Nan and Peggy’s Story

Peggy and I celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary in September 2006. Peggy was raised Catholic and I was raised Episcopalian. We joined First Methodist in Omaha because they are a congregation who truly welcomes diverse groups of people, including gay people. Peggy never doubted that God loved her, straight or gay. I struggled, finding it hard to believe God loved me at all. I knew I was gay at eleven and a half. Because society and the church were so negative toward gays, I tried hard to be straight. When I finally faced the fact that I am gay, I felt and thought I would have to give up my Self or my God. I didn’t see how I could live without either.

I studied the Bible thoroughly on the matter. I consulted ministers. I concluded that people who condemned me for who I am were misguided, interpreting passages wrongly, too strongly, out of context, or without being willing even to consider modern scientific findings or social structures on the subject. (Social structures? There were no loving, committed gay couples, nor even such a concept, in Biblical society. How could these writers condemn something they’d never heard of?) Intellectually, I was satisfied. Emotionally, I carried years of shame and self-loathing.

At that time, I was an avid practitioner of relaxation and visualization techniques, for stress management and self-healing. I had, in my imagination, a lovely mountain meadow with a lake and brook, surrounded on three sides by mountains & pines, a cottonwood near the lake where Jesus hung out, approaching me when I invited him to. Peggy and 1 had already met. When we first met, I claimed I wanted just to be friends. I may have been still pretending on may have admitted we were “dating”. I can’t remember for sure. 1 do remember I was still scared to death I’d lose Cod’s love if I entered a gay relationship, even a committed, long-term, loving relationship.

One day, during visualization, Jesus and I were walking beside the brook, my right hand in his left. There were wildflowers of all shades in the meadow, across the brook to our left. We came to a grove of very tall, white-barked trees on our right. I had never seen them in the meadow before. There was someone high up in one of the trees, who began climbing down. He? She? walked toward us. It was Peggy. How nice! Jesus took her left hand in his right, we continued to walk beside the clear-running, cold, chattering brook. How lovely! Friends in Christ! As we kept walking, Jesus gently placed Peggy’s hand in mine and my hand in Peggy’s. He stopped and stood on that spot. He watched us with affection and approval as we continued together, hand-in-hand, taking in the beauty of creation and the beauty of loving another human being.

When in “real life”, I told Peggy about this visualization, she told me about the trees (sycamore?) in MillerPark across from her childhood home. She used to play in the park and frequently climbed those trees. I can’t remember whether at that point Peggy had already driven me by her childhood home, where her mom still lived, or not, or even if I might have met her mom and dad. Whether we had driven by or not, gone in or not, I had not consciously noticed those beautiful trees. And I certainly didn’t know Peggy had been a tree climber as a kid. I took this visualization as an indication that Jesus approved of Peggy and me as a couple. I took the fact that 1 had “seen” trees I hadn’t consciously noticed and Peggy’s tree climbing, which I didn’t know anything about, as, well, a “sign” from God.

The minister who led Peggy’s and my ritual to celebrate our love and our twenty-fifth anniversary, called this story a direct revelation of the truth from God.

Nan Knicely

Peggy Ryan

 

Next blog post: Nameless                            https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/656

Nan and Peggy’s Story

Kathy England: A Mother’s Story

“What do you think about homosexuality?” Nearly 20 years ago our then 18 year old son, Scott, posed this question during his college Christmas break. Having no real reason to think about it, I thought, I told him I did not understand the “choice” or “lifestyle”. Why would anyone want to be gay knowing how society might treat him — bashing, zero protection for housing or job selection, denial of many basic rights like serving one’s country in the military, lack of acceptance in most churches, or denial of freedom to marry and all the benefits that automatically come with that (i.e. joint insurance, filing joint tax returns, shared home or property ownership, next of kin healthcare decisions, to name but just a few of these benefits).

“When did you first choose to love men, and Dad in particular?” It was not a choice, I had just always been attracted to men, and it was part of who I was. “Same for me Mom, I just remember always feeling this way. It is not a choice.”

Dad’s response was clear and simple. “You are my son; I love you and support you just as you are.” While I echoed this, I needed to know and understand more. So I began to search for something to help me. I finally found a book, Beyond Acceptance, by a group of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) parents that began to help me understand we were not the only family struggling with so many questions. We found a local PFLAG chapter and began to feel the unconditional love and acceptance for ourselves as parents and for our son. The hardest part of Scott’s coming out was his clear statement about the church that he had grown up in. “The church does not want me as I am and I do not need the church.” Many times over the years as our church and so many others made hurtful, even hateful statements about gays, I tried to remind Scott that the church is people and that God did not reject him, He continued to love and care for him. God made him as he was and must surely continue to love His child, even as Dad and I did. This has been a long hard struggle for Scott, but today he has found a church that loves and accepts him as he is. He is active on the church council, the outreach committee and has taught Sunday school for more than six years. His church has blessed his union with Kelly, as have both families.

Today he is a pediatric Intensive Care RN, respected by his peers, honored by his employer, Children’s MercyHospital in Kansas City, loved and respected by his church and active in the gay community (he testified for the passage of Kansas City’s Protection and Support of Domestic Partners Bill). Scott and Kelly sing openly and proudly in the Heartland Men’s Chorus that always brings not only a great musical presence, but a strong and positive message to each concert.

Twenty years ago I knew I loved my son just as he was. Today, I have come to know and love so many in “the gay community” that I might never have known except through our journey with other PFLAG parents.and their children and friends.

We will continue to work with other reconciling United Methodists for acceptance and full inclusion in our church for all of our children and friends. Indeed, we look forward to the day when all of our churches not only speak about but fully embrace the vision of Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors. This is not an easy task, but a loving challenge by God to live His unconditional love that we all enjoy as His children.

 

Next blog post: Nan and Peggy’s Story               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/623

Kathy England: A Mother’s Story

Rev. Don Marsh: Haven’t We Come a Long Way?!

My story is not one of coming out, but of finding out. Having grown up in a time (born in 1924) and place (rural Nebraska) where the issue of homosexuality was unspoken and not described in home, church, school or community. Having served during World War II in the U.S. Army (1944-1946), when its policy on homosexuality was basically “Don’t ask, don’t care, don’t even think about it,” and having graduated from seminary with nary a serious in-class discussion of how to deal with the issue, I was ill-prepared to cope with it in my early ministry — more than I knew! I tried to be open and nonjudgmental in my counseling style, but I had little real comprehension of the depth of pain and sense of exclusion involved.

Then, while at Hanscom Park Church in Omaha (late 1960”s, early 70’s), I helped establish and served as an anonymous volunteer telephone responder for Omaha’s first telephone HELP-Line—long before the 911 emergency system was established. For seven years, my weekly on-call schedule was from 11 p.m. Friday to 7:00 a.m. Saturday—a time when parties happened, inhibitions faded, rash deeds and thoughts occurred, with guilt and fear crashing in. We kept a tally of our calls, not by name but by situation. Over those seven years, an average of two out of seven of the cries for help on my shift came from callers, mostly men, wrestling with their homosexuality. Among those who were high-risk for suicide, the percentage was even higher. The church? That’s the last place they’d think of for help—some after bitter trials. Moving right along…

After I retired in 1990, I volunteered for seven years with the Nebraska Aids Project in Lincoln. Following training, I was assigned as an AIDS-Buddy. That was when AIDS was a dark, burgeoning epidemic,. Positive diagnosis was tantamount to a death sentence, Several of my Buddies, all gay, died—some as prison inmates. Many of our AIDS buddies were estranged from their families, and especially from their churches. Some religious leaders called AIDS God’s punishment for the sin of being gay. I conducted a dozen funerals for AIDS victims. Most had grown up “in the church,” but felt cast out. Parents estranged from their sons for years because they were gay were often reconciled at the AIDS deathbed, crying softly in their sorrow at having wasted years in separation. As to the church, most of my AIDS Buddies in Lincoln and those desperate HELP-Line callers in Omaha shared a sense of utter abandonment. The church has come a long way in the last half- century, haven’t we? Haven’t we?

 

Next blog post: Kathy England: A Mother’s Story               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/620

Rev. Don Marsh: Haven’t We Come a Long Way?!

Liz Bady: Advocate for Reconciliation.

Christ United Methodist Church – RUMOLA member.

My journey as an advocate for change in the United Methodist Church and as an ally for GLBT persons has lead me to grow in my faith and as a person. In that growth has come challenge and conflict, but I have learned that being a person who does not speak out is not who I am.

When I was a child, my Mom and Dad (a Methodist minister) were people who were open to discussions and challenges. They believed in civil rights and human rights, so they laid a foundation in me that was for the rights of others. They embraced change in old ways that didn’t work.

I grew up in Maine and lived there for 52 years. When I was in my forties I was going to a large (for Maine) United Methodist Church. I decided that it would be good for our church to look into the Reconciling Congregation movement. I urged my pastor to hold a class on sexuality or homosexuality. We did this and out of it came a core group of fourteen people who wanted change. We worked for four years and finally after many meetings, discussion groups, classes and worship services our church became a Reconciling Congregation. This was a journey in itself and I learned much.

When I moved to Lincoln, Nebraska I looked for a church whose mission and vision statement matched how I felt about things. Christ UMC fit what I wanted and I started attending. Before I even came to Lincoln I met (online) Maureen Vetter and we felt the same way about homosexuality and the United Methodist Church. I was nervous moving to Nebraska where I had heard that it was conservative. I knew that I did not share many of the people’s feelings, but with Maureen’s help.l met many people who felt as I did.

Over the last few days I have been reflecting more and more about how I came to be part of this journey and how much people’s stories make a difference. When I was a young married woman I lived in a small country town. I lived ten miles from a city and bought many of my groceries and got my mail at a small country store a short way from my home. One day I heard that the older couple who owned the country store were going to retire and it was to be sold. Two men bought the store. Their names were Adam and Roy (I have changed their names). I did not have much experience with homosexuality, but the rumor was that they were a couple.

Adam and Roy were kind, caring people. I got to know them and got to be their friends, especially Adam. Adam was very friendly and we had many talks at the counter. Adam made lovely cakes and when my daughter turned two I had him make her an adorable bear birthday cake. Some people made fun of them, but most people accepted them into the fabric of our little town.  One day I heard that Roy had gotten hurt and was hurt badly. He had gone on a trip to northern Maine and had stopped at one of the turnpike’s rest stops. While he was there he was badly beaten with a lead pipe. It took him a long while to recover and because he had been beaten on his head somehow bacteria got introduced into his system and he ended up with bacterial meningitis and almost died.  I felt so bad for Roy and for Adam. After this incident they seemed beaten down and depressed. The people who did this never were caught and, if I remember correctly, the police didn’t seem very interested.

As I thought about it I came to realize that this was a hate crime. It was a crime that had been committed just because of Roy’s sexual orientation. This was before Hate Crimes legislation and statutes against such crimes. I think this was the beginning of my wanting to be vocal for change and to speak out. Adam and Roy didn’t stay in my little town. I never could get Adam to tell me why they were moving on, but I think now I can see that they were afraid. They moved to a bigger city – a place where maybe they could blend in more. I missed them when they moved away and I doubt that they ever realized the deep impression their lives had on me. This is why sharing our stories are so important and one example of how someone else’s story worked for change. I am glad that we here in Nebraska are stepping out and sharing more and more. Touching each other’s lives can make a difference.

 

Next blog post: Rev. Don Marsh: Haven’t We Come a Long Way?!               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/617

Liz Bady: Advocate for Reconciliation.

Alan’s Story

I guess my mind knew I was gay years before my conscious did. Starting in elementary school, I really began to notice guys, and it continued throughout Jr. High and High School. Yeah, I tried to find a girlfriend and such, just to be like all the other guys, but when I got in a situation of a girl liking me, I would panic. Even in High School, I still never labeled myself as gay, because I knew I would outgrow it (yeah right). My father was transferred to Kansas City in 1976 when I was a Junior in High School. I still had not fully admitted to myself that I was gay. A week before senior prom, a good friend of mine, Robin, asked me if I wanted to go to the prom dance with her. I agreed, because I knew it was what was expected of me. A few days before prom, I took her to dinner, and after being uncomfortable during dinner, I told her I couldn’t go to the dance, because (well, I really don’t remember the “because”), but anyway, I broke the prom date. I got home that night, and told my parents I had decided not to go to prom, and was immediately met with an upset. The first thing my mother said was “why did you break the date….what’s wrong, do you like boys better than girls or something?” I was shocked that she would even suggest something like that (maybe because in the back of my mind….I knew it was true). The issue was dropped, and I didn’t go to the prom dance.

A few more years passed, and I moved out on my own. At the time, I was working for an insurance company, and had met my “first gay person” Charlie (he died some years ago of Aids….the first person I ever knew to die from Aids). God Bless Charlie.

Charlie befriended me, as he detected that I was gay (i still hadn’t admitted it to myself yet). He flat out asked me at lunch one day “are you gay?”….I kind of freaked out…thought about it for a second, and said…”yeah….I think I am”. He smiled, and said….don’t worry, its ok. There are millions of gay people. Subsequently, he asked me if I would like to go out with him for a drink after work, and we could talk about it (and he meant it non-sexually…..what a perfect guy to come out to). We did go out, and I hung to him like glue. Scared to death. . . .

. . .  I finally broke down, called my mother, and told her I had something to tell her. I was in tears. I thought my life was over, and was afraid her and my father would dis-own me. I had 2 friends who had recently come out to their parents, and they had no relationships with their parents any more. I had always been close to both my parents, and couldn’t bear the thought of loosing them. So there I was…blurting out that I was gay (now 32 years old….yeah….i surfaced to them late)….and got really worried when my mother said “I am so disappointed in you”…….

I was crushed….I didn’t know what to say. I just said…..”Mom….I love you…and I’m sorry”. She said….”well…I am sorry too”. I really thought my life was over. I didn’t want to exist without my parents acceptance.

She continued by saying….

“Alan….I am disappointed….that you didn’t think that your father and I didn’t love you enough to accept whoever you are. You are our son….we have wondered for years if you were Gay…and now we know. Did you really think our love was conditional…or so shallow?” I cried…even harder.

Well….to summarize….my brothers attempt failed…he has apologized every day since….but I still love him….I do. He is my brother. My sister does still have problems with me being gay….but we just don’t discuss it. She knows, loves me, wants me to be happy, and that is all that needs to be said 🙂

My coming out, was very late, very painful, but all said and done, was very positive. To the younger crowd: Don’t ever underestimate your family or friends. We are in 2001 now, the world in general…I have found….is more accepting. My parents are pushing their 70’s, and we are still very close. I have not lost any friends. I manage an office of a maintenance facility with 65 men that know I am gay, and we all get along great, and have respect for each other. Heck…..they tell me some of the best gay jokes I have ever heard 🙂 Although I am still not, and have never been in a full time relationship….I keep my hopes up. There IS someone out there for all of us. The longer we have to wait (I hate the waiting), the better and more appreciative we will be.

God Bless Charlie, may he rest in peace. God Bless David….I know you are out there somewhere 🙂 God Bless Chris (I didn’t go into him…that’s another story…the one man I truly loved…and still do, that didn’t think he was good enough for me….BUT HE IS). And…God Bless my mother and father….I love them both dearly….I was born to a perfect set of parents. God Bless my sister, her husband, and the 4 beautiful children she has brought into this world…they are my world. And especially….God Bless you Phillip….my brother….I know life is hard for you…but I (we…your family) love you. Hope you get back on your feet before it is too late.

 

Next blog post: Liz Bady:: Advocate for Reconciliation               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/614

Alan’s Story

Abby’s Story

I am 18, and as I grasp this issue of homosexuality, I realize that it is something I always knew, sort of a silent understanding with myself, but life went on, and growing up I never made it a big issue. I felt different from a very early age, but than again, I never knew what it was like to be very normal anyway, so I figure that I didn’t miss much. Having an older brother guaranteed me to an adolescence of tomboy activities. Hanging out with his friends was much cooler than hanging out with dumb girls who only cared about what the boys thought anyway. The teenage years struck, with a startling result, and all of my brothers friends began to be interested in me. Not friend interested, but girlfriend interested. I had already had my slew of boyfriends… always looking for something that I suppose would never be there. Then I had my first lesbian experience, and I finally admitted to myself that I was gay. You would never know it from looking at me, which is better I suppose, because I want people to know me for who I am, not my sexual orientation. Anyway, attending a magnet Art High School, where allot of the guys were openly gay, led me to finally coming out to my friends. Some of them said they had their suspicions because I never had boyfriends around, and others said they had no clue. They all took it well, and the point is, they accepted ME, That segued into me telling my brother. He accepted it in disbelief, because he always thought that everything about me was perfect. I told him that I don’t see my sexuality as a curse, and that if he wanted to think everything around my life was still perfect, he could. I have yet to tell my parents. I figure I will wait until I am out of the house, either in college, or after that. Part of me thinks they already know, but that they really don’t want to admit it. My parents are Catholic Republicans, very proud of my grades and talent, and constantly trying to fix me up with the “perfect” guy. I let them think that I don’t have a steady boyfriend because I go to a high school where allot of the guys are gay, and that I truly love going to movies with their co-worker’s sons. I do this because at this time in my life, it’s easier than hurting them. I know that time will end soon enough, and that they will love me nonetheless, but until then, I keep it to myself. I am who I am, and that is enough for me.

It is early in the morning, in the other room I can hear the soft sleeping sounds of my partner, Terry. I am concerned that she will wake and find me in here on the computer, instead of studying for exams. She is 11 years older than I, and sometimes can be rather paternalistic, (notice I didn’t say maternalistic). I also refer to this as her wearing the “pants of crank”. Nevertheless, since I came across this site and read a lot of the sad, happy, inspiring and just plain brave stories of so many men and women, I have wanted to add my own insights and share my “coming out story”.

I like to say that in a sense, I never actually “came out” because I had never known I was “in”. It took me ‘til I was in my later twenties to realize that I was a lesbian, bisexual, gay, whatever you want to label it. Was I so blind and stupid I lived in a closet for 25 odd years and didn’t even know it? (Actually, I was feeling a little cramped, oh, and the mothballs….). Gay friends and acquaintances said later “We knew it all the time”. Maybe they are just trying to prove their strong “gaydar” skills or maybe they’re right, I don’t know.

My mother was not wholly surprised that day I told her I was dating another woman. I think she half suspected I would not let her drift into middle age without pulling some rabbits out of the hat. She even asked if I was “doing this just to spite her”. (Funny how she always thinks everything is about her). She should have expected it from me, the child who always fought for the underdog, who could never leave well enough alone, who lived with her heart on her sleeve. If our family had a black sheep (and you didn’t include my alcoholic father, who was really more of a “black-out”), I was it.

The first time I had sex with a woman I was more than a little drunk, a lot lonely, and a little bit in love with Meg, this smart funny, troubled, self proclaimed “dyke” I had met through a close friend of mine who was gay. ( Hey, we were friends for years, and I thought for the longest time her partner was just her roomate. Yes, they slept in the same bed, did everything together, but so???)

Loving another woman, touching the landscape of her body that was so like my own, kissing her, holding her, was a little strange and yet beautiful experience for a woman who thought she was straight and just hadn’t met that special guy. It was almost like the ultimate way of loving myself. The thing was, I didn’t feel ashamed, embarrassed, or that I had done anything “wrong”. Instead, I felt like announcing to the clerk at the gas station and anyone else who would listen about this wonderful experience I had just had. (I didn’t).

When I left her apartment that morning I knew that something very meaningful had just happened, but I thought it meant I was “open” in my sexuality, that I was curious, bisexual, whatever. But I still told myself it didn’t mean I was gay.

I had always been attracted to men, had my share of boyfriends and sexual experiences as a teenager but never long term, and then as I got older and gained a lot of weight I chose to be uninvolved because I didn’t feel I could be intimate with anyone looking and feeling about my body as I did. Plus it wasn’t like a lot of guys were chasing fat girls. So I went off to university and then spent the first five years of my twenties celibate, lonely, busy with school, friends, hobbies, my career, and fantasies of losing weight, meeting that perfect man, and having the white picket fence.

Eventually I did lose quite a bit of weight and was feeling more comfortable with myself and started dating and actively meeting men. It felt hollow. It also felt like I just wanted sex. I didn’t feel like I connected at all with men on an emotional level. I didn’t understand them the way I did women. And then there was Meg.

It took a few months after that (and also a few more nights with Meg, though we decided to eventually be just friends), for me to realize I really was gay. Of all things it was a porno movie that finally made me sure.(Who knew they could be educational or enlightening?) As I watched the man and woman on the screen I thought, that’s not what I want anymore. I was sexually attracted to men, yes, but I didn’t want to live with one, spend my life with one, now that I knew there were other possibilities. To a lot of gays, I know, it was never a choice, but I think in a way, it was for me. I could choose to do what gave me the most happiness and joy, and who wouldn’t choose that? Still it was difficult for me to grasp that the “American Dream” of husband, wife, kids, and picket fence would never be for me. And I grieved for that. It had been all I had ever wanted since I was a little girl.

So I was confused, stressed out, coming to terms emotionally with my realization that I wanted to love a woman. And like others in my situation I called up the GLBT group in my city and spoke to the woman who was then the president of the group for some advice and reassurance. It is her that I hear soflty snoring in the next room.

She is the love of my life, I feel that I have been so blessed to have a best friend, life partner and lover all rolled into one human being. Terry is more transgendered than gay and I suppose I am more bisexual than lesbian so we are kind of the classic femme/ dyke couple. If there were a husband in this relationship, she’d be it, and I the wife. But its different because she has just enough felinity so that she thinks like a woman, loves like a woman, even though she’d rather be shopping for power tools than shoes. Over the years she has considered a sex reversal operation, and maybe one day she will. It won’t matter to me. I have discovered that its not male or female that I love but a person, a soul. And in her I have the best of both worlds.

We have been together four years now, and live our lives very openly. I talk to strangers, friends, family and coworkers about my partner the way they talk about their husbands or wives. I am very matter of fact about it. In the beginning, I told family and those close to me “Guess what, I am seeing someone new. Only, its not a guy.” Then I would just stand there, with a small smile on my face and wait for their reaction. For some, like my brother, it was easy, he just said, “Ok, if your happy, that’s great”. For others, like my mother, it is an ongoing road to acceptance. (The other day we were talking and I told her that I was happy. She said “No you’re not. You just think you are”. I wonder, isn’t that the same thing?).

Oh, and the American Dream thing? I didn’t have to give it up after all. My partner builds a great white picket fence., and we’re planning our first baby next year.

 

Next blog post: Allen’s Story         https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/611

Abby’s Story

Anonymous 1’s Story

. . . As I read what I’ve written, my life sounds grim and my outlook bleak. But know that my life has been very good; indeed, I’ve lived richly. .  .When I see one of my paintings on display or read parts of the novel I’ve written I even amaze myself at times. I’ve been very blessed. I love life!

I was born onto a Nebraska sand hills cattle ranch—a fifth generation descendant from pioneers—into a close family of great grandparents and all the way to fifth cousins. I was the oldest of nineteen grandchildren in our immediate family and the rest were stair steps down from me—the last being eighteen years younger. . . I am very thankful for the time, place, and the salt of the earth people I was born into which were mainly of Irish, German, and Welch extraction.

Yet very early I knew I was different from the others. As adolescents will, my cousins, friends, and I experimented. But when the time came, they put it away and I didn’t. Although I had heard the word ‘queer,’ bandied about from fifth grade on, I had never heard the word, ‘homosexual,’ until I was a sophomore; or ‘gay,’ used in that sense until I was in college. I knew I was all of that though, just as I knew the word ‘queer’ applied to me in fifth grade. And I was surprised to learn I wasn’t the only one in the world because I had never met another. I thought of myself as some unique perverse freak.

But I knew what I was just as a boy knows he’s a boy and a girl knows she is a girl. I thought maybe I’d out grow it when the time came to marry and that worried me. As a friend I enjoyed the girl with whom I went steady for two years in high school until she became more insistent and we broke up. Various college dates were disasters too and I just wanted to spend my life in a desert lime shack I’d seen in a movie. There I could live with a couple of sun bleached cats and a flea-bitten dog and not ever have to deal with the opposite sex. The girl I thought about marrying in my early career has become a life-long friend; but the thought of having sex with any of them was repulsive. Even the act of kissing was a trial.

So the thought I might all of a sudden change and start caring for women sexually scared me because I wanted to stay the same even if it meant the Nevada desert. Liking women in that way just wasn’t me. At the same time I thought, ~this is me—the pervert; and I’ve chosen a career that involves working closely with young men. No one must ever find out. And so I turned off physically and I hid for forty years.

 

Abby’s Story https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/606

Anonymous 1’s Story

Coming out and Signs of Hope in Our Lives

My story of Sacred Worth is about my JOURNEY of COMING OUT by becoming a Reconciling United Methodist in 1996. It was just before General Conference in 1996. Nancy McMurtry, a good friend, asked me to sign a card saying I would be a “Reconciling United Methodist” and I decided to sign it realizing it was time for me to “come out” as an ally. I had no idea where this JOURNEY would take me at that time but I knew it was a commitment to COME OUT as an ally and to COME OUT personally to be more visible as a person supporting persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities. I also knew I would have a lot to learn along the way with many challenges and struggles as most journeys are!

I knew what “coming out” meant as I had come out to myself about being sexually abused as a child in the years just ahead of this. I have come to realize that this very simple task of signing this card, (or signing on at the new website http://www.Rmnetwork.org) became the starting point for me to mentally & spiritually take the risk to start this journey of listening to other stories and being more aware of those around me who were searching for any SIGN OF HOPE in our churches and

communities to be SAFE.

Through the past eleven years I have become more aware of how important small SIGNS OF HOPE are to all of us and especially to folks who are looking for any shred of HOPE in our churches.  Once when my husband was called to a home to meet with an older couple in the church he had no idea what they were wanting to share. He arrived to find them wanting to share about the HOPE they had found in a simple church newsletter article about an upcoming Telling Our Stories” program planned by RUMOLA at Cornerstone in Lincoln. They had used a yellow marker to HIGHLIGHT it in the church newsletter. Then they told him about their daughter and her partner and how they wanted to come to this gathering. This simple newsletter article became a way of sharing a SIGN OF HOPE for them and in return they gave all of us a SIGN OF HOPE back when they came to this gathering!

Another time recently a mother emailed us to tell us how glad she was we had a Reconciling Community in our church as one of her children had just come out to them over the holidays. She was so relieved to know there was an OPEN HEARTS group in the church so she could come and find strength for this new journey. She had read about it in our church newsletter as her SIGN OF HOPE!

Newsletter articles don’t seem very important but another person came to our last meeting from another town because of seeing an article about our meeting in a local church newsletter. So these simple SIGNS OF HOPE are so important as we have many people looking for anyway to feel accepted and affirmed by the church. Parents, families and friends in our local churches are looking for people they can trust and safely talk to about having children who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

When I think of all the SIGNS OF HOPE in my life through new experiences, new friends, & new faith understandings about sexuality that have GRACED my life through signing this card eleven years ago, I rejoice in all the ways spring is COMING OUT now in our lives; and I think of all the ways we need to show SIGNS OF HOPE to each other through our church newsletters, our conversations, our rainbows, our groups, our emails, and our new ways of making our churches SAFE to ALL persons!

We can keep COMING OUT like spring, like newsletter articles, like sharing our STORIES OF SACRED WORTh, like the rainbow, like Jesus CAME OUT with his message of LOVE to those around him who were marginalized and shared his compassion with all persons! Signs of HOPE!

Maureen Vetter, Grand Island, NE

PS:- I rejoice every time I come out to myself or someone else comes out to me-

 

Next blog post: Anonymous 1’s Story               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/603

Coming out and Signs of Hope in Our Lives

Foreword to Stories of Sacred Worth

Stories of Sacred Worth

Foreword

By Phyllis Burrows

I am very proud to have been chosen to put this book together.  I am straight but I do have a story that explains why I care so much for all diverse people, especially the gays and lesbians that we lovingly accept in our church family.

When I was about eight years old, we had a neighbor who was a woman, but she always had her hair cut like a man’s and wore men’s suits and ties, etc.  She was a really nice person, but I couldn’t understand why she dressed as she did.  One day I asked my mother if she knew the answer.

Mama took me into the living room and had me sit down on the sofa.  She told me she wanted me to listen carefully to what she said, and to remember it all my life.

She told me that Jeanette was a very nice woman, but she was different in some ways.  She explained that she was attracted to women just as Mama was attracted to my father who was a man.  She said that was a God Given attraction, and that there were also men who were attracted to men, and that they were living as they were supposed to live.  She told me to continue to like Jeanette, and to respect her and anyone else I would meet whose life was the same.

That was a very long time ago, but I have remembered my mother’s kind words regarding our neighbor, and have always respected any GLBTs I have met.  FUMC is a truly outstanding church family, and I am proud to be a member.  This booklet is a tribute to everyone who has the courage to live their God-Given Attraction.

 

Next blog post: Coming out and Signs of Hope in Our Lives               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/600

Foreword to Stories of Sacred Worth

Love and do not Judge

This is a companion blog to Heal Our Church and The Bible Through Artists’ Eyes.  Each of these blogs seeks to heal the divisions at various levels of the organized church, specifically, and divisions among people of different religions or of no profession of religious belief, generally.

This blog is based upon a Sunday School study I had prepared for our local church but was not presented.  In the study, I do not justify or condemn any of the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, and Transexual) community.  Instead, I address positions that various “Christian” groups have taken on the subject and their claims of scriptural support.  We will also examine what it means to “love and do not judge.”  I am a United Methodist and even Methodism is conflicted about how to treat the GLBT community. I may ask questions concerning any position, but I will seek to fairly represent each.

As to judgment of the issues, I ask several questions: How much are we in a position to judge another’s actions? another’s claimed sexual orientation?  As to those who say “love the person, hate the sin,” I ask, “Can you do both well at the same time?”  How can we know what is good and right from what is bad and wrong?  Is it my job to judge what is right or wrong for another person if what that person is doing has no impact upon me?

Most of all, I want to emphasize that we all have sacred worth.  I want to celebrate that.  If you have personal stories relating to the subjects raised, would you kindly share them?  I want to avoid “alienating objectification,” platitudes and superficial judgment of these issues that affect real people.

The overarching theme of this blog will be, like its related blogs, the principle Jesus taught: “By their fruits you will know them.”  What better expression of such good fruits than through the eyes of Vincent Van Gogh?”

The Good Samaritan VINCENT VAN GOGH

Source: http://www.abcgallery.com/V/vangogh/vangogh56.html.  What interests me most about this painting is that the outcast, the Samaritan, is aiding the man, the Jew, who was badly beaten and left at the side of the road, whereas the religious leaders are retreating into the background.  It demonstrates in the concrete what it means to be a good neighbor.

As a United Methodist I note that a large number of retired bishops have signed a statement seeking to strike anti-GLBT language from the Book of Discipline, which is much like a constitution in other organizations.   whereas there support for inclusion of all people is welcoming, yet nonetheless disturbs me that more active bishops aren’t also advocating change.  You may see their recent statement at http://www.rmnetwork.org/act-now/take-action-form/letter-to-the-bishop/#signatures.

In Matthew 25, Jesus teaches that “when the Son of Man comes in his glory,” those who loved their neighbor in tangible ways, fed the hungry, comforted those who were hurting or visited those in prison are invited “into the Kingdom to receive your just reward”.  In that passage, the reward of the Kingdom was available to everyone who bore good fruits, regardless of religion, orientation, nation or clan. Non-Christians, whether self-proclaimed agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, or “whatever,” you are also welcome to visit and share your own experiences of the divine, of the ineffable and of accountability, forgiveness and reconciliation.

I highly recommend Religious Tolerance, at http://www.religioustolerance.org/, as a phenomenal resource of a wide range of religious topics ranging from theistic to atheistic, Western religions to the most remote. It is exceptionally well-organized and well-written. In the language of its own welcome:

We welcome evangelicals, secularists, religious conservatives, religious liberals, Deists, Wiccans, other Pagans, progressives, animists, theists, fundamentalists, Atheists, polytheists, humanists, Agnostics, etc.

So, welcome to our fruits.  We hope you find them nourishing.  If you wish to bring your own fruit to share, we would be honored and blessed.

Wishing you the blessings of peace and love,

Robert Wheeler

To navigate the contents of this blog, click on the link of the Table of Contents, below.

A Study of GLBT Issues, Religious and Scientific, Religious Pro and Con

TABLE OF CONTENTS

This Marvelous Creation                               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/28

Catholic Judgment on Homosexuality               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/33

A Fundamentalist Protestants Condemnation of Homosexual Christians               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/37

Dr. Dobson’s Position on Homosexuality                 https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/39

Hate the Sin, but Love the Sinner Position               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/41

A Gay Man’s Scriptural Defense of Homosexuality               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/46

The Wesleyan  Quadrilateral         https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/52

Scripture Accounts of How God Has Been Heard to Speak               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/55

Detestable or Abominable Things               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/59

Thou Shalt Not Kill, but…               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/65

Offenses Punishable by Death      https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/68

Scriptures on GLBT Subjects          https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/70

Love and Mercy                               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/79

Spiritual Gifts and Love                  https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/81

Gays – – – No Easy Answers; a Christian Response               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/84

Publications concerning Hate Crimes Relating to Sexual Orientation               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/88

Psychiatric Association: Homosexuality Is Not a Pathology               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/92

Is There a Gay Gene? What If…?                 https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/95

Two Evangelicals on Gay Marriage               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/99

Beyond Homosexuality: What Is Transsexual               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/101

United Methodist Groups and Positions on Homosexuality               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/103

Cry, “Justice!”    https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/124

“It’s a Matter of Choice”               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/141

“Clergy Call for Justice and the Quality” by Bishop Minerva C, Carconia               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/151

Rev. Amy Delong: God Bless You!               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/154

“Spiritual Violence”          https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/187

We Understand and Mean the Lyrics That We Sing?               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/173

Fight for Justice                https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/202

“Fundamental” Problems              https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/204

Memorial to the Norwegian Victims of Judgment, Hate, and Fear               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/211

Rev. Gilbert H Caldwell Speaks for Inclusiveness                   https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/225

Bishop Hagya Courageously Speaks Out                  https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/231

Love of God and Neighbor Letter               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/238

What about Maladapted or Stressed Children of the GLBT Couple?               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/243

Bob and Betty Dorrs Story             https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/302

12 Discussion Strings concerning the Bible and GLBT Issues               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/304

2 New Year’s Greeting of 2009    https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/309

3 Stuart’s Reply                 https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/315

4 Georges Reply https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/317

5 My Response to Georges Reply               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/319

6 Joanne’s Reply               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/321

7 My Response to Joanne’s Reply               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/324

8 Joanne’s Reply               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/330

9 My Friend’s Reply to Me https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/340

10 a My Scriptural Response to My Friend                  https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/342

10 b My Second Response to My Friend: the Impact of “the Fall” on Our Different Views               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/345

11 My Friend’s Scriptural Reply to Me                https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/348

12 My Response to My Friend               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/351

13 My Friend’s Response to Me               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/362

14 My Response to My Friend               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/364

15 Brief, Punctuated Exchange between Rob and My Friend              https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/366

16 My Response to My Friend               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/368

17 My Friend’s Reply to Me               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/370

18 My Response to My Friend               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/372

19 Concluding Response to Georgia               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/374

Discussion of GLBT Issues

1 On Gay Marriage: Love and Do Not Judge               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/488

2 On Compassion and Forgiveness               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/493

3 Compassion, Accountability, and Forgiveness               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/498

4 On Adam Hamilton: Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White                  https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/500

5 On Frank Turk                 https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/502

6 On Implications of a Dualistic World                     https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/505

7 The Gospel Message That I Hear               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/507

His Spirit Is Crying out and Yearning               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/580

Niebuhrs’ Moral Man and Immoral Society               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/587

Foreword to Stories of Sacred Worth               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/596

Coming out and Signs of Hope in Our Lives               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/600

Anonymous 1’s Story       https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/603

Abby’s Story        https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/606

Allen’s Story        https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/611

Liz Bady:: Advocate for Reconciliation               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/614

Rev. Don Marsh: Haven’t We Come a Long Way?!               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/617

Kathy England: A Mother’s Story https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/620

Nan and Peggy’s Story    https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/623

Nameless                           https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/656

 

Love and do not Judge