Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Notice added on how I use statements, comments, and e-mails

Because of the nature of this blog, I find it important and interesting to have open comments and sharing of personal stories. Anonymous commenters are allowed in most situations. I will allow no disrespect (in my opinion) of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer people on behalf of sexual orientation or identity.

Please note that I welcome all comments and personal e-mails. Some comments will not be posted, based on my personal discretion. However, I reserve the right to include your comments and relevant portions of personal e-mails and messages to me, as content of this blog, or wherever their use can best be afforded.

I will never reveal personal identities without your permission (name, location, specific employer, etc.)

This statement in no way serves as a legally binding statement. This blog is public, and it's on the internet. If you write on the internet, you are automatically giving me your permission to use what you write.

More reader input 2010

Last night I woke up and had a REALLY good idea for a post. Then I went back to sleep and can't remember what it is. I do that a lot, whether it's when I'm sleeping or not. I start posts in my head, and then can't compose them. I write a good beginning paragraph, and then my conclusions don't match the intensity of what I began with. The result is that I haven't blogged much.

While I get some amazing e-mails, most of them require well-though-out replies. I am NOT good at advice. Each life requires decisions that I'm not qualified to make, and that I can't make for anyone else. My life has been and IS one that I still have to decide and walk through every day. As much as I wish that it were easy, think again. Let me share some questions, and open this for input.

Situations:

a seemingly kind fan wrote, and a reply to her has to be on so many levels:
I am not without experience in this- though mine, admittedly doesn't compare with yours. My sister is living a lesbian lifestyle. I'm not emailing you to harrass or even to criticize, it isn't my intention to seem combative. I'm sure this is just one of many emailst hat echo the same feeling. I firmly believe this is a very convincing lie form the devil- we all have sinful desires, that doesn't give us permission to act on them. I dont mean to trivialize his lifelong struggle, I know it is far from simple. God doesn't lie. Satan does. God won't tell you not to act on homosexual feelings while making you to have them. It doesn't mean they aren't felt- just that they are NOT from God. I think its a shame that you are condoning and offering up your own version of biblical truth to justify this life- it is a flasehood that could lead others astray.


a divorced, gay man, wrote concerning how to continue to celebrate the holidays:
My question is this: Can I still have a positive relationship with her [his ex-wife] including Christmas day celebrations, gatherings with her family, etc.? Is this possible or even reasonable so as not to confuse my 12 year old son?


and from "BKY" who e-mailed:

I will pray ...for... you, and your children. I will pray that you each will know Christ and grow closer to him. I pray that you will glorify him and seek the truth of the gospel. I implore you to please be careful what you are teaching others for when you lead others astray how much more accountable will He hold you for your actions. We are all sinners, yes even Christians, so we will continue to sin until Jesus comes back again. The difference between a Christian and a non Christian is repentance. I pray you and Ray will seek out this concept and then maybe you will realize that Christians do not hate you but want to see you be victorious in Christ!




...so I wrote back this reply:

Dear BCY,

Thank you for writing to me, and for what tries to be kindness. I'm glad you have listened to Ray's music and liked it so much. I am truly thankful that you have written.

I'm sorry that you think I am leading others astray. I don't believe that. I also wish that it were as simple as what you describe as being "victorious in Christ," in order to deal with being gay. It's NOT like that.

What I feel is that I'm fortunate to have been born and have grown up as a heterosexual woman. I'm in the majority, and that is easier than adjusting to being non-heterosexual. I didn't have to decide that. It came natural to me, and as my hormones kicked in as a teenager, I learned to live according to Christian morals and principles. I'm thankful for a church that guided me and for a family that trusted my feelings for boys.

However, for many who are not "straight"-feeling, the responses to a young adult "crush" (on someone of the same gender) from family members is criticism, judgment, and rejection for non-stereotypical feelings. It isn't even recognized or mentioned in the home - where all of our "family values" are so strongly incorporated. If this is mentioned in the community and/or in school, young people are outcast, and in churches they are condemned. It is this judgment against normal, honest feelings for another person that the non-straight young person is forced to hide. Most try to conform to a nature contrary to their make-up, and they desperately go against what for straight kids is normal, adolescent development.

What I'm saying here is that if it is a straight crush on a boy or girl, it is encouraged. If it is a same-sex crush, it is forbidden, judged, and ridiculed. Rather than allow normal feelings to develop, gay kids are forced from an early age to hide their feelings.

Eventually, many gay people couple and marry straight people, and many times this is done without telling the straight partner. Telling young people that their same-sex-attractions will go away, or diminish, or be solved by marrying a straight person is WRONG. It's not TRUE, or HONEST or any other value that is honored by the Bible or by Christ.

That is what I object to! And I keep saying what I say in hope that it will affect some, and some will not be damaged by broken hearts, broken lives, broken families. I will not go off in a corner and be quiet. Why should it be that there is the "gay community" and in opposition, the "church people"? Why does one need to be an outcast from the faith community based on one's natural, God-given sexual orientation? Oh, wait. It doesn't have to be that way!

Why shouldn't and couldn't it be that we begin to model coupled relationships in our society, including in our churches, that show love, commitment, respect, and honor for one another? Why shouldn't and couldn't it be that we allow young persons, no matter of their sexual orientation, to hang out, crush on and date, the ones that they are naturally attracted to? Why shouldn't and couldn't it be that the straight allies speak up, and that they won't be accused of leading others astray for it? Why shouldn't it and couldn't it be that we live HONESTLY, rather than denying the truth about sexual orientation?


I won't stop, and I pray I can find the energy to keep blogging in 2010. I don't always have all the words or the right words to say, but I will make every effort to keep saying the same thing. IF it is redundant, so be it. If it is disliked, same thing. If I get through to some, I'm glad. If I make some upset, I just hope they'll have read enough to make them think about the issues.

Don't let me down, folks. I'm encouraged and "pumped" when I get your messages and e-mails. Thanks for a great year - and for the upcoming one, let's keep talking about the truth!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jemma Thomas - her support of Gareth


Another reader sent me a related link tonight concerning Jemma Thomas. She is the soon-to-be-ex-wife of Gareth Thomas. Gareth Thomas has just come out as gay, and the article here details the support and love that Jemma has shown. I commend her totally, and hope you will read all of the article.

Strikingly positive, Jemma shows immense love and understanding, and I stand with her in this very public time. Here's my favorite quote from the article:
'He will always love me, but he cannot turn himself into a heterosexual. If he could, I would still be married to him. We will always be the best of friends and I couldn't feel prouder of him than I do now.'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1237397/When-Gareth-told-gay-man-I-loved-died.html#ixzz0aOBeDTOP

What a beautiful woman, inside and out. Bless you, Jemma!

(hat tip to Mark! Thanks for the link.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gareth Thomas, gay Welsh rugby player, comes out, and he had a wife, too


A blog-reader, Tim, wrote today to share with me the story/news article about Welsh rugby legend, Gareth Thomas, who just recently has come out publicly as a gay man. Although he had thought he could hide his sexuality, he said this:

"I became a master of disguise and could play the straight man down to a tee, sometimes over-compensating by getting into fights or being overly aggressive because I didn't want the real me to be found out. But when you withdraw into yourself you start to feel lonely, upset, ashamed."


Thomas, according to CNN, was married to his high school sweetheart, but they separated after a few years of marriage. No details were given, but perhaps his being gay entered the picture. I have no idea how much hurt this caused each of them, but Thomas sounds like a decent guy, one who tried unsuccessfully to squelch his true orientation. I wish my arms could reach out to hug them both, and let them know that others care.

Gareth Thomas speaks out now through his fame, and he's doing the brave, but difficult thing. This quote, from www.guardian.co.uk speaks of his family's support:
"I don't know if my life is going to be easier because I'm out but, if it helps someone else, if it makes one young lad pick up the phone to ChildLine, then it will have been worth it. My parents, my family and my friends all love me and accept me for who I am and, even if the public are upset by this, I know the love of those people who mean the most to me will never change."



When I hear of any mixed-orientation couple, I ache. It's not easy when you have to figure out what to do once the reality of the situation is revealed. Others don't "get it," or, if they do, they don't have to live through it. Not only does it hurt each person in the relationship, it lasts such a long time to get over the insecurity and damage to one's confidence.

For the straight spouse, you ask yourself a million questions, like, "Why didn't I know?" and "Was the love real?" I know I went through so many emotions and questions. To see where I am now, I get absolutely surprised at the "ah-ha" moments of clarity that I've come to. Sometimes it seems like life will never be the same (It won't.) or that it won't ever get any better (It WILL).

Not being very familiar with rugby, I can't guage the impact of Mr. Thomas's coming-out. Being a major star, coming out as gay is a big deal no matter what sport it is. Thomas's recent reveal should and will bring attention to him and to his sport, and to his former wife, there will be fall-out. I hope there will be support for her in this time of change. Like I've said before in times like this, my heart goes out to her.

(Support group for straight spouses: http://www.straightspouse.org/home.php)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Warm greetings for Christmas


Winter has come to Indiana! After fairly mild temps for all of November and up until now, the thermometer is in the teens, and with wind factored, it is way, way cold. Brrr...! A friend said to me yesterday that he could NEVER get into Christmas in Florida. Let me tell you, I have tried it in years past, and as long as family is there, it's really, really Christmas, no matter where you are.

Meanwhile, in spite of the cold weather, I've felt my heart warmed with greetings and conversations with supportive new friends. In the past days I have had a boatload to kindnesses shown to me. It shows me that there ARE supportive people in my world, and I am getting to know more of them as time goes by. Sometimes it feels that to be gay-affirming is like swimming upstream, but that is just because I might be in the wrong stream! REALLY, there are changes occurring, and as I'm more open, others are able to speak up. Here are a few of the most recent ones...

A co-worker of mine (and new friend) approached me, and even though she had written to me months ago, her friendliness and support felt so warm and good in person. She later wrote this in an e-mail:
Thank you for taking the time to talk yesterday - the good thing about our situations in some ways is that we know who our friends are...and we have a chance to make new ones.


A pastor from North Carolina wrote, having just found out "the news" that Ray's gay. Having enjoyed Ray's music in past years, he had to catch up with the current situation, and he came to this blog. Being loving and complimentary, he sees what our family has gone through. I appreciate this man's insight and the pastoral comfort he shared.

Another e-mail came from a "straight middle age couple who grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition", who now are involved with, "Holy Spirit, a progressive Episcopal church that reaches the gay & lesbian community," - and they find this very meaningful. He said, "Thank you...for loving God and listening to the nudges of the Holy Spirit, no matter how difficult."

Not only are these messages welcome, but they make me feel good! I so appreciate it that there are readers out there for whom this little blog helps THEM. I continue to be hopeful that change is coming, even one at a time. I know it's true, because others tell me so.

And during this upcoming family time, for Christmas, let's keep hoping for loving change. We all want to be ones who love even the straight ones, don't we? If there's someone in your family who's shown you grace and love, let them know how much it helps you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

re-building broken faith

(hat tip to Peterson)

When I was young, in college, I was totally involved in the Jesus Movement. I was so happy to find other friends who believed TOTALLY in Jesus like I did. I got involved through those friends with a group known either as the Glory Barn or Faith Assembly (of near North Webster, Indiana). (Both titles are sometimes interchanged, but are actually separate groups with the same people in each one. I know that is confusing, but it verifies that I know what I'm talking about.)

What did I believe? Specifically, I want to share what I understood about communication between myself and God.

To start, I believed that God would speak to me, personally. Sometimes it occurred through the Bible. While reading ancient texts, I received personal messages that I accepted for my daily "walk." I also believed that God could speak to me through other people, as they "heard in their spirit" what God was leading - through personal "prophecy," or intuitive leanings. And most personally, I believed that if I prayed, God would lead me. I always knew that God would speak, if I listened, and answer my prayers. And once, I even knew that God told me, "You belong together," and I heard this in a real, audible voice.

Who was God speaking about? Well, I was praying about the love that had grown between me and a very special young man. I didn't want to keep building up my hopes for a future with him, if, in fact, it wasn't God's will that we should marry. And in my simple faith, I heard that voice. I always told others, because it was a great story, that I looked up through the leaves of a tree outside my window, and as the moonlight streamed in, all around me, I heard it. And I knew it was not the voice of either a man or a woman, but a strong, yet gentle, clear, voice from heaven. I knew I had a message of direction.

That was in July of 1974, and Ray and I were married in March of 1975.

For nearly 30 years I never doubted either the love or the direction that our lives had taken. And then Ray told me that he was gay. I've shared so much of that story, but I have not been able to share how much that affected my faith.

How do you deal with it when you realize that a cornerstone of your faith is shattered? I've said before that no word can describe how that felt. Not only was I doubting the love I'd always felt, but my very faith didn't even make sense. I'd heard God speak! I'd been taught that God never changes! I've been faithful to God, and I'd been taught that if you live for God, God honors that!

I went in mental circles trying to reason it out. For months I couldn't concentrate, and I even had trouble praying. Nothing added up any more to make a whole anything. And now, we were no longer going to be together! Didn't I always know that God had led me, led us? Not only was I having to face that it was better for Ray to leave, but the center of how I'd known God to lead me, was now broken. How could I possibly, ever, pray or believe? How could I possibly, ever, love?

How?

Was it possible?

To Believe?

It was in my mind that I should run away. I tried to keep steady in day-to-day life. I had a lot of responsibilities, and I kept putting one thing ahead of me at a time. I was constantly re-organizing my self-concept, my beliefs, my view of how the world worked, and how God was or was not there for me in this troubled time. It took time - and I had help by things other people had written, said, and a very few, a small handful of friends.

And gradually I learned that I still had Ray. He had not changed, but he was finally open and honest with who he was and how God made him to be. In all, our love has not changed, and I thank Ray for that. Even though we divorced, I'd never have made it this far if it was not for him.

And I also couldn't get away from my faith in God. Despite a broken heart, a lost marriage, and the changes in EVERYTHING about my life, I still knew that for some reason, God really had spoken to me all those years ago, when I heard: You belong together. No, it's not the same, and it surely isn't what I expected when I first heard those words, but there's a purpose in what I do now. My faith is changed, and how I understand God's direction. I've been through the worst, and, thankfully, I still believe. There's been no damage just because I have questioned God. God is still leading and I'm re-building my faith.

When I watched this video that I found on Peterson Toscano's blog, I knew I wanted to share it. I've been where this composer wrote from, and from where the character sings...

Friday, November 20, 2009

the Boltz family is no different (well, just a little) - edited version

(This post needed to be removed, since it was posted while I was deluded. My kids were right, and I needed to back out of what I posted.)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

One more note:

This weekend I am attending the Anti-Heterosexism Conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. Sponsored by several activist groups (Soulforce, Truth Wins Out, National Black Justice Coalition, Box Turtle Bulletin, Beyond Ex-gay, and Equality Florida,), I am pleased to be getting together with friends and fellow outspoken individuals who are learning more about how to make a difference in our families, places of work and livelihood, as well as our communities at large. IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, come out to West Palm Beach for this event! We are working to do the following:

• challenge heterosexist attitudes that exist on personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels.
• speak out publicly against the dangers of reparative therapy, ex-gay ministries, and other "conversion" efforts.
• build community to advocate for LGBTQ people and support them in leading successful, happy, and productive lives.

There is still time! Register at the event if necessary! Be there to enjoy the speakers and the community that is working to come closer to to ending heterosexism.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Questions from "Anonymous" named Justin: Scriptural justification, and would I support gays if it wasn't for Ray?

From Justin, I was asked a couple of questions, which I have tried to answer.

1) How do you justify homosexuality in scripture?


Where to start? Your question assumes that one needs to justify being gay. You are asking me, I assume, from a legalistic or fundamentalist viewpoint that assumes that the Christian Bible has answers to all questions. Although I believe that the Bible can help us in all situations, it is not a sex manual nor a science book. When we watch programs on the Discovery Channel, we learn things that have been discovered, among other things, about plants, animals, health, and humans. Watching the History Channel gives us perspectives that range from archaeology to recent history - and neither of these resources give answers to all the information available to us, and the vast knowledge available continues to grow.

The FACT is that somewhat less than 10% of the population identifies themselves as gay/bisexual/transgender. There is no need or obligation to justify this existence. You don’t have to justify other variations in human performance, like being a gifted gymnast or athlete. In the same way, there appear to be creative and artistic abilities shown among gay people, and the public gets the benefit of this. We don’t reject the art because of someone’s sexual orientation, neither do we justify the quality of art in any way because of whether or not someone is gay or straight.

On the other hand, we have variations that we consider handicaps, illnesses, and disease. While I in no way liken these to being gay, the variations in our society show value in the diversity of the human condition. In the same way, I don’t feel the need to justify the reality that some giftedness is borne out of tragedy, as when a special needs child shows affection and love in ways that are inexplicable and valued. While there may be spiritual principles evident in those values, it is not specifically a “scriptural” justification of the condition.

In the current times it isn’t necessary to justify one’s near- or far-sightedness, or whether one writes with the right or left hand. In the Bible, lefties were forbidden. As recently as when I was a child, teachers tried to eliminate left-handedness in other kids who preferred to write with their left hand. Right-handedness was insisted upon! Variation was discouraged and sometimes punished. In the same regard, whether someone is gay or straight, and whether they are self-accepting or not, they remain with the orientation that they are born with. Yes, there are bisexuals, too, and some people are more fluid in their sexual preferences. But with the acceptance of many “givens” that have no relationship to sin, morality, or one’s goodness or badness, we have learned to accept difference in the make-up of individuals. This perspective helped me to understand part of the truth about what it means to have something a “given” about oneself, that you don’t choose, and that doesn’t really change.

With that tangent being expressed, I will go back to your original question. What about the Bible? What verses do I use to “justify” homosexuality. Most of all, I use this one:
"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other." John 13:34-35 from "The Message" version of The Bible.
I see that verse as one of the most important reasons to love ALL people - to at least TRY to follow the commands of Christ.

#1 - I usually refer those who are looking for Biblical answers to the booklet published by Soulforce, written by Mel White: http://www.soulforce.org/article/homosexuality-bible

I often say that I am not a theologian, and that I don’t want debate. I do accept people who in this day and age say, “I’m gay. I didn’t choose to be a minority. I’ve tried and done everything there is to be straight, but I’m still gay.” And from the love I’ve known through my former husband as well as friends that I’ve met, I believe them. How tragic is it to try throughout one’s life to be someone you’re not destined to be? And how tragic is it that our society tries to inflict the heterosexist majority on those for whom this is impossible?

#2 - I believe firmly that in Bible times there have been romantically-linked couples whose stories are recorded. These people are right before our eyes, but our culture has refused to recognize or give credence to their sexual orientations. These stories are shown in 1 Samuel 18, telling that Jonathan and David were more than the “close friends,” that we were taught in Sunday School. Whether you choose to accept this is up to you, but I see evidence of this love “greater than love for women” as romantic and committed. An MCC minister has written a book referencing these relationships in the following: The Children are Free, by Jeff Miner.

If you wish to read further, I recommend his book.

Now for your 2nd question: Would you have ever supported homosexuals if Ray had never came out?

I wrote to a facebook friend of a friend who asked me the same question, and I’ll copy it here: http://myheartgoesout-carol.blogspot.com/2009/05/letter-to.html

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Soulforce Regrets to Announce the Resignation of its Executive Director

The following e-mail announcement was made yesterday, November 10, 2009. I will miss Jeff Lutes as the executive director of Soulforce, and welcome the interim (and acting executive director) successor. That person is Bill Carpenter, who has a long history with Soulforce and equal rights activism among Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender/Queer/Questioning folk.

I want to thank Jeff publicly for being an example of love, faith, and family, as he has worked to share with the religious people the truth about being gay and Christian. His leadership and generous live is obvious, and I commend him for all that he's done.

Many heartfelt thanks to Jeff for his service to Soulforce.



Soulforce Regrets to Announce the Resignation of Our Executive Director

Brief Video of Jeff Lutes


A Message from Soulforce Co-Founder Mel White:

Soulforce regrets to announce the resignation of our Executive Director, Jeff Lutes, after nearly four years of dedicated service. Jeff has chosen at this time to return to his family counseling practice in Austin, Texas, and to spend more quality time with his husband, Gary Stein, and their three young children, Niko, Trei, and Jole'. You may stay in touch with Jeff at www.jefflutespsychotherapy.com.

The Soulforce board of directors has appointed Bill Carpenter, who has served as Director of National Actions for many years, as Interim Executive Director. Bill will work with Soulforce staff to continue operations of the organization, including the upcoming Equality Ride in early 2010. Bill has a long history of service to Soulforce, since our very first action in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1999, and I'm grateful to him for taking this role at an important time in Soulforce history. I believe he is uniquely qualified to serve as Interim Executive Director while we undertake a nationwide search for the next Executive Director of Soulforce.

In January 2006, Jeff succeeded me as Executive Director of Soulforce. We are grateful for all he has accomplished in his time as Soulforce Executive Director. Here are a few examples:

* Organized nonviolent direct actions in 2005 and 2006 outside the world headquarters of Focus on the Family. Those protests clearly demonstrated the tragic consequences of James Dobson and his antigay rhetoric and are featured in the films For The Bible Tells Me So and SoleJourney, both distributed by First Run Features.
* Originated the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in 2007 which exposed the misinformation campaign of Exodus International and spoke clearly to the damage being done by its ex-gay ministries across the country. The conference brought 200 survivors of ex-gay ministries together from all around the world for healing and empowerment. This much needed event received coverage on NPR and media outlets across the country, including CNN's Paula Zahn.
* Created The American Family Outing in 2008 which took dozens of LGBT couples and their children to dialogue with mega-church leaders Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Bill Hybels, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bishop Harry Jackson, and Bishop Eddie Long.
* Originated Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights which created rallies and vigils in 2007 and 2008 by heterosexual allies in 38 cities in 28 different states across the country.
* Wrote the popular Soulforce booklets What the Science Says - And Doesn't Say - About Homosexuality, and A False Focus on My Family.
* Produced Dear Dr. Dobson: An Open Letter Video , the DVD that challenges the antigay rhetoric of James Dobson and warns of its tragic consequences in the lives of LGBT people, their friends and families.
* Managed Soulforce during the birth of our young adults program, Soulforce Q, and the first three Equality Rides.
* Strengthened the reputation of Soulforce through countless print, radio and television interviews and by speaking at dozens of churches, universities and rallies around the country.

Jeff Lutes has led Soulforce through challenging times and we are grateful. Jeff will continue to write and speak powerfully about the role of relentless nonviolent resistance in our struggle against religion-based oppression. Again, we thank Jeff for his role in strengthening Soulforce and for modeling in his own life what it means to be a man of faith committed to doing justice on behalf of all those who suffer religion-based oppression.

- Mel White, Soulforce Co-Founder
November, 2009


Brief Video of Jeff Lutes

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a welcome, positive change of heart from an old friend

I have been slow to post lately, but even some of my family think I'm way to pre-occupied with "other things." I just need to work really hard to catch up with e-mails and do a blog entry so that you all don't forget me!

Yesterday I got a very welcome facebook message, from a friend I used to attend church with. She and I ended up talking on the phone, and she gave me permission to share her e-mail. Not only was she involved in a cultish church that I also attended (35 years ago), but she also unknowingly married a gay man (and she is straight). Fortunately she is getting the support she needs these days, and her message really was a lift to me when I got it. I will use it here:

Hi Carol,

I am not sure if you remember me. I use to go to GFT. I am [someone I know's] oldest daughter. I got caught up in the craziness of Ferris Miller's group and have been putting my life back together. It has been an interesting and humbling journey. My world view has radically changed on almost ever subject. I am currently enrolled in college with the long term goal to go into the mental health field specializing in trauma. I have have been networking with the International Cultic Studies Association and started working on a book about my own journey into a biblical base cult and recovery called, Stepping through the looking glass; a survivors guide to understanding cults, domestic violence and other adverse environments. My priest lent me a book that helped me totally change my view on the issues individuals who are gay face.( When I go to church, which is rare I go to an Episcopalian church. I like the fact everyone is welcome and people can be openly who they are.) I would like to volunteer some time to an organization that is an advocacy or support to those facing the challenges society forces them to deal with when a person is gay. I do not have the idea of love the sinner not the sin. I simply have the idea of love...love every one. My former husband is gay but is a very homophobic about his orientation. His own struggles was a component of the abuse I faced. I am heart broken [former husband's name] could never be honest about his own struggle in a judgment free environment. Miller's solutions only made everything worse. Right now I am recovering from abuse issues from domestic violence so volunteering in that area is too close to home. However, I do want to do something for someone else. I read the article of Ray's coming out. It was a beautiful testament to your love and compassion. After years of being in Ferris's group I did not think there were people who actually loved and cared they way you and your family does. The article did a great deal towards restoring something in my own life. Thank you for your courage in allowing a very personal story to be told so publicly. I have seen the hate that so many in the church can be a part of and witnessed first hands the abuse of religion. I am just one person putting my life together who would like to extent any kind of help to a cause that is helping others live a meaningful exsistance. If you could make any recommendations I would appreciate it . I heard that you are involved in some organizations and was hoping you could make some suggestions.Thank you for taking a moment to read my email. I look foreword to hearing back from you. You, Ray and your family are in my thoughts often. I respect and admire all of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


This is the kind of change that really IS possible! Thanks for sharing :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some say that Christians don't really hate gay people. What do you think?

I don't make it up. They really are mean. Here's a sample from earlier this week. Just saying...


From: James *******
Email: r***********@gmail.com

Comments: Ray,

You should get a gun and shot yourself in the head. Its sick people like you who really need to read the word of God. You should also give back the Dove Awards because you dont deserve the accolades of success.



____________________________________________________________________________________
From: IHMS
Email: ************@hotmail.com

Comments: I will be praying for you, but until you come to the knowledge of the truth, I will as a matter of principle get rid of all your music.

Christian Author

___________________________________________________________________________________


From: John ********
Email: **************@yahoo.com

Comments: I am so ashamed of you, not as an artist, because most artists are not good representatvies of Jesus Christ anyways, but as a well known Christian. You cannot look at homosexuality in light of the Bible and say that it is not sin. In Romans and Corinthians, it is mentioned as sin, and is listed as an abomination worth destroying cities in the Old Testament.
I understand if you have a problem, but I believe that you know the difference. Just because a person is addicted to drugs, doesn\'t mean that it is ok. If you\'re addicted to homosexuality, then you need spiritual help. You have done more to destroy Moral values in Christianity than any other person that I have ever heard or seen. For someone to sing the great songs that you sung in the 80\'s and 90\'s, and now to be an open homosexual is a slap in the face to the one that died for you. I am praying that you will repent, and may God have mercy on you.



____________________________________________________________________________________
From: K M
Email: **************@aol.com


Comments: RAY,
YOU can rationalize all you want about coming out. But, in the end it affect\'s your wife, your children, your mother , your father. Let me know how your family is in 10 years by the decision you made today. Love in Christ, KM

Sunday, September 13, 2009

One year since Ray came out

Yesterday I realized it had been one year to the day since Ray came out publicly. What a year it's been. First off, there was one after another supportive e-mails to the website. That was within the first few hours. Then the FLOOD of, "I can't believe it...", "I'm so disappointed...", and, "How could Ray have chosen the gay lifestyle...?". I began to make some folders for the different responses. These folders were 1) Supportive, 2) Non-supportive, 3) Oddly supportive. Sub-folders under the non-supportive ones were a) Stupid, and b) Downright mean. I have 1000s of each type, and I keep getting them all the time.

But what are the real, personal changes that have occurred since LAST Sept. 12?

For one, I could finally walk in the open! I was no longer closeted! I always had felt I did nothing to be ashamed of, and I could now hold my head high and not worry about what people knew or didn't know. If I wanted to, I could be open about my life and my family (including Ray, if it was pertinent).

Two, I started being open online. I started this blog. And through the blog, I began to make contacts with other wives, ex-wives, husbands and ex-husbands, who knew FIRST-HAND what it was like to have a GLBT spouse. I often hear from both sides, and I sympathize with them all. Many married in hope that they would be "healed" or "fixed" from gay feelings, along with real love for their spouses, only to realize sooner or later that they were still gay. Lives, entwined with family obligations, became tangled and hurt. It's amazing how these online connections not only help to know, "I'm not alone," for us all, but how widespread mixed-orientation marriages really are.

Thirdly, I am now an outspoken advocate for gay rights. I don't have to be a silent partner in the work to end religious discrimination against GLBTQs. Outside of the religious network of churches, there really is a growing acceptance of gay people, and so work within our churches is essential. I want to be able to continue speaking up on behalf of ALL gay folk, and I do not have anything to apologize for.

When I make new friends these days, they know within a short while of knowing me, that I'm supportive and affirming of ALL gay people. If they don't agree or can't see it like I do, then they have to decide if I'm still worth their friendship. I'm making new friends these days, and if they aren't at the very least WELCOMING of GLBTs, then they probably won't be in my close circle of friends. My life can't be closed off any more, and I won't be silent.

Also, my kids now have the freedom to mention their dad, and they do, without shame. They can openly be proud of their dad and all he's done and who he is: Their DAD! They don't have to make excuses, and can speak up as being the close family that they are. No secrets keep them hemming and hawing about anything. They love and respect their dad, and are not restricted by trying to cover up any part of their lives.

All together, I think it is generally known how I feel. 'Nuff sed.

Today I heard from another straight wife, who found out earlier this year that her husband has been secretly sexually active with other men for the past 4 years. My heart aches for her and what she's enduring. To make it all worse, she was court-ordered to keep silent. That means she can't talk with her grown sons, her divorce-care group, or her friends. I don't even know if that is legal! How awful to have to bear this with a "gag order" imposed that puts her into the dark, silent closet. What a wrong thing, even if it's legal. There's healing in honesty, and this woman needs to be able to openly say what she needs to say, in order to begin her healing. She hopes to someday be openly affirming as well. Kudos to her!

Openness and honesty is freeing, and it's life-changing when we have information that makes such a difference. For me, being out of the closet is much better. My life is worth sharing, ALL of it. I'm who I am. Ray's who he is. My kids have a gay dad - that's that!

It's been a big year for the Boltz family! Yeah for being OUT!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gay Straight Alliance forming in small town


In many midwestern towns, there is often no accepting, much less affirming group for GLBT-Q kids to socialize and feel that they belong. Gay Straight Alliance is just such a group. In my neighboring county (Jay Co.) several of my friends have become visibly supportive of a group of students who want to start a GSA of their own. I'm SO enthused and thrilled that these young people are trying to affect others and open the hearts and minds of their fellow students.

Unfortunately, it's causing a rumble throughout the community, and my friends are being vilified for their efforts. My friends, Tim and Cindy Morris, are wonderful folks, as well as their daughter, Emily. This family is basically my first and only local, long-time friends, and support, and for over two years have been enduring rejection from THEIR church (The Rock) and community. (Fortunately they found another welcoming church, in which they are very pleased and involved.)

Tim has a blog, and he's on facebook. He gets "hate mail," and he keeps pushing forward in spite of it. It's not been their history to be the "bad guys" in the neighborhood, and this lack of understanding, as well as the messages can be wearing.

If you will, can you read Tim's blog, and maybe drop him a note of encouragement? These friends are the best, and I know many of my readers would like to send out good vibes Tim and Cindy's way. Thanks!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ally and Advocate for Gay rights: Changing the World

I want to address exactly why I am involved with gay rights, and specifically with Soulforce. I've been questioned directly through e-mails, criticized in some blogs, and even wondered at by my brother-in-law. He just doesn't understand how I can be supportive of gay rights, when "they" have such "sinful ways," as well as the hurt I have been through. Why wouldn't I be against gay rights? I want to give some answers.

First of all, I do NOT hold to the idea that being gay is a sin. It is a sexual orientation, a preference for emotional and physical intimacy. Being gay is not a choice, and like everyone, we should all be thankful for our gifts and God-given origins.

There is so much discrimination against GLBTQs, and most of it is based on religion. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus showed us how to love others as we love ourselves, and I think that should include loving those who have been rejected by our churches. He said, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one toward another." I believe in practicing that, and I DO have to practice over and over, because I sometimes (often) fail. Still it is my goal to show and live in the spirit of love.

Since I believe in loving others, it is only natural that I stand up with those who are also standing, and some might not even be able to stand. I'm standing for them until they can stand up too.

And then there is the very personal side...Having been married for over 30 years to Ray, I had a very loving and happy life. Some have even called it a "fairy tale," but it surely was a rags-to-riches story of Horatio Alger proportions. Ray wrote songs that were loved by others, yet the listeners never knew the heart of the writer. I loved that man, and he loved me as well as a gay man could. Ray was a good father, and he loved his kids. I never felt un-loved and I never was disrespected.

When Ray came out, it wasn't with a plan. He had not lived a double life, and the depression he was experiencing was nearly suicidal. As we talked in the days, weeks, and months following, the path did not show itself easily. I prayed for answers, but I knew Ray had prayed his entire life for a solution. It had not come, and as much as I prayed for "just THIS one" to be supernaturally changed from gay to straight, I realized that there was no good solution to the problem: Ray is gay, and I'm not. This I also knew: We had had a good life, and we loved each other.

Questions that I asked of God were rampant in those early times. Prayers were continual. Nightmares were awful. Often my thoughts swirled through my head wondering the purpose of it all - How could God, who knew Ray through and through, and knew ME through and through, have put us together for this to be the way we ended?

Finally, by connecting with blogs, books, and internet sites, I started to reach out to others who understood. I found Peterson, Christine Bakke, and I also found Soulforce. I read the "Letters to Dr. Dobson," and the story told by Mary Lou Wallner. I began to understand that gay folk are just the same as straights, and that the cause of gay rights was active and getting louder. My new friends were supportive, loving and a help to me! I wanted to get involved so that my voice could be heard, and my body would stand on the front lines for Equality for all!

In addition to realizing that there were untruths that had been told me in the church about gay people, I saw the exclusion and rejection that was prevalent in every church I'd ever gone to. I understood what it had been like for someone like Ray to be told they were un-saveable, unacceptable to God, and doomed for life as well as in death. What hope could they have? I changed, and I wanted to make changes. I wanted to be a voice to correct the lies that are told every day in fundamentalist churches.

These days, it is not for my rights that I participate with Soulforce. It is for the RIGHT thing to do! There are so many people, and I hear from them, who are in jobs that they could loose because it's still legal (in many states) to fire people who are openly gay/lesbian. Equal Rights don't exist for GLBTQs for marriage, adoption, or to protect them from hate crimes. There are mixed-orientation marriages taking place, where heartache is either evident or looming in the future. There are gay people who are in Christian churches (and other religious groups) being told that they can pray the gay away if they marry a good spouse. Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Trans/Queer and Questioning people are feeling self-hate and church rejection because of the untruths that are spread by way of the churches that they love. Suicides are happening because GLBTQs feel that they have no hope!

To END ALL THESE THINGS, I am an ally for change! To END ALL THESE THINGS, I am standing for the truth!

I've been questioned this way: Aren't you too defensive of Ray? If it hadn't been for Ray, would you have been standing up on behalf of gay rights? My answer is, "No. If it hadn't happened to someone I love, I would never have understood." (read here, where I address that question more thoroughly.)

So it is with a LOT of personal reasons I put myself in the middle of Equality Rights. I entered this without a plan myself, but I found myself having to grow and learn. These days I have one. I'm doing all I can to support those affected by the issues of GLBTQs as well as the families connected to them. I hope to be a voice of reason as well as a voice of love. I know I've had to change, and I hope I can change the world.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I ran into...

Usually when I go to town, I run into people I know. After all, I've lived in the same town for nearly all of my 56 years, and I know a LOT of people. One of the drawbacks to sticking around here is that they know ME - and I used to be someone that they wanted to be friends with. Now I always have that feeling that someone might be pointing and talking right after I pass them - I don't KNOW that, but it feels like it. I feel that way at church, at the drug store, at Wal-Mart, at the car dealership where I take my car for service. I know it's paranoid, but I've experienced it, lived it, and I'm not over-playing what really goes on.

Yesterday as I left the grocery store (the one we call Ghetto Marsh because it's not the newest or most modern) I happened to run into my kids' first grade teacher. (The school was small and there was only one section per grade, so she knew all four of my kids.) Mrs. D's retired now, but she wanted to know all about the kids, and I got to proudly run down all their accomplishments. She glowed and gushed appropriately, and introduced me to her grandson. I told him I have applied to sub at his high school, and maybe I'll see him again. His two faux-diamond earrings should stand out for me to recognize him again :-)

The point of this meeting was when Mrs. D said, "You've done a good job with all your kids. All working, grandkids, that all sounds great, Carol." And then she said something like, "...and you all alone in that big house..." and she alluded to my being divorced.

What has she heard? What does she think? Does she know Ray's gay?

I know she didn't say it mean, and I didn't take it that way. I added what I say frequently, which is this: "I'm not angry with Ray. He was a good husband, and good father, and he never did anything to purposely hurt me."

And I walked away from Mrs. D. with a huge smile on my face and I felt really, really good. My kids are wonderful. Our family is still close. I can hold my head up and face anyone. Things continue to improve and I'm doing pretty darn good!

Spam filter - working?

I've discovered that my Spam filter is working overtime, with a lot of comments and e-mails getting sent to "junk." Sorry if you haven't seen your comment, or I seem especially slow at putting them up. I think I've corrected the error, and posted everything that I intended to.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gay husband? No, thank you.

I read with interest this entry on Box Turtle Bulletin: The Denial of Alan Chambers. Alan Chambers is the executive director of Exodus International, and he has a new book, "Leaving Homosexuality." Although I have not read his book, and I don't know Mr. Chambers, I feel it is in the interest of straight wives to draw attention to the following "confession," here:

When I was first starting out in ministry and sharing my testimony, I often heard the comment from gay individuals and activists, “You’re just in denial, Alan.” That comment always incensed me because it seemed to negate my message and intelligence. However, as I began to pray about it, I realized that we, as Christians, are indeed called to a life of denial, and as such I should not despise something the Lord commands of me nor should I get angry when someone calls me on it. Those who reject the concept of self-denial haven’t reaped the joys that result from it.

…Every day for more than a decade, I have made denial, as Jesus taught in this verse, the major focus of my morning prayer time. I am keenly aware that I am prone to blowing it in this area of my life and am, therefore, in desperate need of help. … And you know what? I love my life of denial.


Now, please, does this sound like the kind of husband any straight woman would want to keep? No, thank you.

As much as one might love their gay spouse, it does nothing to know that your husband is in his own world of self-denial just to make love to you! Even the level of emotional intimacy will be shallow, no matter how much effort is put forth. It just isn't fair to the straight spouse OR the gay person. To live with the idea that one is in continual, daily, self-denial might be martyrdom to some, but it is not honest, loving, or freeing, nor is it anything but desperation to try to be something and someone that you're not.

For straight spouses, for any pre-married gals who are considering marrying a gay man, I am telling you: DON'T! Run away!

If you are a "struggling" gay or lesbian, and you think that marrying your best friend will make you straight, do the right thing and call it off. Show love that is real, and don't cause the heartbreak of a marriage, the heartbreak of someone who unknowingly is walking into something they can't change or fix.

To Alan Chambers: Please change your slogan of "Change is possible." Please don't continue to offer this false hope. YOU are damaging lives.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Another straight ally on board

When I wrote a couple days ago, I was asking how best to share when one is gay-affirming. TODAY I read of Betty Greene Salwak, right in my home state of Indiana, and I was so encouraged, like any day when I find someone like her. She's very out as an ally to GLBT folk, and shows that she is actively campaigning for justice and acceptance in her church and community. I read Betty's blog entry on http://www.bilerico.com/, where she shares her journey as a gay-affirming Christian.

Knowing that there are others in my own community (Indiana) that are supportive makes me know that change is coming. I call on everyone who is gay-affirming to show themselves and support the diversity that God creates.

Thanks, Betty Greene Salwak!

Please take the time to read Betty's entry on Bilerico, here :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

When to share, when to be quiet.

When is the right time to come out? I don't know the answer for GLBTs, but for an ally, I need to use discretion when it comes to when to speak up. Although there can be times when I want to shout in the direction of those who don't understand, there is also time to soft-pedal my thoughts.

One of my goals is to influence others. I want to open the minds and hearts of fundamentalist Christians, as well as other people, to accept gay people as equals. I figure if I have been one to change my viewpoint, having been unknowingly married to a gay man who came out, perhaps others will recognize this is something worth a new evaluation. Because the fundamentalists so frequently dismiss anyone who doesn't accept their theological views, I find it important to get along, so far as I can. Seems that there is always someone who wants to debate online, or sometimes you get stand-offishness in a group, but I have to decide when and what to say.

This past Sunday I was asked by a very sweet couple from church, to go out to eat. Because I rarely get invited, I thought, why not? Conversation was polite, and these folks are genuinely concerned for both me and my family. The Mr. is an influential person in the congregation, and because I've always liked their extended family, I decided to not be confrontational. I think that was a good choice - this time. I hope for future listening and sharing with people like this.

Other times I speak up immediately, especially when I have the time to discuss issues and there is time on both parts to listen. Not just hear the words, but listen. At a 4th of July event last weekend, I was pleased to talk with another straight spouse. He had not read much on the "other side," and we could identify with each other's situation even though he comes from a fundamentalist church, and there were others nearby that probably knew that the two of us had common ground to discuss. (Both our situations are somewhat "out.") I openly expressed that I had come to know that being gay is not a choice, and that I supported GLBTs. I know he was surprised, and I recommended several resources that I thought would be interesting and/or helpful.

When there is debate going on, I can merely share my own story, my own views. I'm not good at debating theology, although I know many who are, and I cheer them on. I usually refer these opponents to gay rights to books already written, and ask them to listen to gay people's stories. That is what helped me, and it's my hope that others will tell their stories openly, when they know the time is right, and that they will be understood. Rarely do we change by making someone say, "Uncle," and, like my former mom-in-law says, "you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."

What are effective means that others have had, in order to share and get across your viewpoints? Can you post them? I'd love to know better ways to influence others and help the cause.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Connecting with Straight Spouse Network, Soulforce BoD, Beyond Ex-gay

It's been nearly four and a half years since my then-husband came out to me and our four kids. The shock and awe I felt was beyond words, but I did a couple things right away. One of them was to read the book, "Stranger at the Gate," and I googled the name of the author, Mel White. In my searches I found Straight Spouse Network,and I read the book by Amity Pierce Buxton, "The Other Side of the Closet." I found the blog of Peterson Toscano, and I began to glimpse something other than what I'd been taught in church: gay and Christian were not impossible! Peterson teamed with Christine Bakke to start the online support called BEYOND EX-GAY.

All these resources
were critical in my finding my way out of the incorrect view that being gay was a choice. I'm still not sure which ones had the most influence, but I appreciate and value each one.

Recently I was asked to serve on the Board of Directors of Soulforce, and I gladly accepted. This organization was co-founded by Mel White and Gary Nixon. The mission of Soulforce is to work through nonviolent direct action to bring about the end of religious and political oppression of GLBTQ people. I'm proud of the work they are doing, and I'm very pleased to come alongside so many committed people to bring about important change.

While I was in Austin recently, for my first meeting with the Board, I got an e-mail from Janet at Straight Spouse Network, informing me that I'd been added on their blogroll. Their blog was launched about the same time as I started this one, and it's really fantastic. Ms. Buxton (Amity) has studied and influenced so many who find themselves in mixed-orientation marriages, and she's tirelessly (well, she probably does get tired, but she keeps going!) works to bring attention to these straight spouses. I'm honored that Janet added my blog to their list.

If you are a straight spouse of a gay or lesbian person, I urge you to try to get informed. There are helps out there, and I am so happy to support both Straight Spouse Network, Soulforce, and Beyond Ex-gay. Check them out.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

copying Peterson

It is postings like this one that make me love Peterson Toscano. His writing has touched me and changed me, and now I hear the same questions from others who read this blog (mine).

Please read and share with others this wisdom from Peterson:

Recently at Beyond Ex-Gay we received the following e-mail:

Although I have been out for many years and have had a relationship for 13 years, I have always had this inner guilt due to my religious beliefs and what the bible says. All this time I thought I had to leave by faith behind and deny with much anger God - and that hurts just as much too. I know longer want to do that - I guess you could say I am searching for answers. I am glad you have had this information on the Internet because, I have recently renewed my faith and have thoughts about going through one of these “healing” programs to be right with God – although inside I believe I am the way God made me.

I am confused still, and so torn.

Could someone help me find the answers I am looking for so I don’t feel the pain and guilt?

I post my response below:

Reading what you write about the confusion and the pain you have felt reminds me of my own struggle now 10 years ago when I first acknowledged that I was gay and that I could not change that (even though I tried mightily for 17 years). People told me over and over, “You can’t be gay & Christian!” So when I first came out, I assumed I could not be Christian any longer.

For a time I aspired to be atheist. Turns out I was a rubbish atheist, always praying and thinking about God. That led me to have a heart to heart with God. So many toxic thoughts filled my mind, much fear, guilt and dread that I was doing something so horrible in accepting that I was gay. This had nothing to do with sex or a relationship, but simply the act of accepting my orientation.

That fear can so cloud the mind. It was difficult to discern if it was really the Holy Spirit convicting me or if I was getting battered by many years of sermons and teachings pointing me in a particular direction. Then I remembered, “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.” God doesn’t lead by fear. Fear led me astray. Fear led me to go to war with my own body and mind. Fear caused me to go down a path that nearly destroyed my faith as I begged and badgered God to fix me, heal me, change me, contain me. I spent years coveting my straight neighbor’s life.
I didn’t trust lots of people at this time–gay or straight. I figured everyone had their own agendas and I needed to find answers for myself–just me and God. Over the years I did eventually find some books that help–Peter Gomes, The Good Book and Christian de la Huerta’s Coming out Spiritually. More so I benefited from reading history, particularly the history of the Bible and how it was used and misused through the years. I learned about the early church from Elaine Pagels. I also read the poetry of Walt Whitman, a revelation both spiritually and physically.

I also began to meet people, sincere Christians who also happen to be gay or lesbian. I got to know them and see their lives and recognize God in them, the fruit of the Spirit, and have fellowship.

In the end I discovered that I can be a person passionately in love with Jesus, serving God and still have a gay orientation. I can be authentic about myself, even if much of the church seems to disagree. In the process I rediscovered the scriptures for myself, found myself in them and a deeper faith.

It is not easy. Many trials, many doubts and the journey has required a certain fearlessness in the face of LOUD opposition, particularly rattling in my head from years of hearing it in the church. But when I get to the heart, when I get to the Spirit, when I sit still in the presence of God, I have peace and clarity. The ruts in my head that led me to places that continually condemned me and harassed me have leveled out.

My mind grows more and more liberated each day as I practice Romans 12:1,2–No longer conform to the patterns of this world (Patterns that say one must be gender-normative, heterosexual, and if you are not there must be something wrong with you and you will encounter troubles. Patterns that say that masculinity is more valuable than femininity. Patterns that insist that one must bow and scrape to the teachings of men instead of the leadings of God), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you can better understand God’s will for you life.

Steve Biko once say,

The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

A liberated mind brings peace, clarity and action.




I can't say it better.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Questions for a young friend

I wrote this to a young friend today:

Hi there, ________,

You probably only have a vague memory of me, but I'm sure you know who I am. I'm still the same person who taught your brother in Sunday School, and our family was close with your Uncle (but we haven't heard from him since Ray came out).

I read your comments on a fb friend's note. She saw the video, "What was I supposed to be?", on YouTube, and she saw someone's comment: "If the fetus you save grows up to be gay, will you still fight for it's rights?"

You said:
u can defend gays all u want and i dont mean to be a complete douche i am not anti-gay if they want to do that thats their problem but the bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin and they need to take that up with God .


and then...

i am not judging anybody just reinstating what the bible has already said u want to believe that being a homosexual isnt a sin ur welcome to thats God giving us our free choice in what we want to believe but just saying the bible is complete truth and it says that Being gay is a sin so whatever i am not having this argument its a waste of my time trying to explain my reasoning

I wanted to comment, but don't want to come across as critical of YOU, so I decided to write you a personal letter/message

My friend, I hope you realize that you are hurting people with your assumptions that they are choosing to be gay. Years ago a friend of mine from church revealed that she was lesbian, and everyone I knew talked badly of her and basically discontinued contact with her. No one continued to ask her to participate in fellowship, get-togethers, in graduation celebrations, baby showers, or weddings.

Well, that didn't make sense to me. Even though I didn't understand WHY she would "come out" I knew, somehow, that she had not chosen something that would cut herself off from ALL the people she knew. She would not DECIDE to be the subject of all the gossip at the grocery store, all the hurtful comments mentioned alongside "prayer requests," or all the negative feelings put out by our little Christian church. That just didn't make sense.

So I decided to keep contact with my friend. I always accepted invitations from her, and I made sure that when there was an event at my house, I still sent her an invitation. I wanted her there! I wanted her to know that she was included, that she was important to me. (After all, we started Junior Church together, back when our girls were only 2-years-old!) Almost always we turned up at each other's events. And I wrote her a letter saying, "... although I don't understand, you are my friend, and I will always love you."

Right now, among your friends, it seems that there is a huge debate going on. Lines are being drawn, and people are saying mean things to one another, and many are lining up sides, "according to the Bible." I want to ask some questions, and I hope you will consider the answers in the longer term than just this week or this summer.

Who was Jesus talking to when he said, "by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love toward one another"?

Do you think it is more important to do what Jesus says, or to follow your beliefs, when he prays, "that you may all be one."?

In five or ten years, do you want to be remembered as someone who tried to understand people who are sharing something you don't understand, or someone who says, "I know the answers and you don't."?

Can you imagine what it feels like to be told: "You homosexuals are wrong and sinful, and there is no salvation for who you ARE."?

Do you really think that if someone is gay, that marrying a straight person will solve ANYTHING? Do you think that it is fair for that straight person to enter marriage without realizing that someone's same-sex attractions will NEVER go away? If your brother, or sister, or daughter or son, was preparing to marry someone who had "graduated" from "reparative therapy," would you trust that this person was now completely, genuinely heterosexual?

...and from a personal note...Why do you think that people like me have changed to realize that gays/lesbians are loved and accepted by God, and that they don't need to try to change something inherent in their make-up?


One more thing...I want to share with you a video that is available for rent at most stores. The title is, "For the Bible Tells Me So," and it offers a great place to evaluate what many fundamentalists think, and what is actually true about gay Christians.

You are welcome to write to me, and I'll do the best I can to share with you what I have learned, or you can read some entries on my blog. Maybe you will get a glimpse into real change of heart. I can hope it will make you insightful into why your friend brought up the questions that she did - and that you will see why we think it is so important.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Update from Texas

I'm in New Braunfels, Texas, this week, where there is a heat wave with temperatures in, as they say on the radio, "triple digits." Then they say, "at least there's a breeze." So you take the bad with the good, right? But gosh, it is HOT! This whole town is built on recreation in and around Schlitterbahn Water Park, and the two rivers, the Comal and the Guadalupe, where folks come to cool in the spring-fed water, float along in tubes, and generally escape HEAT.

My dear sister, Donna, lives here, and she's been a great support to me since my husband came out to me. Being over 1000 miles apart, it's great when I get to see her and spend some time, other than to have a wedding to throw, a new baby to take care of, or other busy family event that takes our time. This trip, I've introduced her to several friends from Soulforce, we attended Austin Metropolitan Community Church on Sunday, and made a trip to the Alamo. I also got to spend time with my niece and her family, take a dip in the neighborhood pool, and have lunch today with my nephew in Houston. It's an enjoyable time - even though outside it's terribly uncomfortable outside.

Now to the reason that I am down here in June, in Texas. Just down the road in Austin, is the main office of Soulforce, and I have accepted an appointment to serve on the Board of Directors. We had two days of meetings last weekend as I joined the other members, Jeff Lutes, Chuck Phelan, Bill Carpenter, Mel White, Gary Nixon, Karen Ball, Julie Nemecek, Enzi Tanner, Phil Reitan, and Paul Egertson. I hope I'm up to the task, and that I can offer meaningful support to this organization that I support and believe in so much.

Update: Here's my bio on the Soulforce site! http://www.soulforce.org/article/1542

Monday, June 15, 2009

Proud in an allied way

Since this month is full of Pride events, I'm making it clear for all the record: I'm a proud ally of my gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender friends! It's not that I understand everything, and for sure I don't know what it's like to be discriminated against, but I DO know that God made us all, we are all loved by God, and all of us deserve the same rights!

So I ask myself: How do I make a difference? How do I express the respect and PRIDE I have in these gay friends?

To begin with, I don't hate my ex-husband, who came out about 4 1/2 years ago to me and our immediate family. Later, in Sept., 2008, he revealed this to the greater public through an interview in the Washington Blade.

Next, I make supportive comments on blogs. These are connected to my name, and I'm not anonymous any more. I'm free to support the people and ideas I believe in.

I share stories and blogs of interest on social networking sites like facebook and twitter. This recently led to a "friend" who "unfriended" me. I was kind of surprised since she's a local person from the church I used to attend. Hmmm...why was I surprised?

In conversations I speak up for the rights of gays. I won't tolerate jokes that ridicule what it's like to be gay. This is both easy and it's hard, especially when you have bozos who don't listen to reason or are insensitive. I don't mind a bit to speak up, but I'd like to know the IMMEDIATE comeback in every situation, in order to say what I think and believe.

This is a small thing, but I put a little rainbow-colored whirly-gig in my plants, and I aimed it at the preacher's house across the street. I know, that's a little bit of attitude, but I LIKE IT!

I read and try to keep up with issues that involve equal rights. I post stories on my blog, with comments on how they affect my life. I try to discuss these issues with people who can be swayed in a positive way, and I try not to inflame the rest of the crowd. Sometimes I fail at that, but I've heard it said, "You draw more flies with honey than you do with vinegar," and even though I don't LIKE flies, I think the point is evident.

Of those who become upset with me, I figure that this is a minor thing, and I call them not friends but, "former connections." I also know that I've made friends among people that experience crap from those who aren't listening, and I'm proud of those discriminated-against friends. It isn't hard to stand up with PRIDE for FRIENDS.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

...I guess I will stay with my wife...

Gathering together a recent comment(from this post) and an e-mail that came in today from a different person, I wish people could actually talk to each other, listen and evaluate what they are saying. On the one hand, you have someone inferring "change" can happen if there is, "an in depth process within the person," while on the other is someone revealing how he really feels.

Besides the fact that this anonymous commenter assumes there is only one "lifestyle," among gay people, it appears that they have not lived "change" themselves, and even then recognizes only that "the homosexual impulses diminish." Here is the commenter's quote:

I think some of these comments may be over simplified. I think what "Anonymous" brought up was a true-to-life point about someone who experienced change, and it was dismissed. There are homosexually oriented men who are NOT happy with the gay identity, who fall in love with a woman and want to make a life with her and feel terribly conflicted. I know one personally, who has agonized over feelings for a woman. And no one has the right to tell them they should just embrace a gay lifestyle, that that is the only outcome that is true or possible for them. It is very much a continuum due to likely many causal factors, and no scientist has proven it is innate. And studies on those who SEEK their own change report it is possible, not from an overly religious process but an in depth process within the person. Their heterosexual impulses do come through, and the homosexual impulses diminish. That is their right and no one has the right to say it isn't possible for them.


hmmm...their RIGHT? What is right? Is it right to cover up one's true feelings and marry a woman - just because he thinks he MIGHT be able to let the "homosexual impulses diminish"? Or is it to live the best he can, going through life feeling "terribly conflicted," "agonized," and hoping the "heterosexual impulses ... come through,"?

Give me a break. I'm sorry, but here is the opposite side of the story, from a married man who is tells what is really going on...

...[I'd] Like to be able to say I don\'t understand, but I do. Although I guess I will stay with my wife and love my kids and try to hold back all the other feelings that come over me. ... I\'m 52 been married for awhile have 3 kids, but still deal with the other feelings!!...


Honestly, who would want their spouse to feel this way? "I guess I will stay," just isn't good enough for me, nor is it the way other straight spouses want to be lied to. And if the spouse-in-denial is really good at deception, many spouses DON'T even know. How does THAT feel?

What about, "hold[ing] back all the other feelings that come over me,"? Does this sound like change? Dear Anonymous commenter, please don't continue to deceive yourself or let your friend proceed to have false hope that the answer to unwanted sexual feelings is to marry a straight woman!

And besides all this, what I hope for my gay friends is that they can recognize that there is no shame in the way they are made. There is no shame in feeling attracted to someone of the same gender, wanting to share their lives, and even marry the one they love. My hope is that eventually there will be no more women who get married for all the right reasons (love, family, hope for a future together, and yes, for sex) only to find that someone just "guesses they'll stay."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Brammer Get-together

I'm getting ready for a family reunion! In two days my sister, Donna, will arrive from Texas! Another sister, Betty, lives in Texas and is coming up, and she'll probably be staying with her son who lives in the area. All my siblings will be here, and most of the younger generation. I'm so excited, and there's still a lot to do!

For years, my mom did all the get-togethers. That was back before she had Parkinson's Disease, and there weren't so many of us. I have 5 other siblings, from my parents' two marriages (Dad was married once before he married my mom). All of us have assimilated into family, even though we didn't live together as kids. Even so, Mom always hosted the holiday gatherings, and later, it fell to me to get us all under one roof.

At first, and for a couple of years, even, when Ray came out, I didn't feel like having all the family in. The "news" hadn't been shared with them, and I wasn't up to a big crowd. Then, gradually, as I talked to some (and I'm sure they all discussed "it" with each other) I felt like they all knew how I was receiving it, and they didn't get bent out of shape if I mentioned Ray. My need for family was outweighing the worry about how they were all reacting. Last year I decided that if we all were to get together, I better call for a reunion! After all, Dad is 88, and his legacy is in this group of "rabble-rousers," and I wanted us to get together. So, instead of calling it a reunion, I named it the BRAMMER GET-TOGETHER.

It's an odd thing, family. Some of us feel connected, some don't. Some parts of the family get with each other more than others, and there are still others who will get acquainted this Sunday, hardly knowing each other. There can be hurt feelings, but there are also feelings of being close, related. There are memories that come from Mom, "Grandma" or my nephew, Jeff, who was killed last September in a tragic semi accident. None of us realized that last year's get-together would be our last time with him. I think it is one reason that some are making the extra effort to be here this year.

Basically, the Brammers are a Christian family, and it was quite a different outcome when they learned, a few years ago, that I was separated. Not that there hadn't been divorce in the family, but I was the one with the successful, Christian-singer husband, and we'd been involved in missions, went to church ALL the time, and our kids participated in church youth group with a lot of dedication. I'm sure there are plenty of them who still can't figure out what happened - and most of them haven't chosen to discuss it with me. (I am glad to sit down to talk, or to share resources that helped me).

This year there are spouses, kids, step-kids, grandkids and great-grandbabies, about 57, I think, plus the extras. In describing the "event" on facebook, I invited every Brammer, been-a-Brammer, related-to-a-Brammer, know-a-Brammer, or Brammer-wannabe! I'm sure that some won't be here, but we're sure to have a crowd!

I'm so distant from the hiding that happened when my husband had just come out. I love my family, and whether or not they agree with me, we are family. Nothing changes how I feel for them, and I'm so glad they are coming!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

GCN Radio interview is up


I'm not as nervous since I listened, and, uh... I hope you will tune in, too.

GCN Radio 5/22/09

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

letter to...

Still "doing the facebook thing," I got involved with a note/comment thread. Perhaps you can access it here

When a friend of a friend got personal, I decided to write my comment, and since the spaces are only so big, I needed to post it somewhere else. Where else? My blog. :) Here is the comment she wrote, with full knowledge that I had already commented on the feed.

She wrote: Would you really fight so hard about this if Ray were not gay and you didn't have the need to reconcile this with Christian teachings? God gives us choices and maybe he gives us tendencies. I tend to want to eat and watch TV for eternity, but I choose not to do that because it is not the best thing for my life and my family's. And don't tell me this is not a parallel to homosexuality. Does God make murderers, adulterers, liars? Did God make Judas? I feel like Dobson, I can't fight any more.* I can't change anyone. I love you all, and hope we will all see each other in Eternity.

*note here that that link was the topic on the facebook note where this occurred. I added it here,


Below is my response, omitting her name.

Hi (person on facebook, who wrote the comment above, and I had to reply)

Well I'm taking the bait to write a reply...

Your question is would I be fighting so hard for this if Ray weren't gay, and if I weren't trying to justify it.

Answer: No. That's because I would never have believed anyone else. I know Ray, and I know what it was like in our family. I had two friends who came out to me prior to that, and they both responded differently. One stayed with her husband, who had also had affairs with other women. Ten years later they are still together, and they told me they don't talk about it much. One of their daughters is gay, and she has trouble reconciling it, too.

Another friend of mine has partnered with her girlfriend, and they have been together 13 years. At first I didn't understand, and yet I loved my friend. I wrote her a letter and I basically said, "I don't understand, but you are my friend, and I love you." When Ray came out to me, she was the one I went to, crying on her shoulder, and she was shocked but was a great comfort to me. She calls me her "oldest and dearest friend," when she introduces me, because all our other friends abandoned her.

But with neither of these friends did I understand, until it happened in MY family, to ME, and being gay was part of the life of someone I know and love.

I would make more sense if I DID NOT accept and understand what it's like to be gay. I could be bitter because I was lied to. I could hate Ray because he left me. I could pitch a fit for all kinds of reasons - but I have c h o s e n not to. (I spaced that out because there is no italics on fb)

I could also be hateful because people won't simply listen to those who are gay, and give them the benefit of the doubt that it's THEM who live it - that they don't choose it any more than the natural color of one's hair or how tall they are or which hand they prefer to write with.

So I DO speak up for them and I will speak up for them and I'm going to keep on saying over and over and over and over: Listen to gay people. They are every bit as worthy as straights. There is NO difference in them as any of the rest of us. They deserve equal rights. They deserve to be accepted and loved and admired, honored, treated with dignity.

They don't deserve to be compared with those who willingly commit crimes or acts of violence. It is NOT comparable to murder, thievery, adultery, gluttony, or any sin.

I could easily take offense because you assume things about my life, but honestly, I am trying not to. Because this has gotten so long I know it will not fit in a comment section, so I will post it as a note on my wall.

In the beginning of this ordeal, I was embarrassed, afraid someone would find out, ashamed. I no longer feel like that. This is not an easy road I'm walking, and your "love" does not feel like love. It feels like I'm held at arm's length, that you are making an exception with me from being like you simply because I don't agree. And when you say, "I hope we will all see each other in Eternity," it feels like you think one of us won't be there. (Btw, I don't even think that is the main reason we follow Christ, just to get into Heaven. I think there is more to it than that.) I am begging you to listen to gay people, and know they are 100% worthy of the same acceptance that you feel, among others, by God. It's the same.

Please don't read this as if there's an edge to it - I'm doing the best I can since we are not sitting with coffee in a kitchen, understanding the emotions involved. Do you have any more questions about my motives? I will do all I can to answer honestly and, as President Obama recently said, let's do it without reducing one another to caricatures.

Sincerely,
Carol

Monday, May 18, 2009

Purple and white cats, flying, and high school band

There are no links to this post that I can think of, but I have several recurring dreams that I'm going to share...

One: I dream that I'm in a new house, or it could be an old house that I've just moved into. Or it might be a house with an undiscovered barn or shed, or basement. C'mon, go with me now, it's a dream...and in the dream, I have lots of cats. The cats are having kittens - not actually HAVING the kittens, but more litters of all sizes keep showing up. I am trying to find homes and food for the cats, and they are all beautiful! They are PURPLE. Imagine with me the prettiest cats, all purple and white - not tabby, and there is no black on them, just purple, white, and purple/white combinations. Long-hair ones, too. They have soft, perfect coats. There're no sick ones in the bunch, and I love them all. Here's the clincher: I don't even like cats all that much.

Two: My granddaughter, Arya, is 3 years old. The other day as I got to her house, she had just gotten up from her afternoon nap, and she had told her mom (my daughter, Karen), "Mommy, I had a dream and I was flying!" Oh, how happy that made me! Karen says she has never had a "flying dream," and yet, when I have one, I wish I could sleep all day. Flying dreams are the BEST! They say that you either DO have or DON'T have flying dreams, and I think it is special and very cool that Arya had one! One more thing, an odd thing, is that when I'm flying, often I'm in a seated position, and I can fly, fly, fly.

Three: This dream doesn't recur that much, but years ago I would dream that my old [rather evil] band director was asking me to re-join the band. Trouble is that the way I exited the band was that I got kicked out. (Honest it was NOT my fault!) The variations on this dream are that we are in band competitions, and they need ME to come back and fill in a critical spot, help win the contest, or play a special part. Only one change, they are NOT letting me play an instrument. I'm being relegated to hold a FLAG (I never could play french horn very well) and do some convoluted flag-form to bring home the big prize.

Okay - all you dream interpreters. Where do I go with this?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Seeing a little more of the picture - from a new lens

(A funny thing happened as I wrote a blog entry today. I mistakenly posted, then took down for editing, the following entry. Some of you may have gotten it via e-mail, and it has, uh, a mistake. Now this makes for the irony of the day, and I've tried to salvage the post through editing. Hopefully, you can grasp my original point, which is not exactly the same, but at least it won't contain the errors.

Also, if you have experienced difficulty with "comments," please try again. I think I've corrected the problem. Thanks for reading and for ALL your comments.)



I hesitate to write some things because they are about Ray. There are a variety of emotions that surface all the time, and sometimes (or a lot of times) they are concerning him, or how I feel about having been married to him. Some things are too personal. Some things are personal regarding Ray, so even when you may think that I'm being open and honest, there is still MORE to me that I keep close to my heart.

Other times I feel like I want to share something that is about Ray and I've been trying not to get out of balance with that. (I haven't even mentioned that he just finished with the new record! Or how he's finished 11 powerful new songs that make me proud at the same time that I cry over them.) However, today there's something I have to say: Ray Boltz's songwriting is amazing.

Immediately after Ray came out to me, it was apparent to me that the songs always showed that he'd always had "tgt." It was there in so many of his lyrics, and the word, "change," was frequently used. I was struck that the very thing that had made his songs beloved, was the very thing that made the situation so tragic. How sad I felt when I realized that he'd prayed his entire life, but had seen no answer. Songs that were pounded out on the piano, or strummed on guitar, trusting God to make them true, were Ray's life.

I still listen to those songs and now I see the deeper meanings, the real meanings. There is irony in how appropriate they are NOW, as I see a little more of the picture than I knew to even look for years ago.

Today I found an old song that I've heard before but forgotten. Someone posted it on twitter, and they credit Ray, so I linked to it. At first I did think it was something Ray wrote years ago, and I started writing this entry. Now, after doing some checking, I actually found that it is by Babbie Mason, but listening to it now, and taking the meaning of the song from what I know now, is vastly different than how I'd have heard it years ago.


Well, folks, this entry would have made a WHOLE LOT MORE SENSE if it WAS a Ray Boltz song, so the point of this blog is a little harder to come around to. Still, my POINT is that I'm looking for wisdom in how my life is playing out, and I trust that God's wisdom is in the bigger picture. There are things we can see, and things we can't, and although I don't see things like before, I still want to trust in God's purpose.