The Journey Continues . . .

It’s time.  Time to hang up the Xanga.  As much as I hate to add to the mass Xanga exodus, I just feel like so much of my life has changed, and I can’t post about my journey in the way I used to, because it’s such a different journey now.  So I’m changing things up, starting with a new blog.  Please check it out and add it to your RSS feed (or whatever it is you use these days to follow your friends)!

Peace and Love, my Xanga friends!  See ya on the other side!

D.J. Free!

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Bizarre

I find it somewhat bizarre that some of the same Republicans that insist that gay marriage is in violation of the majority’s right (i.e., the mantra “Let the people vote!”), would then turn around and obstruct the overwhelming majority of elected officials’ plans by way of filibuster.  Discuss . . .

Pitter-Patter

Next Friday, my partner and I will be having a CELEBRATION EXTRAVAGANZA!  This will be our housewarming, our engagement party, my 30th burfday party , and our official signing of the Maryland Domestic Partner Registry!

Most of our friends in the area know all about it, as they’ve been invited and are already slated to come.  Even our good friends Joe and his husband will be there, since they’re visiting us from Illinois that weekend!

But we can now add on one other celebration to the extravaganza: the welcoming of the pitter-patter of tiny, lil’ feet!  Yes, that’s right!  Even though we’re not legally married just yet, WE’VE ADOPTED!

. . . a dog.  Her name is Lacey.  And we’ll be getting her in a couple of weekends (not in time for the party, unfortunately) after we make some repairs to our fence!

Australian Shepherd Picture

Meet You in the Middle . . .

This has been a very trying summer!  My beau and I have been sheepishly navigating the worlds of family and developing relationships.  We’ve wanted to marry for quite some time now.  In fact, if we had supportive families, we would already be married.  However, we recognize the need for supportive community, and we both love our families, so we’ve been slowing things down to give them time to grieve their straight hopes, and catch up a bit to where we are.  Meanwhile, we grow closer every day.  It’s been a difficult balance.

We realized we could no longer hold off on at least making the next step (engagement), so when I returned to Vermont to pick up J from his summer school stint, we got engaged!

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There’s been no small amount of retardation since the announcement.  It’s really sad actually, that the happiest, bestest news of my LIFE, is met with such ambivalence (if not antipathy) by our families   On my side, everyone but my parents has been completely silent, and my parents would be too if I hadn’t forced them to say something

We’re going to see his family this weekend.  Do pray that this goes well!  They already know the news, so now we’re all going to “talk” – whatever that entails.

Most of my friends have been very cool.  Even the ones that haven’t quite figured out what they believe regarding Christianity and homosexuality.  There’s one exception: my South African friend Rebekah.  I’ve received nothing but callous judgment and arrogant derision from her . . . all in the name of “Christ”, of course  

But some friends have demonstrated much more empathy, compassion, humility, and grace – even if they couldn’t be 100% supportive.  Like our friends from church – the Mussers.  They sent a very interesting email to us expressing their confusion in how to respond.  So on Labor Day, we invited them over for dinner, had a great time catching up, and discussed things further while in town eating yummy ice cream!   They got to hear a little of our story, and I think we all walked away a little more appreciative and knowledgeable.  Admittedly though, my fiancee and I are really growing weary of having to explain our “happy” news to so many sad, confused faces.  So after this weekend w/ his family, we’re taking a break.  Doing the tough work of meeting people in the middle can get draining!

On yet another front, or church community – which up to this point has been exceptionally supportive – is now embarking on a journey to delineate our stance on various issues (sexuality included).  When we announced we wanted to marry there, they said that we could not do this behind closed doors, but that we’d have to involve the community in discussions about this (not our marriage in particular, but how we will approach gay families and their needs in the church).  Now, the leaders are more than happy to support us, but there is a substantial part of the community that either does not know what to do w/ gay couples, or does not think that these couples are “living out God’s best.”

So yes, this could potentially be yet another piece of our community that we have to in some sense “battle” in order to help them understand.  And yes, the very thought of another battlefront is tiring.  Fortunately, I don’t think it will really come to blows, but it will probably be a little awkward as we move forward.

So there you have it: the drama and woes of living in the tension of the middle.  Pray for us.  It ain’t easy!

D.J. Free! 

All about Adam (Synchroblog)

Today is a pretty special day.  I’m joining several other bloggers in a “synchroblog.”  We’re talking about ways to bridge the gap between the Church and the gay community (something I’m sure you know I’m pretty passionate about since I identify as both Christian and gay).  Feel free to head over to New Direction Ministry’s blogging page to read other folks who are writing about similar themes . . .

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Once upon a time, I was one of those “ex-gays” you read so much about.  And a pretty good one too (so I thought).  I was actually helping to lead an online youth ministry geared towards those “struggling with unwanted same sex attractions.”  Our group was very tight-knit.  To this day, some of the folks I met in the ministry are like brothers and sisters to me.  We bared our souls to one another, and shared things that we had never fathomed to utter to another human being.  Those years were transformative . . . we all learned so much, regardless of the paths we ultimately chose.

But there was one particular friend that I remember hurting very badly. His name was Adam.  Adam was really questioning a lot of things at the time: his life, his spirituality, his sexuality.  And I – his brother in Christ – did nothing to aid him.  Don’t get me wrong, I thought I was being very helpful by pointing out how sinful he was to be questioning these sorts of things, and to not stand on the Word as he should. 

It wasn’t until months later, however, when I gained access to an “advanced” section of that particular group that I read some discussions that Adam had about me behind my back (since he had access to the advanced boards long before I did).  I can’t recount his exact words.  I just remember reading them broken-hearted.  He shared with some others how painful and stressful it was to be having to deal with me (and a couple of other people who were hard on him) on top of all of these other things he was questioning. 

That day changed my life.  That day I realized how much my words, my persuasion, could be utterly malevolent.  And I was forced to inspect my own soul.  How could I have done this?  How could I have hurt a friend so?  And in the name of Christ to boot! 

FEAR.

It was my fear.  Deep down, I was afraid of Adam and what his doubts represented.  I was afraid that if he questioned those things, then I might have to question them too.  That was simply too scary for me.  My entire notion of the universe, God, and my whole self were wrapped up in a particular reading and understanding of Scripture.  If one thing unraveled, the whole ball would fall limp to the floor – tattered shreds of yarn.  Useless.

I couldn’t have my whole world crumble.  So I did what so many Christians do in those times: I tried to coax Adam out of doubt, and into safe certainty.  And by so doing, I nearly ruined a friendship – causing undue emotional trauma to a wonderful human being.

How much does FEAR get in the way of effective communication?  How much do we need God and life to be some certain way in order for our world to make sense and feel safe?  How long will we allow fear to dominate conversation, such that we prove ourselves right, and everyone to the contrary wrong?  How long will we allow our rightness to exist at the expense of loving others in the way that Christ did – in that open, inclusive, messy, precarious, undaunted, unfaltering, expansive, and beautiful way?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  And please feel free to read other bloggers on this synchroblog!

DJ

“You’ll Never Be Satisfied” . . .

This was one of the mantras I picked up and promulgated during my ex-gay days.  I truly believed it.  Every time I had that strong desire to deeply know another man, I recited this platitude to calm the anxiety and assure myself that being gay was not the healthy choice for me. 

It’s the ultimate salve to any gay “temptation.”  Well-meaning (but ignorant) mentors would assure me that my deep ache would never be satisfied.  It’s not what God wants.  It won’t lead to a healthy life.  It is a deep hole from which you’ll never emerge, because you’ll perpetually seek the nonexistent bottom.

I still commonly hear this warning from Christian leaders today to those needing encouragement to stay on the ex-gay path, or those who are questioning which path to choose: “That ‘lifestyle’ will never satisfy you.  It is sin, and will only lead to death.”  Most mean this in emotional ways, but the even more ignorant will connect it to physical death, in an attempt to convince others that being gay will likely lead you to early death (by way of STDs). 

Nevermind the fact that there’s not an ounce of veracity or reason to the physical dangers of being gay.  The real issue, I discovered, is that the statement “you’ll never be satisfied” is simply not true.  When I was finally brave enough to plot another course in reconciling my sexuality with my faith, this was one of the first lies I addressed.

The real truth – the whole truth – is that anyone who seeks their completion in another is sure to be disappointed.  This is a quality of humanity, not a quality of homosexuality.  To seek definition in “the other” is natural.  It’s actually the way God designed us, for he wants to ultimately be the one to give us that definition, as we move into his being and his love.  However, humans (gays, everstr8s, lezzies, and bi’s) often seek to make some other fallible human “the other” from which they find meaning.

But notice that this hasn’t much at all to do with one’s pursuit of companionship.  The fact of the matter is, I would never be emotionally satisfied with a woman, because women simply do not offer the amazing, comforting companionship that I desire.  My boyfriend, on the other hand, satisfies me completely.  I love him dearly, and more than anyone else on the planet. 

But my sense of completion is not found in him.  This I have discovered to be true.  And yes, I can admit that I’ve tried to make him “the other” who defines me.  I’ve made the mistake of wanting him to be my all in all, instead of our great God.  Indeed, the most significant emotional growth I’ve made (and my counselor, Lance, would corroborate this) has been in learning how to relate in a healthy way to my guy . . . in learning how to not place all my needs in his basket, with the expectation that he fulfills them.  I’ve had to learn the painful lesson that My Love (i.e., boyfriend) cannot complete me, but he does indeed satisfy me.  My heart is full of him, and happy to be so.  My salvation and definition, however, is found in Christ. 

Divorce of the Church

I’ve been fascinated by this guy Andrew Marin since my buddy (previously known as “Chicago Boy”, no known as Michael ) told me about going to a Marin foundation talk a couple of years ago.  Theologically, I think that Andy and I disagree on the morality of homosexuality, but what he and I share is a common goal to see the Church unite, despite our disagreements.

He recently started a blog, and I’ve been following along.  Not too long ago, I made a comment on one of his posts about how I’m affected by “The Great Homosexuality Debate” in the Church, and he asked me if I’d expound on that for his blog.

Yesterday, he released Part 1 of my very long post, followed by Part 2 today.  He did some minor editing, adding some emphasis that he thought was meaningful, and wordsmithing in other areas that he thought would unecessarily detract from the message.  Check ’em out!  Join the discussion!

For the sake of my integrity, I’m now posting the full, unedited version on my blog.  Drop a comment if you like . . . or don’t.  It’s all good

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Divorce of the Church:

How the Homosexuality Debate Affects Gays in the Church

 

Over the past several years, I’ve discovered many revelations about my sexuality, not the least of which is how my former method for dealing with it was chosen primarily out of fear: fear of going to hell, fear of becoming a sex-monger, fear of losing my spiritual community, etc.  It was precisely pressure from the Evangelical, conservative church I was attending that was the final straw for me.  I could no longer survive under the oppressive weight of following all of the right rules in the midst of insufficient supportive relationships.  For the sake of my mental health, I began to visit another church in the area. 

 

Just two weeks into going to services, I could sense God saying, “This isn’t where you should be visiting; this is home.”  I felt a sense of acceptance and welcome that I had never experienced in a church before.  It wasn’t until months later that I began to realize how doctrinally diverse the congregants of my multi-denominational church were.  As I began to take steps towards Christ and accepting myself in the way that he had, I also began to recognize that not everyone in attendance would follow me there.

 

To say I felt split and confused is an understatement.  But I found a safe space there to seek God regarding my sexuality, eventually coming to reconcile my sexuality and my faith.  This had some unpredictable side effects, though: I felt like I would be the cause of a major rift, being one of only a few gay people at the church.

 

As this was a transitional period in our church’s history, there was a significant amount of tension in the air, despite the fact (or perhaps because of the fact) that we never uttered a word about the two big litmus tests for determining a “true Christian”: abortion and homosexuality.  While I was not able to articulate this then, I now realize that the hushed atmosphere began to feel like the dysfunctional home where the family didn’t talk about problems, but where it was impossible to escape them.  And I felt like the kid who was eventually going to be the cause of mommy and daddy’s divorce.  And so we trudged on in virtual silence.  I came out slowly to people I deemed safe, and swallowed my true being around those who felt “lovingly” hostile.

 

At some point along the way, people began to silently (and sometimes boisterously) leave.  No one really said it, but it was clear that things were starting to feel very “liberal”, and “unsound” to some of the more conservative congregants.  And the great divorce felt all the more imminent.

 

I can remember talking to our new senior pastor (in my early days at the church), and divulging my sordid “same-sex attractions” to him.  I intimated that I was very confused about all of this, and trying to find my way – since my previous path had brought me nothing but pain and suicidal ideation.  He made me feel very loved, and valuable to boot.  He replied that he would not preach me into the right way to go, nor look down on me and give me his sage advice, but rather, he would walk alongside me and question with me.  It was a huge relief for me.  And yet, I could tell this would not be the posture of several others in the church.  I remember pleading with him to keep my journey silent, so as not to stir up controversy. 

 

By this point, I had become pretty visible in the church, giving the welcome occasionally, and involved in several lay leadership positions.  If news were to break that I was gay, I feared people would protest. Upon discovering my “struggle,” they’d do as people have done in other churches I’ve attended: they would deem me unworthy of service, and remove me from the ministries to which I felt called.  And then the fighting would ensue.  They would fight those who would dare stand up for me and declare my value to the church, and even fight those who didn’t feel threatened by me.  My deepest fear of course, was not the fighting itself, but the inevitable result: the splitting of the church.  It seemed clear to me that I would be the cause of this split.

 

I don’t think people quite understand the pressure that the gay-oriented Christian feels in the church.  We have a hard enough time not hating ourselves, without having to face the derision and misunderstanding of others.  It is precisely this external pressure that often drives us to extreme measures: seeking ineffectual exorcisms, suppressing the very core of our sexual selves, jumping into relationships to prove we’re straight (meanwhile ruining the life and self-esteem of the hetero other in the process), and the like. 

 

I do not mean to excoriate the Christian stance on curbing same-sex sexuality per se – though I must admit that I personally found it to be a very life-suppressing and dangerous approach.  Instead, I’m merely remarking that in my experience (interacting with several hundred – mostly youth – Christians in ex-gay circles), I’ve frequently found that the motivations behind seeking such ends are dysfunctional.  Those who pursue these methods often do so due to stated and unstated pressure to conform and keep the family from getting upset.  When you think that you’re going to cause mommy and daddy to split – and worse – when one of them might hate you in the process, you will do just about anything to avoid that eventuality.  Silence seems to be the least consequential (and least destructive) way to handle these internal questions, whether you’re openly gay, celibate, or ex-gay.  This silence takes its toll.

 

I still struggle with this sense that I am ultimately the cause of enormous strife in the universal Church.  I sometimes wish there simply were no gay-ness at all.  I wish I could go back to the days before I became conscious of my sexuality.  (Many people in the Church are more than happy to relegate sexuality to this very place.)  But this is simply not reality.  This is not where I am – where we are.  With all of my unrealistic wishing, I do hope that my greatest wish has some hope for coming to fruition: I wish that mommy and daddy would just stop fighting. 

 

Perhaps if more people in the church could recognize that I’m not here to destroy the Church, nor the foundations of our society, some of the dissension would abate.  I’m not here to eradicate families, and I have no evil agenda to recruit your children.  I love the church, absolutely love it.  Why else would I put up with so many abuses from it?  My sad testimony is replete with instances where my greatest wounds were inflicted by “loving” church folks.  But I’ve remained here.  I haven’t left.  I wish everyone would stop fighting because they feel so uncomfortable about my decision to stick around.  It breaks my heart every time someone leaves my church for doctrinal disagreements.  It’s like mommy and daddy can’t seem to be mature enough to work out their differences, so they just leave.  And ultimately, it feels as if they’re leaving because of me . . . .

 

Atrocious

You know, I really try not to trash Exodus.  Not that there isn’t anything to trash.  I’ve had my fair share of negative experiences there with its people.  But at the same time, I also recognize that God was there, and that there is a function for Exodus – even if I do not largely agree with many of the principles guiding most of the ministries (YES, New Direction Ministries of Canada is a notable exception!)

But I think this is where I draw the line.  The way Exodus has handled the situation in Uganda is irresponsible and reprehensible at best. 

I would like to think that Alan is a man of his word.  I would like to think that he has simply been trying not to throw board-member-gone-rogue Don Schmierer under the bus.  I hope that Exodus leadership is appropriately reprimanding this behavior privately, and preparing their denunciation of these Ugandan proceedings publicly.  I really hope . . .

Read the open letter below, followed by the case presented by the Box Turtle Bulletin team.  Read the full article here, and check up on the other coverage they’ve had on the issue (bottom of the post):

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Open letter to the Exodus International Board of Directors:

We, the undersigned organizations, have monitored the ex-gay industry for more than a decade. To our great horror, prominent members of the ex-gay organization Exodus International participated last week in a conference in Uganda that promoted shocking abuses of basic human rights. This included draconian measures against gay and lesbian people such as forced ex-gay therapy, life imprisonment for people convicted of homosexuality and the formation of an organization designed to “wipe out” gay practices in Uganda. The conference also featured Scott Lively, a holocaust revisionist who at the event also blamed the 1994 Rwandan genocide on gay people.

The facts incontrovertibly show that Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, was aware of the list of speakers and abhorrent content prior to the conference. Exodus board member Don Schmierer, who spoke in Uganda, made no objections to the radical and dangerous platform offered. Instead, these mortal threats to the lives of gay and lesbian people were met with a deafening silence. Exodus, in effect, gave this insidious conference its tacit approval.

Today, we take the unprecedented step of joining together to demand that Exodus International’s Board of Directors take immediate action to hold accountable those who used the Exodus brand to promote an atmosphere conducive to serious human rights abuses. The accountability must begin with reasonable and responsible action by Board Chair Bob Ragan, including:

  • Dismissing Exodus President Alan Chambers for his knowing role in using Exodus to promote human rights abuses
  • Removing Board member Don Schmierer for speaking at a hate conference that promotes physical harm and psychological torture against GLBT people
  • Boldly articulating Exodus’ policy against human rights abuses including forced therapy
  • Promising to end future participation in all conferences that call on the persecution and criminalization of gay and lesbian people

We do not take this call to action lightly. These steps are necessary and commensurate with the massive breach of ethics and trust by the Exodus leadership. Clearly, Exodus has lost credibility and its claim to “love” gay people in the aftermath of Uganda seems duplicitous and insincere. As long as Chambers and Schmierer remain at Exodus, the organization is hopelessly compromised and even complicit in grave human rights abuses. It is time for the Exodus Board, led by Bob Ragan, to assert its moral authority by appointing new leadership and taking the organization in a more humane and principled direction.

Sincerely,

Jim Burroway                                 David Roberts
Box Turtle Bulletin                          Ex-Gay Watch

Wayne Besen                                 Mike Airhart
Truth Wins Out                              Truth Wins Out


The documentation implicating Exodus leaders for their participation at a hate conference in Uganda is robust and powerful. Most important, it is guided by indisputable facts:

The Case
Don Schmierer is a member of the board of directors for Exodus International. Last weekend, he used those credentials while speaking at an anti-gay conference in Kampala, Uganda alongside noted Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively. Those credentials as a leader of American’s largest and most influential ex-gay organization gave Schmierer the ability to speak authoritatively about the policies and ethics of sexual reorientation therapy. And more broadly, his presence as a leader of Exodus International lent credibility to the other speakers at the conference and the policy recommendations that emerged.

And so with Exodus International’s prestige fully utilized, we were outraged to discover that the conference was a forum for some of the most despicable statements and recommendations we have ever come across. During this conference we heard:

  • Gays blamed for the rise of Nazism in Germany. According to one eyewitness, Lively spoke extensively about his revisionist version of Nazi history, based on his book, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party. In that book and in speeches, he claims that Nazi movement was, at its core, a homosexual movement. Despite the historical record to the contrary, Lively blames gays for the rise of Nazism and for the Holocaust itself, and claims that “the connection between homosexualism and fascism is not incidental.”
  • Gays blamed for the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Lively often claims that wherever gays gain the upper hand, they unleash a murderous rampage on innocent populations. In The Pink Swastika, Lively claims that “homosexuals are responsible for 68% of all mass murders in America.” According to one eyewitness at the Kampala conference, he extended that charge by blaming gay men for the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda, which borders Uganda just to the south.
  • Gays blamed for recruiting/molesting children. In line with a common slander deployed by Ugandan anti-gay extremists in recent campaigns of anti-gay vigilantism and violence, Lively claimed that the gay rights movement consists of an entire network trying to recruit young children, including “predatory homosexuals who are always out to satisfy their sexual desires.”
  • Parents blamed for their children’s homosexuality. Don Schmierer presented his contradictory list of fourteen “signs that an adolescent may be struggling with gender issues.” But his focus appeared to have been on one suggested cause: it’s the parent’s fault. One eyewitness said, “He told participants that one of the biggest causes of homosexuality is the lack of “good upbringing” in families. In other words, good parents make straight children; bad parents, gay children.
  • Calls for new laws enacted in Uganda to require that those convicted of homosexuality be forced to undergo sexual reorientation therapy. The law in Uganda currently calls for a life sentence upon conviction for homosexuality. As far as we have been able to tell, no one at the conference called for decriminalization of homosexuality, nor a reduction in the current penalties. Instead, there were calls to strengthen the law to add the requirement that convicted gays be forced to endure unregulated and unproven therapies, under duress and against their will.
  • Announcement of a new organization designed to “‘wipe out’ gay practices” in Uganda. It is unclear what form or tactics this new organization will take, but another follow-up meeting was called for March 15. Our fear is that this will lead to another round of officially sanctioned extrajudicial anti-gay vigilantism, with Ugandan media — as they did in previous campaigns — publicly identifying private LGBT citizens and calling for their arrest or worse.

Given Uganda’s recent history, this is no idle fear. There were at least three successive public anti-gay campaigns in 2005, 2006 and 2007. In the most recent campaign, government-affiliated newspapers published articles identifying specific individuals with physical descriptions, addresses, places of employment — even photos — of those targeted, making them easily identifiable to neighbors, family members, employers, and the police.

Watching this unfold with the active participation of an Exodus board member has left us concerned with the direction that Exodus is taking. Some of us contacted Exodus president Alan Chambers on Friday, February 27 to raise our concerns about Schmierer’s participation alongside a Holocaust revisionist at this conference. We did this even though we do not believe it is the responsibility of Exodus’ critics to inform Exodus about the activities of an Exodus leader.

Chambers is not just the President of Exodus International, he’s also a fellow board member with Don Schmierer. He, along with board chairman Bob Ragan, had plenty of time to contact Schmierer to demand that he withdraw from the conference. (They do have cell phones, SMS text messages and email in Uganda, especially at the luxurious four-star Hotel Triangle in Kampala where the conference took place.) Chambers also had plenty of time of time to publicly articulate Exodus’ policy on forced conversions and criminalization of homosexuality, two subjects which are not new to the controversies surrounding ex-gay ministries. And he had plenty of time to clarify Exodus’ position on Scott Lively’s Holocaust revisionism and to denounce Lively’s dangerous rhetoric. But in all of this, Chambers has remained silent.

Don Schmierer, as a board member — and as one who was identified at the conference under those very credentials — could have spoken out against the excesses of anti-gay violence that has marked Uganda’s history. He could have spoken out against criminalization of homosexuality and denounced the policy recommendation of forced conversion therapy against the will of the individual being “treated.” Schmierer could have denounced Lively’s rabid anti-gay extremism, historical revisionism, and dangerous scapegoating. But in all of this, Schmierer has remained silent.

And the board, particularly Board Chairman Bob Ragan, could have exercised is oversight responsibility to ensure that Exodus’ name and reputation remain unsullied by its association with Scott Lively and the Uganda conference.

Exodus serves as an umbrella organization of some two hundred ex-gay ministries, each of which, according to Exodus, is “an independent organization which has met Exodus’ criteria for membership.” If Exodus is unable to regulate the actions of its own board member, how can we expect Exodus to monitor the practices and qualifications of their member ministries?

Despite informing Exodus of our concerns on February 27, they have remained silent on Schmierer’s association with Scott Lively, as well as their own links to him. And with the passage of each day, as we’ve received more reports about the conference, our concerns have grown to outrage.

It is not the first time forced therapy has become an issue with Exodus International. This issue was raised in 2005 when “Zach”, a 16-year-old gay teen, was forced against his will to attend an eight-week ex-gay therapy program at Exodus-affiliated Love In Action in Memphis. That same year, another father drove his 17-year-old son to Love In Action in handcuffs. Despite all this, Love In Action remains one of Exodus’ most prominent member ministries. Today, the calls for enshrining forced therapy into Ugandan law has been met with silence at Exodus. We call upon Exodus once and for all to address the morality of forcing people into unregulated and unproven therapies against their will.

Laws banning private consensual relationships between adult same-sex couples are no longer in force in the United States. While this is settled law in this country, it is not a settled position among most anti-LGBT organizations. Furthermore, criminalization of private, consensual relationships remain a reality in many countries throughout the world, many of which provide harsh, draconian penalties upon conviction. As Exodus International engages in ex-gay movements around the world, we call upon Exodus once and for all to address the morality of punishing private adult consensual relationships.

Because of Schmierer’s actions, Exodus International will bear responsibility for any renewed convulsions of violence that may arise in the aftermath of this conference. Given the highly volatile history of anti-LGBT vigilantism in Uganda, we find Schmierer’s actions there appallingly reckless and irresponsible. Lives and the well being of many Ugandans may well be at stake in the weeks and months to come. Because of the danger that Schmierer’s actions may pose to citizens of that volatile nation, we call upon the Board of Directors of Exodus International to remove Don Schmierer from the Board of Directors.

Scott Lively, along with another of Alan Chambers’ “good friends”, Seattle pastor Ken Hutcherson, is a co-founder of Watchmen On the Walls, one of twelve anti-gay hate groups identified and tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Incidentally, Scott Lively’s Abiding Truth Ministries is also listed by the SPLC as a hate group. While speaking at a Watchmen conference in Novosibirsk, Russia, in 2007, Lively excused the murder of Satendar Singh, a gay immigrant from Fiji who was killed in an anti-gay hate crime in Sacramento. We call upon the Board of Directors of Exodus International to resolutely and unambiguously denounce Scott Lively’s dangerous rhetoric. We further call upon the Board to end future participation in all conferences that call on the persecution and criminalization of gay and lesbian people.

It is clear that that Exodus under the leadership of Alan Chambers has failed to live up to its claim of challenging “those who respond to homosexuals with ignorance and fear.” The Board must take swift action and remove Chambers as its leader. If the Exodus Board fails to act, it bears culpability and full responsibility for creating a climate where hate crimes can and do occur both at home and abroad.

Mixed Hope and Fear . . .

What an interesting mix of emotions I have right now!

First, the most notable emotions regarding the election of Barack Obama.  I am SO amazed!  As my boy and I were driving to dinner, I began to think about how I’d feel when I got the news.  And suddenly, reality began to dawn.  This would be the FIRST Black President of the United States!  I could feel tears welling up even then.  But then . . . then when I finally got the news.  I was amazed, overwhelmed, and simultaneously incredulous.  I couldn’t believe it.  Tears just ran down my face.  I can’t even describe the pride I feel as an African-American.  I’m not sure anyone can fully appreciate how this must truly feel to my community, and I’m not sure words are adept enough to make their meaning known.  But it’s BIG.  SO BIG!

I’ve cried no fewer than 4 times today as I’ve stopped to reflect on the import of it all.

Yet, I found it hard to sleep last night.  Part of it was just being very hot in my room, but I also know that California’s Proposition 8 was heavily on my mind.  The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was to check the tally.  Only 87% of the precints had been counted at that point, but it wasn’t looking good.  I’m very, very sad that Prop 8 passed.  It was really not a good night at all for gays and lesbians.  The joy of the fruition of racial equality was smoothly blunted by the sorrows of sexual and romantic inequality that continues to arise across the nation

And then, I got into work, and in my message box was something good.  My research project from my residency is close to being accepted by the journal Pharmacotherapy!  There were apparently 3 reviewers.  I only got comments from the first 2 though.  The second guy ripped my project up!  That butthead recommended the study not be published!  (I have a strong suspicion that this person works for – or gets a significant paycheck from – one of the bigger Drug Industry companies.)  But the first guy was a lot more reasonable, and I’m pretty sure that I can respond adequately to his concerns.  So this is looking very good right now.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed! 

So yeah, a mixed bag there.  Anywho, I’m bouncing!

Loneliness . . .

Yes, loneliness.  I can’t say that it’s the FULL answer to the question that arose in my last post (i.e., “What the fuck is wrong with me?”).  But it’s a big part of it.

You see, I can’t remember the last time I felt lonely.  Traditionally, anytime that emotion showed the slightest sign of its desire to accompany me on my journey, I would suppress it.  And when it protested my feeble attempts, I would find some way of distracting myself from it – perhaps by diving into work, or maybe visiting a good friend for the weekend in someplace not-like-home.  And when its voice barked even beyond these attempts, I went to my last (but perhaps favorite) resort: pornography.  I drowned myself in it.  Afterall, if you can’t have real intimacy (i.e., “it’s a sin to be gay”), simply lose yourself in fake intimacy.

And why?  Why not just feel lonely, even for a single night?  Quite simply because of fear.  I have long felt that if loneliness had its way with me, it would destroy me.  A good friend emailed me today expressing a similar ethos regarding her own struggle with undesired emotions.  She asked me how I tend to articulate it beyond the simple “I feel like it’s going to destroy me.”  Here is another situation where I feel words simply fail me.  They just aren’t enough to describe how contrary – how utterly averse – I feel towards allowing myself to feel lonely.  Nor do they even begin to explain why I feel that way.  As loneliness grows inside my soul, it’s as if it crushes me, and squeezes every ounce of breath out of my chest.  So I resist it, and its grip on me tightens . . .until a suitable enough “intimacy” comes along to loosen its death grip.

But the cycle always continues.  And having my boy away for 6 weeks?  Well, it’s almost too much to bear.

My counselor (I’m sure you all remember Lance!) has been trying to convince me for YEARS to simply let the feeling of loneliness wash over me . . . to let it have its way with me, and see what happens.  I have failed at every attempt thus far, for my fear of loneliness, and my fear of the unknown (i.e., not knowing what reality would look like if I let loneliness have its way with me) significantly outweighed my fear of remaining in that self-defeating spiral of resistance.

But last Tuesday night was different.  After spending most of the day projecting outward, trying to find a reason for the wounding I felt, I promised myself before the evening was over, to investigate this theory that maybe I was simply lonely.

After working out, getting a shower, and having a few minutes of quintessential “Darren time,” it didn’t take long for the emotions to rise to the surface.  It wanted to overtake me.  I let it.  And I felt . . . horrible. Awful.  At the lowest of low.  And the worst part?  I couldn’t feel God, hear God, or comprehend why He would leave me be at such an inopportune time. 

As I sat there sobbing and mourning for what seemed like a decade (it was – in actuality – more like about 10 minutes, I suppose), the thought began to dawn on me: “I’m not dead”.  This feeling had not destroyed me yet, and it somehow seemed as if this was the best it had to offer.  And then I also realized . . . it wasn’t going to be this way forever.  It could only last so long.  I’d be seeing my special guy soon.  And I had friends and other things to invest in meanwhile.  Another 5 minutes or so of crying, and I felt the benefit of the cathartic act.  I felt immensely better.  It was as if a 2 ton weight had been lifted from me.  Since then, I’ve felt more like “me” than I have in ages.  Years, perhaps.

I wish I could say I was “healed” or something now.  But I’m not.  I struggle with this loneliness . . . but in a different way this week than every other week of my life.  Now, I don’t feel like I’m afraid of it.  And this appears to have loosened its powerful stronghold over my life.  I have loads of other baggage to sort through here:  self-esteem issues, dependence on unhealthy coping mechanisms, a willingness to lose myself in another, etc.  Yet, I have a better grasp on this thing called Hope.  And that makes all the difference in the world.