Category Archives: LGBT Rights

Brought to You By the Letter “T”

Finding out your spouse is LGBTQ, while you are straight, is painful, without a doubt. My own experience only includes the “G” in the acronym, but I have had the blessing of meeting so many who can relate to the other letters, which has given me much needed insight.

The themes and feelings are mostly similar, though. Here are several:

  1. Shock
  2. Duped
  3. Reality vs. Perceived Reality
  4. Anger
  5. Hate
  6. Vengeance
  7. Sorrow and Mourning
  8. Desire to know the truth…all of it
  9. Secrecy
  10. Shame

Then there are the questions of what to do. Can they change? Can this be fixed? Is divorce the only option? What about the kids? My church family? My extended family? Will I ever find true love again? Am I even loveable? What could I have done differently? Who am I without them?

You feel alone. Are there any books, a step-by-step program to help me through this? Is anybody out there who can help me? Give me answers. Give me solutions. I need them now!

In my own unique journey in this (because even though there are similar themes, each person’s scenario is different) I came to the realization that if society, religion, bullying and inner painful thoughts hadn’t have been a part of my ex husband’s life, maybe he could have lived authentically and not caused the hurt and pain that myself, my kids, my friends and my family had to endure. We wouldn’t have married. I wouldn’t have spent years with him building a life, a paradigm and a geriatric future with him, only to find myself alone.

But then…I wouldn’t have my beautiful Three Little Birds with him. I wouldn’t have grown to know who I am at my core. I wouldn’t be sitting here today on my amazing front porch thinking and writing these thoughts and loving others without condition.

So I stop right there. I cannot soak in regret. I am thankful that I married him.

I learned to get to know and love myself without anyone else in my life except those who the Universe brought to me as a gift. We only get one life that we really know of for sure, and wasting it away by staying stuck in the list above in is not where I want to be.

I intentionally chose to change my way of thinking about LGBTQ people, from one of a “choice” and “lifestyle” to love, empathy and acceptance. But it took me a long while to get there. Even if you don’t ever get to where I am, that’s okay. I love you unconditionally, too.

Out of all of the letters in the LGBTQ acronym, however, I have had the toughest time grasping the “T”. Transgender, for me, is tough to understand. But I am trying. I am accepting. I have empathy.


So now, we come to Caitlyn, formerly Bruce Jenner. It is non-stop chatter in the media, and people’s true selves and ideas of “authentic life” are brought to the surface. Sometimes with support, but sometimes with vitriol.

In my high school English class this week, my students immediately brought Caitlyn to my attention, as though they were sharing brand new information. God bless them. They know me well, and often seek to know my opinion on subjects. Most of the time, we teachers have to tread lightly on so many tough subjects, but in my small charter school, it is much easier to be transparent.

“Oh my God! Did you see the cover of Vanity? Isn’t that crazy? What do you think, Emily?” (At Rainshadow Community Charter High School, students call teachers by their first names. Weird, I know, but it really is a good thing for these at-risk teens.)

What I said and what I thought were two completely different things. What I said was: “She is beautiful. It has been a long journey for her and she needs love.”

However, what I was thinking was: This must be so painful for those who are experiencing the reality of a spouse coming out as transgender. It is all over the news and they can’t escape it. They must be reliving the memories of someone they thought was one gender, but lived a lie and sucked them into it.

Like, maybe they are revisiting some of the stuff that I listed in the beginning; I dare say even more than what I listed. Maybe a wife or husband or their children are seeing a mom transform into a dad, or vice versa. I cannot imagine the pain they must feel when people joke in comments or memes about Caityln being prettier than Kris, or the Wheaties box of Bruce being changed into Fruity Pebbles. “She totally knew! No sympathy!” Or jokes about makeup or harsh comments that God only made male or female and that transgender people are pedophiles.

Horrible stuff.

So I am writing this, ultimately, to support you, the straight spouse, during this most difficult time. That goes for everyone’s experiences, whatever letter describes your life in the acronym, but especially those of you who understand better than I do regarding Transgender people.

So, this post is brought to you by the letter “T” as in transgender, tough, and transition.

And for the word “transformation” for yourself, the straight spouse of a transgender individual. Because not only is your spouse transitioning, but what you are going through can at times feel tragic, troublesome and traumatic. And where you will be, after you come into your own, is something beautiful and transformed, even if you can see it yet.


Hang in there. I love you. And so do many others who have been where you are.

Talking Ts and Transcending Travesty,

Emily

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Speak Up, For Christ’s Sake

I need to vent.

One of the things that I am getting tired of hearing is the phrase: “But not all Christians are like that.” Or better yet: “Don’t judge me based on what [the right-wing flavor of the day] said. They are wrong.”

Like: I am a Christian, and I don’t agree with that. There seem to be so many of you.

Trust me when I say that I understand. I do. You know why? Because I used to say things like that myself.

Freedom of Speech
Too Afraid to Speak Up

But you know what I also did? I sat in silence among Christians, politicians and groups who misrepresented the name of Christ. Ultimately, I was a follower. I would rather sit there with my mouth closed than rock the boat against my pastor, Bible study leader, uber conservative friends, or my family. I would say things to others, usually in some sort of anonymity, that I am a Christian and I don’t think that way. I would act all offended, when really, I was too chicken to do anything other than defend myself with those words. Why didn’t I do more? Why did it take my ex coming out of the closet and me becoming the scorn of judgement before I could wake up and say something more than that?

The reason? Fear.

And if you are a Christian, then you know that there is no fear in love. If you are afraid to speak up to someone or about something, then that circle or idea is not loving, in my opinion. Christ is likely being used as a pawn for some sort of unloving justification.

And Christ wouldn’t want to be used in that way, wouldn’t you agree? (If you don’t agree, I am okay with that. I am going to love you anyway, and speak up anyway.)

I say all of the previous to challenge you. If you get it, if you don’t want to be associated with extremism, if you surround yourself with others who want to speak out but don’t, then I say boldly: you are part of the problem.

Silence is sometimes called for. The adage “Nothing says screw you better than nothing at all” can speak volumes. But also, at times, if you say nothing at all, you are perpetuating a problem.

Stop doing that, especially if you are afraid to rock the boat. If you are afraid, then maybe that means you should say something. Maybe that’s your conscience or even the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Stop being a follower of men and their ideas. Think for yourself. Towing the line is dangerous, especially with people’s livelihood.

For instance, legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ people.

If you get offended when people post things against laws that seek to keep LGBTQ people from having basic secular freedoms, like marriage equality, then take it as a clue that others see Christ followers as bigoted. I don’t for a second believe that myself, but you should care that others do feel that way. Isn’t how the world views Christ important to you if you are ambassadors of Unconditional Love? If you are willing to see that and admit that it is their truth, don’t just say “I am a Christian and don’t feel that way.” How about you speak out against it instead of defending yourself? Then your words will match your actions.

Take baby steps, if you are too afraid to share your thoughts on social media. Why don’t you start with your church? Those you fellowship with? Your pastors, even? If you are confident in your salvation because of Christ, you should no have fear.

If you cringe at the thought of confronting those around you with civil conversation, then I will be even more bold and say that you really are part of the problem. Starting within the Church is the only way true change is going to come about. People like Dobson and Glenn Beck won’t last as long if they don’t have a following of people who are willing to agree with their ill-advised ideas (like Civil War will happen if Gays are given the right to marry). When these ideas are expressed and leaders in the church or followers of Christ don’t speak out against such nonsense, then their silence equals condoning.

Again, this must start within the Church. So if you find yourself defending Christianity by stating “Don’t lump all Christians under the same umbrella,” then do something more than that. Be proactive. Challenge others to think and not follow.

If you refuse to see the damage being done by a “handful” of people, if you refuse to hear the other side on how that thinking is keeping others from unconditional love, and if you are afraid to speak up toward those who are hurting the cause of Christ…

Then your silence speaks volumes. You are condoning those ideas.

Don’t be the three monkeys. DO something.

Speak up, For Christ’s Sake,

Emily

P.S. A friend of mine had an excellent point: Everyone speaks at a different volume, in different ways, and everyone has their own calling. If your calling isn’t to speak out against injustices toward LGBTQ people, then whatever it is, do so according to your own convictions and gifts. Just…don’t be silent. Don’t cover your eyes. And above all, don’t live in fear.

“A Large Pizza, Please, With Extra Stones”

I have been very quiet these last few weeks on my blog. I suppose it’s because I have been preoccupied with watching all of the news sites and trying to understand case law regarding the “religious freedom” bills floating around out there.

Depending on where you are in your journey with finding out about your spouse being out of the closet or in denial, these happenings might not interest you or they hit too close to home. For me, it has been nearly a decade since my ex’s Big Reveal, so I am currently on a path of fighting against LGBTQ discrimination. Why? Because after researching the heck out of this stuff to the best of my ability, and knowing the thoughts of fundamentalist Christians since I used to be one, I am incensed by what is happening in our country.

If you would like to understand further why I would be an Ally in light of my husband coming out of the closet, I best explained it in the Huffington Post with my article The Real Learning Channel. Take a look at it if you want.

If you choose to read further, please know that this is not a typical post for this blog. But since I need to vent, it is the best outlet I have.

First, let me state some facts from my point of view.

1) These Religious Freedom Resoration Acts (RFRA) that are being adopted by states are not unusual. The federal government passed such a thing in the 90’s, and many states have since used them verbatim for their own state.

2) The ones that are so contentious (like the one that caused the uproar in Indiana) are NOT worded the same as the federal and state RFRA’s that have passed. The issue at hand is how they changed the language. The biggest change, among some others, is that they define “person” to include a for-profit business or corporation, with religious rights. This follows on the heels of the recent Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which granted corporations the same religious rights as individuals.

3) In turn, because now a “person” can choose to deny a citizen of the United States services due to religious beliefs, like PIZZA, they have the potential legal right to do so.

4) The problem here, with these reworded RFRA’s, is that specific groups are not protected from discrimination in their state (unless it has been adopted by a county or city within that state). This applies specifically to sexual orientation or gender identity. Many states have adopted these groups as protected against discrimination in their numeration laws (like race, gender or age). But as you can see below, many more states have avoided adding LGBTQ to their numeration list.

5) So, if a “person” claims for religious reasons that they cannot serve someone who is LGBTQ, then there is no recourse to sue and be backed up by the laws of that state.

Can you see the problem here? Simply using “religious belief” gives a “person” (for-profit business) the legal right to discriminate.

The smarmy thing, in my opinion, is the groups and law makers who are pushing this are people who do not approve of a gay “lifestyle” (read: it is a choice). In essence, they are using religion to be able to legally discriminate against anyone they claim they don’t agree with. They are saying that their religious freedoms are being stomped on because gay people are getting married, being served in restaurants, seeking housing, looking for employment, and hoping for benefits from their employer (either for themselves or for their partner).

Now, tell me how you would feel if you were being discriminated against in these same ways because you have been divorced, had sex before you were married or even committed adultery yourself? Or, take anything else that the Bible says is sinful, and they have a reason to discriminate, especially if they are really being consistent about their religious beliefs.

But no. They are taking one thing, homosexuality, and making it the litmus test for being able to get away with discrimination. For those people who are saying that the law (like in Indiana) is not meant for that, you can find a plethora of quotes and backgrounds from the very people who proposed, supported and passed this law…and their views about LGBTQ people. The timing alone for Indiana, who was denied the right to have a same-sex marriage ban, is enough to show you what their true intent was. Other states are following.

If you know anything about Scripture, there is very little said regarding homosexuality. Jesus never said anything about it himself, and that certainly should have credence with Christians. Jesus did say all kinds of things about judging others, loving others, following him, giving unto Ceasar, and making disciples of others.

None of what He said falls in line with denying tax paying citizens anything that everyone else can have, simply because they are “sinners.” In fact, He talks about turning the other cheek, helping non-believers, and serving others as He himself served…by dying for them.

So, now we get back to why I am so adament about fighting these crazy things going on in our government and society.

1) Our country was not founded on religion, and made dang sure in the Constitution that no law should be made forcing another person’s beliefs to stamp out the Constitutional rights of another human being. Unfortunately, if those who see homosexuality as a sin and think they can deny basic rights as guaranteed under our secular laws, then they don’t understand our history very well. Just read some quotes by our founding fathers. They weren’t too keen on religion at all. But, they wanted all to have religious freedom. Which we have.

2) How is allowing same-sex marriage or serving someone pizza effecting a heterosexual’s life or marriage? It isn’t, and if it is, then maybe they need to look themselves in the mirror and get some self-confidence. Even if you believe with every ounce of your being that marriage is between one man and one woman, how in the heck is letting a same-sex couple get married affecting your marriage? Why is there such an adament need to fight for this to become defined in our secular laws? It just doesn’t make sense to me. No one is making any clergy or church perform and bless these unions. You aren’t being forced to do anything against your religion. But pizza? A for-profit business making a wedding cake? That is different. Discrimination is wrong in our secular world. And any business who justifies it with religion is simply wanting to discriminate. They aren’t losing their faith, beliefs or religion over it. Good grief.

3) If a major goal of any Believer is to make disciples of Christ, they aren’t doing a very good job of it. In fact, no gay person is going to want to see what the unconditional love of Jesus really is, if Christians can’t grasp how to do so toward others, but instead discriminate against them. Believers are ambassadors. They are representatives. Hmm. Big fail.

 

4) Religious justification of all kinds of horrible things have happened in history: the caste system in India; the Crusades; burning of innocent “witches”; slavery and segregation; women not being allowed to vote; eugenics laws in Indiana and other states, which Hitler actually used as inspiration for his justified killing of millions of Jews, gypsies, mentally ill, homosexuals, and other groups of “unwanted” people. Judgement reigns, and hatred is the driving force, even if Christians want to claim that they “love the sinner, but hate the sin”…which, by the way, is nowhere in the Bible.

Listen, regardless if someone believes that being gay is a choice or is in their DNA, all of these laws that are being discussed are simply a way to legally discriminate against people: people who sin, love, pay taxes, have children, and live in a country that guarantees them protection against being targeted, whether or not they believe in Jesus and the Bible. Thankfully we have that freedom.

These laws are as un-American as the very country that our Founding Fathers seceded from through the Revolutionary War. Can’t we learn from history? No one is being asked to give up their religion. Christians aren’t being persecuted. Churches still are exempt from taxation, yet they want to dictate legalized discrimination in our country?

This is appalling.

I, for one, don’t know what it truly feels like to be discriminated against, though I am a woman and have experienced minor amounts of inequality and sexism. But if I were to walk into a pizza restaurant and ask them to cater my wedding (who does that, anyway?) and they wouldn’t do it because I am an avid Ally, plus they know my ex is gay and married, they could try to deny me their services based on their religious beliefs…if things keep going the way that they are. What if my own kids went somewhere with my ex and his husband and they weren’t served because their dads are gay? Would I have recourse? Not under the current situation. This is not right…and needs to be fought.

Experiencing my husband coming out of the closet, when I believed that being gay was a sin and a choice, truly caused my world to crumble. With this came a crisis of faith, forcing me to view all of my beliefs in light of my personal experience. I am so glad that happened. Otherwise, I might find myself on the wrong side of history, supporting the idea that my religion calls for me to discriminate against another person in this country. My religion would have also called me to fight for erroneous beliefs and to support laws in our secular society to make it legal for me to discriminate, because “speaking the truth in love” is what I am called to do, even if it hurts another person at their core.

If I did that, Jesus would be shaking his head, trying to gently show me that I have missed the mark. “Love one another, as I have loved you, and make disciples of all nations. Oh, and don’t forget about those stones that you really have no right to throw. Because, you know, that judgement thing is no bueno.”

Yet, that’s what these laws are doing: Judging for Jesus. Put the stones down, those of you who justify these things. Just love, eat your pizza, and be thankful that you live in a country where you can practice your religion without persecution or discrimination.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily “86 the Stones” Reese

 

I Love You

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What a blessed life I live.

I am a mom of three Tweens/teenagers. That alone is enough to give me license to not get things done. On top of that, I am also a teacher of teenagers. Add that in my life, and you can only imagine how exhausted I am at the end of each day.

Honestly, I barely have time to take a proper dump when nature calls.

But I wanted to let you know that I love you. I have received many emails from oodles of amazing people since my piece The Real Learning Channel was published in the Huffington Post Gay Voices. Some of them were simple but profound thank yous. Others are heart wrenching stories from people who are just now going through what I experienced nearly a decade ago.

I wanted to let all of you know that I have read your messages, and to apologize for not getting back to you sooner. My intention was to respond back right away; however, my life has gotten in the way a bit. Please know that you are not bothering me, though. Keep writing.

I plan, over the next several days, to start responding to all of you.

Remember that I love you. Deeply. You are not alone.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily

Well, That Escalated Quickly

anchormanEscalatedQuickly

Whoa. Things went bananas today on my blog.  I just want to thank Noah Michelson and the Blogger Team at Huffington Post Gay Voices for giving me the chance to publish my piece on your page. Looks like I may start adding my story in bits to the blog section of Gay Voices for a different spin on the life that many people have found themselves in, usually unwillingly.  Here’s a link for the article, in case you missed it.

The Real Learning Channel: A Straight Spouse of a Gay Husband Speaks Out

If you’re stopping by my page and want to know a wee bit about my story and don’t want to sift through everything I blabbered about on here, you can go to the Risk! Live Storytelling podcast by Kevin Allison.  Click the link below and forward to the 19:30 minute mark.

Risk! Live Storytelling, Emily’s Story

Thank you for heading over to my blog. My goal is always to encourage, and if you have a story to share that could help our readers, hit me up by contacting through email (contactsamesides@gmail.com).

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily F. Reese

Movin’. Shakin’. Gettin’ the Word Out.

Life really is sweet. Sometimes, life is super duper pooper sweet…like this last weekend. Lots of writing, cleaning out my closets (literally, not figuratively), getting to spend time with just my oldest daughter (which is rare) and sleeping in. That sleeping in thing never happens, so that’s what made this weekend super duper pooper.

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The middle and youngest of my Three Little Birds got to do something very special in San Francisco for their National History Day projects: they met with and interviewed Cleve Jones, a key player in AIDS activism, gay rights and was the main stud behind the AIDS quilt project. He also happened to be close friends with Harvey Milk, so both Thomas and Kate got the royal carpet treatment by Cleve, complete with a tour of the Castro pointing out key areas of interest for both Thomas and Kate’s projects. Cleve also had a surprise for them, as he asked Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award winning producer of many films (including Milk), to join them. Basically, it was a Cloud 9 Weekend for those two kiddos.

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If they don’t go far in the competition, I will be shocked.

Weekend at Emily’s: that’s a wrap.

Now, if you’re stopping by for the first time, you may be doing so because of a piece that I wrote for the Straight Spouse Network’s blog. I am very happy they published it, because it is a great resource and I am thrilled to be connected with it. If you are looking at the screen with a question mark on your face, here is the link and piece I am talking about. Check it out!

Straight Spouse Network Blog

I keep submitting pieces to as many news organizations as possible. I have been feeling led lately to speak out to people who have a little clout in this political world, and getting published is a great way to do it. Many of you know I am an LGBTQ Ally, and I have lots of reasons for this. I understand if you are not at this point in your life because the nightmare you may be dealing with hits too close to home. However, it has been a lot longer for me, and since my own Rainbow Family (called The Reeses and Their Pieces) has a bit of a stake in LGBTQ rights, I have a lot to say. Mostly, I feel that because Mixed Orientation Marriages have an incredible amount of shame and secrecy tied to them, the nation needs to know about us. We need some empathy, dammit! People need to know they’re not alone; people need to know what to say and what NOT to say when a family or friend is going through this crappy thing; and legislators need to know that the more laws that they pass that keep LGBTQ people as second-class or not equal, the more likely that MOMs will continue to happen…which means more hurt, pain, deceit and wreckage for straight spouses who get married to someone who is too afraid to be “out.”

Does that make sense? I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee this morning.

Basically, I am going to run my flip-top head off to anyone who will listen.

I love writing. I love people. I love being able to use the very thing of finding out my husband is gay, that caused me the most pain I have ever had to endure, to give meaning and purpose behind it.

Thanks for stopping by. If you are looking for encouragement, then be sure to read the link above. I meant every word of it. You really are stronger than you give yourself credit for.

You can do it. I believe in you.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily

A New Hope

It’s Sunday.  I have taken an unusual break from sitting on my front porch this weekend (a.k.a. The Coolest Porch in Reno… where a huge bear decided to take an evening jog by my house last week.  Let me tell you, it was freaky.). I am in South San Francisco for a much needed sabbatical from my busy life of raising my Three Little Birds and teaching other people’s kids.

That bear who ran by my porch scared the poo-poo out of me!  And yet... I stayed on the porch.  I'm analyzing why, still.
That bear who ran by my porch scared the poo-poo out of me! And yet… I stayed on the porch. I’m analyzing why, still. Any ideas?

As I write this, I am enjoying today’s unique sunrise from The Coolest Porch in San Fran.  I can see the bay and city from here and am wowed at the complexity of creativity and ingenuity of the humans that God created.  I mean, look at this place!  Not only did God allow for such a beautiful coastal area, but the Creator endowed us with the ability to come up with major technology and expansion prowess (even if some people may consider that a bad thing).  To piggy back on that thought, I am sitting here being able to write all of my thoughts in my head down into a computer connected to the world for anyone to read who feels inclined to simply “click” on my link.  Wow!  We are pretty amazing and intelligent people to have such a thing.

I love Sundays when I take the time to truly worship the Maker.  Life is so good!

If you want to get a copy of this book, you can do it at this link:  http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Bridgeless-Canyon-Kathy-Baldock/dp/1619200287/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414874423&sr=8-1&keywords=kathy+baldock
Yes, I know this woman. Do you want MY autograph? For a small fee, of course (-:

I finally have the time to read the book that my good friend Kathy Baldock of Canyonwalker Connections recently published.  It’s good.  I mean, REALLY good.  What was supposed to be somewhat of a memoir when she first started tackling the topic of LGBT inclusion in the Christian church, turned into a lengthy research project that spans time.  It is insightful and in my humble opinion, an excellent piece of literature to be able to give to Christians and non-Christians alike.  It gives history, testimony and examples of God’s work in all people, including the LGBT community.

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And yes, my story is also included on page 326 in the chapter section about Mixed Orientation Marriages.  Some of the people I have had the pleasure of being introduced to (Chet, Lynn, Jerry, Mark and Cheri) are also included in that chapter, and their stories lend insight to affirming and non-affirming Christians as to changes the Church needs to make in handling families in their congregations when a spouse comes out of the closet.

There needs to be change. End of story.

I have never met an individual who has gone through the tumultuous time of a spouse coming out of the closet whose church and leaders handled the situation lovingly and with compassion.  And if yours did, PLEASE contact me.  I need to know your story.  We need some added hope here on this site regarding how churches handle our unusual situation!

Whoa.  That's a lot of letters!
Whoa. That’s a lot of letters!

It’s all about relationship building, when it comes to the Church and Christians finding a way to understand the LGBT community. If you’re new to this site and have recently found out that your spouse is gay or bi or whatever other letter represents your spouse, please know that you can find positivity here.  I understand if you are in the position I was in, nearly 10 years ago, finding out your spouse, Christian or not, is gay.

It simply sucks, to put it mildly.  There’s no other way around it.

And now what you have to go through, from this moment on, really sucks.  The only hope you can cling to is that if you keep moving forward in your unique situation, you are not alone.  You can also begin to hope that you will make it through this, however long it takes, by relying on stories and encouragement from others.  But you have to keep moving forward, trusting that you will turn out to be a more complete and whole person than you are now.  Because if you don’t cling to that, then you might be a miserable person in the end.  And no one wants that.

Be hurt.  Be angry.  Be bitter, even.  But move forward with all of the strength you can muster, even if you take 17 steps back.  You have to want to get through it to the other side, whatever that may look like for you, in order to get there.  And along the way, know that you are loved by many, especially the ones who have been through it before.

I guess this is ONE way to remember the Serenity Prayer.  Or, you could just get a plaque.  That would work, too...
I guess this is ONE way to remember the Serenity Prayer. Or, you could just get a plaque. That would work, too…

And if you are not a person of faith, you will get zero judgement from me.  If you are a person of faith, memorize the Serenity Prayer, stat.  Repeat it like a mantra, because the only thing you want is peace (serenity), and the only way you’re going to get there is to accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and understand the difference between the two.

I wrote a little piece about this prayer awhile back, and if you would like to read it, click here.

Love me some Star Wars... and some hope.
Love me some Star Wars… and some hope.

On a related note, there were some interesting things that happened this last week during one of the nation’s largest denominational get together conferences, the SBC.

Thank you, Kathy Baldock, Matthew Vines, Robin Lunn and Jeff Hood (and all you other warriors) who attended the SBC Conference this last week.  Your mission was to build relationships, and it looks like that’s what happened.  For those of us who have been hurt by the Church in some way because of the MOM that we didn’t ask for, your efforts to find a bridge between our stories and the Church is appreciated.

Here is an article posted in the Baptist News Global that mentions all of us straight and gay spouses who needed some bridge building between our faith and our situations, but didn’t receive it.  There is hope for us straight spouses of faith, and I am thankful these people are taking our issues to the front lines.

Emotions Mixed for Pro-Gay ERLC Conference Attendees

Life is wonderful, God is good, and there is no fear in love.  Find hope, find it somewhere, and cling to it.

Happy Sunday from The Coolest Porch in San Fran,

Emily

P.S.  If you want to purchase a copy of Kathy’s book, you can do so here.  Much love to you, my dear friend.  Our meeting was divinely inspired.

To Stay or Not to Stay: That Is the Question

The male singer with the high pitch voice is David Lindley, the Jackson Browne's band guitar player.
The male singer with the high pitch voice is David Lindley, Jackson Browne’s band guitar player.

The word “stay” has been floating around the interwebs a bunch this past week.  With all of the SCOTUS posts and people’s opinions on The Book of Faces, it’s getting a bit confusing.

Basically, by not reviewing any of the appeals, SCOTUS is saying that same-sex marriage is constitutional and will be allowed in the states where many stays and voters wanted it to be banned… or defined marriage as between one man and one woman.  In my opinion, there will be hold-out states, and eventually SCOTUS will have to face the issue and make a federal ruling.

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It’s a little more complicated than that, but for now, this Ally will take what she can get.  People should get married if they want… regardless of who it is.  Love is love, marriage is a state mandated right, churches will not be “forced” to perform marriage ceremonies if they choose not to (which they already have that choice) and no Church or religious belief should dictate that to any other citizen of the United States of America.  I wrote a post on my other blog titled “Kiss My Big White Butt” that basically spelled out how I feel about it.  You can read it here if you’d like.

But what about the word “stay” as used in Mixed Orientation Marriages?  Should you “stay” once you find out and not divorce, trying to work things out in a heterosexual marriage while dealing with the complexity of same-sex orientation in your spouse?

I don’t actually have the answers for you.  I have known people who have stayed and tried to work it out.  In the beginning of Devon’s Big Reveal, I was determined to make it work.  My view on the matter was a religious one, basing my actions and reactions on the “fact” that being gay is a choice.  Therefore, Devon could choose to not “be gay” and with the proper counseling and guidance and manipulation from me, he would choose to work through it and “stay” married to me.

Should I stay or should I go?
Should I stay or should I go?

My attitude continued with this until the day I finally accepted that he didn’t really want to stay in it.  His homosexuality was not a choice.  I was choosing to keep him around until I could convince him otherwise.  The day I realized and accepted that was the very day I could let go and tell him that I wanted a divorce.

I slept for 14 hours straight that night and woke up with the most peaceful feeling I had ever experienced.

So… I didn’t stay.  I’m glad I didn’t.  NOW.  But it took me a year and a half to get there, and I tried everything I could think of, even some things I’m not so proud of.  I used scripture and the kids against him, for one, and for that, I am sorry.  In the end, however, that year and a half was a time of growth and grappling with big issues, with the biggest being my own belief system.  Before that Big Reveal, I thought I had all the answers.  After those words “I am gay” came out of his mouth, I truly learned what it meant to walk in someone else’s shoes and being judged for they very thing I used to judge others.  It was tough.  Once you live out something that was not expected to ever happen in your life, you gain empathy and wisdom beyond what you thought you could bear.

How long will it take you, as the straight spouse, to decide what you should do?  I don’t know.  Some lovely people I have met on this journey and through this website are still married after years of dealing with it.  Some of that has to do with age and the length of time they have been married.  Some of it has to do with their kids.  Many times, however, it has had to do with religious pressures based on fear… and that is no way to live.  True love has nothing to do with fear, and many times true love has to do with letting go.

Of course, this is all based on my own experience and others sharing their experiences with me.  I will not judge if you choose to stay.

However, I encourage you to truly evaluate your reasons behind staying.  Is it in any way based in fear?  Like, being afraid you won’t find anyone else?  Afraid that you can’t live without him or her?  Fear that people would find out and you’d lose friends and family over it?  Fear that others will be mad at you, or at your spouse?  All of these things can and will work out, because I have experienced it.  So have others.

Do what you think is right.  But try working toward not living in fear.  Fear is stifling and causes too much anxiety and unhappiness.

Be happy.  Be free.  If you can do that and “stay”, then by all means, do it.  You deserve the best in life, because life is too short to live it in fear.

Love, Emily Without Judgement

NoFearInLoveTattoo

Foot-In-Mouth-Disease and Letters In Red on Sunday

Pedestals:  No Bueno.
Pedestals: No Bueno.

Lest anyone forget, I have been where a vast majority of mainstream and Fundamentalist Christians have been with nearly every contentious issue and litmus test for being a “true” Christian.  This is especially true for the topic of Homosexuality.

This thinking/belief boils down to this:  You cannot be gay and a Christian.  If you are gay, you cannot “practice” homosexuality.  So, your options are:  1)  Live a life of celibacy (which is a “gift” according to the Scriptures and not something to force on someone), or 2) Get married to someone in a heterosexual marriage (because being gay is a choice and you can change to being a heterosexual)… and a third option during the process of #1 and #2 would be some sort of ex-gay therapy.  (Now, if you don’t believe the horror stories about those kinds of therapy, then you haven’t been willing to look into it.  Hit me up.  I can give you a plethora of people I know personally who experienced these kinds of interventions.  For every one person it supposedly “worked” for, there were 1,000 others that it didn’t work.  Which is why Exodus International finally had to disband after causing YEARS of harm to the LGBT community.)

One of the things that got me thinking today was this article in the NY Times, Pastor Led Son’s Gay Wedding, Revealing Fault Line in Church.  It’s well written and thought provoking about how the traditional and fundamentalist church treats its pastors and the LGBT community.  It made me think about how I would have reacted at one point in my life, before Devon’s Big Reveal.

Other people have the answers for gay people who are struggling with not wanting to be gay, wanting to have a relationship with God, and not wanting to hurt those they love.  It’s quite a pickle for the LGBT person to be in, to put it mildly.

I had the answers.  You bet I did.  And I was able to let them roll off my tongue as though I had the gift of prophecy.

This pic is awesome.  I love stuff that looks like kids made it.
This pic is awesome. I love stuff that looks like kids made it.

So, obviously, when Devon came out to me, I fell pretty hard from my pedestal.  I’m glad I did.  I wouldn’t change a thing… NOW.  But I sure tried to change things, especially that first year and a half.  I had people who loved me and supported my views that homosexuality was a sin and a choice.  I began to think a little differently as time moved forward, but not enough to question my beliefs regarding homosexuality.  It came down to me wanting Devon to remain my husband.  The very last thing I ever wanted was a divorce.  Heck, I was even willing to remain married to him if we never had sex again… as long as we were together and he did not seek a relationship or sex outside of our marriage.

I have shared a few stories on this blog and our earlier one (SameSides: Amicable Divorce)  that were words and attitudes I had which hurt Devon and all LGBT people, without me intending to be that way.  This was because of my worldview regarding homosexuality and Christianity.  I justified my judgement as “truth in love” when truly, at its essence, it was judgement.  To the well-meaning groups of ladies that I had the privilege of knowing through BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) during that year and a half in my life, I am very thankful that we weren’t allowed to get too personal in sharing prayer requests.  I couldn’t ask for Devon to choose to be straight or come back home to us during prayer time because that was a boundary BSF implemented, which kept a lot of gossip from spreading (prayer circles are experts at crossing gossip lines).

But the times where homosexuality was brought up through our readings or discussions, hurtful things were said that cut me to the quick and made me bleed inside.  I learned very early on how much I had hurt Devon and others through my prideful “wisdom” before Devon coming out of the closet by hearing words from other ladies lips that were the exact things I used to say and think.

This is what I call Foot-In-Mouth-Disease.  All of us are prone to it, regardless of our beliefs, love, or intentions.  I have accepted this about myself and feel qualified to see both sides of the divide regarding homosexuality and judgmental thinking.

I have no idea who "Gob" is, but this album cover is perfect!
I have no idea who “Gob” is, but this album cover is perfect!

Which is why I feel the need, especially lately, to simply go for it and call hypocrisy and judgement from Church dogma out in public ways.  Sometimes I do this with anger, other times I have done it with gentleness, and a few times I have lost friends over it.  I am learning how to balance love with truth, anger with empathy, and honesty with compassion.  I don’t hit the mark very often, but I’m trying.  I am thankful to those of you who don’t agree with me on things but stick around anyway.  It gives me hope that we can all help make this world a better place for everyone.

So on this Sunday, while many Christians are in church, I still don’t feel comfortable walking into one.  Someday I might, but today I will praise The Maker, The Universe, God… from the comfort of my computer at Devon and Felipe’s house while I recover from my last round of chemo.  The people and space that represent God’s unconditional love are right here, under The Reeses and Their Pieces Headquarters, where we can be together in peace, love, acceptance of differences and in fellowship with each other, building each other up and reflecting a little bit of The Letters in Red that are so precious to me these days.

Jesus did things right.  He kept his cool.  He didn’t suffer from Foot-In-Mouth-Disease.  Ever.  So I will look to him before I look to anyone or anything else as my example of how to live and love.  I am grateful for getting to a place of desiring to balance Faith with the realities of my life.  I’m doing that with the very thing that my dad always said to us growing up:  “Look to the Letters in Red.”

And if you aren’t religious, you won’t get judgement from me.  I am thankful I have the background I have because I get it when words are spoken in judgement, which are masked as “truth in love.”  Is there such a thing as “truth in love?”  Sure.  But if it doesn’t match with the Letters in Red, then you should be thinking twice before speaking them.

Happy Sunday to all people.  Unconditional love is the bomb, and without me knowing that I suffered from Foot-In-Mouth-Disease, I would have never gotten to this place of remembering the best advice from my pops:  Look to the Letters in Red.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Chemo-Done-And-Foot-Out-Of-Mouth-For-The-Moment Gal

Foot-in-Mouth Disease visits me often.  I think it is a virus possibly.  Wish there were an immunization for it.
Foot-in-Mouth Disease visits me often. I think it is a virus possibly. Wish there were an immunization for it.

Broke-Back to the Future

This is the final piece I wrote for the Reno Tahoe Tonight magazine in the May 2013 issue.  Devon and I were blessed to be able to share snippets of our story and journey as we navigated the waters of his Big Reveal that he is gay.  In it, I refer to the movie Brokeback Mountain, released in 2005.  It was a turning point for Devon and his desire to finally come clean to me.  Thank you, Oliver X, for letting us share our story through your publication.

BrokeBack to the Future

backtothefuture

You know, years can pass by after a major relational hurt in your life, and even though you’ve moved on, forgiven someone and have healed your relationship, something random can trigger those old feelings again. It’s like Doc kidnapping you in his DeLorean and forcing you to relive your crap in the past. You may just find yourself right back to the very moments of pain years earlier.

This is why I have avoided the movie “Brokeback Mountain.”

I remember lying in bed with Devon one night, almost nine years ago, having our usual chit-chat, which often included conversations about movies. Devon fancies himself a movie critic, so we usually debated about the value of various films. This particular discussion led us to talking about what movies we wanted to see.

“I really want to see the movie Brokeback Mountain,” he casually stated.

My reaction fell directly in line with my Judeo-Christian, Leave it To Beaver, beliefs at the time. I dismissed him outright by saying: “No way. That’s disgusting. I don’t want to see two guys having it out in the wilderness. Plus, they cheat on their wives, all for their own desires. It’s gross and wrong and I can’t believe you’d want to see that.”

He hummed and hawed a bit, mentioned something about the fact that it had wonderful cinematography and the conversation ended there.

As an English teacher, this conversation would fall under the literary term foreshadowing. Indeed, five months later, the truth came out of the closet.

Lotr-Brokeback-Mountain
Lord of the Rings: My favorite movie. I thought this was a funny comparison.

I often look back on that conversation and wonder if he was trying to open up and tell me something. As usual, I dismissed him and said something hurtful without even knowing it. We had lots of conversations before his Big Reveal that I view now as clues that I should have been less naïve.

When I found out that the turning point in Devon’s realization that he is a gay man was due to him viewing Brokeback Mountain (he actually left town to watch it and I didn’t know about it), I despised that movie even more. Devon revealed this to the readers of Same Sides in one of our installments of the Reno Tahoe Tonight several months ago. He mentioned that I still hadn’t watched it because of the hurt I felt from it years ago, but that maybe someday I would.

Well, I did. Over Spring Break. And it hurt. A lot.

I will tell you that the scenes with the two main characters “having it out” in Wyoming weren’t really as disturbing as they might have been to me eight years ago. The thoughts that I had during those moments were ones of me picturing Devon watching them and his possible realizations that he was unhappy with his life and our marriage as well as the fears that he may have had in telling me.

BrokeBackMountainWedding

The scenes which hurt the most were the ones of the deception that occurred in the lives of their marriages. Good God. I knew almost exactly what those ladies were feeling, especially the wife at home with her beautiful young babies, realizing that her husband wasn’t finding true fulfillment in their relationship… and not knowing why. There was deceit, to boot. The shock she felt when she saw her husband in the arms of another man was so real to me that I had to stop the film in order to catch my breath so I could keep watching. I even grabbed a glass of wine at that point.

And yet, she didn’t say anything. She wanted to deny it was happening. She let her marriage deteriorate and allowed her husband to live a lie. Their marriage was one big sham and she allowed this, not just him.

The interesting thing about the movie, ultimately, was the cultural era and time frame in which it was set. These guys literally couldn’t live openly. They accepted their fate and continued with their charade because they had no other choice. One of them was brutally killed because of it.

It was just so sad.

As I watched it, old wounds were opened in my heart. These were wounds I never wanted to see again. I questioned my decision to rent it when I finished it, sobbing uncontrollably like I did eight years ago when I first confronted Devon jokingly by saying, “What are you then? Gay or something?”

I had to work through those things all over again. But you know what? It only took me five minutes. As soon as I started to think about all of the blessings that have come from his truthfulness with me, I became the New Emily again, instantly.

MakeLemonade

This New Emily has so much to be thankful for, and she owes it all to Devon’s Big Reveal.

1) I am no longer judgmental toward people who are different than me, especially the beautiful LGBT people in this world.

2) I am no longer living in a marriage where my husband isn’t able to be fulfilled. I can find someone who will be fulfilled by me and we can fulfill each other completely.

3) I walk in truthfulness and bask in its light.

4) I still have Devon in my life. In fact, I know ALL of Devon, not just the parts that he was willing to reveal when we were married.

5) My kids see us as transparent humans, willing to accept, willing to forgive, and willing to parent together. We even have a wonderful step parent in Felipe. We are all blessed beyond measure.

6) I can relate to people. All kinds of people. I can relate to mistakes, erroneous thinking, changed hearts and people who are hurting.

7) And well… I get to write about it. Devon gets to live openly in a loving relationship without fear of being killed for his love of Felipe. He didn’t have to cheat on me for years with another guy in order to meet his needs at his core. Sure, there’s still hatred and misconceptions out there, but the tide is changing and I get to be in the thick of it.

8) I now grasp what I’ve always desired to understand since I was a little girl: true unconditional love and forgiveness of others.

As we close out our column in the Reno Tahoe Tonight, our family wants to thank Oliver Ex and our readers for allowing us to share our story with you. It has been our goal since working through our issues to be transparent, loving and provide encouragement to others because of our lives. We are honored to have experienced what we have gone through so we can spread hope to others.

So hey, Doc, thanks for the ride in the DeLorean. I needed that.

Love, Emily

Great Scott!
Great Scott!