Saturday, November 20, 2010

Emens Auditorium

I tried to take a nap today - just to catch up on some lost nights of sleep lately.  It didn't happen, as I heard my cell phone ring and I got up to answer it.  My friend, Laurie, had an extra ticket to a show, "In the Mood," playing at Emens Auditorium.  I figured it would be fun, and I've been wanting to attend some of the local shows, but haven't bought tickets.  Laurie's extra ticket would be fun!

What I didn't prepare for was the feeling of deja vu as I walked along the dark sidewalk from the parking garage to the auditorium.  Tonight traffic was backed up as drivers let off their riders close to the front of Emens, and I recalled a few years ago - when Ray was singing there, and no one had planned for the traffic.  You see, playing Emens here in town is a "big deal" and it's like the Horatio Alger stories, or "small town boy makes good."  And although there were several times when Ray played there, I remember that first time, when the traffic was all over the place, when the staff was taken aback by the crowd that turned out for a big night - when Ray Boltz, local boy, packed out the hall. 

I remember getting to be backstage, and I was used to being backstage for other events, other venues and halls.  But this was Emens, and lots of friends and fans were there.  I recall peeking out from the side curtains - It was like they all came for a party I was throwing!  I felt like the hostess for the concert, and I was so proud of Ray.   I always told the kids (we had 4, and their ages were spread out by 10 years) that they had to be good, that they were to act and dress appropriately.  No kids of ours were going to be showing off (although they did) or embarrassing me (and yes, sometimes they did).  I remember the guys in the band, the catered meal, and the dressing rooms (awfully small). I even remember when I wore some crazy red shoes to one of the concerts, and it looked so dumb in the photos I saw afterward. 

All these memories and more came to mind as I walked up to the box office, took my seat in the turquoise-blue theater seats, and waited for the lights to dim.  And I wondered, "Would they let Ray play now?  Who'd come to hear him sing his songs now?  Who of all those people would want a photo?  Who would hear what God has to say through him now?"  I would.  I'd go, and I'd still be proud of Ray, still be his support and his friend.

Sometimes during the concert tonight it was hard not to recall the hall being FULL those times when Ray Boltz played Emens!   Who knows?  Maybe it will happen again, but if not, I think I will always feel those deja vu moments, and remember...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Swilley’s story: A gay pastor, his wife, and a deeper ministry

This is a story that deserves to be told! The Swilleys seem to have a way with words that I can't express, so I will simply link to their story. Thank God for people willing to come forward with the truth. Bless your hearts, Jim and Debye Swilley.

Swilley’s story: A gay pastor, his wife, and a deeper ministry

Friday, October 22, 2010

Deep thoughts from a shallow mind: It Gets Better

Deep thoughts from a shallow mind: It Gets Better

My good friend, Tim, posted this today. While I don't want to appear self-serving, he and Cindy were the first of the very few of my friends who are willing to be openly supportive of GLBT people. More are appearing, but the Morris family have been my dear and wonderful friends. Their actions are what speak to me and to others, and I'm so proud of all their efforts.

Emily, especially, has led at her school to stand up for the questioning and gay kids, as well as band together the allies who are affirming. She is only 15, but she amazes me and makes me proud. She is one that is helping to make things better.

Tim, Cindy, and Emily - I'm so happy that you are my friends, making each day better. love to you all!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Personal update

Seeing that I haven't written too many blog entries, I would like to share some of the things that are taking my time.  I will list a few changes:

Last April I started a new job!  I was very happy to find something and I'm now manager of a hospital gift shop!  Having co-owned Ray Boltz Music, Inc. for nearly 35 years (part of that prior to when it was incorporated), having done a little online business, and because I had retail experience years ago, I was accepted as "qualified" and I got the job!  I work with a great group of Auxiliary volunteers, have a boss that is super, and I love working at the hospital.  Although I have more than enough paperwork, I also enjoy each person who comes into the shop, and helping buy things for the shop to sell is challenging and a lot of fun. 

In August I gave up the website ( and all that it included.  Ray traveled from Florida to move the office furniture and we signed papers that confirm that Ray Boltz Music, Inc. no longer operates in Indiana.  Ray has worked to set up the website in a totally downloadable way - songs, sheet music, and CDs, all digitally downloadable!  It is nearly ready, and I encourage you to buy here.

Soulforce:  I remain a member of the board of directors, and am proud to serve.  Working to eliminate the prejudice and discrimination against GLBTQs, and do that through non-violent means remains an important passion for me.  In November (Nov. 5-7, 2010) Soulforce will again partner with several gay rights groups for its' SYMPOSIUM in Philadelphia.  

Another thing associated with Soulforce is that at the end of August it was announced that Ray is serving as their "honorary spokesperson."  I'm hoping that each of us can serve to bring more information, freedom, and acceptance to the difficult situation when a spouse reveals their long-hidden sexual orientation.

Grandbabies!  Early this year, daughter Liz and her husband welcomed the one they call (on the internet) "Chuck."  This baby is a joy, and either my daughter or I travel as often as we can so that I can know and hold that darling baby.  Meanwhile, I have two little ones who live in the same city as I do, and spending time with them is a priority.  And finally, daughter Sara is expecting right around Christmas, and son Phil's wife is due 6 weeks later.  Both of these babies are "firsts", so I have baby quilts that need to be finished (well, they actually have to be started!). 

Dad - My elderly dad lives next door to me, and I try to visit him just to talk, and help with things he needs.  He's 89, and he loves to come over for a meal (if I ever cook!) and I'm very fortunate to have him so close.

Writing...I haven't had much time for it!  While I still have thoughts run through my head, I can't seem to get all my work done (I still live in a home with a lot to take care of) and get to all I need to do.  If you write to me, please be patient, and I'll try to reply.  This all is very demanding to work and keep up with everything.  I don't know how others do it when they have family and kids at home.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bible and changes - it happens!

Here's is a thing I've realized:  We Christians have looked at so many issues that are mentioned in the Bible and we have changed:  left-handedness, long hair on women (uncut), use of psychologists, birth control, and even specific "no-nos" such as eating shrimp, going places on Sunday (besides church) and "yes-yesses" like stoning our rebellious sons!  We don't DO those things!  Nor do we have slaves, and slaves in the Bible are a "given".  So, since I can understand that being gay is something someone does NOT choose, and because we have to figure out how all of us have to live with integrity, following God if we choose to, then we have to look at the Bible as changeable.  God doesn't change, but how we look at the Bible does. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grandma's cross-stitch: Be happy and gay

I don't have many "things" that belonged to my Grandma "Riney".  Her real name was Carrie Rinehart, and for as long as I remember, she was confined to a wheel chair because of strokes.  She lived with us (Mom and Dad, my older brother, Lee, and I) when I was about 3 or 4.  When Mom became pregnant with one of the younger kids, Grandma Riney went back to stay with my Aunt Evelyn, and she passed away the summer before I started kindergarten. 

I remember how Grandma wore her long, white hair.  It went in some kind of roll from one temple, around the back to the other temple - kind of where a crown would sit.  I rarely saw her hair down, and when I did I though it was strange and that she looked a little scarey - and Grandma was NEVER scarey.  I just liked it better when it was "up" and fixed.  

Grandma, since she was in that wooden, cane-bottom wheelchair, played with me a lot.  We'd pretend that we heard a kitten or a hurt puppy, and then go "find" the little animal.  I'd tuck it into her woolen shawl, pet it, and then push Grandma's chair around the house, looking for another one. 

Grandma was also really good at telling stories.  She told me how the Big Dipper got into the sky, and a story of pioneer children, Jim and Joe, who hid from the Indians while their parents went to town for supplies.  I was entranced by her stories, and my Mom went on to tell the same stories long after Grandma was gone.  I loved imagining those little boys, and one was "crippled" and had to be pulled in a wagon - which the older boy did willingly, and saved the boys' lives until the parents returned from a very long trip to town! 

Years later I realized that Grandma's boys were really named "Jim and Joe," and that Joe had died years earlier of diptheria when he was only about 7.  After his death, Grandma, not yet 40, had a stroke and had to teach herself to walk again - without help from therapists (it was before 1919).  I know that year because after Grandma lost her son, and endured an alcoholic husband, she gave birth in her 40s to little Mildred (or Millie) who was later to become my mom.  

Later in life, some time after Mom and Dad married, Grandma suffered a stroke again - and there may have been multiple ones - and this time it permanently left her unable to walk or move her right side.  Still, she kept herself busy, and I often watched as she cross-stitched with her crippled right hand, and her clumsy left one.  She used a hoop, and made many pillowcases, dresser runners and wall hangings.  I loved watching how she pulled the thread through the cream-colored material - and it wasn't counted cross-stitch that is popular now, but rather pre-printed flowers, birds and current sayings. 

I treasure two of Grandma's samplers, and one has been hanging in my home continually for many years.  It says, "God bless our home."  It's framed in the original frame from years ago. 

The second one was re-set in a more modern frame by my mom, and she probably did it for me when one of my babies were born.  I hung it in our bedroom for years, until at some point the words didn't seem to be "current."  Today I was going through some boxes in my storage barn, and I pulled it out!  I was so glad to find it, given the feelings I have for my friends and loved ones who happen to be gay -

Now you may wonder how in the world this relates to this blog, and why I felt like writing about it today...

And on the back, in Mom's writing, was this message: 

I'm getting ready to do a new mat and frame for my grandma's cross-stitch sampler.  I'll use Mom's handwritten caption, along with the old saying.  I think it will be beautiful.

It was in 2001 that Mom died and that was just three (plus) years before Ray came out, and I've wondered how she would have accepted him after his disclosure.  She adored Ray as my husband, and loved his music, and I have writings that she left saying, "I want to show God's love to everyone..."  And with those characteristics, I really can imagine that she'd have seen through the church garbage of rejection, and she'd have known he did his best for his whole life, and she'd let Ray know, even today, that she loves him no matter what.

As for my Grandma Riney, I didn't know her faith or her feelings, except that she loved ME.  While in the 1950s it was before the current term meant what it does to us today, I like to imagine that she was saying to Ray through her stitches, "Be happy and gay." 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Anne Rice and faith in Jesus Christ

A while ago I became a "fan" of Anne Rice on facebook.  Around that time I found that she was expressing thoughts, as well as questions, about faith in Jesus and how to reconcile ideas held by Christian churches and what she felt about these ideas.  On Wednesday (July 28), just in case you haven't yet read it elsewhere, she said this on facebook: 
Anne Rice As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of ...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
There have been several of her posts that resonate with how I feel, but I cannot stop being a Christian.  In ways that she supports feminism, gay rights, and all the others in her list, I understand. 

In the last few years, I have found it hard to continue being a church-goer, when I know that others around me don't share my views.  I find it difficult to remain silent as I hear others bash Obama-voters, health-care for all, and who think all women should submit to all men. 

As far as where I identify with faith in Christ, I certainly believe that God has had an order in my life, the full scope of which I never expected.  I don't know what else will be unveiled, yet I believe that there has to be a plan, or like I said, an order, to all that I've lived.  I believe that Jesus died, rose again, and showed us immeasurable love through his sacrifice.  I want to share in that life of love, and I choose to be a follower of Christ. 

Anne Rice is a thoughtful writer, a talented individual, and I respect her statement to stand with Christ, while not standing with Christians.  I believe that she's a leader in this, and I know many who identify with her.  I know I do. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Know-it-alls: narcisstic, ill-informed

In general, I have to practice listening.

When someone has a story or fact to share, I make it a point to hear them, and I have learned to be quiet and think before I blab on about what I want to say.  That being said, I also have my opinions about many things, and I enjoy discussing similar interests with other people.  I'm not shy, and I am glad, when asked, to speak up.  Those who know me in the "real world" know that I'm a talker.   The thing I don't like is when someone talks over me - without regard for conversation.  I call that person a blabbermouth, or a know-it-all, both are somethings that I don't want to be.

Thanks to google, and to it being such a fantastic resource, I also discovered whole articles about "how to know if you are a know-it-all", "Ways to communicate with a know-it-all" and, fortunately, "How to deal with a know-it-all."

Now if you take your basic know-it-all, and realize that he or she is basically a narcissistic asshole, it becomes easier to just let them go on and on, and you just think about something else until they are done.  That's becoming what I do, at least, up to a point.  Let me share more.

Last week I encountered a know-it-all.  He actually fits the definitions I found when I googled "know-it-all"  Here was the basic definition:  ( One who claims to know everything and rejects advice or information from others.  

I will refer to "this guy" as Eric.  Eric is someone I met recently, and I have to deal with him in a professional manner, which only adds to the frustration.  And Eric's mistake, little did he know (nor did he probably care), was that he tried to instruct and inform me about the Tour de France.
For those who don't know me very well, this fantastic cycling event became my very-much-needed diversion when my life fell apart (when my husband came out as gay, my faith fractured, and the world as I knew it had to be restructured).  To say the least, I LOVE the Tour de France.  I read about it, I watch it on TV (even the re-runs) and I have attended the race in France more than four times.  I have favorite cyclists, I wear logo clothes, and I carry two souvenir keychains with me every day.  Not only do I revere the race, but I love all things French.  The race is simply the vehicle that lets me enjoy the country, the people, and the culture that I've only begun to discover.  As enthusiastic as I am, I am well aware that I've only scratched the surface - I'm an observer and I have so much to learn!

Having shared that with you, I think you can understand my annoyance or frustration when Eric started his lecture to me on Lance Armstrong, the Tour, and his rundown on the two.  At first I considered having a conversation, but that went awry when Eric ignored my input altogether, and there was nothing sensible for me to do than to drop it.  I simply waited until he was done talking, and then Eric and I carried out our business.  Done.  And I no longer had to endure him or his ignorant comments (because he really was mis- or little-informed).  'Nuff sed about Eric.

Switching gears now to another topic where some are know-it-alls:  Refusing to love and accept GLBT people!  By being "out" as an ally in real life, being publicly supportive on this blog, through e-mails, and on facebook, I try to engage with others about another of my favorite topics.  Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to do the hard work of thinking through or listening to and learning from those who ARE GLBT. 

This week I heard from "AL" with this message directed at Ray:

Comments: From: Al
Just heard your a sodomite. If thats so please quit using the church as a crutch and move on. You are only hurting Gods people and his message.

I responded:  (Well, first I wrote something hurriedly and mean, and I erased that.  THEN I responded with this)
Dear Al,  I would love to have the right words to respond to you, but nothing I say can really impact someone who feels like you do. So many who do not choose to be gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender or otherwise, are faced constantly with people who make assumptions and reject them.
signed CJ, Ray Boltz Music, Inc.

To which AL replied:  the only choice made here is that Mr. Boltz chooses to ignore Gods word and what he says about sin and also chooses to indulge in sin that is very clearly condemed numerous times throughout the Bible.  I'm not saying im perfect either.  I have moments of greed, lust, jealousy, pride, etc.  the only difference between myself and Mr. Boltz is that i will admit to mine being wrong.  he is being dishonest to himself and the very people he is claiming to minister to.  Just as i have to come clean to God after i sin, so can he.  God can and does forgive all sin.  The first step for Mr. boltz is to admit that sodomy is wrong.  Im sure he has heard all of this before, but i felt the need to say something.

I will pray that he is able to let go of this and give his life to god.

A fellow Sinner,

Now I'm thinking:  This guy can't spell, capitalize, or construct a proper sentence.  He doesn't even use a capital "G" in reference to God, and he wants to engage in a debate on the essence of what sin is and isn't?  Because AL has not bothered to respectfully listen to any gay folks, I doubt he is going to listen if I take the time to continue talking (via e-mail) with him.   In cases like AL's I generally revert to what I said in the first place:  "... nothing I say can really impact someone who feels like you do."  

It could be said that I'm not willing to listen to AL, and that is sort of right.  Some might say that I am a know-it-all.  To that I sincerely object.  I admittedly say, "No, thank you," to the many who still hold their view that being gay is a sin.  Out of respect, I have to say that I DID listen to this message most of my life.  I'm steadfastly convinced that I was lied to, misled at the very least, and although I don't know of any time when I confronted someone to condemn them, I do know that I didn't accept or understand someone who was gay and Christian.

I'm certain that the fundamentalist message CAN be changed because I changed.  That does give me HOPE, and it can happen when the know-it-alls stop hearing only their own repetitive messages of condemnation.  Concerning AL and his comments, he probably never expected any reply.  I'll treat him like I did "Eric" - and so many others who are not currently listening - stop and wait until the misinformation stops so that some day we can carry on the business at hand, which for us Christians, it is to love God, love others.

To the ones who think they know it all, I plead once again:  Listen.  Don't be jerks.  Pay attention to others who live a life you don't understand.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I'm from Driftwood

Recently I mentioned that sharing your own story is important, and I found a site today (thanks, Matt Algren) that shares about a million personal coming out stories.  Okay, maybe not a million, but there are a lot.  Youtube alone has 61 uploaded stories for I'm from Driftwood.

I'm so glad the creator, Nathan Manske, is the self-proclaimed geek that he is, and seems to be quite a developer of his ideas.  The additional staffers are Rafi Mittlefehldt, Marquise Lee, and Jessie Tilton  Some of the stories are funny, some sad, and of course, from each person there is something that touches your soul.

When someone shares their own story, it provides value in many ways.  For one, there is nothing new under the sun, and so you find others who have been where you are, and there is shared understanding.  Two, as humans who seek to identify with others with whom we don't share a background, and it helps us empathize and understand.  As the stories are read or listened to, we gain common information that we would not have otherwise, and we grow.    

I hope the stories are read, watched, and understood.  Well done, Driftwood people. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Rummage Sale: canceled

Today I'm not having a rummage sale, and I'm not working at my "new" job (I'm off nearly every Friday).  What I AM doing is resting my aching back and painful sciatica.  What I WANTED to do was prepare for the employee Parking Lot Sale, get rid of the stacks of extra (non-fitting) clothes in my closet (as well as a bunch of "Miscellaneous" as it is referred to in Garage Sale language) and make a few dollars all at the same time.  My wonderful co-workers had even volunteered to help me, but even so, I decided last night that I should cancel.  It just isn't worth it to further hurt myself in an effort to make a hundred bucks. Too bad, since I have a lot of stuff already stickered and ready to go. 

Self-preservaton.  I wonder, when does that kick in on a more intense level than our willingness to persevere and DO things that we want or need to do?  I probably could do the sale, but would it be in my own best interest?  Even with all the work involved, the actual SALE time would be fun, with socializing with co-workers, meeting new co-workers, and sharing the satisfaction of a job achieved and well-done.  I LIKE meeting rummage-salers.  I WANTED to make some extra cash.  I WISH I could clear out some of the clutter that I seem to collect without trying.  All these intended goals meant that a big ol' RUMMAGE SALE could achieve what I wanted to do!

BUT, when it got to last night, the time when I needed to load the tables, carry all the boxes, and pack the vehicle to be ready for Saturday, I just really, really hurt, and I couldn't see following through.  Maybe later, maybe with some family input (hint, hint), but not tomorrow. 

Something about working hard feels good.  There is disappointment in not getting to do the sale.  I even tried to do a sale last week in my garage, but the heat was a setback.  I mean, the weatherperson said it was supposed to feel like 100*!  Who wants to have or GO to a rummage when it's that hot?  Yesterday I decided to run an ad in the paper (so that I could run it today, get rid of some stuff prior to the employee rummage, and I would have less to lug over there).  I submitted the information as soon as I got home from work, but I got a call an hour later that I'd missed the deadline.  All these things have been roadblocks to me and my RUMMAGE sale efforts! 

And so I ask you:  What is up in the meaning of LIFE that I can't get a crummy garage sale going? 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hillary Clinton: Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.

I am so pleased to know the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (whom I supported in the primary 2008) not only participated in Pride Week 2010, but made this very public statement in supporting rights for ALL LGBT people. 

She also encourages straight people to stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves.  I'm so very pleased to be standing with her, and encourage you to listen to her speech.  It matters to us all - in the name of equal rights.  Toward the end of her speech, she speaks of the doing all we can to create safe spaces, and to look for those who need to be mentored.  Let's follow Hillary's example, and be a part of history!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Telling our stories: Jonathan, by Lisa

It is not just for myself that I write this blog. Sometimes it seems too hard, not just emotionally, but because of the time involved and the effort it takes to type out and compose what I want to say, to keep it up. Then, I get an e-mail like this one from Lisa. She shared about her friend, Jonathan, a young gay man. Through knowing him, she learned to accept him for himself, and it changed her life.

Like Lisa and how she was changed, when I needed to gather information, I was touched by stories that others put on blogs and websites and by personal sharing. I found out, to my shock, that there were gay Christians, and that there was no such thing as only one "gay lifestyle."

Now I believe in blogging, and in sharing our stories in person as well. It starts with telling the truth, despite what others may think or say. Lisa has granted me permission to share the way she knew and loved Jonathan, and I offer it to you here.

When I met Jonathan, we were instant friends. We connected on so many levels and our friendship lasted for many year. After I had known him about a year, he confided in me that he was gay. He was only 16 years old at the time. I was in my 20's. I was a little shocked at first, but I already loved and cared about him, and his revelation was not going to change that. It was something that I watched him struggle with for years. He was afraid his parents would find out and shun him. He played piano for several local churches and worried that he was going to be punished by God for playing for a church and being gay.
He went to college on a scholarship because he didn't want to take his parents money, for fear of their reaction if they ever found out. He ended up working 3 jobs while in college, to cover what the scholarship didn't. He was leading a double life, being himself at school and and being the dutiful son when he came home. It was tearing him apart. Finally in his senior year of college, he closed his bank accounts, maxed out all his credit cards and came home with a gun, planning to kill himself. But for some reason, at the last minute, he reached out to his mom for help. He finally told her everything that he had been hiding.
His mother loved him. I don't doubt that. But she couldn't accept that he was gay and she got him into cousleing with someone who kept telling him it was just a phase, and that he could change. That was 5 years ago, and she never stopped trying to change him. He dropped out of college and moved back home. He was just going through the motions really. Two years ago, a job came open in South Carolina, within the company he worked at, so he moved. I thought things were better, since he could be himself there. Of course he still had to pretend when he came home.
We used to joke around and say we should get married, just as a cover. He was so tired of pretending to be someone he was not. But he knew his parents would never ever accept him for who really was. And he was so worried about what God and other Christians thought. I guess I thought he was doing better, but I missed something along the way. He killed himself on May 10, 2010. He just couldn't take the pressures of life anymore.
I am feeling so guilty because I missed the signs. I am so anger that this world makes it so hard for gay people. I really just want to shout at people when they say such hurtful things, like gay people choose their lifestyles. If it were just a choice, Jonathan would not have killed himself. He would have chosen the easier path. I have to say that Jonathan is the reason that my heart was changed. He made me a better person. And now he is gone. I feel so alone, so hurt, so many emotions. I am flooded with memories and regrets.
Reading your blog has been good for me. I just needed to write to you and tell you what Ray's coming out meant to Jonathan. I think it gave him a brief bit of hope. I think the pain he was in was just too much. I read a quote on a suicide survivors forum that I joined. It said " the time came when the pain it took to stay was greater than the pain it took to go"
Please tell Ray thank you and I thank you for sharing your story and for letting me share Jonathan's. The more I can write this down and get it out of my head the better. Please keep me and his family in your prayers and I will keep you in mine.

 Jonathan's story is important, and Lisa has offered to share it with us.  ALL of our stories matter, and I hope I can honor others' stories as well.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sex, God's way (and you know it has to be missionary)

Someone identified as "Love you" on Wednesday at 5:28p.m. in the comments on "Sunday morning sermon topic:  Marriage" wrote this: 

Do you suppose in your efforts to help others, you end up hurting still others? Do you think that your stole would be offensive to friends of Jesse Dirkhising? Is what you feel more important than the feelings of others? Do the rules and demands that you impose on others apply to you? You say that you are not patient with those who disagree with your feelings...yet you demand that others be patient with your disagreement. Is that right?

There are people who truly, really, LOVE children and have "always" lusted for them. These people try to live a normal life; they do not want to be physically attracted to children; and they grieve because they are. But, they can not change. Would you say that "God made them this way"? How about those who really, truly are attracted to dead bodies; to animals; desire bondage and rape; or only find pleasure in pornography? Is that the way God made them? Why would homosexual deviancy be different in the eyes of God than the others I mentioned? Why would God limit his love and understanding to only the deviancy of homosexuality? Many people feel that they were not "made" to be monogamous. They can not be faithful. They NEED many sexual partners. They were "made that way". Yet God clearly says Adultery is a sin. Why? Is God really glorified in homosexual and other "preferences"? Really? Prov.14:14 and 16:25. The truth is; "For all that is of the world---the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life--is NOT of the Father, but is of the world." 1Jn2:16 God made man perfect and good, and provided him with a wife/a woman as the perfect companion. Lust is a part of our fallen nature--not good. I ran a daycare. You are a mother; you and I know that naturally we are sinners. I never had to teach a child to BE selfish--TO hit; TO grab toys or TO throw a fit when they want thing their way! Their natural nature was NOT good. As a loving parent, we must guide them away from these natural ways. Just as God does not want us to steal, kill or lie to get our own way; he doesn't want us to commit sexual sin either. You may get all the world to agree and participate in your sin; but in the end, God says you will pay in your soul..Romans 1:27. It isn't cruel punishment, but truth that if you stick your hand in a flame, you will hurt and be burned. A loving father warns and puts a barrier around the flame to protect his children. Our society has been the barrier. You are trying to remove that barrier, to your hurt, and to burn all our children.

 To which I replied: 

What a tragic story of Jesse Dirkhising, and I’m so sorry if this was a friend of yours.  I presume, rather, that you are offended by the coverage that was lacking when he died, and you think that because he was murdered by two gay men, that it was BECAUSE they were gay.  No, they were violent rapists, murderers.  How awful.

It seems to me that you confuse sexuality, violence, and lust toward other objects, and even non-consensual sex acts, with ADULT, CONSENTING, individuals, legally pursuing relationships of their choice.  The important part is the relationships, and not the sex act, even though that IS the end result of sexuality.  I have said before that I do not understand sex without love, even though I know, of course, that it happens between both straight and gay people.  I also believe in commitment, even though there are situations where that does not enter into sexual relationships, either.  Sex just happens to be part of how we are put together, and yes, there are ways that we disrespect others as well as the way our Maker intended us to use this gift. 

You will not find anywhere on my blog that I condone pedophilia.  I repeat often that God DOES love us all, and no one is judged except by God, nor is God’s love measured by how we make love or with whom.  Rather than bring up various sexual preferences, I repeat that I’m not talking about how people “do it.”  My emphasis is that ALL of us need love, respect, and acceptance. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday morning sermon topic: Marriage

Happily wearing my "rainbow stole" today for church, I wanted attention.  The stole is about 30" long, and it drapes around one's neck like a minister's "stole" - a seasonal decoration that is part of a Methodist minister's garb.   I received it in 2008 at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, and was made by members of the Reconciling Ministries. 

I was complimented two times.  First, by my divorce lawyer and her husband (also an attorney), who are two folks that are not only friendly, but have let me know that they are supportive of gay and lesbian people.  I told them my pretty neck-piece was given to me by the Reconciling Ministries.  They were happily surprised when I told them it actually IS a part of Methodism. 

Next, another friend said, "What a colorful...thing you have."  And to this friend I answered, "It means I'm gay-affirming, and I'm wearing it because this week was the Indiana Conference here in Muncie."  My friend was taken aback, and said, "You aren't kidding, are you?"  To which I said no, I was not, as I smiled and explained again about getting it at General Conference. I was kind of proud to be wearing my "sign" of affirmation, and I was happy that I could express the reason I wore it.  As surprised as this 2nd friend was, she knows how I think and feel, so we smiled and went to our seats - and I chose to sit with the lawyer friends.

As I enjoyed the music, singing with a full heart, my friend Lisa, came to sit with us.  After the usual announcements and so forth, the pastor, Matt, began with the first of a series on MARRIAGE.  I'd been feeling pretty good up to that point - and wrote a secret note that I showed my two friends:  Here we sit, two divorcees and a divorce lawyer!  Oh, the irony. 

Examples of true love followed:  slides of old married folks, witnesses of a lifetime of commitment.  A video from the Marriage Ref, showing silly arguments.  And then to show how couples can grow apart, a geometric object lesson: as an angle stays constant, the points on the arms move further from the vertex (all math terms I had to look up to add here) as well as further from each other. 

Wow, what a way to build up our little back row.

It took full concentration AND some good-hearted humor for both Lisa and myself to sit quietly and to keep a receptive attitude, since we each divorced for different reasons.  But since we (and others who divorce) still hold marriage in high regard, we decided we would not make a mass exodus.  However, about 15 minutes into the sermon/message, I had a "potty emergency" and had to excuse myself.

In the restroom, I was concerned to hear quiet sniffles - and I worried that someone needed help.  My call from nature must have been a meant-to-be, because in asking, and all I could see was feet, and all I could hear was crying. When this small woman appeared, I found someone who was in much more serious shape because of this "marriage" sermon.  She had just filed for divorce, and she was very, very upset.

Little did I know how much others would be suffering, and this particular woman couldn't bear to stay inside the main hall.    I was so glad I got to talk and interact with her, and when she asked, I went inside and found her purse and things so she wouldn't have to.

Because I went inside and gathered the belongings of this woman, I also grabbed my own, and I didn't hear how the message ended.  I wondered though, how many of us were there who were affected.  I wondered, and still do, if Matt realizes that when he encourages some, even many, that some of us either have to remove ourselves from the impact of the message, or absolutely can't stand to hear how things "ought to be."

Getting back to my rainbow stole, I thought about why I wear it and what I stand for.  I am part of many groups.  There are the closeted gay Christians that I KNOW are part of our little congregation, and I want to be a visible support for them.  The out gay Christians who are not there - since the United Methodists are slow to accept them as equals in our congregation.  I also stand for the non-Christian gay and lesbian people, because we all are God's children. 

I'm also part of the divorced people.  Ten years ago I would NEVER have expected to be one of "THEM."  Now that I AM divorced, messages like today's that assume marriage is part of everyone's life find me sarcastic and a little jaded.  While divorce is no longer as stigmatized in the church as it was in the past, we who experience it still hurt, a lot.   

So is there a sign I can wear that shows my care for these groups?  Is there anything I can do?  Is wearing a rainbow stole enough?  Is it even appropriate? 

I think it is not my rainbow stole that will show how much I care or display my willingness to stand with those who can't stand for themselves.  I think it's my question in the bathroom stall asking, "Do you need help?  Can I do something for you?"  Even though I was initially afraid to intrude, it was a moment that passed quickly.  And it takes just a moment longer to offer to help someone know they aren't alone. 

I'm not sure how to sum this up - suffice it to say that I want to help. It isn't wearing an outside rainbow that shows my support, even though it can easily show that I'm supportive.  It's the caring question, "Do you need help?  Can I do anything for you?"  It's offering myself, even when I can't do much more than get someone's things and give a hug.  That's what I can do.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Busy days of June

Hi friends and readers! I have not had time to write lately, even though I have some entries that desperately need to be edited before I post them. There is interesting stuff all around in the news:

1) Ted Haggard is starting a new church. I just hope he welcomes gay people who are out and honest. If he and Gayle are happy with their lives, great. While I don't believe that he's been made into a straight man, I can accept his spiritual gifts as a leader. I do object when he refers to others who are "out" as sinful, and these honest ones shouldn't be oppressed or criticized.

2) "Don't ask, Don't tell" was passed by the House on May 27. This will soon allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve openly in the Armed Forces, and will provide opportunities for ALL. A couple of years ago I talked with a young girl who had been "outed" by others in her unit, and was discharged because she was lesbian. In all other regards this young girl was full of merit, but her career was terminated, her future was changed because she dated another female.

3) I got a new job! I'm now a gift shop manager! Although I started about 6 weeks ago, working outside and for someone else is a new challenge, and I'm busy, busy, busy. Even though it is part-time, I still have lots of work here at home that keeps me busy, and I sometimes don't get it all done.

4) Daughter Liz and her baby were just here to visit! They live out of state, and were here for a family gathering that we call the "Brammer Family get-together." It's become an annual event, always at my house each June. I took advantage in the past week to hold my wonderful grandkids, and it was great. See the picture here? Now, I bet you'd hold babies rather than blog if it were you, don't you think?

I hope to still have time to keep blogging, because I have some personal stories that others have shared with me.

Sharing my own story on this blog has been a great experience for me. Not only have I put it in black and white, I've gone through emotions and sorted out some of my thoughts along the way. As I have done this, I have gained encouragement, support and new friends. Thank you! Because of that, and how others' personal stories have been so important to my growth, I want to be able to share more of these.

Meantime, have patience as I adjust to my new schedule. I have a ton of work to do, and still only 24 hours in a day (like everyone else). :) Have a good week!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I'm losing patience

It appears to me that I'm losing patience with people who oppose me or are critical of my views. I've been "nice" about to my limit.

Yesterday my friend, Betty, pointed out levels of decision-making, I suppose it was, that she's been reading about. She described three levels. There are visceral reactions of anger and the "fight or flight" mode, referred to as reptilian. Then there are reactions which can be filed under a more mammalian level, and love falls in that category. Finally, the highest level would be toward reason, and we couldn't figure out exactly what creature type that would be, but we still understood that the third level would be most desirable. Maybe a blue creature like the Na'vi of Avatar?

As hard as I've tried to stay within the two higher levels, where I use love and reason, sometimes I slip right into CHOMPING ALLIGATOR mode. It happened when someone turned ugly toward my daughter, who was defending an attack on her dad. I found it totally uncalled-for, and I lashed out. Wrong. It accomplished/accomplishes nothing at all, except to look reptilian.

It gets draining to always respond nicely. As much as I practice and lean on my spiritual connection, it still helps to have the support I get from people like Betty - who "get it." Even at my new job, I was brought to tears yesterday by a co-worker who "gets it" without me having to explain who I am or why I support those I support.

I get astounded by the patience of others who have worked so much longer than I have to bring understanding and build bridges between diverse communities! I feel like progress is coming, and I hope to goodness that I can help in the evolution toward understanding. I don't want to turn into a reptile!

Gay Bill Offends Souder's "Moral Views" | News |

Gay Bill Offends Souder's "Moral Views" | News |

Being from Indiana, I have to express my offense at Mr. Mark Souder's recent revelatory behavior. In addition, as recently as last November, Souder declared that as a Christian, he objected to the bill to benefit Domestic Partners.

How is it that "Christians" like Souder cannot see how abhorrent his discrimination is, as well as his self-righteous attitude, thinking he's being persecuted if he spouts that selfsame discriminatory speech. I just don't get it.

Now we have found out that he's doin' the nasty with someone other than his wife. Well, it doesn't fly. At least he's ashamed enough to step down from his legislative position, so that he can stop being such a hypocrite.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Boltz story carried in The New York Times

A few weeks ago, an e-mail came to the website, and the result is an article by Sam Freedman of The New York Times which appeared Friday online.  Saturday morning (May 15, 2010) there will be a version of it in the print version. Both Ray and myself were interviewed for this article, and I want to share it. 

Two years ago, about this time of year, my ex-husband and I were deciding when and how to open up with the public about him being gay.  I was ready, and I was tired of keeping secrets about why we divorced.  But one of the reasons Ray HAD to "come out" was so that he could continue his gift of sharing his new songs and his voice with the public.  He didn't want to hide behind any false assumptions that he is straight, and he needed to be honest.

Somehow I had emerged from the emotional trauma of being the straight wife of a loving but gay man, and I became an advocate for equal rights and acceptance of all LGBTQ people.  I knew that if anyone could have "changed" from gay to straight, it would have been my (ex-)husband.  And because of that, I came to realize that other straight individuals shouldn't unknowingly marry someone who can never be fully intimate with them, no matter how much they intend to be so.  I decided to say as often as I need to say it:  God makes people, and we are made as sexual beings.  Some of us are straight, and some are gay.

I'm not sure there can be any more hurt when a beloved spouse reveals to his or her mate that they are gay.  Somehow it seems worse than "just" having an affair, because there is nothing that can solve the problem.  No amount of prayer, counseling, or trying can change one's sexual orientation.  Confronting this truth made me even doubt that any love God has for me must surely be shown in strange ways, since this isn't the life I expected when I said, "I do."  Other women and men shouldn't have to experience this "discovery," nor the pain of such a hopeless secret that has no fix.

So, is there a solution?  I think there is.  The solution is to accept ALL people, and to realize that gay people should not have to pretend to be straight, and should not marry straight ones without FULL information and consent.  My hope is that just like it helps other closeted gay people when someone comes out, I need to be "out" as a straight spouse.  I have nothing to hide, and I'm not ashamed.  Sharing my story?  I'm OUT, I'm proud, and I'm honest.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The ethics of re-selling books (ones I don't agree with)

Ethics:  the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics. 

Am I being ethical when I re-sell books on Amazon that clearly don't share my politics?  If I no longer want a book, for whatever reason, and I decide I can re-sell it, should I?  Is it wrong of me to foist my former fundamentalist outlook on those who still have that viewpoint?  

What I'm talking about is the quandry I find myself in when I go to list books on Amazon with titles like this: 
1. Christian Politics Rocking America 
2. Turning the hearts of the fathers, by Ron Luce (with a contribution by Ted Haggard)
3. God Today

I mean, that #2 one is autographed by Ron Luce (not personalized).

What I'm thinking is that if I get a buck or two, why not?  Then again, I surely don't want to add even a smidgen to the Tea Party group!  While I don't agree with the conservative Fox-News watcher, I still have a Christian worldview in keeping with the mainstream church, and I want people to deepen their faith in a loving God of the Bible.  Reading certain books can support or point to differences that each of us feel about various issues.  

After all, I recently added "ads" to my blog, from which I gain a slight amount of cash when someone clicks on those ads.  I found a way to omit the political ones that I found offensive (and contrary to my political position), and I hope that the ones that are selected to accompany my blog will interest some readers.  Including ads on the blog seemed to make sense, but I don't want to contribute to anti-gay sentiment.

 I don't have any books by EX---S, and if I did, I'd burn them, because it's wrong to pass their information to ANYONE.   A few years ago I did re-sell some Focus on the Family stuff, when I cleaned out my stash of "books I'm never going to read."  I don't even like stuff from most Christian bookstores (never did).  I'm more into historical narratives, memoirs and biographies of long-dead pioneers, especially women and their stories. 

Here's my call for this issue:  I've tossed the Politics book in the trash can.  I won't re-sell any book that spews hatred.  But I don't mind making a little money on books I'm never going to pick up and read. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Further questions about why I don't publish certain comments that I deem as hurtful

One of the very thoughtful people who wrote some comments that I later refused to publish is Hadley Baker.  He and I have shared a couple e-mails, and although I consider his input to be worthy of dialogue, I do not agree with his views on gay people.  He wrote to me last week, and has agreed that I can use his name in sharing what he had to say.     

Hadley wrote this:  
I know you did not choose to publish my last comment on your blog.  I guess I would like to just leave you a final thought.  I would also like to thank you for emailing me back on my last email and comment.  Here's my thought:
I cannot help but notice that those who share your view on sexual orientation, gay marriage, etc. seem very close minded to opposing views.  I know it could easily be said that those who share my view are the same way.  But here is the difference as I see it.  I am not trying to silence the voice of people who share your view.  If someone wants to speak out and voice their beliefs on gay marriage, sexual orientation, etc., I do not have a problem with that.  I think is their constitutional right, even though I disagree with them.  However, in many modern countries of the world those who deem homosexuality to be immoral are being silenced. 
It would seem to any objective person that your agenda is to tell people like me that their beliefs are wrong.  You don't just want us to hear you, you want us to agree with you.  And now the governments of this world are getting involved and attacking the church or those with a moral objection to homosexuality.  It's happening in Canada and in the UK.  Soon enough in the US, people like me may be thrown in jail because of our "hate speech" (which is not hatred at all).  I just find it ironic that you would not want to publish views that disagree with yours, as though you are nervous to debate a view that challenges your own.
As I have said before, I am not angry at you, or Ray, or anyone else in the gay community (including supporters).  But I do not understand why people like me are being called a "hater"...since when is someone filled with hate because they adhere to their sincere beliefs of the Bible?  I do not understand this at all.  I can say as someone who disagrees with you, that you will do a lot more to gain merit and credibility if you will be open to dialogue rather than diatribe.  And I would say the same thing to the many people who share my views.  We all need to be open to discussion, to looking at the Bible and seeing what it really says.  Just a thought.  Thanks for hearing me out.
Hadley Baker
Dallas, TX is my reply:
(and I made just a couple edits)

Hi John,

Sorry I'm just getting back with you.  I had my daughter and granddaughter here since Tuesday, and just haven't had time to reply to your courteous e-mail.  My daughter's trip was a short one, and all I wanted to do when I wasn't working was to hold the baby.  :)

You are asking about why I won't publish certain viewpoints, and your impression is that I am "nervous to debate a view that challenges" [mine].  No, that isn't the case, but let me explain. 

I read over the article on the street preacher in the UK, and I see where you think Christians are being silenced.  It appears to me that he was doing "street-preaching," and that he was expressing himself in regard to how he sees gay people.  He sees them as sinful and a threat to society.  He was silenced.

Meanwhile, I have read 1000s of e-mails directed to Ray and myself (sent to us as comments on his website), saying the same thing with slight variations, over and over:  Gays don't know the Bible.  Ray (specifically) has chosen a sinful lifestyle.  Fans are saddened and disappointed.  Ray didn't trust God.  Gay people just need to turn to Jesus - really.  Ray is leading others to hell.  Ray is a monster who was never saved.  Ray should just ignore what he feels.  If gay people were really saved, they wouldn't have "this problem."  Ray is demon-possessed.  Gays don't deserve forgiveness, as they have turned away from God.  Ray purposely deceived others as he sang.  (and MORE and more and more comments on blogs)  This is what we don't need more of, anywhere. 

Let's see---how many more phrases can I recite?  Plenty.  And honestly, do you think that fundamentalists will stop saying those things?  I don't think so.  They are perfectly free (and legally able) to continue to say those things IN THEIR OWN CHURCHES.  That is not going to change quickly - although I do believe it should and it is what I work toward.

I could nicely reply that I disagree with how you see all this - but it will not do me any good.  I can only reject offensive things that are said on MY blog, and try to help others tell their stories.  Each one of them deserve to have a venue where the rhetoric is NOT SAID.  And my blog is one of those places. 

I've wanted to sarcastically reply to some people's comments and say, "Oh, gee, now I see!  Your meanness and stupidity has changed my mind!"  But that's mean on MY part.  I am not mean at all, and I try to not respond in a mean way - even when I feel like a flippant remark is what I want to do/say.

What I DON'T want to happen is that my little blog is a place of more anger and venom spewed from ... what ends up as pretty close to hate.  I just want others to hear gay people's stories - and to listen to them. 

I realize that your faith is that being gay is wrong.  I had heard that during all the days of my church life, especially since it was a hot-topic since the Pat Robertson days of "AIDS is God's wrath" against homosexuals.  The anti-gay arguments have been used to raise money and spread fear.  Gay people, meanwhile, are just trying to live without being condemned.  They've heard all the "love the sinner, hate the sin" stuff, and they know they are no better or worse than anyone else.  Many have been raised in churches and places of faith, yet even though they adhered to ALL that was required of them, they still were/are not straight.  Your arguments are not going to change them, nor change me from being their ally. 

In addition, I would never want any one of my gay friends to have to read the same old arguments that you (or maybe not you, but others) would put forth.  That is not what my blog is for, and like I have said, I will not allow it. 

Carol Boltz


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ray Boltz's new blog

Finally!  Ray Boltz now has his songs "out there"and has made a new entry to his "blog." Ray has put his lyrics plainly visible for nearly all the songs, as well as explanations for several of them.  I think if you take a look, and as you listen, you will be touched.

Update:  If you click on this entry's title, it will take you directly to this URL:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Some comments are out of line, and I won't publish them

(This post is actually a comment I wrote in response to some (3-4) recent anonymous comments that object to how I defend the rights of gay people.  It is an answer to why I don't publish some comments, and some e-mails just don't get answers.)

I won't publish your comments that criticize gay people because of their sexual orientation.  When you claim that "some of my friends are gay," but you "doubt their "walk with Jesus" " (the commenter's quotes), well, let me share this with you:  If you hold the opinion that they are "openly practicing the homosexual lifestyle," and you don't approve, they don't really think of you as their friend, nor do they like you.

I won't publish the messages that say that gay people must be denied freedom to share their lives with another adult to whom they are emotionally and physically attracted.  When you (anonymous commenters) say that someone is "practicing an open homosexual lifestyle" I know you are drawing lines of rejection, and that you assume that all people who are gay adhere to crazy and irresponsible sex - and that isn't true.

I won't publish comments that assume that molestation is the source of same-sex attraction.  This is not based in fact.

I refuse to publish comments that call gay people sinners in the same way as murderers, pedophiles, rapists, or those in incestuous relationships. 

There are other reasons that I reject comments, but tonight it's late, and this is my short list.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Do gay men ever really change to heterosexual?

Exodus International was formed in the 70s, and one of the co-founders was Michael Bussee.  At that time they claimed that change was possible - that you could actually change from unwanted same-sex desires to ...something close to heterosexual.  The history of Exodus is fraught with re-defining their claims and expectations, and fuel has been added by many who really, really wish that someone, anyone really could change. 

Michael Bussee is no longer affiliated with Exodus International, and he has made sincere apology for the harm he caused by promoting the hope and false possibility of change.  Most recently, he has made several very calm and honest videos.  Thanks to, we can see ALL of these videos and become educated.  It's better to hear "from the horse's mouth" than to listen to those who merely make theological claims. 


Here is the link for the series of six videos.  (Thanks to Daniel Gonzales and for making these and posting them.  I'm tremendously fond of those boxturtle guys and all they do to bring us pertinent information and news.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How can I promote Ray's new CD?

Some will ask how I can promote this new CD.  My answer is not simple to understand, but it is also, like Ray expresses, true.

Ray Boltz has never done anything to purposely hurt me or cause me pain.  He wanted nothing other than to let me escape his ultimate acceptance of his own God-given sexual orientation.   Yes, it might have been easier if I'd known a little bit before the 30-year mark, but I didn't.  And at the point when one person of a mixed-orientation marriage is gay, you have to deal with that reality.  That is what I've done. 

I am letting people know that if there were any other solution, we'd have found it.  I'm letting other straight spouses know that if they are married to a gay person,you just might need to listen to, "God knows I tried," in order to realize that you are loved, but not in the way that you deserve.  And when a parent or family member needs to hear the heart of a gay person, they might listen to, "I chose," and realize that gay people don't choose their sexual orientation.  And for the Christians who struggle with their responses to gays in their churches and communities, I'd suggest that you listen to, "Who would Jesus love?"  

And those suggestions are just so folks can TRY to understand how people who are gay feel in just a small way.  If it takes a few "listens," so be it - there's hope if you will hear that same heart of Ray Boltz that you came to love before YOU knew. 

True also includes serious songs, as well as some with humor, and for those who are trying to reconcile their faith as it relates to self-acceptance, this entire collection of songs are true and self-accepting.  Ray has never written anything he didn't fully commit to, and this CD is no different.

Prior to this recording, Ray adhered to faith that fulfilled the stereotypical fundamentalist.  Now, he's still sharing faith, but it is deeper and it's honest in a way that he never could share before.  

Once you've heard it, I hope it helps you understand how I can support and promote this record.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ray's new CD: True - available on

Here is my non-veiled, blatant announcement of Ray Boltz's new CD. It is now on, and you can order it! It is downloadable - for only $8.99! TRUE by Ray Boltz

Go check it out, order it, and tell Ray how much you like it. (on Facebook, here: Ray Boltz Fan Club
or here: Ray Boltz

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tony Campolo: loving people who are gay

(hat tip to Tim Morris at

Several years ago, I realized that Tony Campolo is one preacher whom I sincerely want to emulate when he talks about loving people. I know of many who describe themselves as Christians, but they qualify their relationships with gay people in the category, "love the sinner, but hate the sin." That phrase is highly judgmental, and I don't like it at all, but Tony refers to it in this video.

I want to ask that you watch this video, which is about 7 minutes long. You will hear from a respected Christian pastor and leader, and I hope it will provide insight into one more aspect of "love your neighbor as yourself."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Reprint of Ray Boltz' original "coming out" article: "Key Changes" by Joey DiGuglielmo, Washington Blade, Sept. 12, 2008

My note: Because the original article is no longer available online, I am reprinting it here on my blog. Ray Boltz, in August of 2008, agreed to several interviews by phone with Joey DiGuglielmo.

September 16, 2008 • from the WASHINGTON BLADE by Joey DiGuglielmo

Ray Boltz wanted to do something nice.
He’d visited the mostly gay Jesus Metropolitan Community Church in Indianapolis and liked Rev. Jeff Miner, so he decided to give him a copy of his 1997 holiday recording, “A Christmas Album.”

It was one of 16 albums Boltz, 55, recorded during a nearly 20-year recording career that saw the Muncie, Ind., native become one of the better-known singer/songwriters in Contemporary Christian Music, a genre born out of the Jesus Movement of the early 1970s that made singers like Amy Grant, Sandi Patty, Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman superstars in religious music with occasional excursions into mainstream pop culture.

Boltz, with about 4.5 million LPs, cassettes and CDs sold, never made a splash outside of Christian circles but he never really tried. With a handful of RIAA Gold-certified albums, three Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association (GMA) and a string of 12 No. 1 hits on Christian radio, Boltz is a household name in evangelical circles. “Thank You,” a sentimental song about a dream in which a Christian thanks the Sunday school teacher who led him to embrace Christ, is his signature song. It was the GMA song of the year in 1990 and has become a staple of Christian funerals. Other Boltz trademarks are “Watch the Lamb,” “The Anchor Holds” and “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb.”

Boltz brought the Christmas CD with him to MCC-Indianapolis on that cold, sunny December 2007 day and slipped it to Miner on his way out with a note taped to it on which he’d jotted his e-mail address.

Ostensibly it was an innocuous thing to do, but for Boltz it was a big step. It eventually led to him opening up to Miner, one of the first times anybody outside Boltz’s circle of family and friends knew his long-kept secret: Ray Boltz is gay.
“I didn’t make a big deal of it,” Boltz says during a 90-minute phone interview from his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. “But I was trembling. I’d kind of had two identities since I moved to Florida where I kind of had this other life and I’d never merged the two lives. This was the first time I was taking my old life as Ray Boltz, the gospel singer, and merging it with my new life. Emotionally it was kind of a big deal to think about that.”

Ray Boltz was tired of living a lie. He’d gotten to a point nearly three years before where he couldn’t continue down the road his life had gone.

His 33-year marriage to ex-wife Carol was, he says, largely a happy one. It produced four children — three daughters and a son who are now between 22 and 32 — but family life and going through the motions of being straight had grown so wearying to Boltz, he was in a serious depression, had been in therapy for years, was on Prozac and other anti-depressants and had been, for a time, suicidal.

“I thought I hid it really well,” he says. “I didn’t know people could see what I was going through, the darkness and the struggle. After I came out to my family, one of my daughters said she was afraid to walk in my bedroom because she was afraid she’d find me — that I’d done something to myself. And I didn’t even know they’d picked it up.”

The Boltz family remembers Dec. 26, 2004 for two reasons: the tsunami in the Indian Ocean but also the tsunami that their husband and father unleashed when he told them what had been bothering him for so many years.

He hadn’t planned a major announcement — but sitting around the kitchen table at his daughter’s house, Boltz’s son, Philip, asked him what was wrong.

“I thought, ‘Well, I can just do what I always do and hide the truth or I can take a risk and be honest,’” Boltz says. “That day, with the tsunami, has become very symbolic in our family.”

Nobody was sure, at the time, what the ramifications of the revelation would be, least of all Ray.

“It’s hard to say I came out because I didn’t have all the answers. I just admitted what I was struggling with and what I was feeling. It’s hard to go, ‘This is the point where I accepted my sexuality and who I was,’ but I came out to them and shared with them what I’d been going through.”

Continuing to pretend, Boltz says, was no longer an option.

“I’d denied it ever since I was a kid. I became a Christian, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then at the end, I was just going, ‘I’m still gay. I know I am.’ And I just got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore … when I was going through all this darkness, I thought, ‘Just end this.’”

His family’s reaction took time. “I don’t want to downplay it like it was just, ‘Oh, well that’s OK.’ It was a very tough time for them too, but the bottom line was they loved me and they still love me … it’s been an amazing journey of acceptance on their part … I was offered support and love from each member of my family, including my wife.”

Humble beginnings

Ray Boltz was born in June 1953, the middle of three children (a fourth died shortly after birth) to William and Ruth Boltz. Ray’s early religious experience centered around a small country Methodist church.

He discovered rock music in high school. Lying on his bed at age 17 hearing the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” awoke him to the possibilities of music. There was a smidge of budding radical in him — he participated in an anti-war rally; high school friends had gone to Woodstock, though he didn’t. A hippie spin-off of sorts, the Jesus Movement was gradually making its way across the country from California.
Boltz injured his back in 1972 and was in the hospital when a visiting minister invited him to Jacob’s Well, a Christian coffeehouse in nearby Harper City, Ind. When Boltz recovered, he checked it out, saw gospel group the Fisherman perform and had a life-altering experience.

“That evening had a profound impact on my life,” he says. “I realized that this was the truth and that Jesus was alive … that’s really where I made a commitment to Christ. I decided I could be born again and all of the things I was feeling in the past would fall away and I would have this new life.”

He became a regular at Jacob’s and met Carol Brammer at its upstairs Christian bookstore later that year. They attended Bible studies together and eventually wed in 1975.

Indiana — for some reason that’s never been fully explored — had become a hotbed of Christian music. The Jesus Movement had a surge of early ’70s activity in Boltz’s part of the state and gospel music legends like Bill and Gloria Gaither, Sandi Patty, members of Petra and late gospel singer Rich Mullins all hailed from the Hoosier state.

His early years of family life were good ones and Boltz recalls them fondly. He worked for the state highway department and drove a snowplow truck while putting himself through college. He’d write songs and sing on weekends. After college he worked five years at a manufacturing plant.

A series of self-made indie cassettes of his songs, which he sold at concerts, made him realize the importance of having a producer/arranger and by the mid-1980s, he plunked “everything we had” into recording an album at Bill Gaither’s Indiana studio.
Boltz financed “Watch the Lamb” for $11,000. It was picked up by Heartland Records in Orlando, Fla., and distributed by the CCM label Benson.

He quit his job in 1986 and went into music full time. Boltz’s career soared with the release of his second album, “Thank You” (1988).

He spent most weekends on the road and maintained a steady output of recording. Despite Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) having its unofficial headquarters on Nashville’s Music Row, by the time Boltz became well known, his children were in school in Indiana and, like the Gaithers and Sandi Patty, he remained based there. He became well regarded for an unusual level of giving back, eventually donating some concert proceeds for orphanages in Calcutta, Sri Lanka and a home for abandoned AIDS babies in Kenya.

Touring eventually involved a band, two buses and a semi-trailer truck and a crew of about 15 people with Ray headlining venues that sat between 5,000 and 7,500 people.
“Those were definitely wonderful, wonderful years,” Boltz says. “There’s absolutely no question about it … I believed what I sang but in the back of my mind, I always felt I could never quite measure up. So yes, they were good years, but there was also a lot of pain.”

It got to the point by the early-to-mid ’00s that keeping his homosexuality hidden had become an increasingly wearying notion. “You get to be 50-some years old and you go, ‘This isn’t changing.’ I still feel the same way. I am the same way. I just can’t do it anymore.’”

There was some exploration of “ex-gay” therapy though Boltz never attended an “ex-gay” camp or formal seminar. “I basically lived an ‘ex-gay’ life — I read every book, I read all the scriptures they use, I did everything to try and change.”
Indirectly, this spilled out into his songwriting. Boltz says even though he never told his fans the specifics of his struggle, it added a dimension to his lyrics that resonated.

“It’s there on every single record,” he says. “That struggle of accepting myself and my feelings. There’s a lot of pain there and it connected with a lot of people. They weren’t struggling with the same thing necessarily but we all suffer with our humanity.”

There were other signs that his music was connecting. He was shocked to see two kids from a Calcutta mission singing “Thank You” during ABC’s coverage of Mother Teresa’s funeral in 1997.

He’d met Bill McCartney, the founder of Promise Keepers, a controversial religious group that advocates men being the head of Christian households, at a meeting and ended up singing in front of 1.3 million Christian men at a Promise Keepers rally (“Stand in the Gap”) at the Mall in Washington in October, 1997. And one of the Christian teens killed in the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999 had been a Boltz fan and had performed choreography to his music.

But on the personal side, the pain of the closet kept a tight grip. His physical relationship with his wife hadn’t been torturous. He says it helped that he felt genuine affection for her, if not sexual desire.

“Sex was based on the fact that we loved each other and I wanted to make her happy,” he says. “I had sexual drives as well. You know, it’s like I never had to talk myself into having a relationship with her or that I was going, ‘Oh God, here we’re going to bed again’ — it wasn’t that. I loved her and we had a very full life; it’s just that inside, deep inside, it really wasn’t who I was.”

Aside from sex, Boltz says this eventually took a toll on the couple’s intimacy.
“It wasn’t something that manifested itself in that we never had sex … but how can you truly be intimate with someone when you don’t know who they are, when they won’t reveal themselves to you … I thought if I can’t say this to the people I love, then what kind of life is this?”

Retiring from singing

Boltz began slowing down in the summer of 2004. He quietly retired from singing, recording and touring. He and Carol separated in the summer of 2005 and he moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He only casually knew a few people there but thought it would be a good place to start a new, low-key life and get to know himself.

He and Carol Boltz remain close (their divorce was finalized early this year). She’s become involved with the gay advocacy group Soulforce but declined, through Boltz, to be interviewed for this story.

Not many in CCM seemed to think anything was awry. Boltz says people just assumed he was ready for a break after so many years on the road. Touring and wise investing had put Boltz in a comfortable place financially; it was important to him to make sure Carol had money, too, before moving.

The early months in Florida felt strange and different, but also liberating.
His faith was in transition — tenants he’d adhered to all his life suddenly were up for reconsideration, but there was a peace he hadn’t felt before.

“I had a lot of questions [about faith], but at the bottom of everything was a feeling that I didn’t hate myself anymore, so in that sense I felt closer to God.”
Boltz declines to go into specifics about the first time he was with a man, but says he has been dating and lives “a normal gay life” now.

“If you were to hold up the rule book and go, ‘Here are all the rules Christians must live by,’ did I follow every one of those rules all that time? Not at all, you know, because I kind of rejected a lot of things, but I’ve grown some even since then. I guess I felt that the church, that they had it wrong about how I felt with being gay all these years, so maybe they had it wrong about a lot of other things.”
As he sorted out his faith, Boltz began building a new life for himself. He took some graphic design courses. He found he could be almost completely anonymous in Ft. Lauderdale. The mullet he’d sported in the ’80s was long gone and CCM had always been a somewhat insular community.

Boltz says the anonymity was a blessing. “I didn’t have to be who I was in the past. I didn’t have to fit somebody else’s viewpoint of what they thought I was. I could just be myself and I met a lot of wonderful people.”

New directions

The name on the CD didn’t register with MCC’s Rev. Jeff Miner at first. And that was just fine with Ray Boltz. Miner liked the Christmas CD and was so impressed he e-mailed Boltz and asked him if he’d ever thought about doing music full time.
Boltz laughed as he read the note. “He obviously had no idea who I was and I just loved that,” Boltz says. “I just said, ‘Uh, yeah, I used to.’”

Miner showed the CD to the music leaders at MCC Indianapolis who, recognizing Boltz’s name, were dumbfounded that he’d been to their church. When they mentioned some of Boltz’s hits to him, Miner made the connection.

Miner told Boltz if he was ever in the area again — Boltz makes regular trips back to the Midwest to visit family — that he was welcome to sing. “I was scared to death when he said it,” Boltz says. “But I finally got the courage and said, ‘Yeah.’”

Boltz had no interest in rejuvenating his career but the same musical passion that had driven him since he was a teen, inspired him to use songwriting cathartically. The songs “I Will Choose to Love” and “God Knows I Tried,” two of the most recent he’s written, capture where he is now.

“I was so good at pretending/like an actor on a stage/but in the end nobody knew me/only the roles that I portrayed/and I would rather have you hate me/knowing who I really am/than to try and make you love me/being something that I can’t” (from “God Knows I Tried”).

This started a chain reaction of events that led to this story. Boltz performed at Miner’s church to an enthusiastic reception. Miner then introduced him to Rev. Cindi Love, executive director of the Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, who’d just released a book called “Would Jesus Discriminate,” a discussion of Christianity and homosexuality.

Love speaks highly of Boltz, whom she met in May. “After I got to know him, I thought, ‘This is one of the most sincere guys I’ve met in a long time,’” she says. “It’s an especially rare thing to see for someone who’s been in the music industry. He’s just clearer. He’s not jumbled up in ego.”

Love invited Boltz to join her at MCC Washington where he sang on May 25 and, even though it was not stated that Boltz is gay, the congregation connected with the songs. “I didn’t tell them I was gay but I still felt like I was being authentic, that I could be who I was,” Boltz says. “They all jumped up at the end of the song, clapping and all gave me hugs. It was pretty amazing.” (Boltz will return to MCC Washington for a free concert at 3 p.m. on Sept. 21.)

Boltz is clear, though, about his reasons for coming out publicly. “I really had no master plan here,” he says. “I’ve just been trying to go with the idea that you can either live your life out of love or out of fear. I could just stay here in Florida and be pretty anonymous. I could go work at Wal-Mart or something where nobody knows who I am, but to me, that’s kind of living in fear.”

Though he’s open to performing, Boltz says he doesn’t plan to let this issue take over his life. “I don’t want to be a spokesperson, I don’t want to be a poster boy for gay Christians, I don’t want to be in a little box on TV with three other people in little boxes screaming about what the Bible says, I don’t want to be some kind of teacher or theologian — I’m just an artist and I’m just going to sing about what I feel and write about what I feel and see where it goes.”

Anti-gay discrimination

Even though Boltz plans no triumphant homecoming to Christian music, there may be rough days ahead. The Contemporary Christian Music scene has traditionally held its artists to much higher standards than their pop counterparts and it’s only been those who’ve shown repentance for their perceived sins, who have been able to rebuild their careers.

Joe Hogue worked for years as a CCM producer in Nashville with acts like Carman, DC Talk, BeBe and CeCe Winans and others, and found the calls for work completely dried up when he divorced his wife and came out.

“There are a lot of closeted people in Christian music,” says Hogue, who now lives in California and works with gay singers like Nemesis and Jason & DeMarco. “And, you know, it’s not even really the artists that care about it so much, they just know their audience will.”

No artist of Boltz’s prominence has come out. A few minor CCM players have, but their decisions were hardly celebrated.

Marsha Stevens, a Jesus Movement songwriter famous for the Christian folk song, “For Those Tears I Died,” a favorite in youth camps and churches for decades, came out in 1980. She was famously renounced by Bill Gaither, whom she’d been photographed with at one of his “Homecoming” concerts, in 2006.

Kirk Talley, a Southern Gospel singer (a slightly different genre than CCM, though there’s some overlap of the players), confessed to struggling with homosexuality and came out in GQ in 2005. He’s continued singing in churches but only because he’s categorized his sexual orientation as a burden to be carried.

Talley initially declined to be interviewed for this story saying he’d “been through enough hell,” but did consent to one comment: “I will definitely be in prayer for Ray,” he said in an e-mail. “He has no idea the crap he will have to endure.”

Others appear to avoid the topic altogether. Though it’s not fair, of course, to assume a Christian singer who never married is gay, speculation has existed in fan circles for years that single CCM artists like Mark Lowry and Margaret Becker might be gay (Lowry has denied that he’s gay; neither Lowry nor Becker responded to interview requests for this story).

Word records, which used to distribute Boltz’s music, didn’t respond to a request seeking comment. The Gospel Music Association, the organization that gives out Dove Awards, said via e-mail that “GMA is a trade organization that works for our members to promote gospel/Christian music, not a religious or political group. As such, we do not comment on the lifestyle choices of people in our community.”

Gay Christian artists like Jason & DeMarco have never been embraced by the CCM community, but have found a degree of compensation for it in the gay community.
And things may be easing — when Christian DJ Azariah Southworth and Tony Sweet, a runner up on a gospel-music reality show, came out, reaction was muted. But neither have the prominence of a major CCM act.

Even MCC’s Cindi Love anticipates tough times ahead for Boltz. “He needs to get through this initial coming-out process and just see how that feels,” she says. “A lot of people will probably throw a bunch of stuff at his family. I pray they don’t, but I bet they will.”

Hogue, who worked with Boltz on his 1991 album “Another Child to Hold” and has helped him record a few new songs for a still-evolving possible new project, says he hopes for a day when Christians will see homosexuality as no more a perceived sin than it used to be for women to be ministers or for divorced Christians to hold leadership positions in churches.

“I like to hope for the best, but it will be slow moving,” Hogue says.
Boltz admits to some nervousness, but says ultimately, he isn’t worried.
He doesn’t want to get into debates about scripture and has no plans to “go into First Baptist or an Assembly of God church and run in there and say, ‘I’m gay and you need to love me anyway.’”

For him, the decision to come out is much more personal.

“This is what it really comes down to,” he says. “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”