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.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

Being out as an ally

How things change! Although I've had two blogs, only on this one have I been "open and affirming." It was before Ray was out that I actually began to blog, and I had no idea that I would EVER have something this public and revealing about my personal life. I want to share how this change occurred, so I will.

I started blogging over 5 years ago, through a very veiled blog called Knitter's Greenhouse. I was inspired to write a blog by my daughter, Liz, and my son, Phil, who at that time, both had blogs of their own. I was familiar with blogs since '98-99, when Phil had shown me his blog. He was away from home doing an internship with Teen Mania, and the blog was a way to drop in on his life and comments, and he welcomed me to read his entries.

Liz is also a wonderful, talented writer. She is currently working toward her MFA (Masters in Fine Arts) at the University of New Hampshire. I tell people that Liz has been writing since she could hold a pencil - and this isn't much of an exaggeration. She journaled since middle school (or before) and when she was even younger she wrote LOTS of stories - that I was not allowed to read until they were FINISHED.

Karen, my oldest daughter, even has a family blog and a business blog. (I don't see near enough entries on that family blog - hint hint) Meanwhile, Sara (whom I call "my baby daughter") has even kept a blog for short periods of time, but sometimes it gets very demanding, and FACEBOOK takes enough time to update and read, so I totally understand that she can't maintain a blog.

I tell you, dear readers, about all these to let you know that these kids had to get their communication skills from their dad. And as time passed, they inspired me to set up and write a few lines, hence, Knitter's Greenhouse. I couldn't even come up with a better name than that. Nothing snappy or original, but those things are what I like and am "into," so I started right about the time that Ray built me a greenhouse to play with my plants.

Soon after I started writing, I realized how little I could say - NOT because I ran out of words, but because my life came screeching to a halt. It was in Dec. 2004 that Ray "came out" and I could no longer share what I was going through, without revealing what I was going through.

It was a crazy time, and my writing was vague and distant.

I never revealed anything about my name or my personal struggles, even though I referenced my kids and was linked to Liz's, where she DID always use her real name. I knew that a slip could say too much, and we were not ready for that - I was not ready for that. My favorite post was about a shell called a Junonia. When I re-read it to post the link, I think I sound a lot more together than I actually felt, but I was doing the best I could at the time.

Some friends were quilters, and I caught their enthusiasm. Quilting and sewing took my mind from my problems, and I had a grandbaby coming. By winter of 2005, before Arya was born, I sewed a BUNCH of baby quilts, knitted an afghan, and experienced joy in my creations. As time went by, I also put up photos of my projects, and blogged occasionally, still anonymously. No one EVER read that blog except my family, and that was really why I had started it in the first place. The blog served its purpose.

I can't remember when it was, but out of the blue I got some anonymous questions: "Was my husband gay?" Freaking out doesn't describe my panic! What if this was OUT THERE? My thoughts were that no one would understand, no one would realize that Ray and I had parted on friendly terms, and no one would understand that this was still our private situation. Plus, this person was ANONYMOUS! They didn't approach me with disclosure on THEIR part, so I realized that I had NO obligation to respond.

My solution to the problem was to change the blog address slightly, make a post about who the blog was for, and ignore anonymous complainers, questions, or rumors.

By April of 2007 a HUGE change happened for me! I met Peterson Toscano, from whose blog I had learned so much. Here's my first "coming out" as a very timid ally: April 2007 (note added 10:18 on Friday, 4/16/10**somehow this link was omitted in what I posted)

In 2008, by the time Ray's Word contract had expired (April of 2008), Ray and I decided together that it was becoming the "right time" to go public. Ray wanted to sing again. He had new songs, and he had gained a level of self-acceptance that assured him that he no longer wanted to be closeted. For myself, I had learned enough and made enough contacts in the world of advocacy, that I WANTED him to come out! I WANTED to be able to stand up for other people, and I WANTED to be openly affirming of ALL people who identify as GLBT. In September, what we refer to as "the article" came out.

When I felt I could be silent no longer (which I've never been good at) I decided to start a brand new blog and call it, "My heart goes out." This time around I didn't want to be vague, veiled or anonymous. I knew that putting things on the internet was going to open myself to more criticism, but I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was not ashamed of Ray, our life together, nor our decision to divorce. Sad, yes. Still grieving, yes. Closeted as an ally? NO! I decided to be open, self-revealing, and honest, and once I made that decision, I just kept at it. I knew that reading the stories others shared had been so valuable for me, I wanted to share that with others who need it. Without having to hide, I could once again be myself, and I think everyone wants that. It's what I want for others, and it's why I'll continue to write.

So if you want to read some of the backstory, go see my quilts and my "secret blog." If you want the open story, want to know what I really think, or if you're just plain "nibby"* you can catch up on this one. There are no secrets any more. :)


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jennifer Knapp - coming out as a gay person. Oh, and she's Christian, too.

Good for Jennifer Knapp! I got information yesterday as soon as the article came out in Christianity Today, that Jennifer Knapp is gay - and still Christian!

Of course this interests me, as it probably does other readers of this blog. It was only about 18 months ago (Sept. 12, 2008) that Ray Boltz (my former husband) made his public announcement or "coming out" statement. (Unfortunately, that article is not available online from the Washington Blade.) During the months that have followed, reactions from Christian fundamentalist/evangelical news venues/online magazines/media reports have been terrifically negative, but mostly they died down with a little time. However, all of those journalistic efforts had to take their information from the Washington Blade article (a publication for gay and lesbian news), because at that time and for some time afterward, Ray had only agreed to that one series of interviews (with Joey DiGuglielmo).

But back to Jennifer's announcement...Like Ray, Jennifer had decided several years ago that she'd had enough of the Christian music tour route, and she dropped out. According the the article, there were several reasons, but at no time does she say she was ashamed of her sexual orientation.
"That was a straw [in my decision], but there were many straws on the camel's back at the time. I'm certainly in a same-sex relationship now, but when I suspended my work, that wasn't even really a factor. I had some difficult decisions to make and what that meant for my life and deciding to invest in a same-sex relationship, but it would be completely unfair to say that's why I left music."

Jennifer was asked about "struggling" with same-sex attraction, and I was struck by how the question was couched. The interviewer, over and over, seemed determined to draw from Jennifer some kind of remorse for simply following her heart. Jennifer candidly said that there are many other issues that she's struggled with:
"It never occurred to me that I was in something that should be labeled as a "struggle." The struggle I've had has been with the church, acknowledging me as a human being, trying to live the spiritual life that I've been called to, in whatever ramshackled, broken, frustrated way that I've always approached my faith. I still consider my hope to be a whole human being, to be a person of love and grace. So it's difficult for me to say that I've struggled within myself, because I haven't. I've struggled with other people. I've struggled with what that means in my own faith. I have struggled with how that perception of me will affect the way I feel about myself."

Isn't that a graceful reply? I thought so. Jennifer made no apology for simply following her goal to live truthfully.

Throughout the interview, or at least with the questions that were shared, Jennifer continually answered with genuine replies. I loved it when she said, "I'm just a normal human being who's dealing with normal everyday life scenarios. As a Christian, I'm doing that as best as I can." Isn't that what most people want? Or, at least a majority of those spiritual folks who follow Jesus?

Jennifer isn't trying to lead a brigade of activists, or to try to debate theology. Just like Ray, she needed to live her life honestly. Fortunately, she had not married a straight spouse, which would have gone against her God-created and natural desires. Jennifer is now able to be forthcoming about her sexual orientation. While still being private about her partner, she acknowledges that she has someone to whom she is committed. Thankfully, she is building an honest relationship with the person she loves. Unlike other talented Christian artists who are closeted and gay, she won't have to hide or deny ANYTHING about her sexual orientation.

Personally, I want to commend Jennifer, and I wish her all the best. A question that is often asked of someone who appears to have "changed" (although they really haven't) is, "Are you happy?" Jennifer replied: "I'm the happiest I've ever been."

As I've googled and tried to write this blog in the past 24 hours, there have erupted a great number of criticisms of Jennifer as well as Ray. Along with the comments, a whole new round of people are finding out and seem to like bashing Ray. I've even had a slew of new hate mail, and it seems to be the worst of the worst.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Soulforce announces new executive director: Rev. Dr. Cindi Love

An exciting event at Soulforce is the announcement of its new EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, the Rev. Dr. Cindi Love!

(article from the Soulforce website):
Rev. Dr. Cindi Love begins her new duties as Executive Director for USA based nonprofit, SOULFORCE, Inc. on April 22, 2010. Throughout its 12-year history, SOULFORCE has used the principles and practices of Mohandas Gandhi's and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's relentless nonviolent resistance and direct action to bring attention to and achieve freedom from religious and political oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people.

Founded by Rev. Dr. Mel White and Gary Nixon in 1998, the first gathering of the SOULFORCE community of volunteers was held in 1999 to protest the anti-gay rhetoric of Rev. Jerry Falwell. Soulforce Equality Riders are currently on a 16-city tour across the south, northeast, and midwest of the USA to bring a message of hope and affirmation to students at colleges with oppressive policies toward LGBTQ students. In July 2010, SOULFORCE will attend the 219th Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly and bring its unique witness for truth and justice to the voting members and other attendees.

Dr. Cindi Love brings a wide range of leadership, management and organizational experience to her new role as SOULFORCE's Executive Director. From January 2005 until April 2009, she served as the Executive Director of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). Prior to MCC, she served as an Executive Dean in the third largest community college system in the United States, as a Senior Executive of The Toro Company (NYSE:TTC) and CEO and Founder of several award winning corporations, including one named to the INC 500 in 1990. In 1990, Dr. Love was named one of the "Top 50 Entrepreneurs" in North America by Inc. Magazine, the Young Entrepreneur's Organization, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Love is the creator of the Would Jesus Discriminate? campaign and author of a book by the same name.

"I am really excited that Dr. Cindi Love has accepted the call to serve as Executive Director of SOULFORCE," said the Reverend Dr. Mel White, co-founder of SOULFORCE. "She is the ideal person to continue to lead our non-violent struggle to end misuse of scripture and religion to discriminate against God's LGBTQ children."

Chuck Phelan, Chair of the Board of SOULFORCE said, "As SOULFORCE transitions from its entrepreneurial stage of development, we are delighted to have Dr. Love in this crucial position of leadership. She brings a unique sensitivity to the issues facing both the LGBTQ rights and civil rights movements. She fully embraces the essential need to engage people in understanding the intersectionality of oppression, particularly within the context of organized religion and its contributions to institutionalized and systemic racism, heterosexism, classism and sexism."

Rev. Gil Caldwell, member of the SOULFORCE Advisory Board, said, "I am convinced as never before that the nation, faith community and beyond needs SOULFORCE! The alienation between and among persons for racial, gender, sexual orientation, political, religious, regional, class, age and other reasons is as great today as I have seen in my 76 years. I am thrilled to hear that Soulforce is committed to challenge anti-black racism as an important component of the fulfillment of its mission. We welcome Rev. Dr. Love to this work and to our SOULFORCE community of activists." Rev. Caldwell is a retired United Methodist Minister who participated in the "Mississippi Freedom Summer" of 1964, the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, and the March on Washington.

I'm glad to say that I've gotten to know Cindi in a small way. I respect her work as a leader in faith, business, and an innovator in advocacy. Her book and campaign, "Would Jesus Discriminate?" was the inspiration for a song by Ray (Boltz) called, "Who would Jesus love?" I look forward to working more with her by way of Soulforce!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

constance mcmillen

The story of the day: Fulton MS: The World’s Cruelest Town

How in the world can people go to all the work it took in order to be mean, nasty, cruel and deceptive to a teenage students, one of whom just wanted to attend the prom with the date of her choice? Constance McMillen, the girl who wanted to go to prom with her girlfriend/date, had been told that the prom was canceled. Later, she got a letter from an attorney for the school board, inviting her to a privately-sponsored event. One of my favorite bloggers, Jim Burroway, posted coverage of the story, here.

With all that young people go through, you would expect that adults could do more than make life worse or more difficult. Not only were some students invited to this "separate but equal" (and it was NOT equal)

It would seem that somehow this "parent/teacher/chaperone group" figured their plan would be enough to get around the ACLU threat of a lawsuit.

Meanwhile I wonder who will come forward to support girls or boys like Constance, when, not IF the same situation presents itself in your town, at your local school. I hope when it happens in YOUR local school that many will not make such a disgrace of a simple request to go to the prom.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Too much for anyone..."

Another former spouse of a gay man wrote me today. She said this:
I didn't know I could hurt that bad and not die from it

I was reminded of the song by Paul McCartney, "Too Much Rain," which was the first song I bought on Itunes, and I still remember how I felt as I lived the pain I had to deal with.

Often I find it difficult to write, and to distance myself from the emotional intensity that has been my life. I don't want to ignore it, and I surely can't honestly say I'm past it all. I'm not. On the other hand, when I reflect, I know there are ways that I've moved on, moved forward, and that I'm now different, or, in a different place, than I was at certain points along the way.

Where my journals used to show the constant drain of hurt, now I honestly write about some other things than being alone, not knowing what I was going to do, and wondering why, why why this happened to me.

You may ask, "What changes have you made that helped?"

First, I had a good counselor - and that was after trying 3, but the fourth was a good one!

Second - I faced the reality that I couldn't live with having a gay husband. I WANTED things to be different, but the REALITY was that my husband was a closeted gay man. He couldn't be someone he'd tried to be, and now I knew the truth. I'd rather have the truth than continue in a falsehood.

From here the order gets blurry - but I started finding other people who were affirming, and could understand the situation that was my life. I confided in a few close friends who were non-judgmental, and looked for new friends. I visited churches that were and are affirming, where I could look around and see role models of loving relationships. I talked to the minister, who was understanding of both Ray and myself. He was supportive and kind, and it felt good to hear this support from a non-judging Christian minister.

One very difficult part was holding up my head and knowing that I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was fairly well-known in my community, as was Ray. In spite of this, I had to go grocery shopping, go to local functions (like the Covered Bridge Festival, or the Hamilton Twp. Hog Roast) where I knew others were watching me. I put on my best smile, and I went anyway. It hasn't been easy, but like they say, "one day at a time..."

I rediscovered some of my favorite things, like sewing. I've made several quilts, sewn clothing for my granddaughters, and given away hand-made gifts. I realized how much I enjoy putting together the textures and colors of so many fabrics, and I get a lot of pleasure from the finished products. I filled up a whole room (emptied of kids and a husband) to gather ALL my sewing equipment and supplies, and turned it into a sewing room! That's something I always meant to do, and now it's done!

Some things I didn't want to change, like staying in my own home. For as long as I could, I delayed and avoided any too-quick-decisions. Because of a vacation home that we owned, I tried spending time there, away from the community I knew best. However, I missed my kids, my hometown, and my long-time friends. Because of all those reasons and more (especially financial) I made the decision to offer that home for sale, a difficult decision.

As many things as I could, I maintained the same. One thing that was in my best interest was that I keep up with Ray's website. I kept on with product orders and delivery, e-mails, licensing, and office necessities. This meant I had to dedicate space and time to doing a job where I was relatively anonymous, something that is not like me at all. I've always lived openly, without any disguise.

Last fall I went back to teaching, even if it was only substituting for a few days a week. (My degree was in Special Ed., 1977, yet I've worked in business since then.) Now I'm pursuing a job that will be more regular - timewise and for budgeting!

And through everything, each day I had to deal with my faith: What did I still believe? What changes had occurred? And...where do I fit in at church? All these things were broken down and had to be reframed, if not re-built. It's been a process, but I still believe that God has a plan/purpose for what I've experienced.

So these days, since it's been 5 whole years (!) I can say to this fellow spouse, "I know where you've been, but things will get better." It may happen suddenly, or it may take years. For me, connecting with others helps TREMENDOUSLY, and since I'm a social person, I love hearing from others.

Summing it all up, here are my suggestions. Do things that are for yourself, in your best interests, and hold your head up. Support others. Don't stay closeted! Be supportive of others! And cry all you damn well please!

Here's Paul McCartney's song, "Too much rain."

Laugh when your eyes are burning...
Smile when your heart is filled with pain.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Watch the Lamb - song by Ray Boltz, video owned by Ray Boltz Music, Inc.

My favorite line has always been, "...Never have I seen such love in any other's eyes..."

For us all, there's Jesus.

Have a joyous Easter.

Video is owned by Ray Boltz Music, Inc. Song is published 1986 by Shepherd Boy Music and administered by Evergreen.