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In Honor of National Coming Out Day

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I want to recognize and celebrate National Coming Out Day, even if I don’t seem to be able to string together two sentences lately. I used to get stressed out when I had nothing to offer the empty page or the blank blog, but these days I am being kind to myself.

It is what it is (or isn’t).

Like many Americans, I am alternatively depressed, angry, stunned, or terrified by the raging chaos in the White House that has spewed onto the international stage. The result of the jarring tug-of-war in my head is a kind of creative paralysis. I’m not even writing in my personal journal, which is pretty unusual. It’s almost as if any type of reflection is dangerous — I need to be detached at the moment.

Still, on some occasions we must rise above, and I deem National Coming Out Day to be one of those occasions.

The pain and confusion experienced by most LGBTQ people at some time in their lives has deeply affected me in ways that I won’t go into right now. I have seen the utter misery of someone who is unable to come out of the closet, and I have witnessed the ebullient joy of someone finally being true to who they are.

I honor the courage of my friends and family who have struggled, and I salute you today — in or out of the closet. May there come a day when all feel safe being themselves.

Today and everyday I reject judgment, intolerance, hatred, and bigotry, most especially when it purports to be connected with Jesus Christ. That spirit does not come from the Jesus I know.

“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (The Bible, Galatians 5:22-23.)

Period. And amen.

Who Said Anything About Sex?

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WHO SAID ANYTHING ABOUT SEX?

As it turns out, generating three hundred words a day isn’t as easy as it sounds. I may rue the day I agreed to join this writing challenge with my fellow Hopkins grad school alumni.

I started work on a “spiritual memoir” that’s been gestating for more than a year: 871 words the first day, 467 the second, and 436 the third day. Then I took a two-day break, brought on by the total absence of anything to say.

My spiritual memoir had taken a decidedly sordid turn and become all about my awakening sexuality, something I had no intention of writing about. Within the first three days, I’d played spin-the-bottle and kissed the neighborhood pastor’s son, a gangly gay boy who later died of AIDS; had my first “real” kiss in a church basement while a psychedelic sock-hop raged upstairs (if you don’t know what a sock-hop is, consider yourself fortunate); and fallen hard for a missionary’s son who touched my thirteen-year-old breasts and left me reeking of Jade East cologne.

So you tell me – wouldn’t you run from that? God only knows where the next three hundred words might take me.

Runaway Narrative

I have no apparent control over the narrative of my own story. I start off musing about how I came to know God and end up being felt-up by a missionary’s son. And I know what happens once I hit the later teen-aged years. It’s not pretty and it probably wouldn’t be shelved in spiritual memoir.

Worse yet, I have journals from all those years, and this whole enterprise may lead me into a long-delayed exploration of those yellowed pages. The last time I read back through my journals was in 1980. Really.

So I’m tempted to drop the whole memoir idea and go back to doing profiles and interviews, which I enjoy and which are clearly safer than allowing my pen to roam where it likes. It seems easier to find meaning in other people’s lives than in my own.

Truth Happens

But no. I’ve been here before: I know that when a story has a will of its own, it probably has good reasons for wanting to emerge. A story I wrote about Willa Cather turned out to be about my relationship with my alcoholic father. A story about our family house turned out to be about finding strength in the suffering of women ancestors. A story about an endangered tortoise turned out to be about my search for the sacred.

Writing is a spiritual act for me, an act of co-creating with God. I need to surrender to the process and trust that there are transformational truths hidden in strange and unexpected places.

I’ll go back to the memoir when I’m ready. In the meantime, blogging counts towards my daily word goal, so here are my 475 words.

 

Melanie 14

Reeking of Jade East cologne

Wild Goose Part One – Celebration & Sexuality

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My head swirls with images of sweaty hippies swaying inside a drumming circle, tattooed youth dancing beneath rainbow banners, and a parade of body-painted, trumpet-blowing, cymbal-crashing celebrants on their way to . . . church.

Just another hum-drum Christian weekend at the Wild Goose Festival, a “gathering at the intersection of justice, spirituality, music and the arts” in Hot Springs, North Carolina.

At the entrance to the festival, a poem by Mary Oliver

At the entrance to the festival, a poem by Mary Oliver

I’ll be writing more about the festival, I’m sure. It just takes some time to process the dozens of workshops and performances, everything from Mindful Sexuality to What Queers Bring to the Church to White Privilege.

This year’s theme was Living Liberation, and the gathering was most definitely liberated, much to the chagrin of the handful of demonstrators outside the gathering, half-heartedly waving signs saying things like REPENT. I felt kind of sorry for them — they had to act all sad and serious while thousands of joyful Christians celebrated Jesus right across the street. 

We invited the demonstrators in, but they declined. We were respectful — a couple of Wild Goosers brought them water and food and even held their signs when nature called the protestors away from their posts.

The REPENT people didn’t like the gay and lesbian Christians amongst us.

Why not celebrate who you are?

Why not celebrate who you are?

My heart broke for one protestor named Will who said that he used to be gay but he was fixed now. Oh. My. God. How confusing and upsetting for him to see all these free Jesus-loving souls celebrating the way they were made while he waved his little sign, unable to “live life to the full,” as Jesus called us to do. 

But here I go, writing about the Goose. I didn’t mean to get into it, I just wanted to share a few photos for fun. More to come.

Saturday night "Beer and Hymns"

Saturday night “Beer and Hymns” tent

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Sunday morning celebrations

 

Who doesn't love a parade?

Who doesn’t love a parade?

 

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