Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Confessions of a Recovering Homophobe - Part III

Parts I and II can be found here and here.

Before I could catch my breath after meeting my two hunky hosts, and before I could absorb my delight in my luxurious new digs and my amazement as I explored the rest of the compound, the guesthouse, the gorgeous patio and pool, and the tennis courts, we were whisked off to dinner with six or eight of R. and H.'s gay friends. There I was plunged headlong into gay society in that city in the Southwest. My sister, and brother-in-law, and I were the only straight folks in the group, as we were to be several other times during the visit. R. and H. knew that I needed an INTERVENTION, and they wasted no time in giving me one. They were too polite to call it that, but that's what it was.

While we were having our meal, and after a few glasses of wine, I asked R., "So, being gay is not a lifestyle choice for you?" T. answered, "Who would choose it?" I don't know, maybe some would choose it, and that's fine by me, but he's an out-of-the-closet business man, and I'm sure that his life would be easier if he were straight, therefore, for him, what he said made sense.

My next conversation was with K. K.'s story is so sad, that I want to cry when I think about it. He grew up in a strict Mormon family, so strict that the males in the family all wore "the garment", which I had never heard of before. It's a one-piece undergarment, sort of like an undershirt and boxers, but all in one piece. My grandfather used to wear something similar.

K. grew up, got married, and had two children. Well into the marriage, his wife told him that she had suspected for some time that things were not right in their marriage, that he did not love her in the way she wanted to be loved. She told him that he needed to go and be true to himself.

K. did love his wife, but not in the way that a husband loves his wife. He still loves her, and they are quite close, as he is to his children, but they are not married any longer. K. was alone and very lonely at that time. I hope by now, he's found someone to love and who loves him. He was one of the sweetest and gentlest people I have ever met.

He told the funny story of straying from the strict Mormon style of dress, and putting on shorts to go out. However, he still wore the garment underneath, and he had to be told gently that his garment was hanging out of his shorts.

All these men were lovely, interesting people, and they could not have been nicer and more welcoming to me. They took me in, whether I wanted to be taken in or not. It was a soft intervention.

For me, the week was, in may ways, my fantasy week. Before leaving home, I had looked at their city newspaper online to see what events were happening during the week I'd be there, and I saw that the opera association was having a performance of "Carmen". I love "Carmen", and I thought, "Hmm, that would be nice to do," but I decided not to make plans of my own, but left the planning up to my hosts. Soon after I arrived, I found that we had tickets for the "Carmen" production. I seemed to be in a place where your wishes came true before you even expressed them. One day, we took a beautiful drive to view desert rock formations nearby. Another day, my sister and I were treated to a facial and upper massage at a spa. The rest of the time was spent at dinners and lunches and parties with great people both straight and gay, but mostly gay, and a few quiet times hanging out at the mansion and, in my case, taking long baths, looking through the glass at my garden and my mountain view.

Our gift to them was to cook a New Orleans-style lunch for R. and H. and several friends. We decided on a Creole jambalaya, but my recipe was at home, and I could not reach my husband to have him give it to me. Fortunately, H. had a Creole cookbook with a jambalaya recipe in it, but one that neither my sister nor I had ever cooked. We made it hoping and praying that it was a good recipe. We fixed a broccoli, cheese, and almond casserole and a salad to go with the jambalaya, and it turned out delicious. Everyone loved it.

What a week! I met some of the most loving, welcoming folks I have ever met in my life, and I assure you that I was not the same person when I left, as when I arrived. Interventions? Bring 'em on! If you must undergo an intervention, do it in style. I fear that it would not take me long to become an irredeemable sybarite. I loved that life, but it was time for the limo ride back to the airport to return to the real world.

More to come.

23 comments:

  1. A remarkable story.

    At the crux is that awful word,'lifestyle.' Even before I was attuned to these things, I used that word in my dissertation (about medieval literature) and my ex-advisor (long story unto itself) said I should never use that word.

    Indeed, now that it gets applied quite freely to what I am/who I am, I abhor it all the more.

    Second to that word in these conversations is the word, 'choice.'

    So, yes, part of the journey to acceptance is the elimination of 'lifestyle' and 'choice' from discussions about sexual orientation.

    The next two words to go should be 'issue' and 'problem.'

    Thanks for your honesty.

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  2. And, Caminante, what about the luxurious "lifestyle"? That's a whole other story, but I gotta tell ya, I liked it while it lasted. Lord, have mercy.

    I don't use the word "lifestyle" any longer, except in irony.

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  3. From now on I'll stick to the Greek word: anastrophe.

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  4. Tim, that's perfect. We'll just have to remember to keep a dictionary on hand.

    Whoops! Not just an ordinary dictionary, but a Greek dictionary or a Bible dictionary. Besides, it will make you seem so smart.

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  5. Welcome to Fantasy Island! Did Tatoo follow you around?

    Random thoughts:

    1. "Who would choose it?" does not necessarily mean one would change anything about one's life. I remember that question in my mind as I sat my 2 brothers and 2 sisters down, all at the same time, to have "the talk" (I used what I called the "scorched earth" coming out process. FAST and intense -- like tearing off a bandage.)

    In the midst of battling who one is and the social and family complications it presents, most of us would likely choose something different. However, a sign that indicates full acceptance is the ability to look back and realize you wouldn't change a thing.

    2. Two lifestyles: Gospel lifestyle and not. Talk about your choices!

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  6. KJ - Gospel lifestyle and not - you have hit the nail on the head. Thank you.

    Sorry, everyone, for coming across as an academic nerd - 'anastrophe' means 'conduct' or 'manner of life'. One of the places it is used is in 1 Peter 3:16; the NRSV has 'your good conduct in Christ' and the TNIV 'your good behaviour in Christ'.

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  7. MadPriest, for instance, has a very unusual anastrophe, rummaging around in Grandmère Mimi's underwear drawer...

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  8. "Manner of life" is pretty well ruined as a useful phrase now, too, for it has come to mean only "the manner of life" that is a "challenge to the wider church".

    I guess "conduct" is still OK.

    Tim, MadPriest's anastrophe is, indeed, unusual. He did not have my permission.

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  9. Ann, thanks for that link. Wonderful stuff over there.

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  10. Well, I could quickly get used to that lifestyle you enjoyed during your visit! It sounds like a little foretaste of heaven, to me.

    How could anyone not melt under all that care and attention? Yet, I know people who would ignore everything but the "choice." It's so sad.

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  11. I don't have a lifestyle. I have a life. I wish a few more people on the Right side of the church would get one too and stop being so g**d*** interested in mine.

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  12. Elizabeth, I could not agree more. I've come a long way, baby.

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  13. Now I want a jambalaya too!

    Mimi Grams, you're just lovely.

    xoxoxo

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  14. Luiz, mon cher, I would love to cook a jambalaya for you.

    You have a new picture. You look more grown-up in this one. Hugs and kisses to you too.

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  15. Grandmere Mimi,

    I am happy that your intervention took place in such style. If it were according to my 'manner of life', all I would have been able to offer you is the foldout sleeper sofa in the Living Room and the shared toilet. Earlier in the story you spoke of needing some healing - it sounds to me as though the love of your sister and her friends was what you needed.

    Somehow the prosaic and bumptious reality of my life (for which I am very grateful mind you) are probably not what come to mind when one speaks of a 'lifestyle.'

    ;-)

    BJ

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  16. BJ, what can I say? God is good. He gave me a splendiferous intervention. Working through those folks in the Southwest, he got his message across to me.

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  17. Mimi--my epiphany came when the man I loved came out to me. It was hard and painful---but he was no less the man I loved because he was attracted to men. (Whether he should have ever married me is another question, but the church told him that he would be cured if he just married a woman and never looked at gay porn. Yeah, right....thanks a LOT!)

    Love opens so many doors. And that is why I am a Christian, as opposed to a Jew or a Buddhist. Jesus brought us that message---LIVED that message, and showed that he was willing to pay the price to love. Even to the point of forgiving the unforgivable.

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  18. Wow, Paige! That was an epiphany. But I like what you said about loving him even after he came out. He was, after all, the same man, but no longer a man with a huge secret.

    Some folks give out sorry ass advice, don't they.

    Forgiving is hard sometimes, very, very hard, but as I see it, as Christians, we have no other option. It's the love of God which comes into our hearts to enable us to do it. I doubt that I could do it on my own.

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  19. Mimi--I confess that it was much easier to forgive him for loving another man than it would have been for loving another woman! ;-)

    He's still a sweetheart. Still treats me like I could hang the moon. Still believes in his heart of hearts that, one day, he and I will be racing our wheelchairs together down the halls of the old folks' home.

    And I love his partner---who is, in a lot of ways, the male "me."

    It's funny--my straight husband never loved me nearly as much as my gay one did...

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  20. Paige, that's quite a story.

    So his partner is the male-you. Too funny. Attitude is everything, my dear, and yours is very right.

    Plus, you've kept your sense of humor.

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  21. My dear, dear Grandmère Mimi,


    It's 9am in the morning here - the day after ++Rowan didn't invite +Gene.

    Thank you so much for these confessions - they have given me so much healing this past half hour reading them - and the odd tear of empathy and joy.

    As for others, this has also been my journey. At seminary I viciously argued for celibate priesthood for gay men - and I was sleeping with men!!! Just how screwed up can we be sometimes? Thank God for Jesus and the sisters and brothers who bring us healing from all that.

    I strongly believe that my homophobia was only finally told to shut up by my falling in love with my partner.

    Thank you so so much for all this.

    I don't know how I missed reading them til today - but today was so the day I was meant to discover them....


    in Jesus,

    FB
    xxx

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  22. Freedom Bound, thank you for your lovely words. I am just now reading your comment for the first time, and I'm moved beyond what I can say. I don't know how I missed it for over 5 years.

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