Sunday, November 30, 2008

132. A Good Week

Once again, it’s been a while. But I’ve had a good week so I thought I’d tell you about it.

It began on Saturday (last Saturday) when I went to this weird sort of conference thing on very little sleep and because of that was unable to conform to normal socially acceptable behaviour… by which I mean that there was a very attractive girl there that I couldn’t seem to stop myself from staring at. The amount of times I had to actually verbally tell myself to move my eyes so I didn’t seem creepy is a little embarrassing, but I was just so tired I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing. The staring wasn’t the good part though… the good part happened at the end of the day when I was heading to the refreshment table to see if there was anyway I could mainline caffeine (I was seriously fading) and she grabbed my arm as I passed her and asked for my email address. I sort of stared at her, because it well… it didn’t make any sense. We hadn’t spoken more than 2 sentences to each other, we weren’t sitting near each other… I sort of had the feeling I was imagining it. But I wasn’t. I’m still not sure why she did that, and I don’t know if she is gay or not. I’ve written her and haven’t heard back yet… but still. It’s likely that absolutely nothing will come of that, but it was nice just the same.

Oh, and then there was Thursday, where I did my planet craft with my afternoon kids (basically painted styrofoam balls, glitter and sequins, nothing too elaborate, but a very exciting craft nonetheless. They look awesome hanging in the room). It’s a very messy craft and definitely needed extra hands to stop things from turning into chaos… so I asked the mom from the morning group that I happen to have a bit of a crush on to help out. Actually, it’s not as creepy as all that, she had asked me if she could ever come in and volunteer in the afternoon, and this opportunity presented itself. The fact that I happen to enjoy her is simply accidental. But it was a good afternoon, we get along very well. I’m hoping this crush goes the way of all my straight girl crushes and simply dissipates, leaving a friendship behind it. Because aside from her hotness (and adding to it, I’m sure) I think she’s awesome and it would cool to hang out with her.

Anyone who knows me personally who is reading this blog is probably wondering why I left out the most exciting thing that happened this week… and well, it’s just that I was saving the best for last. I went to see Ani DiFranco on Tuesday! She played in Montreal, so I took Tuesday afternoon off so I could go early and line up… and that’s what I did. And I ended up in the front row, front and center. It was absolutely incredible. I’m still on a high from it. It was a phenomenal show. I’ve been gushing about it for days. And I came home and I’ve been watching my Ani DVDs to keep it all going. And all this Ani input has had the effect it always does on me, my creative juices have started flowing and I’ve written the first poem that I’ve written in years. I mentioned a long while back that maybe I’d post some of my poetry and so I’ve decided to post this one. It’s in its infancy though… barely edited so be gentle with it, okay?

It’s sunny and warm
With a sweet kiss of a breeze
Leaves are turning into
Rainbows on trees.
I’m slow dancing with myself
But I don’t know how to lead
I’d follow your moves,
But you’re not dancing with me
So I spin in slow circles
Enjoying the movement
Not thinking of tomorrow
Or getting pulled into the current

or getting stuck in the sediment
mired in the regiment
of my daily multivitamin
and not letting other people in

…it’s a wondrous scary place I’m in.
…the dangerous side of contentment

Now is like aspartame
Initially sweet
With an aftertaste of fear
That keeps the edge on my teeth

I keep promising myself
Something better tomorrow
But tomorrow keeps turning back into today
But today ain’t so bad
So I keep letting it slide
Though I know nothing is going to get better that way

The sun in the air
And the leaves on the trees
Keep lulling me into
A dreamless sleep
And I’m happy for now
Cause it’s more than I need
But I am aware
That this feeling won’t keep

Anyway, that’s that. I’ll leave you with another Ani clip… some real poetic genius. I rediscovered this song of hers about a month ago. She has so many albums and so many songs that I’m always rediscovering something of hers. This isn’t a clip from the show I saw, but this is what she closed the Montreal show with. So… enjoy what I enjoyed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

131. Life

It turns out that having a full time job, going to the gym 3 times a week and taking guitar lessons means I don’t blog very much. Sorry.

So… I’ll fill you in on my life a bit now.

Work: I love my job. It’s exhausting, and occasionally emotionally draining, but so incredibly rewarding… and fun. Aside from some minor personality issues with my coworkers, and the relatively low pay, it’s honestly a perfect job. And the personality issues mostly just roll off my back. I play every day, and get hugs and kisses every day, and told that I’m loved/awesome/funny/supercool or other such wonderful affirming things by children who don’t lie every day. As I said, it can sometimes be emotionally draining. The preschool I teach at is a Head Start preschool, meaning that the vast majority of our kids come from low income families, several of them actually come from a nearby emergency housing shelter… all of these things combine to mean that many of the kids come from less than ideal home situations to say the very least. Today, for example, one of our little pieces of precious showed up with bruises on her face that suspiciously resembled a hand print, and when asked what happened her response was “Mommy”… it’s hard not to cry sometimes.

In other completely non-serious work related news, my crush on Hot Mom shows no sign of waning. I’ve gotten to know her more, because her son is in my group, and her awesomeness has not helped the situation. It’s just a crush though, no need to worry about the state of my heart.

Life in General: Well… as I mentioned, I’m going to the gym 3 times a week, working with a personal trainer that was a (somewhat insulting) gift from my mother. It’s rough work, but I actually have come to somewhat enjoy it… or perhaps just not hate it. There are results, I feel healthier and stronger, and well… I am getting smaller, very slowly, but it’s happening.

The guitar lessons were my birthday present to myself. I really wanted to take guitar lessons when I was little, and I asked my mom, but she was really stuck on piano… and trombone. I had to take trombone lessons for years, Torture. But the guitar lessons are fun. I have callouses on my fingertips, which makes me feel all rock-and-roll… although the fact that the first song I figured out how to play on my own is “Listen to the Water” – a kids’ song we sing at the preschool a lot… so not so much rock and roll.

So… my life is going good. I’m on a bit of a happy cloud right now because I just found out that one of my heroes – Ani Difranco – is going to be playing in Montreal in a month, and I just got tickets! And this time I’m going to get good seats. Last time I saw her, I ended up way at the back and I’m short so I couldn’t see a thing – well, beyond the backs of the people in front of me. At one point the guy beside me turned and said something to the effect of “I bet you wish you were wearing heels, eh?”, I responded truthfully “I’m wearing 3 inch platforms!” Yeah, I’m short. It’s first come first serve for seating, so I’ll be getting there early… I’m going to be right up front. At least, that’s the plan.

Oh, and I’m planning on going the GCN conference again this year. I’ve already started scouting out tickets… quite excited about it.

So, yeah… making plans. I know I’ll be here at least until the summer, despite the fact that the guy whose job I took at the preschool (I didn’t take it from him, he moved to the UAE) is trying to get me to come and teach with him for the next term. Turns out the school he’s at is short of teachers. I did say I would follow him if he and his wife recommended it, but I don’t want to leave my job until I’ve been there for at least a year… besides, as I said, I’m really enjoying it. Honestly, if it paid more I might even consider remaining in the country for a few years! It’s not that I am money hungry or anything, I just need to pay off my mortgage as quickly as possible… it feels like a weight around my neck. Once it’s paid off I can teach anywhere… fulfill my dream of going to the developing world and teaching there again.

Gay stuff: Honestly, not much going on on this front. I had all kids of blog related thoughts, but work and life seems to have pushed them aside in my brain. I am on a mailing list for a local group for queer women, but thus far there have been no events… However, there is one planned for November 8th, so hopefully I can meet some people there. I know this is not Korea, and I shouldn’t expect it to be anything like Korea, but well… I sort of have this expectation (that was born in Korea) that if I can just get my foot in the door of the dyke community here then I’ll suddenly have this whole new network of people and events. We’ll see what happens after November 8th. So far, as far as I can see, only myself and the organizer have agreed to go… it’s just a gathering at a local desert place, so it’s pretty low key, which is fine by me.

Oh, I did just come out to another of my Christian friends. A friend I was particularly nervous about coming out to because she’s pretty conservative, and also pretty direct. I didn’t give her much chance to respond… I didn’t mean to do this, I was just nervous, but I sort of blurted it out at the end of a phone conversation. She really didn’t know what to say, except that it didn’t change anything in our relationship, which is cool. Maybe we’ll talk about it more another time. Who knows.

Well, that’s it… that’s my life. Not too interesting, but full. And fun. And satisfying.

I'll leave you with a taste of what I'm going to get in about a month... this is my favourite song off of Ani's lastes album... at least, it's my favourite right now. that will probably change in a day or so. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

130. Vote

It may not feel as important as the American election, but it's election day in Canada today and it is important, so if you are Canadian and you are reading this... go vote. And if you are American and reading this well... go and vote in, like a month from now or whenever your election is. And if you're from somewhere else, well, vote when you can. I just voted in my pajamas... the voting station is in the lobby of my building and I'm hope sick today (actually, I had taken today off as one of my holiday days, but it turns out I'm very sick... can you switch a holiday day for a sick day? Probably not, eh? That should be an issue for our politicians!)

Okay, I'm going to stop now and wrap myself up in a blanket and try not to sneeze my brains out. Happy belated Canadian Thanksgiving and remember -- Vote!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

129. Books...

That has got to be the worst title I've used yet... Oh well.

My life goes on, and it's been full and busy and I do have blog thoughts to share, but my mom is coming to visit tomorrow so my thoughts are to preparing for her arrival. "If that's so," you ask, "then why are you blogging?"

Good question.

I'm procrastinating. And in procrastinating, I found this on Quasifictional, so I thought I'd play along.

The rules are as follows:

*Look at the list of books and bold those we have read.
*Italicize those we intend to read.
*Underline the books we LOVE.
*Put an asterisk (*) next to those that you hated.

So, here goes.
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (loved everything but the end, which felt too... neat or something)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
(Of course.)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (I've tried several times to read this book because it's a classic, but I get so bored every time I give up a few chapters in. LOVE the old movie with Katherine Hepburn though)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I agree with Michelle... how is this one book?]
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (don't want to say I "loved" this one, but I did really enjoy it)
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (an interesting read where there was not one single character that I liked, but I still wanted to know what happened to them... A sign of good writing I think)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll [And Through the Looking Glass too!]
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy *
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (If I could underline these twice I would... these are my favourite books. Ever.)
34 Emma - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (Why is this on the list twice?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (Only read the one chapter that so many people insisted would 'change my life'... but even that one chapter was bad. How did this book become so successful?)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I'm not going to tag anyone specific, cause... well, I'm done procrastinating now. But, if you read this you can consider yourself tagged, okay? Have fun!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

128. Happiness

In celebration of the world not ending today, I thought I’d post some happy things… starting with this video of Ellen’s wedding footage which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

In other lesbian wedding news, one of my best friends (and only remaining friend from high school) who has been with her girlfriend for at least 8 years is finally getting married. I have been waiting for this announcement for years – honestly, every time she called me, some part of me hoped it would be ‘the call’. Which meant that I actually guessed before she got the words out when ‘the call’ finally happened. And I cried and squealed like a girl. And then she told me that I am a co-maid-of-honour, which made me cry even more. Heh, just typing that out made me get all teary. The wedding won’t be until next summer, and it’s clear on the other side of the country, so I don’t know how many maid-of-honour type duties I can actually perform, but I will do my best.

Not much else going on in my life. I’m working, and working out, a little play now and then too – oooh, I just bought a new HD tv, which will be fun when I eventually get HD cable (right now, it’s just acting like a regular TV with a lot of potential). Work is good, life is good. And one of my best friends is getting married. I’m happy.

And the world didn’t get sucked into a black hole, so that’s good too.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

127. The Olympics and The Pharisees

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been watching the Olympics like a junkie. I don’t normally care at all about sports, but for some reason I really get into the Olympics. I find it much easier to care about for national teams than for sports franchises, and even easier to care about individual athletes than for teams. I find myself deeply caring about these people I didn’t know existed 2 weeks ago and probably won’t remember in 2 weeks from now. People like Jessica Zelinka, who didn’t make it to the medals, but still was amazing in her field… and I don’t mind saying is kind of a hottie!

Or Carol Huynh who won gold in women’s wrestling (and is a hottie as well… I swear I’m not all about the hottie athletes, it’s just that they tend to be hotties), and totally made me cry by crying at the medal ceremony… I should tell you that I cry at almost every medal ceremony I watch though, no matter what country, and especially if the athletes cry. It just gets to me. It’s just more intense when it’s Canada, you know?

It’s not even all about cheering for Canada, though. I’ve totally gotten into the hype around Usain Bolt, and love the fact that Jamaicans are sweeping the track events (finally!). And one of my favourite moments involved a Russian pole vaulter… I actually jumped out of my seat when Yelena Isinbayeva beat her own world record after already having won the gold medal… it was awesome. They played it over and over again on the Canadian coverage, which led to a question I must ask, but I doubt any of you can answer in a way that will make me feel better. Every time the showed the coverage of that amazing moment I had to watch it because it was just amazing, and on about the sixth time I suddenly noticed what she was wearing. It may seem hard to believe, but I just hadn't seen it until then, and then all of a sudden I was like "hey, why can I see her ass?" So here is my question… why are most of the female athletes naked?

Okay, so they’re not naked, but why are so many of them (who aren’t actually swimming) in basically bathing suits (the swimmers are actually more clothed than the rest of the female athletes). I'd already stopped watching beach volleyball in a sort of boycott (them men wear shorts and tank tops, the women wear bikini's), but up until that moment I had thought that beach volleyball was the only sport doing that, but then I started noticing the rest of the female athletes seemed to be wearing bikinis as well, and it's just weird. And kind of offensive. Well, not kind of… it’s totally offensive.

Anyway... the only sport I actually find I can’t watch is women’s gymnastics, they all just look so young and I get too nervous. Honestly, my stomach does backflips, it’s just too much pressure for anyone so young.

Okay, so that’s all that… and not at all what I intend to blog about right now, but I’ve been watching so much Olympics its just on my mind… I’ve been having Olympic dreams.

What I really wanted to blog about was something that was brought to mind by the sermon on Sunday. My pastor was speaking on Matthew 15, and the pharisees. (I feel I should point out that what I am about to write is not what the sermon was about. It was in fact a very convicting sermon that has stayed with me all week, but it did bring up some blog relevant thoughts so, here they are.) He began with something I’ve heard from many a pastor from many a pulpit. Basically, the idea being that the pharisees were legalists who took God’s laws and took them too far. They were so afraid of breaking any of the commandments that they made their own commandments around God’s commandments. For example (and I have no personal research to back this up, it’s just something my pastor said, but I’ve heard things like this from other pastors too), adultery is against God’s laws, so the Pharisees thought about this and figured that the length of time it would take to commit adultery with a woman was equal to the length of time it would take a man to run around a tree three times (really? That’s kind of… sad) so they made a law saying that no man could be alone with a woman who was not his wife for longer than it would take him to run around a tree three times. This sort of thing is often used by modern Christians as an example of what life is like without grace, how this sort of belief and life actually diminishes who God is and what He has done for us. Of course, this got me thinking about the way many Christians think about gay Christians. The sin that they worry about me committing is having sex with a woman, so they expect me to build wide fences around that sin that include obvious things like not dating a woman, but also some not so obvious things (and honestly damn near impossible things) like not allowing myself to become attracted to woman, or even notice when I find a woman attractive. It has actually been suggested to me that I disengage from pop culture because of all of the images that I should avoid. (Should avoid? Because seeing attractive women is bad for me somehow, I guess.)

There was also discussion in the sermon of the point that Jesus makes about how it is not what goes into the body that makes you unclean, it’s what comes out of the body that makes you unclean… and this got me thinking about some of the weird things that are asked of gay people by those ex-gay groups… how part of their “therapy” often involves gender conditioning (I’m making that term up, I don’t know what to call it), teaching women to wear makeup and men to play sports, basically femming up the dykes and butching up the gays. It’s dumb, and backwards… according to Christ Himself. And it's not like I agree with what these ex-gay groups try and do at all, it's just... it's a backwards idea.

But back to the original point. Now, I’m not saying that Christ then gives us a license to tread the line of sin, I do know that He actually made the standard even higher – the sin of adultery extends to lust and the sin of murder extends to hate – but as I’ve discussed before on this blog on multiple occasions, there is a huge difference between lust and attraction, and while I don’t claim to be completely free from the former, it does frustrate me that so many people assume that any sort of gay attraction must be lust. Asking gay Christians to build these fences around sin (that are much wider than the same ones asked of straight single Christians) is asking us to live like the Pharisees.

In completely seperate news, tomorrow is "crazy hair day" at the preschool where I teach, and seeing as how this coming weekend is Pride here, I decided to make my hair a pride rainbow... and I took a picture of it that I'm going to post here. Oh, don't worry, I'm still an anonymous coward, you won't see my face, but hey, enjoy my hair.

Monday, August 18, 2008

126. Mamma Mia

I was trying to figure out a way to tell this story without making the title of the movie involved obvious, but I can’t figure out how to do it so… yeah, I saw Mamma Mia the other night with a friend, and something happened that bothered me and I just wanted to get it off my chest. My issue is that people who know me and read this would immediately be able to tell who this story is about, but honestly, almost no one who knows me personally reads this blog anymore, so I think I may be safe. Besides, I just need to vent and maybe get some opinions from some of you as to whether or not I’m over reacting.

I’m also going to have to spoil a minor plot point, something I usually never do, but let’s face it, if you’re going to see Mamma Mia, you are not going to see it for the intricacies of the ‘plot’. You are going because you, like everyone else in the Western World, either secretly or proudly love ABBA. So, I don’t feel too guilty.

So yeah, I saw Mamma Mia with someone who I consider a dear friend. Before the movie started she told me about an interview she had seen with Colin Firth where he had been quite reluctant to talk about his role in Mamma Mia, almost embarrassed by it, and had said it was the scariest thing he had ever done. Now, I suppose I should tell you my interpretation of this, which is that he is nervous about his singing and dancing skills. Every Hollywood actor I’ve ever heard of doing a musical has said that doing a musical was the scariest thing they’d ever done, so I didn’t really see this statement by Colin Firth as anything unusual. And having seen the live show, I was pretty sure that what he was embarrassed about would involve sparkly spandex and disco dance moves. Besides, I don’t actually believe that he is embarrassed by his role in Mamma Mia, I think he was just being self-depreciating. Of course, this could just be my bias. I admit to having an irrational love for Colin Firth due to the fact that he played Darcy in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (not the crappy Hollywood version that came out a few years back, but the good 5 hour one). He was so good in that that I think I’d forgive him almost anything.

Anyway, so the movie goes on and it’s all fun and ABBA and then, towards the end of the movie (spoiler alert!) it is revealed that Colin Firth’s character is gay, and my friend beside me bursts out laughing and leans over to me and says “No wonder he’s embarrassed by this role”.

Now, this is a friend who knows me well, and who knows I’m gay. We’ve talked about it, we’ve cried about it, we’ve prayed about it… and she says this to me. I was shocked. The movie continues and then, at the end Colin Firth comes out in the aforementioned sparkly spandex and dances along to some ABBA, and I turn to her and I say “I think this, if anything, is what embarrassed him.”

The movie ends, and everyone is smiling and humming Dancing Queen, and she again says “No wonder he wanted to distance himself from that role, eh?” and I decided to give her a chance to maybe revise her opinion so I said “Well, yeah, I mean, no one looks good in sparkly spandex, and let’s face it, while I love him, he’s not the best dancer or singer, is he?”

Her reply? “Yeah, and turning out to be gay… no wonder he was so embarrassed.”

I should have said something, I know… I’m a coward. I was angry, but I hate conflict. And I don’t think I could have replied in a nice way in my angry state. She knows me, she knows I’m gay and she twice implied that being gay was something to be ashamed of. I tried to give her an out, but she wouldn’t take it. And I admit it, I was hurt. She’s my friend and I love her and by saying someone would be ashamed of playing a gay role, it sort of implies that she would be ashamed of me, or at the very least that I should be ashamed of myself.

I drove her home and silently stewed (well, not so silently, we actually managed to have a very nice conversation in the car while my mind was doing back flips), thinking things like “Do you seriously think that Colin Firth would not have known his character was gay before he took the role? And if he didn’t want to play gay he could have just said no, I mean, he’s Colin Firth, he can afford to let a role or two pass by…” and “How could you possibly say that to me? Twice?” Instead of telling her how I felt like a grown up I started injecting my gayness into the conversation. She mentioned My Fair Lady and I mentioned my long-time crush on Audrey Hepburn, which I think made her uncomfortable so she started talking about Kathryn Hepburn which… well, that’s a no brainer… I had a huge crush on her too – she looked so hot in all her pant suits! Kathryn Hepburn was the epitome of classy-sexy, but I digress. Anyway, I did that a few times, just wanting her to know that I was not ashamed, that I didn’t think there was anything to be ashamed of. And then we were at her door and she went home and that was that.

Later on, I was thinking about it, and suddenly I realized I understood the ‘pride’ movement very clearly. (Which is kind of appropriate considering that Pride in Ottawa is this coming weekend.) It’s a reaction to enforced shame. This is probably obvious to most of you, and I suppose if I’d thought about it I’d have come up with that myself, but I hadn’t really thought about it until the other night, when I experienced it for myself so directly. Seriously, in the car on the way back from her place I found myself thinking things like “I’m going to tell everyone that she knows that I’m gay so that she knows I’m not ashamed or embarrassed.”

I don’t know if anger is the right response, but it is better than shame. I remember the first time I reacted in anger to something racist that happened to me… it’s hard to imagine now, but prior to that, I’d reacted as if somehow I had done something wrong by being the wrong colour, that it was my fault that I wasn’t white, that I had something to be embarrassed about because of my race. I don’t know what turned the switch for me, but in university something happened as a result of my race and my response was basically rage. When I calmed down, I realized what a huge step that was, I was no longer ashamed of who I was and that was a good thing.

Anyway, that’s what happened. It upset me, and I’m not sure if I’m over reacting, so feel free to chime in.

Oh, and Mamma Mia is fun, you should see it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

125. Bermuda, Etc...

So, what can I tell you… a lot has happened since my last post. I’ve been to Bermuda and back, I’ve gotten a job, I’ve come out to my sisters… all good things. So, where shall I begin?

I’ll begin with Bermuda. That is where I was born, and where most of my family, including my two sisters and my father, are. I hadn’t been back there in about 5 years. And I hadn’t seen my sisters in 6 years (they had been living in St. Lucia when I last returned to Bermuda). I can’t even begin to tell you how good it was to see them. According to my Dad, we made everyone at the arrivals gate cry… which isn’t too hard to believe considering all three of us burst into tears at the sight of each other and couldn’t stop holding each other and crying. It was amazing to me how we picked up immediately. I had expected things to be a bit awkward, but it wasn’t. It just felt so natural. I guess it’s a sister thing. I have to admit that I do envy the bond they have between them, but I’ll take what I can get. Just thinking about them, my heart begins to feel a little fuller… I love them so much.

Other than the wonderfulness that is my sisters, I had a marvellous time in Bermuda (well… except for the fact that my mother crashed the party – once she heard I was going she decided to go at the same time as me, which would have been fine except she kept showing up where I was, and injecting herself into my sister/daddy/bonding time. It was a little irritating.) It was wonderful to reconnect with my family down there, and honestly, just being there feels good. Oh, I’m Canadian, there’s no doubt about that… but seeing the stars there at night… they seem bigger and clearer than anywhere else in the world. My first night there, I got out of the car and looked up and started to cry. And falling asleep to the singing of the treefrogs… turns out nothing puts me to sleep faster than that. And the ocean. I miss the ocean so much. Turns out, I’m Bermudian too.

I had no intention of coming out to my sisters. I had seriously considered having ‘the talk’ with my dad, but my mother’s presence quashed that plan. But I was out with the older of my younger sisters one afternoon and we just got into a conversation that lent itself to coming out. And it was so easy and wonderful. And she, of course, was like “so, do you have a girlfriend?” and then basically ‘why the hell not?”. After that, I knew I had to tell my youngest sister, and so I did so the next day, although I had to do it with my mother there. It was one of the more frustrating conversations I’ve had. Nothing to do with my sister, it’s just that we had to have the conversation in between my mother’s comings and goings. We were at a beach, and my mother would go for a little swim and me and my sister would get to talk privately before she would swim back to us. And her response was much like my other sister. She said something to the effect of “So, I don’t get a brother-in-law, I get a sister-in-law… okay.” She also said she wasn’t surprised, she’d actually wondered if I was gay before, but dismissed the idea because I’m “so religious”.

It was such a relief to have them know. I didn’t realize until I’d told them how much the secret had bothered me, how afraid I was that they would be embarrassed or ashamed. A huge weight I didn’t even know was there has been lifted off my shoulders.

In other news, the job I mentioned in my last post is now mine, as expected. Even though I knew I was likely to get the job, I was still excited when I heard the news. So, now I am a full time employee and am therefore stationary for at least a year, which is kind of scary, but I’ll survive.

In yet more blog related news, I think I’ve come to a conclusion… or a tentative conclusion… or possibly at game plan, I’m not sure what to call it, but something has happened. I didn’t realize how much of a decision I had made until church on Sunday. At the end of the service, I found myself looking around and tearing up as I thought about how things may change for me there soon. And then, of course, I was shocked at what I had just thought, even though the thought is nothing new. But the emotions I felt were so vivid, I realized that this is a reality now. I don’t feel confident enough to say I’m Side A or anything that definitive, but I don’t think I can think about this theoretically anymore. Which I know I’ve said before, so I can’t promise any results or anything, but I actually have begun to try and get my feet wet. I found a local organization for queer women online and I’ve already been to one event. Basically I’m trying to meet some women and see what happens. As I said to my sisters, I do feel kind of guilty about this because it is a sort of ‘experiment’ on my part (though not the usual kind of lesbian experimentation that you hear about)… I feel bad about possibly entering into a relationship with a woman who was dead serious while I’m totally tentative about the idea of even dating, but as my ever wise younger sisters pointed out, there’s no reason to tell everyone all my business right away. After all, no relationship is guaranteed to end in lifelong commitment, in fact, the vast majority of them don’t. So… we’ll see. I still feel guilty about it though… I’ve been told by people in the know I have guilt issues of near Catholic proportions.

I’ll leave you with one more video… this one of my kids at the preschool. I’ve blurred the image, because I don’t think I should be putting images of these kids on the internet, but this video is just too precious not to share. July was ‘Canada month’ (July 1st being Canada Day), so we sang Oh Canada with the kids almost every day… and they quickly learned to love the song. In fact, it is now a regular favourite that they often request to sing during circle time. The thing is, while they are extraordinarily enthusiastic, they are not necessarily lyrically accurate… it is so precious. So, in the spirit of the patriotism that this Olympic season brings with it, and the spirit of eternal adorableness that kids bring with them, enjoy…

Thursday, July 24, 2008

124. Life Stuff

So, my life may be about to change quite a bit… or rather, to not change. “The heck ya mean?” you say… well, I had planned to be heading back to Korea at the end of the summer, but events have transpired that will likely result in me taking on a full time position at the preschool where I’ve been supply teaching. Oh, I still plan to go overseas at some point, but should this job pan out (and it likely will… parents even started lobbying for me to get the position once they knew there was one available – one of the hot moms among them, which made me grin for about an hour when I heard about it) I will be stationary for at least another year. It’s weird.

It will be good, though. I do love working there. I’ve even been known to go in on days when I was not getting paid just because I missed it. Missed conversations like the one I had today with a little girl I will call Sarah:

Sarah: (after a boy handed her a napkin): Thank you. Boys help girls sometimes if they are good.

Me: (a little dismayed): And girls help boys too.

Sarah: (head tilted, thinking): Yes… like, maybe, help him find his bowtie if he loses it.

That conversation is doubly funny (and a little bit scary) if you realize the girl in question is three and a half years old. Where on earth did she come up with that?

Anyway, in completely unrelated news, I thought I’d share a video blog I found on one of my favourite websites, This video features Jay Baker, who I heard speak at the GCN Conference last New Years. He is such a kind and genuine guy, I felt really blessed to hear him speak. This video is brief, but maybe it will bless you too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

123. Something to Make You Smile

Just a little something I stumbled upon today while going through my google reader that brought a huge grin to my face. I do love Feist. And Sesame Street.

Part of me now wants to be famous just so I can guest spot on Sesame Street. I mean, she holds hands with Telly! ...I'm so jealous!

Hat Tip to Dorothy Surrenders.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

122. Integrity

I want to write a post but I really don’t feel like bothering to write it well or attempt to make it interesting at all. And seeing as how this is my blog, I think I’ll do just that.

Tonight I went to a Eucharist for gay Christians in Ottawa held by an organization called Integrity. It was held in a small Anglican church on a street I didn’t know existed until today. It was nice, very liturgical. The gospel reading was the same one we did at my church this morning, which I thought was funny, although that could be simply due to the liturgical calendar. There were about 25 people there, and I was by far the youngest person in the room. There was one woman who I originally thought might be a few years older than me, but when we spoke afterwards she made reference to her two children who are in their twenties so… not so much. I think I’ll go again, though, at least once, maybe in the fall, after the traditional cottage season is over… just to try and meet as many of the members as possible.

So, yeah… it was nice, but… well, there doesn’t appear to be a community of gay Christians in this city who are of a more evangelical bend. It’s not that I have a problem with Anglican churches, or people of a not-so-evangelical tradition, but to be honest, they have a sort of a problem with me. Or with my beliefs I guess. It’s understandable, I suppose, I mean, this was a group of older gay people who had likely heard all the messages and been really hurt by evangelical churches. But their bias was undeniable. When the woman who I had thought was close to my age mentioned that she was from an evangelical church, the expression on the faces of the women she was speaking to was very clear. One of the ladies there also spoke of one of her aunts who was “God forgive her, a born again Christian”… a sentiment I’m used to hearing from non-Christians, but not from Christians. (I’ve a whole separate rant on the term ‘born again’ and what it has come to mean to the world at large that I won’t get into here). Oh, and when that same woman (from the evangelical church) made an offhand suggestion that perhaps we could get groups from other churches, not just Anglicans, together, it was met with a sort of confused silence that I admit I didn’t really understand. Someone turned to me and asked me what I thought, and I said quite effusively that I thought it was a wonderful idea, if in fact we could find groups from other denominations that were open to gay Christians that would be fantastic, and I mentioned GCN as an example of a group of believers from different denominational backgrounds who are able to worship together, but well, the subject was rather quickly changed.

Now, I seem to be highlighting the negatives, and I don’t mean to do that. The service was nice, the music was absolutely beautiful and taking communion amidst a group where I felt fully accepted felt wonderful. Oh, and one of the ladies there made a phenomenal pumpkin bread… so that was a bonus! So yeah, I’ll likely go again, although I don’t exactly feel up to marching with them in the pride parade (something that was discussed tonight). And that’s not so much about my not wanting to march and be public as it is about my not being sure about belonging to this group – and, if I’m perfectly honest, a lot of that is the age thing. I know that’s superficial, but well… that’s the honest truth.

Skipping back a bit, I thought I’d give a brief description of the affirming church I went to a few Sundays back, the one with evangelical in the name. It was also very liturgical… more liturgical than any service I think I’ve ever been to, honestly. Half of the prayers were sung! (That was kind of cool, actually.) It was nice as well, if a little… fluffy. I know that sounds really weird, but the sermon was basically “Jesus is nice”. And while I totally agree; that’s just kind of… fluffy. There was nothing particularly ‘gay’ about the service, most of the people there appeared to be straight to me. The only thing I noticed was a poster in the lobby advertising a conference where Kelly Fryer was speaking (she’s a lesbian Lutheran minister who spoke at the GCN conference I went to), but that was about it. Again, I think I’ll probably visit one more time at least. The only problem is that it is a fairly small church, so my presence was very obvious, which makes me kind of nervous. But I’ll just deal with that, I guess.

So yeah, that’s the end of my very functional, but not so interesting or well written post. Sorry.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

121. Psalms

If you’ve been following along, (which I doubt), you are no doubt wondering if I went to the affirming church last Sunday, and if so, how it went… but to be honest, I don’t feel like talking about that right now. I’ll talk about that later, maybe… for now I’ll just say it was rather uneventful, and move on to what’s really on my mind.

The Psalms really comfort me. I’m sure I’m not the only one. David’s honesty is just so human. I’m working through a bit of rage right now. Something profoundly horrible happened to someone I love and, well… I’m angry. I’m having trouble sleeping, and when I do, I dream of decapitations and eviscerations. I’ve come up with some very creative ways to kill a man. I know that as a Christian love and forgiveness are key… but so is honesty. And, as I said, I’m comforted by the Psalms, which were written by David – a man “after God’s own heart”.

Psalm 58:6-11

Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
tear out, O LORD, the fangs of the lions!

Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows be blunted.

Like a slug melting away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child, may they not see the sun.

Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.

The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.

Then men will say,
"Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
surely there is a God who judges the earth."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

120. I hate Walmart

I hate Walmart. It’s just so big, and full of people and stuff. I mean, seriously, why is there so much stuff? I went because I was looking for something specific that I couldn’t find anywhere else – and they didn’t even have it. I sifted through all their mounds of stuff and it wasn’t even there.

So, for my recovery from my traumatic Walmart experience, I came home and watched Canadian Idol, and was very relieved to see one of my early favourites has gotten through to the voting portion of the show, so no one had better call me next Monday between 9 and 11, because I’ll likely be voting over and over again like a complete loser. I’m telling you, I get totally sucked in by this show.

In other blog-related news, I’m thinking about visiting another church on Sunday. I’d done a search for gay friendly churches in my city a few years back and only found the one I ended up going to, which, while very friendly, is not at all my type of church. This time, I found a website with a list of about 8 different churches in the area, so I’m thinking I’m going to give one of them (that happens to be about 8 minutes drive from me) a shot on Sunday. I’m a little nervous about it, because I mentioned the name of the church to a friend today and her response was “Oh, yeah… that’s one of the liberal churches”, which was disappointing, because the church has the word “evangelical” right in its name. And it’s not like I have anything against the word ‘liberal’, it’s just that when my friend said that, I knew what she meant was “oh, yeah, that’s not a Bible-believing church”. I know it shouldn’t matter what she thinks, I just would have liked it to not be so easily classified in her brain – you know, “of course they’re gay friendly, they don’t really believe the Bible”.

My book club met on Sunday night, and my pastor’s wife is in my book club. She had recently returned from some sort of district conference or something like that… actually, I don’t think it could have been a district thing because she was in Florida, but it was an official Wesleyan thingy… where they were discussing official Wesleyan doctrine. The thing we got talking about (that had nothing to do with the book we did this month, which was a graphic novel called Watchmen by Alan Moore) was the issue of alcohol. My pastor’s wife, along with pretty much everyone from my church, is part of a group that is trying to get the official doctrine of the Wesleyan church changed so that Wesleyans are allowed to drink. This might not seem like a big deal, or even that important an issue, but it actually does affect things at our church. Being in a city with lots of people from different cultures, especially French Canadians, for whom drinking wine with dinner is a matter of tradition, it means that there are many people who love our church, who attend regularly and are involved who would like to be in areas of leadership or ministry, but in order to do so they would have to give up part of their culture. And while it is really not that big a deal, I mean, it’s just wine, it’s also really silly to say that you can’t have a glass of wine with dinner if you want to be on the board at our church. Anyway, back to the discussion (which I swear is blog relevant, just wait, I’m getting to a point), she talked about how frustrating it was because the people who were arguing against her were taking the position that they were the “Bible believers” and she and her faction were the ‘liberals’. The language they used, the tone of their voices, the way they interacted with them… it all said “we believe that we have the truth, and that you are wrong, and you are attempting to dilute our truth, and we feel threatened.”. She was so frustrated by the dismissive way she and her opinions were treated that I’m surprised to hear she didn’t start an incident down there (I love my pastor’s wife – she is not a demure and self-effacing woman like so many pastor’s wives are, she’s quite feisty).

So, I sat there, listening to her express her frustration, and I couldn’t help but think about what I’d written before, about the dismissive way most Christians look at the Side A arguments… they assume, even before they’ve heard them, that they are perversions of Scripture, they refuse to engage the arguments on their actual merits, they assume a defensive posture of “You’re wrong. I don’t really care what you say, you’re just wrong.” It makes any attempt at conversation in this arena very near impossible. I’m still trying to figure this out.

Anyway, in light of this whole thought process, and in light of my possible visit to a gay friendly church, I thought I’d share a video I found by lesbian singer, Sara Em… it’s her song to the church.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

119. Pride

So, I'm blogging again, so quickly after my last post. Strange, I know. But I just wanted to show off a bit, and this is the best venue I could find for that.

But first I must confess something. I watch the Idol shows... and I like them. Oh, I think Randy's a idiot and Paula's a drunk... and Simon... well, he's Simon. But I enjoy watching people sing, and I do get caught up in the whole 'realizing your dream' thing. I'm a sucker, I know.

Now, most of my readers are American, so you may not know this, but up here in Canada we have Canadian Idol. I actually have a friend who made it fairly far in the audition rounds... not quite to the voting stage, but almost. It's the same format, same theme song... it's basically the same show with different (better, more coherent) judges -- most notably our version of Randy Jackson who is able to convey his opinions week after week without a single fist pump, "dawg" or "keeping it real". I want to hug him every week for that alone.

So, yeah, it's basically the same, but with a uniquely Canadian flavour. There is not nearly as much making fun of people, and when it happens, it pretty much always seems that the people being made fun of are in on the joke. The judges are honest, but kind (usually), and those who don't make it are almost universally polite about it. It's much more enjoyable to watch.

But never was the difference between the two shows more apparent to me than on Tuesday night. A young, high school student who is in the process of transitioning from male to female came in to audition, and the show dealt with it with such respect, I actually teared up in my living room. The amount of times I've seen people who don't fit into our gender norms go in to audition for American Idol and basically be made into a punchline... it makes me angry every single time. But here, on our version of the show, they actually made her a hero. They didn't pretend that the issue didn't exist, in fact, they highlighted it. I was so proud... proud of Ryan Mawla for having the courage to audition, proud of Canadian Idol for treating her with respect, proud of CTV for airing it... yeah... proud. You can watch it for yourself... I can't find a clip of just her audition, but she starts about 2 minutes into this clip.

Since I'm posting clips from Canadian Idol, I might as well put up another favourite, just so I have these clips in one place. Here's Kalan Porter -- the winner of Season 1 -- singing one of the few "Christian pop hits" I actually like in the finals.

Anyway, I was just proud, and thought I'd tell y'all about it.

118. She's Alive!

So, I’ve been out of the world for a while. (Oh, and I just recently rewatched my Firefly and Serenity DVDs, hence the phrase “out of the world”… Browncoats will get it. The rest of you will not understand any of what I just typed out. Sorry. But it’s your own damn fault for not watching one of the best shows to ever be on television. Maybe if you had it would still be on the air. Anyway, back to my point…) I know I’ve been neglectful, and perhaps I should have given some notice when I realized I needed to take a break, but that would have required signing on and well… I needed a break. And actually, I think I’m still taking one, but for some reason I felt like writing today. I think I’ll just explain what’s been going on.

So… I took a break. Not intentionally, but I did. And I don’t just mean I took a break from this blog. I mean I took a BREAK. I just sort of stopped. Oh, I went to work, and shopped and ate and exercised. But mostly, I stopped. I stopped calling people, I stopped going to church, I just stopped. I think my brain was just tired. I wasn’t depressed, which was some people’s worry, I’ve been depressed before and this felt nothing like that. I just couldn’t see my way to doing anything that required any sort of brain power -- and for me, church is one of those things, and as a natural introvert (with honed extroverted skills) so do people. Let me tell you how disengaged I got. When I finally started coming out of my cave (again, not depressed, I promise you), it turned out that a lot of people had just assumed I’d left the country again. I had people asking me how Korea was, and if I was home for a holiday. Ridiculous. Me, I mean, not them. But I’m making my way slowly but surely back into the world. I went to church the past few weeks (well, not this past Sunday, I slept in), and I’ve started making an effort to call people and be more out and about. So I think my brain is revving back up, which is good.

It’s been a good break though. It’s not like I wasn’t seeing people. I was working practically every day (which is pretty good considering I supply at a preschool with a staff of 3 people… it’s kind of incredible how many hours they give me) and the kids are great and bring me so much joy… plus I get along awesomely with the other teachers, which makes for a fun work day. Seriously, think about it… I get paid to play with preschoolers and cool people. That’s pretty darn amazing. Add to that mix the 2 hot moms that I get to chat with/flirt with on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and you’ve got a happy girl. Oh, don’t worry, I know that they’re straight, and I’ve got not hopes or designs, it’s just a little adult sized fun in a child sized world. My coworkers like to tease me about them, which is just fine.

So, what made this break necessary? Well, I’m not sure, considering it just snuck up on me. I was over at one of my best friend’s place a few weeks ago talking about this, and she was asking me that question and my answer was to shrug my shoulders and go “…dunno..”, which scared her a lot because, as she put it, I’m “all about the thinking about the why of things” which is totally true, but part of my break was not thinking about anything even remotely serious, and whys are serious.

But, as I said, the old thinker is revving back up and so I’ve got some guesses now. The first is simple. Exhaustion. Mostly with, yes, the concept behind this blog. The gay Christian thing. I’ve been thinking about it all so hard for so long and I think it just got to be too much.

The second guess is not quite so simple, but it is something that I know is true, and I’ve got reason to suspect that it was the reason for the sudden shutting down of my brain. One of my biggest frustrations in all of this is that I feel really alone. Oh, believe me, this blog helps, your comments help, your blogs help, and websites like help… knowing that there are people out there like me who are trying to figure things out makes it all so much more manageable. We really are communal creatures. But as much as these things help, they are not the same as real life, flesh and blood, friends. And that’s where I feel alone. Oh, I’ve got friends. Awesome friends, whom I cherish and who I believe value me too. I don’t mean this to be a slight on them. I mean this in a very specific way. I feel alone on this particular journey, I feel like I’m trying to figure this out alone. No one is doing this with me, no one is trying to figure this out with me. I’ve got my conservative Christian friends (and again, I’m using the word conservative in the most specific of ways, I’m meaning my friends who are Christians who are Side B, who believe I should be celibate), my one Side A straight Christian friend (well, the only one I know about, anyway), and my non Christian friends… and they all have their opinions, they all have already made up their minds. No one is willing or able to go back to the beginning and start thinking about this issue and be open to the possibility that they might, in fact, be wrong. And I quite honestly mean that on both sides, not just the pro-celibacy side. My non-Christian friends seem to be just waiting for me to get over my “hang-ups” and get on with the process of dating. I actually kind of ended a friendship a while back after one of these people sort of attacked me for remaining celibate, I spent an hour trying to defend a position I’m not sure of plus defend my personal choices and that was enough for me.

But to be perfectly honest, I don’t really expect that much from my non-Christian friends, at least in this area. I can’t really expect someone who doesn’t view the Bible as the Word of God to understand why what the Bible says is important to me, nor do I expect that they would comprehend how important my relationship with a Being they may or may not even believe in is. So, this is something I mostly find myself looking to my Christian friends for, and this is where I feel it the most. Because, for the most part – and let me be clear, this is just my perception, and it is only in this one specific area – I feel like they are kind of dismissive. They begin from a standpoint of “all homosexual behaviour is wrong”, and when I have tried to engage them in a discussion about some Side A arguments they sort of dismiss them out of hand. I remember one discussion with a particular person after bringing up a particular Side A point where my friend said “Well, that’s something I’d never thought of… that’s a really good argument. Of course, I disagree with it.” And when I asked why, the answer was “Well, because I believe homosexual behaviour is wrong.” I couldn’t get any other answer out of her, she had no reply to the specific point that was brought up, but she came in to the discussion with her opinion and that was that. I don’t think they would couch it in these terms, but they refuse to be moved from their conservative position, so any attempt to engage them in real conversation on this issue is kind of pointless. And that is so frustrating, because I do believe that life is meant to be lived in community, and I think that is more true about the Christian life, and I feel like I’m alone in this. I can’t talk to my liberal non-Christian friends about it because they can’t really engage me on the “Christian” part of the debate, (heh, one of my dearest non-Christian friends, many years ago when I was newly out and only talking to non-Christian friends about it because they were the only people I felt safe with, actually told me at one point that I needed to find Christians to talk to because she had ‘taken me as far as she could go’, she could only go so far with an academic understanding of my faith… that was kind of a turning point for me) and I can’t talk to my conservative Christian friends about it because they won’t engage me on the “gay” part of the debate.

I don’t blame them. I mean, I can’t expect this issue to be important to someone who’s not actually affected by it. They have their lives, their husbands, their wives, their kids, their schools, their jobs… this is hardly an important issue if you aren’t gay and Christian, I can’t expect them to actually devote the time and energy to starting from scratch with the reading and the research and the wrestling it out and being open to new possibilities and perspectives… that’s a lot to ask. But I can’t help but want it.

Now on to the crux of the matter. I think it was the Bible Study… which was awesome and fun, and I’m really proud of it and glad I did it. But I think it pushed me over the edge. Because, there I was, discussing this issue with people who were sincerely asking questions, and who were engaging both ends of this debate – the gay side and the Christian side, and it was awesome… and exactly what I have been wanting for such a long time. And then it was over. They went back to their lives and that was it. Actually, apparently the next Bible study was also on homosexuality – they listened to one of the Tony Campolo CDs I’d made. But, the thing is they could be done with it, they could put it aside having not come to any conclusions and be fine with it because it’s just not that important to them. It’s interesting, and they care, but they have their lives to lead and this is not a part of their lives. And it kind of hurt. Oh, I wasn’t crying or angry or anything. It’s just that feeling for a short time that feeling of wrestling this issue out in community with other believers who were willing to start from scratch… it felt so good, and when it was gone, I think I just crashed. Mentally, not emotionally. Well, maybe a little emotionally, but not in a depressed way. I just sort of lived off of the joy I got from the kids at work (and yes, the hot moms) and my coworkers, and let everything else (including this blog) just sort of fall away for a while. But I’m coming back slowly but surely. I probably won’t be very regular in my posting for a while. But I’m alive and well. And to anyone who’s still reading, thanks. It’s good to know you’re there.

Friday, February 29, 2008

117. Brief but important

I keep mentioning Ellen, and for good reason. I do adore her. But this is not so much about that. This is a serious post. A young, openly gay boy was killed by a boy he asked to be his valentine.

Again, I think she has some very inciteful things to say about the gay jokes that are so rampant, even in our "tolerant" society.

Sometimes the world scares me.

Now I'm off to go hang with some preschoolers. They always make me feel better about the world.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

116. 6 Random Things

Well, I’ve been tagged again, by no subject, so here goes. I’m to list six random things about myself. So here goes.

1. I LOVE superheroes. I’ve been known to get quite passionate in arguing why Batman is, in fact, not a superhero (depressed rich guy with a lot of toys and a leather fetish? Yes. Superhero? No.), or to try and explain why I find Spiderman more interesting, but have an emotional attachment to Superman. I actually own a Superman ring, which is one of my most prized possessions… when I couldn’t find it after my recent surgery I had a bit of a panic. It was missing for several weeks, turned up in my mom’s closet. I’ve also got a theory about superheroes and homosexuality (that has nothing to do with Batman and Robin) that I think might be why I love them so much… it’s not a well formed theory, but it’s this idea that there is something about you that is inherently different and the fantasy of the superhero is that it is something that makes you more powerful than everyone else instead of less. Like I said, just a theory...

2. I write poetry. Maybe one day I’ll post some. Who knows. I haven’t written any in a while though.

3. I really want to go to space. I’m hoping that ‘space tourism’ becomes financially feasible in my lifetime. I want to experience weightlessness, I want to see a sunrise over the curvature of the earth… basically I want to be an astronaut for a day, but without all the horrible training. I mean, some of it looks cool, but most of it just looks like it would make me sick.

4. I’m embarrassingly superstitious. I try not to be, but I am. Not about bad things, like, I don’t care if I break a mirror or a black cat walks across my path, but I can’t seem to stop the reflex of wishing on the “first star I see tonight” (which is part of why it really bothers me when I can’t see any stars), or even wish chips. I always want to catch those floating dandelion seeds, and even though I don’t celebrate my birthday, I want to wish on the candles on a birthday cake. Basically I just wish on things.

5. Actually that reminds me of another thing, the one thing I’m superstitious about in a bad way. My birthday. I don’t celebrate my birthday. I had a series of really awful birthdays so now I’m rather paranoid about it, and I just try and skip past the day if I can. Most of my friends don’t know exactly when my birthday is, and the ones who do know enough to either ignore it or be very sly in their birthday greetings. I just never want a big thing, because there has just been a history of big birthday things going very badly, and it’s to the point that the one time since I instituted this ‘no birthday’ rule that someone tried to throw me a birthday party, my paranoia ruined it and I ended up having a panic attack and sobbing my eyes out. So yeah, no birthdays.

6. Well, that was kind of depressing so… how about something completely superficial? I’m totally attracted to ass-kicking women. (You know, I think this is a first… I don’t think I’ve ever written specifically about any characteristics in a woman that attract me before). And by ass-kicking I mean ass-kicking. I don’t know if it would translate to real life, to be honest, mostly because I don’t get a lot of opportunity to see people fighting in general, but I know that fight scenes in film that involve women always pique my interest. I actually didn’t realize this about myself until the movie Serenity came out. I’d watched (and loved) Firefly, and totally loved the River character – I found her really interesting, but nothing more. Then the movie came out and River suddenly went from being this completely helpless little girl to kicking all that ass and I was suddenly all about River and then had a moment of “whoa… what’s that all about?” and going back and realizing that I have a bit of a history of being attracted to female characters that kick ass. Starbuck, Sarah Conner (in her new incarnation too… you should totally check that show out if you haven’t already, it’s good even without the strong woman -- actually, it has 2 strong women -- although… then it wouldn’t be a show really), B’Elanna Torres, and while I was never into Buffy, I totally had a crush on Faith. There are loads of others, but I’ll stop there before I embarrass myself further.

Okay, those are my 6 random things. And I think I’m supposed to tag 6 people. So… Eric (even though he ignored my last tag), Eugene, Armored City, Peterson, Liadan and Christine.

Friday, February 01, 2008

115. World's Colliding!

So, it’s not really a secret that I love Ellen. She’s funny, smart… I love the way she dresses (seriously… I think she’s one of the best dressed celebrities out there)… she just makes me happy. Now I don’t watch everyday, but I do tivo it and usually do manage to catch up before my tivo decides to start deleting old episodes. Well, I was only a day behind today and so if you watched Ellen yesterday you saw this… you saw my worlds colliding – in such a good way!

I couldn’t find a clip of this on youtube. I actually ripped this myself – the first time I’ve ever done that! I just had to share it because it brought me such joy. I sat here in my living room, at first with my mouth just open in shock, and then grinning like an idiot. Kirk Franklin! Are you serious? Was I actually watching a lesbian rocking out to Kirk Franklin? I remember when that album came out and everyone in my church youth group was all over it – Stomp was the only song that I could stand on that CD actually. Watching Ellen dance along to a gospel song, and actually appearing to know the words… totally just rocked my world. (Not to mention the birthday greeting to Portia… I love it whenever Ellen even mentions her name.) Kind of like when I was dancing in the lesbian club in Korea and there was this song playing, and it had a certain sound to it so I turned to my friend I was there with and said “Man, this sounds like church music!” and went home and looked it up and low and behold – it was! (That link heads over to a youtube video that someone made featuring the song, I couldn’t find an actual video for it, but it’s a good song.) They played it a lot at the club actually. Made me happy everytime. When I was telling a good friend of mine about it, I explained it thusly – “It is just so amazing when they play that song at the lesbian club. It combines two things I love… Jesus and women!”

Perhaps not the most pious or profound thing I’ve ever said.

Monday, January 21, 2008

114. The Bible Study

So, as I mentioned last time, I was a ‘guest speaker’ at a Bible Study on the subject of homosexuality. After two frantic days of preparing, I think it went very well, I’m kind of proud of myself. I’m pretty sure I over-prepared though. I had handouts that included a copy of Justin Cannon’s paper on the Bible and homosexuality from, the post I’d written on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, Eugene’s posts on Defending ‘Truth’ by Telling Lies, and a section of a page from on the Greek word ‘pais’. So, yeah, probably over prepared. It was a pretty low key event, sitting around in my friend’s living room. I took every book that I had on homosexuality, and even borrowed 2 from a friend of mine here in the city. I also had burned copies of both of Tony Campolo’s talks (couldn’t find one of them when I got there, but luckily I’d given one to my friend about 2 years ago and she still had it).

So, what happened was that the people in the Bible Study emailed my friend whatever questions they had and she forwarded them on to me. And what I did, because I process my thoughts so much better when I write them down was just sit down at my computer and type out my answers. One of the questions was “What are some ways of interpreting seemingly anti-homosexual portions of scripture that we may not have heard before?” I dealt with that one last, being sure to say that I didn’t agree with every argument I was presenting. For that I relied heavily on Justin Cannon’s study, but I brought in other ideas as well, and then I went into the theories about gay people possibly showing up in Scripture… David and Jonathan, the idea that the word eunuch as used in Scripture often meant homosexual, and of course, my favourite one, the story of the Roman Centurion (that’s why I had the stuff about the Greek word ‘pais’ in there).

But I began answering the other questions first, so to give you a glimpse of what the study was like, I’m just going to copy what I originally typed out (after a bit of editing by a good friend of mine). I didn’t end up saying all of this (I was speaking, and I didn’t just read off the paper, it was just there for me to use as a guide), and there’s some stuff that came up that I didn’t anticipate so it’s not here, but this is what I prepared. Beware, this is a LONG post!

Do you think that homosexuality is a sin?

In a word, no. I think that something that the church needs to be careful of is its language. A sin, according to my definition, involves a wilfully wrong action or the contemplation of such an action. In other words, there has to be a decision involved. Even a decision not to do something can be a sin. But there must be a decision. Homosexuality is not a choice… perhaps I should have started with that. No one in their right mind would choose to be gay. Therefore homosexuality cannot be a sin. The reason I find this such an essential distinction is because I grew up in a world that used this language – “homosexuality is a sin” and because of that I grew up believing that I was a sin… just by being. And it scared me. Because try as I might I couldn’t stop being a homosexual. It didn’t go away no matter how much I cried and begged and pleaded with God, no matter how many other people I asked for prayer it stayed the same. I thought that I was doomed… quite literally.

What you are actually asking is if I believe homosexual behaviour – to be blunt, gay sex – is okay, and to be honest with you I don’t know. I go back and forth on that issue so many times I really don’t know what to do about it anymore.

What is your opinion on gay marriage?
Would you consider yourself to have generally more liberal opinions than the average Christian? i.e.: sex before marriage - ok? not ok?, abortion - ok? not ok?
Do you feel that Christian homosexuals must remain celibate?

I put these questions together because they all kind of ask the same thing in my head. Firstly, do I consider myself more liberal… sex before marriage – I’m a wait until marriage girl all the way. One thing I’ve always tried to be clear about is that my question has never been whether or not it would be okay for me to have sex with a woman, my question is whether or not it would be okay for me to marry a woman. (The sex would, one assumes, be included in that). Abortion: I’m pro-life. Gay marriage… this is another issue. Because I have an opinion about it as a Canadian and an opinion about it as a Christian. I suppose that sounds weird, but here’s what I believe. I believe that gay marriage should be legal. Common law relationships (which are not Biblical by your average evangelical standards) are legal and protected under the law. People who have been divorced and remarried (something quite specifically prohibited by Scripture) have the same rights, responsibilities and protections under the law as those entering into their first marriage. I think that it’s ridiculous that a couple who has lived together for several years but has no intention of ‘legitimizing’ their relationship, or maybe Elizabeth Taylor on her 9th go of it gets to be married but a gay couple does not. I think the law is there to protect us from things that harm us as individuals and things that harm society, and so far I have not come across any arguments that can show me how gay marriage harms society. I think that the right to marry whom you chose is kind of a basic human right. Even prisoners are given that right.

Now what I think should be legal and what I think is okay for Christians are two different things. Though I am quite certain that it should be legal for people to worship any god they choose, I believe that Christians only worship the One True God. I can separate what I think should be legal from what I think is right for Christians. So the question of whether or not I think gay Christians should be celibate is still up for debate. I really do go back and forth on that all the time.

Do you think that homosexuals should be pastors / ordained / in authoritative positions in the church?

Yes. Now again, I feel the need to distinguish here between ‘homosexuals’ and ‘people engaging in homosexual behaviour – i.e.: in gay relationships’. Even assuming that gay behaviour is a sin (which I’m not sure about), simply being gay (in my opinion) should not exclude you from any kind of ministry. Being gay merely means being romantically drawn to people of the same gender: it does not mean anything else. It does not imply a more or less sinful nature than anyone else. Again, even assuming that all gay behaviour is sinful, admitting to being gay simply means admitting to an area of temptation, and if having temptations disqualifies you from ministry then no one can be in ministry.

Now if by ‘homosexuals’ you mean people engaging in homosexual behaviour, then I think that this varies by denomination. Some denominations believe that women shouldn’t teach in the church, so if you are a member of that denomination and you are a woman you shouldn’t try to teach. Some denominations think that gay relationships are perfectly okay and so in those denominations then people in gay relationships should be just as welcome to minister in any capacity as anyone else. In denominations that believe that gay relationships are sinful then no, they should not be ministering. It’s kind of like the situation in the Wesleyan church with alcohol. I personally think that there’s nothing wrong with drinking alcohol in moderation, but Wesleyan church doctrine thinks that there is, and so in order to be ordained in the Wesleyan church (or even to become a member) you have to promise not to drink. I think that that rule is ridiculous and should be changed, but as long as it is in effect I kind of expect those who have made that promise to keep it.

This, of course, takes me right back to whether or not I believe gay relationships are sinful and again, I have to say that I don’t know.

Do you believe you were born this way and it is a natural thought process?

I have no idea what causes homosexuality – whether or not it is biological or psychological I have no idea. I do know that I now kind of ignore the general psychological explanations that conservative Christians like James Dobson give because while I personally conform to the theories (domineering mother, absent father, childhood trauma, etc…) most of the gay people I know do not… and a lot of straight people I know do. So, I kind of tend to think that they are guessing. And oddly enough, these theories are mostly based on Freudian thinking, something that Christians in other areas completely dismiss, but in this one area it is the only explanation that they can find that works. I can tell you that there is very clear evidence of homosexuality in nature (i.e.: animals). And there have been studies done on gay people (frustratingly they all seem to be done on men, almost no one studies lesbians) that look at pheromone reaction and the make up of the brain. The only thing I’ve ever read in these studies that pertains to women, however is the finger thing, and it’s only a correlation, not really a guess as to a cause.

Do you believe that when the early signs started to arise within you, that they could have been "just tendencies" and could or should have been suppressed in any way or should they have been liberated earlier?

Well, that’s exactly what happened. I first told my mother when I was 10 (My first memory of knowing I was gay is when I was 9) and I was immediately sent for prayer and counselling with a couple at my church which turned out be creepy and weird and I immediately dove back into the closet and tried to suppress my feelings. I managed to have some crushes on boys while at the same time knowing that I liked girls still, but thinking that it would go away eventually, if I worked hard enough at the boy thing.

Have you met anyone who has been healed of homosexuality?

I’ve met people who have claimed to be healed. I can tell you about the first guy. He came to my church when I was 16. We were doing a kind of summer outreach in Toronto and he was part of a team that came in to help us with that. He gave a testimony at church about how he had ‘come out of the homosexual lifestyle’ and ‘been healed of his sinful homosexuality’. And I latched onto him. I remember quite distinctly thinking that I was going to learn everything about what he did to be ‘cured’. I was going to learn where he went, what organization he went to, how much it cost, what they taught, what he had to do… everything. I knew it would cost me money and time, and so my thought was that I would learn how he did it, wait until I had my own money and then go do what he did and no one would ever have to know.

So I attached myself to his side, volunteered to be his guide in Toronto, and peppered him with questions. And within three days it was quite clear to me that he was still gay. He would point out certain guys on the street and say things like “man, if I was still gay he would be just my type” or “when I was gay, I would have been all over that guy”, or “oooh, check it out, I’m being cruised” (incidentally, my first lesson in ‘gay lingo’).

I immediately realized what he had meant when he gave his testimony: that he had gone from having gay sex to not having gay sex. Which is not what I wanted or needed, because, well, I wasn’t (and still am not) having sex at all. I’m actually really glad I met this guy because it meant that I questioned any similar testimonies I heard or read, and what I found was that in all of them – without fail – the people who say that they have been healed really mean that they’ve either gone from having gay sex to having straight sex, or gone from having gay sex to not having sex at all. (In one particular case it was merely a case changing labels, went from calling themselves gay to calling themselves straight.) And when you question them, they admit that they still ‘struggle’… i.e.: they still find themselves attracted to people of the same gender sometimes – they still feel homosexual temptations. And as Tony Campolo noted in a talk he gave on “Struggling with the Gay Issue”, if you have really gone from being homosexual to being heterosexual, then the way you will be tempted is with heterosexual temptations.

The biggest ‘ex-gay’ organization out there, and the one that is the umbrella for most of the ex-gay programs you have probably heard of (if you’ve heard of any) is Exodus, and the best that they claim is 30% success rate (and believe me, you have to push and hunt to find that statistic, they hide it very well under their ‘change is possible’ banners). More recently, they have taken to admitting that what they are able to offer are tools to help control behaviour – i.e.: tools to help people become celibate – a lot of what I’ve heard recently their publicity is that they are now admitting that most people who successfully complete their program (that 30% they claim) will always still struggle.

This is not to say that I don’t believe God can ‘heal’ homosexuality, I think He can. I don’t know why He doesn’t most of the time.

I can also tell you that a lot of people who went through those programs came out more messed up than they went in. Many people who go into these programs as Christians come out no longer believing because they feel disillusioned by a faith that promised them change but couldn’t deliver.

I’ve also heard and read about many people who went through those programs and talk about how harmful they were not just to them, but to their families – those programs generally teach that it is the parents’ fault, and so people go into those programs and are told that they have an overbearing mother and a distant father and whether or not it is true they are forced to take that on as truth. On the homepage of one ex-gay I actually read the phrase “I didn’t realize it at the time, but my father was distant and unloving towards me growing up.” And all I could think was – “okay, if you didn’t realize it until you were told, then it probably wasn’t true… other people convinced you that you had a bad relationship with your father and that’s just sad.”

To sum up, I personally think those programs do more harm than good. I think that they are well intentioned, buy well, you know what they say about good intentions…

Even though God loves you so much, do you think that He wants you to remain what you are or does He wish you to be heterosexual?

I don’t know the answer to that. At this point I pretty much believe He doesn’t because I asked Him so many times and tried so hard and nothing changed. I had such peace when I finally went “Okay, this is who I am I guess… so I guess I have to figure out how to be a Christian while still being gay…”

What kinds of attitudes towards homosexuality have you encountered among people in the church?

I have encountered a wide variety of attitudes and beliefs. Here are some more extreme examples. I once heard a guy comment, after hearing of a “gay bashing” incident on campus, that he wished he’d been there so he could have joined in. I’ve also heard this statement more than once “We should send all the faggots to San Francisco, build a big wall around it and let them infect each other with AIDS and die… that would solve the problem.”

Those are the more extreme things… mostly it’s an ‘us and them’ mentality. As if gay people are the enemy. This talk about the ‘gay agenda’ really ticks me off – for many reasons. First off, gay people cannot be lumped together in one group that all want the same thing. I get annoyed when people point out something some crazy Christian says and assume I think the same thing. We are all guilty of stereotyping others and assuming people in our social/religious/work circles are on our side. The important thing is to recognize that the church is always doing that to gay people. I honestly don’t think gay rights activists are asking for anything really drastic: the right not to be discriminated against and the right to marry whom they chose. Pretty basic to my understanding.

Why do you think this issue has aroused so much bitterness - I mean is it that so many Christians REALLY believe that the Bible says it is wrong or has it been more a "social" problem, perhaps reflecting more basic prejudices etc.?

I think that a huge part of the problem is that the church has sort of set itself up as the enemy of gay people. The “us versus them” thing is huge. I think a lot of gay people are angry at the church because they were hurt by the church… growing up in the church and hearing sermons preached against them as people – sermons that called them evil, or perverts. They may also have heard people in the church interchange the terms “homosexual” and pedophile as if they were the same thing (they are so not, by the way… I’ve had to correct people on this before… statistically speaking, children are less likely to be sexually abused by a gay person than a straight one).

Another issue is the fact that there are a lot of lies said about gay people in the church… One particular researcher (Paul Cameron)’s statistics and results are still used even though he was let go from the American Psychological Association for ethics violations and misrepresenting his research. His theories and conclusions have been so thoroughly debunked, and yet his research is still used quite often in Christian publications when talking about homosexuality. (His studies concluded things like gay teachers can influence their students to be gay, gay people don’t live as long as straight people, and most disturbingly, that gay people are much more likely to be pedophiles – all of which have been thoroughly proven to be untrue).

The problem, of course, is that hearing and believing such false, ill-founded statistics causes Christians to treat gay people as sex crazed perverts. It’s offensive.

The church also seems to have arbitrarily drawn a line in the sand about the biblical issues with which to take issue. There are all kinds of things in the Bible that we don’t really pay attention to anymore. Men can have long hair, women can cut their hair and braid it if they so choose. We all go to churches where women preach. My mom attends a church where the senior pastor and his wife both divorced their first spouses before marrying each other. It seems sometimes that the church has drawn this line just for the sake of drawing a line, and it can be pretty awful if you are on the 'wrong' side of that line.

I think one of the things that people need to remember is that if there are100 people in your church, there are probably 2 or 3 gay people kicking around. And lest you think that this statistic doesn’t apply to churches because it is not a random sample of the population, according to researchers (Tony Campolo – a Baptist minister who is also a sociologist – among them) have shown that the statistics are usually higher in churches… and they get even higher the more charasmatic the churches get. And we sit there in churches and hear sermons that use gay people as the examples of depravity in society, or youth pastors who adopt an effette accent while mocking gay people thinking that that is perfectly okay, because there will be no gay people there. But there are gay people in churches, and it’s no wonder that if and/or when they leave the church they are angry.

If you were homosexual but not Christian, how could a Christian friend represent their views on homosexuality (or what could they say) that would let you know it would be okay to become a Christian?

Okay, well, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know why anyone would feel the need to represent their views on homosexuality at all if they were wanting to talk about becoming a Christian. I just don’t think it’s relevant. Even assuming that all homosexual behaviour is sinful, and assuming that the gay person you are speaking to is engaging in gay behaviours, how is it any different from any other sort of sin that we all engage in? Just think for a moment that instead of being gay, the person you are speaking to is in a common law relationship, they’ve been living with someone out of wedlock for years. Would you feel the need to tell them that you thought they were living a sinful lifestyle? Maybe you would… I know people who would. But to be perfectly honest, for the most part it isn’t necessary. I have a good friend who right now has been living with her boyfriend for 4 years. I believe in waiting until marriage, so therefore I think that this is not right. I have never once had to tell her this, she knows me, she knows what I believe without my ever having to say anything. I know this because she’s brought it up.

I think that part of the question here is how to be friends with gay people (who are in relationships) without ‘condoning their lifestyle’, and I think the way to go is to forget for a second that they are gay. For some reason Christians seem to put that in a different class of sin as if it is somehow dirtier than other sins. Imagine that this person is a straight person engaged in something you know is sinful, such as a common law relationship, and imagine how you would interact with them. Would you feel the need to make sure they knew you believed they were sinning? Would you not invite them and their common law spouse over for dinner because you didn’t want to condone their relationship? And as a Christian who wants to share Christ with people, would you expect them to change before coming to Christ?

I think it’s important to remember that this is not a central issue. If you are specifically thinking about sharing Christ with gay people, then I would say to remember how peripheral this issue is: Scripture barely mentions it at all (I’ll get into this more later) and it has basically nothing to do with the essentials of salvation. If you are talking with a person who wants to become a Christian but believes that they can’t because they are gay then get them to stop talking about being gay. It’s just not relevant. Being gay is not a sin, but you know what? Even if it was, since when does sin disqualify you from being a Christian? We’ve all sinned, and we are all on a journey to become more like Christ.

If their issue is that they don’t want to become a Christian because they don’t want to give up engaging in gay behaviour then the issue is that their priorities are not quite right. You can get into some pro-gay theology if you like (I'll outline some in a minute), but again, it just isn’t a central issue. Jesus is central. Our relationship with God is central. Being gay, gay behaviour… these are secondary issues that can and should be worked out later.

So that's it, that's a sort of outline of the Bible study. Hope you enjoyed it.