Sunday, April 26, 2009

my story

I got an e-mail from another wife of a gay man, and it came to my attention that I've not shared how it happened when Ray came out. Sometimes I've written so many words that it seems I've run out of them, but I want to share what I wrote to this new friend of mine.

Dear (*******),

I'm so glad I checked my e-mail tonight. I'm actually kind of addicted to it - I check e-mail and facebook several times a day. But I nearly didn't, since I am just getting home from a little study group we have every other Sunday night, and I want to get to bed. But I HAVE to write to you and let you know that I do know very well where you are, and that loss...Yes, I'm glad my writing effort came across to you. I'm just so glad that I checked this e-mail and am hearing from you tonight. I'll try to be brief :)

About the kids, yes, they were older a little bit. Karen was the only one married at the time Ray told us. It was actually at her house, and we gathered there to get Ray to say he would see a counselor. We planned a type of "intervention," because I was so worried. And each of the kids had their own ways to confront him. I'd asked them to help me get him to see someone - I was so worried that he would commit suicide. He'd been acting strangely for several months, and I didn't know how close he was to dying every day. There was no way to get around it - and I'd done all I could to get him to talk. It was so scary - and had been for months - and I was afraid we would lose him.

So, we had dinner at Karen's. And when Liz, who was a sr. at Taylor University (a Christian college where all our kids went) spoke up, she said she would be afraid to come home when no one else was here, because she was afraid she would find him...and that got to Ray. And he decided to tell us - it was all of the kids, and me, all at once. I thought at first, for only a second or so, that he was kidding when he said, "I'm gay." And I didn't even know what it meant, because for all I knew you couldn't be a Christian and be GAY. I cried, we cried. We hugged, and we cried all the way home.

None of the kids knew what to think. I mean, we raised them very conservatively. We had our "liberal" ways - like being open to Karen having a wedding in Nepal, and we listened to music other than Ray's! (lots) :) But we were a very strict family when it came to being fundamentalist.

I didn't know what to think - we loved each other!. Ray was a Christian. I had all these questions going through my head: did Ray take a lover? (and I don't like even saying those words, calling a boyfriend a "lover.") Was Ray cruising gay bars? Was he wanting to cruise gay bars? Did he want someone else? Was he lying to me? Had he always lied to me? Had he EVER lied to me? Did he love me? Did he still love me? You know the questions I think, and they went on and on and on.

I rolled them ALL over in my mind: Were there clues? Was this something I did? I figured out pretty quickly that it was NOT! But all the self-doubt was there, and I just about lost it. Then there were all the questions about, WHAT IF SOMEONE FINDS OUT? And that whole line of questions. Plus, there was the fact that I'd always believed that God put us together, God led us in using Ray's music, and that God did all this with a reason. And all these questions went through my brain without words. And the big thing I didn't think I could handle: Did he want to leave me? Did he want a divorce?

We talked the next day. We both cried for about the next ... well, until recently we both have cried, I think, every day. And it has been 4 years, 4 months to the day since Ray told me. I don't cry all the time now, and I can even tell people and talk about it without crying - even though many days I feel terribly, awfully lonely.

Our divorce was final about a year ago, and then he decided to do the interview with the Washington Blade. He felt like he had to do that in order to begin to sing again. And he had been writing, and he wanted to be honest with his old fans, rather than let them assume he was still who they thought he was (straight). He knew he could have kept quiet, but he felt that to do that would be deceptive, and he isn't a hypocrite. The article was published online on Sept. 12, 2008, and then the *&^% really hit the fan. Letters came to our post office box, e-mails FLOODED the website, and people even found Ray's unlisted address and sent him boxes of his own CDs, along with mean, judgmental notes that demanded refunds.

I get all the correspondence, which is okay. I can disregard most of it - even though I sometimes want to lash out. That wouldn't do anyone any good, and it wouldn't show anyone the heart of me or of Ray. We still love each other, Ray always believed that God would change him, and Ray always thought he could live out his life without ever acting what he was feeling in his heart. But the depression, the self-hate for just who he was, not for anything he DID, was killing him, and he is now honest, real, and himself, if you know what I mean.

And I can go on, but it's hard. It's sad on both parts. I'm sad for you and for your husband - and I know you need someone to talk to. I would welcome talking to you in person ANY TIME. You are welcome to continue writing, or I will call you, or you can call me. There are not many secrets any more, and I would love to talk to YOU. Perhaps there are ways you could help ME! I'm still working through this - and expect to be for some time.

If you decide to call, here is my cell number: ### ### #### It's just a temporary number, so call me soon. I'd love to hear from you.

Bless your heart - for all that we are going through, there must be some good come of it. For your kids, for my kids, I know it will make them more understanding of people with problems. Nothing works out like we were told, but all our kids are still Christians. I'm thankful for that - and they are closer with their dad, even though he lives far away. They talk often, and we all keep in contact. While I was typing this, Ray called me to fill me in on his new record. Things are so different - but I'm okay. :)

I don't know how to close this - there is more to say, LOTS more, but it's late and I'm going to finish. Please write again, or call me.

Your friend,
Carol Boltz

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Call-in radio with Kim Iverson

It was raining and I was driving down McGalliard Road, the one with all the food places, and I was listening to Kim Iverson on 99.5. I was ready to get home as soon as I could, when she came to the call-in topic, "...and he's been married for 11 years, has 3 kids, and he thinks he might be gay. What do you think?"

What did I think? I thought: I have to call in! So I did. I pulled off the road, parked in the parking lot of a drug store, and called the number! Whether or not I said all that I intended, in the best way I could, in the context of a radio call-in show, maybe not. But I did get to express myself! I spoke up and basically said this:

"I think this guy has an obligation to his family, and should support them. But I also must disagree with the other callers, because "straight men don't want to have sex with other men. That would make them gay." *

*(direct quote from Tim, over at Deep Thoughts from a Shallow Mind)

I told Kim that I am familiar with the topic, since I was married to a man who came out as gay after 30 years of marriage. Then she became interested, at least by her questions she was. There were the shocked questions of, "Didn't you know?" and, "Did you have sex?" etc., etc.

So here I was, being "interviewed" by a nationally-syndicated radio host, talking about a subject so close to my heart - the closest. I felt like I did pretty well, and I was especially glad that I didn't cry! I guess I've spoken up enough in the last while or so (it's been over 4 years since Ray came out to me) that it isn't as raw as it used to be. Still there is heartbreak, and I said that. I never can forget that for myself or all the others who experience it, and I was thinking of this family - the wife married for 11 years, the 3 kids, and the dad who "thinks he might be gay."

When Kim asked me, all I could say about what he should do is that I knew that my husband ended up severely depressed, unable to work, and suicidal. The "feelings" don't go away, and this man needs to be honest. I came through it, because of how my husband lived, as very gay-affirming. I mentioned that there is support online for straight spouses through Straight Spouse Network, and that I am active with Soulforce, an organization that works for equal rights for lesbian and gay people. Did I say all that? Not sure, or not sure if I said it effectively. I did the best I could, short notice, nervous, and unplanned.

Hopefully there will be some help in that larger arena - for some who might not read this little blog. I realize this was just a mere call-in radio topic, one that gets on and off in less than five or ten minutes. But it DOES get people talking. And I said my piece (or is it peace?) and I hope someone can be more honest, more real, more healthy. I hope that someone can realize BEFORE they marry or have children that their true attractions are acceptable, and heartbreak can be averted.

What would YOU have said?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Evidence that Miss California/candidate for Miss USA is prejudiced and wrong on gay rights

First off - I watch TV. I like TV. I start my day with either the TODAY show, or turn the channel to CNN for some real news. When the TV is set for TODAY, I go about filling orders, having my breakfast, walking next door to see my dad, and so forth. At 10:00 the "4th hour" of TODAY comes on, and most days, I hate it. I only leave it on so that at 11:00 ELLEN comes on. I really can't stand Kathie Lee Gifford's mean-girl attitude, and I don't like how Hoda Kotb sucks up to her. I've told my kids how I hate the show, and they look at me with puzzled looks as they say, "Mom, why do you leave it on?" Good question! (I think one reason I am glad I've watched it is when I get to see the spoofs of it on SNL!)

Just now the two women began to speak about Perez Hilton and Miss USA competition and gay marriage. I was just getting to my personal e-mails (which is in a different room than my office) and my ears perked up. I paid attention and WATCHED as they played a clip of Perez (who was a judge for the contest) asking Miss America what she thought. Here is her response:

The transcript:
I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. know what? In my country...and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there. But I think that is how I was raised, and that is how it should be between a man and a woman.

So many things need to be questioned in her response! In saying that people CHOOSE "one or the other" she's assuming that sexual attraction is a choice. In saying that people "choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage," she's supposing that everyone must be bi-sexual. (I don't really think she's saying that.) And just because it was "how she was raised," does NOT mean that our country should continue to disallow civil rights to the gay population.

So I listened to Kathy Lee proceed to say that Miss America spoke, "without being mean." I heard Hoda chime in as they both said "we all have our opinions." I know that Kathy Lee speaks as a fundamentalist Christian - not sure about Hoda. I'm continually puzzled that "they" think that as long as they aren't screaming, "God hates fags," that somehow it is "not being mean." It's just that they are making gay people "less than," straight ones, they are denying civil rights, and they do think that only their view is Christian.

I hear that all the time. I hear that those who have religion are "not being mean," and that they "don't hate." I heard it on Sunday in conversation, "Oh, I believe we should love them [gay people]," but I knew this person felt a righteous superiority over what she sees as a group of "others."

I realize that we should all "get along." I know that Jesus said, "by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." But how do we - how do I - bridge this gulf of difference? How do I break through the HUGE division of people who hold the opinions like Kathy Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Miss America, and the woman I conversed with on Sunday? These represent a huge tide of opinion.

As gay marriage is supported in more states LEGALLY, (four states so far) I believe there is change coming. I also want to say that it doesn't even matter to me if gay people want or don't want to get married - their lives are JUST LIKE anyone else, and are deserving of the same rights and privileges of life as any other person! Regarding change, I am one that changed, and I keep hoping to affect others. I keep thinking, "If I, as the former wife of a gay man, can change my belief system, and come to realize that there is no difference regardless of sexual attraction, won't others see that as well?"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Stephen Colbert's fake commercial against gay marriage.

Stephen Colbert's show is one of my favorites to watch late at night, and this "fake commercial" that opposes gay marriage made me laugh. I have to share it because it just might be that you have not seen it! Watch all the way to the end!
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Friday, April 17, 2009

...just a small bruise on my hand...and gay marriage

I looked at the back of my hand and I saw a small bruise. I'm only 56, and I don't get "old people bruises." At least, not yet. I must have hit it on something - you know, the kind of bruise that just shows up? Some questions ran through my mind - like, where did that come from? when did I hit my hand? but it was not a big deal at all.

I showed it to Ray when he visited for Easter. It was just a little bruise - not a worry or care. I just showed him because I knew he'd listen to me. And then I felt this awful loss - that he's not here all the time.

There are so many times when that happens, and I never even think about it. But it was a holiday - when I used to expect all my kids to sit in church with me. I always dressed them up when they were little - as much as son Phil would allow me to - but the traditional "Easter outfits" would be cause enough to take a picture outside with the daffodils, or tulips, or whatever was blooming when Easter occurred. And I felt a connection to other springs, and the connection always felt good.

But back to the bruise...

I've always figured that if I'm feeling something, there must be someone, somewhere, who is feeling that same emotion. I'm not sure how to relate this except by example. For example, one time at a Full Gospel Businessmen's dinner, I was seated with strangers while Ray was at the "head table," with the speakers. (Never mind that women never sat up there!) As hard as I tried to fit in with my table-mates, it just didn't happen. I wondered how many others came to that meeting, hoping to find a friend or connect with others, and left feeling ostracized, alone.

Another time I was immediately offended by a guest speaker at church, and I went to him at the end of the service and asked some pretty direct questions about his delivery. I got nowhere. It wasn't until months later, but I did find that other people also had issues with this [deleted] (He nearly ruined the church, btw, but that is another story.)

These days I feel for the glbt community, and I think about when I feel like they do. I looked at that bruise on my hand, and I felt alone. And I think about all the other people who are denied the partnership of the ones that they love. Some say that gay people should, "deny their sexual feelings," but it isn't all about that. It's about that small bruise that you want to show, and to have a loved one say, "awww, what happened?"

There are all the times when we have others around us, when we have a daughter, or husband, or son, or mom or dad, and we just want to tell them about our day - and we don't want to be alone. We want to have someone to help with dishes, share a sandwich, or admire the dog's ability to go for a stick thrown on a spring day. Why can anyone deny this to another human being? How can you oppose loving relationships, just because someone is gay? This issue that is facing so many in our country today is NOT all about sex - it's about companionship, going through life together, and about love. It's about a little bruise on the back of the hand, and caring that it simply happened, and that it will heal.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter - and the White House Egg Roll is Inclusive!

Happy Easter to all - and my ham is baking, it smells delicious, and I have family coming for dinner. There are some eggs that the Easter Bunny needs help to hide outside since it's a beautiful spring day, and I have had time to upload some photos to facebook. All at the same time, I saw this video:

And I'm thinking, "What is this woman thinking?" She says, "A child is a child, and they should get to enjoy that event. But please, do not show preferences. It's just not fair." From the editing and narration, it seems like she agrees that every child should be able to attend and have a good time - but then she makes it like a backhanded "allowance," saying there's preference - and doesn't like it. It isn't FAIR? I came close to cussing - but I'm biting my tongue.

At least I have a blog to say this: A family is a family, and they should enjoy THIS event. Enough of discrimination of families who have same-sex parents. In the past we used to bar divorced women or black families, and I'm sure there are a myriad of types that were dis-included from all types of public participation. Let's make up for it by INCLUDING ALL FAMILIES with children who get to be part of a fun event - The White House Egg Roll!

I have read that it was in 2006 that gay families first made their presence known, by waiting for tickets, in line with a lot of other folks. They refused to be backed into the darkness and showed their faces and their families by wearing rainbow leis. This year, the Obama administration included gay families in the distribution of tickets - and this was the big change that the woman in the video opposed.

Yay for a President who sees the importance of making the Easter Egg Roll at the White House a truly inclusive family affair! Yay for the staff who are carrying out the wishes of a socially progressive president.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ray Boltz - a concert reviewed, Abilene, Texas

Despite a lot of uproar last week prior to the concert, Ray Boltz sang in Abilene, Texas, to a welcoming audience. What a relief that there were no signs or hecklers, because there were sure enough comments in the local newspaper. Thankfully there were old fans as well as new ones, and I have it on good authority that Ray had a good day.
(Reporter-News photo by Nellie Doneva)

Here is the new review:

Boltz mixes old faves with new songs
Nearly 200 turn out for Paramount concert

By Emily A. Peters
Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ray Boltz sang some old Dove Award-winning favorites at a free concert Sunday while mixing in some soul-baring ballads from a forthcoming album that allude to his recent coming out as a Christian homosexual.

About 160 adults with about a dozen children came to Abilene's Paramount Theatre to hear Boltz, who said Abilene is the smallest city he's played since coming out in September.

"That's a little nerve wracking," he admitted before the show, but he said he understands why he might not draw the same crowd that has attended his multiple Abilene shows over his two-decade career as a nationally known Christian recording artist.

"When I came out, I knew the church wouldn't accept me being gay, and I couldn't expect all my old fans to just say everything is cool five minutes later," he said. "They've seen you one way for so long, so I respect the people (who didn't come), and I don't have any bad feelings toward them."

Monica Warn, a longtime member of the Exodus Metropolitan Community Church that sponsored the Boltz show, sang along with some of the old favorites at Sunday's concert, such as "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb" and "Thank You."

But she also found a spiritual thread in his newer songs, which Boltz says will be on an album he's finishing next week.

The new songs include lyrics such as "Don't tell me who to love. Don't tell me who to kiss." Another lighthearted retrospective song recalls how he felt freedom when he went to a seventh-grade dance and left the group of wallflower boys to join the girls on the dance floor, "kicking up my heels; finally letting go."

"His new songs are wonderful," Warn said. "You can still hear the voice of God in his new songs. They are about acceptance and finding out who you are, and that has a lot to do with God's love."

That's the message Boltz said he hopes to convey with his new album, which he will soon send to record companies to gauge interest.

"I'd say these songs are less religious, but there are still spiritual truths," Boltz says.

One new song expresses his struggle to keep his homosexuality a secret with the lyrics: "God knows I tried, God knows all the pain I kept inside. He's seen every tear I've cried." Another haunting ballad tells about a young boy who was always teased for being different and was eventually found dead at the bottom of the swimming hole.

But the old Gospel Music Award-winning favorites are what drew Dentler Stutts, a member of a local Baptist church who said Boltz's homosexuality had new effect on her desire to come and bring her 2-year-old granddaughter.

"His old songs were played at the funerals of my mother and nephew," she said. "He's got a God-given talent and an incredible voice. This place should have been packed today, being as Abilene is such a Christian town."

Some local Christian radio stations have removed Boltz from their playlists in the last year, and in recent weeks, representatives of some Abilene churches vocalized their disapproval of Boltz's homosexuality.

The concert venue drew no protesters Sunday.

"People of Abilene will tell you what they think, but when it comes to it, they are people of faith, so we really didn't have anything to fear," said the Rev. Margaret Walker, senior Pastor of Exodus Metropolitan Community Church.

Walker teared up and closed her eyes as Boltz sang her favorite, "Watch the Lamb."

Sam Robles, 29, came all the way from Midland with his girlfriend to hear the Ray Boltz songs of his childhood. He said this concert came at a good time in his spiritual life since he just recently started going to church again at God's Rainbow Promises Fellowship in Midland,

"This is what I pretty much grew up listening to," Robles said. "To see him here years and years later is a blessing. I shook his hand and took a picture with him."

Boltz said that his songs are still coming from the heart and that he'll release the album online if the record companies don't bite.

"I think I've always written songs that expressed what I was going through, and this is just current," he said. "This whole thing has affected me in that I have a lot of questions now. I don't claim to have all the answers, but I'm writing songs about where I am, and that's just being honest."

Several fundamentalists (from preachers to local radio hosts) spoke and had warned their listeners and congregations of the event, some of which I quote from the local paper (Abilene, Texas Reporter News).

- KGNZ's own station manager Gary Hill said [the listeners] "are struggling since Boltz revealed he was gay"
and he had made statements that he said were simply to inform, but they no longer play Ray Boltz songs on their station.

Chuck Farina, pastor of New Hope Church in Abilene, devoted part of a letter to his congregation about the upcoming concert.

"There are many who might excitedly attend the event without being aware of the changes in Ray's beliefs and practices," he said.

In the letter, Farina called Sunday's concert an attempt to "'bridge the gap'" between the straight and gay communities and to "promote the homosexual lifestyle here in Abilene."

It seems like they didn't want to appear homophobic, but they did sound that way to me.

Meanwhile, Kim McLaughlin, the local president of PFLAG (Parents/Families of Lesbians & Gays) had spoken to Farina - and called him on the letter he sent regarding the concert. She called it "hurtful and painful." Also, from the article, McLaughlin,
"she did not believe God would discriminate against anyone based on their sexual orientation.

"I was born straight, white and female, and there was never a time in my life that I thought I had a choice regarding my race, my gender or my sexual orientation," she said. "We've made a lot of progress based on not discriminating against people on their race or gender, but we still have a long way to go when it comes to sexual orientation."

I agree with McLaughlin.

Thankfully, the concert went off and there were no signs or loud protests. I'm thankful for that - because I think it would actually be a GOOD thing if the two "sides" came together!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

house plant?

Along with a lot of people who can now enter into legal marriage with the one they love (and with whom they have mutual, adult, sexual attraction) I was happy with Iowa's decision to legalize gay marriage. I see no reason not to make it LEGAL for adults to establish their commitment to one another.

I have, like so many other people who will write about this, heard most of the arguments that claim "logic," and then proceed to compare male-male or female-female partnerships to animals (dogs, goats, etc.) or reptiles (box turtles). What was new was this one: a house plant. “Marriage, of course, by its very spiritual, historical and biological nature, requires binary compatibility. It is no more discriminatory to disallow two men from marrying each other, than it is to prohibit a man from marrying his house plant.”
quote from Matt Barber, who has several titles associated with Liberty University. (hat tip to Jim over at Box Turtle Bulletin)

In reality, does Matt Barber see a two-way, adult relationship as that simplistic? From what I know, most plants that I grow are pretty innocuous, they wait to be watered and fertilized, sit in the appropriate window to receive sunlight and I expect them to give off some oxygen and look pretty. Kind of like this one...

Even if the bigots and sociophobes disagree with gay marriage rights, surely they can just be honest and declare that their literal adherence to the Holy Bible holds all their reasoning. It seems that these people will say almost anything that they presume to be logical, when in reality they want us to have a theocracy, which the United States of America is NOT.

Comparing two gay adults who wish the right to marry to non-human, inanimate objects is just disrespectful to those adults AND to the ones who make the statements.