Monday, December 29, 2008

no debates

The messages continue, and people outside our family want to confront me. I guess family get-togethers at Christmas are the perfect time to discuss Ray and Carol Boltz. It's interesting how others have the time and "courage" to shoot off a critical e-mail, when they would not be able to sit face-to-face with me and have a talk.

At different times I have offered to talk to friends (and/or strangers) about having a gay husband. Some have instantly turned to the words "abomination," and "sin," and because of that I have needed to form my thoughts so that I can talk in a calm manner, and try to explain that, "it's not what you do, it's who you are." Those were words that Ray used to help me understand when, four years ago this week, I was in the same place as some of those who now are making their judgments.

I've observed that most of the messages fall into two categories: 1) Ray has chosen to become homosexual. Or 2) Ray was never saved, and he deceived us as he sang the very words that he wrote.

My responses now, and it is not my intent to be sarcastic or flippant, are: to #1 - Why would anyone CHOOSE to be gay, when others will hate you, turn from you, and say hateful things to you and about you. It will mean the end of your life and livelihood as you've known it. You will be rejected by those who professed to love you and the songs you wrote. To "choose" that just doesn't make sense.

To those who think #2, I just think you never knew Ray. And I wonder if you know God.

God, who send his son, Jesus, by way of a young unmarried girl named Mary. Mary, who could have been stoned for her supposed sin. And this baby was entrusted into the family of Joseph, who without his honor to step up and marry his fiancee', would have sent her to her death, and hence the death of God's son. And in the end, I'm sure Mary must have wondered, "why, God?", when her oldest son died on a cross for sins he didn't commit.

God, who uses ways that we don't understand, and somehow, some way, we are supposed to learn and grow from the trials in our lives. Life is not easy, and I've discovered that none of us choose our problems. That is something I'd never have known, deep down, like I think I do now, if not for what I've gone through. My wise counselor, Jane, told me, "You never grow or mature without struggle."

And despite the fact that I sometimes rail against God for where I've been placed, I still have that drawing to God, to the help that I also cannot comprehend.

So to those who wish to argue, I'm declining those offers. Maybe we can sit over coffee, and we can have a talk that will mean something. But don't assume that you and I will debate over e-mails or comments, because those will never show me, and it won't show the many changes I've had in the last four years, and it definitely won't prove anything to you. I decline the debates.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

... a lot like Christmas

We're a day "off" here at the Boltz house, shifting the holiday to tomorrow. We had to adjust it here, turning Dec. 26 into Christmas Day. Turn on the holiday CDs, bring out the sugar cookies, put on the rib roast! It's Christmas and we are into it!

Some of the kids are arriving today, thanks to the fact that flights are cheaper ON Chrismas Day and New Year's Day, rather than the days leading up to the actual holidays. That affects one daughter, Liz, and son-in-law, Ben, who fly today from the East coast. Another pair, Sara and Landon, are sharing the morning with in-laws, so they will come this afternoon. Karen and Rajeev, with 2 1/2-year-old Arya, make the sacrifice to pack EVERYTHING, so that Santa can find Arya at Grandma's. I always am glad Karen married someone with Nepali parents, because that means we always get them for Christmas! Son Phil is here with his fiancee, Emily. With nothing else to think of only days from her wedding, she has given up her holiday with her family to be find out how the Boltzes do things. Oh, and Pappaw is here too.

But what's so odd about that? Our family has always been a little skewed - I mean, I made a tie-dye, 3-piece suit that Phil wore to his senior prom. Liz once had bright pink hair. I never let them "celebrate halloween," but I made each of them fun Bible costumes to go to the church "hallelujah parties," (kind of an ironic twist). Each one spent summers on foreign mission trips rather than comfortably hanging out to watch TV and play Nintendo (not that they didn't spend PLENTY of time with video games). In Phil's words, "it's just that we were never strongly compelled to be like everyone else."

Even with the revelations of four years ago, we still can be together and have fun. Even with new traditions, like sharing the holidays, long-distance travel, and re-arranging the date of the event, it is the togetherness that we long for. So what if it isn't traditional? And some might find it too difficult. For us, the Boltz family, it is not. And even though Ray and I live apart, we are the parents of four wonderful kids, we love their spouses, and we get to be Grandma and Pappaw to Arya, and by next year another new baby-on-the-way.

It isn't the day. It's our family, it's Christmas, we're together.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Questions about the "gay lifestyle"

Someone wrote me and said this: There is a lot of things in the gay community that are prevalent, like pornography and multiple partners. Why is that, if it is okay? these are the questions I have.

Regarding porn, if truth be told, there are many people who accept and view porn, both gay and straight alike. I don't believe our access to this is a selling point, but I'm stating that it's there and people view it. And straight people have no monopoly on multiple partners - just watch Friends re-runs. While the media shows some parts of gay life, and while some of it is valid, not ALL of it is. I have some opinions about this, and part of the problem is because of the churches in general.

First, I think that sexual orientation is somehow pre-determined. Whether it is birth order, hormonal, genetic, or some outside environmental cause, I think some people are wired differently in regards to their sexual feelings. Because I believe in a divine spark of life at conception, then of course that would mean that God makes all of us. Hence some of us are "made" gay, while others are "made" straight.

When early, non-sexual attractions are realized as youngsters, most people are rewarded for boy-girl crushes. "Do you have a girlfriend?" is asked of a little kindergarten boy. "Are you married?" we jokingly ask little elementary-age girls. Gay people, however, are shamed - and as one gets older, the shame is enlarged so that it becomes worse. Ridicule is painful and most people avoid it, and in church we preach that homosexuality is the worst of the worst of humanity. It is sickness! It is sin!

When we, as Christians, tell people that their sin is unforgivable and damning, gay people eventually lose hope for their own salvation. It seems to be unattainable, unreachable, and they, themselves become the "untouchables" to all normal folk. We tell them they must change to become heterosexual, and while it may be possible for an extremely small few, I don't think it is possible for most gay people. Those gay people finally turn from God and from the churches. Without hope, without moral role models, then you have all the "stuff" that goes with it - and depravity sinks lower and lower.

Another extremely important point: NOT ALL GAYS TURN FROM THE CHURCH! Many, many, many are still hanging in there. They are solid family people, whether or not they are partnered or married. Many are ministers, music leaders, and Bible teachers. They love God, love the church, love everything about serving God and the church. They are NO different than other people in any ways that really count!

I had a pastor recently liken this to a dog who returns to a cruel master, and still licks his master's hand. He said this is like people who are kicked and misrepresented within the church, but they stay and serve and love the very churches that vilify them.

I believe it is so important that those who are gay and are religious to walk openly and show their families, those around them, their co-workers, and their communities that there is a difference in how people live their lives, and to show that sexual orientation does NOT pre-determine behavior. In the same way it is my opinion that we ALL should live our faith with integrity - gay or straight.

One book I read, "The Velvet Rage," went into details about how the mental condition of gay men develops. I recommend it often. The psychologist that wrote doesn't claim to be a Christian, but has evaluated many of his patients, and I think he's got good things to say.

In answer to those who ask about the Bible and what it says, I must refer them to sources that helped me view things differently. I formerly looked in Leviticus and saw only "abomination." In Romans, I saw, "turned them over to reprobate minds." What I didn't take into consideration was the fact that we have changed how we view eating shrimp, opening stores on Sundays, slavery and birth control. I think now it is time we re-evaluated our use of the Bible as a sex manual. For readers who wish to learn more, please read HERE and HERE.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren, inaugural prayer

It's been all over the news since yesterday that President-elect Obama has chosen Rick Warren to participate in the Inauguration by giving a prayer. The news has brought attention to the fact that human rights activists of the glbt community is upset. (from here on I will use glbt as the abbreviation for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender) I want to share a friend's story, and I hope that it can bring some understanding of why they feel like he is an unwelcome choice.

Jeff Lutes is the executive director of Soulforce, and he and his partner, Gary, are the fathers of 3 adopted children. I have met them as a family, and was impressed with such well-behaved kids and their loving dads. Here is what he shared about meeting Rick Warren last summer.

Although I can understand that Obama wants to "reach out" to the faith community, since Warren is well-respected by and well-connected within that community. He's a leader, an author that has sold millions of his books, and he has been featured on the cover of Time magazine as someone who gives of his time and his wealth to support others.

But Warren also has disregarded gay people of Christian faith, and he has stated that he does not believe in civil unions or gay marriage. He used words like "immaturity," and said homosexuals should practice, "delayed gratification." He said that even if it should be found that people are born gay, that they should not express that part of themselves.

What really irks me is that we are not talking about folks who want to party all-night-long, like the song says, but we are talking about people of faith, those who believe in forming loving families of faith in Christ!

So can we do what Jeff Lutes suggests? Can we pray together for a day when all are accepted? When all have their relationships recognized? Let us all hope for a time when churches and their leaders stop spreading lies about gay families, so that the gay men and women who want to build families are supported in our churches and protected by our laws.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Welcome mail from Heartland Men's Chorus

Sometimes when I go to the Post Office to pick up the mail, I don't know what to expect. When a hand-written note is sent, it does seem that to be more sensitive and thoughtful than the quickly-posted e-mail to a vague receiver. However, when I get a PACKAGE, I never know what I'm in for. Is it an angry customer who wants back their money, claiming they were deceived? Is it going to be a handful of prayer letters from a church, sent anonymously by way of the former friend/employee who shared a "need" after I confided in her and told her specifically this was NOT public information, and she shared with them my personal address? Or will it be a demo CD, which I have no way to connect to the recording industry (because they don't call)? All these are real possibilities, and I share them just to let you know how my life can surprise me!

Thankfully, yesterday when I went to the Post Office, the package I got was a very pleasant surprise. It was a DVD from Heartland Men's Chorus of Kansas City, Missouri! The title of the project is, "All God's Children," a documentary described in the accompanying letter as one "in which we explored the role of religion in the lives of gay people." That letter was from Cliff Schiappa, Development Director.

What a great project - which I put in and watched immediately (well, in the same day :) ). I was so happy to see that Rev. Mel White was an integral part of this effort. One of the first comments he made was about how, "one day they'll understand," as he referred to the churches and people of faith who so frequently assume that gay men and women are sick and sinful. I was not only touched by the songs, but by the men's stories.

Thanks, Cliff. Thanks, Heartland Men's Chorus. Your voices are being heard, and I'm glad you sent me, via Ray, your project. I promise I will forward it to him - and he can be as pleasantly surprised at the mail box as I was.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I am touched, so blessed

Hi everyone - I am so far behind. So many of you have read and posted this week. What a boost for my little blog! I've been so blessed, I've cried, and I've wanted to reach out and give so many hugs, but I've fallen behind. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all who have made comments and shared parts of your own stories. I know it is sometimes so hard to express on "paper" what you've gone through and what you share about your lives. And once you put it on that paper, it is so much bigger - it is out there for us all to read.

It is because of blogs and writing and sharing that I came to change my mind about gay people, and it IS WORTH IT. My life is different because of people like Christine Bakke and Peterson Toscano - and so many of their links where I read and read and read. IT is WORTH IT. Keep writing! Keep sharing.

And I hope to continue to make contacts with you - please be patient.

your friend and fellow blogger,

Friday, December 12, 2008

Who is my neighbor?

When the young pastor started his sermon, I wasn't excited. I prefer the "other" young minister, and I'm just plain prejudiced about it. So when Adam began, I just sat in my seat waiting for the end of the message: "The Good Samaritan," and "who is our neighbor?" What more could he say that would be different than any other sermon I've ever heard, in my life, about that story. And he began...

"...and the man was left half-dead, bleeding...But the good Samaritan, more than the religious leaders who passed by, stopped, gave him oil for his wounds, wine to drink, and left him in the care of an innkeeper..."

And Adam posed the questions: Who among us have been left, by the church, half-dead? Who among our neighbors are the ones we reach out to? The ones who have been left, by us Christians, bleeding, and uncared for?

And it all hit me. Among so many, I see the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender people, left outside the churches. They are outcast by US, the people who call themselves by the name of Jesus. And I knew - I want to be the good neighbor, the good Samaritan.

It takes us all to be Jesus to the hurting, and I want to be, at the least that one person. I don't care if it is only one at a time. I don't care if others think I'm a fag-hag or crazy or whatever. I want people to know that I care and that I'm just like them - loved by Jesus.

It has not been easy to accept what has happened to me. Many times I've been angry at God for the loss of my marriage (and so much more). Often I don't want to go to church, don't know the absolutes of my upbringing and don't feel confident in my faith. But I felt God's healing THAT day when we closed with, "How marvelous, how wonderful is my saviours' love for me..." I felt that I've been loved enough to come through this journey, to be shown things I'd never have considered if not for the difficult road, where I was bleeding and half-dead. I felt that somehow there was a purpose and maybe I can make an impact on someone else that hurts and feels like they are left on the side of the road, forgotten by most everyone.

Could it possibly be ME, who can pour in oil for wounds, share a meal of fellowship, and offer healing?

Anyone else want to be a good neighbor?

(p.s. Thanks, Adam! I'll love you forever!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

from Newsweek: Gay Marriage: Our Mutual Joy

Speaking up for gay marriage, it is my belief that besides all the reasons mentioned in this article, it would make more sense for gay people to marry gay people, than for them to marry straight ones.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Never enough of the story

I lay awake thinking of my two recent posts. I know that I search for understanding, and it isn't enough to try to write a few paragraphs and think I've said enough. There are so many issues regarding why mixed-orientation marriages break up, with the predominant result that the straight spouse walks away hating ALL gays. I tried to describe my life - and that is the only view I know - and simplify why I feel like I do.

I've read so many, many e-mails, several letters, and some people who have spoken to me, and they really think that they have a corner on "right." They believe they understand the Bible and that their own interpretation is the only way to view homosexuality. But it is bigger than that. They hold ideas that don't hold up in reality - yet they persist in saying, "Ray is deceived..." or, "Ray has fallen..." etc.

So, yes, my writing about all this is defensive. I want to set the record straight, and there is little way to do that. My words seem to be ineffective, and I don't trust my ability to say what I want to say. I have this little blog, and I hesitate about how personal to be. I start, then I worry that I'll be criticized - and I don't want to chicken out. I'm leaving the posts as I wrote them.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Why straight spouses are NOT gay-affiming

Two entries today!

As I looked for help in December, 2004, after I heard the information that my husband was gay, I came upon Straight Spouse Network. I immediately requested "membership," to the accompanying yahoo group, After describing my situation, I "got in," with no additional requirements. Believe me, there are a lot of us!

Reading other women's stories, I soon realized that I was in the minority. Most women were angry, and justifiably so. Their gay husbands had cheated on them for years, and lied about important details (like the best man was the husband's lover). Gay husbands treated their wives, who believed they were marrying their best friend, like they had done something wrong. There were men who drank heavily, abused drugs, their own wives, and the children. Men who ran up debt with their lovers, flaunted their "new life" and left dependent children without homes, working utilities, or resources. I read all these stories, and thought, "why should I complain?" Ray had done none of these things. He pointed out to me, "It's not what you do, it's who you are." Although that confused me, it also helped me in the long run.

When I read these stories, I hurt deeply for these women, just like me, who married for life. Many were Christians, and they hoped desperately for their men to give up their "evil desires." Plenty of them were MAD, and plenty of times I was/am angry as hell, too! No one should be married to someone who cheats, continually disrespects them, or does not honor the marriage. Families are supposed to love one another and support one another both physically and emotionally. When both spouses are not giving to the relationship, is it really a marriage?

I cannot speak for women who have been mislead or deceived by a gay husband. I know they sometimes draw conclusions based on the same wrong generalizations that I had. I also feel for the husbands who thought that someday they would change - many pastors have actually counseled young people that they should "get married. Then these feelings will go away." That doesn't happen.

I understand when wives are not gay-affirming. I should probably feel the same way. I'm so sorry for what has happened. I don't have answers, as you each need to process your life according to your experience. Don't give up hope, because God sees all. I hope I can write and share enough to make it worthwhile to read. My heart goes out to ALL of us.

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.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

So you think you know better...

Since Ray came out publicly in this article, I have been the one to receive and read all the e-mails to our website. Unfortunately, many have been from people who either think they know better than Ray what he should do, or that they assume he is deceived. Others think he purposely led others astray as he wrote and sang some of the most emotional songs in contemporary Christian music. Many make unkind comments, perhaps thinking that no one closely associated with a real person will actually read the comments.

Tonight I opened the e-mail, and I got one from Tonya, and I have written a response. I am not sending it directly to her, because I don't want to come off vengeful or mean. Instead I decided to post it here, on my blog, where I can say anything I please! Many, many times I begin a blog, only to leave it unfinished, hesitating on what to say, or how to say it most effectively. Perhaps I am deviating from my stated purpose of helping others, but I am trying to speak some of what I have been through and what I think and feel.

Here is Tonya's message/comment, and it was only one line:

-----Original Message-----
From: tonya**********.net [mailto:tonya*********.net]
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 8:15 PM
Subject: Email from web site!

From: t
Email: tonya***********.net

Comments: It is so sad to see you like that.

Dear Tonya,

Sad to see Ray like what? Like any of the following:

...Hating himself
...Feeling like God hates him
...Wanting to die
...On strong medications (Prozac, Welbutrin) to help him get through each day?
...Pretending to be straight in his marriage?
...Pretending that he's like all the other "Christians" who hold disdain for gay people?
...Feeling that if he were to be honest with his family, that we would turn against him? ...that we would not love him?
...Knowing that he had done all that he was EVER told to do, but that he was still gay?
...Praying his entire life that he could be straight, only to have God never once answer him?
...Still living just like YOU and the rest of fundamentalist Christians want him to, but knowing that he was living a lie.

So you are sad to see him give up his success, the respect he had in the fundamentalist world, give up his image to gain what? Ridicule? Villification? To be likened to murderers, child-molesters, liars, thieves? Sad that others offer pat answers? Sad that people who think he didn't pray hard enough? Or that he prayed too much and depended only on himself? Others who assume that he has embarrassed his family, and they don't know anything about our family. Then there is the "sadness" of those such as yourself, and the thousands of others who think they know what they are talking about.

I have this to say: I am and always have been proud of Ray Boltz, his commitment to his family, to God, and to those he has served for his entire life. I am proud of him being honest, struggling to accept himself, and to learn to make decisions out of love, not out of fear.

So you think you are sad? Ha! Think what being honest has done to Ray's own heart. Think how it would be to know that to be HONEST, he would get ignorant e-mails like yours, and that there would be nothing to stop people like yourself from responding with "sadness." Can you know what it feels like to have strangers tell you that they are "disappointed," and the real disappointment is that God put US through this - we are a family, we love one another, and we still are Christians. Neither of us asked for this, as none of us ask for our problems.

For some reason beyond our understanding, this has been the path that God has led us. Ray and I are the ones who know just what sadness is. So please, don't write me a flippant, one-line comment, and think that that helps. It does not. It is all I can do not to rip into your comment and send off a nasty e-mail, but I won't. I have taken care to try to help you understand that we are real people, and this has been a huge hurdle in my life and in Ray's life. There are no easy answers. I feel I am doing pretty well, that Ray is making progress, and that we will continue to grow through this entire ordeal.

Carol (Ray Boltz Music, INC.)