Monday, April 17, 2006

62. Stuff

Did I ever tell you all about the therapist my mom and I went to to deal with our ‘stuff’? We had this two week fight, which I ended by saying “Okay, I’m done talking about this now, we need to see a therapist.”

Well, we found one who lived pretty much right in between us (2 hours away from me, 3 hours away from my mom) and we went to see her twice. She was quite sick then, she actually at one point cancelled two appointments because she was unable to see us. I was originally quite hopeful about the appointments but then, well, they sort of turned out to do more harm than good. Part of the reason was that we were only able to see her 3 times, which just isn’t enough to get through anything significant. Another reason was that during one of her private meetings, my mom told her that I was gay. This honestly, had nothing to do with our problems (we were dealing with communication issues that go back to pretty much preschool), but it of course became this huge issue. During one of our private meetings, the therapist talked all around the ‘gay issue’, until I just said “Just to clear the air, I’m assuming my mom told you I’m gay”.

She told me my mom had alluded to the ‘issue’, and so I told her that a)I didn’t think it had anything to do with our communication problems and b)I’m celibate so there is no way it’s relevant to any aspect of what I was there to talk about (ie: relationship issues). She actually seemed quite positive in that meeting, telling me that she had gay friends, one of whom had helped her a lot when she was going through a particularly low period (he took her in when her husband left her)… she also used the phrase ‘coming out of the closet’ to talk about accepting the reality of various situations in my life. I got the impression that she was ‘gay positive’, which I kept to myself because I didn’t want my mom to find out – she would have been quite upset to think that.

One of the things that kept getting brought up was my weight (not by me or the therapist, but by my mother). It was frustrating to say the least, I was trying to talk about our communication, and my mom kept just saying over and over again “I think she needs to lose weight.” It was like talking with a plant. And she’s right, you know, I’m what I’ve referred to as a “bigger black woman”, and I know I should lose weight, but again, it was irrelevant to the issue at hand. Anyway, the reason I bring that up is because my mom recently called this therapist and found out that she’s dying. Like I said, she was quite sick, so it doesn’t come as a surprise, but it is sad. She was sweet. Well, she and my mom spoke for a few minutes and apparently this woman’s last words of advice for me are this (as relayed by my mother, who I don’t think would lie about a woman’s dying words): “Tell JJ I’m not worried about her weight. I am worried about the gay thing. I worry about her going into a gay lifestyle. I’ve worked with people like that and those people will chew you up and spit you out. As long as she’s celibate I wouldn’t worry.”

I don’t want to speak ill of the almost dead, but what? Those people? Like the kind who took her in when her straight husband abandoned her? Like one of my best friends from high school, who has comforted me so many times when my mom was driving me batty, who has been with her girlfriend for 6 years now? Like one of my dear gay guy friends who helped me accept who I am and learn to not hate myself?

And that those were her last words to my mother? That sucks. I know that will come back and bite me in the ass at some point. I can hear my mother saying, “Even _________ knew that this was an unhealthy state of being. Do you remember her last words of advice to you? She knows about ‘those people’. She worked with them. Do you want to be like that?”


Of course, she did go on to tell me how 'proud' she was of me for making the 'right decisions', saying that I have always done that. She mentioned an incident when I was seven when someone gave me a Smurfs game and I willingly threw it out because my mom believed that Smurfs were evil. I didn't really care about the game because I didn't watch the show so it wasn't the best present to give me. I was more worried about what the person who gave the present to me would think. I now think it was kind of ridiculous that I wasn't allowed to watch the Smurfs because, really, it was just a cartoon about little blue creatures. But my mom was apparantly really proud of me back then.

Oh, and I know I told you about that ‘healing week’ I went to, well my mom’s going to one. And here’s the really messed up part. They’re giving her the same counselors as they gave me. Isn’t that warped? The thing that’s annoying is that I was supposed to follow up with those women, but as I only really went to make my mom happy, and I kind of moved to the other side of the planet shortly afterwards, I didn’t bother. And now I have to figure something out, cause she’ll be pissed.

In other completely non personal news, have you heard about this? Faith in America: Religion Based Bigotry, Let’s End it Now and Forever. I think it’s a really cool idea, but I know what people like my mother would say. She will say it’s evidence of the homosexual agenda rearing its head in the church. That these people are obviously not real Christians, etc… You know what I would like to see? Some more moderate conservatives like Tony Campolo (even though I know some dismiss him entirely). I would like to see a Christian who believes that homosexual behavior is a sin who doesn’t feel the need to use that belief to trample on the rights of others. I mean, don’t most evangelicals believe that premarital sex is a sin? Yet they don’t try to make it illegal, because that would be absurd. Most Christians realize that they can’t expect people who believe differently from them to live according to our rules. Why do they find this particular issue so important? So vital to our survival as Christians?

Anyway, I’m exhausted. Willie Hewes asked me if I got an Easter Break, and I didn’t. Which is kind of funny considering that one of the first things my boss told me (really, he bragged about it) was how much more Christian Korea was than Canada, yet they don’t take a holiday for Easter… no Good Friday, let alone Easter Monday (although, to be fair, I’m pretty sure only Canadians have Easter Monday… we love our long weekends!) And the hilarious thing was that none of the kids had even heard of Easter… not even the Easter Bunny… they did have a missionary in, so I’m assuming he explained, but it was in Korean so I have no idea.

Well, I’m off to bed now. Night all!

Friday, April 07, 2006

61. What's Sex Got To Do With It?

Coming out to someone is always an interesting process. If it wasn’t for the anxiety it causes, I’d do it all the time because the different responses people have are fascinating. I’ve had more than one person feel the need to confess something “equally intimate”, and am therefore the bearer of some rather awkward secrets.

As an aside (I am fond of asides, eh?) I just had the most blasé coming out ever. Well, it happened a few weeks ago, but still. I mentioned a little while back that one of my co-workers (who I shall creatively call S) was moving in next door. Based on some stuff she had said at work I was fairly certain that she would be ‘cool with it’… you know, my being gay. I no longer feel comfortable living in a world where no one knows so, a couple of days after she moved in, when we were going over our collective music collections and she noticed my Ani Difranco CD’s, I told her. The conversation went something like this.

S: “Ani Difranco! I love Ani Difranco. She is awesome! Ooooh, I don’t have this one…”

Me: “Mmmhmmm… I’m gay…”

S. “Cool. Can I borrow this one?”

Me: “Sure.”

So, that was pretty easy. She has since followed true to form for all of the non-Christian women I’ve come out to and mentioned some same-sex attractions she has felt. I don’t know if she mentioned those things because she knows I’m gay or not, but it’s an interesting pattern.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because my last post got me thinking about some things… about sexuality and what it actually means. You probably don’t see a connection because you don’t live in my brain. Let me explain. One of the first people I came out to had a very intriguing response. After affirming that she continued to love me, she actually went on to wonder why my sexuality was such a big deal… after all, she was “only a sexual person for about an hour a day.”

My first thought was “Every day? For an hour? That’s pretty impressive.” My next thought was, “Wait a minute. I know that sexuality is more than sex, because I am not having sex and my sexuality is still a huge part of me.”

I explained things to myself by saying that my sexuality then obviously was wrapped up in lust… but time has changed things. As I have become more open about being gay with myself and my close friends, my lust issues have diminished drastically… as I mentioned before, it’s been a bit of a shock. I’m not saying that I’m perfect, I’m just saying that self-control is a lot easier now. When you add that up with the fact that I haven’t been seriously attracted to anyone in a long time, a question comes to the fore. I am not having sex, I am not experiencing lustful, or even romantic feelings… so what is my sexuality doing? Is it gone? Is it dormant?

I was debating recently whether or not to come out to my church family as a whole (not sure how that would work, exactly… an announcement in the bulletin? Not bloody likely) because I was feeling very frustrated by being in the closet. I was trying to explain to a good friend why this would be important and it was really hard to explain. Why do people need to know who I’m drawn to romantically when, in fact, right now I’m not drawn to anyone at all? My sexuality really has no relevance to most of my relationships at church, so why do I care? I just do because I know that my sexuality is more than just sex. This, of course, is something that straight people don’t really think about because their experience is the norm… and no one ever really asks them to deny or suppress their sexuality – even demanding abstinence is not suppressing sexuality, because an abstinent heterosexual is still permitted to feel, and even to enjoy and explore their attractions, something that most Christians would rather we gays don’t do.

Incidentally, the way that I solved this debate (about whether or not to come out) was to think about it really hard, and then move to the other side of the planet. I’m a real problem solver!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this for the last week or so, ever since my post about Marvin Bloom, and why he seems smothered to me. Well, it turns out that Peterson got wind of my post and put a section of it on his blog and lo and behold, there were comments… and one of them addressed this very issue. It was written more eloquently than I could ever hope to, so I’m just going to copy and paste it here. Kurt T wrote:

“Here is an analogy that might work, or it might make me sound like a nut. Once I had a semi-severe back injury. Well, not like I had to go into the hospital or something, but it took a while to recover.

And the funniest thing about having a back injury is you never realize until your back doesn't work anymore all the things that you were using your back muscles for, and now you can't do those things. Like you can't get out of a chair. You can't pull weeds. You can't reach the stuff on the top of the refrigerator. You drop your keys on the floor, forget it. They're gonna stay on the floor.

And then you say to yourself "That's funny. It never occurred to me I needed my back to do any of that stuff."

To me, that's kind of what happens when you suppress your sexuality. You think that your sexuality is just something you use when you're on a date, or having sex or looking around for a hook up, but really you need your sexuality for lots of other stuff. Your creativity, your passion, your appreciation of a beautiful spring day or the sound of a clarinet playing "Begin the Beguine." Your sexuality is part of what makes all of that happen.

You don't think about it. You're not really aware of it, but your sexuality is part of the complex formula that brings all that joy into your life. As Edith Piaf would say "Oui, la vie, c'est l'amour, et l'amour, c'est la vie."

So when Marvin represses his sexuality, he's really repressing a lot more than he bargained for.”

I want to pose this question to anyone who stumbles upon this blog. What do you think sexuality is? Do you think it is something that merely comes into play during ‘sexual activity’? If so, can you explain why you think that? And if you think it is more, can you elaborate as to how and why? Kurt’s response was awesome, but I would love to hear more.

Oh, and another aside. It seems that Marvin got wind of my last post about him and was kind of upset. I never meant to upset him, as a matter of fact, I never posted a comment to one of his posts for that reason. I’ve asked Peterson to convey my apologies for hurting his feelings. Oh… and if you listen to this particular post, I just want to let you know that I am not a gambler (never even bought a lottery ticket), nor am I a man. Just wanted to clear that up.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

60. Neutered

Okay, this is my second attempt at writing this post. I just completely lost it… no idea where it went. It’s not like my computer froze or anything… the post just disappeared. Weird.

Anyway, these thoughts aren’t new ones. I was just over at Peter Toscano’s blog, catching up on the adventures of Marvin Bloom – and just to put all my cards on the table, every time I listen to one of his audio posts I can’t help but wonder if he’s for real – I mean, the exgay guy goes on his first heterosexual date, and the girl turns out to be a lesbian! That’s got to be a joke right? Anyway, if he’s for real, right now he’s taking that girl through his ex-gay stuff to help stop being a lesbian.

It got me thinking about how just a few short years ago I was really aching to be ‘fixed’. My main beef with God and life in general was that I wasn’t being made straight, no matter how I begged and pleaded and believed. I remember in one of my meetings with one of my old pastors, she told me to stop using the word ‘fixed’ because she couldn’t help think that I was asking to be neutered, and that was kind of gross.

The thing is… now I think that was kind of what I was asking for. I mean, I don’t think that’s what I meant, but I think that’s what it would amount to. I listen to Marvin Bloom, and I think that if he is for real, then I wish him well… but I also worry, because he seems unwell emotionally… and spiritually too, actually. Like something significant is being smothered in him… like he’s only using half of his person. I don’t really know how to explain it any better. I think you’ll hear what I mean if you listen to his posts. You know how when you neuter a cat, it gets kind of sluggish? It’s kind of like that. Not that he’s sluggish, but part of him is.

If you had asked me a few years ago if I wanted to be straight, the answer would have been a very quick and emphatic “yes”. Now, the answer is a fairly certain “no.” (Not completely certain, but simply because I like to remain open to all possibilities.) And that “no” is not because I have anything against being straight, or even that I think that “God made me this way”, but because I think that if I were to suddenly become straight, I would end up being a completely different person. Being gay is such a central part of me (just like being straight is central to any straight person) that if that were to be removed, I have no idea what would be left. I can’t even say that I wish I could go back to the beginning of my life and just be straight from then on, because I don’t know what that would look like, and I have no idea what that version of me would want at all.

I am who I am, and I’m fairly at piece with that. I just need to know what to do with myself. I was looking over one of my old journals and found this sentence today. "I suppose I could pray that God would take away the feelings, but that seems wrong and somehow backwards - like asking God to remove my knee because it hurts right now." It's amazing how we grow and change, eh?

In other news, I took that personality test that Liadan and E were took and found out that I’m a Considerate Experiencer. It was a fun test, and seems rather accurate to me. The one thing I would want to point out is that my femininity rating was quite high – 90%. The only reason I want to point this out is because so many people think that being gay means that you have gender identity issues. Yes, I have some masculine characteristics, but they are mostly external things (ie: wearing pants, not wearing makeup, not sitting with my knees pressed together, etc…). Any personality test I’ve ever taken that has had a masculine/feminine rating, I have always scored crazy high in my femininity… I remember one test in high school I actually scored at 150% female. The guest speaker who administered that test had never seen a score like that before. She actually made me take it again, and added the score up herself.