Sunday, December 31, 2006

Family Systems

Family Systems theory, developed by Dr. Murray Bowen of Georgetown Univ., actually comes from physics, so I understand, from field theory. Things aren't just independent but connected in a field, a web of relationships. That's the way life is.

It is odd when so many things within families seem to happen at the same time. Bowen theory says that when one member of a family system seeks to change, the whole system will react to bring that person back to where he or she was. Really, the system is seeking some kind of equilibrium, be it the old balance or something new.

As I seek to differentiate myself, I do not seek to leave the system (indeed, one can't, even if you think you do) but to become who I am, a gay man, while staying connected. Of course, most of the system has no idea. No word has been spoken to parents, siblings, etc. And yet, the spirits move. The systems reacts. The emotional energy surges and blows where it will. It seems that we know not whence it comes, nor whither it goes.

I am coming out, separating from my wife, beginning to commence to get started on a new life. We are looking at my moving out after the first of the year. SO, this Christmas, for the first time EVER, my brothers from far away gathered to have Christmas with my 83 yr. old father and stepmother. My father lives closest to me (about 130 miles away). We (wife, kids, me) planned to gather with them all.

And to top it all off, while I am with my father and two older brothers, things go crazy. My dad has been to the ER three times in the last week. Retaining fluid, pneumonia, unable to urinate. So, they put a catheter in. He had to go back to the ER on the 27th for a "follow up evaluation" which was really totally unnecessary. So, on the 27th, I spent about 7 hours sitting in the ER with my father and stepmother. Not nearly the time to visit with my brothers that I had hoped for.

I came out to them and told them about plans for the future. They took it all well enough, I suppose. They were supportive and loving.

Then, it was off to anther city for visiting with in-laws and helping them move. My sister-in-law and her family (who live in that city) were there, too. Everyone together. At least their bunch isn't as, um. . . interesting as mine.

Systems always seek equilibrium, homeostasis, balance. To remain strong, non-anxious, and kind; to reduce the emotional reactivity, this is the task. And I am making it. I have never felt adult, like a man. God it feels good, too.

Though some may whine and complain "In the midst of life, we are in death," I am able to hold fast and rejoice that "In the midst of death, I am in Life!" (homage to Martin Luther).

So, as I go into the new year, I pray for shalom for us all.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry, Messy, Real

The story is old and well known. We've heard it thousands of times in word, play, song, and picture. Mary birthed Jesus in a stable, wrapped the babe in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.

Christmas has become a neatly arranged, squeaky clean, all-too-cute story. It's sweet and pretty. It's "merry." But really, it was messy. Very messy.

But, if we read carefully, we see that it was neither neat nor clean. It was all too real.

An unwed teenage girl is pregnant. She and her fiance leave town. (Was it really because of some census? Or was it because of the shame that they had to leave their home town? Was there "no room in the inn" because of a heavy tourist trade? Or was it because none of Joseph's relatives would take them in? Hmm).

So, a cattle barn will have to do. Have you ever been in a cattle barn? Or around farm animals? Have you ever seen cows or donkeys snort and drool? Not a pretty sight. Is a stable a clean and sanitary environment? The smell is. . . .um. . . .well. . . "strong" to say the least. A manger is not some cute, folksy ornament picked up on sale at K-Mart. It is a feeding trough. Just the place those animals have been snorting and snotting and drooling. Lovely.

Have you ever witnessed the birth of a child? Even in today's sterile, hospital environments, there is blood, body fluids, goo, etc. And birth with no anesthesia? We are talking pain. Screams. Sweat. Terror. Yes, the birth of a child is a marvelous, joyous, miraculous occasion. I was present at the birth of my two children. The exhilaration is impossible to describe. But it is a messy situation, even with sterile gowns and attendant physicians, nurses, and technicians.

Shepherds were low lifes. The bottom end. Had they been drinking something to keep them warm as they "watched their flocks by night?" After talk of visions of angels, did folk wonder what kind of mushrooms were growing in that field? Who would take seriously the word of a shepherd?" A bunch of ignorant day laborers.

The story of God coming into the world as a human being is not a "pretty" story. It is rough, smelly, and messy, to say the very least. We've just heard it too much to catch just how messy. Into the smell of animals, manure, fungus-laden straw, and shifty characters, an out-of-wedlock teenage girl gives birth in pain and terror. And we think we have problems.

God-become-human happened in the middle of a really shitty situation. Can we have anything any shittier? If God can show up there, I believe God will show up anywhere. Even for us, and with us, and to us.

There is no word or legend that says the stable was miraculously cleaned up and sterilized. We are the ones who've done that. God comes in the shit, and lives in the shit.

So, no matter what our shit may be, God shows up. God lives with us in the midst of it. God-with-us.

To know, to realize that God is not what so many would make God out to be: the One who comes and cleans us up to make us just like everyone else. God does not come to make us into any image other than God's own.

There is no evidence that that image looks like middle-class, white, Protestant, straight America. Even though many would like everyone to look and be that way, God comes to us all, and each.

In the middle of broken dreams, shattered lives, shitty situations, and smelly messes, God comes. God-with-us.

A Messy Christmas is a Merry Christmas, dears.

Cheers, Joe.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Holy Week at Christmas

Even though it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, I'm feeling more like Holy Week.

This is my last Christmas with my family. It seems that living separately may come very soon after the first of the year. Possibility of "job transfer" is looking good. It would be close enough, yet separate.

I am mourning the loss of my family and things the way they "have been." And yet, I do not fear the future as much as I might. Yes, there is fear there. There will be a lot of unknowns. But there is hope.

It is like living through Holy Week: the week before Easter Day. The week that leads up to Good Friday and being placed in the tomb. People thing that Holy Week ends with Easter and resurrection. Actually, Holy Week simply ends with death and the tomb.

Yes, we "know" Easter will come. We believe that resurrection will happen. But first we must make last journeys, east last meals, and then die.

Life as I have known it, the closet as I have furnished it is dying. While there is rejoicing in leaving the closet, there is fear of the unknown to come, and sadness of leaving the Known behind.

Mixed feelings. Sadness and Hope. Endings that await a new beginning.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards
Bethlehem to be born

Wm. Butler Yeats

Monday, December 18, 2006

Help me out here

I have had lots of comments on my last post. Some supportive, some instructive, some directive.

Michael (of Someone is Rocking My Dreamboat), though our ages are the same, you have had far more years of experience being out than I have. And from your comments, perhaps you've shown far more courage than I have yet to show. So, you have garnered more experience and more wisdom that I have. Our journeys are not the same.

When I generalize my personal experience, assuming it should be the same as everyone else's, it becomes easier to dismiss others. Judgment is easier than kindness.
Cheers, Joe.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Prayerfully pissed

Over a month ago, Presbyterian Pastor Brent Dugan committed suicide. I didn't know him at all. Never heard of him. Till now. But I am praying for the repose of his soul.

Apparently a television station was going to air some "expose'" on him. Somehow, they had information (maybe some footage?) of him in an "adult bookstore." It seems that maybe he was, as am I, gay, and in the closet. And they were going to expose him. I guess he felt all was lost, no where to turn. Nothing to do. Would the whole of his ministry be down the drain?

He killed himself. Sadly, that may be the thing for which he will be remembered. SO many of us know what that darkness feels like. No way out. Only abject humiliation and ruin. And we cannot bear to see all we have worked for, done, achieved, prayed, and wept over going down in ruin with our "reputations." It is a lonely place. No light, at all.

I am so angry right now I could spit. I am angry at the religious abuse that the Church puts on so many. And I am angry at those who sit by and let it pass. Too many good men and women, and youth have found no way to face into a darkness created by others, not by God.

This all tests my faith in the Church, that's fer damn sure. But it does not really shake my faith in God, who is so far beyond "the Church." Maybe farther and further than ever, these days. Not distant from us, but just from the damn institutions that presume to speak in God's name.

I am pissed, but not at Brent Dugan. I weep and pray for him. Requiescat in pace, dear brother. Rest in the arms of the One who loves you.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Twilight Zone

Time marches on. And so do the events of my life, leading toward the closet door -- opening outward, that is. It seems that the opportunity of a job transfer to a nearby town is a real possibility. Nothing definite, but things are looking gracefully good. I'm not counting any chickens, yet, but I am doing what I can to help it happen.

My part in this opportunity is to update resume' and the "industry deployment form" that is used for my "company." It is, of course, a rather outdated version of computer dating. A real booger of a program that is NOT user friendly. Ah, the wonders of the not-for-profit world.

My wife is being more supportive and helpful than I could ever have hoped or imagined. She did career counseling for a time, and she's quite good with resume' writing. So, here she is, helping me prepare the tools so I can leave her. And, she is doing it with such grace and kindness. What a woman! I am so thankful for her, really.

This is all so much like life in the Twilight Zone! [Cue eerie music - enter Rod Serling]. It is hard for me to fathom that all this is really happening. Even though there is a big part of me that rejoices in the prospect of being able to live the truth of who I am, there is still a huge draw to returning to the "normalcy" of what was. It sure looked good, even though it was killing me on the inside.

Of course, even when the move comes (sooner or later) I will have to remain a bit "closeted." I cannot come out in the open completely because of the job. So what if someone flat-out asks me, "Well, are you gay?" I'm not sure how I will dodge the question. God knows, I don't want to. But I will probably have to find some innocuous enough answer that will hearken back to "don't ask, don't tell." You know, it wasn't the Clinton administration that thought that up, it was the Church - centuries ago!

Now we plunge toward Christmas. Happy Holidays, everyone! Arrrggghhh. Christmas has always been a difficult holiday for me; last year was better than most. And, this year feels rather good, so far. Except for the fact that I know it will be my last one with my family in its present configuration.

What will the future be like? Sticking to the present seems a better tack, right now. Preparing as I can, but living as I am.

Cheers, dears. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 24, 2006

Weird Thanks

Ah, we move toward the holiday season! Time with family and friends . . . . . . well, with family, anyway. This will be a truly weird year for me.

My wife and I have resigned ourselves to my moving out after the first of the year. No time-table has been set, and there is the possibility of my being able to engineer a job transfer to a nearby town. That would leave me close enough to stay in touch but living on my own. With a high school sophomore in the house, I want to be very close and involved.

For the last ten years, my family (wife, kids) have gathered with my wife's family for the holiday. It has been an important family time and a wonderful experience. I trust this year will be no different. But this will, most likely, be my last year with them. My last year in my present "role", anyway.

This is all so weird. I started this post before the holiday, and now it is the day after. More than ever, I have that feeling of "not fitting in."

From a few posts back: In an earlier post, I wrote about wanting to be out and to be with other gay men. Comments from several folk gave gentle admonishment about segregating myself from the straight world. They were so right. Now, with all of this newness and the glow of a familiarity that seems so unfamiliar, I want to "immerse" myself in "gay". When I come to my senses a bit more, I know in my soul that gathering with a whole, diverse, welcoming, caring, challenging community of folk is what I long for most.

I am very thankful for so many things. Particularly, I want to thank so many of you who have supported me in this journey. The alone-ness isn't so lonely. Thank you!

Cheers, dears, Joe.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New looks

Well, I have made the conversion to the new Blogger. Or is it still Blogger Beta? Have we alpha-ed yet? Whatever.

Big changes, happenings, events for me, or at least the beginnings of some. More later.

Cheers. Joe.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


The revelations of the sordid lives of the Rev. Ted Haggard and Rep. Foley are sad to me. Even though they show up the hypocrisy of some asshole conservatives, they certainly don't show the gay world in the best light. A pedophile and involvement with a prostitute. Not things I want folk to point to in the gay community. Yes, they are in all communities, but it just makes finger pointing all the easier.

And, I hate to see anyone humiliated (well, almost anyone). Foley's humiliation ain't such a big deal to me, but the thing with Ted Haggard will backfire. People will say he was lured into it. And, the way he has described himself since admitting "wrong" is soooo full of self-hate. I know that feeling, and am sooooo glad to be ridding myself of it. I pray that he will be able to come out, but don't hold out much hope.

Why is the Church such a place of hatred, sometimes. What part is it of "love your neighbor as yourself" or "love your enemies, and bless those who curse you," that folk don't get? On occasion, I want to chunk Church, just give it up.

And yet, it draws me back. I've never confused God with the institution. But it is the institution that carries on the worship that nurtures my soul. I've tried to get God to chunk me, but God never has. God persists in loving me. Lost as I may feel, I don't want to turn anywhere else.

I dream of someday, somehow, someway, a place and ability to minister and be ministered to within the gay community, as a gay man. I wonder what God has in mind for me as I try to discern next steps. I want to offer love, and hope, and (especially) a sense of community and welcome to those who are so disenfranchised from the Church, from God, from society.

I'm dreaming of the future. That's a good thing.

Cheers, dears, Joe Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Unhurried pace, Deliberate speed

I've always liked roller coasters. Riding the real kind is so much fun. Riding the emotional ones is the pits. It's been like that, emotionally. My energy level and such are up today, feeling good, feeling hopeful. But a few days ago, it was another story.

It seems I always pull out of it, and that good. I wish I didn't have to pull out of so much.

I'm sure whoever may read this thing may have noted my picture on the last post and that I have removed it. Mainly, I deleted it for "security." I long to be very open, out, and about; but that ain't the case yet. I want to be in control of the outing process, as much as I can. I don't want it to control me, because so much damage could be done to ones I love.

And, I had a bit of a smirk on my face that didn't jive with the intent of that posting. I have nothing to smirk about in the changing of my relationship with my wife. While I am relieved that she has made this shift in her thinking, I can't say I'm "happy" about it all. There is still that part of me that wants to wake up and have it all be a bad dream.

And then there is the other part that wants to wake up and have the whole outing process over with. I can't pretend to go back in the closet. And I could really out myself in a big way. But that would be just as damaging and false as pretending it wasn't there.

Slowly, surely, onward we journey

But with unhurrying chase
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy . . .

(from "The Hound of Heaven" by Francis Thompson)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Not If, but When

My week away had several benefits, one of which was some time apart for my wife and me. We do love each other, and that makes it all the more painful trying to figure this out. But, there are some things we simply cannot think our way through. Certain things just cannot be “figured out.” On occasion they must be “lived into.”

So it is with our relationship, I think. I so wish that all of me could love her the way most of me already does. If our marriage were disastrous, coming to terms with separation would be (somehow) “easier.” (Or would it? I can deal with my own pain; it’s the pain of others that drives me to my knees).

But our time apart helped my wife, particularly. She told me the other night that a shift has happened for her. Simply put, I believe that she understands (as best she can) that I am different. I am gay, and there is no getting around that, no getting over it, no working through it, and no living with it together. She realizes that we are talking separation/divorce. It is no longer of question of if, but when.

Truth sets free. Maybe the only thing that sets us free. And the realization of this truth, for both of us, liberated us to talk, to express affection for one another, and to begin thinking about what next.

Still, there is far to go. Much to be done. Issues/concerns/challenges to be faced. But now I have hope. Hope. The journey continues. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Well, Blogger doesn't seem to want me to add pictures using Blogger, but it seems to work through Picasa, so here is the picture that was supposed to go with the last post. Cheers, dears. Posted by Picasa

Not out, but not in

It's National Coming Out Day, and I look longingly at the closet door -- from the inside. But there is a crack. There is a ray of light sneaking in. It is beginning.

I've just returned from my week of reflection, education, and discernment, sponsored by my "employer." What a week! It had some very relaxing elements to it, but it was quite intensive. A lot of work was done in eight days. Some plenary time was spent in looking at the kind of work we do and the emotional labor involved, labor that can be very draining. We talked about physical health and its connection with work and life, taking a very holistic view. There was time for spiritual work, as well. I spent as much time as I could getting in some hiking (well, walks in the woods).

The week moved toward our writing some goals and objectives for our lives and careers. It was a great exercise, but I am not a linear thinker. It was like I was pulling my own teeth, trying to get me to sit down and focus like that. Even taking my meds (I am ADD, big time), it was hard to sit still. Nonetheless, I made a beginning to it. Goals for me and the years ahead.

But being one who lives so much by the seat of his britches, returning home has been tough. It is easier to be goal-minded and resolute when you are in a secluded environment, where someone takes care of the meals and the details of life. Now that I am back home. The realities of the "outside world" catch up to me. Back to the routine, the everyday, the miserable.

How can I even bring myself to speak of my life as miserable!? I have so much for which to be grateful (and I am), that I should cut out the whining. But living in the tension of that closet in which I find myself is becoming more and more depressing.

I know that a decision point will have to come soon. I have been putting it off. And yet, so many have urged me to exercise caution and "take it slowly." Even on my week away, a trusted leader of the week urged me to take the time to "live in to this." Take the time to make the internal shifts necessary, he urged.

If I come out and everybody hates me (which I don't think likely, not everyone, anyway) I wonder how much that will affect me, since I have spent so many years hating myself for being gay. Now I am just hating myself for hurting so many people (potentially and already).

Oh, G-d, I'm whining again. Gratitude, patience, faith, trust. These are things to hang on to, to ive with, to act on, to practice.

I am grateful to all those who have gone before, paving the way for me to make a choice, to know that there will be life on the "out side". I pray blessings upon all those who will this day take the courage to come out, to be free, to live as G-d created them. Bless you, and pray for me.

Some day soon, I will open that door all the way, and dance into the party!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

On the Road, again?

Forgive the lack of posts. It has been a busy month! Tonight I am off for "parents' weekend" at my daughter's college. I have missed her so much the past 6 weeks, it will be very good to see her. But this involves a 500 mile drive. Ugh.

From there, I am flying to Richmond for a "business meeting." Actually, it is a week-long sort of a workshop sponsored (and paid for) by my employer. It will be a week of discernment about the job I do and what shape it might take in the future. I've heard from colleagues that it is a wonderful, helpful, supportive, encouraging experience. Still, I'm a bit anxious.

It will have nothing to do with present employment; it is not an "evaluation." So, I know that I won't be called on the carpet or anything. And, I plan to be truthful about where I am in my life, both personally and professionally. But I am not feeling very good about the job I'm doing right now, even though I generally get good feedback. Sometimes I wonder why they are paying me at all. I have been such a space cadet, such a sloth.

I am fearing there will be a lecture about how I need to "buckle down and focus." I am fearing comments such as "all you have to do is. . . . . . "

I have been through a lot, accepting myself as gay, coming out to my wife, my boss, and a few close friends. All these years I've tried to be someone else. I don't want toa hear about what I "need to do."

I know I'll survive it . In fact, it will, most likely, be a wonderful experience. At least I get to fly! I haven't been on a plan in years.

Meanwhile, life goes on. The weather is beautiful, great for hiking in the woods. There will be time for some rest and recreation at my meeting next week. My transportation will be limited, but what do you do in Richmond, VA? Any ideas?

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Many gay men love show tunes, but there may be fewer who know Disney tunes unless they have kids. And, since I have children (and girls, at that), I have sung and danced and cried with my girls over many a Disney movie love song.

Mulan is a good Disney movie which certainly addresses breaking barriers. With several good songs, one that has always hit me quite close to home is entitled “Reflection.” Mulan sees her reflection in the highly-polished marble stones of a monument to her ancestors. There is a conscription for the army, and her father must go since there is no son in the family, a matter of great shame in Chinese culture of the day (and still?).

She masquerades as a man to take her father’s place and (of course) wins the day. The movie is poignant and very funny, too.

One song you have to hear is “I’ll make a man out of you,” sung by Donny Osmond (!) You have to hear it, with the all male chorus. Really hot. If you like that sort of thing. And I do.

So, here are some lyrics to ponder, from the “single” version of the song, released for public consumption as sung by Christina Aguilera. The song in the movie, with slightly different lyrics, was beautifully sung by Lea Salonga.

From the Disney movie Mulan

Look at me
You may think you see who I really am
But you'll never know me
Ev'ry day
It's as if I play a part
Now I see
If I wear a mask
I can fool the world
But I cannot fool my heart

Who is that girl I see
Staring straight back at me?
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?

I am now
In a world where I have to hide my heart
And what I believe in
But somehow
I will show the world
What's inside my heart
And be loved for who I am

Who is that girl I see
Staring straight back at me?
Why is my reflection someone
I don't know?
Must I pretend that I'm
Someone else for all time?
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?

There's a heart that must be free to fly
That burns with a need to know the reason why
Why must we all conceal
What we think
How we feel
Must there be a secret me
I'm forced to hide?

I won't pretend that I'm
Someone else
For all time
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?

Music: Matthew Wilder
Lyrics: David Zippel

PS: will Blogger ever let me post a picture again?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dona eis requiem

It's only in reflection, looking back, remembering. But I was in love with a man, once. In college, I had few friends but some very close ones. One, who I thought was close, betrayed me in betraying himself. Yes, he was trying to be a friend, I guess, but his demons got the best of him. And he seduced me. With all the struggles going on in my head and soul, this is NOT what I needed.

Then there was another friend. We lived across the hall from one another, with many of the same likes and dislikes. We shared a lot of things. But how was he different as a friend? How did I know he was a true friend? He could get mad at me and tell me what he thought and still be my friend. I knew there was something very real there.

After college, I worked a couple of years before returning to grad school. We kept in touch. He was already in grad school, and we both had time off after Christmas which we spent together. His household was crazy as mine, so we'd get together and travel a bit.

Then, when I entered grad school, we were in the same metro area, so we could get together. Then, he did an internship (as part of school) that called him to live out of town, some. We would get together on the weekends in the little town where he was living. We camped, we cooked, we played. But never like that.

I think I had shared with him some of my struggles, but he did not share his. I only found out a little bit later. After it was too late.

He left some hints, here and there. But I never followed through. If he had uttered one little word, one slight inkling, I would have been in his arms, in his bed, and in his life. Perhaps to this day.

If only I had just grabbed him and ravaged him. If only. But I didn't, and it's too late.

I had no context. I didn't know how to be in love with someone, not like that. I knew I loved him, but like a brother, right? That's what it was about right? Now I see it was more.

One way I see it was more is that I still miss him. Deeply

But I was trying to "straighten out" my life. If we ever talked about "it", it wasn't much. I'm sure I tried to bury my struggles or gloss over them. I was going to be all right.

It has been over twenty years ago that he shot himself. And I still miss him, deeply. I can see his face, hear his voice, feel his chaste hugs.

He shot himself because he was so locked in so many closets he could see no way out. No friend who would understand (he thought). I was going off to get married. I thought I had it all worked out. Maybe he felt that was the last straw. I was going off to get married.

I do not take any responsibility for his suicide. He made his decision. I was and am still angry at him about that. How could he take himself away from me and our other friends like that. So permanently?

I miss him, and I pray for him every Sunday, still.

I have felt close to suicide a few times. But I think my memory of his suicide is what keeps me from it. I was (and am) so hurt. I don't ever want to do that to anyone. Now, I have children. I could never do that to them. I may go stark raving mad and have to be hauled off and institutionalized, but that would be more forgivable, more easily worked through.

At least then, there are possibilities. But not with suicide. No matter how low, how deep, how dark, how depressing it can get (and don't try to convince me yours is any darker than mine -- dark is dark) there is NO option worse than suicide. Nothing is more selfish.

I do not believe G-d condemns those lost in that darkness. That's never even been a question for me. And I know that I can somehow forgive him for what he did. But, oh G-d, I miss him. Deeply.

This is a sad post. In the midst of it though, I have hope for the future. The one thing I want to do now is LIVE. Live for me, for him, for the truth. Come what may.

I only wish we could have told each other the truth, he and I. I wish we could have seen it. Maybe, one day.

Agnus dei,
qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Away at work, not out and about

I'm not dead, not yet anyway. I've been off at a conference this week and been very busy.

The conference is offering many tools and concepts that will be useful in my present work, but it is focused is an area that might help me transition to a different kind of position. In other words, it may give me some retraining for new work.

I'm basically in a closet within a closet. I may have come out to myself, but coming out much further (or farther) will jeopardize my present position and maybe my career.

I'm a bit old for a total retrain, and our finances are such that earning much less than I make now would send us over the edge of a financial abyss.

I'm trying to decide how much more to say, if any. More another day. Perhaps.

I hope to post more in coming weeks (if not days) as time allows.

Shalom to all. Joe

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Enemy: Me, Myself, and I

I would love to post more stuff. But sometimes getting my muse and my laptop in the same place is nigh on impossible. Alas.

Life has been extremely busy with work and, well, Life. My oldest child is now off to school (college, that is) 500 miles from home! It was a tearful departing. My wife drove her out while I stay home to get the youngest, back to school today. It was exciting and very sad, too. She was scared, facing into the prospect of "going out into the world on her own." Off course she will be in the protective cocoon of college, but we know there is a big difference. She is quite bright, very talented, and she will do well. But she doesn't know that yet.

In hugging my wife before they left, I know that she (wife) was having a recognition of our family "breaking up." Of course the child off to college is "normal". What is coming down the road (when? oh when?) is the not-so-normal break-up of our family. It added to the pain of the moment. I think this is what made it a painful, sad time for me. Knowing what's coming, but having no idea what if will look like.

I am feeling so very scattered, out-of-focus, depressed, down on myself, useless, etc. I could go on and on, but you don't want to hear it. I am my own worst enemy. No one can say much to me to put me down or criticize me that I haven't already said to myself, in spades. The comments or observations of others just magnify things for me, intensify them, confirm them. See? I really am a big shit.

Like I said, I'm my own worst enemy. But years (and years) of therapy have helped me see (in my head, at least, if not in my soul) that I can do many things, accomplish all sorts of stuff, and have actually done some of it well. Still, the demons gnaw away at me. [Blessedly, only one of my several therapists thought I could be "straightened out." And even she was a lot of help, otherwise.]

Seriously, I do not know how I keep going, but I do. Not much alternative, I suppose. But the pain, the weight, the shame (even), the depression is heavy. Others have so much more to deal with, (it seems) that I can't see why I should complain. But this is the only shit I must go through. This is my story, so I'll cry if I want to.

In the midst of it all, there is much for which to give thanks, much for which to be very grateful. And I am. I think that is something that keeps me going. Focusing on the gratitude has such power, even as I wallow in the sadness.

Onward, upward, forward. More later.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Living in the Fog

I've started a post about four times and always ended in deleting it. Hard to get out what I want to say. Worries about how much to say, how little to say. My brain bounces hither and yon. I am SOOOOO ADD. It can be pathetic.

I can write. Yes, I can do that. But the energy it takes, and the time. If only I could record my brain when I have these great, wondrous, insightful, illuminating thoughts all through the day. And then they are gone. Literally fallen off the shelf behind the mental furniture, and forgotten.

Oh, the fog.

Life moves along as preparations take shape for the return of school. My eldest is off to college and my youngest back into high school - and on the same day. (In the mountains, we have to make allowance for snow days, so public schools start in mid-August). That will mean that I stay home with my youngest while mom takes the eldest to college -- 500 miles away! I'm beginning to feel the hurt of missing that, and missing her.

Many things to say and ponder. I'll try to get some down on paper, or rather, in electrons.

Cheers, Joe.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


When I was very young, I wanted something to fight for, a cause. Growing up in a basically single parent household, I saw the jerk my father was and how oppressive our culture has been to women. Growing up in the South in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, I came to see the unbelievable injustices to African Americans. Schools were integrating in the small city where I lived, and this caused new tensions. There was much I did not understand, but at least I knew there was much I did not understand.

Growing up, I wanted to be a hero, have a cause to fight for, be the underdog who fought the good fight, always on the side of truth and justice. I just wanted to be the good guy. It looked easy in the movies, in books, even scripture. Inspiring, uplifting, etc. And, it looked easy enough on TV – everything got settled within an hour, and there were commercial breaks to go pee.

Hokey, eh? But that was me. Always the pleaser and the caretaker, I wanted to do the “right thing.” Look, I’m no hero, no good guy, no crusader for truth and justice.

So, my “cause celebre” is a fight for my life. Not some one else’s cause I can join in on as I feel like it. Not some distant goal to help others along, but me. And yet I am stuck in a closet that does not let out the sound of screaming. The frustration is draining and killing. But that’s what holding out and holding on are about, aren’t they?
One should be quite careful what one prays for, eh? I think I got what I wanted, just not what I expected. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Home again

This is not my house. But is was built by my the great great great great grandfather of my children. Thier mom is from the Lowcountry of South Carolina: the Sea Islands. Remember The Big Chill ? Well, it was filmed nearby.

Anyway, on our family vacation, we were able to visit this ca 1790 house that was built by my wife's ancestor. Interestingly, it was rescued from utter dilapidation by Jim Williamson of Savanah (of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame). So of course it was restored beautifully and tastefully. It is a very peaceful, elegant site on the edge of St. Helena's Island.

Vacation is over now, and we are home. Good trip. More about that later.

Cheers, one and all. Joe. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 14, 2006

The View

We're on vacation at Hilton Head Island. If you can't own a place at the beach, it's nice to have friends who do. Generous friends.

This is the view from our fourth floor condo. Well, our generous friends 4th floor condo.

So far, we've all been having a good time. Only one meltdown, connected with adolescent PMS. Ah, daughters.

Pickney Island Nat'l Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful preserve, close by, with lots of wildlife. I don't know much about birds, but the large congregation of White Ibis was striking. Maritime forests I always find striking: lots of live oak, Spanish moss, myrtle, even some oleander and ever present saw palmetto (hey, this is South Carolina).

Well, I'm off to fixing supper. Cheers, Joe. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 06, 2006


This week, my family and I go on vacation. It should be fun, but un-structured time is always difficult for me. I'm not much good at structuring my own time. You'd think, with a hundred things I think I want to do, I could get something done. But my wandering, distractable brain just bounces around, making it difficult to stay on task.

And, of course, this will mean some endless "family time." While I love my family (my wife and kids) it is a LOT of family time.

We'll be going to the beach (Hilton Head) which has all those interesting distractions a man such as myself (a gay man) finds, well, very distracting. Or should I say, attracting, or attractive, or hot, or . . . well, you get it.

Remaining "faithful" is a tough thing, right now. Though I've been doing well with that, it is still hard (take what puns you like from that statement).

I don't know if I will have any opportunity to post anything. Not sure what (if any) internet connectivity we'll have. We are staying in a condo lent by a friend (which makes it possible for us to go to the beach at all). I'll try and post some pictures of our beach adventure at some point.

Cheers to all. Joe.

[The picture is hardly SC! It's Wales, the Pembrokeshire Coast, near St. David's.]

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Lovers, the Dreamers, and Me

Posted by Picasa This is the picture I've been trying to load on to my last post. Leave it to Picasa

Friday, June 23, 2006

Not like you. Not like me. And that's OK

I have long liked the movie Pleasantville, and only recently did I realize it’s all about coming out, in a way. Even though the movie may seem to focus on what would be considered a kind of racial stereotyping, it certainly fits for me in coming out.

I suppose one of the facts about being human is that we tend to like to be around others who are somewhat similar to ourselves. It’s the “people-like-us” syndrome. Keeping things nicely uniform, maintaining certain standards, upholding particular moral teachings. All these things are good. But they can have a dark side, like anything else.

I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I always have. That has been part of my hard battle with the “people-like-us” syndrome. The other part is the fact that I am queer. And, now that I see that it is a fact and not some defect or bad choice, it magnifies my anger with the “people-like-us” syndrome.

(Now that I am in my early stages of coming out, I must admit: all I really want to do is be with others who are like me. I want to be with lots of hairy men, rubbing fur together, dancing and getting really sweaty, and . . . . . Well, you get the picture.)

I see nothing wrong with wanting to be with people of similar taste, touch, smell, etc. But when we set up our likes and desires as the standard of behavior for everyone else, it becomes a choke-hold on others. A demand that you should “be like me.”

It may get to the point of becoming a mind set that says “if you aren’t acting like me, looking like me, behaving like me, thinking like me, voting like me. . . . . . then there is something wrong with you.

Another angle on the “people-like-us” syndrome is really more insidious: All you have to do is be-like-me. The answer to your problem (read: MY problem with you) is to be like me. Think, act, behave, love. . . . like me.

Back to my ADD: for decades I beat myself up; “why can’t I be like other folk. Why can’t I stick to what I’m doing, follow through on projects, remember to do things, or plan ahead. Why can’t I be like other people.” A lot of years, a lot of pain, a lot of self-loathing. Why can’t I? Because I am different. I am not like other people. My brain does not work that way.

Of course, the same self-loathing, the same kind of questions arose in my soul regarding my deep attraction to other males. “Why won’t this go away? Why can’t I stop these feelings? What am I doing wrong? Can’t I get it right? Why don’t I seem to be like everyone else?”

Over the years, I have been asked by others (particular my grandmothers, who whined me into submission), “Why can’t you be like other children.” And, over the years, as I tried to think in a straight line (no pun intended, but it’s a pretty good one), plan and work like everyone else, be a good straight (not queer) little boy, and big boy and young man.

Prayed over, exorcized, years of therapy, many years beseeching God to make me straight, convincing God that God got my imago Dei all wrong. Tears, fears, guilt, shame. You know.

One of my big beefs with the Church right now is this constant chant to “just be like us.” All you have to do is. . . . .
That’s all. Oh.

To accept that there is nothing wrong with me. To accept that this is me, and I like me. This feels victorious!

We all got issues. We all got problems. I’m not claiming perfection here. But in accepting myself and denying the demands of others to conform, I am able to accept others even more easily. And, it also allows me to focus on what real problems/issues I have.

Is it any reason I’ve always loved rainbows?

(Thanks to Kelly for the picture and challenge. The picture is posted above, as a separate post.)

Friday, June 16, 2006


I am such a pleaser. I "just want everyone to be happy." Oh, how I can hear my mother saying those words as if that were the point, the goal, the reason for life. Make everyone happy. Don't rock the boat. "Son, now, don't say anything that will upset somebody."

So, I haven't. I don't. And I regret it. But to disabuse myself of the idea that I will die if I upset someone is difficult. Convincing myself of the truth has not been easy. It is a struggle I've lived with, and it seems the struggle will continue.

To "talk big" or "bark loudly" doesn't mean I've learned to bite.

I have to work all weekend. Shucks. Again. I'm getting a little squirrely and need to take some time for myself and go for a walk in the woods.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

One to Hug

I don't have many friends, hardly any. But I have one friend who is gay, and he knows my secret. He has been very supportive of me in this process, acknowleging how painful parts of it are for me.

And he gives great hugs! He let's me talk and he let's me hug him and squeeze. It means a lot. No, we haven't "done it", nor do I plan to. I don't want to mess things up with sex. One day, I'd love to, but not now. It's important for me to be faithful to present commitments. I am a married man.

But he let's me hold him, and smell him, and rub my hands on his back; and that means so much. I can hold him authentically, not having to be concerned about "will he get the wrong idea." I have always loved to hug, and I hug a lot. But with men (straight men) I get concerned that I might hug too much.

I know some other gay men, but I am not out to them. Though they probably have figured me out. This friend is one with whom I can be real. Thanks be to God.

Cheers, Joe.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A little lonely

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long ways from home
A long ways from home
True believer
A long ways from home
A long ways from home

A counselor friend of mine told me, "Nothing is more traumatic for a gay man than the death of his mother." He didn't share his source, nor did I ask. Anyone have information on that one?

I know that we do tend to be very close to our mothers, and I was to mine for many years. And it is true that my desire to come out strengthened greatly after her death. I wonder why?

My mother is one who was always loving, accepting, understand. If she "knew" I was gay, she never said. Maybe she only suspected, or maybe not even that. I never had the chance to tell her, though I always felt she would understand (at some level) and still love me and welcome me home.

My father, on the other hand, has always shown strong signs of all kinds of bigotry, chauvinism, racism, you-name-it-isms. I always felt from him that I was never masculine enough, never good enough. Now, he has mellowed considerably in his old age (early 80's), and some of his opinions seem to have moderated.

Perhaps someday, I think, maybe, I could tell him. Maybe. His wife I believe would be understanding. (He's on wife number 3, and the best one he's found yet. She's loving, fun, understanding, just a great gal. And, she is much closer to my age than to his. Except for her taste in husbands, I can't fault the women).

I would have thought that the idea of coming out would have been more acceptable to me after my father's death, not after my mother's. It seems bassackwards to me, but then, often I go about things that way.

Now I am beginning to feel like that motherless child: no where to turn, no place to go, alone. I guess it's just this process. The thought of leaving what security I've got. The possibilities of poverty, loneliness, and darkness.

Guess today is sort of a tough one for me. Maybe tomorrow will be better. At least it will be another day. Thanks, Miss Scarlet.

Cheers, Joe.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Twice now, it’s happened.  And within a year.  I can’t believe it.  How many times, in thrity plus years of driving have I filled the gas tank?  Thousands?  How many times have I forgotten to replace the gas cap?  Maybe twice.  Until this year.  And now I’ve twice forgotten.  Why?  Men.

A few months ago, it was a really cute guy in the convenience store.  He was inside working the register, and I was pumping gas, staring through the plate glass.  A little too much. And I drove off, leaving the gas cap on top of the pump.

Yesterday, I filled up at the cheapy gas station across from work ($2.67/gallon).  He was at the pump next to mine.  He was way beyond cute; he was hot.  Very.  I lost my concentration.  He spoke. Even though he finished filling the tank of his nice, big, red pickup and left before I finished, I was still distracted.  Nothing happened, no real flirting even.  I sure he was straight.  But I left my gas cap on the roof of the car.  

Twice.  In one year.  Men.  I’m not exactly complaining, mind you.

Cheers, Joe.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Schizo paradox

They don’t call it schizophrenia any more, it’s “schizo-affective.”

At least they have drugs for that. I am feeling very split between two very opposing worlds, lives, ways of thinking, ways of being. Not just different, but opposing.
A Queer in the Church.

Being queer and Christian has never been a problem for me. It’s the Church. And, it’s “Christians.” They are all driving me nuts.

So many GLBT folk have chucked the Church, and I really understand that. Not all parts of the Church are as condemnatory as, say the Southern Baptist tradition, or the “Focus on the Family” folk. But the majority of what one sees and hears and experiences is the rejection and condemnation.

And yet I am part of the Church. Granted, I am in a more liberal end of a more liberal denomination, but we are having our troubles with the “sexuality” issue. And it may bring us to a split of some sort, this summer.

And, being queer is so very antithetical to many Christians and most Churches, that I don’t even think I could begin to explain. It is really different, and I am trying to figure out how and where and what.

I have been reading Soul Beneath the Skin by David Nimmons, and I highly recommend it. Now that I have finally come out to myself, I am accepting just how different I am, and it is beginning to pervade my life. And it’s scary.

Can I continue in the Church? Can I continue in a leadership position in the Church? I just don’t know.

Part of the scariness of all this coming out business is the darkness: facing into the darkness wondering if anyone is there. It would be a lot easier to go out and find some guy to shack up with. At least then I would have someplace to go. Now it’s just darkness.

I had a bad cold this past week. Nothing big, just a cold. But the thought of being sick and alone was scary. I am afraid of that lonely darkness: no family, no job, no career, no way to support my children, old, sick, alone.

It is all a big paradox. Being marked as unacceptable by the Church, being jeered as unacceptable by GLBT folk who have no use for the Church. Leaving family to find . . . what?

But it’s like so many paradoxes: giving to receive, dying to live, and so on. Paradox often points to holiness; a place that makes no sense, but is nonetheless the only way. Emptying to be made full. Showing power by serving. Victory through defeat. Life in the midst of death.
Where will it end? Where will I be? And, how?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Sometimes I feel like I am sinking. This past week the depression has set in, and motivating myself has become difficult. It's like slogging through mud. Either I lift my feet up out of the muck for the next step or just drag them along. One way or the other, it takes a lot of effort.

I have these competing emotions/feelings/thoughts of being very close to my wife, closer than we've been in a long time. Honesty will do that. Truly it is the best policy. But then I sometimes feel farther from her than ever before. Am I afraid of getting too close? I know I am afraid of hurting her, but I can honestly see how I am trying to keep from hurting me, too.

It has been nearly three months since we had our first talk, my final coming out conversation with her. Counselor has suggested we each (separately) devise a timetable of concrete steps for the next few weeks. And that was at least three weeks ago. He had to cancel the next appointment and we have neglected to make a new one.

And of course I have neglected to do any thinking concretely. . . . about anything.

Onward, upward, outward.

Cheers, Joe.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dramatis personae

It has been way too long since last posting, and I've missed it. And yet, I haven't felt inspired to post anything. Sometimes the Spirit moves in the writing, and I write pages, and then say, "@$%*(+@!" and delete it all and start over.

Our road trip of the last post went well except for the actually road part. 500 miles of driving in pouring rain, thunder, and lightning made me ready for down-time in a padded cell. Please, just leave me be, in silence and darkness; just deliver the meals.

In my job, I come into contact with all sorts of people. Last week, I encountered a big, bearish man in an ancilary profession. Through our work contact we remained basically professional, but then there was that stare. I'm guessing I started it, but he stared right back. I held on just a little longer; so did he. Then, the prolonged handshake, and a bit of a wink.

Of course we both have wedding rings, wives, children. In our contacts over the years, I have always really figured he was gay. [My gaydar seems to work rather well]. But for some reason, we came on to each other, just a little bit. In a silent sort of way, we "outed" each other. But nothing was ever overt. I did not grab him and lick my way across his beard, though such things did cross my mind (and other places).

It feels so odd. I have always reckoned he was gay, but maybe something in me is giving off stronger signals. Maybe I made some move, some gesture that gave me away. Did co-workers notice? Who can say. It feels odd because I really enjoyed the flirting and fixated on him just a bit, for the rest of the day.

Making contact would probably not be in our best interests, but if he did . . . .
And what kind of contact; what words should be spoken. Typically, I want to go up to him (privately) and say, "Well, now that we have outed each other, what do we do?"

Yes, I want to jump his bones. I want to jump every guy's bones. But what about friendship without the sex. Is it possible, or will I sabotage it with acting out? Time will tell.

Somehow, I expect that when I "come out" publically, most people well may say, "It's about time." Enough for today.

Cheers, Joe.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Road Trip

And now for something completely different . . . .

Tomorrow morning, my family and I leave for Memphis, TN (is there another?). It's a road trip!
My oldest child is looking at colleges. It is decision time. Said child has been accepted in four schools, and now we must decide. I might also need to find a good bankruptcy lawyer, too!

I've never been to Memphis, so this will be a first for me. The biggest downside is that it's about a 500 mile trip. That will make for a long time of all of us in the confined spaces of an automobile. We will be attempting this without strapping anyone to the roof. Pray for our success in that regard.

Packing and laundry to get down. Away we go! Cheers!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Plant Sequoias - Practice resurrection

Sometimes it feels like planting sequoias. Waiting for the harvest of a thousand years, or more. Perhaps for the Church it will take that long. That long for the institution to accept that God loves all. Accepts, loves, redeems. Practice resurrection.

Happy Easter to all.

Cheers, Joe.

An excerpt from
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

. . . . . . . . .
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. . .

. . . .
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Instead of You & Me

Sydney Carter was a British song writer and poet. He is best known for his text (and adaptation of the tune) "Lord of the Dance," (I danced in the morning when the world was begun . . . )

But he also wrote this song, reprinted below. Please take the words for what they are, dramatic irony through the words of one of the theives crucified with Jesus.

It stirs up all our feelings of our anger at God, which it something we seldom admit or think we are not supposed to feel at all. And yet we do.

I have always felt God could handle my anger. After all, don't we get the angriest at those we love the most?

God wants our anger, our misunderstanding, our limited vision. God wants all of us, all facets, all sides, all parts, all of us. What else could the incarnation be about, except to show that all of us, body and soul, is part of God's wonderful creation.

It was on a Friday morning
that they took me from the cell and I saw
they had a carpenter to crucify as well
You can blame it on to Pilate
You can blame it on the Jews
You can blame it on the Devil
Its God I accuse
Its God they ought to crucify instead of you and me
I said to the carpenter, a-hanging on the tree

You can blame it on to Adam
You can blame it on to Eve
You can blame it on the apple, but that I can't believe
It was God that made the Devil
And the woman and the man
And there wouldn't be an apple
If it wasn't in the plan
Its God they ought to crucify instead of you and me
I said to the carpenter, a-hanging on the tree

Now Barabbas was a killer
And they let Barabbas go
But you are being crucified
For nothing that I know
And your God is up in Heaven
and He doesn't do a thing
With a million angels watching and they never move a wing
Its God they ought to crucify instead of you and me
I said to the carpenter, a-hanging on the tree

To hell with Jehova
To the carpenter I said
I wish that a carpenter had made the world instead
Goodbye and good luck to you
our ways will soon divide
Remember me tomorrow
The man you hung beside
Its God they ought to crucify instead of you and me
I said to the carpenter, a-hanging on the tree

Sydney Carter

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


This is the knocker on the door of Durham Cathedral. In ancient times if one grabbed on to this knocker one could proclaim "sanctuary."

Let us be sanctuary for one another, as God is sanctuary for us. All our brokeness, all our fragments, all our wounds. Taken into the heart of God.


Thursday, March 30, 2006


Well, friends, my blog has gone nuts. Or I have.

I thought I added one thing in the template, and I must have messed up something else. Because then, the whole thing was centered. All the text was realigned.

So, in trying to fix it, I lost some other formatting. Just one of those days. . . .

I'll try get things back in order, links back up, etc.

On another note, I've gotten over a virus but it left me with a bit of a cough. A friend has helped out and given me some "cough medicine." Home made.

Clear as can be, and with quite a bit. Helps the cough.

Living in the mountains can have certain advantages.

cheers, Joe.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Dear Anonymous 3 - Finding myself

This another post responding to a comment from an anonymous reader, left on this linked post.

I am sorry for your pain.. and i won't go into the rights or wrongs of being gay.. But one thing I do have to ask.. and perhaps you should as well.. You made a vow when you and your 'wife' got married. You have children.. you have a responabilty to them.. even though you have 'come out' so to speak.. does that mean you have the right to throw away the life you have, the one you built with YOUR wife? with your children? Does your happiness come before your families?? Is it really worth the destruction that your causing??not only to them.. but to your soul as well.. ?? Think about it. please
posted by "Anonymous"

You have children.. you have a responabilty to them.. even though you have 'come out' so to speak.. does that mean you have the right to throw away the life you have, the one you built with YOUR wife? with your children?

Yes, I have a responsibility to my children, which is a big reason I am coming out. No, I have not told them yet, but I will. I am puzzled by the punctuation of this comment because I am not sure which phrase goes with which. “Even though you have ‘come out’ so to speak ..” seems to be suggesting that I might be under the impression that coming out absolves me of all family responsibilities, that the result of my coming out would be the abandonment of my children. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Why would I see coming out as the responsible thing to do as a parent? Because children know more truth than they can express or even comprehend. As far as I know, they do not know (consciously) that I am gay. I would not be surprised if, when they are told, they said, “Well, duh, Dad. We knew there was a reason you liked to sing Broadway musicals with us. We knew there was a reason you like to dance so much.”

There is an old saying that comes (I believe) from the 12 step tradition: “We are as sick as our secrets.” And families are as sick as their secrets. To keep this secret and this secret life from my children is more hurtful, in the long run, than the trauma of my coming out. What life would you have me keep? What life should I not “throw away?” A life that looks great on the outside, a life that has the trappings of success, love, faithfulness. But a life that is so consumed with angst that I can only barely function sometimes.

When a family system is filled with anxiety, children know. They will begin to live that anxiety that goes unspoken, unacknowledged, undealt with.

It would be better for my children to have two households with healthy parents, than one with none.

Does your happiness come before your families?? Is it really worth the destruction that your causing??not only to them.. but to your soul as well.. ?? Think about it. Please

Yes, I can see how my coming out is a self-centered thing, but it is not merely selfish. This isn’t only about my getting what I want. Though the immediate time is quite painful, I believe it will be better.

Is it "worth the destruction?" I can only hope and believe that wherever their is death, new life will spring forth. There is no Easter without Good Friday; no resurrection without the cross.

This journey has been for me a profoundly spiritual one. From your comments, Anonymous, I’d bet you have a difficult time seeing that. I’m guessing that being gay is something of which you disapprove, that you feel my soul is in danger. Thomas Merton said, "To be born again is not to become somebody different, but to become ourselves." Yes, I know it is late, but I am seeking to become myself, to enter more deeply into the image of God in which I am made.

From most conservative Christians I hear a voice that says, "all you have to do is be like us." I have tried so much of my life to be someone else. One definition of craziness is to keep on doing the same thing, but always expecting a different result. It has been a long learning. Again, from Merton:
The first step toward finding God, Who is Truth, is to discover the truth about myself: and if I have been in error, this first step to truth is the discovery of my error.
I will end this series of responses with these words from Thomas Merton. I guess I'm on a Merton kick tonight. This prayer expresses profoundly my belief, my hope in God in whom I put my trust, and whom I seek to please above all:

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please
you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Grace & Peace, Joe.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Comments I have received on my past three posts have been helpful and thought-provoking. I am grateful to all who have made comments and want to finish this "series." This is a bit of an addendum to the last post.

This quote from Rilke is one I have used and misquoted often. Now finding the "real thing" I am more amazed at it. Rather than my blathering on about it, I ask all to read it with great care.

...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903in Letters to a Young Poet

As I struggle to love and live into the questions, I am praying that I live my way into the answers.

Grace, Peace, and Love to all, Joe.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dear Anonymous, Part 2b

This is my second post responding to a comment from an anonymous reader, left on this linked post.
I am sorry for your pain.. and i won't go into the rights or wrongs of being gay.. But one thing I do have to ask.. and perhaps you should as well.. You made a vow when you and your 'wife' got married. You have children.. you have a responabilty to them.. even though you have 'come out' so to speak.. does that mean you have the right to throw away the life you have, the one you built with YOUR wife? with your children? Does your happiness come before your families?? Is it really worth the destruction that your causing??not only to them.. but to your soul as well.. ?? Think about it. please
posted by "Anonymous"
In my last post, I was writing about why I married, and I would like to finish that.

When I met my wife, I was working very diligently in therapy not to be gay. It was just a problem with relationships, so I thought. My therapist was a little less enlightened than I might now wish. But I thought I would “straighten out.”

I do not hate women, not do I find them unattractive. And I was definitely attracted to the woman who is my wife. And, (even though I would never have framed it this way at the time), I definitely wanted to be straight. And, I wanted children, a family, I desperately wanted to be able to have the family that I did not have growing up. I wanted to “get it right this time.”

I wanted to be successful, happy, normal, regular, ordinary. And, I fell in love. I did not marry to “straighten me out.” I married because I was very much in love with a beautiful woman. With all I knew of relationship, love, and “the way things were supposed to be”, I entered into marriage with the best of intentions, and the sincerest hopes.

I wish I knew why so many gay men marry. Why it is we seem to be able to be attracted to both men and women. Perhaps I am bi-sexual. But I have always felt the same-sex attraction to be stronger for me. With all the culture, society, the Church, etc., etc. telling me that marrying is the right thing to do, I felt I was doing the right thing.

Despite all the pain this is causing me and those I love, I refuse to think I “made a mistake” in marrying. My two wonderful and amazing children are a product of this marriage. And, my wife and I have had many good years together. I cannot wipe it all away as a “mistake.” Though it is very difficult to see God in all this, still I feel God’s presence very keenly.

For many years, I have prayed for me to change. I have prayed to others, I have prayed. But never (until recently) did I do the obvious: I asked God, “am I gay.” Never have I felt God’s condemnation, and now I feel God’s affirmation. Yes. I am gay. I do not understand. It is not (really) what I want. I so want to be that normal, ordinary, straight, regular, everyday.

So why break these vows? Why not just live as I have for the past 20 years. Because I am dying, I am committing suicide of the soul. The truth is the only thing that will set us free. I cannot go on living a lie.

Grace & Peace to all, Joe.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dear Anonymous - Part 2a

This is my second post responding to a comment from an anonymous reader, left on this linked post.
I am sorry for your pain.. and i won't go into the rights or wrongs of being gay.. But one thing I do have to ask.. and perhaps you should as well.. You made a vow when you and your 'wife' got married. You have children.. you have a responabilty to them.. even though you have 'come out' so to speak.. does that mean you have the right to throw away the life you have, the one you built with YOUR wife? with your children? Does your happiness come before your families?? Is it really worth the destruction that your causing??not only to them.. but to your soul as well.. ?? Think about it. please
posted by "Anonymous"

But one thing I do have to ask.. and perhaps you should as well..

Reading this line leads me to think that you feel I have not asked myself any of the questions which follow in your comment. There seems to be an assumption on your part that my decision to come out was made lightly, without much thought for anyone else but myself. Truly, nothing could be further from the truth.

There have been years, years, of struggle for me on all the issues and questions you raise. And still they linger for me. This is no easy thing for me to do.

Are you thinking, “surely if he has asked himself these questions, then he would come to a different conclusion.” In other words, if I have asked myself these questions, then why have I not come to the same conclusion as you? Do you think that your conclusions, your answers are the only ones? Then you have found an answer and are simply trying to find questions to go with them.

Indeed, my decision to come out has been based largely ON these questions, because of my love for my wife and children and concerns for them.

.. You made a vow when you and your 'wife' got married.

First, I do not understand why you have placed quotation marks around “wife.” She is my wife; no need of quotes as if she is not really my wife. No need to put her down. This is not her fault. This is not about her. Yes, I know how greatly is effects her, but it is not because she is anything but the wonderful, loving woman that she is. I’m more than a little bit insulted that you would place marks around her like that.

Yes, my wife and I made vows to one another. And we made them with all sincerity and honesty.
I … take you … to be my wife. To have and to hold from this day forward. For better for worse. For richer for poorer. In sickness and in health. To love and to cherish. Until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.

I remember them well. I remember the day well. I felt from the depths of my heart that God was calling me into this marriage. I have no doubt now that that was the truth. Was I dishonest in my entering in to those vows? I do not believe so.

I have struggled with this sense of same sex attraction since I was about 12. But with no frame of reference, no information, I did not even know what was happening. When my first homosexual experience happened to me (and you can read about that, here), I was so devastated and lost. With no way to process it, to talk it out with someone, I had no where to turn but to God. And I did.

Close to the brink of deep depression (or worse), I asked God, “If you are real and if you love me, let me know.” And God did. An overwhelming sense of Presence and warmth filled me. I knew that I was loved and that I would “make it”. I would survive and be blessed. And I have been both.

I never dated but once or twice till I was in college. I had a very chaste relationship with a girl there, but it was unfulfilling. I was so inattentive, so emotionally unavailable. It was terrible for both of us. Through college, graduate school into my mid twenties, still I dated almost none. Still I was attracted to men. Still I had similar sexual encounters with men, always anonymous, faceless, purely physical, brief encounters.

When a man’s sexuality is awakening, he turns to others for help. If too shy or isolated for that, he can learn some things (however poorly) from television, from the culture around him, from watching others, from books or magazines. He can do all that if he is straight.

But if he is gay, if he feels that pull to other men that is different, then where can he go to learn about building healthy relationships? To whom can he turn to understand the wonders of his body, his mind, and his spirit as they blossom into that marvelous image of God in which he is made? How or where can a young man learn about being gay, or be around other gay men?

Today, there are some options, in some places. In 1970 or so, it was a different story. Where do you learn? Porn. “Adult bookstore” (in this case, somewhat of an oxymoron). Looking for love in all the wrong places. And you learn all the wrong things.

From this perverse training we learn that being gay is all about sex, lots of sex, seedy, dirty, empty sex. Is it any wonder that I (and many gay men) deal with such self-loathing? We are trained and taught in all the wrong ways to hate ourselves and what we do.

Surely this is wrong, I thought. I’m a selfish sinner. I must conquer this. I must pray, and pray. Dear God, change me, heal me. Make me someone else. Take this away from me. I try, I strain, I sweat. I ache. This is hell.

Why did I marry? Why did I even seek to marry? With several years of therapy, trying to repair me, I thought I would get better. I thought it was just a problem with relationships. I’m just running away from them by using this perverse sexual behavior to throw me off balance. But God kept pursuing me.

Maybe I am using this to get God to leave me alone? In Katzanzakis novel The Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus wants to make sure God will leave him alone, so Jesus uses his carpentry skills to become a cross builder for the Romans. I thought I was there, too.

This is turning into far too much. And yet I feel it is all part of my story. If “anonymous” never reads it, at least it has helped me articulate some things. Perhaps it will help others, too. I will write more later.

Grace & Peace to all, Joe.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dear Anonymous . . .

Dear Anonymous: I want to respond to this comment which you left on one of my posts. I am continuing to give it serious thought and prayer. It may take several posts for me to accomplish that, but here goes.

I am sorry for your pain.. and i won't go into the rights or wrongs of being gay.. But one thing I do have to ask.. and perhaps you should as well.. You made a vow when you and your 'wife' got married. You have children.. you have a responabilty to them.. even though you have 'come out' so to speak.. does that mean you have the right to throw away the life you have, the one you built with YOUR wife? with your children? Does your happiness come before your families?? Is it really worth the destruction that your causing??not only to them.. but to your soul as well.. ?? Think about it. please

posted by "Anonymous"

I am sorry for your pain.. and i won't go into the rights or wrongs of being gay..

Dear anonymous,

This first statement would lead me to think that there may, in your opinion, be something “wrong” with being gay. You are right that the state or condition of “being gay” is a state of “being.” It is not some choice I made. Would you make such a “choice” to turn you family, career, whole life upside down? Would you choose potentially to alienate your family, friends, employer, etc.? I do not believe that “being gay” is a choice. In fact, in fifty years of life, it has been my experience that that I have not been able to choose otherwise. I’ve had therapy, prayer, exorcism, you name it. But it always comes back. It is always there. It is who I am.
Would you choose this kind of pain? Or choose the pain of living a lie? Would you choose the intense pain I am having at this present time? Or choose to spread it over your whole life, bringing you to the brink of suicide?

Assuming you are straight, may I ask about how you chose to be heterosexual? What influenced your decision, and when did you know it?

So many persons, perhaps you, think that “being gay” is about “having sex” with other men. I can’t deny that that is part of it, but certainly not the whole of it. Would you describe being heterosexual as primarily about having sex?

I acknowledge that I have a strong same-sex attraction. I desire to have a relationship with a man. But that desire involves much more than my genitals. I desire to have relationships with men in which I can be honest about myself. I am not talking about having sex. I am talking about relationship.

Sexuality is something that goes to the very core of our being. It is something that pervades all aspects of our lives. I can’t verify this, but I believe that a part of straight sexuality is why men play war and girls play house. Please hear I am not trying to make a sexist statement here. It is true that men and women are different. And the truth is there is difference even among men and among women.

And so there are many parts to “being gay” as well. I believe my particular sense of creativity and my aesthetic sensibilities come from that core of my being that is “being gay.” Why is it so many designers, architects, fashion folk, musicians, composers, writers, and artists are gay? Are all of them gay? By no means. But there is something there; it is part of being gay. Those are things that are not choices but callings, part of our being, be it gay or straight. Each brings a gift.

My sense of humor, and my very expressive way of lecturing/teaching etc. (which are a part of my profession) stem from that gayness that I did not choose. My love of music and its ability to move my soul at the deepest level are part of it.

One gift that has come from the fact that I am gay is my ability to relate in a deep way to those who feel exiled, downtrodden, abused, isolated, and cast out. That is not part of being gay, but only from being gay in a world that rejects you. I understand living in fear. I understand (if not first hand for myself, then from the experience of my GLBT brothers and sisters) what rejection, persecution, and self-loathing feel like.

And this brings me to my sense of belovedness by God. I can only speak from my own experience; that of others may be quite different.. I have always has a strong sense of God’s love for me. It is not God from whom I have felt rejection and condemnation, only the Church. And here I mean the whole “Church”, that earthly institution of many flavors and differences. But remember that this is the same Church that mounted the crusades and the inquisition; the same Church that supported slavery and the subjugation of women; the same Church that supports war and the easy lifestyles of so many in this country while much of the world starves. This Church that acts like the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus described, straining at gnats while swallowing camels.

I know what resurrection feels like and looks like. I have seen it, felt it, lived it too many times in my own life. If I had not known that sense of lostness, I could never feel so belovedly found.
This process in which I now find myself is a profoundly, deeply, immensely spiritual one. Please know that I have not entered into it lightly. Nor did I enter into marriage lightly, or becoming a father. I shall respond to those things later. For now this is enough.

Anonymous, I invite your comments, and those of others. I pray that we will all come to see ourselves walking in the light of God, no matter what our journeys.

Grace and Peace to you, Joe.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Over the weekend, I received this comment to one of my posts. I am going to reply to it but only after some thought. I am sad that this comment was done anonymously, but perhaps he or she will have more to say later.

Grace & Peace, Joe.

I am sorry for your pain.. and i won't go into the rights or wrongs of being gay.. But one thing I do have to ask.. and perhaps you should as well.. You made a vow when you and your 'wife' got married. You have children.. you have a responabilty to them.. even though you have 'come out' so to speak.. does that mean you have the right to throw away the life you have, the one you built with YOUR wife? with your children? Does your happiness come before your families?? Is it really worth the destruction that your causing??not only to them.. but to your soul as well.. ?? Think about it. please

posted by "Anonymous"

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Thanks to the many who have given supportive comment to my last posting. I am very grateful.

In so many ways, I know this is not “all my fault,” and yet in some ways it is. I take responsibility for my decision to come out. And I believe and trust that it is the right decision (most of the time).

I purloined this Thomas Merton quote from Grateful Bear:
“We are not persuaders. We are the children of the Unknown. We are the ministers of silence that is needed to cure all victims of absurdity who lie dying of a contrived joy. Let us then recognize ourselves for who we are: dervishes mad with secret therapeutic love which cannot be bought or sold, and which the politician fears more than violent revolution, for violence changes nothing. But love changes everything.”

from Thomas Merton’s “Message to Poets” in Raids On The Unspeakable

Love changes everything. I am holding on to that as it seems everything around me is or will be changing. I desire some of these changes but out of love, not violence. And yet it is the “violence” of all the feelings that I fear so much.

Also, from Timbo’s blog I got this bit of a quote.

It is an idea believing that whether gay or straight our sexuality is not a defining ending point, but rather it is a beginning to a fully integrated and healthy relationship to the planet, each other, and our creator.
It is a beginning. I’m ready; I think.

Cheers, Joe.

The picture is of the abbey ruins on Lindisfarne, UK

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mea culpa

Today it feels like a low front has moved in. No, not weather, but me. A depression front has settled in. I’m fearing it will sock me in for a few days, like a chunky fog that settles down over the river, between the mountains.

What did I expect my wife to say, “Oh gosh, dear. How sad. Go your way. Be queer, and have a nice life. See ya later.” Is there no wonder she is furious and crushed? The waves of intense rage will come out, sooner or later. And then it will be all over again with the children.

I am destroying many of her dreams. I am breaking up the happy home. I am putting all our finances at risk (and they are at best precarious). Yes, my dreams, my home, my finances, too. But I am the one making a choice. I am the one turning every thing upside down. Everything. It’s me. No one else.

She can be furious at me. I have no one to be angry at. It is me. My fault. Nowhere else to turn. No one else to blame.

I think I have some understanding of my wife’s feelings of being devastated, deserted, demolished. From her perspective, I am the offending party. I am the one getting us into all this. I am the one who spoke the words, who came out of the closet. Me. I did it. I must take the responsibility. It is not here fault. Not her. It’s me.

All this comes at me like things falling off the top shelves onto my head. Like opening the proverbial Fibber McGee’s closet. Crashing. On me. God, the pain.

I have long been one to admit his mistakes, to own up to the truth, to be responsible for my shit (and where it lands). It is that drive for the Truth that has led me slowly to make my way out of the closet. So I have no one to blame by myself.

And that’s the problem. I slide over the edge. I spiral down. The self-loathing, the inner punishment, the self-contempt. God, the pain.

I do not know what survival will look like. I do not know what the next step will be. I do know that I must let go of knowing and not knowing. Trust that there is One who does know. One who will know. And One by whom I am known. Fully known, and yet still freely loved.

I don’t do well seeing very far beyond the end of my nose, sometimes. To know that there are many of you out there who have been where I am, done what I am doing, or now doing it yourself, is comfort and strength. Pray.

Thank you. Joe.