The waiting game 

Currently I am sitting in a empty office waiting for  he cable guy to get done so I can go to lunch. We spend a lot of time waiting, for everything from births to deaths. We waste so much of lives waiting for something to change that we think we will fix all our problems or waiting till we are ready for something. 

In all this waiting we often forget to live the lives we currently have. Is everything ever going to be perfect? Never! Life is not ment to be, but in my life I always go back to my go to versus of John 10: 10, the thief come to steal kill and destroy but I have come so they have life and have to the full. This idea of a full like is always my goal, I done many things trying to make that a reality so amazing and some down right dumb as hell. I have searched for Chirst in the highest mountains while on a mission trip, and he has searched for me at 6am on a Sunday morning waking up asleep on a bar after a crazy night with friends. What does it mean to have a life to full?

I remember the first time I was ever is a bar, I walked in quietly and left almost as soon as I went in. Looking back that might have been one bravest moments of life in trying to live as my authentic self. And there have been moments hanging out with some great people that I have felt the most alive I ever have in a gay bar not in fear of say, doing, or touching the wrong person. But is that really fulfilling or just a fleeting moment?  I have seen the eyes of Christ in a little Orhpan in Nicuraga that to this day owns a part of my heart that no one else will ever be aloud to take. I remember like it was yesterday the day I waked into the orphanage and he came running up to and started climbing me like I was a tree and I knew in that moment that he was truly ment to be a forever part of my life. I have not seen him in person in a few years now but thanks to Facebook we are able to keep up with each other’s lives.  Over all I am a very synical person who does not trust people well, most of the time out of self preservation. 

But when we don’t trust and are always waiting for life to be what we think it should be we miss out on so much of what makes like worth living so stop waiting and just live.

LOVE GOD, LOVE EACH OTHER, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!

This is the day…..

This is the day that the Lord has made, as we are looking at today what does yesterday or ten years ago effect this day that the Lord has made. All of the flooding in WV has made think about the reality of things and what our pasts mean to our present or our future. We often think of our pasts as the things left, letters, toys, photos ect. But what happens when that tangible item is gone?  A few years ago now I spent a lot of time struggling with that idea and the trying to re-buy my memories from Ebay after a house fire. The first 30 years of my life I spent a ton of time thinking where just gone. There is very little visual record of my childhood in picture form, my grandmother and other family had some but the most embarrassing are gone (which is prolly a blessing). But as so many families in my state have lost everything they ever had I know many of them are having these same thoughts. In the end for me it has been a blessing, the fire really made think about what defines you as person. The weight of the family history in dinning room suits and 100 year old high school diplomas is honestly looking back a very heavy load.

These days of floods, fire, or hurricanes makes you wounder why the Lord choose to make those days. Honestly I don’t know why He does, but what I do know is that peace comes after the storm. They storm might be the loss of lives under the hand of a gunman or a flood but the peace that we are promised is worth the pain we suffer at the time.

As these people move forward and reclaim their lives, will they be what they once where? My guess is never again but will it be an adventure with much grief, a laughs, and hopefully a whole lot of new memories.

LOVE GOD, LOVE EACH OTHER, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!

Is the end the start or the start the end?

Yesterday my local congregation voted to hire two new ministers. This has made me spend a lot of time thinking about the past and what this new start means. I was not super close to our former minister who had to step down for medical reasons, but I was super close at least at one point to his daughter.  Well as anyone who has read some my blog post before you know I am gay baptist from Appalachia. Those are words that normally don’t go together at all, or at least with out the some type of negativity in them. I know that our former minster felt that being gay was against the Bible but was he was firm that relationships of faith where a personal thing and we could agree to disagree (Plus with his daughter as a good friend nothing to negative would have been said anyways). Having only meet our new pastors for a few hours in a large group setting I think everything is going to be fine but at the same time there is a lot of fear of the unknown in religious leaders.

I have been lucky religiously over all compared to a lot of people I know and stories I have heard. I have had strong advocates of faith and protection from anyone who would try to make me feel less then in the church I attend now. The church I grew up going to from what I was told held prayer meetings to pray for my soul and some even sent written affirmations of hate and not Gods love. I do think they thought they where doing what they should but still……………. There are a couple of local ministers who I was involved with at our state church camp that with the best of intentions tried to shield innocent students away from the gay. Well in there choices they literally thought I would be a good idea for me to be contacted while I was on a mission trip in Nicaragua.  Lucky for me there was people who knew what was going to happen and could do nothing to stop but was able to make them not contact while I was playing with orphans and building houses. While at this same camp every summer some guy would ended up in a dress honestly being super trans-phobic. One summer for a week we had a counselor dress as toucan Sam using every anti gay stereotype there is playing the bird as a fruit loop. Yet a gay counselor who just wanted to show the love of Christ to the students was a negative influence and would go against the Bible.

But anyway as we go into the new start coming on the tails of a major end its scary. The unknown is always scary but even more so when your place of refuge and strength might end up under fire from a well meaning but mislead leader. I truly do not believe that is going to the case but this fear is something its hard to get past.

Back to my former ministers daughter, if you read this know you are loved and missed. You truly have shown me the love Christ more then I think you will ever know. You could have easily followed the line of pushing away the awkward gay boy, but you didn’t to embraced me and I think we both taught each other a lot over the years.

LOVE GOD, LOVE EACH OTHER, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!

 

Something Happy

I think It might be time for a happy story. Well I will tell the tale of how I got my first and only real Boyfriend. Oddly we meet the first time at Walmart with his ex boyfriends who was honestly my frenemy.  Not that I really had anything against him truthfully we where just to much alike and both still at least to our perspectives deep in the closet. The reality of that was very very different. Well I casually meet who I will call Cody (not his real name) at Walmart while looking at paint samples. He found me on Facebook and we started messaging back and forth while having a poking war (Which I finally won BTW). Well after chatting for a long he asked me to meet him for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant, this was what ended up being my first real date although at the time I had not even thought about him being interested in me at all nor thought I was ready to opening admit I wanted to go on a date with a guy. But anyways we went to dinner and had a great time, and just keep chatting and talking. Over time it built into something more and it was really hard but all I wanted to do was talk about him to my friends but I did not know how they would react and all that. Lets be real I was not hiding anything from anyone! As we moved forward into dating it became more obvious that I had to tell people and deal with the cards as they fell. For the most part everyone reaction was great, a couple of miss fires but this a happy post so none of that talk. We officially started dating on Christmas day in 2006, and very shortly after I was leaving to go spend new year in Nicaragua. Well I decided that I was going to use this trip as my giant coming out party.   Most everyone I really cared about at he time was going to be with me. All the  reactions of those dear friends was great. I am going to use real names here cause I don’t think they will care and if they do please don’t sue me 🙂

The first person I told was a lady who had taken a very strong and influence role in my life after the death of my mother and still is just as important. When I told Cyndy so just gave me a hug told me that she loved me and that Ann was going to be excited that she didn’t have to  tell me 🙂 Susan as we rode the bus to somewhere I was like what would say if I told you Cody and I where dating, she was like duh tell me something I didn’t know already but do you see that dead chicken in that ladies bag? As I was ironing Patrick’s pants for go dinner cause yes why everyone need to wear linen pants in Nicaragua his reaction was much the same He already knew Cody and was just wished us happiness that he loved me no matter what.

Its amazing the walls we think we are using to hide things but in reality its loosely wrapped in cellophane. Not really hiding anything at all.

LOVE GOD, LOVE EACH OTHER, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!

 

The Fear of Change

This weekend there are going to possibly be some major changes for my local congregation. We will meet and hear preach our candidate for senior pastor, I think is a scary event for any church body. But was the only gay in sea of mostly accepting but just not talked about baptists this is a very scary thought for me. I said last night that all I really hoped for in a new minister was someone who would agree to disagree and not preach any LGBTQ hate sermons. The longer I have thought about that statement the more I have been questioning my standards. I truly love my church I literally owe my life to some of the people who attend. I have been at some very dark moments in my life and my church family is has always been the ones to lift me up out of it, with the help of a few amazing friends outside of the church. But, its sad that my expectations are so low really.

Change in general is something no one really likes, the fear of the unknown and all. Yet change can be exciting as move into a new stage of life. Our country is on the brink on a major change or the middle of one depending on how you look at it. There are many people that believe that our nation was created on Christian standers and the reality it was created on religious freedom. There is a major difference between the two, our forefathers created a separation  of church and state to not let our government control religion like had in the mother land. It was in the 50’s when In God We Trust was added to printed money, and even in that who God are we really trusting in? Its time that move forward and let things change and realize sometimes just because we have always done it that way is not a legitimate reason to keep doing it that way. As we move forward in the next few weeks and months change will happen and people just need to get on board and not be on the wrong side of history.

LOVE GOD, LOVE EACH OTHER, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!

The idea of saftey

the quirky visionary

The events of the this weekend have really brought to the foreground this idea of safe spaces. I am going to probably more honest in the next for moment then I have ever been in text or print at least. Grow up a gay boy in the 80’s and 90’s it was  scary place to be. Gay was something that at least in my life was only talked about in quite hush tones in a negative way. There are a few places that you should always feel safe no matter what your home with your family (Family by blood or family by life bringing you together) and in your place of worship. Unfortunately  for many this is not the case when they are trying to figure out there sexuality. In the world that we live in today its a post Will and Grace culture, I have often said to younger…

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Whats next???

The last week seems like a dream, now its time to make a plan and make a change. The hate is this country for many groups needs to be fixed. In every group of people there extremest. The bomb wearing Muslim, the sign yielding baptist, the wanting to build a wall republican, or even the dreamer democrat. So often we let the extreme ends define a group and that is really not the reality. When people think of the LGBTQ visions of gay men covered in body glitter dancing in a cage or some pedophile might be the image what comes to mind, or a very masculine lesbian in a tool belt or the straight mans porno lesbian fantasy.

Every stereotype comes from a place of reality honestly. But does that make that the only part of the people group? Not even a little bit. Gay men deal with the same things that straight couple do, we go on awkward first dates,we really just want to loved, we have our ups and d0wns, go to the grocery store, buy toilet paper and laundry soap just like everyone else. For some reason a lot of people see gay couples as some zoo attraction that is something as exotic as a zebra in the plains of Kansas, but the reality it that over all its not different at all.  Happy moments, sad moment, time of joy, and times of grief all translate culture to culture gender to gender and gay to straight.  The next thing is the Bible says being gay is wrong.

Well the Bible says a lot thing are wrong. Eating shrimp, Divorce, wearing mixed material clothing, tattoos……..Just to name a few. So often people pick and choose what think is still applicable in our post Jesus world. What I know as my personal truth after much soul searching and prayer is that my Jesus loves me just the way he made me. To the point that I truly believe that is not accidental that there is no record of Him even talking about homosexuality. So there is so much gray in religion, what you are convicted by is not that same as I am.

So whats next…..?????? I think on the most basic level is that we all have to come together to create a world where this hate is not given the food to live on. Just because something does not effect you directly does not mean you can just look the other way. If you hear someone using the word gay in a negative manner have the guts to call them out on it. If you hear someone bad mouth all Muslims  rise up and say something. These things are little but meaningful. It would mean much more for these words to come from a friend of theirs or someone they already respect then a random gay guy they don’t know.  Happily one thing that for a large part has already happened is that the next generation of kids entering high school and young really don’t see race and sexual orientation as a big deal. One of my best friends daughters is going to be a freshman in high school this fall  and truly almost everyone of her favorite characters on TV are gay men, Jack from Dawson Creek being her most favorite, and the reason she likes him is not because of who might sleep with at night but because of who his character was. I am so excited to be old and see what happens when this group of kids becomes in charge of things they truly give me hope.

There are much bigger things coming next….what are they I am not sure yet but I know God leading me down a path where I will be make a change and show His love to the unloved.

LOVE GOD, LOVE EACH OTHER, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!

Silence

The scariest noise in world is often silence. Silence can lead to a lot of things, in a movie a silence moment might lead up to the killer catching is victim or it can be the moments before a long lost daughter reunites with her mother. It can be a reaction when you don’t know how to react or not sure what to say.

Silence is not something that I have ever handled well or am very good at. Silence can say more then most people words ever will. When I was kid a was never really afraid of the dark but I was deathly afraid of the silence. There is something that is hard to understand about it. In the world we live it silence is not something that happens for most of us often. There is always some kind of noise to distract. I myself always fall asleep with a TV on, not because I am watching it really but to distract my mind from thinking to much. People spend lots of money on sleep sound machines and fans to make noise for them. Even as I type I have spotify playing because I am at the office alone and its to quite.

The Bible tells us to be still and know that I am God, I have times I call God moments when I know without a doubt what hes trying to tell me. These moments more often then not happen when I allow myself time to stop and just be. This is why church camp, retreats, and mission trips are so meaningful to people, we get out of our normal and really have time to stop and think and listen. These times of quiet at important,  but equal so sometime we have to be so loud that people have to listen.

A Facebook friend posted a status about how quite almost silent his news feed had become about Orlando. My response was say something, you might only need a whisper to keep the conversation going but other times you might need a bullhorn to make people hear. We have to keep talking till hate is not the normal in this world. No matter what you believe or who you worship or who you sleep with or any other differences we are called to love each other. We cant let the silence win, silence has already cost way to many innocent people their lives. This is bigger then white or black looking the eight who where killed a little over a year ago in their place of worship, its bigger the gay or straight as our president said this was attack on Americans and I want to take that a step farther and say all these attacks where on the world every corner that was created need to work to fight hate in all forms.

LOVE GOD, LOVE EACH OTHER, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!!

Good Grief….Maybe

As we all are processing the loss of some 50 lives grief is a natural line of thought. Grief is something that unfortunately I understand all to well. My first memory of death was when I was 7 or 8 and two much older and distant cousins got killed in a car wreck. I remember going the funeral in Virginia and being really confused on how they got them into those really small boxes. Freddy and Paulie had been cremated honestly I don’t really remember what the reasons I was given but I do remember never felling like what I was told didn’t add up.  In my family funerals and such was not something that kids where left home during. I have gone to more funerals then I remember, my moms reasoning with this was that she did not want going to events like this to be something that first happened when it was someone really important to us grandparent or someone like that. Honestly I am glad for her forethought,  I remember in high school going to a friends grandfathers funeral with her and this was the first funeral she had ever been to. She had to deal with the fear of a totally unfamiliar event as well grief of the loss she was feeling. Moral of this part of the story is don’t try to hide your kids from death and grief unfortunately its part of life.

The first major death I ever had to deal with was the death of my moms dad, My papa he was the cornerstone for whole the family immediate and extended he was the one that took care of everyone and made sure things where the best he could make them. From the time I started school to my senior year of high school I had spent my summers in Maryland with my grandparents normally heading that was the Saturday after school let out and coming home the Saturday before school started back in August.  There was alot of reasons for this that I didn’t understand at the time but looking back I get it now (this is something I might explore later in another entry). The day of my senior prom I was told that my grandfather had lung cancer, you ask why would they have told me that day well partly I have no idea. But the reason I think is that I have always been able to read people well to understand feelings they are having even when sometimes they cant understand them. So I would have know there was something up, because they had come to town to see me go to my senior prom. Well to make this part of the story shorter he passed away that next November just a few days before thanksgiving. With the crashing down of that cornerstone everything changed forever. My grandmother moved to Huntington,  my uncle showed that sometime just because you share blood it does not mean you are really family, as well as many other things. But I learned at that how different people grieve very differently.

A few years after my Grandfather passed my Grandmother died on February 13 and just a few short well what seemed like long days later on February 28th my died. At this moment my world seemed like it ended growing up a 200% mamas boy and grandmas boy as well I was not sure how or if I could go on. Well I can’t say it didn’t hurt a lot but by the grace of God he had placed a group of amazing people in my life at that time to carry me through. The details of all this again I think need to wait for another day.

But grief is good, grief in healing, grief is painful, grief is grief. Many families lost people they at this point might feel like they did not really know because in death they found out there son or daughter was part of the LGBTQ community. Each of these families, friends, co-workers, and ever the lost pets will deal the grief in very different ways. Its hard grief is not for the weak. The Jewish tradition has a something they call sitting Shiva, from my baptist knowledge this is the idea of people following the lead of the grieving if they need to cry you cry with them, if they need to laugh you laugh with them, if they need to sit in silence  silence it will be.  This is is beautiful. Its okay to laugh, its okay to cry, its okay scream, its okay, its just all okay. I remember after 9/11 trying to figure out how to grieve for someone you never knew, but the grief was real and hard.  For many of us we are there again trying to understand how to work through this loss, the rules are the same there are no rules its okay to grieve the loss of a group of people most of us never meet. For the LGBTQ community the grief is not just for the people lives but for the loss of safety and joy many of us felt in the Gay bars and clubs the one place to you give your boyfriend or girlfriend a kiss and not have to worry about the wrong person seeing you.  As a group well are strong we will get that safety back in time.

My final thoughts for today are ones that I am not sure many will understand but ones I think might be at the top of the list for me right now. The family and friends of the shooter is grieving right now. He had people who loved him, people who laughed with him people who shared life with him. They are hurting right now along with rest. I pray that they can try to find solace in the joyful moments they had spent with him and not just the last remember the last actions of his life. I truly believe that to do actions such as he did you have to have some mental issues or something so traumatic in your past you could not work past time. I pray with honest heart felt prayers for peace in the souls of those who loved him and that they grieve past this and make there legacys something great because his ended up not being.

 

In the days that Follow…..

So often after a tragic event within a few days we have moved on to something else that Facebook has told is important. But truth and reality is something that we cannot just gloss over to make ourselves feel better. Hurt is how I truly believe we grow as people and as a culture. Think about the moments in history that brought our country and in many cases our world together, 9/11, JFK’s assassination, The tragedy at Sandyhook, The challenger exploding as millions of school children watched.  With all of these events we saw people from every area of life, young and old, rich and poor, black and white come together to morn the loss of lives. We are at a pivotal moment  in the history of the United States what will the next few days and weeks look like in the aftermath of the largest mass shooting in the history of the country. Will it lead to changes in our gun laws…….my guess is no. Will it lead to major changes in how the general public looks and feels about the LGBTQ community……..again sadly my guess is no. Will it take a generation to pass for the the people of the LGBTQ community to feel safe in the what should be a safe space………yes.

I live in a  very LGBTQ focused environment, the TV  I watch, what shows up on my Facebook news feed yesterday a friend made a comment on how sad she thought it was that people where not talking more on Facebook about the events of the day before and the ones that where it seemed negative. This is a vast difference from my experience I am proud to say that my new feed was a rainbow of love and support, and people trying to start hard and painful conversations but ones we have no choice but talk about.

For my personally I really want to focus on being real and honest and share my story to try to help other people understand. This might be another gay man who thinks there fears and feels are not ones the rest of us have, or the conservative christian republican who might just need a dose of compassion and understanding.  It always floors me about how God really works and leads us to points where we need to be to do what his plans for us our. With this blog I started it along time ago and never really did much with it but the time has come for me to talk and share so hopefully we can all change at least our little corner of the world for the better.

LOVE GOD, LOVE EACH OTHER, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!!!