Transparency works, except when it doesn’t

I’ve wrestled these past few days with whether I should have been so transparent with everyone. Whether I should have admitted who I really am. I mean, after all, I’ve kept this part of me successfully hidden for all these long years, so surely I could have gone the rest of my life, right? I could have figured out a way to manage the pressure and stress, just like I did in the past, right?? The pain and the heartbreak I’ve introduced into the lives of my family is just awful. Some are obviously struggling in knowing how to handle this new me. So maybe I should have kept it all locked away.

But, compartmentalized and hidden life is no life at all. It’s a prison.

Transparency works great in being honest and breaking down walls. It means that one is totally honest about what’s going on. I’m really transparent now. I’m an open book. Questions get asked, I answer honestly…about everything – temptation, sexual urges, you name it. I’ve never in all my life been this honest. And, it’s working. It’s releasing. It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s new life.

On the other hand, it’s not working so well. Well, maybe “not working” is not the right phrase. I struggle to know how to explain it, but on the outside it looks like the pain that my wife and family are dealing with. I see the pain and tears. I hear the broken hearts. I see the disappointment on their faces. I sense the hesitation of friends. I get the awkwardness of everyone. So, in that regard, it’s not working so well. I am learning that transparency has many negative side effects, just like the positive ones we all hope for.

Transparency would have worked well during my growing up years, but my home environment was not one where transparency was welcomed. It would have been good to be transparent before I got married, but thinking I could handle “it” and stay straight was a more “logical” choice. So now I live in the realm of delayed transparency.

I can’t go back. Not that I want to, because the hidden life from before was just as maddening. I just want it to get better.

Because, I’m the same guy. I’m the same Trevor that they knew before I officially came out. This is the same country boy that they grew to know and love. I’m just a truer me than you’ve ever known. I’m still me.

And because I’m me – now more than ever – I hope that transparency works really well. Soon.

-Trevor

The one reason I’m not going to heaven

I am a Christian. I don’t just claim the faith, I claim the Christ of the faith. I believe in His sacrifice for me. I’ve confessed. I’ve accepted his Lordship of my life.

Yet, I’m not going to heaven.

The other day, a good and loving friend forwarded an article. It was about a christian music artist who has recently come out. No doubt, my friend forwarded it in the hopes of providing some encouragement. But a close reading – paying attention to the questions asked and visiting the links included in the article – gave a very clear message: if you are gay, you are not not christian. It was a clear call to the exodus philosophy (which has recently been shown to be inept at best and fraudulent at worst). It displayed a significant lack of understanding on the whole gay issue, assuming that all people who say they are gay are also actively having gay sex. The author seemingly agrees with the theory that “gay” and “christian” cannot be used in the same sentence. A quick search will bring lots of other results from christian leaders with the same mentality.

I hope that that author is wrong. Dead wrong.

Refer to my first paragraph. Now let me add: I’m focused on living in obedience to my Lord and in faithfulness to my wife. Yes, I’m tempted. Yes, I struggle. No, I’m not perfect. It’s all so stressful and – some days – seemingly hopeless. I need hope; otherwise, what’s the point?

For nearly 4 decades I’ve tried to out live, out run, hide from, escape from, be healed from, pray out of, and work myself out of this identity. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t and God won’t. So what am I supposed to do with that? If my faith means anything, it means that since God isn’t changing me, then He has to accept me like I am. He has to take me in as a believer, a Christ-follower, and as a gay man. If He won’t do that, then He must be the most cruel of deities.

I really hope he does.

-Trevor

Who is that masked man?

It’s a totally new experience for me to be writing anonymously. As you can already tell, there are some specific reasons that I’m not going to use my real name herein. And, I apologize for not putting this out there at the beginning. So…

Hi! My name is Trevor. Thanks for following my blog.

Later…

Gravity

“The force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth. Heaviness or weight.” (Dictionary.com)

Most people’s life, after a certain number of years, falls into predictable and comfortable circles and patterns. You might say that we find our “gravity” – that we find those things that are in harmony with our “center,” that carry a weight of importance to us.

For the majority of my life, my gravity centered around my family, my faith, my friends, and my work. Probably not significantly unlike many other people. My family means more to me than anything else in this life. The love of family simply cannot be replaced by anything else. My faith has been a part of my entire life. I was going to church before I was even born. 🙂 I have some dear, dear friends who love me so unconditionally it blows my mind. The irreplaceable love and loyalty shown by them is simply amazing. I’ve always been a hard worker and stable provider for my family. In all these things I am blessed and proud. These are my elements of gravity.

But things are different now.

You might say that they have “devolved” to a “raw” stage.

The love of my family is still strong. But, we’ve lost much of the “warm fuzzies” we used to enjoy. Now there is a palatable tension, an underlying hurt, mistrust, and anger. There are more questions than answers. And tears. There are lots of conversations around “can we make this work” and “how will we survive?” The love we are experiencing is a ragged edge love. No pretense, no false fronts. It’s just out there…take it or leave it. No easy answers. Some extended family have been my strongest supporters…others haven’t been given the chance, sadly enough, because they aren’t “safe.” I still gravitate back to my family first. It just doesn’t look like it used to…and time will tell what it will look like in the future.

As far as my faith goes, I saved the baby and threw out the bath water. Yes, I’m a christian…I’ve saved the baby Jesus. But, the bath water – all the trappings and crap of the “church” – yeah, not interested. Now to be honest, I’ve been on this journey for several years now, but it brought this crisis to get me to this point. I just don’t care about “church” anymore. What I’m looking for is a community of people who will be brave enough to admit that they have a raw and ragged faith, who are sick to death of the cliches, who refuse to always quote a promise from scripture accompanied by a sickeningly pasty “holy” smile, who will eat with sinners instead of condemning them, and who are no longer buying the bait and switch played so well by the modern church. You see, since I grew up in it, I know all the tricks of the trade and I’ve finally gotten ill from the overload. I’m done with all that. My faith is simple, uncluttered, and powerful. And, unlike my earlier faith, this new faith of mine tells me that God loves me just like I am – gay.

For those of us who are making this journey, it becomes obvious who your true friends are. Those who truly loved me before are still here, in spite of it all. Others have walked away. And my attitude has become…”their loss.” I’m still a great guy. It is truly sad that a label will so easily wreck a friendship. I do have to say, though, that those friends who have stayed, have become more precious and appreciated than ever. There are days when they are my very lifeline.

Work has taken on a new face. As I mentioned in the previous article, I was a pastor for nearly 20 years. I am a preacher’s kid, to boot. So most of my life has been about engaging people to help them in some way or another. Now…I’m just an hourly worker. I’m not ashamed of my job, in fact I really enjoy it! It’s just different. It’s good.

So, in all these things, my center of gravity has shifted. Really, the dust hasn’t settled yet from the shifting as things continue to fall into place. Life is different. Life was difficult before, it’s even more so now. Relationships were tricky before, they are even more tricky now.

Gravity shifts when transparency happens.

Worm Thinking

So, I’ve been thinking about silkworms and cocoons.

Have you ever wondered what a worm thinks? (No worries if you haven’t, because that’s really strange, I know.) Like, what does the worm think when mother nature is telling it to begin to spin the cocoon? What does it think while it is fully encased in cocoon? What does it think when it is being transformed into something totally different…something beautiful. More beautiful than it could have ever imagined. Kind of like a “beauty from ashes” type of thing.

Strange…yeah, that’s how I think sometimes. Just ask those closest to me. 🙂

Except, in this case it’s not nearly so strange, and not nearly so abstract. What I’m about to write about is not in the abstract, it is my reality. I’m not writing out of a sense of enjoyment, but of giving a voice to my state and my struggle. In doing so, I trust that you might be helped.

So, let’s get some key basics covered: I’m a husband, my wife and I have 3 beautiful children, a gorgeous granddaughter, and I’m a christian. We have a good life – not grand and far from perfect, but good – real good.

And I’m gay.

I didn’t pick this. I didn’t choose this. This is just the way I am. Always has been. Only my wife and a handful of trusted friends and family know that I’m gay.

I am a PK (preacher’s kid), reared in the shadow of the local church(s) that my parents pastored, and in the environment of loving and Godly parents. It wasn’t a perfect environment, but was a blessed upbringing. I treasure my parents and the truth that they worked so hard to imprint upon my life. I attended parochial schools all my life and answered the call of God into ministry at a young age. I spent nearly 20 years in local church ministry as a pastor.

About 18 months ago I confessed to my wife that I had been having an extramarital affair…an affair that had been going on for several months. The affair was with another man.

As you can imagine, the effects of this were swift and extremely damaging. We are working our way through the tall weeds; it’s painful, but necessary. The family strength our children previously enjoyed is now in shambles. We immediately lost our church family…both to worship with and to minister to…things we have been blessed with the majority of our married life.

From my very first sexual impulse, I have been sexually attracted to men. Being that I was raised in a ultra conservative environment that was not open for any discussion of sex – straight or otherwise – I could not talk about this to anyone. If I have prayed once for God to set me “straight,” I’ve prayed it a million times. A prayer that was never answered. The resulting pain landed me in the bottom of a bottle, as I abused alcohol for a few years. That pain has also brought me to the brink of suicide more than once.

I am blessed in that it is because of my upbringing that I am not in a worse place than I am in now…for that I’m thankful.

However, it is also because of my upbringing that I am not in a better place than I am in now. Growing up I had learned quite well the art of compartmentalizing my life and how to avoid being a truth-teller in how I lived my life, because I had no safe outlet to share my life experiences and my forming sexual orientation without facing condemnation and judgment. Everything was lined up nice and neat externally for everyone to see…yet the interior of my life held this one big secret that I knew nobody was really interested in being exposed to.

I heard preaching and teaching about how more prayer would solve it all. Hey! I prayed and cried and begged and bargained and cajoled God…asked God to cure me, to fix me, even to kill me…that didn’t work. I heard how reading the Bible would give me all the answers. I read the Bible all the time…I never found the answer. I heard how I should just throw myself into ministry, put the right foot forward and I would be led away from sin. Only to find out that spiritual activity was not the answer, either. And the message I received in all that “hearing” was that they didn’t want to hear about me, I just needed to get myself fixed. Sadly, I’m still getting that message today…literally, in those words…get it fixed. How sadly insensitive and demeaning.

The cocoon has been formed…fully encasing my life.

So what’s next?

Can anything be made of this worm? (Please understand that when I say “worm” I’m not putting myself down.) Can I be more than a silly worm…hanging from the skinny limb of life…encased by the silky, yet strong, fibers of the cocoon? Can life be found in the cocoon? A beautiful life? A joy filled life? A happy life?

Through the aid of intensive and Christian therapy, I’ve come to the point that I can embrace the truth of who I am.  I.Am.Gay.  I’m able to form the thought. I’m able to actually speak the words.

So maybe the cocoon is loosening just a bit.

But that doesn’t solve anything. It just opens the door for more discovery…much of which is more challenging than most can imagine.

Maybe, just maybe, that is the worm in the throes of transformation.

Some of you may not get the process of simply understanding and admitting to being gay. This might be of help to you.

And, you might be curious about what it means to live in a mixed-orientation marriage, this blog may be of assistance.

Pain. Despair. Depression. Regret. Hopelessness.

Those are some words to describe my life right now. But maybe this worm will eventually change into something beautiful.

Time will tell.

*******

So, from time to time I will write about my life “in the cocoon”, all in the hope that it will show a transformation to full beauty, and to help someone else along the way.