Friday, October 26, 2012

My view on Lance Armstrong: "The truth is better than lies."

Bad week for Lance Armstrong, with all the stripping of the titles, wins, endorsements.  Bummer.  It's brought down everything to do with cycling, much less his cancer foundation, Livestrong.  I figure he's been lying now for his whole career as a cyclist, and he's brought down everyone who has ever been associated with him.  Bummer.  (I have no idea what will happen to Livestrong, which has done so much good for cancer patients.)

Last night on NBC's RockCenter, Betsy Andreu and Emma O'Reilly told the story they've been telling for the past 15+ years, and are finally being heard.  I tell you, in the past, I didn't listen, either.  Like Emma says here, it was a lot prettier to listen to a "fairy tale" and 7 Tour de France wins, that to listen to two women who were trying to tell what they knew. They were villified by Lance himself (in court depositions), and silenced by court filings. 

It took the confessions of the 26 riders - and teammates, including Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie and more - to bring out what seems to be known by all the insiders.  The truth has come forward, and we HAVE to hear it.  Painful, sad, damaging, but true. 

I have no stake in this but my memories of Le Tour de France, wonderful summers, and a lot of enthusiasm.  Lance Armstrong has brought down a whole sport and the industry of cycling, all the marketing, all the support services that go into bringing the Tour to the world, and the individual cyclists that have brought out the truth over the hidden world of doping. 

What have I lost?  I've lost what it all meant.  These guys were really my heroes, and just like other sports that people love, I admired all of them.  I don't throw it all away, except for the hero part.  And just like I say about a lot of other things, the truth is better. 

If you are interested...
Here's more video detail:  Armstrong teammates testified.   and more.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Children of gay parents: Out of God's will?

 A very good question came in my e-mail box the other day, and it was regarding the worries of one of the children born to a gay-straight mixed orientation marriage.  Because I had never addressed this, I decided to do a post about it.

For background, let me say that Ray and I had four kids in ten years, and they are all loved and wanted.  When Ray came out to us, our oldest was 29 and married, and our youngest was 19 and a freshman in college.  They all graduated from a conservative Christian university, and were very involved in ministry/missions. It was a terrific shock to all of us that Ray was gay, and we all had a lot to learn about what this meant.  We all ended up changing our views as we understood that you don't choose your sexual orientation, and that you do choose what you believe.

Our family is pretty tight, and we really like being with each other.  My counselor once said that we probably insulated ourselves with each other, partly because of Ray's career.  I don't know if that is true, but I do know that we have stuck with each other, even when it was tough to hold up our heads and face the world who knew Ray, versus who we knew Ray to be.

So, although I haven't asked each one of the kids what they think, I did ask our youngest, Sara, since she was a teenager when this big event changed our lives forever:  "Did you ever wonder if you were meant to be, since your dad is gay?"  I don't know how I put it, but it was something like that. 

Sara replied that just this week the subject had come up with a co-worker.  She told her friend that the whole thing doesn't, or hasn't ended, that there is always more to deal with.  Even though she is fully accepting of her dad (and glbt people), there is always someone who hasn't heard, doesn't know, or will react with uncertainty regarding her dad.  But she also told her friend, "My parents probably have a better working relationship that some parents who stay together."  And to my question, she looked at me and said, "No, never, not at all."

So, below I have copied most of what my e-mailer wrote, and I have also included my reply.  I hope this is helpful. 

the question:
Carol,  I am a big fan of your ex-husband's music and I enjoy your blog.  I have a question.  How do you address self-esteem issues related to the children of mixed-orientation marriages?  ...  I am haunted by a conversation with a Christian teenager who was the product of such a marriage.  His anguish, basically, was that if it was never really God's will that Mom and Dad be married to one another, then it was never God's will that he be born.  I basically answered him that God can bring good, even marvelous, results out of bad situations, and that God can "hit straight with a crooked stick," to use an old saying. 
I don't know if I handled that conversation well or not.  What would you say to a young person who is struggling with whether or not he or she was meant to be born due to the fact that they are the product of a mixed orientation marriage? 

my reply:

Thanks, *********** !  And that's a good question, one I've never addressed on the blog.  I went to one of my kids for help in answering, to see if it has ever occurred to her that she was never in God's will to come into existence/been born.  Fortunately, she didn't look at it that way.  She knows how her dad believed the fundamentalist doctrine, how well he did in following what we were taught, and how much he tried.  (It might also help that I've helped her understand through my own understanding.) 

I think you answered the questioning teenager as well as you could.  Since his/her parents had put it like that (that they never were in God's will to be married) that would be how the teen would look at it as well.  What an awful thought, trying to figure out if your birth was never meant to be.  But I would also think that any child who was caught in her parents' divorce, to whom it was explained "we never were in God's will" - whether it was an unplanned pregnancy, a mismatched couple in whatever situation, that that child might assume that he/she TOO were never "supposed to be." 

Rather, in many cases, two people DO love one another, and hard as they try, one is gay.  No, they probably shouldn't marry (I firmly think this way), but in many, many cases, church dictates 1) marriage is supreme, 2) family is the ultimate goal for all (no matter the innate sexual orientation, 3) and that gay can change if you love each other/pray/want to.  Church leaders (fundamentalist ones) teach these things, and gay people who are trying to do the right thing, follow the instructions, despite what their gut tells them.

So, from my point of view, I would never tell my kids that God didn't mean for us to be together.  I believe, in my case, that God did bring us together, for some reason I don't always understand. Some purpose  that is very real...(because there is more to my story that I don't fully try to explain on the blog).  I know, 100%, that God knew and understood Ray's orientation, and God also knows how much we put into our marriage.  (I also probably question God's wisdom in doing this, probably at least every other day.)  And even though I don't understand, I believe that the love I felt for Ray (and his feelings for me) are real, and that our kids are fully intended in the great scheme of things.  

Probably, if I were honest, I'd tell those parents to be careful how they explain their own actions to the vulnerable kids.  I'd want them (the parents) to understand and explain how they got together, why they married, and reiterate their love for their kids.  

I would also add this:  Just like God didn't make a mistake when he created gay folks, he didn't make a mistake in who this kid's parents are. 

Thanks again, for writing.  :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Cool" is relative.

I ventured outside today, and since it is only 97* right now, it feels cool.  Yesterday it was 104* on my car thermometer.  Those can be inaccurate of course, but it felt hotter yesterday.  Today could hardly be considered normal weather for June in Indiana.  It's dad-blame HOT.

Someone commented today, as is often the case, with instructions about how "wrong" I am to be gay-supportive.  I was glad to publish the comment as well as write a short reply, since today I have the time to do so. - look for today's date.  While I have no wish that families break up, I repeat and say again:  Being gay is not sinful. 

There is real tragedy when mixed-orientation marriages happen.  Especially when the people getting married are not fully honest when they enter into marriage.  It's usually the false hope by the gay person that with love and enough commitment, the same-sex attractions will be suppressed.  Sometimes they have been counseled by well-meaning Christians that if they pray, dedicate "the problem" to the Lord, and never act on their desires, that the desires will go away/dissipate.  Sometimes the gay person is asked to be accountable to someone "overseeing" them.  They are asked to give up computer passwords, facebook pages, and account for spare time - all with the expectation that they won't be GAY any more.  It doesn't work.  Eventually, whether or not they "act" on their desires, there are consequences.  Either there is an affair, or psychological breakdown, or simply a loss of emotion - and it's not how anyone should live. 

While I know that some may not agree, many don't have my perspective.  I know the feelings I've lived through, and I know what my life has been.  I know how hot it is outside, and I know how it felt yesterday.  I know.

If you want me to read what Leviticus says, well, that's an old book, written when times and the culture was vastly different than today.  And there are LOTS of things we disregard in Leviticus and the rest of the Bible.  We eat shrimp and pork, and we work (drive cars, play games, and throw footballs - i.e. pig skins) on Sunday.  There was a time when tomatoes were "forbidden fruit."  No more.  Divorce is legal.  I don't wear dresses all the time.  I cut my hair.  When I let it grow long, I've been known to plait it.  I wear rings - GOLD rings that don't signify marriage!   I am female, I'm not married, I live on my own, and I handle my own affairs - new ideas to the 20th Century.

It may appear to you as scandalous, but when it comes to likening being gay with what people point out in the Bible, I disregard those arguments. While you may disregard me, I have this to say:  
"Oh, well."

Here are some simple reasons that justify my position, and I don't care to write a long defense on these statements. 

1 - In Genesis, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is probably the story of same-sex rape.
2 - Don't point to Leviticus to prove your point, unless you adhere to ALL the rest of the rules/law in the entire Old Testament.  Even if you do, those who are glbt are just who they are.  Leave them alone.
3 - Jesus never talked about homosexuality.  Period.
4 - I accept life, and things happen.  It's rough and I don't like all of it.  I just have to go forward and stand up for gay people.  A lot of them are Christian, some are not. 
5 - I choose to be Christian.  I didn't choose my sexual orientation, nor do others choose theirs. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

I'm jealous.

It's late, and I had a late nap on the couch.  That means I'm up and playing Bejeweled 3.  Yay for video games.  In between frustrating sets of the stupid game that keeps me occupied mindlessly, I check facebook.   I see things that make me jealous:  a sweet, young wife, pregnant with her 3rd baby in 4 years; a couple retiring happily to the south.  I am ashamed to feel this way - that I have lost my favorite stories, lost my future... All these feelings crash into me, and I turn them over in my mind as I match jewels and hear the crashes of the computer game.  What's wrong with me? 

Every day in the gift shop, I approach people to ask, "May I help you find anything?" or, "Are you looking for something I can help you with?" Often the answer is "I'm just killing time while my husband has a test." or "I had to come down from the room - my sister is having chemo."  Sometimes it's the chemo patient themselves, and sometimes it's the family of a new baby.  As a destination in the hospital, we are a place for visitors to either celebrate happy events, or sometimes to get away from their problems.  I try to be friendly to them all - while also being aware of privacy issues. 

As one deals with "the public," it's easy to make assumptions based on appearance.  I don't want to prefer the well-dressed, white-haired, retired-from General Motors woman or man, over the oddly-attired, needs a root-job and a job, older-than-her-years, probably-an-alcoholic woman who tells me too much information.  Sure, it's easier to do that, but all the visitors who walk in the door deserve my respect.  I recognize that each one has a life and came from a family - and they all are worth the brief time that I'm spending with them, no matter why they come through the door.

Sitting at my video game/facebook-checking desk, I wonder about my day and my feelings:  "Who is looking at my life, thinking THEY have been cheated?"  Do I come off as a "has-it-together, healthy, employed-with-benefits, obviously too-well-fed," person?  Does anyone see me and think, "I ought to have her life."?  (If they only knew the rest of the story.)

I realize these are just introspective ramblings, but they are my thoughts today. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sheena, remain.

Yesterday I had to go to the bank on my way home from work.  I was taking care of a flub-up that involved stopping payment on a check.  (I actually stopped the wrong one and had to reverse it.  Total charges = $54.  My feeling about that = yuck.)  The point is that the service clerk was named Sheena.  (To my kids, yes, this was real.)  I asked her, just to make sure, and yes, it was the same name that Ray used to speak to an imaginary creature - which I always assumed to be a large feline, like a tiger.  He would appear very serious, and he'd tell this something-or-other to "remain."  The entire phrase was, "Sheena, remain."  Then he'd turn away and try to ignore the "creature" but he'd have to say it several times, making it "Stay."  The kids soon caught on to his pretending, and we'd all go along with getting rid of monsters in the house or whatever it was that brought on the play.

It all reminds me of the fun, silly dad that Ray's always been for the kids.  Just yesterday Sara came into the shop where I work (she works down the hallway in an office, and we both work in a hospital).  She was asking, "Is that song that goes like....'I got a knee, this knee is mine.  I will sell it for a dime.  If you buy it, buy it PLEASE, I'll throw in two nice new knees!'...Is that a real song, or did Dad make it up?"  I laughed and had to tell her, that yes, her dad made that up.  It was how he would tickle them on the knee and get them giggling, then laughing and begging for mercy. 

Oh, and there were others that we still sing.  What a fun thing to have a dad who makes up songs - that last, extending now into the next generation.  :) 

But the "Sheena" thing - pretty funny as well.  And just as I was going to write it on facebook a few minutes ago, I got a call from the facility where Dad is.  The nurse on the other end of the phone started out with, "Hi, this is Sheen, and I need to talk to Carol."  It was a medical report, which was routine but that I needed to know.  But, really, from a SHEEN?    I have no idea how she spells it, but two in two days?  Sheen and Sheena?  I wanted to say, "Remain," as I created that same old giant tiger - or liger or something, and think of the family laughing in the old house, making the creature do something that kept scariness away. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Standing on the right side of history - Hillary Clinton

Today I'm sharing a 30 minute speech by Sec. of State, Hillary Clinton.  She makes the case for human rights for LGBT people in a most genuine way, and she calls on us to "be on the right side of history."  Her statements cover so much that should be said, and need to be heard by all Americans, as well as citizens of the world.  Although I'm a latecomer to defending these rights, I learned and changed through personal pain.  I want it known that I stand beside Hillary in this effort. 
Even when you have to defy friends you have known all you life, it's worth it to make a stand for LGBT people.  If you have to adjust what you believe about church teachings, make those changes. What you choose to believe is a choice, but it is NOT a choice on whether to be gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender. 

Don't you want to be on the right side of history?  I do.