A Wrong Finally Righted

Here is a list of 38 countries.  Think about what they have in common:

AlbaniaCzech RepublicIrelandThe Netherlands RussiaTaiwan
ArgentinaDenmarkIsraelNew ZealandSerbiaUnited Kingdom
AustraliaEstoniaItalyNorwaySlovaniaUruguay
AustriaFinlandJapanPeruSouth Africa
BelgiumFranceLithuaniaPhilippinesSpain
CanadaGermanyLuxembourgPolandSweden
ColumbiaGreeceMaltaRomaniaSwitzerland

Very soon, the United States will finally join this list of nations – most of the world’s most powerful and effective militaries – that allow gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of their armed forces to serve openly.

1285106065-gay-soldier

On Saturday, the United States Senate voted 65-31 to repeal the ban, known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which has resulted in more than 14,000 highly-skilled and dedicated members of our military being discharged for nothing more than being honest about who they are.

We will look back on this, much as we do the 1948 desgregation of the United States armed forces, with no doubt that it was the right thing.  In fact, many will come to wonder why it didn’t happen sooner.  Some of us already do.

 

Christian Homosexuals?

A new reader and subscriber, Mary, posed an interesting question in a recent blog entry.  Is there such a thing as a Christian Homosexual?

Here was my response to her question:

If by “Christian” homosexual you mean a homosexual who accepts Jesus Christ as his or her savior and follows the teaching of Christ, then the answer is yes.  If by “Christian” you mean someone who fits into narrowly defined views of the the world as prescribed by leaders and followers of certain denominations who claim to be “real” Christians and have the “right” interpretation of the New and Old Testaments, then it probably depends upon those individual leaders and followers and not the homosexual person him- or herself.

Thoughts?  Anyone want to touch an electric wire?  Thanks to Mary for being willing to address the big questions.

CHOPS
Click on the picture to go to a post about this crazy group
formed by another “reformed” homosexual. LOL

Mary also described herself in another post as a returning Xangan and asked for recommendations of blogs worth reading.  I want to let you know that my recommendation was that she read the blogs of the people who comment on my blog as there are some really thoughtful, talented writers here.  Thanks to everyone for contributing to Xanga and for helping make it a civil place to exchange thoughts and views.

 

My Parents’ Response

Most of you (some 200+) had already read the final installment in my coming out saga by the time my parents left a comment.  Instead of pointing you back to that entry, I’d like to share their comment with you here.  My mother wrote it:

1970-12-01Me and my parents in December 1970

“It’s my turn to respond. The thought that one of our children would have this sexual orientation was the farthest thing from our minds when you sat down to tell us. Your readers need to know, however, that our Christian beliefs led us to understand that if we are to follow the teachings of our faith, we must love each person in our lives for who they are, not because they fit some pre-condition that allows them to be loved or not to be loved.

 

“When you came out to us, while unexpected, it was not something to reject you for, but to realize that we had a journey to take together…you needed to continue your self discovery; we needed to discover how, as your parents, to support you while allowing you the space for your own discoveries. Once Dad and I became comfortable with our place in this journey, we were then able to take a stand with the rest of the family and invite them to join us or go their own way.

 

“You shared several things I didn’t know, but am happy that you felt comfortable sharing them. We would have been devastated if you had followed through with that suicide attempt. I wasn’t totally oblivious to a struggle going on with you, but probably chalked it up to being a teenager. Could we have helped if we had known what you were experiencing? I don’t know. Our individual road sometimes needs people helping us along the way other than our parents…hard to take as a parent, but we are too close to the situation most of the time for objectivity. Fortunately, you made choices that led you to a full life, including seeking out people to walk with you.

 

Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for the opportunity to add my ten cents worth.”

I was going to ask them to guest author an entry, but they beat me to it by commenting.

Coming Out – Final Chapter

Continued from Chapter 3

“I have to tell you something. And I want to you know that if I didn’t love you so much, I wouldn’t share this with you…”

I don’t remember who responded first. In my memory, it is as if my parents spoke simultaneously, when they said – in reference to the third college I was already attending – “Oh, we thought you were going to tell us you wanted to change schools again.” As if that would have been the most devastating news I could have shared. No, nothing that important.

I grew up in a very religious family, one where there was no discussion of homosexuality and one where we didn’t know anyone who was gay.  Because of that and because of the conflicts I had had with my father, I didn’t know exactly what to expect.  My worst fears and expectations never materialized.  At that moment – well, after the statement about changing schools – my parents said exactly the right things. They told me that their biggest concern was that I was happy and they would love me and accept me for whomever I was. Truly, I couldn’t have asked for anything more supportive than that.

To this day, I don’t know the full story of what my parents’ feelings and reactions were. Each of them has shared a little bit with me about the other’s reaction, but I’ve never asked in detail. I’m sure for them that it was a shock, something they probably didn’t see coming, and something that they had to struggle with in order to arrive at a full understanding.

For both my parents, with their strong roots in the Christian faith, praying and soul-searching was probably necessary. For my father, a consummate perfectionist and the type of person who spends a half-dozen years researching cars before finally buying a new one, a lot of reading and research was necessary for him to understand what all this really meant. Continue reading

Coming Out – Chapter 3

Continued from Chapter 2

In the space of the next few days, I turned a lot of thoughts over in my head. In the form of this relationship, I had found a vessel to carry me away from the uncertainty and anguish of my high school years. Now, I felt like I had been thrown off the side of the ship and had no land in sight. How long could I stay afloat?

After much deliberation, I came to a stark realization that if I were going to continue living, I had to come to terms with who I really was. There could be no more lies, there could be no more hoping for the right girl. The problem was I didn’t know how to find my way towards the door of a closet from which I desperately needed to escape.

I decided to quit UC Riverside and move back home. In fact, I still have the list of pros and cons I used to help me make this decision. In the next few weeks, I canceled my tuition for the autumn term, sublet my apartment lease, arranged to transfer my job and applied for school at Santa Clara University, a small Jesuit school a few miles from my parents’ home.

For all the pros and cons, there was one primary reason I chose to move back. Continue reading

Coming Out – Chapter 2

Continued from Chapter 1

During the final two years of high school, I had my first concrete thoughts of myself as a possible homosexual. As I started dating girls and gaining an adolescent awareness of my sexuality, it became clearer to me that while I had feelings for those girls, the feelings were not the same as the thoughts I was having about other boys. This recognition did not just suddenly shift into focus but was something that I realized over time. 

It is the same feeling as when you are putting together a picture puzzle and you manage to fit two pieces together, but deep down you know that the fit isn’t exact.  You’ve forced it.  Slowly, I recognized that the fit wasn’t right, that I was forcing it.  And this recognition was filled with self-hatred.  I remember thinking, maybe I am like that but even if I am, I would certainly never act on it!

It is hard to convey the anguish I felt, a sense of disappointment in myself that was so great that I came very close to committing suicide. Reflecting back on this time of my life, it is a little embarrassing to share. It seems so over-dramatic and is such a poor example of the person I’ve become. But at that time, the pain of self-hatred, of fear of being different, consumed me to such a great degree that I thought that ending my life might be the only option. Continue reading

Coming Out – Chapter 1

Introduction here

Coming out in seventh grade?  I can scarcely imagine coming out in my early teens, but it seems that more and more young people in America are recognizing and vocalizing their sexual identity at an ever-earlier age.  The NY Times Sunday Magazine did an in-depth story on this interesting phenomenon in late September.

The author of the article, who is also gay, had a hard time believing that people as young as 12 and 13 could possibly be self-aware enough to recognize their attraction to people of the same sex.  But, as he pointed out, he was engaging in a double standard. When 12 and 13 year-olds express their interest in members of the opposite sex, we don’t think anything about this is odd.  Why then would we think that someone that young couldn’t recognize their attraction to someone of the same sex?

Certainly, at that age I was starting to recognize those attractions in myself, even though I lacked the language to describe them.  Young people these days have a much more positive image of gays and lesbians thanks to increased visibility in the media and the powerful influence of the internet and social networking sites.

If you asked me at what age I first knew I was gay, Continue reading

Who Am I?

“Who am I?”  Meg, a DC-based blogger whose entries I always look forward to, took up the challenge from another blogger a few months back and wrote an entry answering that question.  Finding it an interesting challenge, I sat down and drafted my own answer to the question, “Who am I?”  I’ve never posted the response, but it led me to an interesting observation.  My being gay plays a much larger role in defining who I am than I expected.

2009-10-09Had you asked me before how big a part of my life being gay is, I would have said that it is just a part of who I am, not the whole thing.  While that is still true, I realize that the experience of struggling to come to terms with that aspect of myself has influenced many areas of my life and much of how I look at the world.

Instead of being just one aspect of my life, something that can be neatly segregated from the rest in the way that a divided cafeteria tray keeps the jell-o salad away from the enchilada casserole, my gayness is a theme that underlies my life, much in the same way that the saltiness of fish sauce provides a critical but subtle note of flavor in nearly all Thai dishes.

Sexual orientation as condiment?  It is either a brilliant metaphor or a crass one; I’ll let you decide.  Regardless, because it is such an underlying aspect of my life, I want to share a story with you.  I want to tell you my coming out story.

Coming out stories are something of a currency within the gay culture.  Being attracted to someone of the same sex, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily the criterion that makes for a cohesive community.  But the nearly universal experience of recognizing your difference and then blindly finding a path through the darkness to the closet door is a common theme for all of us, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

Another blogger to whom I subscribe recently wrote that he doesn’t see why gay people need to announce that they are gay.  From his perspective, straight people don’t announce they are straight.  Why can’t we all be who we are, without having to share it with the world?  While I agree with his goal – universal acceptance – I disagree with his premise that straight people don’t announce they are straight.  There are markers aplenty that send the message that you are straight, from wedding rings to photos of your spouse on your cubicle wall.  When you are in the closet, you have to use fake markers or deception in order to avoid sending out unintended messages.  It can be stressful and tiring to constantly undertake such subterfuge.

Over the next few days, I’ll share my coming out story in the course of four chapters.  People who read this blog who know me personally have heard some parts of this story.  Few, I suspect, have heard the whole thing.  Among other readers, these next four chapters may provoke a wide range of feelings and reactions.  Some readers have had very little exposure to gay people.  Others have different attitudes than I about the rightness of homosexuality.  Others are still, to one degree or another, in the closet.  I look forward to discussing your feelings and reactions and invite you to share them.

Meanwhile, thank you for indulging me as I share this story and take a short break for cooking, travel and Thai culture entries.

Part 1 of the story begins here.

Is sticking a knife into someone positive or negative?

An interesting musing on what the dhamma (the teachings of Buddhism) says about homosexuality, from a blog by a monk of 32 years who lives in Singapore.  A brief excerpt:

ven_d “Is sticking a knife into someone a positive or a negative action?  It depends!  If the knife was held by an enraged violent person it would probably be negative.  If it is held by a surgeon performing an operation to save someone’se life it would certainly be positive.  From the Buddhist perspective, sexual behavior is not judged primarily by the gender of the people involved, by the dictates of a code of behavior drawn up in the Bronze Age or by whether a legal document has been signed, but by its psychological components.  Homosexuals are as capable of wanting and of feeling love and affection towards their partners as heterosexuals are and where such states are present homosexual sex is as acceptable as heterosexual sex.”

To read the rest of this thoughtful article, click here.