I’m not quite sure where to begin.
Keep in mind that the majority of posts on this blog have been reflective in nature and follow a more journal entry type style and so it will be with this post.
Thanks in advance for reading and tracking with me. The last week and a half has been full of unique experiences and heartache.
Not only heartache but a growing and restless angst. More on that towards the end.
I’ll start with the unique experiences first.
I got a chance to work on a 21st Century Fox film.
It’s a period piece based in the late 1950’s early 60’s. The day that I was on set as an extra we worked in an extremely small Georgia town a few hours from where I live.
I wore actual clothing from the period and it was quite surreal. I rode in the back of a bus with a sign that said “Colored Section” with a few other extras along with Janelle Monae.
I stood by another black man as we drank from a colored water fountain and were looked at in disgust by a white mother and her two pretend daughters as they themselves drank from a whites-only water fountain right next to ours.
I shined a white man’s shoes.
There was a protest with actual dogs.
Emotions were stirred within me and all I kept thinking was how this was all fake. How it was just pretend.
Yet art imitates life and these things really happened.
My people really experienced indignity and men actually made a living shining the shoes of other men who were thought of by society as superior.
Later that same week, Good Friday to be exact, I was invited by a friend to a ‘Sweat’. There is plenty of research (and by plenty of research I mean just google it) you can do to find out specifically what a Sweat is and it’s origins.
The one I went to wasn’t in a tent and it wasn’t conducted by a Shaman.
But it was hot and it was awesome.
Imagine a makeshift sauna in the middle of a garden surrounded by bamboo mats on the outside.
Inside the tiny wooden space with the cast iron (?) wood burning stove in the middle of it. I entered into the cramped space in only my bathing suit along with 11 other men and women and we endured the heat for as long as we could (always free to leave and get water or sit/lay/stretch in the cool of the night on the bamboo mats outside surrounded by the garden.
We went in each time and the person who ran the session had us do things like speaking positive affirmations, encouraging words to one another, confessions of things bothering us, hopes, fears, frustrations, life…
We sang songs, made animals noises, yelled, laughed…all of this in the heat.
The intense, sweat drenching, all-consuming heat.
There was not only wood burning in the little furnace in the middle but the overseer would douse both water and different aromas into the flames.
and other smells that I can still euphorically recall but cannot name.
The irony of me writing this in a blog is that I can’t quite capture in words how I felt that night.
So many things. It’s crazy because this time, this time that I was going to let pass by (because I wasn’t sure I felt like going or was worried about rather or not I really wanted to spend the 20 bucks, etc) was exactly what the doctor order because it came on the heels of a pretty heavy hearted week for me.
I wrote previously about how I made the decision to leave my church. Following that decision I had difficult conversations with close friends that I love very much and who I know love me. What made the week hard though was the deafening silence of my church leaders.
It’s been sixteen days and counting since I sent a heart felt message about my decision to leave and no one in leadership has reached out to me. This hurts deeply. I don’t understand why no one has reached out.
Honestly, I just want closure and to move forward in peace but I don’t know what closure looks like at this point, nor do I know what’s ahead.
The deep hurt and sadness has slowly morphed into a sort of angst that comes and goes. A sort of anger that embers and fades from times to time.
I don’t know what to make of it. Typing this is more of a release than it is an accusation (though I’m not naive to the fact that it can be read as an accusation as well)
Hoping for closure soon. Hoping to move on in peace.
Coming out has been like being on a rocket ship. The amount of love and self-acceptance that I’ve discovered has soared. I am in a completely different place than I was six months ago internally. It’s like I hopped in a sports car in the middle of an endless stretch of road in a vast desert and for a few months I sort of just raced full speed ahead- paradigm shifts, and expanding awareness all emerging without my permission yet no less part of me.
I’m not driving nearly as fast now though, more like coasting and I’m finding my internal and external environment to be quite different.
My faith is stronger than ever though.
The focus of my life hasn’t changed. I’m still chasing compassion and the personhood of Christ and praying /accepting God’s grace that Christ is formed in me day by day.
A gay friend of mine has a statement that captures my change of heart and rapidness of pace that I’m trying to describe:
“I’ve learned over the years to extend grace to those in same-sex relationships or those pursuing them, but I’ve gradually developed the self-compassion to extend that grace to myself. ”
Bingo. That’s exactly what happened to me.
Also, there has been this deep awareness and kindred connectedness to an entire community (LGBTQ+) that has evolved into this sort of heart cry of making sure I speak up because there is so much that we go through and there is so much that isn’t right.
Something as simple as equality doesn’t register with so many people and it’s baffling and angst-inducing.
You want to shake people because it’s so simple.
There is so much work to be done
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity amongst LGBTQ individuals is not sin.
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity amongst LGBTQ individuals isn’t immoral.
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity are bound up in the sacredness of what it means to be a human being.
Entwined with an Imago Dei bearing reality.
If one were to speak of the Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity of a Hetero or Cisgender individual I doubt many would think twice of divorcing their humanity or their rights or their full acceptance of personhood from that individual.
Yet add LGBTQ into the equation and all of a sudden that human being becomes other.
That human being becomes less than.
They become sin.
They become an issue.
They become the scapegoat of religious freedom and a mass of words that is the stuff of harmful legislation.
I don’t have it pegged down as to why but I have an idea.
It’s fear of the unknown.
It’s Theological and Biblical interpretation.
Lets be clear. The Bible’s narrative points to Jesus. It’s all about Him. He invades time and space and subsumes all of humanity for God’s glory and LGBTQ people are part of that humanity and partake in that same gift of God for all mankind.
We are called simply to love, not change people.
Loving God and partnering with God in the healing and higher evolution of the world. That’s the priority.
Not denouncing faithful marriages.
Not discouraging people from pursuing love with someone of their same sex if they so choose.
Not condemning someone in their God given clear conscious decision to present themselves to society the way they so choose.
Not urinal legislation.
It’s 2am. I gotta be up in a few hours.
Love to all who read this. Thanks, as always for your time.
Grace and Peace
**Update April 2** Silence still continues but I’m determined to find closure and move on regardless. Also learning to pray for the silence. Up until now I’ve only been hurt, but I’m praying for humility of heart to truly understand why the silence persists and to truly love regardless and also to truly move on no matter what happens. We are all called to peace. That is what I desire for myself and for everyone.
**Update April 3***
Silence broken…my Pastor was mourning. I metaphorically dance between wanting to rejoice in the peace that I have and also feeling deeply sadden that my journey causes pain and sorrow for people I love. God in heaven have mercy on my soul and show me how to navigate this world in humility and love, to be ever quiet and open before you…
Appreciate any prayer. This is a humbling time for me.
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Recommended Reading Post 2
Recommended Reading Post 3