Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Susan Stanton, who was Steven, of Largo, Florida: Showing my affirmation to someone who is transgender

"Her name was Steven" was broadcast Sunday night on CNN, and I watched in order to try to understand transgender people better. This is the story: the man once known as Steven Stanton, now legally Susan Stanton, used to be a successful public figure - the city manager for Largo, Florida - and when she decided to change her public sexual identity, was fired. The man who was once respected and well-thought-of, instantly was questioned and quickly let go once she came forward, as she moved toward the reconciliation of her inner, formerly hidden, sexual identity.

There still is so much I need to learn, but I'm trying. Understanding the day-to-day issues that a trans-person goes through is like taking off blinders and looking at a bigger picture. Susan's story, brought forward with respect, is helping me and others to understand.

According to the American Psychological Association,
"transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity (sense of themselves as male or female) or gender expression differs from that usually associated with their birth sex. Many transgender people live part-time or full-time as members of the other gender. Broadly speaking, anyone whose identity, appearance, or behavior falls outside of conventional gender norms can be described as transgender. However, not everyone whose appearance or behavior is gender-atypical will identify as a transgender person."

Of course I wondered what this family went through, and I wish I could talk to Susan's former wife, Donna. I sure wondered what SHE has been through, emotionally, and just about every way, since her former husband transitioned. If she were reading this, I wonder what I could do or say that would let her know that her story is important, too? I hope Donna is getting to tell her story in her own way, and that she feels like she's understood and supported. (You can hear Donna in her own words on the post about the program here. Look along the left side of the article for audio posts.)

It resonated with me that Susan's love for Donna never changed. Susan said, "I am still wearing my wedding band. ... We speak frequently, I still love her as much as I did before," which is nearly exactly how I talk about my former husband (who came out as gay).

As I listened and watched I was struck by similarities of Susan's confrontations with others and with herself. The following quotes sounded exactly the same as things that either Ray or I have said...

I thought if I just explained it well enough...[others would understand]

What brought me pleasure, brought her pain...

This is not a choice. No one does this because they think it is a good thing to do. It's done to preserve life.

The vulnerability of Susan Stanton to share all that she's been experiencing is courageous and brave. The process of transitioning has taken about two years, and she has now been able to continue her career as a city planner. Her son, Travis, has remained close with "Dad," and the love the two share is evident.

I ask myself now if I've been welcoming to others in the past...those whose "gender expression" didn't conform with what I expected them to be. I have to be very honest...years ago I wouldn't have known what to do with "Susans". Even though I've gotten to know some transgender people, I'm still learning and I have to keep asking questions and listening for answers. No matter how I thought in the past, I know these days that I want to show acceptance, affirmation and support for people like Susan, like Donna, and like their family, because it is the right thing to do. I hope Susan knows that sharing this very personal story in such a public way is helping to enlighten the rest of us.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Boltz family maintains itself with love and spunk

Since Ray's public coming out, and because I sometimes don't know what to write, I've mentioned to my kids that they might write something for the blog. No one had yet taken me up on that offer, and we certainly don't all have the exact same opinions. I suppose that since Liz has an ongoing blog (over 5 years, but I forget how many exactly), she's got a jump on putting her thoughts online, and she agreed that I could post a link from her blog.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm always "okay," because it's lonely and I grieve the loss of my "happy family." That said, we are still the LOVING family that we always were, and I take comfort in that. Things could have been a lot worse, and we have faced a difficult situation in the best way we could.

Some people don't know what the heck they are talking about when they paint word pictures of the Boltz clan, and Liz takes aim at their misdirected thoughts on her dad.

Thank you, Liz, for all that you are, and for saying what you think.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mississippi prom canceled rather than allowing gay couple to attend

When young people gather, one of the hardest things to do is to be yourself. A young girl in Mississippi, Constance McMillen, was trying to do that: she wanted to take her girlfriend to the prom. In response, the school board has decided to cancel the entire event. Yes, they CANCELED THE PROM!

My first reaction is, Wow, I bet that makes ALL the kids angry! I would sure hate it if the event I'd anticipated and planned for went up in smoke. Next I realized how mad everyone would be at Constance! Oh, My, Gosh! What a mess!

The statement from the board says they had to cancel the prom "due to the distractions to the educational process caused by recent events." I'm sure that if this couple goes to the same school, most of the students are already aware that they are together, and the board should probably cancel classes! I mean, you can't learn when there are gay people in your midst.

Aside from the fact that Constance and HER date are being denied one of the biggest nights of high school social life, this school board is acting in fear of something they don't understand. Although it's not stated, and yes, I'm assuming a lot about Mississipians, I'm sure they have their religious ducks in a row. And if they wanted to make sure no one "sins," then they wouldn't even let those hot youngsters LOOK at each other, much less DATE! After all, modern dating is NOT in the Bible!

Most of the time, reactions like this school board are from fear. They don't understand, nor do they want to. It's probable that local constituents are pressuring board members, and maybe they don't want to lose the next election if they allow gay couples. Yes, that could happen.

Maybe some think that the lesbian couple will expose other students to being gay, and are afraid other kids will "turn gay." Note to the board: It doesn't work like that.

This is not the first time that a big deal erupted when a student wanted to bring their same-sex date to a prom. As long as administrators won't open their eyes to human sexuality and it's many variations, and until there is acceptance for same-sex couples, there will continue to be confrontations, cancellations, and upset students who want to have their proms (and all kinds of other social events where equality is denied).

I wish I could be there to encourage Constance. I'd give her a great big hug, and encourage her. She's taking a lot of heat just for being herself.

Kudos to you, Constance!

Friday, March 12, 2010

What is owed the straight spouse?

If you don't read this blog regularly, you might not realize that I often remind people that gays and straights shouldn't really marry each other, ESPECIALLY if either party thinks that straight marriage will change a same-sex-attracted person to be NOT GAY. If some want to knowingly enter a mixed-orientation marriage, then be forewarned that there are enough other stumbling blocks in relationships, that sexual mis-matches are ahead, with trouble and heartache to follow, and just remember, "Carol told you so."

Then there are the straight women, like myself, who unknowingly marry gay or transgender men, and they end up without means to continue their family life as planned. Often this is totally without warning. Other times it is the final result of dissonance that has been brewing for a long time.

Peterson Toscano's blog post (originally from last August), "Mixed Orientation Marriages–Fraud, Failures and Family"never gets too old to be discussed. My own blog entry is cited, and a wide variety of comments followed. Just a few days ago, Tracy had an EXCELLENT comment which came at the end of a long post/comments section
If only the family code allowed enough for a mom to carry on after staying home for years then one would not need to prove a tort case....These men are not as advertised and should pay to restore the life of their victims.

And I bring that question here: What is owed the straight spouse when the GLBT spouse can't continue in the marriage as was the commitment?

Gone are the days when a wife stayed at home tending the fires and washing the clothes. Most families are supported by two incomes, and it's a rare thing if only one works outside the home. HOWEVER, when one of those incomes is GONE from the family, and the remaining spouse is left alone, and it has nothing to do with fault on the part of the straight spouse, isn't there obligation to continue support for that straight spouse? In these cases, what should the obligation be?.

Aside from legal requirements, shouldn't there be monetary and property provision for the straight spouse? Shouldn't the GLBT partner willingly offer physical participation in raising the children? YES! (duh)

I'm often less-than-harsh toward the gay spouse, because I feel that coming out is honest. I feel that sometimes it can take years to come to terms with your sexual orientation, but most people say they "knew" years before, even if they didn't want to accept it. All that said, I think it is the RIGHT thing for him or her to keep helping the unknowing straight spouse, and I'll go so far as to say "innocent party," because that is how many of us feel. WE went into marriage in love, trusting for a lifetime of companionship, partnership, and family, and we end up alone. It's not fair, and we, as straight spouses, deserve, as Tracy says, to be restored.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Punching holes in the darkness - and a letter to my Life Group (Union Chapel/Commonway/Muncie, IN)

I recently received an e-mail from my friend, Beth. She sent this to our "Life Group." In the last couple of years, I sort of dropped out. I haven't felt like I could open up with everyone, and yet I want to let others know why. I've felt like some of the group would actually like to know what I think, and this e-mail inspired my writing today. After you read the message Beth sent, please read what is merely part of my story. I hope to open communication, and maybe you will understand more of why I think like I do, why I advocate for gay people, and why I want to make a difference in the world.

From: beth
Sent: Wed, February 10, 2010 1:25:55 PM
Subject: Fw: Punching holes in the darkness

Treasure Island, A Child's Garden of Verses - those are just some of the
literary classics written by Robert Louis Stevenson. He must have had a way
with words from the time he was a boy. Anne Graham Lotz tells of a night in his
boyhood when his nanny just couldn't get him to bed. Young Robert just kept
staring out the window, oblivious to her talking to him. Finally, she said,
"Robert, what in the world are you looking at out there?" As she pulled back
the curtain, she realized he was watching the lamplighter making his way down
the street, lighting one street lamp after another. Young Robert Louis
Stevenson saw something more. He said, "Look at that man! He's punching holes
in the darkness!"

I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Punching
Holes in the Darkness."

What an awesome description of the reason God has placed you where you are!
You're not there to shake your head and bemoan how dark it is where you work or
go to school or whatever your environment. You're there to punch holes in the
darkness! So, how are you doing so far?

Just listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16, our word for today from the
Word of God. If you belong to Jesus, He's including you in this. "You are the
light of the world." Think of your personal world and the people in your world.
Jesus says you are their light. "A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do
people light a lamp or put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its' stand,
and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light
shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in

Yes, we may live in a pretty dark world. But it is not a world without light
unless the Christian in a situation fails to punch holes in the darkness by
living like Jesus would live there, treating people like Jesus would treat
people, and handling situations and temptations as Jesus would handle them. So
many of Jesus' followers don't realize who they are - His personal
representative in their personal world.

You punch another hole in the darkness every time you show up with joy instead
of gloom on your face, with good things to say instead of griping, every time
you stop for someone who's struggling, when you consciously put someone else
ahead of you, when you insist on taking the high road when it's tempting to cut
corners, every time you weep with someone who's weeping, rejoice with someone
who's rejoicing, and reach out to someone who's being acting pretty unloveable.

The lost folks around you probably won't be all that impressed with your don'ts
or all the religious meetings you go to. They need to see meaningful
differences in you because Christ is in you.

But it isn't enough that they just see that you're different. They need to know
why, or they'll never be able to get out of the darkness themselves. They need
Jesus. And He put you in their life so they could find out what Jesus did for
them on the cross; so they could find out from someone who's living proof that
Jesus is alive and how they, too, can have a life-changing relationship with
Him. Have you told them about your Jesus yet? Humanly speaking, you may very
well be their best chance at heaven - or maybe their only chance.

Every morning, before your Lord, tell Him and tell yourself, "I am the light of
my world." And go out there, showing a harsh and lonely and self-serving world
that there's another way to be. Defy the darkness wherever you go. Punch holes
in the darkness with the brilliant light of Jesus Christ!
Hi Everyone,

What an inspiring piece Beth just sent out. Thanks, Beth.

Sometimes I'm beside myself wondering what you all think of the Boltz clan these days. From most of you, I have no idea. But silence is an indication to me that you just don't know what to say. Maybe by sharing more of what I think you will be freer to be a little noisier - and we can be better support for each other.

As you know, just over 5 years ago, Ray came out as gay to me and our four kids. AT the time, Karen was about 29 and married, Phil, 25, had graduated from Taylor University, Liz was 22 and ready to graduate, and Sara, 18 was a freshman at the same school from where the older siblings had all gone. We were considered an ideal family, Ray was "somebody" in Christian music, and we were all close to one another.

Yes, he told us at the same time - because we did an "intervention," for him, hoping to help him from the depression that had become obvious to us all. We were afraid we were going to lose him any day. I was scared, and it was dear Liz who finally just opened up and said to her dad, "...I was afraid to come home and open your door...and find you..." And you can fill in the blank, since it is still too hard for me to write.

Ray has said since then, that he decided right then to tell us, "I'm gay," and to be honest for the first time in his life. He didn't have a plan, but had thought many times of going to his grave, perhaps an early one, with his secret intact, his pain unrevealed. After all, I had never suspected anything like "I'm gay," to come from Ray, and it certainly wasn't the answer I'd hoped for when we chose to have this meeting.

When this happened, I didn't know what to do, how to act. At first I wondered if he was kidding. Within a second or two I knew he was not kidding, and I didn't have to ask. It showed in his face, in his tears.

So here I was, faithful Christian, married to the love of my life, and now I have found out something that I though was impossible: Christian man, and gay. I always thought that you had to CHOOSE to be gay, or at least want to experiment or something - I just didn't think you WERE that way. There had to be an answer, a solution, and I began praying to find one. And for Ray, I had so many questions: Was he abused as a child? Had he REALLY had that bad a relationship with his dad? (And there were personal questions that I needed to ask, but I am not sharing those with you all.)

There is no way, in an e-mail or a blog entry, that I can take you back to the feelings I had in the winter and spring of 2005. Devastated doesn't cover it. Pain isn't descriptive enough. Alone - of course. And I wasn't even sure God was hearing me as I cried day and night. Plus, all the time, I had to pretend things were "normal."

I'm not sure how long the stages lasted, but I felt like I couldn't talk to anyone. When I did share, in general, it was exhausting. When I shared with some of my best friends, they still didn't see it like I did: I knew Ray was telling me the truth - that he had always felt different from other boys his age, and that, "it's not what you DO, it's who you ARE." Within a day of him disclosing the truth to me, I saw "it" all in his songs: the lyrics, the emotions, the fight to be forgiven, and the hope for change. All the pain was right there in nearly every song!

Gradually, as I read people's stories, I realized this: there are Christians who feel gay all their lives. There are gay Christians who live their lives with integrity, and some who don't. There are people who have been brought up in Christian homes (and non-Christian), with loving parents (and some not-so-much), who were never abused (and some who were), and for whatever reasons, they end up having other-than-heterosexual orientations. Ray just happens to be one of them.

Finally, in Sept. 2008, Ray went public. This was with my 100% encouragement and approval. I was relieved for myself to finally be able to share what I felt - no more secrets, no more "hush-hush," and no more worry "if someone finds out."

Since that time I have been able to move in circles where affirmation of gay folks is rewarded: Soulforce, Reconciling Ministries (which is part of the United Methodist Church), on Facebook, and with other people in my situation. I started an open blog:, where I discuss how I feel, what I've been through, and offer hope and support for others in the same situation. As much as I've made new friends, I still feel distant from some of the old friends, who, maybe, just don't know how to approach me. I'm offering that as a possibility to give them the benefit of the doubt.

As some of my friends have actually turned from me, left me out, and expressed ideas that show me how much they differ from my views, I have turned from them. I confess that I have turned from some of you, even if many of you have never said or done anything to leave me out. I don't want to do this, as I'm a very social person. I don't want to hide any more.

I have tried to openly express through my spoken words, my blog entries, on facebook, and by supporting GLBT groups financially, that I love and support gay (GLBT) people. Some of them have never been shown acceptance from their church or families. My goal is to show that support and to reach out as the arms of Jesus and express that acceptance. I feel it is my purpose in life to come through what I have experienced, and reflect what I'd want to feel from other people: unconditional love.

When I read the e-mail that Beth sent, I thought I'd reply to all of you at once. Please forgive me for being isolated - I'm not that kind of person, and I don't want to do that to ANY of you. I try my best to live the life I've received, with integrity, honoring the love of Christ. The analogy that Beth shared inspired to me to share these thougths with you, and I want to punch holes in the darkness.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Helping those who were once were Christians...and now have lost hope

The Ray Boltz Music e-mailbox was overflowing today, and I notice a theme that haunts me: People who once were Christian, but because of being gay, one way or another they are no longer part of church. Some no longer believe in God, and others don't trust God. Some writers are asking for advice, and others for help. Several of the messages were from family members, although I often hear from the folks themselves who think God has abandoned them. Here are some quotes from my e-mails:

...from a mom...
My daughter and I were reading about you online and, of course, discovered very quickly that you are a Gay man. I have a son who is also gay and, I believe, still struggles with his anger at God over this. As a young man, he loved some of your music, and sang \'Thank You\' with an accompaniment tape. He denies any relationship with God, yet I see evidence that he still clings to the hope of being His child, especially in times of need, stress, and sometimes gratitude.

...and a sister...
My brother is gay, and seems to have given up on God. He makes comments like, "I\'m going to hell anyway." I study the Bible daily, and I know God\'s love, but ***** doesn\'t want to hear any of it at all, and I don\'t want to turn him off ... Please can you offer me some advice about how you might be approached if you were in his situation?

...and from a young man who is gay...

a worship leader...
I am a pastor of Worship and am struggling with myself.

another mom...
I am a christian mother struggling with the issue of a gay daughter. Her father is a southern baptist minister. A couple of years ago she was forced out of our church due to the fact that she and her friend were discovered in a relationship by her friends parents who revealed everything to our deacons and so called prayer chain. I have struggled with bitterness towards these people for years. We are still at the same church. The friend and her parents have since left and my daughter and her friend are no longer together. My daughter tells me that she was made the way she is. She knew at the age of 6. Her father believes that love is a choice and you decide to be gay. I am torn. I know my daughter. She was raised in a christian home...Now my daughter is out of church because she knows she is not accepted. When will people realize that you can\'t pick and choose who comes to church? Please pray for my daughter and me. I am not really sure what I believe anymore.

...and the married person...
i am 40. i have struggled with this same issue for so long. i am married and love my wife and wouldn\'t hurt her for anything, but i am gay. I could go into great detail about .... the pain of it all but i won\'t.

All of these people are earnestly seeking help, and we, as Christians, need to try to provide all we can to support them. In what ways can we do this? I believe in being affirming, but how does one show this to a family member who has lost hope?

What ways can readers suggest? What ways have worked for you? I believe in being the hands and feet of Jesus, but what works? I've love to have your comments, so please write. Thanks so much - we have to support each other!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Carol Grever asks: What worked for you?

By way of Straight Spouse Network blog, Carol Grever is asking for help regarding what has worked in counseling for straight spouses. If you have input, please contact her.

I have copied the comments that I left, and perhaps others will share what helped for them.

Hi Carol,

Within one week of my husband's disclosure that he was gay, we went together to a counselor that he had talked with, but briefly. She asked me 3 questions:
1-How do you feel about being here?
2-Do you believe that Ray could be "healed" or changed if he prayed more, or harder?
3-What do you think is the best long-term outcome for the future?

At the time, I didn't feel like this counselor was the right one for me, and mostly it was because I knew she was a lesbian woman. I was unprepared to deal with this at that time, although I don't think it would bother me now. In my darkest hours, I would repeat those three questions, asking myself if I believed my husband could have tried anything else, or tried any harder than he did - and I knew he could not change. I WANTED him to change, I PRAYED that God would intervene, but honestly, I knew we were stuck with the outcome we had.
That led me to the 3rd question, and I imagined that we could never be enemies. I wanted us to remain friends, close, and respecting and honoring the 30 years we'd spent together raising our family, in ministry, and with me as a happy wife in a happy family. I was understanding as we went along that my husband had been alone, hurting, all those years, and that he hid it VERY WELL. I sympathized with that situation, since I was so very alone once I knew he was gay. I could do nothing else besides understand from his point of view.

The next counselor I tried was suggested to me by a lawyer. I saw her, she listened to me, and then she evaluated the situation: "It sounds like you two love one another, and perhaps you could allow one another to have outside sexual relationships, staying married." I sat quietly and listend, got upset, paid my bill, and left. To me, to have a sexual relationship with someone I didn't love, was something I couldn't accept. And I thought that if my husband did, I would collapse. I rejected that counselor and her "solution" to my problem.

3rd time is the charm, right? Not so much! The 3rd counselor, who I saw on the advice of my family doctor, was familiar with my mom AND my husband (I didn't know she would know him.) When I told her, "I'm falling apart because my husband is gay, and I don't know how to cope..." this person spent the rest of MY HOUR mostly telling me of her relative who came out, left his wife, then regretted it. She didn't think my husband should come out (contrary to the recommendations of the American Psychological Assn.) and I believe she was wrong to reveal anything about her relative at ALL! Again, I paid my bill and never went back.

I was losing hope, not knowing where to get help, and finally I accidentally came across someone who helped me. This PROFESSIONAL spoke to me on the phone, and I realized she knew what to do: Accept that my husband was gay, that he wanted to be honest, that he wanted to come out, and that I was losing everything. She began by meeting with each of us, separately as well as individually, and she built up my hope that I could be okay. She didn't bash our life that we'd had - she treated us both with respect. She recognized that although we loved one another, that we would both be better off if we were no longer married to one another. This counselor guided me, supported me, and helped me navigate at each step along the way. When I was alone and needed to talk, she listened for hours. When my ex had moved away and we were living separately, and I realized he was dating men, (like I thought he wouldn't?) she reminded me that "there will never be another Mrs. [...]" When I cried that I was lonely, she reminded me that I had my children, and how much my husband had loved me, to NOT go with men while we were married. When I thought I could never rebuild my faith, she shared hers. My beliefs changed, were reformed, and it gave me hope for the future. Time and time again, she helped me.

I had to go through 3 counselors before I found one that was right for me. I thank God for Dr. Jane, and I will always thank and respect her, love her, and hold her in the highest esteem.

I'm not sure if this is what you want...but it's my story of the counselor who was my lifesaver. I would be glad to talk with you more if you have questions.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Don't it make my brown eyes blue?

Let's face it: I have my dad's blue eyes. They are kind of squinty in the light, and small. I like the color, but I always was attracted to brown eyes. I wished I HAD brown eyes. Especially blond hair and brown eyes - I think that is a really nice combination. As much as I like that I look like Dad, I used to REALLY want to change my eyes to brown.

But I can't change the color of my eyes - they are light blue, small, and they are going to stay that way.

A friend of mine is rather short. She has to keep a stool in her kitchen to reach her top cabinets. She always has to hem her pantslegs, and when she gets in someone else's car, she has to adjust the seat forward in order to reach all the pedals. She would kind of like to be taller, and I don't think she ever appreciated the song, "Short people."
(I remind you this song is intended as satire.)

My sister-in-law dyes her hair a beautiful reddish color, and she, luckily gave birth to a red-headed son. This made everyone think that she's a REAL red-head, and she passes very well! She spends time and money in order to maintain this non-God-given hair color. She looks GREAT as a redhead. :)

What's my point? Some things you can't change, some things you might WANT to change, and you can make some things appear to change. But no one really thinks you can CHANGE the color of your eyes. Unless you wear contact lenses, you are stuck with the eye color you are born with.

My short friend gets along fine with her adjusted seat, step-stool, and hemmed pants. She is not looked upon as handicapped, nor is she left out of social groups because of her size - unless it's a basketball team that needs a tall player. She fits in at church, work, and as a respected citizen.

Meanwhile my sis-in-law LOOKS like a natural! My own daughter grew up not knowing that her aunt colors her hair regularly. She "passes." But naturally, her hair is not the color she presents.

With all three of these characteristics, please carry forward the analogy to what it means to be gay. Yes, one can cover up one's NATURAL sexual orientation, and APPEAR to be straight, but it's a continual cover-up. If my sis-in-law doesn't pay for the hair coloring, she would soon be "discovered." Her natural hair color would show, and we'd all know she was not really red-haired.

These three things (eye color, height, and color of hair) are examples of things you don't choose, that you are born with. Just like other characteristics that are "set," so it is with sexual orientation. Whether or not one is a "Kinsey 0" or a "Kinsey 6", it is only a description of a PART of each person, and it doesn't measure one's worth. There is no need to evaluate or judge someone based on their eye color, just like it there is no need to judge someone spiritually based on sexual orientation.

I can no more change my eyes to brown than my short friend can make herself taller! Thank goodness there's no song about how awful we blue-eyeds are!

(For some reason, blogger won't allow me to upload a close-up of my eyes. Just imagine them: blue, tiny, and with glasses.)