Are You #ComingOut Late? Queer & Questioning Support for Adult Late Bloomers

Are You #ComingOut Late?

The very idea of coming out can seem unthinkable (or at least unmentionable) for people who aren’t teenagers anymore—people who don’t feel confident enough or ready to reach out. People who can’t hide behind the “it’s just a phase” mythology. Fear, guilt, confusion or “taboo” aspects of thought take center stage. Hesitancy to address queer or questioning thoughts seems to creep in around folks in their mid to late twenties, depending on their circumstances at the time.

Folks begin to establish a career, to take a serious look at their goals and relationships, or to set the idea in place that “people know them one way,” and that’s the way things will be or have to be. Add spiritual and community-related concerns in to the mix, and here you have another layer. Too, there could be an inability to articulate or figure out questions around gender. Soon enough, habits of avoidance and denial solidify.

When you do feel they desire more information to make changes, sometimes the older you are, the harder it gets to make those changes..

Resources do indeed abound. While we are including resources and spaces for support below, don’t “study the process” so much that you isolate yourself.

 

Coming Out Resources for Late Bloomers

Sexual Orientation

HRC: http://www.hrc.org

The Human Rights Commission is in the business of making information easy to find for those who are queer and questioning, for those who need allies or want to mentor others, or for those who have needs or concerns in relation to gender identity. Leverage their years of research, experience and funding, why don’t ya? You can take advantage of their solid support and availability by asking them questions and browsing their archives online.

The Bisexual Index: http://www.bisexualindex.org.uk/index.php/Bisexuality

Bisexuality is not a mythical unicorn of a concept, and being bi doesn’t mean you’re fluctuating from one reality to the next. The Bisexual Index’s Frequently Asked Questions pages are extremely helpful in tackling other such myths and explaining the facts.

 

Gender & Identity

From the ISNA:

“What’s the difference between being transgender or transsexual and having an intersex condition?” http://www.isna.org/faq/transgender

FTMTransition.com (FTM, Female to Male) FAQ: http://www.ftmtransition.com/transition/faq/faqtranst.html

A helpful primer website for trans* guys and others who have questions about what life is like for trans* men as well as family, friends and allies. FTM means “female to male.”

MTF (Male to Female) Transition – Calpernia Addams and Andrea James: http://www.andreajames.com/calpernia-addams.html

As trans* activists, advocates, speakers and coaches for women who seek to make their transition, Calpernia and Andrea have also co-created many multimedia projects—fiction and non-fiction films, books and more—to both educate and entertain folks about trans* culture from a woman’s perspective.

 

Coming Out Stories & Support

Empty Closets:  EmptyClosets.com

Coming out resources and a safe place to chat.

I Am Coming Out of the Closet – The Experience Project: http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/Am-Coming-Out-Of-The-Closet/108866

Read and/or share your comments and ideas in terms of coming out.

 

Much Love For Seniors

Over 50 years of age? We can’t ignore the fact that queer culture can be, unfortunately, terribly ageist. AARP (yes, the AARP.) and many other organizations are all too familiar with ageism and proactively fight for all-inclusive human rights. We encourage you to reach out to them. Here are some helpful points of light and points of entry for you.

Old Lesbians Organizing for Change: http://www.oloc.org

OLOC is a national network of “Old Lesbians” over age 60 working to make life better through support networks and by confronting ageism in our communities and our country using education and public discourse as primary tools. They hold events and gatherings regularly.

AARP Pride: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/aarp-pride/

AARP Pride deals with, in their words, “The Biggest Issues Facing Older LGBT Americans.”This organization is already quite understanding and helpful in advocating for seniors. They work hard to strengthen their AARP Pride-specific presence and programs each year as well.

SAGE: http://www.sageusa.org/index.cfm

Sage stands for services and advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender elders.

FORGE’s T.A.N.: http://forge-forward.org/aging/

TAN/The Trans Aging Network exists to improve the lives of current and future trans/SOFFA (significant others, friends, family and allies).

 

Recommended Reading:

The Original Coming Out Stories: Expanded Edition. Julia Penelope and Susan J. Wolfe, Eds., Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press.

The Gay and Lesbian Self-Esteem Book: A Guide to Loving Ourselves. Kimeron N. Hardin, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

A Family and Friend’s Guide to Sexual Orientation. Bob Powers & Ala Ellis, New York: Routledge.

Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out. Loraine Hutchins & Lani Kaahimanu, Eds., Boston: Alyson Publications.

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This Is An All Ages Club

It might feel like it makes more sense to say you are an ally, rather than declaring anything else at this point. That’s normal.

As you’ll discover along the way, one resource will inevitably lead you to another, and another and another.

Because we can “Google” just about everything, coming out tends to be more self-directed and self-paced for adults, which can be a mixed blessing. Coming out is a process of “beginning again,” and so you will indeed encounter resources that are just for kids, teens and younger people during your travels. Try not to internalize it or become so sensitive to it that it discourages you from searching for more answers.

Don’t let it irk you so much that you resent your age and/or your process: just keep moving forward.

Use “youth” as a metaphor. You’ll find you’ll feel like a kid again during the process, but you’ll have the advantage of experience to add to the pot.

 

You’re The “I” At The Center of All Storms

Stories especially can provide so much loving, compassion-centered inspiration in the beginning stages of your process. They can also, however, facilitate a form of stalling or keeping your questions and concerns to yourself.

Too, LGBTQ culture intersects with political ideologies, many of which are extremely heated, for various reasons. Please try not to let landmines of debates deter you from your own personal search for true meaning and identity.

Allow yourself the space to create your life the way you want to, and seek to find your peace of mind above all else. That will always be your North Star: returning time and time again to your own center. To your own peace of mind.

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 Click Here for More GayAgenda.com Resources for Coming Out.

 

Randy, Oral Roberts’ Gay Grandson, Says: ‘#ItGetsBetter…and It’s Complicated.’

 

Close-Up – by A. R. Ammons

Are all these stones

yours

I said

and the mountain

pleased

 

but reluctant to

admit my praise could move it much

 

shook a little

and rained a windrow ring of stones

to show

that it was so

 

Stone felled I got

up addled with dust

 

and shook

myself

without much consequence

 

Obviously I said it doesn’t pay

to get too

close up to

greatness

 

and the mountain friendless wept

and said

it couldn’t help

itself

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Re-Imagining Religion: “Falling In Love Will Not Send You to Hell.”

                          – Randy Roberts Potts

“All students are required to sign a pledge stating they will live according to the university’s honor code. Prohibited activities include lying, cursing, smoking, drinking, and a range of sexual acts including homosexual behavior and sex outside marriage.”

                                                                   – Excerpt, ORU Student Codes , Oral Roberts University

Wouldn’t you know it: every time the “gay agenda” is reexamined, the “master plan” appears to become more and more normal on the face of it. Because it is.

“The gay agenda” is “the human agenda:” we all want love. Hope. Home. Family. We all desire the same things.

Back in 2010, Oral Roberts’ out, gay grandson Randy Roberts Potts read a letter to his closeted gay Uncle Ronnie (Oral Roberts’ eldest son) and recorded a viral video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYa0wi4XzeI) to honor Ronnie’s life, as unfortunately, his uncle had already passed away when Randy was just a kid (in June of 1982).

Randy’s irrepressible spirit remains to alchemize life’s tests and turn them into life’s testimonies.

In the video, after 2:38 minutes of silence (during which time we see the handwritten letter for his uncle), Potts reads a revelatory poem entitled “Close-Up” written by A. R. Ammons. Then, Randy moves into his own compelling testimony about the strange magic behind growing up with a gay uncle (around whom Randy’s mom was most captivated), and how it affected Potts himself.

We witness Potts as he entreats Ronnie’s spirit (for healing? For explanations?), “When my mother spoke of you, a look of awe lit up her face. You were the one voice in her life that could inhabit multiple worlds at once…. You stood for everything she was afraid I would become: gay, intellectual, and godless. And yet nothing caused my mother’s face to light up like your memory. I was jealous, and I always hoped to be you.”

Randy recounts following in his uncle’s footsteps simply by following his heart, and reminisces about the tragedy of losing a loved one who took his own life because he felt he had no options. No hope. Because he felt that life would not and could not get better.

“I’ve seen pain and loss and sorrow,” Potts continues. “I would have held you in my arms had I been a man at the time…. but there’s no one holding you, because you’re holding on to no one. And now I’m here sharing the same destiny…. your path and mine are crossed. They intersect…in some ridiculous dance.”

With a tonality not unlike Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight,” Potts brings us into present day. Yes, he is angry, but we can somehow see the light at the end of the tunnel, the burning hot flames of passion for living forever aglow in Randy’s heart. We somehow feel his uncle lives in some kind of virtual second life, through Randy.

Another “Gay Agenda,” Another Pleasant Valley Sunday.

Oral Roberts was the first and one of the biggest of the televangelists. He brought the Pentecostal faith to mainstream America, he started a self-named university, and of course lived a rich life through his relentless please for money from his followers. His grandson Randy Roberts Potts grew up with him…steeped in that really sheltered, Far Right Christian world. Now he’s following a calling like his grandfather, but with an unexpected message.”

- Reporter Page Hopkins for MSNBC

In sharing his story with MSNBC, Potts did indeed reveal he’d felt suicidal too—coming out was unthinkable to him. Having married a woman and raising three children with her, Potts’ coming out narrative is a common one that always feels mysterious and new during the discovery process. He told Hopkins, “Honestly, I thought I was just a really good christian that I just didn’t sexualize women.”

Though Potts’ closeted gay uncle passed away when Randy was just a boy, as he unfolded the discoveries about Ronnie’s life, they paralleled discoveries of his own.

It is now Randy’s life mission to reach back across the table and minister tolerance and inclusiveness to evangelicals themselves. Potts informed Page Hopkins that he’s doing so non-publicly, holding confidential meetings with religious leaders and consulting with them regarding family cohesion, suicide prevention and myriad other positive effects of practicing religious tolerance.

In one of the most romantic and courageous activism campaigns out there, Potts and his partner are now conducting what they call an ongoing “performance project designed for conservative towns with visuals of domestic gay life.” Potts is setting up storefronts from town to town , choosing to put his normal day-in day-out familial relationships on display, in a performance art piece called—what else…

“…The Gay Agenda.

Facebook.com/thegaygayagenda

Twitter.com/the_gay_agenda

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Reach out to Randy @randyrpotts and connect with ORU Out, ORU LGBTQ alumni and ombudsmen) at http://oru-out.tumblr.com.

To watch Potts’ It Gets Better video in its entirety, please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYa0wi4XzeI

Have you got time to sit and pray a while? Check out Randy Roberts Potts – Re-Imagining Religion Series at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uYWf2WfPH8. During his ministerial speech in this video, Potts reveals that his brother is also gay and his family still ostracizes them both.

 

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And for more information about suicide prevention and LGBTQIA resources and support, please visit the It Gets Better Project at http://www.itgetsbetter.org.

 

 

 

 

 

“Moscow Is Not Sodom:” Valeriya, Russia’s Madonna, Worries About Gay Propaganda

| “ RT @BBCNewsnight: Russian Singer Valeriya Perfilova says she worries about..influence of ‘gay propaganda’ on her children #newsnight ” |

Don’t Tell Me.” I Won’t Ask You.

Gay? Out? Don’t tell Valeriya about it. The living, thriving spirit of Pussy Riot continues to push the dialogue forward and keep LGBTQIA rights, allies’ rights and progressive activism in the planet’s consciousness.

In what’s being called a new gay holocaust, Russia’s resurgence of anti-gay sentiment (including myriad anti-gay/anti-ally/anti-activism laws) continues to change hands and to be bandied about by various talking heads. The revolving door of anti-gay rhetoric moves from the streets to the legislature to celebrity mouthpieces and back again.

One of the more prominent voices fearful of “gay propaganda” is Valeriya Perfilova, considered by many to be Russia’s version of Madonna. The singer directly benefits from (but does not publicly acknowledge) the love of her LGBTQ fans.

 

Using the Word “Propaganda” As Propaganda

Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, Perfilova is mainly known by her one-name moniker (see: Cher, Madonna) Valeriya. In her press materials, she appropriates much of Madonna’s heat, style and vibe—but somehow, she manages to kick the gay-friendly part of Madonnaisms to the curb. This is particularly unfortunate, as the singer’s a domestic abuse survivor and her body of work does much to buoy the spirits of female abuse survivors (all the while redirecting abusive behaviors toward another culture).

In a June 2013 broadcast with BBC Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman and Russian gay activist Anton Krasovsky, Valeriya championed a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell-esque” viewpoint, towing the party line that LGBTQ persons should not be seen or heard as such.

Regarding Russia’s anti-gay legislation, Valeriya began:

“It was funny to me, because it’s nothing to do with politics. Being the mother of three children, I approve this [anti-gay] bill… I don’t want to meddle with other people’s lives. I don’t care what they do behind their doors. But I do care about my children’s bringing up [i.e. upbringing]…. The vast majority of people in Russia, 88 percent of people, support the ban of homosexuality propaganda. That’s a fact. And this bill responds to people’s demand. That’s all.”

 

L.W.Q: Living While Queer & Beingness As Illegal

Here’s a bit of a backgrounder: in January of this year, former Russian TV journalist and presenter Anton Krasovsky came out on Russian television and was fired immediately thereafter.

Now, back to Newsnight—during the BBC television broadcast, Krasovsky brought forth the idea—and his lived experience—that essentially now in Russia, it’s illegal to be gay.

Holding back uncomfortable laughter, Krasovsky couldn’t hold back the irony of the situation:

“I’m glad that that situation is funny for Valeriya,” he responded. “But it’s not fun for me. I think it’s against me. Against my family. Against all gay people in Russia…. From today, I cannot say that I’m gay and I’m the same human being…like all of you. From today, I’ll have to pay for this. From a hundred to two-thousand pounds. Because these words could be taken as propaganda.”

The beingness of gay life, being LGBTQ, being a questioning soul, being LGBTQ and out, or even advocating for those who are—in Krasovsky’s experience and in his own words, now this is a crime in and of itself, no matter what one does or does not do. It’s about the beingness now. Beyond being a thought-crime, this is L.W.Q. “living while queer.”

Illegal.

 

Some of My Best Friends Are Gay…

Ironies continue to prevail. In 2008, Valeriya became a goodwill envoy for the Russian Federation on behalf of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an agency to combat human trafficking. She’s been bequeathed with honors and endorsement deals from Avon, from a custom perfumier, from MuzTV and MTV Russia. She was awarded the title of “Honoured Artiste of Russia” by Putin, and has been cited by Forbes magazine as one of the 50 most highly-paid people in movie, sport, literature and music.

All this to say her platform and audience is immense, and the Russian government is using her star power to their full advantage.

During Newsnight Valeriya continued, “I have a lot of friends who belong to gay society, and they do not support their unisexual marriages. They would never take part in gay parades. They’re just normal people. They do their business…. are still working on TV, the media. I don’t know why it happened to you [Anton].”

But of course, the “friends” are not out—or as Anton Krasovsky put it, they are not “open gays.”

To watch the full video, visit the YouTube link below.

BBC News – What gay ‘propaganda’ vote tells us about Russia Today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-KfROu8AaU

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Connect with Anton Krasovsky at @krasovkin and share your thoughts with BBC Newsnight @BBCNewsnight.

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Attacks on Queers in Haiti Show Religious Intolerance

The most recent homophobic attacks in Haiti show a determined part of a country that is trying to be more open to tourism.

A mob of dozens of locals attacked a private party where a British man and his Haitian partner were celebrating their engagement with friends. Several people were injured in the private residence, where the mob set fire to cars and threw Molotov cocktails and rocks through windows. The French News Agency AFP reported that police were alerted and arrived last-minute to break up the mob in order to prevent the engagement arty from being killed, which was the intent of the rioters.

After the terrifying incident, Charlot Jeudy, an official from the Haitian group Kouraj (Courage), stated that, “This is a criminal act and homophobic. There is no justification for this kind of attack on people in a private residence. Hopefully the justice authorities will react to the perpetrators of this act.” Kouraj is an activist group working to protect lgbtq people and their human rights in Haiti.

The British man identified himself only as Max, a member of the Red Cross, who did not want to speak of the incident for fear of identifying and making vulnerable his partner.

Almost expectedly, this attack didn’t come from nowhere. The fact is that some political and religious leaders are seeing the world become more tolerant and accepting of queer people and are trying to prevent the same equal sentiments from taking a great foothold within Haiti.

Back in July over 1,000 people protested in the capital, Port-Au-Prince, demonstrating against any legal rights that could be extended to lgbtq people. The protests were started by the Haitian Coalition of Religious and Moral Organizations and were reported to be hostile and threatening toward queer people and the government if it allowed legislation to be brought forward that would legalize same-sex marriage. The president of the organization stated at the rally that, “God does not agree and nor do we because we rely on God, and because we saw the misfortunes it brought to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

The protests came after watchdog groups cited a growing amount of violence toward lgbtq people in the country. On July 31 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a UN body, condemned “the recent wave of violence” that it linked “to the protest against homosexuality led by the Haitian Coalition of Religious and Moral Groups.” The body also urged the government to investigate 47 cases of “violence and discrimination” against members of perceived members of the queer community in Haiti, including two who were viciously attacked during the protests.

Many are surprised at the violence, with an official from SEROvie, an foundation that promotes human rights of marginalized people, stated that, “I am quite surprised at the violence coming from [Haitian] people who we thought were tolerant. We don’t know where all this hatred is coming from.” Especially to reach tourists and promote a welcoming country this news won’t reach many on a happy note.

The lgbtq community in Haiti has always been small and inconspicuous. That was until the 2010 disastrous earthquake which increased discrimination against queer people. A report by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reported that Haitians blamed their fellow queer citizens for their “sinfulness” and bringing about the wrath of God. The report continued that “loneliness, invisibility, and social isolation are persistent problems” with no relief in sight.

Hopefully that can all soon change, or that at least the Haitian government will make a statement against those responsible for the attacks and show their citizens and those they want to recruit for tourist dollars that they are willing to stand up for equality and human rights.

Et Tu, LGBTQ? | Gays Don’t Want to Get Gay-Married

“Men have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the altar – whether they’re straight or gay. Marital data obtained by The Post show a stark, 3-to-2 ratio of lesbian marriages, compared to all-male unions. Can we finally stop pretending that gay men are interested in getting ‘married?’”

- Joe Carter, FirstThings.com

Psst… Opinions Come In All The Colors of the Rainbow

Feelgood marriage equality campaigns make front page news. When it comes to marriage equality, dissent and debate on the subject “doesn’t bleed, therefore it doesn’t lead.”

Emotional appeals, petitions and yummy flash mobs are changing the tides, and they do bring with them a healthy amount of influence. Recent and continued marriage equality victories around the world (http://gayagenda.com/?s=marriage) are a testament to the fact that people are paying attention and spreading the word about freedom for everyone to marry. This translates to success in legislative arenas.

With each new court victory, aftershocks move from one blogger, activist and journalist to another—from one dissenting voice in this or that bar, library, or LGBT center and back again. It sounds like this: “We’re pressured to be good little gays or assimilationist queers, and to fit in. I don’t give a toss about fitting in. You can take your marriage rights and shove ‘em!”

You don’t have to go too far to find all any “hell-no’ers.” Just turn your head to the side, away from the press, and voila!

Is it just men who don’t want to hook up…with one person…legally…for life?

Anecdotal evidence could tell you otherwise—check in with your women friends and have a good, long listen. Let’s not talk about the “sanctity of hetero marriage” viewpoint today. But since those dissenters exist (and hold political power), many LGBTQ folks who are politically active or vehemently anti-marriage will align with them—even if those fellow dissenters are anti-gay—so long as they’re against gay marriage in particular. (See” Gay Marriage Agenda” arguments at http://queerkidssaynomarriage.wordpress.com.)

When you think about the concept of “gay marriage,” it can feel confusing. We don’t say “hetero marriage” or “wo/man marriage.” The words “gay marriage” channel utterances of otherness between the syllables. (Like, “Look at this cute kitty marriage on YouTube!” ”Look Honey, it’s the Gays and the Gay Marriage thing on TV!”)

Too, the phrase by nature excludes LBTQ…and IA from the discussion (and other more inclusive acronyms and letters as they evolve, deserving upgraded legal protections as well). Allies are often though not always queer and questioning, and not just straight-identified. Queer culture is fluid like that. The words “gay marriage” can sound like something that needs to be tracked for stats’ sake. The phrase sounds “like an issue: gay marriage, teen pregnancy, drug addiction.”

Here’s the thing—gay marriage is still an issue. When holding hands in public or private space means risking your life, safety or livelihood, that’s a serious issue. When access into hospital rooms to see a hubby or wifey of 10 years (or a month, a year) is denied, what would that be, if not an issue?

The wording is telling: politically in terms of entitlement, agency, money, class (and other bonuses,), it is said that “gay men get the goodies first,” and the rest trickles on over to the other letters in the LGBTQI alphabet. Why, for instance, isn’t marriage equality called “queer marriage” or “LGBTQIA marriage?” “Trans marriage equality” as another concept that’s a tangential, cut-and-paste amalgam of legal and relational ideas still being hammered out.

As for getting goodies first, enjoying the first bits of crumbs when the expectation and norm is the whole damned pie, it’s a “faux privileged” state of affairs, anyhow. This isn’t the space for vilifying gay men by any means, even if they have no interest in sharing spectral space and rights.

The word gay is often interchangeably used in the place of LGBTQIA when we discuss everything from culturality to entertainment, still, the shortcut seems to add “suffer it to be so now” elements to activism work that can’t make good progress if it’s mired in gradualism.

Complicated, no doubt.

The pomp and romance wedding circumstance is something we need to love up on and appreciate. What’s life without love? Weddings are a gorgeous metaphor. Queer folks deserve that option. When the legal equality honeymoon ends and ends again state-by-state, we need to continue to do the work of commitment and marriage to the entire community.

These LGBTQ folks aren’t so keen on everybody getting “gay-married up.” Here are 11 different ways to think about things. Folks are saying:

1) No wedding, thanks: “We just wanna f*ck.” – http://www.vice.com/read/dont-celebrate-the-gay-marriage-victory-with-a-wedding-of-your-own

2) “Just because I’m not married doesn’t mean I have to be gay. Or that I should get married. Even if I am gay. Or…lesbian. Whatever. None of your business. Shut up!” (Anonymous anecdotal pull quote)

3) “Why can’t they take the opportunity to add trans rights into the experience? If I’m transitioning and not the supposed correct legal gender, or if I choose to marry a woman or a man, I should have legal protection for that.” (Anonymous anecdotal pull quote)

4) Poly people can be queer and committed too. Duh! (Anonymous anecdotal pull quote)

5) I just “don’t want to get gay married.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/liz-wallace/why-i-dont-want-to-get-gay-married_b_1544781.html

6) “Hi, I live in Europe.” Non, merci: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/most-homosexuals-dont-want-to-marry-or-adopt-french-homosexual-leader-admit/

7) “Marriage is dumb. They just want your LGBT money, Honey.” https://creatingclare.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/silly-gay-people-dont-you-know-marriage-is-for-dummies.

Somebody wrote a song about –wanna hear it? Here it comes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQh5G8mOiSA

8) “Congratulations, you’re boring now:” http://nogaymarriage.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/congratulations-new-york

9) “Equality” isn’t enough. “Gay marriage apes hetero privilege.” http://www.againstequality.org/about/marriage

10) “We’re going to be rejected anyway, no matter what we do, so what’s the use of fighting for it?” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/02/26/gays-who-dont-want-gay-marriage.html

11) You can “find your way,” and stay committed – it doesn’t have to be “conventional.” http://jezebel.com/5328896/nro-valentino-proves-people-dont-want-gay-marriage

Marry Gay? N-F-Way.

If you want to surf the #MarryGayNFWay train, you’ll find many bloggers out there to help you make that happen– many of whom bring to light salient points, and stats upon stats of support. Begin your journey at Gays Against Gay Marriage.(http://nogaymarriage.wordpress.com). Wear protective gear.

This writer believes in love. You can call it what you want, but you’d better get it while the getting is good.

And you? Do you get it?

I’m Not Sure…Am I Gay? – Coming Out Q & A

Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight.

- Harvey Milk

“I’m not sure…am I gay?”

Young men and boys commonly ask this question during the coming out process. They might say it differently, and they may not have begun the process yet. If the question “Am I gay?” is pressing on someone’s heart, he’s probably going through the process.

Shorthand for “coming out of the closet,” coming out could mean, more accurately, coming out of confusion.” This connotation removes possible stigma or blame.

 “Be fearless / be honest / be generous / be brave /

be poetic / be open / be free / be yourself / be in love /

be happy / be inspiration.”  -

- Beyonce, writing words for Frank Ocean

“So am I gay, or what?” If this question remains or someone asks you to “evaluate them” with this question, there’s no definitive, easy answer. Just breathe, take a step back, and think about—or pass along—some of these ideas:

1) Empower Him to Find His Own Answers. – Possible feedback: “I can’t answer that for you. This is a question only you can answer. I can support you in your stages of learning, discovery, research, and even play (try to refrain from saying things like ‘experimentation.’ He is not a science project.). But this is your hero’s journey.”

2) You Don’t Have to Lose your Religion. You aren’t coming out to God or your Higher Power. Spirit already knows you. There are several gay-inclusive churches and organizations happy to support and encourage you.

3) Discourage Binary Thinking. Free him up from binary thought. Kids grow up in an overpoweringly heterosexual-defined world, yet heterosexuality is as much of a social construct as the next idea. The best kept open secret in the world is that heterosexual-identified people are also fluid, as sexuality Is fluid (see: Kinsey Reports). Make sure he knows that.

4) Respect Boundaries. Keep it real: if you find yourself attracted to someone who’s newly queer or questioning, first consider his age. If there’s a huge imbalance and/or he’s a minor, please do both of yourselves a favor: don’t take advantage of his twice-vulnerable state (one due to age/inexperience, two due to his sexual uncertainty). The mentor / mentee sex narrative is a common coming of age story—that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate. He needs friends and support, not just sex. If you find you have conflicted interests and he’s not of age, telling him you’re into him also further confuses matters. Even if the attraction is mutual, be smart and be fair.

5) “I’m A Trans Guy Who Likes Girls, Period.” Of especial note, questioning sexuality is often a second or third lap around questions that come up for transgender guys who may become fascinated by images of men as they’re creating the life they want to lead. They’re looking for affirming images, like-minded peers, role models and allies, and checking out pictures of men for medical [surgery, anatomy], social [presenting as “male”], empowering and of course arousal reasons [how to please self and others, for pleasure's sake, curiosity]).

If he says he’s attracted to women, he thinks he is, or he flip-flop, that’s his prerogative and right. Keep snarky “Yeah right whatever, you’re gay” comments and feelings to yourself. You might encourage him to talk to or discover more about other trans guys (depending, some guys might fixate on cis-gender guys only during this time).  If you’re really a true friend or ally, don’t get into the eye-rolling. That helps no one.

6) He May Realize He’s Straight. You may crack jokes about straight folks. Try to tone those down around him, especially if he’s just a kid. What if it turns out he’s “coming out straight,” or he’s just not ready? There are many people who’ve never been in doubt about their sexuality, or heterosexuality. If he’s not in that “majority,” or he’s a bit more passive with girls or women, that doesn’t make him automatically gay. This could take him a while to realize.

7) “Have You Ever Thought About Getting Help?” Even if you’re helping him, guys can be notorious for refusing help, asking for it in a roundabout ways, or not seeking out support or counseling. Share resources and if necessary, walk with him as he researches, explores, visits LGBT centers, picks up “coming out newbie” brochures, etc.

8) For Teenagers, For Young Boys Puberty can really suck. Boys are still figuring out how hormones make them feel, bodies change, crushes unfold. Peer “pressure” and bullying is a minefield that’s so difficult to get through. His anti-gay friends, family or elders might see you as trying to “recruit or convert him” rather than as a sounding board. This makes finding professional allies, especially if he’s underage, extra important. You might need some backup.

9) Keeping Secrets You can keep his journey between the two of you without making him think coming out is a dirty little secret. Help him understand the difference between confidentiality or privacy and shame-filled secrecy.

10) “Are You Using?” He might feel insulted: however, if in the context of “because I really care,” check in to see if he’s using/abusing drugs, if he’s having risky or unsafe sex (with men and/or women), or if he’s acting out in other erratic ways. Help him find support around balancing out all aspects of his life, including but not limited to sexual and other gratification.

11) Gender Expression: “Is There Something Wrong With Me?” He doesn’t have to present as butch, or he might feel so in his heart. He doesn’t have to present as fem, he might be genderqueer, and so on. If he’s trans, there’s nothing wrong with the desire to be stealth (presenting in a certain gender-centric way without immediately telling people he’s trans). Remind him he’s free to explore these ideas. Ask him about preferred terms (he may prefer to call himself “same gender loving” rather than “queer or gay,” etc.).

“Is There Something Wrong With Me?”

“We have to show ‘em there’s nothing to be afraid of. If we don’t get over our fears, they never will.”

- Lisi Harrison, from Monster High

12) Undeclared. This life can be like having an undeclared major in school: he never has to come to any conclusions about himself. Remove all expectations: love and accept him for the person he is. It will make such a positive difference in his life and in yours.

13) Re-frame “Normal.” Nature has always made room for gay and lesbian or variant gender expression in all species, of which we are but one.  We may not all understand why this way of being exists, but according to “Gaia,” nature considers a multiplicity of sexual and gender expressions to be normal.

To that end, watch out for so-called “normal” language like “That’s so gay, gaylord, butt-hurt, calling lesbians Klondikes, saying tranny or freak,” etc. Whatever side you’re on surrounding such humor, things are different when you’re learning how to walk before you run. This kind of language is common, but isn’t necessarily normal. He might not see reclaiming the word “fag” as empowering.

14) “How do I know for sure?” The answer “You just know” isn’t entirely correct. It would be more accurate to answer, “Whatever way of sexual expression and identity gives you the most pleasure (sexually and otherwise), whatever predominates,” these are good indicators. If comfortable enough, you can use your own experience as an example.

15) Pride In the Name of Love Share with him what “pride” means to you. Parades aren’t required for all gays to attend, or he may not be able to attend one for logistics reasons, but explain to him why we celebrate Pride, and how activism has influenced and affected gay culture over time.

16) Gay Role Models Help him learn about LGBTQIA role models—and gay role models in particular. If he’s also a person of color, help him to discover role models that mirror his nationality, ethnicity, background, etc. Share with him stories of people who’ve come out later in life (different age, same process!). Sexual orientation and gender haven’t stood in the way of well-known kings and queens, artists, designers, athletes, philosophers, scientists, writers entertainers and others throughout history. It shouldn’t stand in the way of his progress either. Coming out and thriving-as-out stories are important—and these shouldn’t all be rich and famous people’s narratives. That adds the extra pressure of having to be famous or wealthy in order to get “special treatment,” which is a myth.

 “‘Faggot, faggot…’ Do you hate him ’cause he’s pieces of you?”

                                    – Jewel

17) Outing, Safety Issues Outing is not the same as coming out. Being outed in inopportune ways can cause safety, social or financial challenges. Best and worst case scenarios are important to discuss. Don’t push him out, as the most important person he needs to come out to is himself. Depending on where he lives and his age, coming out might be physically unsafe for him at present, but you can help him to prepare. Unfortunately, there is also the possibility of someone outing him without permission, or falsely accusing him of something he hasn’t even stated or realized yet. Help him to have plans and solutions prepared as much as you can, realistically.

18) “I’m Not the Right Person to Ask.” Sharing these words honestly is also helpful. You can still direct him to many other people or resources who can support him with his questions and concerns. Let him know you respect him and it’s got nothing to do with him (sharing helpful resources reinforces this truth for you.)

19) “How Long Have You Been Gay?” And Other Leading Questions. In short, don’t ask things like that. Don’t try not to lead the conversation. This is his deal, not yours.

 “Being gay is not living any type of lifestyle (at least not for me).

It simply pertains to my sexual orientation.

I am sexually attracted to guys. That’s it. It’s life, not a lifestyle!”

- Scott Penziner

20) “Things Are So Much Easier These Days.” No, they’re not. Don’t belittle his experience by equating your pain with his. Everyone needs a support net, almost everyone has a rejection and/or bullying story, and this life is his to live. Be present with him rather than disowning him or silencing his voice.

21) Celebrate! Debutantes have coming out parties, why can’t we? Remember to praise him for his courage and self-love. He’s brave enough to ask these questions and cares enough to make this his quest. You don’t have to whip out the glow sticks or anything (unless you want to?), but remember, this is all about finding joy and holding onto it.

You can find some starter resources below.

Book Recommendations

Now That You Know by Betty Fairchild & Robert Leighton

Beyond Acceptance by Carolyn Welch Griffin, Marina J. Wirth & Arthur G. Wirth

Websites

LGBTQ Inclusive Religions http://gaylife.about.com/od/religion/a/gaychurch.htm

Coming Out As Intersex  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2013/06/12/op-ed-intersex-final-coming-out-frontier

Family of Choice Holiday Support http://www.yourholidaymom.com

Coming Out Bi http://www.biresource.net/comingoutasbi.shtml

Coming Out As A Straight Supporter  http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/straight-guide-to-lgbt-americans

National Coming Out Day http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/national-coming-out-day

Safe Space Network List http://safespacenetwork.tumblr.com/post/23388828318/the-safe-space-network-tumblr-list

PFLAG Coming Out Help http://community.pflag.org/page.aspx?pid=539

Resources for LGBT People of Color http://guides.ucsf.edu/content.php?pid=211162&sid=2009927

HRC / Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Coming Out Resources – http://www.hrc.org/resources/category/coming-out

E. Lynn Harris wrote, “My heart knows who I am and who I’ll turn out to be!”  Isn’t following your heart rule number one in everything?

 

New Yorker’s Bert & Ernie Cover Promotes Child Abuse Says Radio Host

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Bryan Fischer, a Christian radio host in the US has gained notoriety world-wide and stolen some of the media attention around the US Supreme Court historic ruling on Defence Of Marriage Act last week, by saying the New Yorker magazine’s cover “promoted child abuse”, simply by featuring Sesame Street characters cuddling at the news.

This popular and long running New Yorker magazine features Bert and Ernie snuggling up to each other on a sofa, while an image of the US Supreme Court Justices appears on their television screen. It’s simple, it’s cute, it doesn’t have them kissing or in any way acting inappropriately yet that didn’t stop the anti-gay, anti-equality Bryan Fischer spouting out a great deal of hate.

The Christian radio host launched his attack during his Focal Point programme saying the characters were engaged in a “homosexual clinch”. Adding “I don’t know which is which” continuing: “This is grossly irresponsible for The New Yorker to promote this, they really are promoting child endangerment and they are promoting child abuse.”

Fischer also quoted figures from the heavily criticized Regnerus Study, published in July 2012, which was titled “How Different Are The Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study”. Its findings were refuted by many and deemed “flawed and misleading” with a lack of fact.

Many have believed that the two Sesame Street characters were a gay couple over the years, some 10,000 people even signed an online petition during 2011, urging the creators to allow the ‘couple’ to get married.

The Sesame Street workshop issued a statement at the time which stated: “Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though the Sesame Street Muppets … possess many human traits and characteristics, they have no sexual orientation.” Of course it had nothing to do with their Christian sponsors threatening to pull out if Bert and Ernie did end up getting hitched to each other.

Just recently the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which federally defined marriage as between one man and one woman. A second case, centered around California’s Proposition 8, the Supreme Court ruled that such a ruling was not in its jurisdiction, nor was it in the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court, which previously ruled, therefore deferring the decision to a previous ruling by a district court which decided the ban was unconstitutional.

US Radio Pastors Blame Gay Kiss For Colorado’s Wild Fires

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How can the so called religious right be oh so wrong? I could hardly believe the headline that two pastors in the US state of Colorado have blamed a single kiss between two men for the devastating Colorado wildfires.

Could it really be true that the pastors, supposedly being messengers of god really be saying the cause of the fires was god’s wrath over seeing a newspaper picture of two guys kissing. It had to be a joke didn’t it? But nope, apparently it’s true, speaking on Generations Radio, pastors Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner, blamed God’s wrath over the Colorado Springs wildfires, on recently approved civil unions legislation and abortion law for the fires.

Swanson also went on to blame the cover of The Denver Post newspaper, which featured State House Majority Leader Mark Ferrandino, kissing his partner, for the wildfires. Buehner said: “Like the very first day [of the Legislative session], was to pass that civil union bill, which is an uncivil bill.”

Swanson responded: “When you have a state where the House leadership is performing a homosexual act on the front page of the Denver Post two months ago? Does God read the Denver Post? Do you think He picks up a copy of the Denver Post? He gets it. God gets the Denver Post.”

Buehner went on to say that the state should be grateful that God “hasn’t destroyed the whole state yet”, “as an act of grace”. I couldn’t believe it, it would make my blood boil and incandescent rage envelope my whole body were it not so utterly ridiculous and nonsensical. The more I read the report of what these two men of god spouted the more incredible it seemed and I wondered for their sanity, no I’m not being cruel, I really mean that, are they sane, really? The pair went on to blame “metrosexual” men for not growing out their facial hair, and wearing “fairy shoes”, and feminist acts like wearing hats, for going against God’s word.

These man obviously have little respect for their ‘god’ if they think he would kill thousands of animals, a dozen humans and ravage thousands of miles of land, just for a kiss, between two guys on the cover of a newspaper or the idea that same sex couples should be allowed to get married, what an evil, vindictive god he must be and certainly not the god I recognise from the scriptures.

On one hand it makes me laugh that these guys are so deluded and mentally deranged, yet it also makes me sad that there will be people out there, listening to that radio show believing every word of it simple because its said by a couple of pastors. It is equally sad because, such stories reach far beyond America’s borders and what sort of message is it sending out? Not one that reflects well on the US that’s for sure!

Rethink Gay Marriage says UK Bishop

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The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtham has suggested in a letter to UK daily newspaper, The Telegraph that it was time for the church to “rethink” attitudes about same-sex marriage, as Christians had done with slavery and apartheid.

“No one now supports either slavery or apartheid. The Biblical texts have not changed; our interpretation has.” The religious leader argued that same sex marriage did not “detract from heterosexual marriage” and that the “development of marriage for same sex couples is a very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage”.

The same-sex marriage bill that would allow same-sex couples, who can currently hold civil partnership ceremonies, to marry is currently being debated in the UK parliament. There are religious safeguards already written into the bill in which religious organisations would have to “opt in” to offering weddings, with the Church of England and Church in Wales being banned in law from doing so.

The bill has been backed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, his Lib Dem deputy PM Nick Clegg as well as the opposition leader Ed Miliband and the majority of their party members. Although many Tory backbenchers oppose the bill and voted against equality, showing that for all Cameron’s talk of being a progressive party and worthy of leading the country for the next decade is just talk and empty promises.