Thursday, December 27, 2007

On Being a Gay Parent

In a local bookstore yesterday, I found a new book in the "gay and lesbian" section. It's entitled On Being a Gay Parent. Of course it even comes with a website.

I've only just begun it, but he wrote it for me! There are a number of books about becoming a parent if you are gay or lesbian. But this deals more with those of us who are parents already, before we come to grips with our being gay. AND, he talks about faith, about being a parent, a Christian, and gay. I'm excited to find it.

So far, I highly recommend it. And I'm sure I will when I'm done with it. You queer dads out there, check it out.

Difficult wonder

Christmas Day was "just fine." I went over to the big house, opened presents with my children and their mother (still my wife), then went out to a big Christmas buffet at a local hotel - a family tradition. It was all fine, really.

In the midst of it all, I was hit by a huge wave of that feeling that I've "made the worst mistake of my life, leaving this family." It happened at an odd time. My wife was commenting on the very fine wrapping job one of our daughters had done. "Your grandmother would be really proud of you." (My mother could be really creative with her present wrapping).

All of a sudden, I was overcome with emotion. Why am I doing this? What would my mother say? How can this be happening? I had to leave the room, using the excuse of getting some more coffee. It took me a minute to get myself together.

The dinner was wonderful. We shared stories about our crazy family (mainly my crazy family). We laughed. We ate (and ate). It was fine, really. Why am I doing this? What am I doing?

The feeling passed, though not right away. I know why am doing this and it is the right thing. But at this moment, all its difficulties and sadnesses are in my face.

We begin again. And again.

The World Begins Again

Christmas eve services at church were glorious. It's the churchy part of Christmas that saves me from the absolute blues. The sermon was OK, blessedly short. He even quoted from a song by the Goo Goo Dolls!

He said something about how Christmas is so busy and rushed and yet the birth of a child and growing up really take time. That God the creator of the universe would become one of us is wild enough, but that God would become human in the usually way, like we do, is even wilder yet. Birthing, growing up, facing the same stuff that we face, all along the way. God blesses who we are, what we are, how we are by becoming "us." Then we were urged to take it slowly, as God did, and does. It takes time to grow, to learn, to journey. All our expectations, fears, changes, wants, desires, needs -- all these things can't come to pass in a rush. It takes time. And new beginnings are everywhere.

He linked Christmas, the winter solstice, and New Year's: it conjures in us the feeling that at this season of the year, "tonight's the night the world begins again." Phillips Brooks's O little town of Bethlehem got quoted "O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today." Let the child be born in you, again. Let it begin again.

Then he quoted from Better days, from the Goo Goo Dolls album of the same name from last year:

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cuz everyone is forgiven now
Tonight's the night the world begins again
Cuz tonight's the night the world begins again

It really spoke to me and where I am. Where am I? That's for another post. Patience. Letting it all grow slowly. Taking the journey one step at a time. Beginning again, and again, and again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Slouching towards Bethlehem

Reflecting on the season and my mood was the intent of this post. I had written the line about "Christmas is usually depressing for me," and such. Remembering that the last two Christmases had been "better," I wrote the following:

As I reflect on what made those two Christmases different, I note that they were after I came out to myself. After finally accepting me, some of the cloud lifted. But I didn't see new clouds ahead. Now they're here.

Then I remembered: I've been blogging for over two years now. OMG! What was I thinking the last two years? Let's check it out!

Christmas has always been a time when I could never please anybody enough... It was never, ever enough. Are you getting depressed right now? Well, you should be. Because if you aren’t then I’ll have to be depressed all by myself, and , , , ,

Enough. This year has already started out differently. It is going to be a good year. I figure that nobody may like my decorating ideas, but I don’t give a shit. I am going to take some initiative and get some decorating done today!I figure I can let some gayness out. I know it’s good for this type of thing. I’m going to let it rip.

If only with myself (and you, my extended, electronic “family,”), coming out has given me a sense of peace about some things. I’m still f---ing scared as sh-- (I always cuss when I get anxious), but I’m going to let some of that queer eye come out, some of the gayness that leads me to love decorating things and celebrating.

Well, well, well. It's so inconvenient, yet refreshing, that I re-think what I already thunk before. No wonder that I'm a slow learner.

And from the next year:

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. . . . . .

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 think 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.

So, I talked about how coming out helped me get with the season, and eased my depression. A year later, I looked ahead to the and loneliness of this year. Yet, I'd forgotten those things. Mourning the loss of the old, looking to form anew a troublous season.

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

Wm. Butler Yeats

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And it was good

I'm still reflecting on my New Warrior Training Adventure weekend.

Driving in the car with my 16 year old, last week, I received a call from one of my new brothers who'd experienced the week end with me. Then, I had to return a call to another brother.

I told my daughter whom I was calling, and she said, "Gee, Daddy, it's so weird, you have all these friends. [pause] Not that I'm complaining or anything, it's just so new."

It is a new thing for me to have more than acquaintances, and those usually connected with work. Last night, another brother, from 100 miles away, called to see how I was doing. He's half of a gay couple (together 14 years, and, IMHO, a pair of handsome bears, too). He and his partner were part of the weekend. What an experience to have together.

One of them had been in a situation quite similar to mine. We shared our similar pains and trials. They have offered their hospitality to me, as well.

Friends are something I've not had much of. I am so grateful for this shared experience that has forged some strong relationships.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Why was it so good?

I've been reflecting on why my New Warrior Training Adventure was such a powerful experience for me.
  • Affirming - that word is so often used with gayqueer folk, when we speak of an "open and affirming" congregation, one that accepts/welcomes us. Of course it also carries its traditional meaning of a positive assertion, to confirm. (Comes from Latin ad- + firmare "to make firm" - do with that what you will)! An affirmation is something that helps us to accept ourselves, to see us as worthy, to see ourselves positively.

  • I was affirmed as a gay man, accepted, seen positively by others, and by myself. The participants and staff were made up of gay and straight men. And I think that is what made it so affirming for me. I expect some acceptance from other gays, but fear I will lose all acceptance from straights. To be accepted as a man among men, (a man who happens to be gay), was wonderful for me

  • Encouraging - Part of the work for the weekend was to explore/discover my shadow side, that part of me that often lurks in the background, that I try to hide or run from, all that unconscious stuff within me that has great power. The Shadow is something we often want to "overcome" or ignore. But it holds great power and strength for us. We cannot run from our shadows - well, we can run, but cannot hide! It comes to bite us in the butt, coming out in our rages, fears, abuses, and negative ways. The journey is to understand and embrace the Shadow, to befriend it, even. Then we may begin to draw on its power and channel its energy.

Well, that's enough for now. More reflections, later. Shalom.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I am a warrior

My New Warrior Training Adventure weekend is over, but the journey has just begun. It was one of the most affirming, empowering, and encouraging experiences of my life.

Those attending were straight, gay, and bisexual (but mostly straight guys). Ages ranged from mid-twenties to mid-sixties. Mostly white, a few people of color were there, both as participants and staff. And, the staff was made up of straight and gay men.

I'd guess there were some straight guys there who were probably homophobic as hell, but I encountered no disrespect or harassment of any sort. And, some straight guys appreciated the chance to talk openly with and learn from their gay brothers just what it's like for us. Where does one have the chance to ask and tell and learn like that?

The processing and integration of all that happened is ongoing. Thank you M., S., M., and D. for encouraging me to begin this journey.