“Fighting Hate, Teaching Tolerance, Seeking Justice” – Visiting With The SPLC

SPLC group shot

This trip happened a few weeks ago. I had written about this on my Facebook page but wanted to embed it here on the blog too. Memorable, inspiring.

His Love Destroyed My Closet

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Truly, a very large number of people have supported and encouraged me since coming out. Former Exodus leaders, even some who are still in that type of ministry, have been a big (and sometimes surprising) blessing. Of course my close friends at Grace Church have been fantastic. They truly are safe people who have proven once again they are trustworthy and some of the most loving people I have ever met. Plus, there has been a large outpouring of love and forgiveness from the gay community. I am deeply grateful.

It’s been overwhelming (in a good way) and I plan to blog more about that in time. There have been plenty of really good experiences to process.Today however, I want to discuss some of the negative messages I have gotten the past couple of weeks. These messages repeatedly remind me of “the closet” that is a metaphor for the oppression and stigma that gay people have suffered for far too long.

A Tribute To Michael

I love and miss you Michael...

Two years ago today one of the best friends a man could have, Michael P, passed away by his own hand. When it happened, his family, our mutual friends, all of us were shocked and completely devastated. I remember crying for what seemed like forever.

Initially, I desperately held on to a dream I had shortly after his passing that completely reframed the situation. In it, Michael came to me, held my hand, and we sat on a bench. He was radiant and he sang the most beautiful otherworldly song. I believe our Heavenly Father allowed that to happen so that I would remember the beautiful Michael and not let the tragedy of suicide define him in my mind. Holding his strong hand, hearing his amazing song. It was so clear, so vivid, and beautiful.

For the longest time it was hard to get past the mourning to remember all the good without sobbing my eyes out. This past year that began to change. Now I can remember and enjoy memories of Michael without being lost in the sadness. With 23 years worth of wonderful memories, I have more than the dream to bring to mind and focus on.

Michael and I dated for a few months at the beginning of our 23 year friendship but quickly realized we were better as friends than as a dating couple. I say that only because it reveals how much I trusted him, completely. He was an amazing man. He was always respectful, tender-hearted, attentive, and quick to help. He and our little crew taught me many life-giving principles including unconditional love. I honestly think it was with them that I first heard those two words ever used together as well as experience it first-hand.

Michael was also a magnificent blend of wisdom and hilarity. He would say something so profound and then just so… irreverent! I will *never* forget his great laugh. Makes me chuckle as I type this.

He also had an astonishing intellect/analytical side. I have no doubt that after meeting Jesus and checking in with the Archangels, one of Michael’s first appointments was to meet CS Lewis and the Apostle Paul at the Pearly Gates Coffee Shop. I imagined he had a list of topics to talk about and ideas they might want to consider :).

::: enjoying that picture in my mind :::

So, now the water-works start. The tears are coming from a loving place, a warm and grateful heart.

I love you Michael. I miss you so much my friend. I choose to celebrate your memory and continue to learn from you through our memories. I take comfort knowing the Lord has already wiped every one of your tears away and I look forward to hearing your laugh ring out in heaven.

…And you better save me a spot at the Pearly Gates Coffee Shop!

1381826_10151703408487734_841618918_nToday I am making a modest contribution to the Trevor Project in honor of Michael P. I am also going to make this a monthly pledge of support as well. From their website, “The Trevor Project was founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.”

Please join me in supporting The Trevor Project with a one time gift or signing up for their easy to use automatic recurring monthly support option. Thank you.

Man In The Mirror Moments & The Question Of Forgiveness

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Friends, today Ben Patrick Johnson graciously accepted my invitation to write a guest blog post. I extended the invite with full confidence that he would be honest, clear, and civil. I asked him if he would be willing to write about my coming out and what he felt were the issues that this might represent. I didn’t suggest what those issues would be, and trusted him to write from his heart. His post below is the result and completely unedited. Thank you so much for writing this Ben. – Randy

There are moments in life when we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see. In a blush of painful self-honesty, we realize we’ve been making choices that are not in the best interest of ourselves or those around us. We may have hurt others with our actions; we have almost certainly hurt ourselves.

A friend of mine once said, “Some people just travel the road to hell. Me, I bought property.” I, for one, have certainly bought property on this road. I’ve made foolish and cowardly choices. I’ve taken shortcuts, moral and practical. I’ve lied. I’ve been an enabler for bad behavior of friends and family, feeding (and funding) folly in the hope they would love me more.

I am flawed.

We are flawed.

So what we do when we have these mirror moments? Do we sit with the discomfort then take steps to improve our behavior? Or do we look away, distract ourselves with a drink or a toke or chocolate cake, go on a shopping spree, gamble, or jump out of an airplane? Most often, it seems, we jump to self-soothing, distraction and denial. But every once in a while we find courage to face our own shortcomings and poor choices, and make material changes in our lives as a result of this self-reflection.

Thank You For Your Feedback

My post about being gay has generated more emails, comments, and messages then I can respond to in a timely manner. I will try to respond as soon as I can either directly or through follow-up blog posts. For those of you who have sent along encouragement, support, and honest heartfelt rebukes :)… I am grateful. I do read everything that comes in and appreciate the time you have taken to contact me. Your feedback is incredibly important. Thanks again, and have a great day.

A Peaceful Disclosure – I Am Gay

peaceful disclosure

I have read many stories of people who have “come out again” or accepted they are gay after some time in the ex-gay world. Many of their stories are compelling and well-written. But, sometimes I wish they would get to the point right off the bat. Just say it and then tell the story. So that is what I am going to do: I am gay.

Now take a deep breath (talking to myself here), and here is more of the story for those interested.

What Led To This Post?

The past six or so years have presented an opportunity to question my beliefs and evaluate my experiences without an idealized agenda. Then in 2011, as a result of all the turmoil that erupted at Exodus International (my former employer from 2002 to 2013), I began to dig deep and ask hard questions. Who am I? What do I make of my journey to date? How does God view me, my state of being? I questioned/pondered/re-examined all this and more again. Then in January of 2013, a man named Michael, someone I dated for a little while 24 years ago committed suicide. We remained good friends up until his death. His death was shocking and I still mourn his passing. Michael had several difficult issues contributing to his suicide, and I know he also struggled with his faith and sexuality. His death shook me to my core and made all the questions I had been asking were even more stark, consequential, and pressing. After being laid off from Exodus International (as a part of closing it down) in August of 2013, I began to have the personal space to think things through without distraction or filters.

Parallel to all this was a deepening and expanded understanding of God’s grace. These factors get more specific and complicated, but I think that the above describes the gist of how I began to come to the conclusions that I present in this post. I could have written this post last summer but was discouraged by some feedback I received. Regardless, I needed to pray and think it through a little while longer. Now is the time to do this. There is more about my motivations later in this post, too.

Grace Underway – Update

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I am four days short of not having posted anything to the blog in a month! I have missed you my little blog {{{HUGS}}}!

New Job

I started a new online content and social media job on November 17th. I love it! At first I was working on my personal clients after work hours. Basically I ended up working umpteen hours a day. This resulting in simply having no time to write for my blog or create any new artwork.

It’s too long to try to explain, and probably not that interesting to others, but I am gently transitioning my ongoing personal clients to the client list at my new job. That way I can do what I am doing for them during normal working hours along with all the other fun stuff I get to do for my new employer. As this transition happens I am starting to regain some personal creative time. It feels good to get some time for personal writing and art.

By the way, I know I have mentioned it but if it needs to be said again, I LOVE my new job. LOVE it. Since it is exactly what I was doing while self-employed plus other fun creative projects … love it. I love my new boss. I love the work environment; all of my office friends…it’s just great. And look at my company car:

 

Ok… truth be told … that is not my company car. SO sorry for that little fib :). I don’t have a company car and I drive a humble Ford … that I am very grateful for :). However, because of the new gig, I enjoyed being a worker-bee at a very fancy/nice/hoity-toity event Friday night. I got to stand next to sparkly things like this McLaren P1. Santa got a whopper of a Christmas list from me this year!

Health & Fitness Update

Over Thanksgiving I have taken a break from creating the weekly badges/videos about my health and fitness updates. This may extend through the rest of the holidays. Like last year, I am *not* going to be strict with my diet during the holidays. I am still tracking what I eat, still listening to my body, still exercising 4 to 5 times a week … but not being strict or feeling guilty for enjoying holiday parties and meals. I spent too many holiday seasons feeling guilty about eating too much at every event. Whether I ate too much or not, I always felt guilty. Last year was the first time (in a long time) I didn’t feel guilty while not giving up all the good that I have learned either. This year is the same. I am enjoying time at parties and meals while naturally employing/enjoying what I have learned.

I am going to enjoy the holidays by keeping a healthy perspective without guilt tripping myself into temporary behavioral adjustments. Legalism can rob the joy out of just about everything and is only good for producing temporary shame-based behavioral modification.[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] Grace produces freedom to enjoy personal responsibility and informed stewardship. This is the path to a healthy life.[/inlinetweet]

Spiritually

The last few years have been difficult, and wonderful. Interesting how those two descriptors often go hand in hand. I was telling a friend over coffee yesterday that I am just over here “living my little celibate life, and trying to not be an a*hole.” He thought that was funny and should be the title of my memoir if I ever get it written. I love Jesus, He loves me. We’re good because He’s Wonderful.

Well, I think that is it for this post. I will continue to blog when I can. I appreciate you. I would love to hear how you are doing or any thoughts you may have in the comments below. You can also contact me privately (on social media or here.)

Much love,

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A Halloween Street Party Adventure

Graphic Credit: Dexter's

Graphic Credit: Dexter’s

I looked at my friend John and said, “Her Pirate costume defies the laws of physics.”

I seriously do not know how she could breathe, much less remain contained within her costume’s …umm… frame. In other words, it was super skimpy tight and she had a LOT to contain …

I will stop there.

My friend John was visiting from out-of-town this past weekend and we went out to have a cigar. The cigar bar, Coronas, is in a little strip of restaurants that is a popular area in Lake Mary. While there, they had sectioned off one of the side-streets for a Halloween street party. Pirate Girl, excuse me, Pirate Woman! (hear her AAARRGH!) was one of the early arrivals.

We stood around and I had a blast people-watching. There was plenty to observe as I stood there bopping around to the music. John seemed to enjoy the experience as well but left long before I did.

Y’all, these people were amazing …

Regaining Clarity: Back To Blogging & Work Update

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After what felt like a jolt of clarity, Saturday I mentioned on my personal Facebook profile that I made an important decision. The decision was about my work situation.

About a month ago I started a new administrative position with a local chiropractor’s office. Their practice is only open three days a week and the first two weeks I only worked one day. At the time I thought it would be the perfect part time job, and the money was decent for a part-time position.

So when the doctor hired me, I stopped looking for another position. I respect the doctor and had a great time with his client’s but I will confess, it was difficult for me on several levels. It was tough, humbling, and yet something determined to make work. I am not one to give up. The Doctor said that I was doing a good job. The woman training me stated I was “a natural.” They were both so encouraging, but I kept coming home prayerful. I kept trusting that that God will manifest His will, and that my limited view would not stifle my talents.

It was disappointing that I did not have any time to do any writing either. I had not written anything for my blog or book in almost a month. I had not been creating any new artwork either. It was disheartening to not be able to see those “loves” on the horizon.

Then something happened that was like a jolt back to reality. A friend contacted me and said that he thought I would be able to help one of his clients. He and I have worked together in the past (he builds fantastic high-end websites). The person he connected me with owns a PR firm in the area. We connected the next day, and had a fantastic phone conversation. I met with the PR firm exec on Saturday morning and two hours later they had hired me for a trial of thirty days. This also has the potential to turn into something more (and fun) with their firm.

Murray and Mohamed: Team M & M

shirt tie

Last week I began to look for a part to full-time job. After submitting my resume to a number of places, I had an interview last Friday. As I was planning for the interview, I thought I had some nice skinny clothes in the deep recesses of my closet from 2006; leftovers from the last time I briefly lost a lot of weight.  When I went to the deep recesses of my closet, it turns out that those clothes were actually too big or too worn out to wear again … EIGHT years later! What was I thinking?

So I went shopping and couldn’t find crap.

Somewhat late into the evening I went to a kind of expensive men’s store. I was desperate. It was there that I met Murray and Mohamed. Yes, that is their real first names and they had to have been in their 60’s. Both looked dapper in their suits. Murray was a skinny man who looked like he would be the cool empathetic counselor/artistic type of Uncle. Mohamed was all business, small in frame, warm but very intentional eyes. Also, Mohamed had no problem upending everything to get me the exact right size.

They had a lot of folding to redo after I left.