Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What's important? I am.

I'm back from our mission trip and had a great time. Sure, it was hard work, but that never hurts. To see some of the devastation that remains along the coast and to speak with those who survived it was quite a moving experience. It certainly gives perspectives to all the stuff we worry about every day. Is it really that important?

One thing happened that really stirred me up. One of the director-type persons who runs the program of which we were a part seemed to me obviously gay. Tall, thin, a little bit effeminate. Some stereotypical "gay traits." Of course, I could be wrong, I had little or no contact with him. And I do not mean to cast aspersions on any one. But this is the point: In a discussion of how the program was run, some other volunteers wanted to make suggestions on how it might run better. They said, "We could talk to XXXX (a woman director-type), but I don't think she would do anything." I suggested they talk to the other director-type, the (possibly) gay man. These very straight guys simply rolled their eyes and said, "Oh." It seemed obvious to me that they thought him of no consequence because he was queer.

Of course I could be wrong about all that, but the incident drove home to me how I may well be completely dismissed by many straights simply because I'm gay. Well, duh! I suppose I've known this in my head, but this hit me at a deeper level. The reality of the cost of coming out hit home, and it hit hard.

Oh my God. What am I in for? This and some other things have sent me into a real funk. It feels like I'm jumping into a black hole. I know this is largely about the real injustices of life, but now it is becoming personal. It's me who will be the recipient of this. No longer abstract, this is real. What am I in for?

And, the realities of separation from my wife is looming large. I'm scared. I know I will make it through, but the feelings are close to the surface.

With all of these feelings and my reflecting on "what's important," I have to say that this issue is important to me. I am important, I have much to offer, and I refused to be dismissed. What will be, will be. The losses will be mine, but the losses of those who may dismiss me will be even greater.

Cheers, Joe.


Jay said...

Wow, I too did a work camp the beginning of March, and had much the same reaction but from a bit different conversation. I was with a group of 27 UCCers, staying at and sharing meals in a much more conservative overnight space. What was weird was that as a group I think we felt our church's denominational, very public stance, on Gay Marriage was an unspoken barrier, and I have to admitt our uncomfortableness with shared devotions the approach to not the sharing ) was there too. My sense was as if they (my group) were in the closet along with me, But at the same time during lunch time discussions about gays, even as supportive as they are, it is still clear they don't understand gays are still outsiders. I too am struggling with others reactions to knowing about me, to not being understood, to dismissing me, to my marriage. I've come to realize it will end in a divorce if not legally then in fact. I want to stop this whole thing, but I can not, because, I need to be Me and I need to be Whole before God. I also believe that the person I married needs to know the whole me as well so that she can be whole as well. It is very scarry but living the lie becomes less and less an option for me as I listen to the falsehoods around me. I plan on going back next year with the same group, but it will be different, no closet, and I will in my own little way make a difference and I'm sure you will too. Keep up the good work. Peace

A Troll At Sea said...


If my own experience is anything to go by, your feelings will remain close to the surface for a LONG time -- although my grandmother recently told me that my separation had only lasted a few months [the eight months seem like FOREVER to me] and that the heart took its own time.

A lesbian friend to whom I was relating the story of my leaving home said that I finally knew what it was like to live without the assumptions of privilege. And even though I am still better off than 99.99% of people I know, it is true that I had never really questioned the privilege of being a husband and father. Losing that, and the ability to support a family, which arrived at more or less the same time, was no picnic.

Anyway, remember that "you" are important, but most importantly, the suffering you bear is what you have in COMMON with other people, not what sets you apart.

Hang in there.


Jeremiah said...

Be the man you are meant to be and remember as the program says,

"what people think about me is none of my business."

If people have a problem with you as what or who you are, that is on them, not on you. So don't let heterosexual men dictate how far out of the closet you want to be.

You should be proud, at least you recognized the forest for the trees.


Ur-spo said...

i suspect an old neurotic nerve got pulled in you; very common to grown gay men; feelings of rejection from the 'normal boys' that we don't fit in.
Well we don't 'fit in' to their world. But later on you realize IT IS NOT WORTH IT and being queer is far more fabulous and wonderful than they will ever know.

Anonymous said...

You're right Joe. It is an injustice. I've seen someone's face change when they found out the 'great guy, great human being' they were always bigging up, was gay. It is their loss, but it still has to be lived with. A black friend told me that gay people should at least be grateful its not as visible as skin - he still suffers for not being an 'acceptable shade' to some people out there. What can we do? Not much. But everyone who does it, makes another statement - I haven't changed, I'm the same bloke you liked before, get over it.

You'll be ok, its just a crap ride.


Lemuel said...

That last paragraph was powerful.

Is it not curious how unexpectedly life teaches and informs us? I'm sure you were not expecting to have insights into these matters when you signed up for the work camp trip.

stumpjumper said...

Many thanks for your helping out on the coast. A group from my church has just returned - it was their third trip - and they are more frustrated than ever regarding the non-recovery recovery efforts.

on a personal level be who you are and offer those gifts that you have to share. Maybe some will not appreciate them, but God will, and you will. Narrowly defining yourself puts you in a pigeon-hole of your own making.


Micky said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You