The last few months have been an interesting journey for me. I’ve wrestled with the convictions I carry and those of people I know to try and find peace in the exploration. I’ve wondered how my beliefs have anything to do with anyone else. I’ve looked at my own heart and found what I see as beautiful in this world. My faith has sustained me in the midst of tradition and my search for truth has brought me to a place of courage.
All this to say that my faith is no match for some and my courage pales in comparison to many.
I feel an anxiety even putting these words on a page. I feel the same electric intensity that I’ve experienced before speaking in front of a large crowd of people. There are questions of whether or not my words will matter. Will sentences convey my thoughts in a concise fashion to bring understanding and consideration to the receiver.
My high school friend called me a couple of years after graduation and asked me to meet her at a park to talk. I showed up wondering if the rumors were true. It is there that she shared with me her love for another woman and though I have spent countless hours exploring my memories I can’t seem to remember my words or my reactions clearly. I loved this friend. It could be said that I thought I was in love with her. I had certainly always been attracted to her. I do remember thinking, “Why not me? What’s this woman got that I can’t offer?” I was young and naive in my understanding. At least that is clear to me today.
I remember a time sitting in a bar in my hometown having a conversation with a gay friend of mine who thought I was also gay. I was deeply offended that such a preposterous notion would cross his mind and come to spoken accusation.
Then I grew up… A little. I began to see that people were going to be who are they are and it wasn’t any of my business how they lived. I held this view for quite a few years with the idea that as long as it didn’t involve me it was fine.
After many years I moved from my hometown to the city I now call home. I worked in a restaurant and remember on several occasions feeling the need to defend a roommate to other co-workers in private conversations as they prescribe this man as someone who had not yet come out of the closet. I defended his honor like their diagnosis was pointing to a plague or terrible attribute. Turns out, years later, they were right about the closet and I was wrong in my motives to defend rather than celebrate.
This blog is important to me. I try to look at things from a perspective other than my own. My attempt is to build a bridge of understanding for those like me to see those who aren’t. I write about the LGBTQ community because I am not a member. I write about other races because I am only one of many. I write about other faiths as a Christian and I write about women as a man in search of understanding what life would be like if I lived in a reverse society where men were the subjugated sex.
Today this blog is a call for help. A request to those who have come out and ask how they did it? I don’t know how any of you were able to make a proclamation of part of who you are, a part that shouldn’t matter in light of all the other aspects of your being.
When the SCOTUS decision was handed down I saw dear friends react as though the world was ablaze with the fires of apocalypse. Camps were built, words were spoken and signs for protest were drawn. I struggled through it as I watched beautiful people with hearts of compassion turn on a single topic and show another side of themselves. It’s a side that I have in myself as well. I am far too guilty of reacting in opposition rather than responding in a manner which brings peace.
Then, when I see the reaction I feel something rise up in me to fight back. The soundtrack of “Do You Hear The People Sing” from Les Miserables comes pounding though my mind and I feel a sense of justice needing to be served. Most of the time I just let it sit there. I embrace the attack mode for a minute and usually try to turn it to prayer and thoughtfulness but sometimes I can’t resist the urge to write some biting statement or interject a witty rebuttal.
This week is “Ally Week” for those who stand with the LGBTQ community. A community, I might add, that keeps adding letters to include more people in the frays of society. It does make me chuckle from time to time as the goal seems to be to include all from the fray, understanding that each and every one of us is in the fray to some extent. My friend Michael and I have been working the past month on a new podcast. A podcast called, "Rainbow Connection" with the intent of building bridges of understanding for people to hear and understand the stories that make up the aforementioned community with ever increasing letters. We began working on it with no realization that an “Ally Week” even existed. However, since it does we will share our first episode this week as a place of solidarity to others who see the importance of a diverse people in this world. The podcast has one agenda; to create a space for dialogue and discovery into what it means to be different in some ways and alike in others. If you have a story to tell, encouragement to give or just an inquisitive ear to hear we hope you’ll join us.
The first episode is being produced right now from interviews conducted last night at the GLSEN chapter of Middle Tennessee. I hope you'll hear the words of compassion, pain and thoughtfulness expressed from these beautiful people willing to tell their stories while answering questions from two straight men trying to understand.