Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This is the Way the World Ends

So some of you wanted to know what's going on with me. Well, for starters, my old campus minister gave me a ride home from the store today.

Those of you who remember my old campus minister might be cringing right now. You'd be right to do so.

I shouldn't have taken the ride, but it was raining, and...yeah, I shouldn't have taken the ride. Pneumonia is better than this. Still, it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

His kids were in the back seat (the two oldest, Nate and Sam, and man, they've grown...they're so cute!) so he couldn't get too in-depth, but I know this drill. I used to meet with him for "leadership training sessions" and we'd run into people he's met before, and he'd talk with them, all nice, and as soon as they walked away he told me everything that made them leave the ministry, and all the sad sins that ruled their lives since they left...so I'm sure he had some choice words for his kids after I left. But while we were in the car he just asked me how I was doing, and he said he's seen me around town, and it's sad for him to see people who used to be active in the ministry now involved in things that could damage their souls and the souls of those around them, and he remembered what I was like back when the campus ministry was the center of my life, and he hoped I'd return to God. I said that I was happier and healthier now than I'd been in college. Then he just asked me where I worked, and the conversation was over.

So why am I sitting here seething now?

Because I gave SO MUCH of myself to that church, and I got so little in return. I got insulted, told that I wasn't a good witness, told that I shouldn't cry in church because it ruined my witness, that there was something wrong with me, and that he didn't want new people coming into the church to see me. And even after all that, I still stayed and served and tried to change whatever about me wasn't worthy. I never quite made it.

Well then the straw came, the proverbial one that breaks the camel's back, and some of my friends might remember it (my friend Rachel should remember it, since she's the one who woke me up and made me see how bad things had gotten the night I left the church...I don't know if I ever told her that). See, the campus minister kept giving sermons about how he was proud of this guy in our church for "sharing the truth" and how for the first time in his campus ministry career, he found a good reason to read the student paper. You know why? Because this guy, Aaron, was the editor of the student paper that year, and he had badly written an editorial about why gay marriage was wrong, and suddenly every week, the campus minister found time to have "let's all praise Aaron" sessions, and I was getting tired of it.

One week, someone from my hall, an RA that I knew named Zach, wrote a letter into the paper saying that he didn't appreciate the "anti-gay marriage" rhetoric, because he was gay, and it wasn't just that the article was wrong, it wasn't written very well and the arguments in it were stupid (which they were...gay people can't bear children, gay people don't have sex the way most people do, the bible says it's an abomination and Romans says it's unnatural, blah blah blah please shoot me now). Aaron wrote a "response" in his "letter from the editor" section about how it's sad that people don't want to hear the truth, but that's not his fault, and if they have a problem, it's a problem with God, not with him. So I sat there thinking every week, "Dammit...I hope no one who's gay is sitting here listening to this, because they might think God doesn't love them" (yeah, I was thinking that, never underestimate the power of denial). But it ate away at me, and I didn't say anything, and then I finally wrote a letter to the editor myself, saying that it was one thing to share an opinion, but it was quite another to spout off without any love or respect for those on the other side of the issue. Aaron called me at home after he got that letter, saying it's unfair for me to attack the paper that way, and maybe I needed to talk to my campus minister if I was having problems with God's word. That night, I talked with some of my friends (Dani, Rachel, and Matt) and that's when Rachel told me that she hoped no gay people went to that church, because if they did, they must feel totally alone and unloved right now.

THAT hurt. I thought about that, and turned it around in my head, all through the church service that night. I thought about how before, the sermons were just hurting me, and I'd been hurt enough by this church not to really care anymore, but now I could see the impact their words and message had on other people, too. Zach was someone I really liked and respected, and he deserved better than that. I didn't want him to think everyone in the church felt the way Aaron did. That day, my letter was published in the paper (in spite of what Aaron said in his call) so I was prepared for someone to say something nasty to me at church, but no one did, no one even came up and said "hi" to me, and I had to hold back tears the whole time, because I knew what I had to do. So finally, after the service was over, I told my campus minister I didn't know if it was healthy for us to focus on "Gay = BAD" so much in every single sermon, because it's like we were losing focus on everything else (like, y'know, the gospel and other unimportant things like that). He replied that this WAS an important issue, people didn't realize how damaging homosexuality could be, even if it's genetic, that's all the more reason to fight against the temptation, gays are like alcoholics so why don't alcoholics get a parade. So I threw some really weak arguments at him (let him come at me today, I have way better things to say, but back then, I had nothing, and I ended up shooting blanks at every person who fired at me...I still have the scars, and I bet they don't have a goddamned thing). I told him that I don't think it's helpful to compare alcoholism and homosexuality, since even sociologists recognize that associating sexual orientation with sin can be harmful, and even some Christians believe that perhaps the bible verses used to condemn homosexuality could be interpreted differently, and that even if people aren't "born gay" that doesn't mean they shouldn't have equal rights, because people aren't "born Christian" but our rights are protected...

And he just said, "Lillian, it's sad what some people choose to believe" and walked away.

End scene.

Kind of anticlimactic for a conversation that put an end to five years of my serving in and giving all my extra money to his church, don't you think? Is this the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper? I thought I'd at least earned some yelling and screaming, for Christ's sake.

That's how it ended, and this is where it stands now, I suppose. I'm better off when I'm not in an environment like that, because I'll always be a freak no matter where I am, but it still stings (especially when something opens up the wound this way, and in a small town it's hard to avoid running into people who hate me...I know they still hate me even when I can't hear them saying it, but I can at least PRETEND it doesn't exist when I don't have to look at it).


I think a long bath is in order after I finish my laundry. Something to calm me down. I get my test tomorrow, so we'll find out what my cancer is up to in a few weeks. I'll just keep on trudging, I guess.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This is Not You

In further "Synchro-blog" news, I feel like I didn't address this issue in my earlier post so I wanted to do that now. I wanted to share these three images with you. The first two images are of protesters who stood outside the fence at the Grand Rapids Pride festival on June 20th, 2009. The third image is of some similar protesters who stood at the end of the parade route at Lansing Pride just a week earlier. For me, seeing these signs and hearing the things these people were saying through their bullhorns was saddening. I didn't come to Pride because I have any desire to be militant or yell at anyone or "push my lifestyle" on anyone. I came because in my small town, it's hard to find other people who are like me, and sometimes I need that to remind myself that I'm not alone. My "lifestyle" is pretty boring. I go to work, some home, watch The Golden Girls, eat, sleep, play with my cat, watch movies, and read books. That's how I spend most of my time. That I also happen to be in love with a woman is something that certainly makes me stand out in a lot of ways, but when people tell me that they abhor my sinful lifestyle, I have to wonder what they think I DO all day long that's so sinful.

By the same token, I look at these pictures, and I realize that my friends may be very different from me. Some of them disagree very vehemently with the fact that I do indeed love another woman, but regardless of this, MY FRIENDS ARE NOT THE PEOPLE IN THESE PICTURES. Even though we disagree strongly about scripture and how the bible should be interpreted and how it should be applied and what it might or might not be saying, my friends are not the people standing there holding these signs. Too often when we GLBT people complain about Christians, we act as though everyone we're talking about is holding one of these signs and yelling at us through a bullhorn, when in reality, that's not true. We can't ask them to see us as normal people and cry out that they can't put us in a box while at the same time we try to put THEM into a box. It just doesn't work that way. We have to respect them, even if we can't respect some of their views. My friends do this for me. We disagree on a great many things, but I love them, and they love me, and I know this because of their actions. Like the song says, "They'll know we are Christians by our love," and I know that these people love me because they have been there to listen and support and encourage me, and I know it's hard sometimes for them to do that, because they disagree with a lot of what I say. Before I begin to run around demanding acceptance from them, I need to love them even when I disagree with what THEY say. It's difficule (for me and for them) but we have to TRY.

When I was a kid in Vacation Bible School, I learned this song. The refrain goes like this:

"You can have a big box, you can have a little box, but if your god is in the box, your god is very small. You can have a plain box, you can have a fancy box, but if you think that god is in the box, you don't know god at all. you don't know god at all."

I'm smart enough now to at least know that God is never in the box (even when we take great care to fashion a box, with bright edges and narrow definitions and scripture references to back up everything we say, God isn't in that box). I need to stop putting people into that box, too. I wouldn't want them to do that to me.

For those of you who see pictures like the ones at the beginning of this entry and you want to scream and pull your hair out and shout "That's not me!" It's ok. I know it's not you. I know these people don't represent you or your views, and I'll try very hard to keep writing and keep speaking to you with that in mind.

Bridging the Gap: Synchro-Blog Entry "Common Ground"

My post today is part of a larger initiative of more than 60 bloggers all coming together to share their thoughts on how to 'bridge the gap' between GLBTACQI people and the church. You can check out the other links at: www.btgproject.blogspot.com

What I'm Doing

This blogging initiative is one I'm proud to participate in because it touches my heart in a unique way, and I'm excited to read what everyone else has to say on this issue, because for me, the realization that I was a lesbian is what brought me back to God, not what turned me away from God, so my journey is different than that of most people with whom I've discussed this topic. I always tell people that I think it might be helpful for GLBT people and Christians to try to focus on the ways in which we are alike instead of focusing on our differences, but that sound slike a cliche, and I don't think anyone understand how hard that is for me to say or what a difference it has made in my life. Perhaps if you understand more about me, you'll understand why this is so important to me.

Who I Am

Now here's the deal. I'm one of those people who's never fit into the church as a whole, no matter who I was or who I was trying to be. I tried many different denominations, and no matter what, there was always some reason that I didn't "fit in" at the church. I talked too loud, I laughed too loud, I watched the wrong movies, I listened to the wrong music, I wore the wrong clothes, I didn't seem to be able to believe the right things (or I shared my doubts about things everyone else seemed to believe without much effort). I never had any reasons growing up for why I was such a square peg in a round hole, so I spent my time trying to change myself to fit the environment I was in. I looked at the people around me and tried my best to dress like them and talk like them and modify my beliefs to fit what they believed. Much to my dismay, this never seemed to work, because I was always denying some part of myself that made me who I was. I'm the kind of person who can get more spiritual truth out of a zombie movie or an Elton John song than I can out of a sermon. I've always been this way. For whatever reason, God uses pop culture to speak to me, and that's something powerful, and to deny that is to try to suppress a part of me that is vitally important to who I really am. The point of this isn't to say that going to church and listening to a sermon is something that doesn't affect me at all, it's to say that whatever truth I need to see about God I see more clearly in the things that resonate with my soul, and it's not a bad thing to go to church or to read the bible, but to do those things purposely as a way to suppress the part of me that needs to listen to music and watch horror movies is to ignore a vital part of what drew me to God in the first place. Once I began to believe he existed, I could see him all around me, and I could hear him singing in the words of songs I'd loved since I was a child, and it was like I was seeing everything with new eyes. Then I learned that this music and these books and these movies weren't part of the life experience of most Christians, and in fact were thought to be sinful by the people in the churches I attended. I spent years going to rallies, burning my books and CDs, asking forgiveness for watching movies, and growing increasingly frustrated that no matter how I tried to change myself, I was still different than those I saw around me who seemed to seek God and instantly become able to blend in with those around them. I left church for good one year when I decided that I was never going to be "good enough" to fit in there, and I swore I'd never go back.

Who We Are

The thing is, when I was 25, I fell truly, madly, and deeply in love with another woman, and I realized that this was a problem for many reasons. I'd read all the bible verses that Id been taught to believe would condemn people to hell for feeling the way I did and acting on it. Oddly enough, I realized that although I'd pretended to leave the church and never look back, I still believed everything I'd been taught, I just believed that it excluded me from ever having a relationship with God, so I tried to live as though it didn't matter to me, when really, it did. I started seeking out other GLBTACQI (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally, Curious, Questioning, Intersexed...wow that's a lot of letters) people in my area, and when I met them, I started getting what I call "nudges from God," slowly leading me back to him. I talked with these people, over and over, and I learned that somehow, miraculously, many of them went to church, they believed that God loved them, and they didn't spend every moment worrying that they were going to hell because of who they were. this boggled my mind. Something that a lot of people don't understand is that I've felt like I was damned to hell and completely hopeless since I was four years old, long before I was ever aware what "gay" even was. I've never fit into a church, and for years, that had nothing to do with my sexuality, it was simply a side effect of how weird I was. I had never felt worthy of God's love, and it was only recently that "I'm gay" was added to my list of reasons why. It was a big reason of course, because I'd been taught that there was no way that someone could be gay, be in love with someone of the same gender, and still be a Christian. As soon as the idea that I could be both gay AND Christian was introduced to me, I was ready to read all the books I could find, revisit the bible verses I'd heard, and start listening to my Christian music again, because a small spark within me had been rekindled and I had hope once again that I was worthy to sing about God's love.

Who They Are

Trying to find a church that will have me while I'm on this journey has been difficult, but one of the biggest revelations for me is that this would always have been difficult for me, whether I'd been gay or not, because I'm a weird little person who doesn't fit in with most people, and that's who I've always been. In college, I hung out with a small group of similar weird people, and they're still some of my closest friends today, even though we're spread out all across the country and we have very different religious beliefs. Something that I've had to learn, over and over again, is that when dealing with other Christians, it's just as important that I accept them as it is that they accept me. Read that sentence again. I sure need to. I feel a sense of rejection whenever I end up not fitting in at a church, but the truth is, it's taken me years and years and years to get comfortable being in my own skin, so I can't possibly expect other people to be comfortable with me in five minutes (or even five months). If I come into every church situation expecting the Christians to be hostile toward me, for whatever reason, I'm going to be stooping under the weight of the massive bag of chips on my shoulder, and I won't have time to see those people as fellow human beings, with their own flaws and struggles and concerns and lives.

Common Ground

Mother Theresa has been quoted as saying "If we judge other people, we don't have time to love them," and I'm realizing more and more every day how that applies to my journey back to the church. If I'm going to get anywhere on this journey, and if I really think church is going to be an important part of this journey, then I need to cool down and start trying to understand who these other Christians are. They may not agree with my "lifestyle" (whether that includes who I love or what movies I watch or both) but I probably don't agree with everything they believe, either, and if we stand there glaring at each other counting all the ways in which we are different, we're never going to have a chance to find any common ground or any reason why we should love and accept each other. I'm realizing that expecting other people to understand and accept me hasn't worked in the past because I haven't been willing to understand and accept them, either. That hurts, because a lot of hurtful things have been done to me in the name of religion, and I feel like I'm trying to minimize the damage that's been done to me when I say that I need to try to look past their insults and understand them as people, but the truth is that no matter how badly I've been hurt, that doesn't give me an excuse to expect the worst from people, because I can't control what any other person does, I can only control what I do, and what I need to start doing is recognizing the beauty and importance of every person I meet, even when we disagree on just about everything. After all, I spent years wishing someone would look past all the labels and try to see me and love me for who I am; how can I refuse to at least try to do that for other people? This attitude has made it easier for me to at least try going to church and to at least try to understand people. It's helped me to understand myself a little better, too. That douesn't sound earth-shattering or monumentous, but it sure is a good place to start.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reasonable Doubt?

I wrote this in response to someone who was mulling over the whole "Gay Christian" question. I admit...I can't be objective about things like this, because of everything I've been through, but I'm trying to figure out the truth, and for right now, I think that's enough (or I DON'T think that's enough, but it's fucking going to HAVE to be, because it's all I've got...if people are KILLING themselves over this shit, I can afford to spend a few nights lying awake pondering what I believe about it, right?)

So anyway, I wanted to share this, in the fullness of its brokenness, because it's so close to what I'm feeling right now that it explains at least SOME of what is keeping me awake at nights these days.

Here is what I'm suffering through. The God that I've always known has been attached to certain rules and regulations in my mind. It's been this way since I became a Christian. People can deny it, they can say that salvation is by grace alone, but even for the people who say that and are totally sincere when they say it, there's always a catch, there's always something looming in the shadows, hiding behind the bushes, ready to pounce after someone takes the plunge and chooses to have faith and accept that God is real. Soon after you come to “saving faith in Christ,” however you come to it, there is this expectation that you will be “walking in the footsteps of faith” (Romans 4:12) and “living a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1). There is some disagreement over how to accomplish these things, obviously, but the basic principle is always there: Though we are all saved by God's grace and not by anything we do, if you're really a Christian, you will begin to DO the “right” things; you will follow some path that proves that you're living the Christian life. Even the people who don't like James or don't like the way the book is used to, as they might call it, purpose a type of “salvation by works,” ascribe in some way to the idea that “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). in other words, you can't just say you believe in Christ and His saving sacrifice, even if you do believe it, at some point, you have to start doing the “right” things and believing the “right” things, or your “faith” isn't real.

Ever since I've joined the Gay Christian Network (http://www.gaychristian.net) people have tried to talk to me (when I've been bold enough to ask the question at all) about whether physical expressions of love between two people of the same gender are appropriate, whether they can be right and good and blessed by God, and people have offered me resources and books to read, and I appreciate the help, but it always comes down to the same thing: whatever side I choose to believe, doesn't there eventually have to be one side that is right and one side that is wrong? What is going to happen to me if I am on the wrong side? I mean, in my case, I'm not in a relationship yet, and I may never be in one...and still I know how badly this is tearing ME up, so I can't even imagine how badly it's tearing YOU up since you're already in a relationship and you love that person and you don't want to hurt him. I mean, I see things splashed all over bumper stickers saying “love is not wrong” and blah blah blah, but at its heart, that's rhetoric and I know it...people who oppose same-sex marriage or whatever aren't really saying that LOVE is wrong, they're saying some of the ways people express love are wrong, or rather that homosexuals who express their love in physical ways are wrong, because even the most liberal of those fundamentalists I grew up with, the most loving and caring ones who say they only want what is best for me, are sending me literature that says that I can be gay and God will love me as long as I never act on it. It's too late for that, of course, but it's ok, God can forgive me as long as I ask forgiveness and never act on it again. I know they're sincere, and sometimes I really, truly, want to have fellowship with those people again and be accepted by their church again.

So what's the problem? Why can't I just go back to those churches and live the life they ask me to live? The problem is, I don't WANT to ask forgiveness and I don't think I need to, because I know that I loved Bailey (the girl I was with, the one who threw a whole wrench into the works and made me realize that I was gay) and the physical part of our relationship came as an expression of the love we had, so I don't want to apologize for that or ask forgiveness for something I really don't think was wrong. I don't think God would want me to do that, either, because He's got to know that this is how I really feel, and if I asked for His forgiveness for something I don't regret, it wouldn't be sincere. But do I really believe that God blesses this love? I tell people I do, and I'm not lying when I say it, I'm sincere...but then I also have doubt. I think, am I leading that person astray? Am I telling that person that God blesses same-sex love when really God doesn't, thus leading both of us astray? What if I'm wrong? I know many loving, committed same-sex couples, and I see their relationships, as loving and honest and real as any opposite-sex marriage I know, and I think, that's not wrong. God blesses that. But does He really bless that? Am I fooling myself? Am I claiming to have fellowship with God but really walking in darkness (1 John 1:6)?

I really, truly, struggle with this. I've been struggling with this for two years now. At one point, I had walked away from the church for good, because I could never be all that they wanted me to be, there were too many rules to follow that I broke every day by just being myself, and whatever I was giving up, I knew I couldn't live a lie anymore, so I could never go back to the church, and thus I had to give up on God, too, because whatever people say, the idea of God comes with all these rules and regulations that I could never follow. I missed so may things about this God, so many things that had defined my life for years, but I knew I could never go back. And then, suddenly, I realized how much I was missing out on. How empty I was without God, but I still thought I couldn't go back. I tried so many other religions, but nothing ever resonated with my soul the way Christianity did. I was part of a group of GLBTACQ students at the university in my town, and I would have to get my fellowship that way.

And then, suddenly, people in the group were telling me that they went to church, that they believed in God, that they knew that God loved them, that there were churches that accepted them and celebrated their love. This broke my brain. I mean, could it really be possible? When I was still in the church, I had heard that there were those who believed that God could bless same-sex romantic relationships, but the resources I got always said that these people were wrong, they always had a thousand scripture verses to back up their arguments (and not just the passages that people call the “clobber passages” either, these people had verse after verse about how God despises sin, these people were leading others astray, they were deceived and deceiving others with their lies about God). Now, after all these years, suddenly I was studying the bible again, coming back to all those familiar passages again, reading the words that had touched my soul again, and trying to discern if God could really accept me and accept my love for Bailey...and that's where I'm at now. And sometimes people throw books and essays and websites and other research in my face because they say that I need to read and decide what I believe so I won't be “double minded and unstable in all my ways” (James 1:5-8). But I feel like they don't get it. Yeah, I know, I've read all the stuff people are throwing at me and even more, but the point is...I don't know if I can believe it. I have way more than enough evidence for “reasonable doubt,” don't I? After years of studying, can I decide on just one answer and claim it as the truth when there seem to be so many more conflicting messages out there? What if I'm wrong? What if it's all a lie and I'm condemning myself to hell?

So...yeah. I find myself in this place, too. And I don't know if I have any answers, and that might make me double-minded and unstable. But here's what I believe (here's what I'm trying to believe when I lie awake at night rocking back and forth with doubt shaking me to the core). I was watching this episode of the television show “Law & Order” the other day, and in his closing arguments, the defense attorney for the murderer was talking to the jurors, giving the evidence that his client was innocent, that someone else could have committed the murders, and he said they needed to find his client “not guilty” because they had enough evidence to have reasonable doubt about his guilt. When the prosecuting attorney stood to give his arguments however, he looked at the jurors and said “But 'reasonable doubt' is not ANY doubt...it must stand the test of reasonableness.” It sounds silly, but almost felt like he was speaking to me. I have always been the kind of person to try and see both sides and to try and study and show myself approved, a workman who doesn't need to be ashamed because I correctly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) but I also tend to forget that the verse right before that tells me to avoid quarreling over words (2 Timothy 2:14) and that I can't keep swinging back and forth between these two opposing viewpoints without driving myself insane. At some point, I'm going to have to decide what I believe and hold onto that, and when I doubt, not beat myself up but remember that the God who tells me to stand firm (1 Corinthians 15:58) also gives me the example of a man who was honest enough to admit that he did believe, but he needed God to help him with his unbelief (Mark 9:24) and that even if this is who I always am, afraid that I'm wrong but trying to stand for what I believe is right, that God can love me anyway. It sounds weak, even to my ears, but it's where I'm at right now, and I'm trying to believe that God loves me where I am. God is bigger than me. God is bigger than any person's belief or doubt, and if I focus on doing the good I know, the fruit of the spirit, I'm trying to believe that everything will fall into place, even if I never have all the answers...

Harvey Milk

“Let me tell you right now. I’ve got a real surprise for the gay community. A real surprise.”
- Dan White speaking to gay San Francisco newspaper reporter Charles Morris November 1978

“Ah - Life is worth living.”
- Part of a thank you note Harvey Milk wrote to a friend November 24, 1978 ( from the book “The Mayor of Castro Street” by Randy Shilts )

"Kill A Queer For Christ"

- Bumper sticker during the campaign to repeal gays rights in Florida 1977

“All over the country, they're reading about me, and the story doesn't center on me being gay. It's just about a gay person who is doing his job.”

- Harvey Milk, 1977

“More people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, my friends, that is true perversion.”

- Harvey Milk 1977

“Rights are not won on paper. They are won only by those who make their voices heard.”

- Harvey Milk after his election to San Francisco City Supervisor 1977

"We must destroy the myths once and for all. We must continue to speak out and most importantly every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your family, you must tell your relatives, you must tell your friends, you must tell your neighbors, you must tell the people you work with, you must tell the people in the stores you shop in, and once they realize that we are indeed their children and that we are indeed everywhere, - every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all. And once you do you will feel so much better."

- Harvey Milk, San Francisco November 7, 1978

“One third of San Francisco teachers are homosexual. I assume most of them are seducing young boys in toilets.”

- California Senator John Briggs 1978 who initiated The Briggs Initiative to outlaw homosexual teachers in California in 1978

"If a homosexual in Altoona will never have to be invisible again I will have done my job."

- Harvey Milk 1978

"As president of the board of supervisors, it's my duty to make this announcement. Both Mayor Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed."
- Diane Feinstein’s announcement to the press 11:20 a.m. November 27, 1978

"In Memory of Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, Life’s greatest gifts".

- Black bordered sign in the window of a Castro Street café the day Milk and Moscone were assassinated in San Francisco November 27, 1978


- protest sign in San Francisco after the Dan White Verdict 1979

“Get out you goddamn queers!”

- Verbal assaults by cops raiding a the Elephant Walk Bar on Castro Street during the White Night riots May 1979

“He got away with murder! He got away with murder!”

- chants by a crowd of gays and lesbians in front of San Francisco City Hall May 21, 1979

“Just tell people that we ate too many Twinkies.”

- a rioter as he torched a cop car in San Francisco May 21, 1979

“Kill Dan White!”

- Shouted by an angry mob of gays on their way to protest at San Francisco City Hall after hearing Dan White’s verdict for murdering Harvey Milk May 21, 1979

“Squad cars burn in the streets during a six-hour riot by thousands of homosexuals in San Francisco.”

- caption under photo in Newsweek Magazine May 1979

“I know feelings are running high in the city and I understand and I share them. But there is no excuse for this kind of violence.”

- Mayor Diane Feinstein pleading with rioters in San Francisco May 22, 1979

"Kill fags! Dan White for Mayor!"

- graffiti in San Francisco late 1978

“All Fags Must die!”

- Message written in toothpaste in apartment of Les Benscoter a gay man murdered in St. Paul, Minnesota June 1979

"Homosexuals - You devils are not welcome here"

- Sign greeting people arriving for the 1979 March on Washing for Lesbian and Gay Rights October 14, 1979

"Street rioting in San Francisco that left 140 people injured demonstrates the rising militancy of homosexual activists in American politics."

- from an article in US News and World Report June 4, 1979

"If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."

- Harvey Milk - 1978

I got these from here and that person got them from here and I highly recommend you guys read the rest of that thread, too, because there's some great stuff in there.

Anyway...yeah. Thanks, Harvey, for everything (even all the mistakes you made...especially for those). You left a legacy and give a lot of grateful people a reason to hope every day.

Gay and...

Mouthy Annoying Christian? Really?

I was never one of those people who liked labels. They're stupid. I mean, useful for like, cans of soup and stuff, but, y'know, not so much for people because people don't fit into boxes (unless you bash them with a crowbar and make them fit and even then they tend to bulge out and leak and stuff). So I never ever meant to be one of those people who runs around on rooftops shouting out who I am. Even when I was a rabid fundamentalist who believed a bunch of stupid things (and a few true things, tossed in for good measure) I never liked running around and beating people with the bible. I want to have real conversations with real people, not slap labels on them or spew bumper sticker theology out of my mouth. But I always ended up in positions where I had to try and defend myself against accusations (because, y'know, Christians can be MEAN and I don't want people to think that of me...) so when I figured out I was gay, I resolved that I wouldn't run around telling people (and I was never going to buy t-shirts or bumper stickers or anything like that) because who cares? This doesn't define who I am, no one thing does, and I wasn't going to be all annoying about it (like those people who convert to some religion and then won't shut up about it). But again...I kept getting put into these situations where people had misconceptions about me, or they believed destructive things about themselves, or they hated themselves, and I always felt compelled to try and speak or write or take pictures or do whatever I could to continue the conversation and try to help people see things in a different way. I mean, some of the people in my small, backwoods town really hate themselves and think they're evil and think they're going to burn in hell forever. There's a counseling program run by one of the churches here that promises to heal you of homosexuality if you submit to God and follow their four week "Training in Righteousness" regimen. They call homosexuality an "evil soul tie" that can only be broken by the love of Christ.


In an environment like this, I can't just keep silent and not say anything. I mean that. Honestly, I've found some conversations to be more important than just words. Every second I can get people to stay with me and engage is another second they're choosing to live and not die (and I don't just mean physically...people who spend every second of their lives repressing themselves so they can fit into a church and beating themselves up for perceived failures are just as dead inside as any corpse...I know because I was one of them). I know this probably makes me sound like a drama queen, and I've accepted that a long time ago, but I can't help it. This is how I see things. Because of my position and the town in which I live, I end up talking about "gay" and "Christian" a lot more than I ever expected I would, and it makes me sound a lot more militant than I ever wanted to be, but if it helps people in small little towns like mine see that they're not evil and they're not alone, than that's more important than my ego. So I keep doing it.

Bridging the Gap

I'm going to be utilizing this space to blog more "professionally" than I do in my usual blog, and in 2 days, I'll be participating in the "Bridging the Gap" web blogging initiative. More information here: http://btgproject.blogspot.com/search/label/synchroblog

Trying to bring together gays and Christians isn't going to be easy. I wonder what everyone else's posts are going to look like. Certainly different from mine. We'll see what happens.