Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Getting back in the saddle

I can't believe it's been more than a month since I've posted here. Yeesh.

I dunno why I stopped posting here - it's not like the "journey out" has stopped or I have somehow decided to go back into the closet. Anything but, in fact.

I have been on quite the self-discovery time - lots of reading, lots of reflection, and yet lots of bouts of deep "what the hell does it matter if I'm out?" kinds of thoughts. There's probably lots to write about on that topic - but I think it's been part of a larger struggle with where my life is going, and what it will look like in the future. Certainly my work, and the enormous drain it has put on my life, was a big portion of that - and the good news is, I'm forcing myself to be more reasonable about the work-a-day portion of my life.

But I have to admit that there have been days - like today - when simply suiting up and showing up at the hallowed halls of The Job have been, well, a massive effort. I love the people, I love the challenge of some of what I do - but there is a sizeable component of my day-to-day work that I just really would rather not do. And when I get home, I don't want to do much of anything else. Cleaning, dishes, that kind of crap has been relegated to the "yeah, fine, who cares" region of my psyche.

I'm still struggling with that sense of depression - but having tried anti-depressants and found them desperately wanting (they work wonders for lots of folks, but did nothing for me) I have to believe the road out of my funk is going to be found in physical and spiritual therapy and healing.

I've found a whole bunch of new muses - and I started to write all about them, but realized quickly that this blog-post would turn into an epistle (about the size of the Biblical book of Romans), so that will have to wait. A quick snapshot of my reading list, though, shows the breadth of my blessings (and my expenditures with Amazon!):

-Wounded Prophet: A Portrait of Henri J.M. Nouwen by Michael Ford;
-Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate, edited by Jeffrey Siker;
three books by Chris Glaser:
-Uncommon Calling: A Gay Christian's Struggle to Serve the Church,
-Coming Out As Sacrament, and
-Coming Out To God: Prayers for Lesbians and Gay Men, Their Families and Friends;
-The Lord Is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay, by Rev. Troy Perry (founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches);
-Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America by Mel White, former ghost-writer to many conservative Christians and now one of the directors of SoulForce; and
-Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? A Positive Christian Response, the classic 1978 text by Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott.

The preface to Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? is worth the cost of the book by itself. Letha Dawson Scanzoni is a straight woman, and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott is a lesbian, and the preface tells how the book grew out of the conflicted feelings each had when Mollenkott came out to Scanzoni while working on another book project.

Mollenkott "remembered the color draining from Letha's face in shock over the revelation, the news having been a total surprise" (remember, this book was first published in 1978, when being out was still pretty new stuff). Virginia mentioned her friend's expression in a letter, which Letha took exception to (thinking that Virginia felt rejected, when there had been no intention of it). Virginia's words in a letter back to Letha are instructive:
...for me it is a dreadful thing to know that I am a person who can cause such trauma to a good and decent and loving Christian person. I did not say, nor have I ever thought, that you went pale in condemnation of me. It is the fact that I have to turn you pale at all that is distressing to me...

...No matter WHY you went pale, to me it is awful to be the sort of person who has to deliver such psychic blows to another Christian in the process of being honest about who I am. I was talking about my identity, my wish that I could be acceptable without trauma to others...I was trying to express my inner agony at being a person who is not acceptable until after another person I admire has gone through all kinds of painful changes in order to be able to accept me without deserting their moral standards...I was saying that I wish I had been created acceptable. It isn't your fault I was not.
Those few words really crystallized my own internal struggles about coming-out. I've come to believe that I, by myself and by God's grace, am acceptable. But I've also come to the realization that more than a few of my friends (especially those in the church) probably had a similar reaction (though I haven't known, since many of my "outings" have been by mail or email). And I have to admit that I resent having to break down the barrier of inculturation and prejudice that has grown up thanks to the religious right and others, supposedly in the name of God.

[:::end mini-rant:::]

This weekend is going to be insane. Kind of as bookends are two events that my emplooyer is helpng to sponsor. One of the reasons I was drawn to The Job is that there is a considerable effort on the part of my employer to openly support GLBT causes. As a result, there is actually a workplace PrideAlliance employee group that has more than 200 members, and a co-worker said, "Why aren't you a PrideAlliance member?" So I got on the mailing list, and about 2 days later, we got two different invitations.

The Out&Equal 2006 Workplace Summit will be in Chicago in September, and my employer is one of the sponsors of the conference. There is a reception this coming Friday evening - at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, of all places - for the sponsors and organizers, and my employer has invited members of the PrideAlliance to attend. There will be boring speeches by folks from Da Mayor's office, but it should be fun nonetheless. My first gay social event!

And then on Sunday, The Employer is treating us to a fundraiser for the Center on Halsted, the gay community center that will open up in Boystown in early 2007. The fundraiser is a champagne brunch at Sidetrack, a gay video bar known for their Sunday afternoon show-tunes. We'll see what happens there...I know enough to stay away from the champagne, but as Tom & Damien pointed out to me, it will be a fabulous chance to mix and mingle and just see gay life away from the Queer As Folk stereotypes.I don't know any of the 8 folks who will attend (they're all from our Up North office) but it should be fun, nonetheless.

In between, the good/sad news is that Michael and Damien's move to Wisconsin Dells will finalize Saturday at noon. In a fit of insanity, I'm going to follow their rent-a-truck up to the Dells, just to help them with the last few big pieces of furniture, and to see their new place up in the Land of Ten Thousand WaterParks. But I'll have to scoot pretty early on Sunday AM in order to get back for the brunch.

Several people have questioned my sanity at a four-hour drive on each end of that trip in less than 24 hours. But I love to just get out and drive, at least once we get outside of the city of Chicago (especially since I got the iPod - listening to some of my music collection that has just been collecting dust). And I never have made it up to Tom's farm during the construction phase, so it seems right to get up there this weekend, even if it means I'll need a weekend to recover from the weekend (especially before Hell Week at The Job).

That's it...I've got to get to bed - trash day is just a few short hours away But I want, and need, to keep my thoughts flowing as I keep on going down this river of gay life. And this is a good start!


  1. It sounds to me like you're really getting everything together, congratulations!

    It's a difficult process, and though I became pagan after I came out (I always was really, but that's another story), I know what it's like to move throught the church cogs to try and find acceptance (both the Old Regular Baptists I grew up with and the Assemblies of God that I studied to be a youth minister for.)

    Enjoy your first gay social events, hopefully they'll be a great time you'll never forget, and Sidetracks is a lot of fun too (I lived in Chicago for eight years).

  2. Steve, thanks for sharing your reading list -- some good reads there. I'm going to try and get some of them.

    The quote from VR Mollenkott is SO good, and so true, and so sad. As MEK said, the church can be such a bummer. As i've said, it's not God I have a problem with, just Christians.

    Extend my best wishes to my blog friends Michael and Damien (whose posts I have missed). And enjoy the social stuff. I am so envious.

    Hugs and Cheers, Joe.

  3. And a hearty Thank You for all the help with the move yesterday, Steve. I am grateful for you and Michael and John and Gus showing up to help. I imagine we could have managed to unload the dread sofa and other things without you, but it made it much faster and easier to have you here. Come back soon when you don't have so much other social life happening!

    I believe you planned to stop at the brunch on your way home from the Dells. I hope you had fun. I haven't been in Sidetracks for a while now, and I always like Roscoe's better for the dancing.

    Next time in the Dells we will show you Captain Dix. It is now the Rainbow Valley Resort, but they kept the name Captain Dix for the bar. The Saturday special, btw, is prime rib.