Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Apple Says "No" To Ex-Gay Therapy

Exodus International:  God bless 'em.

But really, do we think the world is ready for a mobile app that can cure "un-wanted same sex attraction"?
I thought that was the purpose of iFart.   Who wants to be with a man who can generate gastro-flatulant noises like that?    That would have been the wiser approach for Alan Chambers, if he had gotten his marketing team in order.   You can't just join the social and mobile web, and expect to make an impact, if the shit you started with wasn't that great to begin with.

So it was Apple that decided to pull the plug on Exodus's mobile app, because it was deemed offensive to a large number of people.

On the one hand, I do see the need for freedom of speech, however, Apple is not the government.  They are a corporation, and have the right to censor as they will.   No one is stopping Exodus from existing, in fact they're a growing organization in this country with all the freedoms any other organization would have, despite the fact that many people in scientific and spiritual communities can agree that their methods are actually harming people deeply.

Now, Exodus will cry "victim", as they continue to victimize thousands of people, and take their hard earned dollars in exchange for false-promises, touch-therapy, and years of psychological anguish.

Read the article here.

And if you're done feeling sorry for Exodus, take a moment and fill out a brief survey!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Important Survey and Study

A few people reached out to me tonight and told me about a study they are conducting in order to get a sense  of how LGBT Coptic people co-exist with their church communities.   The survey is meant for any and all Coptic people regardless of sexual orientation.   The survey is short, only 10 questions, but I think it touches on a few important points.  

From the survey itself:

Thank you for participating in this survey. People who may identify as an LGBTQ (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Questioning) exist in all communities regardless of culture. This is a brief study conducted by members of the Coptic Community who are interested in understanding how LGBTQ persons are represented within the Coptic community, and are hoping to get a brief introduction to how the community and these individuals co-exist. Any person affiliated with the Coptic Church in any way should participate, whether or not they identify as LGBT. Participation in this survey is completely voluntary, and while the results of this survey may be published, the identity of those participating will remain completely anonymous.

Why Participate?

1. Having as many people participate as possible will ensure accurate representation in the results of this survey. By participating you help paint an accurate portrayal of the beliefs of our community.

2. In addition to understanding how LGBT people are represented within the community, we also want to understand how the mainstream views this topic.
Please take a moment, whether you are straight or gay, or whether you are Coptic or not, and fill out these questions.  I think the results can help both the church and people who identify as LGBTQ understand the lay of the land, as well as maybe understand each other better.

The link to the survey is here:   A Brief Study of Sexual Identity In The Coptic Church

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent, Lentils, and The Gay Man

It's Lent: Let the vegan cooking begin!

It's been a long time since I've posted, as life sometimes brings in the tide, and a lot falls onto your plate, however, in prayer tonight, I realized that maybe this can be a good place for me to get some of these thoughts out.  

It is very difficult at times being gay if you wanna live a life of purity and wholeness.  The culture around just doesn't quite get it, or doesn't really want to get it, I'm not exactly sure which one.   I most certainly would rather not worry about wholeness and healthiness when it comes to what I do with my heart and body, but when you get a taste of the real deal, it's hard to look back and say anything less is satisfactory.   

So, I'm not the biggest fan of fasting for Lent.   For the most part it often involves some sort of indulging, then depraving, followed by indulging.  That's been the common spiritual practice amongst my fellow church members, at least in the mainstream.   How often do you take a trip with your friends to a Brazilian BBQ before, and probably after Lent.  I mean, yeah, I totally get it, but what the hell is the point?   Is lent just a time to start stocking up on margarine, imitation soy-based meat products, and non-dairy creamer??

So the last few years, I stayed away from fasting, and focused more on how I can get myself to live a more moderate and healthy lifestyle all year around, than focusing on depriving myself for 40 days for a particular reason.    

This year is a little different.  With certain changes in relationship status, possibilities begin to open up, and while the heart is not looking, and is rather broken and confused at the moment, the body finds itself looking at ways to feel good, and connect.  I look back a few years, and see the kind of life I was living.   I treated my body like an amusement park, and I'm lucky that I don't have the scars that usually come with that.   While I never practiced anything that could be deemed to risky or unsafe, I put myself in compromising positions with compromising people, and enjoyed the fact that I could get attention by my charm and looks, and readily used it to my advantage.  Many connections were real and authentic, while others were down-right detached and a time waster.   It took an angel to slap me in the face with a few simple words, which woke me up to realize what it was that I truly wanted:  a complete whole experience where heart followed mind, and body followed heart, and all things followed spirit.   

I guess deep down I had begun to lose hope that it was possible to find such people who shared these beliefs in the gay community.   I believed it with my lips, but I thought I was alone, and therefore a part of me had given up. 

You never know what can happen when you're asked to keep your clothes on.   You almost always know what will happen once the clothes come off.

But yes, this angel of mine, whether intentional or not, yet to be determined, re-awakened a value system, that I would most certainly would have admitted to with my lips, but over the course of several years had slowly began to unfold and disintegrate, and I remembered what it was like to be innocent again, and what it meant to unlearn all that I had been taught by people who had no business teaching me.   

In time I began to feel pure again, and whole, mind body and spirit.

Yes, I'm talking, in relationship, I had learned to slow down, and to take things the way they were meant to be.   There's a reason, we as gay men rush to get naked, and it has little to do with feeling good.  We know that once the climax hits, we can detach, (or if it's really good we may unexpectedly get attached, to someone we don't even know), but we know that orgasmic detachment is inconsequential, and less is risked (besides health and safety), but the important stuff is well protected, the stuff inside, the stuff of the heart.     Whether we know it or not, we love sex because it keeps us safe from getting hurt.  I can just think about me, without having to give or open up.    

Of course the irony is that sex is one of the most intimate, vulnerable things one person can give another.

So yes, it was through a gay relationship that I feel my body and heart were redeemed. And of course I see the work of God in all this, as God was ever present, and the gospel was always the undertone for our dealings with each other.

As life goes sometimes, not all things are a straight road, no pun intended, and I find myself in a way not as attached as before, and while I'm still trying to wrap my head around all this, I realize that I most certainly have a green light to revisit old ways.  For sure the mental pathways have been entrenched and a year of good behavior doesn't quite erase the several years that preceded it.     And I'm forced to think, what do I wanna do with all this?    Yes, I'm "free", but free to do what?   

The pressures are unbelievable.   But I remember, I remember what I compromised, and I certainly don't wanna go back.   I experienced some dark stuff, in some dark places.   I know where I come from, and to see where I am today, I don't know how I survived.  It's a slippery slope that you have no idea how far you can fall until it's almost too late.   The scars inside are still there.  It makes me more distrustful of people, it makes me wonder who people really are inside.   I wish I still had an innocent view of who people are or could be.  But if I learned anything, is that even a hardened heart can be redeemed.

So in relation to Lent, while yes, the green light is there, I'm going to take a time out for now, and I'm going to revisit what this means to be a gay man who is single who follows Jesus, or tries to at least.   I'm not sure where this will lead me, but I know sacrifice is going to be a part of it, it is to make a commitment, even in the short term, to just wait, and put my energies into different things, outside of dating and the like.

At the end of the day, I know parts of my heart are really sad, and there's no quicker way to put a mask on the heart's mouthpiece, than a sloppy knob polish, but I did not experience the last x months to just bring me back to where I started, even if T.S. Eliot does speak the truth, there is forward motion that needs to happen, even if we find ourselves taking 1,2, or 20 steps back, we are always growing.

A friend once told me, it's not about what we give up.  It's about what giving this up does to us inside.  If eating a cheeseburger results in not eating a cheeseburger, then what the crap is the point?   What do we need to give up for Lent.  Is it just dietary?  Certainly not.    The things we give up should lead us into right relationship with God and others.   We look at relationships, friendships, and family bonds: what do we need to give up in order to move towards right relationship with our loved ones?  Is it fear or pride?  It's a lot harder to give up chocolate, than it is to give up our fears or our pride.   What are the things getting in the way of us getting real with ourselves and others, getting in the way of us spending time and energy to serve and love others?

Which is the symbol for lent?
This is WHY I believe that the Coptic Church needs to stop turning her back on us.   When young gay men and women are not given proper guidance from people who have the authority to speak, we learn from those who may not have our best interests in mind.    And let me make it clear, I'm not here trying to argue with anyone about the morality of homosexuality, there are plenty of other posts out there for that.   I know that God can be very much preset in the lives and relationships of gay people as He is with straight people, and it is based on this firm belief that I say these things, the church is causing MORE HARM by leaving us be, without surrounding us with proper love and community.   To give us ultimatums to not be gay, or be gone, is only making matters worse.  Again, I feel redeemed, but it didn't have to be this way.  I could very well have been a statistic.   There are so many brothers and sisters of ours who have to deal with scars of being misguided and extreme.   

But while the church is not doing her part, we as a community need to start doing our part.   We need to remind each other of what is important, and what is true, to call out in each other what it is we truly seek, and what it is that will make us whole.    

That's it for now.   It's nice to be back.