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Last weekend my appendix very nearly turned me into a vegetarian. Friday night I picked my partner C up from the airport and we drove to Inn and Out for dinner. Within minutes of finishing my meal, I discovered two angry, unbudging fists of pain right in the center of my abdomen. Instantly I was reminded of the SVU episode I watched just before picking her up, which prominently featured a man in a wheelchair who had been paralyzed by a hamburger. That’s right, a hamburger. One minute he was eating a burger at a family picnic, and the next he was on his death bed with e-coli or bochilism or some equally horrible food-related problem. The rest of the episode was dominated by shadowy scenes in a meat packing house overrun with rats and feces. Convincing, to say the least. The domino’s inside my head were off and rolling, and soon I was remembering an e-mail my coworker sent several months ago that described the slow and painful death experienced by a friend or acquaintance of a distant relative, also executed by hamburger. Why had I so quickly forgotten my SVU-inspired resolve and eaten the fated hamburger? Why, for that matter, had I not stuck with the vegetarian pledge I’d taken at the tender age of seven? I soon remembered that it was probably because at the time I’d had a prior commitment to avoiding beans of all shapes and sizes, for textural rather than moral reasons. Also, I avoided any and all white creamy substances, including ranch, mayo, sour cream, and cream cheese. Beans, meat, and creamy substances were staples in my mother’s cooking and once I stopped eating meat my normally thing frame became somewhat bony and alarming. So my parents started force-feeding me thick, lukewarm cans of Ensure each night as penance. Needless to say, the vegetarian phase did not last long. But as the pain in my stomach grew more and more demanding, I still found myself lamenting my young lack of resolve.

Although inwardly somewhat paranoid and neurotic, I tend to be outwardly stoic. So I mentioned casually to C that the Inn and out hadn’t agreed with me and settled in for a night of catching up on the long list of tv shows neither has time to watch during the week.

By 3 am I am vomiting, passing out, the whole deal, and C is pissed. Over the past seven hours I repeatedly ignored her suggestions that we head to the emergency room and she now groggily reminds me that stoic is just another synonym for stupid. C loves the ER. I mean, loves it. In our first three months of dating, I had to take her twice for falling down the same set of stairs. For her, its partly bad luck, but probably mostly also growing up with a nurse for a mother who prescribed aspirin for everything. What with her mother’s long shifts and high exposure to trauma, none of C’s childhood injuries even registered on her mother’s raider. I quickly learned that if I didn’t attend to C’s injuries, they would rapidly escalate into an ER visit. Now, I usually take a pre-emptive strike and suggest a visit to the ER whenever she tells me of an ailment. “Well,” she’ll say reluctantly but with an extra bounce in her step, “it’s not quite that bad yet…”

I, on the other hand, abhor doctors, hospitals, emergency rooms… the whole bit. I’ve only been hospitalized once before for an allergic reaction to a sulfa drug the week of my sister’s wedding. They let me out in time for the wedding but it didn’t do me much good because I don’t remember anything about it except that I was still swelled up like a balloon so my bridesmaid dress didn’t fit and my head looked like a misshapen full moon in all the wedding photos. So really, how great can the ER doctors be? Besides, I was convinced that if I did agree to go to the emergency room I would get diagnosed with gas or indigestion or something like that and die of embarrassment instead.

At 3:30 am C got silently but somewhat aggressively out of bed, picked up her I Phone, and tossed it at me: “It’s dialing the Kaiser advise nurse,” she said, “maybe you’ll listen to her.” I listened dutifully to a message that said something along the lines of “You’ve called the talk network, where you’ll find something for everyone. Press one for great conversation. Press two for something more. Please me advised that all fees apply.” Was I delusional? I didn’t think so. I hung up and dialed again. Same message. “Honey?” I said to C, who was covering her head with a pillow, “I don’t think that’s the right number.” “Stop trying to get out of it and talk to the damn nurse!” she grumbled. Eventually I convinced her to get the right number and reached a drowsy nurse who casually advised me to leave for the hospital immediately. I reached the end of my resolve and off we went.

The Kaiser emergency room is nothing like you might expect from the ER scenes in the movies. We were the only ones there, and I had a hospital bed within five minutes. This, unfortunately, did us little good because I also got assigned to Dr. Don’t Give a Damn. He was a handsome, darkly tanned man with long wavy hair who closely resembled a cheap portrait of Jesus. I explained my symptoms to him and he poked around my stomach, provoking the two angry fists of pain who had taken up residence in my abdomen to scream in protest. Unfortunately I did not. He asked me if it hurt, but apparently he had taken my lack of screaming as a no because he was already on his way out of the room. “I’ll order you some meds” he said over his shoulder. And with that he was gone, less than two minutes after he had first arrived.

“I told you!” I wailed to C, “He thinks I have a stomach ache, he’s going to prescribe some pepto bismo or something. I HATE THE ER!!!” She was fully awake now and noticeably less irritable, so she offered soothing noises until a nurse walked in. The nurse was a short Pilipino woman who teetered into the room on platform shoes with a big sigh. She looked at me, looked at C, and then said: “Not your nurse. Just swing nurse who fill in while people on break. It’s horrible.” She looked at us expectantly so I made my best sympathetic face. “I’m sorry to hear that.” She nodded, “I hate it. Always taking over other nurse cases.” I was not sure what to make of her open distaste for having to be my nurse, so I just waited in silence until she finally produced a needle. “Doctor ordered medicine that only come in butt shot.” It took me some time to absorb this news. “Butt shot?” She nodded, “take off pants, roll over.” Reluctantly I complied. She must have been warming up to me after all because she suddenly grew jovial: “Not to worry, this my specialty. I do excellent butt shot.” “Oh,” I replied, a high, thin sound that attempted to show appreciation for her specialty. She took it as encouragement and continued: “don’t worry, won’t feel pain. Really good at this.” Bam, she made her entry. I congratulated her, as I had in fact not felt a thing. Maybe she really did have a calling. But she was not nearly as pleased with herself as I was, shaking her head back and forth emphatically. “No good. You skinny but meaty. Should have gone with bigger needle.” She shook her head again in apparent wonder: “Yes, skinny but meaty.” I tried to think of an appropriate response but none came to mind.

She then began pounding the site of the injection in a way that quickly made me forget about my stomach pain. This “nice massage” as she called it went on for several minutes, with her pausing every few seconds to shake her head and repeat under her breath: “so skinny but meaty,” as if she was holding me personally responsible for ruining her perfect record with butt shots. This moment quickly surpassed being a balloon-faced bridesmaid and my fear of being diagnosed with indigestion as top reasons to avoid the ER.

Over the next six hours I encountered plenty more nurses, as Nurse Skinny but Meaty followed through on her assurance that I “wasn’t really her patient” and quickly disappeared after my injection. The next nurse was there only long enough to tell me that I had been treated for nausea and should be feeling better soon, but before I could explain that I didn’t have any nausea she was already gone. Next came a voluptuous young Hispanic nurse with cascading curls who looked exactly like Callie on Gray’s Anatomy. I began to perk up, since Callie is one of my top reasons to watch television, especially since she started dating women, and a look a like here in my very own hospital room could only be a good sign. But soon enough Nurse Callie-look-alike explained that the previous nurse had traded me to her because her caseload was too full in a tone that let me know she was none too pleased with this arrangement. I nodded, feeling more than slightly rejected. Still, nurse Callie-look-alike was warm and kind for the few minutes she graced us with her presence, and brightly offered to bring C a fresh cup of coffee before disappearing, never to return.

Next came a young nurse with a thick Jamaican accent. C tried to explain to her that my pain wasn’t getting any better and we needed to see the doctor again. “And who are you?” the nurse said pointedly. “Her partner.” “Partner?” “Yes. We’re together, a couple.” “Wow! You know I have a friend who has the gay, and he wanted to get married, and I just think it’s wrong that people get so up in arms…” She went on, but C and I were busy trying not to laugh. We have a dear friend whose mother refers to her lesbianism as “they gay,” like it is some horrible disease her daughter contracted and she is still waiting for the cure to be discovered. Normally, we adore hearing anyone use the term, but when the nurse used the remainder of her time with us to finish the story about her friend with “the gay” and then she too disappeared, I began to grow frustrated that my sexuality was more interesting to her than the condition I was seeking treatment for.

I saw Dr. Don’t Give a Damn only once more. He passed by my doorway six hours after I had arrived and said the word  “better?” as though it were a complete question. “No,” I answered, but he had already breezed away again before my reply even made its way to his wavy locked head.

Eventually the night shift left and I was assigned a new doctor. By this time the sun was well into the sky and our patience had evaporated. He made several sympathetic noises when I explained my symptoms and said that he had heard Inn & Out hadn’t agreed to me. “Listen” C said, rising from her nest in the corner of my room, “Danielle and I have been together for some time now, and here’s the thing. She doesn’t complain about pain. Ever. So this is not just a stomachache. Something is really wrong, and we need to get it taken care of because we have been here all night and we’d really like to not have to come back.”

Amazingly, he listened. And within in minutes I was assigned the task of drinking two fowl bottles of thick, creamy vanilla flavored chemicals that would color my insides and ruin vanilla milkshakes for me forever. Another hour passed in silence and then I was greeted by a doctor who’s name tag clearly read “surgical team.” “Surgery?” I asked, and he nodded perkily “yep.” “But last I heard I was about to be discharged with a stomachache.” “Well, now its looks like you’re going to have an emergency appendectomy. I just need to call in my boss to confirm it.” He seemed immensely pleased with his diagnosis. His boss, an overwhelmingly kind East Indian man who was the attending surgeon, must have been pleased with it too because the next thing I knew I was being wheeled towards the operating room.

It took some convincing to get the admitting nurse to put C down as my nearest relative so she could receive updates and visit after the surgery. She eyed C skeptically. “Well, do you have any documentation to prove your relationship?” she demanded. “Of course we do.” C snapped. “Well can I see it?” “Sure you can, right after we take care of this little emergency surgery we’ll drive home and get you a copy. How’s that?” “You don’t have it with you?” “No, did you bring any documentation of your relationship to work with you today? Did the patient next door bring their’s with them?” The nurse sighed. “Alright, what’s your name and phone number?”

In the operating room yet another nurse confiscated my glasses, and without them the room looked suspiciously like a space ship. It was bright and metallic and an indistinguishable blinding disk hovered over my face. “Don’t go towards any bright lights,” C had teased tearfully as they whisked me away, but what choice did I have? I was strapped to a table under the brightest UFO I had ever seen. Besides the light, the only thing I could make out was the faint outline of a blond doctor behind me. There were at least a dozen doctors and nurses in the room but none had spoken directly to me. Instead, Dr. Blondy was busy complaining that there was a heart surgery going on next door and she would much rather be working on it. It made me feel strangely comforted, as though the world was exactly as it should be. Gray’s Anatomy was turning out to be a perfect replica of a real hospital. Drama, unruly egos, and now operating room bickering about the best surgical assignments. Still, it seemed somewhat inconsiderate, and I thought about saying something like: “Hey Dr. Blondy, I get that my appendix isn’t all that exciting for you, but could you at least wait until I’m knocked out to complain about having to operate on me?”

Instead I found myself beginning to panic. You teach people how to cope with stress for a living, I told myself sternly. Surely you can handle a minor surgery. And even if nobody in the operating room knew my name let alone my profession, at least I would know that I wasn’t the therapist who lost her shit on the operating table. So instead I worked my way through the exercises I teach my clients. Take slow deep breathes. Tense and release each muscle group. Visualize something calming.

When I woke up from the surgery, these handy techniques were not the least bit helpful. I was thirsty. So thirsty my lips, tongue, and throat were stuck together in one parched, deserty mass. The recovery room nurses were the worst by far. The others had just been good for a laugh. But these were nasty heartless bitches. I asked for water and they refused me. I asked for ice-chips and they refused that too. I asked them when I could have some water and they said eight hours. Eight fucking hours? Therapist or not, that’s when I lost it. I was convinced I was dying. Here I survived appendicitis and I was going to die of a stuck together airway. Hysterical and hiccupping, I croaked out a request for C. The nurses glanced up from behind their desk and shrugged, “We can’t have your friend in here.” “She’s not my friend!” I screamed, but no sound came out. Or maybe it did. Because the next thing I knew, C was there, taking my hand.

In the end I traded my appendix for a week off of work and school, and an extra week with C. When you’ve been living apart for almost a year, that’s a pretty good trade. When they released me from the hospital we packed up the car and C drove me up to Sacramento. My organs were still pretty angry about the surgery and trying to figure out where they belonged with the extra room in my abdomen. So we had to tie a towel around them to keep them from jiggling around too much, and whenever we hit a bump, C reached out to help me hold them still. I sympathized with them. There have been a lot of changes lately. A lot of newness and some losses too. But I guess if we can just hang on to our guts and to each other, it’s not a bad start.


It’s been quite a while since I’ve left my mark on this blog, this now-dusty-‘ol-blog.  I don’t know if anyone still reads this thing, but I hope so.  I hope so for the fact that things haven’t changed.  Anything written 2 years ago (even 20) still holds true.  Our stories are still valid, but they have evolved with time.  I hope to share some of my story, simply for the cathartic purpose of getting it out.  So, if you’ve got a few minutes, a warm mug of tea, and some handy Kleenex, then join me.

For starters, I’m not sure I “qualify” to be an author on this blog any longer.  I would now be the “graduated-student-from-the-Christian-University-down-the-street.”  It was a joyous moment, and one of the most freeing experiences I’ve ever had.  My partner was at the ceremony, and I have a picture of me in my commencement garb kissing him on the cheek.  I can’t even express how different I felt, even the day after graduation – I can now LIVE MY LIFE!  It’s been a little over a year, I’m fully settled into my career and adult life, and my memory of living in such an oppressive environment is quickly fading.  My experience of having to deal with the consequences of being gay are far from fading.

I would cite the main reason for the prolonged absence from the blog (and most people in my life aside from my partner) as crushing, debilitating pain – spiritual, emotional, and at times physical pain.  Years ago, I would read about the higher incidences of depression amongst lgbt and say, “Duh!  It’s so damn hard having such political pressure/religious bigotry, etc. in your life.”  Well, I think the biggest source of this depression comes from the family.  At least for me it has been.  And it’s not the kind of depression Lexapro can help.  I’ll try and keep my story simple:

The cascade of loss began with my brother.  We’ve never been close, but he is my only brother and has two children to whom I was very close.  My mother (taking it upon herself) told him I was gay and soon to be married.  His response, both immediate and enduring, was that I was not to be around him or his family, much like the way he would not expose his children to the life of a drug user.  2 beautiful nephews, 1 brother, 1 sister-in-law: gone, cut and dry.  My mother proceeded to inform my Aunt, a religious zealot.  When I called her to talk it out, she had nothing but bile to spew through the phone.  For example, she informed me that when I was on the brink of death from contracting a horrible disease and begging to change my ways, she would consider hugging me again – and that she looked forward to the day.  1 Aunt, Uncle, and a small kingdom of cousins and cousins’ children: gone.  These were hard losses, but ones I was actually quite prepared for.  I had mentally been gearing up for these losses for quite some time, expecting that the hard-line Fundamentalism of the majority of my relatives absolutely did not allow for a gay.  I was right.

What I wasn’t prepared for (naive as I am) was the loss of my mother.  You can read posts from the past of me singing praise about my mother – her openness, support, and love.  Little did I know then that she was Judas, sent to betray me.  I might sound overly dramatic, but when is one ever ready to accept that their mother is capable of such a betrayal?  She still has her grandchildren, sister, nieces and nephews – family.  But, see, I was played.  I had the opportunity of talking to all of these people first taken from me.  And my mother had the opportunity of acting that she didn’t know I was gay.  That she had been deceived for years.  That she, in fact, hadn’t been the one telling me to bide my time and that what the family “doesn’t know won’t hurt them.”  At the time, I did not see the grand play for what it was.  I was too busy cleaning up the messes left in the wake of my mother’s chaos.  And I kept her close.  However, things changed as I started to distance myself a bit and live my life with my partner-turned-spouse.  As I communicated less, she turned violent – angry, yelling phone calls and nasty e-mails.  Little by little I learned who she really was, and the pain she was capable of inflicting.  There was more, but it is not fit for this forum.  Suffice to say that I don’t keep in touch with her any longer.  1 mother, who will never match the image of Protector I once held: gone.

There are many more sub-dramas within this play, including the loss of several dear, dear friends.  But, really, the dramas do not matter; what I’ve said above more or less captures the last year.  As I write, in the context of this Christian/gay blog, I wonder where my spirit went (or rather, what happened to it).  I can’t name a day or time when I said that I wasn’t a Christian anymore, or that God wasn’t close, or that I had lost faith.  But now, sitting awake at 2AM, I know that I have.  Maybe this is my biggest loss, and I can’t foresee how I will rebuild the palace in my soul that once housed the greatest Being I knew.  This was a grand palace, let me tell you!  And it spurred me on – to goodness, to charity.  Now I can see the rubble, and I can still feel the many small earthquakes that brought it down, but I can’t fathom where to go from here.  I literally cringe when I hear “Christian,” and I can’t imagine being associated with that word any longer, or ever again.  Where does that leave me?

When a person loses a lot of money in assets, they are able to claim capital losses, eliminating taxes on any gains in years to come.  I feel as though I have enough capital losses to last me until the day I die.  Every now and again, when I slow down from the craziness, I wonder what keeps me going.  I think I know the answer.  There are so many people with collapsed castles, mansions in heaps of stones, maybe an adobe home washed away.  I know I’m not alone, and that there are answers yet to be found; there are questions I don’t even know yet to ask.  This gives me some amount of peace, and hope that I will one day have an inner self that I recognize.

Lately every time I open my mouth I find myself surprised. Surprised by the volume and conviction and tone and passion with which I have been saying things. This is not the voice of that same person who used to carefully weigh each word to make sure it pleased all of her listeners. This, rather, is the voice of someone who has learned that she has something important to say, and that not everyone (or even most people really) are going to agree with it, but she is going to have to say it anyway. Because it is true, and truth is beautiful.

Today my dear friend M and I drove to a Christian college not so far from here and shared our stories in a Human Sexuality class. Had you known us in college, this would probably be a shocking statement. We were not the kind of people you would expect to go around talking about our sexuality, or much of anything controversial for that matter, in front of crowds of people. But it seems that is exactly the kind of people we have become, and I cannot tell you how liberating it felt. Afterwords we were so full of the power of our own voices that we wanted to burst into classrooms all across campus and announce that we were there to talk about being gay, and share with them our winding journeys of how we came to peace and then even thankfulness for that. Then, we wanted to drive right on back to our undergraduate campus and start shouting our stories from their podiums too! That’s how empowering it was, just to stand before a crowd of students not unlike those we sat silently next to during all those years of Christian education, and tell them that we are gay and we love God and women and life and yes even ourselves, most of the time anyway. Our elation wasn’t so much about the student’s reactions, which were entirely a mixed bag with some peeking out from their own well guarded closets to thank us shyly, other smiling warmly, and some smirking and refusing to look at us as they brushed past us at the end of class. Nobody stopped us to say their life was radically changed by what we had to say, but I think that’s fine because our elation was not about what they heard but rather about what we were able to speak. With conviction and grace and even a good bit of humor we stood up there and said this is who we are, and how we have come to be here, and we are not ashamed. And even more, we are grateful.

It had been raining all day, but as we were driving back home and celebrating our voices the clouds lifted and this incredibly soft but brilliant light broke through the clouds and reached down towards the ocean beside us. And maybe it was because we were feeling sentimental and maybe even a little tender towards our faith and all the bumps it has taken these past few years, but I swear we both noticed at the exact same time that it was almost as though God was painting those broad,  brilliant strokes of light across the sky in celebration with us and our triumphant speaking of our truths.

I want to raise the bar again. When we were first coming out, we learned to lower our standards and take what we could get. We tried to look grateful when you said “I disagree, but I still love you.” Hell, most of the time we even were grateful. But right now I don’t give a damn whether or not you agree with me, or with us, or with any of this. Because what I want to know is, the next time you hear somebody saying that I am somehow less because of who I love, will you speak up for me? What I want to know is, if I raise my glass in a toast to her will you celebrate with me? If I march for our chance to have the same legal rights that you do, will you march next to me? If I grow weary of this fight and need a place to mourn all that it has cost, will you cry with me? If your church says there is no place for us in heaven will you stand up for me? I want to raise the bar again. I don’t want to know your theoretical beliefs about my sexual orientation. I want to know that when you look at me, you see a human being and not a theological debate. If we throw another party in celebration of our love it’s not enough for me that you show up and look dutiful. I want you to dance. And if you can’t dance with us, or laugh with us, or speak up for us… if I haven’t ever seen you smile when you look at us together, then I don’t want you there. Do you hear me? Are you listening? I don’t want you there. Because your silence may not be costing you anything, but it is costing us everything.

I had the family over tonight- not the family who birthed me and then wounded me so deeply and with whom I am once again trying to give birth to something new- but rather the family I met here just over two years ago. I sent my wayward words out in the world and they answered and became something tangible and stable and beautiful for me to bump up against as I found my way into myself. It was beautiful to see them all, and to celebrate the engagement of two members of our group and the many beautiful lives and relationships that have emerged among the rest. But still somehow as I am left in my empty house after their departure I find tears in my eyes. These are not tears of joy, although there have been plenty of those too these past few years. It may seem like a ludicrous thing to say at 25 but lately I have been feeling so very old. So old, in fact, that I was deeply surprised when I got carded at the grocery store today, although I know they card anyone who looks under 35. It’s just that it seems to me the past two years have aged me so deeply I cannot seem to fathom that the rest of the world might not notice. It seems that we were children when we met, just embarking on an adventure in a world where we had never believed we could fully live. We were giddy and terrified and hopeful and probably drinking a little more than we should have. We had parties long into the night filled with laughter and ranting and at the center of it all there were the war stories from our first forays into love, our schools who would kick us out in the name of Jesus if the were given just one opportunity to see us for who we truly were, and worst of all from parents who sometimes wanted never to see us again if they couldn’t hide any longer from who we had become. It is these things that aged us. There was laughter tonight, but there was also sadness. Almost, even, a hardness. There is only so much of other people’s distaste, judgment, and misunderstanding of you that you can take before you begin to get angry. Mostly though, lately, I am just tired. And counting down the months until I can put behind me this chapter of my life where I have to constantly look over my shoulder. Where I constantly have to worry that if I tell too many people the truth about myself, I will no longer be welcome in my own school. That has been worse even then the most difficult times with my parents, or the best friends I have lost, or the fact that when we think about what city we want to move to next we always have to pause and consider what our chances would be of being injured or even killed there because we are together.

Looking around the faces in the room tonight, we did not have any wrinkles or gray hairs (or at least not many) to show for the past few years, but I think that you could hear it in our voices. Sadness, yes. Bitterness? Perhaps a little. But also wisdom. We have traveled weary roads and we have learned to survive. Not just to survive, but to live and breathe to speak up and out and over their noise and their silencing. We have found love and friendships and success in its many forms. And we have dug down deep within ourselves and found that we will keep fighting to make a place for ourselves in this world and insisting that our voices are heard so that there are spaces and voices for all the others who will come after us. We have reached out our hands to an ever growing network of people who have walked roads much like our own and said to them: come, walk with us… you are not alone, and there is space for you too. And for that very reason I would not change one single moment of it. I mean this. In class this week a teacher asked us what we were grateful for this year as Thanksgiving approaches and I said I was grateful for my friends who have become my family in these most difficult of years. But what I would have said, if I could have said everything, was that I am deeply grateful to be a lesbian, because it has connected me the most beautiful group of people in the world who have truly become my family even when my own family could not stand by me. Even as we all begin to drift our own ways and find our own corners of the world in which to settle and begin our families, I will never forget these years that we shared. And most of all, I am grateful because being gay has opened my eyes to countless other LGBT individuals from Christian backgrounds who have stories much like my own to tell. I cannot believe that I am lucky enough to have a story to share with them and a life to share with them and that I get to make maybe just a little bit of difference in their journeys. I wouldn’t trade that. Not even for all the love and simplicity that I have lost.

For the handful of you who have stuck with us through our long, long writing dry spell, I am hopefull that the dry spell is about to end. I haven’t written much in the last year for many reasons, but mostly because I began to realize just how blurred the lines are between anonymous internet blogging land and the “powers that be” at my school. With this realization I began to edit and filter what I said here more and more, and consequently, began to write less and less. Because the point of this small internet space, afterall, was honesty, authenticity, and truth, wasn’t it? So here, of all places, I will not lie or edit myself.

But all of that is to say that pretty soon now, I won’t be lying or editing myself anymore, or at least not because I am afraid of being kicked out of my graduate program. I am have made the long ( and unexpectedly difficult) decision to transfer to a new school, and find a new beginning in a place where all of me will be welcomed. Or at least allowed to exist openly.

I am still wrestling with what it means to kiss goodbye two years of hard, excruciating gradute work and begin again at the beginning in exchange for the freedom to be authentic. It is a hard trade. It is also, I’d like to think, a worthwhile one. As I look back over the past two years I feel I have aged immensely. The girl who began writing here during her first months of graduate school in her earliest, most tentative phases of coming out is long gone.

They say your body regenerates itself entirely every seven or eight years. I wonder sometimes if trauma expedites that process, because I feel as though I am sitting here, writing from within a different skin than when I first began. My body has literally atrophied over the past few years, and I appear to be swimming in the clothes I wore when I first started school two years ago. I wonder if it has been the stress, or simply the fact that trying so hard to go unnoticed has caused me to somehow take up less space.

Although my body may have shrunk, my world has grown so much larger. It is filled now with people who know, accept and embrace all of me, my sexuality included. My family has grown to include so many people I would never have had the privledge and the honor of knowing if not for coming to this seminary and beginning this small blog. For that reason, I would never go back and undo that choices I made that have led me to this palce. I am not sorry I came, but I am also not sorry to be leaving. In the balance between these two places, I sit, preparing for what the future might bring. Or perhaps, more accurately, for what I might bring to my future, and to the future of my community.

My partner always says that we cannot sit back waiting, but must rather “speak into being” the things that we desire. And I believee that somehow, that is exactly what I did here. I so desperately needed a community, and a place where I could learn to accept myself… unable yet to speak, I anonymously typed it into being. And it has been so breathtakingly beautiful.

But now, we are in the beginning phases of speaking something new into being. I believe that myself, my partner, and my community will change this world. I believe that you will too, if that is what you desire. Because we are through with hiding, and we are through with accepting the status quo. Most of all, because we are alone no longer, and it is much, much harder to keep us silent that way.

Stay tuned for more.

I’ve spent the last hour sitting in Joe Van Gogh, a great coffee shop on campus, refilling on coffee every thirty minutes or so in an effort to stay awake.  I’m supposed to be staying awake writing a paper—I have four BIG papers due within the next two weeks. Yet instead, I’m browsing facebook.
I went on quickly, to put up a link on my status for the fantastically beautiful Keith Olbermann video, but my eye was caught by yet another status update of excitement about the passing of Proposition 8. It read: “ Jessica is we are not taking away their “rights” they already have them this is about the institution of traditional marriage!” The girl who wrote it was a friend of mine in college, my R.A.’s roommate my freshman year. Read the rest of this entry »

These are polarizing times. We as a gay, lesbian, and bisexual community have been dealt a painful blow and we are looking for someone to blame. Even as we are gathering together nightly in overwhelming displays of solidarity and unity, we are also pointing fingers every which way. Cries go out: blame a particular ethnic minority; blame a particular church; blame the organizers of the no on 8 campaign. But the sad truth is, over 5 millions individuals went to the polls last week and cast a vote to revoke our rights. While it is certainly arguable that they should have never had the opportunity to do that in the first place, that is what happened, and that is what they did. And while they might have come with various racial and religious affiliations, they also came as individuals. Individuals who, in all likelihood, all know at least one of us in some capacity, whether they are aware of it or not. And so, while it is tempting to paint a portrait of what should happen next with broad, sweeping strokes (i.e: challenge the tax-exempt status of the Morman church, change the views of specific racial minorities, etc), I see it more as pointillism.  Each of the two million or so estimated GLBT people here in California exist in small, overlapping social circles where we have the opportunity to bring to light our humanity, our love, and our quest for equality. We must each engage in the difficult work of having conversations. Yes, we will eventually wage more political campaigns, and I am sure there will be countless more demonstrations, but in the meantime, we are left with conversations. Conversations with our friends, our families, our coworkers; with people in stores and people on the streets. Conversations about who we are (i.e: people in loving, committed relationships), who we aren’t (i.e: a threat to kindergartens, a threat to churches), and who we hope to become (i.e: people who have regained the opportunity to legally marry). I am no idealist; I know this won’t change everyone’s mind. How could I think that when even my best friend of 7 years told me two weeks ago that she still wasn’t sure how she would vote on Prop 8? But I cannot help believing that it will change some minds…built some bridges…put a few dots of color on a painting whose final image we are not yet even able to envision.

We as a community seem to be alternating between devastation and numbness. Words fail me. How do you describe what it is like to have your state vote against your marriage…. against your entire community’s beautiful, beautiful marriages? For some reason, the sadness there is so deep it seems as though words would not even do it justice.

And so, instead, I would like to write about our marching. Because, while they seem to have imagined that taking away our right to marry would just make us shut up and disappear, it has done quite the opposite. Last night, an estimated 5,000-10,000 of us gathered in Los Angeles to show the world that we are still here. We took to the streets to look in the faces of the people who voted to take away our marriage rights, and were surprised to find those people largely missing. Whoever they were, they certainly weren’t around last night. Instead, by and large, the thousands of citizens we encountered greeted us with high fives and friendly honks. Even the police blocked traffic to allow us to pass peacefully through they streets of West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood. Perhaps they suspected that our tentative hopefulness could easily turn to rage. That our chants of solidarity and determination were preferable to any other way we might have expressed our wide array of emotions surrounding the news of our deep loss. Whatever their reasoning, I am grateful. It was surprisingly healing to be able to stand up in front of my state and say… We will not be silenced. We will not disappear. We will not give up. And we will not even allow you to crush our spirits. You may spit on us, you may take away something we consider to be core to our humanity, and you may cover our community in tears, but still, like dust, like air, like love itself…we rise.

And so, I am left with an unquenchable desire to continue taking to the streets and marching. I’d march this state from border to border if I thought it might make a difference, carrying on the chants we shouted throughout Los Angeles last night: “What do we want? EQUALITY! When do we want it? NOW!!” Who’s with me?

A conversation has been happening on the God’s Politics blog that Sojurners does on the issue of New Monasticism and Diversity. The conversation has been interesting, and super important, but I find it at least a little disheartening.

You can check out that conversation here.

It’s a bit weird in how it’s set up, but its basically an archive of all the blog posts, with the beginning blog that incited the conversation at the bottom of the page.

And here is the comment I wrote on the most recent blog, Beilers’ “Will Christians Lead or Follow on Questions of Diversity?”. It pretty much sums up why I find the conversation, though valuable, disheartening:

“I just recently picked up on this conversation, I often find myself too busy to keep up with blogs, but I’m glad I’ve stumbled upon this conversation, so much so that I’d even like to put in my two cents.

First of all, I’m thrilled that this conversation is being had! Too often, I think, we assume that the new monastics, in their radicalness, are ahead of the game in issues of diversity–and many times that may be so… but not necessarily, and this conversation seems to point out the complexities of this issue of diversity—what defines reconciliation, who defines it, how do minority communities feel, etc…..

One wrench I would like to throw into this conversation is the expanse of which we define diversity. I have been disheartened (but not at all surprised) that the scope of our notions of diversity have centered on racial and ethnic issues. Now, to be fair, the thread IS called New Monasticism and race, and I think that race is a VASTLY important issue, especially in light of what the NM movement is trying to do.

Yet I think this post Belier, and others who’ve posted, have rightly asked what diversity means and how far it reaches–what about economic diversity, about more nuanced ethnic diversity (it goes beyond black and white!)–what about women as leaders within the new monastic community. One of the bloggers drew our attention that most of the people in the limelight in the NM conversation are white males. This is problematic–not only because of the white part, but the male part as well……

But, I’m frustrated with Beiler, and with ALL the other posts and comments on this whole long thread. Not ONCE is sexual orientation mentioned. If we are going to speak of diversity, isn’t it fair to speak of all the ways in which diversity is manifested? To leave out a major category of diversity is to reproduce a hegemony.

Now, I know the whole gay question is one a lot of people aren’t comfortable with…. its something people believe is wrong, or that they’re unsure and uncomfortable about. Fair enough.

But, like it or not, there are gay and lesbian (and bi, and transgendered, etc…) Christians who care about the same things many new monastics do and who feel entirely abandoned by the NM movement. I’m one of them.

I’m not asking that everyone agree (though that would be nice, or that people stop struggling with this significant theological issue—but know that its more than an issue, and that there are some of us who are now struggling in a different way (not with integrating our sexuality and our faith, but with dealing with the Christian community that ignores or rejects us), and getting very exhausted by continually being left out of the conversation. Many of us were so excited when the New Monastic movement started—FINALLY, we thought, there is going to be a movement that cares about the radical things we care about–about social justice, about reconciliation, about Christian community. And, in many of ways, we were right. But, we didn’t expect that we weren’t going to be invited to the table.

I found the title of this blog post very illuminating–Will Christians Lead or Follow on Questions of Diversity? Sure, we’ve finally gotten around to talking about racial reconciliation—something many thoughtful people have been doing for a long time. But, the struggle for LGBT equality (or even voice) has been happening for a long time, yet gets nearly ignored in these conversations–in this case, completely ignored.

I worry that the answer to Beiler’s question is that we are following. I hope that this is not the case, and that, regardless of our personal beliefs, we can let ALL of those who have been ignored and marginalized into the conversation.”