Sunday, October 29, 2006

Well, that does it...

...after 2 years, and after a year of stop-and-start coming out, I finally have stepped through the closet door on my other blog, the one I started after my seminary career ended.

To the best of my knowledge, everyone who reads it who I care about knows already. But it will be interesting to see how the straight Christians who I hung around with for years react - if they, in fact, care at all.

The good news is, I'm not nearly as much of an approval whore as I was two years ago, so it's not gonna matter nearly as much as it did 2 years ago. Or even six months ago.

For now, I'm going out to brunch, and then get into the rest of the day and listen to the Jason & deMarco CDs that arrived in yesterday's mail!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Heterosexual Agenda - finally documented!

If there weren't so much truth in this, it would be hysterical:

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths
(A Parody With A Purpose)
–––– With ––––
How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps

While this particular article is definitely and clearly titled "A Parody With A Purpose," it points out the truth about just how basic a heterosexual outlook is to "how things are.

And there are an amazing number of supposedly anti-gay statistical studies here at The BoxTurtle Bulletin which merit review by the GLBTQ community. Now normally, I would rather bite down on tinfoil than read statistical studies most days, but in this case, there are some serious anti-gay myths debunked.

It's a worthy effort that I applaud, because as the old saying goes, "there are liars, damn liars, and statistics..."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Great voices, great video

Courtesy of's GCN Radio, I recently heard about the "gay Christian pop duet" of Jason & deMarco. You can hear a great interview with them on the GCN Radio website (the link takes you directly to the broacast), or read a great review of them on the PlanetOut music site.

Or you can just go straight to the Logo Network site, and click on the second Click List Video entitled "This Is Love." Not only is it a pleasant song, it's a visually attractive video of two young men in love. The video has been in the top 10 on MTV's Logo network for 14 weeks!

Of course, it doesn't hurt that both the guys are particularly easy on the eyes, or that Jason Warner is a dead ringer for Randy Harrison (Justin on "Queer as Folk")...

It's so strange to hear them talking about touring, doing concerts in churches as an openly gay, openly Christian singing duo. Jason had been in the contemporary Christian scene in college, and when he came out to his band-mates, he was asked to leave the band and was basically dropped like a hot rock. He started doing a music ministry with the gay-welcoming Metropolitan Community Churches, and prayed for a partner who would affirm his ministry in the church.

Instead, Jason met a partner, deMarco DeCiccio, who joined him in his music, his ministry, and his life. (You can hear the rest of their early story in this podcast from GCN's first season in 2004.)

It's fascinating to hear them talk about their "cross-over" into more secular gay clubs and doing dance remixes of some of their songs (which have been dubbed "Spirit Pop," after their successful 2004 CD release). Unfortunately, it also raises my ire to hear that their supposed Christian following feels like they've been sold out when the boys do club/dance music, or talk about life, love and (gasp!) sex to gay magazines like The Advocate or Out.

Hellooo.....they're gay, partnered singers....what a surprise that they'd be talking about gay life, people...

It's the old story - you can be gay, you can even be "out" and gay. Just don't act gay in front of the straight might spook 'em...

Listen to the two podcasts (especially the 2004 one) the video. True love is cool.

Tonight, I'm headed out to the "Live & Let Live" group tonight - and this time, I am going out to J&G's Pizza, afterwards. The unpacking mess will be here when I get back...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Gifts of affirmation...

There were two other folks that I had wanted to come out to privately before I did my other-blog "outing," and amidst all the work-world frustration, I got those letters sent this last week. The responses were predictable, in one way, and yet brought tears of joy and affirmation in another.

From my dear high-school friend John:

I am not surprised - you mentioned to me years ago that if someone did not come along you might have to look the other way. Am I surprised - NO; will it change the way I feel for you, No. Ann and I both have cousins that are gay and although we do not like the life style we want them to be happy. You too deserve to be happy. No matter what you do you will always be one of my closest and dearest friends and will always be welcome to come and stay in our home. Just be careful, I do not want to hear of any social diseases! I know this is a difficult situation for you I know many of our friends would not understand.
From my friend and faith-brother Ed:
Regarding the gay thing... no problem. First off...makes little difference to us (will just tell Becca to stop trying to hook you up with a sister). We have several gay friends, so I guess we have a bit of a different perspective than some. Second: We all love you.
From Ed's wife, and my faith-sister Becca:
Just remember friend, I became your friend because you have an amazing heart...and I will always be your friend for that reason. You don't know how much you have changed my life over the years...and even though you aren't around as often now, I know that whenever we get together, I have a friend seated next to me. God Bless you.
The reason I share these is simple:

I lived in fear of rejection for years. I hid in the closet for years, afraid of something that so far has not happened.
In fifteen years, the only one who has ever rejected me because of my me.

Such a tragic, tragic waste. Thank you, God that the wasted time is ended. Thank you, God, for gifts such as you have given me. Thank you that my friends and family can know me - the real me - for the rest of my life. Amen.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Leaving the past, moving forward

I had great plans for a burst of blogging activity last week - intending for this beautiful coming-out post on my post-seminary-life blog for National Coming Out Day. And as part of this, I wanted to come out personally to three people who knew me from my old lives, including my former wife.

Unfortunately, the big "outing" post never got written last week. The work-world tanked early on in the week, and I got my 40 hours in by about noon Wednesday. Between that and doctor visits for myself and my sister, I got done with work about 7 PM Wednesday, and fell into bed at 8. My thoughts were, "It's waited for three decades - a few more days won't kill anyone." But before most of the raw-sewage broke loose in the work world, I did manage to send my coming-out email to my former spouse.

It was not well received, to put it mildly. I wasn't surprised, and yet I was. On the one hand, our life had been characterized by lies - about money, about my drinking, about illegal activity I'd been a part of. So coming out to her nearly 16 years later just added one more level of lying and betrayal, and ripped open wounds that I'd hoped would have been better healed after a decade and a half.

And, after all, she was at least partly right. What she, and several others in my life, will never understand is not that I was living a lie back then, but that I was desperately trying to be something that I was afraid I couldn't be. I had to believe in my heart of hearts that I could somehow "get past" my same-sex desires and be normal. Until I encountered the GLBT community in Hyde Park, and my "homo-mentors" Tom and Michael, I just couldn't get there.

I still remember, sitting Tom's living room, and saying the words, "Well, I can either be an overweight, under-endowed, greying, middle-aged gay man, and put myself in line for bashing and abuse, or I can be an overweight, under-endowed, greying, middle-aged straight man, and skip all the trouble. Either way, I'm going home alone." And Tom said, in his gentle but forceful way, that sexual orientation isn't about who you're sleeping with - it's about who you are. And it's about honesty. And that's when I "hit bottom" about my orientation.

Strangely enough, so many of the people I've come out to have basically said, "Yeah, well...duh, kidding..." So far, only my former wife and my former pastor from Kansas were in any way taken aback. For which I give thanks...

But there is good news, too.

As part of a couple of postings on, I've been in contact with gay Christians in the Toledo area, and we now have November 11th as a tentative date to get together. The very loose plans are to see the new Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavillion and then to meet up with a few more folks for dinner.

I'm excited about that.

The other cool thing was getting to my first GLBT AA meeting, the Sunday night "Live and Let Live" group downtown. Unfortunately, as was the case in Chicago, the GLBT meetings are either near-downtown or on the north-side of Toledo. But the 16-mile drive in Toledo only took 25 minutes, and it was a breeze at 7:30 on a Sunday evening.

I actually brought the topic up - coming back to old haunts and old meetings (where I've been visiting, on and off, for 15 years) and talking about how and whether to "come out" in those situations. After all, I have no parter or boyfriend, so the pressures to be "out" are largely in my mind at this stage of the game. Folks shared some great experience - although I had to envy the fact that many who spoke were "out" before they got sober. But, as with so much of AA, there were definitely the folks with whom I identified completely, and almost everyone that I identified with in some way.

The other cool thing was that after the meeting, I was invited to go with the group up to Sylvania, to J&G's Pizza. Now, this was a little unusual, since the meeting was downtown, and Sylvania is the far northwest corner of the world. But "Toledo miles" just aren't the same as "Chicago miles," and it seemed perfectly acceptable to do this. Unfortunately, I'd left a whole mess of unpacking strewn all over my room in order to get to the meeting, so I begged off this week - but with a definite raincheck for next week.

It's a blast from the past - J&G's Pizza is kind of a hole-in-the-wall tradition in the Toledo area - we even had our high-school musical cast-parties there (well, they started there, anyway) back in the 70's. So it will be a fun gathering, and it seems like a fun group.

That's it for now - the work-day sirens are sounding...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ceremonies for National Coming Out Day

My good friend and homo-mentor Michael forwarded two "Coming Out Day Ceremonies" for people in the religious communities from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) website. As National Coming Out Day is October 11th, I thought I'd pass along a sample of the ceremony, as well as the press release below.

It's fascinating, because in my Lutheran tradition, there is a religious ceremony for almost anything - from the dedication of a new home to commemoration of a stillborn infant. But mainline religious traditions neither see homosexuals as people of ceremony or ritual, not as people whose "coming-out" processes are bound-up in their journey of faith. So I found these two ceremonies a blessing.

As another mentor, Ted Menten, would say, I would not treat this as a "How-to" guide so much as a "how you might" guide. As the pamphlet itself says, these ceremonies were created by people whose faith and journey may be much different than my own. So do not let specific language or concepts in these ceremonies imprison or hinder you.

As a good friend says, "we are blessed to be a blessing..."
- - -
Litany of Blessing

A worship leader invites all to stand for the following litany of blessing:

One: Blessed be God who calls us all out of our tombs of fear, who bids us live in with yet more spirit, in yet more truth, who surely did not bring us this far to leave us!
Many: Blessed be God forever.
One: Holy One, as we bless your name, bless us. Sustain all those who risk speaking truth despite the risk, witnesses to Your love and hope and mercy.
Many: Blessed are those who “come out”!
One: Temper the hearts of those who receive “coming out” stories, that disappointment may become honor, that confusion and shame may become empathy
and support, all according to your great mercy!
Many: Blessed are those who have ears to hear, whose hearts are open, to those who “come out”!
One: Embrace those who cannot “come out” because jobs or housing might be lost, because of fear of rejection from those they hold dear, because of hostility and threats of violence, because they might lose family, children, security
or shelter!
Many: Blessed are those who cannot “come out”! May they one day be free!
One: Encourage those who are weary of “coming out,” stand by them, nourish their tired spirits, sustain them in the long journey toward truth and justice!
Many: Blessed are those who keep “coming out”!
One: Build up this community in acceptance, faithfulness, forbearance, solidarity and love, make us sisters and brothers, make us one Body, that we might serve neighbors, strangers— even our enemies— in your gracious name.

- - -
Coming Out Day Rituals Released

Celebrate Coming Out Day with Jewish and Christian Resources

To view the Jewish resource, visit here
To view the Christian resource, visit here

In preparation for Coming Out Day on October 11th, we offer two imaginative and scripturally-grounded Coming Out Rituals, one written from the Jewish tradition by Jay Michaelson and the other from the Christian tradition by Dr. Scott Haldeman. These rituals take seriously the religious and spiritual grace we give to ourselves, our families and our friends when we live full and authentic lives.

We hope you'll consider using these rituals for Coming Out Day or to pull together a service for someone you love. Please also consider using them throughout the year, as coming out is something that can be celebrated at any time. We also hope that if you are not Jewish or Christian these rituals will spark ideas for other coming out rituals. No matter how or when you use these rituals, please write us at to let us know how you put them to use. To live honestly and openly is a holy act, and these rituals honor the holiness in all of us and in our faith communites.

For other Coming Out Rituals please vistit RitualWell
and The Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation

For regular Scriptural Commentaries from an LGBT and straight-allied perspective please sign up for Out In Scripture
by visiting

For weekly Jewish commentaries on the Torah passages please see
Torah Queeries at

You can also order free copies of HRC's resource Living Openly
in Your Place of Worship by writing us at

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is it that important?

BruceD from YBMT? posted this comment the other day that bears exploring:

Sometimes, I get the feeling that "being gay" is the most important thing in a gay person's life. Is it really that important?
I had to kinda smile, because when my friend Craig first came out to me, more than a dozen years ago, I had much the same reaction. And I think if the straight world and the GLBT world are ever going to understand each other, it's one of those questions that's worth talking about.

And I'll say publicly what I told Bruce in a brief email reply: the fact that my straight friends are reading, and questioning, and commenting means a great deal to me. So many times in my life, when I have come out, people have said, "Oh, you're gay," and immediately seemed to assume that they know what that meant because of what they've read or heard about "the lifestyle" (99% of which has no bearing on my life!). So Bruce, Penni, and others, the fact that you're reading, asking, and listening for answers, is a blessing.

As I wrote to Bruce, the short answer is that "being gay" is no more important to me than "being straight" is to him. The funny part about that, of course, is that sexuality, and how we relate to people in relationships, drives an awful lot of how we live - and so "being gay" or "being straight" is actually a fairly big part of our lives.

It's like the red thread in a Tartan-plaid fabric - if it wasn't there, you'd still have fabric, but it wouldn't be Tartan-plaid.

What a lot of straight folks don't see is that for homosexuals, the revelation that we are gay also puts us at odds with a significant portion of society - friends, family, church, social structures (though that percentage is diminishing every day). In that way, it's not the most important thing, but - at least to others - it can become "a" defining thing, if not "the" defining thing.

I can't tell you the number of heart-breaking stories that I have heard concerning people who were "sainted members of the church," or Eagle Scouts, or community leaders, who were discovered to be gay - and then shunned. Not because they were caught with their pants down, or discovered in some lewd and lascivious act. Either they came out to someone they trusted, or were seen in public doing something awful like holding hands with another man, and suddenly their world exploded. Thrown out of homes, shunned by family and friends. And so the fear of that, for many of us, makes "being gay" a big damn deal.

I think the heart of it for me, for many years, was the centrality of the question, "What would they do if they knew?" at the heart of every relationship. An example of this is my relationship with my boss, who is an African-American male and an active member of a Christian church. There is a tremendous prejudice against gays in those communities - to such an extent that many gay black men actually marry and live their gay lives "on the down-low" (about which you can read this brief but informative summary on Wikipedia).

So while I am "out" at the office, and don't hide my homosexuality from anyone, I don't find any reason to raise the issue around my boss, because I just don't want to deal with it. (Interestingly enough, the black women in the office found it quite the kick to tease brutha cool about the cute guys in the office....) But with the other 99% of my co-workers, it's no big deal.

So at least until one is both out and comfortable with it, a large part of "being gay" is finding "who is safe" and who ain't - and that does make "being gay" an important part of every relationship, whether the other person knows it or not.

I have to admit that coming back to my original "getting sober" AA community and coming-out to them held some dread at first. But in talking with other gay friends in AA, it's just a matter of mentioning it in passing, and not treating it as a big deal. (Especially in the recovery community, there is more of an emphasis on honesty rather than sexuality - so I don't anticipate much trouble there.)

There is also the issue of community. Every person I know likes to be with people like themselves, at least part of the time. A shared understanding, shared experiences, and common interests provide ways of bonding and making friends - and this is true regardless of culture or orientation or anything else. It's why there is such diversity in the Christian church - because you have people who gather together because of nationality, ethnic background, worship styles, you name it. People like to be with people like themselves....period.

So it's not surprising that GLBT folks seek out people who are GLBT. Especially when people have experienced significant rejection from their families, jobs, or communities, there is a sense of safety, acceptance and togetherness that comes from gay clubs, gay-friendly churches like the Metropolitan Community Church, and other organizations like it. It's one of the reasons I find such a blessing - there is a shared experience there that is a great blessing.

I'm not even going to try to address the old question, "Well, are you 'gay' first, or 'a Christian' first? Which is first, 'sex' or 'God'?" - because it's a dumb question. It's like asking, "When did you stop beating your wife?" It's not an either-or, or first-or-second question. You see, I am:
- white
- male
- Christian
- nearly 50
- divorced
- in recovery
- gay.
All those things are true, and none of them is "first." Any slice of me, in any direction, would find all of those ingredients.

And I'll say this, to wrap this up: the reason I'm coming out is not because I either have a boyfriend or a gay health problem. It's precisely because I want people to see that people can be "like Steve is," and be gay. People who love God, love life, and are solid members of a community and yet still live with inborn same-sex attraction. The more that gay people are "out," the more people will see what "gay" is, and not be so put-off by it. It's not wrong, it's just different.

So, that's a first shot, Bruce. I'm looking forward to my other gay readers chiming in and adding their own two cents (or more) worth. Thanks for asking, and again, thanks for listening.