, Rev. Mel, Peterson, and some friends really eased my prodigal's return to Christianity a few years ago. And it took me nearly two years more, but i'm singing in a choir again.

Reading your words bolsters my hope & faith. Thank you.

Carol said...

MMW - I am so sorry that you are having to go through this. Are you getting the help and support you need? Please look at the links at the left side of my blog. is a good resource, and there are yahoo groups like this one:

You will find so many others like us, and don't be discouraged if you don't find others who part on good terms. Keep looking. And you can write to me at this e-mail: I will do my best to answer asap! Take heart- you can make it through this.

Carol said...

Scott - thanks for mentioning Gene Robinson's book. I remember when it first came out and he was on Today show, but I have not read it. This reminder helps me to pick it up.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. My emotions think I am in a dream world right now. I right now just looking down the road I really don't know if I want to be in another relationship. I would love to be with a christian man who really loves the Lord, but it is often hard to see one in church. Well thank you for your website and I will look at the one you have suggested. Oh, and no I really don't have anyone I can talk to, so now I am in my apartment by myself and I just talk to the Lord because I know He feels what I feel. Have a blessed day Carol.

Carol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol said...

MMW- I know that "dream-world" you refer to. And I know the feeling of being alone. It is beyond "difficult," and one title I considered for my blog was, "There are no words...", because nothing I could express was enough to say how I felt.

With that said, I will suggest you do just that: I encourage you to journal. It will help you form your thoughts, even if they are sketchy. Make it in whatever form it takes, but get it down in words, because the words help you process the thoughts. And when you realize that you are forgetting details or how to function or what really to DO, you will have your journal. For me, it helped.

I'm only one person, but I am here for you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

People like you give me hope for the world and future. You are brave and honest and I admire you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you:
I don't know that I am brave, but I am just looking at the situation as it is and what else can one do. Thanks again for your support, it is strength for me.