Sunday, January 21, 2007

90. Friends

On New Year’s Day I got an email from an old friend of mine. We had gone to church together, and at one point had been kind of close. She, in many ways, is a kind of kindred spirit. We are both island girls who were transported to Canada at a young age, both black girls who grew up in a mostly white world, and therefore feel most comfortable in that mostly white world, while still knowing that we are outsiders (that’s a long turn of phrase, I know, but it was an important part of why her and I got along so well. Heh, both of us have had the unpleasant experience of being referred to as “whitewashed” by some of our black friends because we don’t conform to a lot of what people expect of us.) And then, of course, there is 'the mother factor'. This girl (who I will call H) and I actually became friends because our mothers became close, and both of us have had rather tumultious relationships with our mothers. The letter she sent me on New Year’s was to tell me that she had made some resolutions regarding her relationship with her mom, and it made her think of me so she was writing to let me know that she was praying for me. It was really sweet, and I was grateful.

The thing is, that was the first letter I had gotten from her in ages. Not her fault at all, I had completely let that relationship slide. The reason? I can’t handle being friends with people who don’t know I’m gay anymore. It’s just so frustrating. I feel like I’m lying, or hiding or something the entire time I’m with them. It’s irritating, and I feel ashamed or guilty (not for being gay, but for… I don’t know, deceiving them somehow), and I’m constantly feeling like I have to be on guard. It sucks and I just don’t want to do it anymore. So, I’ve let a lot of old friendships slide.

And then I got this email from H and I remembered how much I liked her and how much her friendship blessed me and I was sad. So I told her. Well, I mean I shot her back an email thanking her for her prayers, telling her a little bit about what’s going on in my life (ie: living in Korea, etc..) and then I told her I was gay. And I haven’t heard back. And I’m sad all over again. This is the first time that’s happened to me. I realize it hasn’t been that long, only a few weeks, but… well, it seems to me that she would have responded by now if she had anything to say to me so I’m thinking our friendship is over.

A few days after that email I caught another friend from that era in my life online, and came out to her as well. We were actually chatting, so I think that went okay… we’ll see. My contact with people from that stage in my life has kind of petered out (for the same reasons, none of then knew I was gay), so it could just be that they don’t feel the need to contact me or anything. But I haven’t heard from the second girl since our conversation either. I suppose it was bound to happen. My experiences with coming out have been, for the most part, quite positive. But, it still sucks to think that I may have just lost some friends. I know I wasn’t being a good friend by letting our communication slide in the first place, but I was hoping that with this ‘confession’ I would feel free and would be able to continue our friendships. We’ll see. It’s still a bit early to tell, I suppose.

In other news, I’ve made a new friend here. One of the girls from the lesbian group (who I shall call C) and I have been getting together fairly regularly. Actually, she’s not a member of the lesbian group, but she’s a friend of someone who is, and we got to talking one night and just clicked. No, I’m not interested in her, and she is not interested in me. It’s kind of funny how clear we were about that with each other the first night we got together, largely because she had just come from a situation where there was some lack of clarity on that front and it caused some problems. But it has been quite fun getting to know her. Last night we went out dancing, visiting a few of the lesbian venues that Seoul has to offer. In the first club/bar/restaurant (I’m really just not sure how to classify it) we mostly just sat and talked. And just as I don’t like being friends with people who don’t know I’m gay, I also don’t like being friends with people who don’t know I’m a Christian. My faith is important to me, and while I don’t talk about it all the time, I want to feel free to bring it up… the funny thing is, I’m more nervous coming out as a Christian to gay people than I am coming out as gay to Christians. I think it’s a result of the fact that the church has been so bad to the gay community that there is a lot of understandable bitterness. Much like I have done with a lot of my straight friends before I came out to them, I had dropped some hints to C about my faith in an attempt to see if she would be receptive. And last night when we were talking I decided to just do it… I just thought that if I’m going to be friends with her, I need to be able to talk about my faith. If I can’t ever talk about it… well, it would be just as frustrating, in fact it would be more frustrating to have to hide that part of me from her than it would to have to hide my sexuality from people… maybe cause I’m used to that, who knows. Anyway, I didn’t bring it up out of nowhere, it was in context (see, that’s the problem, my faith is often in context, so not talking about it kind of stifles my ability to communicate), so I said it in passing… using the phrase “I’m quite religious”, and just continued to explain what I was talking about (I was telling a story about something that is going on at my job), when she stopped me and said “Oh, so you are a Christian, then.” She’d caught my hints. I said yes. She then asked me “How do you reconcile that with being gay? Isn’t there a conflict there?” To which I responded, quite honestly, “I’m working on that…”

From there it got quite interesting. At least to me. It seems she grew up in a Christian home, and I’m going to guess that she comes from an evangelical tradition because she immediately slipped into the “Christianeze” that we evangelicals are so well known for, using phrases like “godly behavior” and “a lukewarm Christian”. Basically, her story is that she has left her faith because she saw no way to be both Christian and gay, and between the two… well, what most Christians don’t seem to realize is that only one of those two things is a choice. Only one of those things can be changed (for most of us) and so if you are gay and you believe that being gay and Christian are incompatible, there really actually isn’t a choice there. She actually said to me “I want someone to show me how I can be gay and Christian because I don’t want to burn in hell.” I sat there, and I hope this doesn’t come off as being too ‘holy’ or something, and thought “wow, so this is why we met.” And then I felt silly, because I really am so far from having answers… I’m still firmly planted on the fence between Side A and B… not a comfortable position, by any means. But I am also firmly convinced that there is no conflict with simply being gay and being a Christian. And there is something particularly sad to me about someone losing their faith… for any reason, really, but this reason of course holds a particular significance to me. We’ll see what happens. It could be that her faith was never that important a factor in her life, so maybe she doesn’t miss it. I just know that I would miss it, and so it breaks my heart.

We didn’t talk about that all night… only for about half an hour. We did get some dancing in, and had a good time. I’ll send her some links to some webpages… she was quite surprised to hear about the existence of other gay Christians. I think she thought I was an anomaly.

I should make it clear that even if there is no significant ‘event’ or ‘conversion’ or whatever, I’m glad to have met her. I love making new friends, and I really do enjoy her company. I don’t like the idea of ‘missionary friendships’, it seems so mercenary and heartless. I’d be friends with her regardless. And, hey, at least now I know she’ll understand if I slip into Christianeze myself.

Monday, January 08, 2007

89. My Mom Talks With God

So I just got off the phone with my mom. Always a treat! Actually, this conversation wasn’t that bad. Mostly just catching up on details. Of course, it did include the requisite reminder that I really “need to take care of my health” because I “could be a real bombshell, you know”. This is the first time she pulled out that particular adjective. It was followed by the “you have a lot to offer anyone, big or small… you have great wit”. I’m never sure how to respond to that, so I just don’t bother trying anymore.

The thing is, though, in amongst all of this she did tell me that she’s been praying for me (as a mother should, of course)… and her prayers have been centering around helping me to find the confidence to believe that I had something to offer, to believe that someone could want me, could want to be with me. I was kind of blown away by that, because, well, if you’ve read some of my recent entries, that’s totally what’s been happening to me. I’m suddenly believing that someone could want me. My mom’s prayers have been answered. Although I’m sure she would thoroughly disapprove of the way that they’ve been answered… being hit on by cute lesbians I’m sure would be at the very bottom of her list of methods to restore my confidence, right under starring in a successful porn and being kidnapped by Turkish sex-slave traders (heh, if you actually know me personally, you know that there’s a real story behind that particular example).

Funnily enough, this is the second time where my mom prayers have intersected with my lesbianism (well, the second time that I know of). The first time was right after I came out. I was traveling across Europe and I met this girl that I fell head over heels for. It was probably more intense for being the first time I let myself be aware of my feelings for a girl. I fell hard. Completely and totally in love. And she was as straight as can be. It wasn’t that I thought we could be together, at this point in my life I was quite certain about celibacy being my only option. But she started being really cold towards me (probably because she began to sense the intensity of my emotion) and really hurt me. Kind of broke my heart. I remember being in Amsterdam, in an internet cafĂ©, holding back my tears (I had just come back from the airport where I had seen her off, and she had given me a very perfunctory hug, sort of dismissed me) when I got an email from my mom saying that she had been praying for me and had sensed that I had met (or would meet, she was unsure of the exact timing) someone who would hurt me really badly and she was praying that God would comfort me through this time. I just stared at the screen. God had told my mom that I would fall in love and be hurt… I remember thinking it was amazing that God cared about it, even though it was a ‘gay hurt’, if that makes any sense.

I never told her about it, about the girl who broke my heart, and how her prayers bore fruit. Just like I never plan to tell her how her prayers for a restoration in my confidence have borne fruit. But there it is. My mom my talks with God. That’s a good thing. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I believe that everything she says is gospel truth. A lot of her prayers are, I’m sure, colored by her own desires for me, and that’s fine. All of our prayers are filtered through us. But it’s neat to see that, even though she probably wouldn’t see it as an answer to prayer, God is listening to her. At least, I think He is.