Showing posts with label confessions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label confessions. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Confessions of a Recovering Homophobe - Part IV

My dear readers, you've been patient with my long story of recovery. If you care to read them, you will find links to the previous posts here: Part I, Part II, and Part III.

At the end of Part III, I had just returned from a week in luxury in a southwestern city with gay friends of my sister. I called my visit with R. and H. an intervention, because I was immersed in gay society in that city. It was a life-changing experience.

Upon returning home, decompression was in order to facilitate my return to ordinary, everyday life.

R. and H. and I kept in touch sporadically through occasional email exchanges. What I did not know while I was with them is that they had been having relationship problems for some time. Several months after my visit, R. and H. split up. They had been together for 15 years, and the break-up was wrenching on both sides. After the split, I pretty much lost touch with H.

What I have not mentioned is that R. was a Republican political strategist and lobbyist. Now I have never been able to understand how a gay man or a lesbian can be a Republican. Pardon me if you read this, and you are a gay or lesbian Republican, but I don't get it at all. All I've been able to come up with regarding R., is that he cries about the gay-bashing of the Republican Party all the way to the bank.

In the months after returning home, I learned more specifics about the activities of T.'s companies. Every cause for which he lobbied and strategized, I was diametrically opposed to. I opposed every candidate in whose campaigns his companies were involved. Often the campaigning took a very low road, an appallingly low road. Frankly, I was shocked. I'm not naive enough to think that only Republicans do dirty campaigning. Democrats do it, too. The fact is that I was never personally acquainted with anyone who engaged in the activity.

Some of my good will towards R. faded. On the one hand, he dearly loved my sister, and he had done me a great favor by welcoming me royally into his home and his life, despite knowing that I had been reluctant to get too close to his - shall I say it? - "manner of life". I couldn't forget that. I couldn't forget that my stay at his house was transformational for me in a very good way.

I thought I wouldn't be seeing R. again soon, so I put the political machinations out of my mind. He was, after all, not the only one doing that kind of stuff. R. never talked about his business nor about politics while I was around. Never. I now understood why. One would need to be discreet about that sort of activity. And he knew I was a Democrat.

In the spring of 2004, my sister and brother-in-law and several gay friends who had birthdays near the same date as my sister decided to celebrate in New Orleans. My sister and BIL planned to visit us for one day during this quick trip.

A few weeks before the trip to New Orleans, my sister called and told me that R. wanted to come to my home with her and my BIL and bring his new partner N. I said, "Fine." After talking to her, I thought to myself, "How am I going to get through this visit, knowing what I know about R.'s political activities?" Poor R.; first I have a problem because he's gay, and now because he's a Republican strategist, working for causes I despise. In the midst of my fretting, I remembered St. Benedict words, "All visitors should be welcomed as Christ." Well, that settled it for me; no more fretting. I had the answer to my dilemma. My husband was not exactly thrilled to hear about the visit, but he went along.

Since ours is an empty nest, and we have not moved to a smaller house, we have bedrooms to spare. Our guests arrived, and I introduced R., and we met N., who was a absolute dear. I took them upstairs to unload their luggage and showed them the rooms and told them to sort themselves out wherever they chose. When I came back downstairs, my husband asked me who was sleeping where. I said that R. and N. had chosen our daughter's old room. He said, "That has a queen bed in it." I said, "Yes. Which room did you want them in? The one with the twin beds?" He laughed.

That evening at dinner, my sister decreed that we were not to talk politics, which was probably a good thing. My sister and BIL were both Republicans and Bush supporters. They got their news from Fox and loved Bill O'Reilly. We'd had a number of heated discussions on politics, Fox News, and Bill O'Reilly, but we found that we had to limit them, because they tended to become too hot.

During dinner, I did manage to sneak in one political question. I asked N. if he was a Bush admirer. He said, "No, I am not." I said, "Yes!" End of conversation. There we were three Democrats and three Republicans, equal in number, but no talk of politics. Once, when N. got up to help me carry things into the kitchen, we were whispering to each other about politics, so as not to disobey my sister's orders, and we heard her call out, "We hear you." Before the visit was over, N. and I managed to sneak in a few more conversations about politics.

All went well during the visit. We took them on a boat ride on the bayou and to lunch at a beautiful plantation house, and then they were off to the celebrations in New Orleans, where (God bless her) my sister managed to break her foot in the French Quarter on the uneven brick sidewalks.

That's my recovery story. Any who have stayed with me are most patient readers.

UPDATE: I spoke to R. on the phone today, and he told me that he had changed his voter registration from Republican to Independent. I told him that I was pleased. 4-23-07

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.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Confessions of a Recovering Homophobe - Part II

Now that I've done few posts on other subjects, you know that not all of my posts will be all about me - that would be tiresome, wouldn't it? - I'm back to me.

You must know that my stories do not necessarily arrive in chronological order. Part II actually takes place before Part I of The Confessions. Once again, I'm fearful of causing offense, but I don't know how to tell the story of my transformation without telling the truth. Forgive me, my gay and lesbian readers.

My beloved sister, who died last April, in a much too swift and untimely manner from pancreatic cancer, had many gay gentlemen friends. Her friends were a generation or so younger than she. She met the men through R., with whom she became friends a good many years ago, in the mid-western city where they lived. He and his partner, H., were youngish then and struggling to establish a political consulting business.

Over the years, R. became enormously wealthy from his business, or businesses, for he came to have several. He and H. bought an old house in the downtown area, and restored it magnificently. The house had a third-floor apartment, which he invited my sister and her husband to rent - for a nominal amount - to be there with their dogs when they traveled, which they did a lot.

On several occasions, I was invited to stay in the magnificent house, but I never went. To my great shame, I must tell you that I didn't go, because they were two gay men sharing a house. What is that but homophobia? I must call it that, for that is what it is.

After several years, R. and H. moved from the Midwest to a city the Southwest, buying an even more palatial house, and my sister and brother-in-law bought a house of their own.

Two or three times a year, my sister went to stay with them, and I was invited there, too, but I never went, for the same shameful reason. Finally, one spring, about three years ago, my sister was going to stay at their house for a week to care for their dogs while they were out of town. I had been through a particularly trying time in my own life, and I thought that, since my sister would be staying alone with the dogs, I'd invite myself to stay there with her for a week in the lap of luxury. After turning down all their invitations, I invited myself to their home, because they would not be there. How's that for ingratitude and chutzpah? Oh, the shame! They said fine, and I bought my plane ticket.

A few days before I was due to leave, my sister called me to say that R. and H. were not going on their trip, because they wanted to meet me. They tricked me by not leaving their own house while I was going to be there. What to do now? Nothing to do but go. If I did not go, my reason for not going would be plain - as though my decline of all their other invitations had not already made my reason quite plain.

I flew into the city in the Southwest, and after I retrieved my baggage, I saw a man in a black suit waiting for me, holding a sign with my name on it. He took my luggage and led me to the limo in which he drove me to the house. What can I say, but that I loved every minute of it. No hassle, no fuss, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

R. and H. were good-looking, hunky guys, who welcomed me warmly in spite of my past churlishness. When I look back, I hardly even recognize the person I was back then - the transformation is so great - but I must claim her as my own.

The house was something out of a fantasy, something you see in the decorating magazines, but with a definite personality of its own. They offered refreshments and afterward led me to my gorgeous room, a room with glass doors facing a private walled garden - not private to the house, but private to me - with a view of the mountains beyond the garden. The outside wall of my bathroom was glass, with the same lovely view of the garden and the mountains. I never lowered the blind in the bathroom. I figured if someone came into the garden while I was undressed - what the hell - I didn't care. The toilet was hidden away in an alcove and not visible from the outside. I would not willingly inflict a view of me on the commode on anyone.

Readers, I believe I'm going to have to break here and bring you the rest of the story in another post, or maybe even two other posts, because this is getting long, and I'm getting a pain in my neck from hunching over the keyboard. To be continued....

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Confessions of a Recovering Homophobe

My dear brothers and sisters,

I wrote the following essay on another blog nearly two years ago. As I read it over, I realize that it may cause pain to my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. However, it is an honest account of my growth and change in the way I regard gays and lesbians. The main point I'd like to make is that people can grow and change if they allow themselve to be open to the movement of God's Spirit. Here is the essay with minor editing. Before you read, remember that I wrote this two years ago, and that where I was then is not where I am now. The work of God's Spirit continues.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Confessions of a Recovering Homophobe

I was one of your garden-variety closet homophobes. I was not a gay basher, I wished gays and lesbians well; my encounters with them were cordial when our paths crossed. Along the way, I worked with and was casually friendly with a couple of gay men, whom I found to be quite simpatico. Of course, back then, they were in the closet - more or less; I knew that they were gay, but we never talked about it. I felt toward them a vague sort of "otherness", even though I liked them a lot. I saw them as having a kind of shadow hanging over them.

In August of 2003, as the Episcopal Church met at the 74th General Convention, the issue that took center stage was the vote on whether to consent to the consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. The people of the state had chosen Robinson, a gay man, who was in a committed relationship with another man, to be their bishop. My bishop voted against giving consent to Robinson's consecration as bishop. The motion to give consent passed, and Gene Robinson was subsequently consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire. At the time, I agreed with my bishop's vote; non-celibate gays and lesbians should not be ordained bishops. I did not think they should be priests, unless they were committed to lifelong celibacy. However, I could not quite put aside the thought that the Episcopalians in New Hampshire had chosen Robinson to be their bishop, and why shouldn't they have him?

As the controversy continued to swirl around, I decided to search out the references to homosexual behavior in the Bible. The source that I found most helpful was from the website of Loren L. Johns, a Mennonite. (The link to the source is no longer active.)  The Gospels, which, to me, are the heart of the Bible, are, as you know, silent on the subject of homosexual practice. Either Jesus did not mention it, or the writers of the Gospel did not think it important enough to include in their accounts of his life and teachings.

After the convention, on the local level, there was a good bit of unrest, much argument back and forth, and I soon became uncomfortable with all the focus on the private sex life of Gene Robinson. It began to seem prurient to me. Folks would say, "Do you realize what 'they' do?" I would answer, "No, I don't; do you know what Gene Robinson and his partner do? Have they told you in detail what they do?" None of the other bishops were subject to this kind of scrutiny of their private lives, so I thought that we should just let Gene Robinson's private life remain private, that it was none of my business. I don't know what he or anyone else does in private, and I don't want to know.

Think about this: it was not people who were in favor of the consecration of Gene Robinson who brought me over to their side by their persuasive arguments. The folks with whom I basically agreed were the ones who pushed me to the other side, because I was put off by their intrusiveness into the sex lives of consenting adults. I could not stand with them, so where did I go?

By the grace of God, and in a rather astonishing evolution - to me anyway - I have come to take a totally different view of gays and lesbians, not to see them as "other", but as human beings like me. In my own church, I see the contribution my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters make. I use the phrase "recovering homophobe", because I believe that prejudices do not die easily.

When Gene Robinson's name is mentioned in the media, it is often, "Gene Robinson, the practicing homosexual bishop." The phrase "practicing homosexual" becomes an ever-present appendage to his name. I see it as an affront to me to have Robinson's sex life thrust upon me every time his name is mentioned. Our local diocesan newspaper not only used this phrase, but did not even bother to use Robinson's name. He was just "the practicing homosexual bishop of New Hampshire"; he who is not to be named, I suppose. I asked the editor of the newspaper either to refer to other bishops as "practicing heterosexuals", or to stop using the phrase with Robinson.

As to the sinfulness of homosexual behavior, I'll leave that between God and the Christian homosexuals to work out. I believe this: we are all sinners. I believe the church is for sinners, for the lost sheep. Jesus said in Luke 5:32, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."