Tuesday, February 17, 2009

134. Mom, Can I go to an Orgy?

So, I’m sick. I’ve got this stupid sinus thing going on, which means I can’t breath through my nose, which has the lovely side-effect of making it impossible for me to sleep for more than 4 hours (the length of time any given drugs I take will last). So I’m up right now, waiting for my drugs (Advil Cold and Sinus) to kick in to I can go back to bed. Thought I’d make that time productive and tell you all a story.

Besides, I want to get my last post off of the top of my page because according to Statcounter someone from Ottawa read that one, and while it is entirely possible that that person could be a stranger, I’m kind of afraid that it is someone I know. I’m not at all sure who, but well… it scares me.

So, here’s the background to the story. At the GCN Conference (Gay Christian Network Conference for those who are still catching up) I went out with a group of friends for a "bloggers dinner, which was awesome, and over dinner I told this story and was informed I needed to blog it. It has very little to do with the regular theme of my blog, but it’s funny so here you go.

When I was 13 years old and lived in Winnipeg my mom signed me up to join the YMHA. ‘Don’t you mean the YMCA?’ you ask. Well, no… I mean the YMHA, the Young Men’s Hebrew Association. ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were Jewish,’ you say. Well, I’m not. My mom got a job there and discovered it was a much cleaner, nicer facility than the YMCA and so that’s where I went. I had already spent most of life being the only black person at any given place (especially in Winnipeg… that that city is so white it can hurt your eyes), and now I had the experience of being the only Gentile. It was rather fascinating – I’ll get to the story in a minute. It was the first place I ever encountered anti-Semitism… in a very strange way. A group of girls in the dance class I took there cornered me one day after class to ask me why Christians hated Jews, something I had never heard of (sparked an interesting conversation the next day at my private Christian school – “Do we hate Jews? They said we hate them, but I didn’t know that…”). It was actually a kind of frightening experience. They literally surrounded me and while they weren’t yelling, their voices were quite forceful as they asked me why Christians thought various specific anti-Semitic ideas that I had honestly never heard before that moment. In retrospect, it was probably very therapeutic for those girls to be in the majority for once, although I ‘m not sure I helped heal any cultural wounds with my incredibly intelligent answers of “What? …who thinks that? …why would anyone say that? …that doesn’t make any sense... I don’t know… I have no idea… “

Anyway, back to my story. There was a girl in that dance class named Meeka. Meeka was… well, she was unusual to say the least. She was loud and forceful. You couldn't help but notice her wherever she went. And she just said whatever came into her mind. I think she might have been where I learned the world ‘lesbian’ (before her, I lived in fear of being a ‘homosexual’, not a lesbian). I have a very clear memory of her telling us one time in the locker room that her life’s ambition was to 'grow up and be a lesbian', following which she looked at me (or at my chest specifically) and said “Nice tits.” Most of us changed in the bathroom stalls after that.

One day, after dance class Meeka approached me in the locker room to ask me the following question. “Hey, I’m having an orgy in a couple of weeks. Do you want to come?”

Now to explain my response, I need to go back and explain a little more of my experience at the YMHA. Being the only Gentile there meant that I was constantly encountering things I didn’t know or understand. And when I first began going there I was like a sponge, always asking questions, but after a while I began to feel like an idiot. It felt like every few minutes someone said something I didn’t understand or had never heard of before, and so I stopped asking. Most things would get explained or elaborated on eventually. So, when Meeka asked me to go to an orgy (a word I had never heard of before) I assumed that ‘orgy’ was some sort of Jewish event or tradition, and so the conversation went like this:

“Hey, I’m having an orgy in a couple of weeks. Do you want to come?”

“I don’t know, I have to ask my mom.”

Meeka just stared at me for a few moments, and then backed away.

I went home and thank all that is good and holy had the forethought to look up the word ‘orgy’ in the dictionary before asking my mom and was duly shocked. Needless to say, I did not ask my mom. The next week, after dance class, Meeka asked me if I was going to attend the aforementioned orgy, and I responded with a very emphatic “No!” She was mad, which was not a good thing to be on the receiving end of because she was a tour de force, but I stood strong and refused. She stormed off. A few minutes later another girl from our dance class quietly approached me and whispered “Did you say no to Meeka?” I nodded. She took a deep breath, “Really? Good… I don’t want to go either, but I was scared to say no.” She steeled herself and walked over to Meeka, and as she did, another girl came by. “I heard you say no to Meeka. You’re not going to go?” I shook my head. She turned and looked at Meeka across the room, who was now looking very angry as she talked to the first girl. “Okay… good. I don’t want to go either.” She walked across to join the angry conversation. One by one, all the girls she had invited came and asked me if I had said no, and when I confirmed this, they all went over and told Meeka they weren’t going. Even one of the boys she had invited found me when we came out of the locker room to make sure they had heard correctly – someone had said ‘no’ to Meeka – before going over to her and declining her invite.

From what I heard, she still ended up having sex with one of the guys she had invited, but it was not the big orgy she had envisioned. She didn’t really talk to me after that. But I will point out that the other girls were nicer to me.

And that’s the story of how I ruined an orgy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

133. Insert Title Here

I was recently reminded by a good friend that I haven’t blogged in a while. I didn’t even debrief after the GCN conference (which was awesome, by the way…). But as I’ve said in pretty much every one of my more recent blog posts, my life has become rather full. Working with preschoolers full time, fun as it may be, kind of takes it out of you, you know?

But I still have thoughts… I just haven’t written them down. So, I’m going to attempt to now.

The conference was great, I may write more on it later… but I’m not going to make any promises. What I’ll elaborate on here is one of the more significant things the conference left me with. Community. It felt so good to be in Christian community again. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but here it is again. I’ve sort of checked out of my church of late. Being at the conference, being among Christians, worshiping in community… it all felt like a drink of cool water after a long walk through the desert. The gay thing was kind of secondary. The last night we had a ‘sharing time’ and one of the things I shared was that I was feeling convicted for having abandoned my community. That God was reminding me that the Christian life was never meant to be lived in isolation. And I meant it. But… confession time… I haven’t done a thing about it. Oh, all I have to do is start going to church again, but I didn’t do it today (it’s Sunday as I write this) and I didn’t do it last week… or the week before that…). It’s hard to motivate myself to go and be among people who I feel I have to hide myself from. And I’m not just talking about the people who don’t know I’m gay… even the ones who do know don’t really want to know, you know? They don’t want to talk about it, they think I should be over it by now (I had one person actually say that to me… oh, not exactly in those words, but that was the gist). I don’t mean they think I should be straight by now (although some of them certainly think I should be trying for that), I mean they think I should be done thinking about it by now, I should have moved on to other things.

I was talking with one of my dearest friends about this right after the conference and I actually ended up in tears as I explained some of this to her, and I ended up saying something to her that I hadn’t said to anyone before (or since)… but I think I’m going to write down here. I say ‘think’ because I’m nervous about it, nervous to put this on my blog when so many of my friends know about my blog. But pretty much none of them read it anymore… which is kind of what I was crying about. Oh, not that I expect them to keep up with my blog (especially now that I hardly write anymore… but to be fair most of them stopped reading probably about 2 or 3 years ago) but… okay, how to explain this. I suppose the easiest thing to do is to just say it plainly. I’m hurt. My friends hurt me. Not by reacting badly to my coming out, or by anything they said or did… but by what they didn’t do. It sounds so selfish as I write it out, but it’s what I feel. I feel like I have had to do this whole thing alone. No one would come along side me and try and ‘think this out’ with me. I leant people books, printed off papers, and while some of them were read, no one really gave them a second thought. Most of them had already made up their minds what they thought (Side X with a dash of Side B to make it palatable) and, well, you can’t have a real conversation or actual productive discussion with someone who is not going to concede that they might be wrong. And it’s not like I thought they were wrong, I just needed to be able to think the whole thing through as clearly and honestly as I can, and that means looking at both sides with as open a mind as possible. I tried to engage people in the conversation, and without going into it too much, there is one person who I was extremely hopeful about because of how they presented themselves to me when we first discussed the issue, but nothing ever came of it. It hurts. And as I mentioned before, the Bible study I led sort of pushed me over the edge… it was so nice to talk to people about this whole thing, people who were (or seemed to be) willing to look at things from both sides and acknowledge possibilities, and wanted to look at things in depth. But they did it for one week. (well, two actually, but I wasn’t there the second week) There is no reason for them to dwell on it, they aren’t gay, it isn’t their life. And afterwards it felt like a slap in the face to go back to being all by myself again.

The thing is, I get it. I don’t really expect straight people to spend their time thinking about what life is like for gay Christians, and working out how the Bible pertains to us and how we live our lives. But… well, I really hoped someone – a friend, some friends – would do this with me, and no one really did. And it hurt. And I’ve withdrawn.

Funny thing is, I think my friend may have mentioned our conversation to another mutual friend of ours, because I got an email from them the other day asking to get together and to borrow the DVD I brought back with me from the GCN conference – “Through My Eyes” (I can’t find a link to a trailer or anything, it’s a DVD of kids/young adults just talking about what it is like to be gay and Christian) – which kind of felt like it came out of nowhere, so… I don’t know. Maybe things will change now. Who knows. I find I’m kind of gun shy now. I don’t really talk about it with my friends at all anymore, because I don’t want to feel that feeling of being alone. I don’t hide, and I’m not at all careful about my pronouns (not that I’m dating or anything, but still… pronouns happen), but I don’t bring up what I’m thinking about in this vein at all.

Maybe actually having written this out will help. Maybe I’ll go to church on Sunday. Maybe things will change. Maybe I should actually do something to make them change.