Three Things to Know When Someone You Love tells you they are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender

11 12 2013

I recently realized I write to process my pain. I have not been blogging much the past 6 months, which means my life is going pretty well. That is a good thing. A lot has changed since those early days of my son coming out. It no longer feels like a crisis or even like a negative thing in any way. I am so grateful for the people in my world who have helped me along the way to get to this place of complete peace with my son being bisexual. So many mentors and teachers and just friends, who held my hand through the past few years. I hope these three simple things might help other people in their early days of this discovery.

1)Stop thinking about sex. This was one of the 1st pieces of advise I received. When we hear someone is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, as human beings, our first thought is about them in the bedroom. I personally believe this comes from our culture and how we have been conditioned to believe LGBT people are all just about sleeping around. Regardless of why our mind goes there – tell yours to stop. Sex is a small part of who your LGBT loved one is, just like your sex life is a small part of who you are. So, get your mind out of the gutter, or in this case, their bedroom.

2)Take some time to just breath. As shocking as this news can be, and even though you may feel like the rug has been swept from under your feet. Life really hasn’t changed that much. Your loved one is the same person they were before. They have not changed, they were already LGBT, you just didn’t know about it. Take a moment to think about parents sitting by their child’s side watching them take their last breath. This may be shocking, but it isn’t the end of the world and there are much worse things to have to live through – so gain some perspective. It will be a journey and it will not be easy, but it is definitely not the worst thing that could happen in your family.

3)Your LGBT loved one has shown great courage in sharing themselves with you. They need to know that even if you don’t understand it all, you still love them unconditionally. They need to know you have their back. Because not everyone will, some people they love dearly will turn their back on them in the coming days and months. They will need extra love and acceptance from you. Be intentional about letting them know you are there for them, today, next week, and next year. That is really all that they need to know, that this new information doesn’t change your love for them.

So breath and take one moment at a time. This journey can be an amazing one of discovery. Discovery about yourself and your own fears, discovery about how strong family bonds can be, and discovery of ways to live without fear or judgment. Chin up, Buttercup, life goes on.

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Crisis of Faith

4 11 2013

I have veered off of my usual LGBT blog topics in the last blog and now in the one I am about to write. It is not my intention, yet, I need to write. Writing helps me organize my thoughts and feelings and I usually come away with a new perspective that didn’t seem to come together prior to writing it all down, so to speak. To my LGBT friends and Allies, thank you for your patience.

I truly have been in a crisis of faith the past few months. I think this actually all really started a few years back. When I realized that what I had been taught about gay people all of my life was false. I became angry. I think I have been angry until just a few months ago. Life is a process and I think anger was the beginning of this crisis of faith. I think it was easy to just blame those who taught me those things rather than to get really reflective about myself. Over the past year I have begun to realize that I can’t just blame them. Sure, they taught me incorrect things, but I chose to just walk blindly and not question what I was taught. Of course then the argument comes up that in certain types of churches we are told our faith is not strong enough if we question things. The definition of faith is walking without knowing what is ahead after all. So, be faithful and blindly march on. I was told that, but I am smart. I could have cared enough to think more for myself, but I guess maybe I was too lazy. It was easy when I was surrounded by others who thought exactly as I did. That confirmed that we were doing the right thing after all, right? Actually, I think this is the very example of the blind leading the blind. And at this point in my life I want no more of it.

So, back to my crisis of faith. I began to wonder, if what I was taught about gay people was so far from the mark of truth, what else do I believe that could possibly be off the mark? I began to question EVERYthing – I even began to wonder if there is a God and does He even hear me when I talk to Him? So, I began to do exactly what I was told would send me straight to hell as a kid – I began to test God. I really could not care less if you judge me for this. This is MY journey and quite frankly it is between God and I and has nothing to do with you or your opinions. What I found was time after time after time, in little and a few large things, God came through. I can now say without a doubt in my mind that my God hears me when I talk to Him/Her. I now realize that God isn’t wrapped up in all the silly rules that people create by picking one bible verse out to support their legalities. Test God – go ahead – I dare you – He is big enough to handle it. I promise.

I recently began reading a book that my daughter recommended to me. “How to get the love that you want”. I am about to start chapter 2. It is about how we chose our partners based on our parents. I have been about to start chapter 2 for 2 weeks. I just haven’t been able to make myself read it. I sometimes revert back to that blind drone who thinks it would be easier just to walk blindly than to find out what I thought was true actually isn’t. Over the past two weeks I had actually convinced myself somehow that reading that chapter will change how I feel about my husband. You should probably know that after 27 years of being together, I am madly, passionately, deeply in love with that man. This is how silly I can be about knowledge. I somehow had started to believe that I would read that chapter and things would change. I would find out that I am not in love with him at all, that somehow  I would discover that I am just a co-dependent nut case. I finally got brave enough to talk to my hubby about it last night. He laughed and said, “Michele, you know that knowledge is power. It can only make things better if you do discover some things about yourself.” He is a smart man. I will start chapter 2 today.

I have also found lots of other things I took for granted and thought to be true that were not. I don’t know if it is because I was in Texas or because I was in a very conservative evangelical church, or both, or neither, but I thought  Democrats were evil and Republicans had a straight shot to God’s throne. I now know that God is not a Democrat or a Republican. I have learned that there are Christians who are Pro life and also Christians who are Pro choice and it is not my job to worry about it. I only have to answer for myself. I can also be a Christian and believe in science!!! I was taught that scientist spent all of their time trying to prove how God is insignificant. Good grief, it makes me laugh now. I think this is the one thing that makes me feel the silliest, that I argued against actual scientific truths as if it lessened my God. God is certainly bigger than that. I just have to look at all of the things in nature that work that shouldn’t work to realize science is God’s middle name.

Finally, I have so much regret for my twisted love. Yes, I really and truly believed that it was my job to correct and coerce those I loved to my way of thinking. I thought I was “saving their souls” with my opinions and judgment. Oh how I wish I could go to each of them and beg forgiveness. You have no idea how many nights I cried about people I loved and their souls because they accepted someone who was gay, or because they believed in evolution, or chose not to attend church. Who the hell did I think I was? I will tell you – I thought was a direct messenger from God almighty and I might be the only person capable of reaching their poor lost soul. How prideful and arrogant I was. I can not go to each of them, but I will be writing a letter today to someone. I also need to say here, publicly, that I am sorry to my sister-in-law for throwing her into that youth sunday school class when she was 15  years old and walking away. I know I have apologized several times, but I really am truly sorry. Such an embarrassing age anyway. Geez I was an idiot. On the flip side, I do hope that Sunday we sat in church and that guest preacher said, “The devil is a dildo” right from the pulpit in some way lessened that blow. I really wish you could have been at church with us the Easter Sunday the preacher was talking about a car wreck. He was talking about a Volvo that was in an accident, only he didn’t say Volvo, he said Vulva. “and the Vulva just continued to get rammed over and over from the rear.” Yes – that was one of my favorite moments in all the years I have attended church. Who says that preachers are infallible and that God doesn’t have a sense of humor? I bet He was laughing too.





PFLAG Odessa, TX

27 08 2013

My mom recently invited me to go on a trip with her. She will be attending her 48th High School Reunion. It is in New Mexico. We will also spend a few days in my hometown, Odessa, TX. I was born and raised there and spent the first 30 years of my life in Odessa. I am excited to go see a few folks and to eat some great food. I am especially excited to be a guest at PFLAG Odessa. I can not believe I have been gone for over 10 years, will be in town for 3 days and it worked out to coincide with their monthly meeting.

When I contacted the president of PFLAG to check on the meeting, everything just fell together. Through a series of emails she asked me to speak that night and of course I said yes. Then as emails progressed she eventually had all of my info for a short introduction on their website including my maiden name in case anyone would recognize it. Then she casually mentioned that she was going to run an announcement in the local papers for the meeting.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that scared me a bit. Not for myself, per say, but I have some other family members whom I share that name with who are not really as supportive of equality as I am. I was a little concerned about how they would feel having their name associated with this controversial subject. The next day I mentioned it to my mom. She paused for a moment and I thought for sure she was going to say something like: “I am not so sure that is a good idea.”

But she did not. She paused and then in her thick southern accent said, “well, honey, this is how I see it. If someone wants to get upset or not be our friend over this, they were never really our friend anyway.”

You go Mom!!! She is of course 100% correct. I love my bisexual son, always have, always will. Just like I love my straight daughter and will love my youngest no matter who she turns out to love. If someone has a problem with that, it is exactly that – THEIR problem – no mine. And I refuse to let it be.

I believe that it was God that coincided my short visit exactly at the same time as PFLAG Odessa’s meeting. I have always prayed daily – “Lord, send me.” So, who am I to not go when He calls. I will go and share my story. I will laugh and cry with new friends as we join together across this nation to increase knowledge and spread love – one town at a time, one meeting at a time. one person at a time. It is my honor to be a part of that!!!!





Smack back to Reality

30 06 2013

Our little Montana town just had an entire weekend of celebrating diversity and raising awareness for equality. It was a great weekend. It was the kind of environment where a person could feel pretty safe to be themselves. Of course what do I know, I am straight. One of the reasons I love these events is seeing same-sex couples openly holding hands, putting their arm around each other, or kissing. All of the things that heterosexuals just take for granted and do in public all the time.

i_love_my_gay_son_button-p145368007344911094en8go_400When we left the rally, we stopped at Costco for a few items. I was still wearing this button. I often wear this button, but seldom have I worn it when my son is present. Yesterday it was just the two of us. This is how the shopping experience went. By the time we had walked fifteen feet into the store, two different people had read my button and then looked at my son with disgust. Granted, it was a Saturday at Costco so there were a lot of people in the store, but still, it seemed excessive. When these things happen my Mama’s heart wants to protect my baby(even if he is 6 foot tall). I looked at Jake, he looked at me, and I asked, “Should I take off my button?” To which he replied, “Hell. no. who cares what anyone thinks.” Well, I really do love my son, so I kept it on.

The looks continued throughout our fifteen minutes in the store. They varied from curious stares to revolted glares. I had two smiles, so that was nice. At Costco they always have a person who checks the receipt as you are walking out the door. I am not sure I really have the words to describe the young lady who was working in this position. After reading the button as I approached and held out my receipt, she looked like she had just eaten an entire lemon, rind and all. She actually hesitated to take the receipt from my hand, as if she might catch something. She would not make eye contact and actually looked off to her right away from us. I have lost friends over my stance for LGBT rights, I have been told I am going to hell and all sorts of things, but this was the first time anyone acted like I was going to give them a disease.

It was a good experience. As a straight person, I have never had anyone act like that towards me, yet this is something LGBT people encounter many times over in their lives. After the amazing Interchange weekend, it was a great reminder that there is still work to be done. There is a reason I speak up and stand up for LGBT equality. Because there are still a lot of people out there who are ignorant and confused. I don’t mind being one of the people who will continue to remind them that our LGBT friends and family members are not going away. I don’t mind a few dirty looks, or even a few harsh words. All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and I will continue to say it!! Even if I say it with a button.





Crisis

19 06 2013

I have been contacted by three different people this past week whose families are in a crisis. What kind of crisis? “Coming out” or the consequences of “coming out” crises. I am thankful for my own journey so that I have something to tell them and to share hope, yet, I can not help but wish things were so different that a kid “coming out” as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender would not create a crisis at all. How did we get to this point as a society?

There were same-sex relationships WAY back in history, in many cultures. How did this happen that we have come to 2013 and people are pitted against each other like vipers depending on which side of the issue you stand on? How did it happen that people with good hearts and loving souls will cut off relationships with friends, family, or even their own child or parent because of their sexuality. When did it become so very wrong to be different? Or is it just that someone is different in a way someone else finds disgusting that bothers people? Then we can ask: “Why do people find homosexuality to be so disgusting anyway?”

I know the answer to that for me. I was told over and over again that it is disgusting. Leaders in my church talked about how gay men had sex with a disgusted look on their face as if they might throw up. I am sitting here in my living room with my 11-year-old singing and dancing on the other side of the room and I am wondering what was wrong with those people anyway? When I was her age, why did an adult at a church even talk to a group of kids about homosexual sex acts? It really does make me wonder who the real pervert was.

Speaking of my 11-year-old, she is appalled that anyone would consider judging someone for who they love. She gets downright irate about it in fact. She knows nothing of judging people for who they are or who they fall in love with. She is around same-sex couples and heterosexual couples frequently and to her they are just “Bob and Jim” or “Bob and Jane”. They are just people. So, I know for a fact that kids are not inherently disgusted by same-sex relationships. I don’t even think she has considered what they are doing in their bedrooms, at least she has never asked about it yet. I don’t really think anyone is concentrating on what their heterosexual friends do in their bedrooms, but somehow if a couple happens to be gay, we have the free reign to think about what happens in their bedroom and feel disgusted? I don’t think so. I have heard it said and I happen to agree, the person thinking about what people are doing behind closed doors really is the one with a problem.

I don’t have the answers to how we got to where we are now. I could speculate and blame a certain religious group, but it wouldn’t change anything anyway, so it doesn’t really matter how we got here. What matters is what are we going to do? Will we begin to fight for the kid who is being bullied and called “Faggot” right now in the hallway at school? Will we begin to fight before it is too late and he kills himself seeing no other answer? Will we speak up and make sure that our LGBT friends and family know that we support them?  You know the answer for myself – yes, I will. Will you? Someone’s life just may depend on it.





Work Meeting Gossip

4 06 2013

I recently found out that a group of former co-workers discussed our family at a business meeting. Inappropriate? yes! More specifically, they discussed the fact that my son is bisexual. One lady even went on to talk about how disgusting it is that he is in ministry with the church. Funny thing – I found this out two weeks after this same lady had asked my husband a very large favor – one of which my husband was willing to do for her, but she had already found someone to do it when he returned her phone call.

You see, we were not just in business with this group of people, they also professed to be our friends. This is where the pain comes in, yet, is it good to know the truth, even if it is painful. An actual friend shared this story with my mom. A friend who has a gay relative and happened to be at the business meeting that night. Want to hear something ironic? One of the people at that meeting that night also has a queer child, but they don’t know it. The kid has shared this secret with me, but not with their family yet. It feels like karma in a way, and that almost makes me want to laugh, yet, it is just too sad to laugh. I know that there will be much pain in that family ahead before healing can take place.

When someone out right judges my kid I tend to go to a place of wanting to compare morality. My son is yet to be in a serious relationship. Yet, two of these women are divorced. Jesus had a whole heck of a lot to say about divorce and not one word about homosexuality. So, that is where my anger takes me – to a place of wanting to shove their own immorality in their face. After a few days or weeks, and some serious prayer, reflection, and just some plain ole deep breaths, I realize that is not the right way to go about this. First of all, they would still walk away believing my son is an immoral, unethical, pervert. They would just be very angry on top of all those beliefs. Secondly, it is not my place to judge them anymore than it is their place to judge my son. I don’t want to be known for judgement. I want to be known for love.

After several weeks, I have come to a place of forgiveness. Although I still feel sad by the betrayal and will not be allowing these people into my life again, I do feel that I have forgiven them. I realize that they really do think they are following God. That also makes me very sad. One day, they will realize that the few Bible verses that they are clinging to about homosexuality are being interpreted wrong and were written about pagan worship rituals and are not talking about committed same-sex couples. When that day comes, we can be acquaintances, but we can never be friends again.

Friends come to you directly when they have a question or a concern, they don’t discuss you in a group of people at a party, a business meeting or any other setting. Friends love you and stand by you, even if they don’t understand what you are going through. I luckily have a lot of real friends, and through this journey they become more precious to me every day.





Proof

29 04 2013

I used to think it would be great if there was a test that absolutely, scientifically proved that people were born gay. Even though I have since seen some scientific evidence along these lines, I now think it is a terrible idea. Can you imagine the dilemma it would present for someone who believes both homosexuality and abortion are wrong? Ok – I admit that I am being a little sarcastic here, but I am also being dead serious. What would a person do in that situation? Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.

I remember back when I believed homosexuality to be a choice, I would always think: “there is no proof people are born that way!” What I didn’t realize in my ignorance is that there is plenty of proof. I had the misperception that being gay was all about partying and sleeping around and orgies or something. That made the “choice” theory make a lot of sense to me. Just like people choose to party instead of going to classes in college, right? It was about being rebellious and having fun. Dang – I was so stupid, it is frankly embarrassing.

I have proof people are born gay. What proof you ask? Well, I now actually know and talk to gay people. Imagine – getting information from the actual source instead of just gossip! (Novel idea!) No, it is not just a matter of taking their word for it, it is the stories they tell. It is the pain and healing I see in their eyes. It is the process of watching someone evolve. All of these things have proven to me without a shadow of a doubt that they are not choosing to be gay. Who in the hell would choose to be rejected by friends and family and much of society? To be discriminated against at work? To have to hide who you are from people? No one would choose those things.

But to make myself perfectly clear – even though in the beginning, I would have wished my son not be bisexual, I would not change a thing now. I hope every lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender person and their family can one day feel the same way. Because I have learned more about loving people and loving myself through this journey of acceptance than through any other journey I have had in my life. And to quote a Meme from Facebook “I have seen some shit”. So, if it took my son coming out as bisexual to help me learn to love with more honesty and passion and selflessness, then by God I would not change a thing. Not to mention that he is just absolutely pretty dang fantastic exactly as he is!!