Thursday, May 3, 2007

In and Out and In Again

I spent nearly a week at a conference, with a new circle of friends and colleagues. It was so rich, in so many ways. We prayed together. We learned together. We talked together about ministry and life. We drank Margaritas together. We participated in panels and discussions and seriously childlike games and activities. At the end of it all we laid hands on one another, and prayed for one another's calls and ministries.

And no, I didn't come out to anyone. Not even the woman with whom I exchanged the glances, and who I suspect might just be in the same closet with me.

It sucks. Of course. I have this deep longing to be who I am, and let the chips fall where they may, and I am constantly checking myself and telling myself, "No. Mustn't."

But I want to share this with you. I have participated in this same conference for the last several years. Each year the participants are slightly different, though some folks return. This year it feels like a new wind just might be blowing through this repressive church. This year, there was a different feeling at the conference.

To the extent we talked about "the gay and lesbian issue," agreement (among those who opened their mouths) was universal: discrimination has to end. It is a human rights issue, as well as an issue of faithfulness to Jesus' vision of the beloved community. And... heartbreakingly... I spoke with a woman who is the equivalent of my ex-husband. She is married ("though not really married," she said) to a man who has come out to himself as gay. I saw the sorrow in this woman's eyes, not for what she has lost, but for what the love of her life has faced, for the little boy he was, being told that he was, somehow, "wrong." I saw her anger on his behalf, that anyone, at any point, should have conveyed to him anything other than his complete goodness as a child of God.

I talked to Beloved on the phone each night and each morning. She fretted that I might be talking too loudly and putting myself in danger. I rested in the joy and pleasure of her voice, and the embrace I know awaits me when I return to her again.


seeking chivalry said...

I can't imagine. I've only rarely been in a position where I've had to hide what I am and who I love, and I never had a job at stake. (Working or a company filled with gay men will do that...) I'm a little worried, I'll admit, coming back to Christianity now, but my new denomination at least claims to be a safe and tolerant place.

Not that I've told them anything yet, mind you. :/ But if they happen to find out I'm not too concerned about what might happen.

You are your Beloved are in my prayers -- and so is your whole church.

KJ said...

Glad you had a good conference. As annoying as people and the stuff of relgion can be, God can be found in community.

Share Cropper said...

Cecelia, how wonderful to see someone with anger for how her husband has been treated, and know that she would hold you in her heart the same way...that's a presumption I'm making. And, how wonderful that you were able to talk about inclusion! A least that bit of fresh air has given you hope. Peace,

Bill said...

In your story, you write about the woman who was angry for the way life treated her husband. It didn't quite go that way for me four years ago when I finally admitted to myself and to my wife that I was gay. I was literally thrown out. I lost my wife, my home, all our friends, which were actually her friends and then when I couldn't deal with the pain any longer, I almost lost my life. After the suicide attempt I spent close to three months in a psychiatric hospital. While I was in the hospital, I was served with divorce papers. It's taken four years to rebuild my life. I'm openly gay now. I left the Roman Catholic Church and became Episcopalian. Life is getting better as time passes, but I still feel the pain if something makes me think back to those dark times.

Cecilia said...

Oh Bill. That is an absolutely heartbreaking story. I hope and pray you are finding that there is life on the other side of this terrible ordeal. Thank you for sharing your story.

Pax, C.

We Do It Too said...

I love you. With all my heart.

Bill said...

Thanks "Cecilia", "We do it too".

As painful as it was going through all that, I'm glad it's over. I would no want to have that "secret" hanging over my head again. It's much better being out. Life is much simpler now. People either accept me or not. For those who do not, it's no great loss and they're not very nice people anyway.

My new home at St Paul's Chatham is a wonderful place. I keep pinching myself to make sure that I'm really awake. My Rector, Rev'd Elizabeth, welcomed me in with open arms. The congregation is not only accepting but loving.

I'm still in the process of re-inventing a social life. I've had ups and downs but that's only natural. The good thing is that I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Mother Laura said...

Cecilia, my heart continues to break for what you face.

And many healing blessings on your new life, Bill. I am so sorry for what you have been through and so impressed by your courage.

Anonymous said...

Hey there,

Just found your blog by going to a friend's blog and then going to another person's blog that was linked from my friend's blog... just a little crazy the way the internet works!

Just wanted to say that prayers are being said for you. I remember the closet... I spent my whole internship in the closet and it was not fun... My preaching suffered, my whole being suffered...

Check out my blog sometime... Sometimes there's good stuff... other times, it's just rambling about my favorite music and inane crap. This is an entry some have commented that you might be interested in:

And if you want to talk sometime, let me know... it looks like I could give you my e-mail address without it going all across the internet, yes? [as you moderate all comments...]

jadedjabber said...

I also just stumbled upon your blog. I am taking a much needed break from a final paper in Systematic Theology which is due in.....7 hours. (Good thing I have redbull tonight).

I want to thank you for your blog. I am currently in seminary (if you couldn't already tell by the class and final paper). I have struggled with what to do as I am a queer woman in the ELCA. My dad is also a minister in a small town (800 people total) and is in an extremely conservative area in the Midwest (conservative as in reparative therapy conservative-and I'm not kidding). I've slowly been coming out but jokingly tell people that my arse is still in the closet as people in my synod do not yet know. My parents know and my dad told me to do what I felt was right. He would support me no matter what because I was his little girl-even if that means he is run out of town. So I am telling my bishop when I go home for the summer.

Apparrently I didn't really just want to write a thank you/I'll pray for you/ but wrote my own mini monologue. The point is I look forward to exploring your blog more. I admire you and I admire Beloved. God/dess bless you both.