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.