Let's just eliminate all the bullshit, shall we?







Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ex-Gay Ministries part 6

There could be hundred posts addressing what the
Bible and other religious tomes say regarding
homosexuality. I won't get into that debate--or the
validity of ancient texts as accurate or applicable in
the modern age. But if it interests you, check this site
for more info;
http://www.soulforce.org/

Homophobia, like racism, anti-Semitism, and all
other forms of xenophobia and intolerance, starts off
as nothing more than man's discomfort with that
which is different from what he knows. The folks doing
spin are simply getting slicker and slicker.

This is all specific to certain areas, too. Canada and
Eastern Europe aren't as hung up on this stuff. The
native peoples believed gays and lesbians to be sacred
people who were blessed from the spirits (Two spirit.)
This is an issue that plagues people who have a hang-up
on sex in general, and other people's business in
particular.

Religion has long ago detoured from being an extension
of God's love and become a controlling tool of the state
and leaders. If you would like a different perspective
from those who have spiritual views but not the same
confining ones as the more vocal majority, check out
the following;

http://www.dignityusa.org/

http://www.mccchurch.org/

http://www.uua.org/

http://www.unity.org/

And for more info on alternative/progressive/rationed
spiritual response to the world around us and all the
things in it--including the tiny aspect of self that is
sexuality--please check out

http://www.gayspirituality.typepad.com/

There are also excellent book resources like "Prayers For Bobby",
"Loving Someone Gay", and many others. You can simply do
a search for pro-gay materials at amazon.com or do a search
for Alyson books.

We have the choice and the freedom to live whatever
life we wish to. Finding the courage to live in whatever
fashion we decide is a difficult thing, but if we are willing
to stretch and ask for help, most things are possible.

Don't let others deter you from God, decide your reality,
alter your sense of self, or tell you how to feel. You are a
unique and wondrous creation, just as you are...wherever
you are on the journey to discovering what that is.

You can also reach me directly at robertsayre2@hotmail.com
if you need further assistance with resources, have questions
you want answered, or just need to vent. My openness is
my choice, but I respect others' privacy.

Much Love, Robert

Ex-Gay Ministries part 5

Peoples reasons for choosing to keep their feelings
to themselves are as personal and varied as why
people live openly. There are many people living
quietly as heterosexual who have either had gay
feelings, lived openly as gay in the past, had a prior
relationship, have secret relationships on the side,
or desire to have a relationship.


There are those too who simply accept their feelings
and desires as a fact of life, and choose not to act on
them.

If someone wants a 'normal' life, which for the purpose
of this piece we'll call a married life possibly with kids,
that's their business. Whether the attraction to such a
life is a sense of stability, the need to feel loved, a desire
to fit in, an appreciation for a family that just 'happened,'
financial motivations, or all of the above. Or whatever
someone's reasoning might be.

Many of us just sort of 'end up' in lives that are not
entirely of our own choosing. We may or may not want to
change anything....but it's a fact that we were passive in
getting to where we are. Along for the ride in our own lives.

What works for someone is their business. Living in the
closet is a valid choice for some people, based on religious
concerns, family obligations, geographic curse, occupation,
etc. Now, the trouble comes in when everyone involved
doesn't know the scoop. Unfortunately, marriages of
convenience where the wife or husband of the closeted
partner are aware of and 'in on' the subterfuge are not the
norm. Typically there is an act of deception involved.

I have mixed feelings about this. Duplicity is unfair, and
I believe it is the lie about who we are that causes all the
conflict surrounding homosexuality. Life is hard in general;
it isn't hard because you like guys. It's the hiding, lying,
secrecy, shame, guilt, fear and worry that lead to problems.
If we would stop pretending as a society that it's not a part
of who we are, things would improve.

However, most people are lying to themselves when they
are in the closet. They are lonely and vulnerable and afraid
of rejection and losing the family they do have. They have all
these fears and insanity revolving around what it 'means' to
be gay, and they think they won't be understood. They fear
being rejected by God. They think acknowledging who they
is the worst that could happen.

Nonetheless, infidelity is wrong within the context of wedding
vows or other commitment. Keeping the truth from a loved
one is unfair and selfish. For those who have worked it out and
dedicated themselves to saying together, that's great too. As long
as everyone's on the same page. But many would rather die than
let anyone in on their secret. They foolishly--and just as selfishly--
believe that ending things is better than facing reality. This is the
end result of Christian dogma.

Our thoughts are not evil; they do not engage us in mortal
sin. Thinking is different from doing. But if we are so concerned
about avoiding sin that we are thinking of taking our own lives
to prevent it from happening, how much more a sin is that?
Our lives, whatever we do with them, are the ultimate gift from
God. We have to respect ourselves and our bodies enough to
not hurt ourselves, no matter what.

It also causes tremendous damage to loved ones to think
that we were trusted so little that you would rather end your
life--or live in absolute misery, alone and tortured--than to
turn to us for help. People will be hurt; they'll get over it. The
people who love you will continue to love you. You'll meet new
people who love you for who you are. Heck, just tell someone
who won't judge you; a counselor, a support group, a stranger
at a hotline. Someone can help you.

We build so much up in our minds into a horrible mess
when it really isn't nearly that bad. Husbands and wives
forgive trespasses all the time. Friends come to understand.
Life rages on..."This, too, shall pass." The fate of the world does
not rest on one person's shoulders, no matter how much we
convince ourselves otherwise.

There are even groups to help families cope with a
mom, dad, child or other family member coming out.

http://www.pflag.org/


We are not the first to experience these pains, these problems,
these issues. But if we don't let anyone in to see the real us,
we do feel alone. Feeling like no one earthside knows who
you are is devastatingly lonely and a horrible isolation.

I believe that--to whatever extent someone is able and feels
comfortable--truth and genuineness is of utmost importance.
We have to have integrity and honor in living our lives, or
the meaning is lost. We have to be smart; carefully calculate
who we might tell by testing the waters, easing into it. But
eventually, if we get to the point that we're drowning and need
to talk...we just have to find someone!

This doesn't mean everyone has to know all our business;
being 'out' isn't for everyone. Being select about trust is a
good thing. But sharing a trouble cuts it in half. We have
people in our lives to provide support and love. It may
be our only purpose.

Most times, we find out those closest to us knew we were
holding on to something long before we told them. This
isn't a source of shame; it's beautiful that love can reveal
us to one another.

....to be continued......

Ex-Gay Ministries part 4

Our society has an imbalanced emphasis on
the importance of sexual orientation, both in
positive and negative views.

As mentioned, the idea of extremism of overt
identification (at the expense of all other aspects
of self) is both limiting and dangerous, no matter
which end of the scale you fall on.

But the Christian church's infatuation with and
condemnation of homosexuality is an unhealthy
obsession with questionable merit.

There are several motives I find present in the
proliferation of materials and organizations devoted
to eradicating homosexuality. Some basic easily
identifiable ones are;

* Homosexuality is a hot-button topic...and something
that affects everyone is some way or another, so
speaking to it gets a lot of people's interest.

* The social stigma of not supporting anti-gay
hysteria is huge and can pressure people easily into
acting as the church wants; the stigma of supporting
gays and lesbians can be a heavy one. And God forbid
someone assume your progressiveness 'mean' anything.

* Sexuality is still a shameful, dirty business in this
country thanks to the church. People are hung up about--
yet fascinated by--all things sexual.

* Everybody needs a scapegoat. According to the likes
of Pat Robertson, we gays are responsible for everything
from the 9-11 attacks to divorce to the end times. It's good
to have someone to take the place of black folks as "Public
Enemy # 1." People are always looking for someone to hate.
With the gays, everybody hates us...including many of our
own! (Just ask Charlie Crist.)

* Evangelizing. It's just another means and opening to
spreading the Gospel and proselytizing to the masses.
When the current folks die, religion won't promote itself.
Keep filling those seats.

* Money. It makes the world go round. And it certainly
is what funds ministries, TV shows, and campaigns.

I have no doubt that there are many who truly believe
themselves to be doing "God's will" and that involvement in
helping people turn away from their feelings and desires is
instrumental in making the world a better place. I marvel
at the notion that teaching a person to condemn themselves
and every waking thought is preferable to transforming the
world.

I just see that most aversion to same-sex attraction is based
on fear. Bad old-fashioned fear. Of self, of others, of the
unknown. Of vulnerability. Of risk. But I digress...

If the energies spent on these ministries were utilized
to change the hearts and minds of the religions in the world
and assist them to become the actual reflection of the beliefs
they purportedly represent, it would be a true miracle.

See, I only know of about 5 mentions of homosexuality in
the Bible, but I know of a slew of passages where love,
compassion, tolerance, humility, acceptance, and other matters
are discussed.

Lets' not pretend like all the push on changing gays is
or has been humanitarian in nature. Many of the places
that seek to 'cure' homosexuals due so with aversion therapy,
shock treatments (yes, still) and other invasive, threatening
forms of torture and bullying. Neither this nor the loving
approach are very effective.

(Check out http://www.heartstrong.org/ for more stories on recent
events and problems in this area.)

....to be continued.....

Ex-Gay Ministries part 3

My personal belief is that we are who we are.

Sexuality may be brought about by a myriad of
different factors and input. It simply is, for me.
Yes, I questioned whether childhood events or
parental style or emotions released during the
birthing process were 'responsible' for my sexuality.

I determined there are a lot of reasons why someone
may be homosexual, and my experience and thoughts don't
determine someone else's.

I feel most if not all people are born to be whatever
sexuality they are. Again, there are all points of
in-between, but since we are predisposed to think in
terms of black-and-white and pigeon-hole ourselves
(which may in fact be the biggest problem this society
faces on the matter,) I will stick to speaking of someone
being self-identified as 'gay' or 'not-gay.'

So most are born feeling one way or another. Others
may turn to a different nature as a result of circumstance,
difficulty, curiosity, love of a specific person, or whatever
other possibilities that exist. I choose to see it that people
just are.

It may even change in time. I like the idea of a world where
people don't feel the need to fear for their lives or careers
or standing when determining whether to pursue another
person romantically. Is there really such a thing as too much
love in the world?

Most people determine how they act not on any inherent sense
of immorality or right/wrong, but on how other people will
react to it. We try and cram uniformity and adherence into our
fragile human bodies and minds at an early age.

I was at an pre-Easter event a few weeks ago and sat at a table
that had several young people and their families. True story.
One rather obviously feminine little boy, around 5 or 6 years old,
had selected a gift from the large table of possible items. His
choice was a bright pink bunny. There was palpable tension at the
table as he returned. He danced and had such a good time with his
bunny, oblivious to the maelstrom I could see coming.

The sputtering and frightened adults all chimed in with coercion
as to what would have made a better gift, and how he should
go trade off, etc. etc. They were visibly shaken, looking around
to see who might have been watching. The boy, crestfallen, went
back up to the gift table, and after careful consideration plucked
up a lavender lamb and pranced back to the table delighted.

The shock and horror were still present. I leaned forward and said
I thought he's made a great choice, and that I loved purple; it was
the color of royalty and magic. The entire family jumped up and
moved to another table.

So afraid of embracing identity, we cause endless damage and trauma
trying to alter who we are. Wouldn't it take less energy and effort
to just accept reality? Heck, even if it took the same amount of effort,
wouldn't it be worth it? Isn't being true to oneself the healthiest,
happiest chance we have?

I think so. I think truth and reality and living the life you have
are what being close to God is all about. I think sexuality is an
intensely personal matter that religion, government, and schools
have no business having an opinion on. I think our society demands
a level of conformity and compliance that has far exceeded the whole
"goods of the individual versus the needs of the whole" argument.
But that's me.

If someone has more fear of what others think than they do a
desire to live how they would want to if no one was looking, that
isn't my place to judge. Some people need to belong, even if it's
based on a lie. Different people have different needs. I can't judge
someone's needs, motives, or courage. Sex, life, God, purpose...
it's all a very complicated and individual matter. I want for people
to be happy, and I can admit my own humility enough to say it
isn't for me to decide what's right or wrong for someone else.

I don't think a belief in God is dependent on an aversion to
homosexuality...and vice-versa. I believe there's more than one
path to God, and there are hundreds of different religions and
versions of God out there. I don't believe spirituality and God
and religion are all necessarily part of the same equation.

http://www.truthwinsout.org/

I fear that most Christianity teaches people to self-hate and
deny the good of self along with the bad, and that most things
are not intrinsically good or bad. They're just aspects of humanity.
Being human is what we are; being better people isn't based on
our attractions. It's based on how we live our lives; being kind
to others, making the world a better place, etc.

I question why all the emphasis on trying to undo people
from being the way they are.


....to be continued.......

Ex-Gay Ministries part 2

So, my adventures in trying to 'undo' what had been
surreptitiously done to me by a multitude of risk factors
and issues and turmoils was underway.

I was so wrapped up in attaining this sense of 'healthiness'
as it was expressed to me that I became obsessed. My
desire to be accepted and a part of the larger society was
something my raging-hormone affected teen-aged brain
could get wrapped up in, and it did.

I turned away from my thoughts, my feelings, my friends,
and held to this ideal of how I was 'supposed' to be. I
prayed for release from the bondage of my now sinful
thoughts. I read on how so many different things had led to
my desires and they were not natural. I surrounded myself
with people who were also Christ-centered and allowed no
other influence into my life.

But I didn't change.

I liked the attention and the conditional acceptance and the
not worrying about what to say and do. I liked the idea of
being part of something so big and 'important' with the group
and the fellowship. I especially liked thinking that I was doing
right and being the person I was supposed to be, according to
everyone else's version of God.

But all I felt at the end of the day was scared, alone, guilty,
ashamed, unloved, unaccepted, duplicitous, phony, and
angry. I had a burning discomfort in my soul and stomach
every time I pretended to not think and feel the way I really
did. The idea of ignoring attraction and condemning beauty...
the notion that the loving care I had for someone was a horrible
thing was tearing me up.

I gave it my all. I really, really did. I know those that disagree
with my conclusion that the ministries don't work will feel I
didn't try hard enough, didn't truly want to change, didn't give
it long enough, or some other rationale.

I don't feel the need to promote the amount of tears, debate,
and anguish I suffered through in order to try and change.
As they say; no one would choose to live as a member of
such a maligned minority...and they're right. But I chose truth.

The truth is I don't believe change is possible. I also don't think
it's necessary or desirable, but I'll get back to that.

I do believe that there are people out there who so desperately
want to be someone besides who they are, that they can work
hard enough at it that they can live 'successfully' as people who
suppress their thoughts and feelings and live another life. I don't
think it's spiritually, emotionally, mentally, or physically healthy,
but if you want anything badly enough and are willing to face the
consequences, then so be it. We all have a right to choose.

We can convince ourselves of whatever we need to to survive.

My fear is that people make decisions out of fear and shame,
rather than what they truly want. However, in our culture, being
able to differentiate between what society dictates and what we
want can be a perilous and difficult prospect.

The mind is a powerful tool, and we can determine many things
for ourselves with enough will-power. Others may believe enough
in God or have a relationship with God that sufficiently allows for
devotion to be enough to make the difference. I fear these are the
time-bombs, though, who after many years of happy smiling and
pretending finally snap and hurt themselves and/or others. It's the
slow death of spirit that hurts me when I think of these suffering
people.

http://www.exgay.com/
Most evidence points to true 'transformation' of feelings to be
and invalid claim. That the people who claim such things later
recant and admit they were caught up in the desire to please others
by saying what was expected of them. That the idea of being loved
and accepted was enough to substitute for real sexual passion. That
they were lying to fit in.

I don't believe God "relieves" us of same-sex attractions because I
feel they are our God-given sex-powers to start with, and God doesn't
make junk.

I should point out too that there is a fluid continuum of sexual
interest in humans. It's most widely known depiction is the Kinsey
Scale, detailing the sexual desires of people as falling somewhere
on a scale between the extremes of absolute heterosexuality on one
side and absolute homosexuality on the other. Most people fall
somewhere in the middle, regardless of what they would openly
admit to anyone.

So, I don't discount the possibility of others finding it possible to
either start off attracted to members of the opposite sex, nor to
becoming attuned to such an attraction. I can only speak to my
experience, which is 99.9% homosexual attraction.

And it isn't exclusively sexual in nature. The love of my life is
someone I never touched. The love and devotion for him may
have a sexual component to it, but the romantic aspect is deep
on so many other levels. Sex is not about simply needed to
culminate a sexual desire.

Something else that doesn't get discussed a lot; adaptability.
Men are notorious for being able to find attraction in anyone,
anywhere, as means of meeting physical release. Immediate or
deeper attraction isn't really an issue. And women have proven
equally adaptable in terms of being able to develop attractions to
allow for other needs being provided. Having sexual attraction
up front is not always necessary for making a go of things.

...to be continued.....

Ex-Gay Ministries (part 1)

As a person who lives his life as openly gay, I have some very
specific views on the idea of the "Ex-Gay" movement. This
piece will be a little different, though, as I attempt to explore
the idea with a more even-handed response.

I should say first and foremost that I came to know of my
'differentness' in dealing with other boys at an early age.
I knew enough to hide it (for self-preservation, certainly not
for my mental health) but did come out at 15 years old.
Not too terribly long after that, the idea of curative therapy
within the 'ex-gay' movement was offered.

I was in a very dark place in life, and had been listening to all
of the anti-gay rhetoric from the evangelical high school I
was attending, as well as television talking heads, family members
and so forth. Even television shows then depicted being gay as
this horrible sentence of isolation and desperation that must be
endured (this was the mid-1980s.)

I joined Exodus International Ministries in Tampa, Florida
in about 1987. I was part of a church that frequented the
Clearwater-based Christian television station, where they were
frequently dealing with 'overcoming' homosexuality, and I
believe that group was called Eleutheros Ministries.

I came to associate every aspect of depression, unhappiness,
awkwardness, despair, insecurity, dread, life-pain, fear, and
worry with my sexual orientation.

The message preached was that we were not whole as a result
of our homosexual actions, and that only by accepting Jesus as
our personal savior could we find wholeness, transformation,
and acceptance. (Although, obviously not acceptance for the 'us'
that existed then.)

They viewed homosexuality as a sin against God and that the
thoughts and actions of homosexuality were delivered by 'evil
spirits' and demon possession. Other takes on this were that a
lack of father figure, a lack of a loving father-son relationship,
an overbearing Mother, or other environmental factors were
root causes of male homosexuality.

(Women were, as always, not considered that important, but
the root cause of their 'problem' to the ministries was sexual
abuse or poor body image.)

As today, there were well-intentioned church-members (who
identified themselves as heterosexual) who were involved in the
ministry alongside avowed 'former' homosexuals looking to
help 'cure' others and remain what they believed was Godly.

I also remember the school I was attending, Bayshore Christian,
had a special presentation one night. In the chapel, after hours,
a group or preacher came with a message as to how homosexuality
was the greatest sin facing our world. I believe this was before the
much-maligned 'Homosexual Agenda,' but it could've been the same
propaganda film.

I just remember endless graphic 'details' of how Hall & Oates and
Elton John had to get their stomachs pumped to remove animals
and copious amounts of sperm. Stuff the media was 'afraid' to tell
us about! I can remember thinking how insane these people were,
and yet being frightened by what they were saying nonetheless,
because their sincerity was infectious. I knew that the things they
were saying about gay men and women were false, but their fear
was palpable and intimidating.

...to be continued.....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Message Money

Things are (still) tough all over, and everyone seems
interested in finding a way to make even a subtle
difference for the better.


We of Georgia Unity have discovered a trend sweeping
at least the Southwest Georgia area; Message Money.
Folks are taking paper money and writing inspirational
messages on them so that they may be passed and read
by all who come in contact with the money.


"Defacing" American currency is nothing new. People have
put slogans and even ink-stamped info for tracking the
movement of particular dollars ("Where's George?")
But this seems a concentrated grass roots effort to provide
some peace and comfort to others through a really simple
means.


It strikes me that in this day and age of information
overload, we are all more disconnected from one another
than ever. Despite being plugged in at every turn, there
are few ways of actually reaching another person, especially
strangers. And many still do not have the proliferation of
electronic media at their disposal (cel phones, computers,
pagers, blackberries, etc.)


The movement is basic, and seems more spiritual than
religious-minded, offering general positive words of
encouragement to people in times of stress. Some of the
slogans spotted were;
* Keep Hope Alive
* Love is Never Angry
* Material Things Can Be Replaced; Integrity Can't
* To Judge is to Eliminate Love
* We're All in This Together
* One Day At a Time
and 'ads' for www.beliefnet.com


All the bills have been hand-written in ink, some bills
containing multiple messages. Some local stores reported
getting paid with a fistful of different denomination bills, all
of them containing slogans. Everyone asked about the
origin of the money stated that they had received the bills
in that condition, so no source (if a single one exists) has
been found.


Such simplistic means of reaching others seem a safe bet
in such troubled times. After all, everyone from an exec
to a man on the streets has need to have money pass
through their hands. Each one is just as likely to need to hear
the words of encouragement.


Who among us has not glanced at even a dollar before
letting it slip through our fingers,
considering the ease with which it is pulled? And since
bills pass on and on between folks, think of the shelf-life
of such a possible inspiration!


You never know when someone will be on the verge of
doing something that could alter their life forever...and
the only thing standing between them and that decision is
their own despair...and a piece of dirty money with some
writing on it.


Of course, in keeping with U.S. Code Title 18, we are
certainly not advocating--nor engaging in--such practices!
But we applaud the ingenuity and bravado of such actions!
In America, you can reach everybody with a ballpoint pen
and a few bucks!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friendship quotes

Sometimes mine to learn,
sometimes mine to share.
Thank goodness we are all
typically not in a bad place
at the same time.

The paradox of friendship;
so sturdy, yet so fragile.
Help me to respect and
depend upon it equally.

*******************************************************
"Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes."

"Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend's forehead."
- Chinese Proverb, (sent by Julio Fung)

"A good friend is my nearest relation."

" A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one's heart,
chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and
sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the
rest away."
- Arabian Proverb

"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend."
- Albert Camus


"A Friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway!!!"

"True friendship is never serene."
- Mariede Svign

"Too late we learn, a man must hold his friend
unjudged, accepted, trusted to the end."
- John Boyle O'Reilly

When friends stop being frank and useful to each other, the whole world
loses some of its radiance."
- Anatole Broyard

"Life is partly what we make it, and partly what is made by the friends
whom we choose."
- Tehyi Hsieh


"Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn

unpleasant things from his enemies; they are ready enough to tell them."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes 


"The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth

to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no
other reward. Is not friendship divine in this?"
- Henry David Thoreau



"Everyone hears what you say. Friends listen to what you say. Best friends
listen to what you don't say."



"When your looking for a friend don't look for perfection,

just look for friendship."


"Friend derives from a word meaning "free." A friend is someone
who allows us the space and freedom to be."



"The most beautiful discovery that true friends can make is that they
can grow separately without growing apart."
-Elizabeth Foley



"There is no distance too great between friends, for love gives wings
to the heart."


"Don't walk on front of me; I may not follow~ don't walk behind me;
I may not lead~ just walk beside me and be my friend."


"You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back."
-Barbara DeAngelis

"True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides it's evils; strive to
have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island.To find
one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing."


"A real friend will tell you when you have spinach stuck in your teeth."

"In loneliness, in sickness, in confusion-the mere knowledge of friendship
makes it possible to endure, even if the friend is powerless to help. It is
enough that they exist. Friendship is not diminished by distance or time,
by imprisonment or war, by suffering or silence. It is in these things that
it roots most deeply. It is from these things that it flowers."
-Pam Brown