Because You Gotta Have Faith

I didn’t get a job that I interviewed (twice) for last week.  I’m really disappointed.  I really wanted that job and I was really optimistic about it after my interviews.  I texted my mother to tell her I didn’t get it, because I knew she was wondering.  She called me back to tell me, “don’t despair over it, honey. God has a job for you.”  She proceeded to tell me how I just have to be faithful and trust that God has the job for me.  Oh and that I should be going to church (like there’s a comfortable church that would have me) and that I should be giving 10% of the money I can’t afford to spare to that church, because apparently, even though I was taught growing up, that God wants to bless me financially and that He can do anything, the only limit to that awesome, unlimited power is His ability to bless me financially without provocation.  Apparently, that’s just not possible.

For the record, I do not believe that.  I believe wholeheartedly that God can and will bless me.  I believe wholeheartedly that God does have a job for me.  And I believe He will provide for me.  I’m just not 100% convinced He will provide for me in a way that I feel good about.  I don’t believe for a minute that I will be homeless.  I know that I have friends and family who will take me in if push comes to shove.  I know that I will not have to be the troll under the bridge (and by the way, BayAarea?  Count them…  The bridges, not the trolls.)  I’m even relatively confident that I will find a job that will prevent my utter financial collapse, before I have to move out of my apartment.

It’s just that, well, I’ve been through a lot.  I’ve made considerable efforts toward that job.  I’ve applied for things that I didn’t want to do, knowing that I was surely qualified.  I’ve applied for jobs as file clerks.  I’ve applied for jobs as grocery store Cashiers.  I’ve applied to staffing agencies which, in the past, were completely reliable to get me working, even if it wasn’t for enough money.  I’ve applied to COUNTLESS jobs that are exactly in my wheel house, right up my alley, catered to my unique set of qualifications.  I’ve been ignored and turned down at nearly every turn.  I’ve had a handful of telephone interviews, each of which went wonderfully and ended with assurances that I would be called in for face to face interviews, only to have the person never contact me again.  I’ve had an even smaller handful of face to face interviews, each of which ended with me feeling utterly confident about my chances, even if I wasn’t 100% sure it was the best fit for me.

And then last week happened.  I had two interviews, first with the hiring manager, then with his manager, for a job that was perfect for me.  Possibly a little beneath my abilities, but something I could build on, with a company at which I could confidently build a reliable career, lots of opportunities for advancement.  I was told repeatedly that there was no doubt I was qualified for the job.  No question that I would be able to fulfill the responsibilities of the role with ease.  I was told that I was excellently qualified…  and that, in truth, that was the only thing that might work against me.  I’m “overqualified”.  I’ve heard it more times than I can count.  I’m too qualified for a Facilities Coordinator position.  And you know what?  That’s true.  I am.  The problem is, I’m not quite qualified for the next step up.  I’m ready to take that next step, but nobody wants to hire me for that step, because I’m missing a few key components that I ought to have.  I get that.  I understand it, and that’s why I’m willing to start in a Coordinator position, so I can get my foot in a door, and work my way up to what I’m really ready for.  But if everybody thinks I’m “overqualified” and doesn’t want to hire me for that reason, what the hell am I supposed to do?

My mother went on and on about how God has a plan and there’s a job out there just for me, and I shouldn’t worry because it’ll happen.  The fact is, I’ve been hearing those messages my whole life.  I’ve been taught not to speak negatively because “words have power”.  So I don’t.  I don’t tell my friends how I’m running out of money, and I’m scared that I can’t afford to continue to live in my apartment and how if I don’t find a job soon, I might  have to move out of state and live with one family member or another, who doesn’t accept my sexual orientation and who doesn’t want to (or can’t afford to) support me, not that they should have to, and that I can’t even make any assurances to anyone that I will work and pay my own expenses while living with them, because if I can’t even get a fucking grocery store cashier job, what can I possibly hope to expect?

I get it.  You don’t walk around moping and spilling your guts to anyone and everyone who will listen about how horrible your situation is and how dire things are and how scared you are because there is NO livable solution that involves moving away, because you don’t want to be spewing all that negativity into the ether, or the universe, or whatever you believe in, because again, apparently, God can only bless you and provide for your needs, if you’re speaking positively about it, because God’s will and power is inhibited by negativity…  apparently.  (Except it’s not.)  The problem is, if you never tell anyone the truth of your situation, then no one knows you need help.  No one, who might be inclined to offer assistance if they know you need it, can do so, because they don’t know you need it.

Thinking strictly about my current financial obligations I have about a month and a half to two months worth of money left, assuming I’m very careful and don’t spend any more than I must.  That does not account for giving my fabulous landlady 30 days notice if I have to move out, and it does not account for moving expenses if I have to move away and it does not account for having money in the bank when I get wherever I’m going, because I can’t face the idea of moving and I’m holding out hope for something to come together at the last minute and save me from that devastation of having to move.  (Honestly, I’d rather die.)

But at some point, you have to speak the truth.  You have to tell someone what your circumstances are so that people understand what you’re dealing with.  Is it really necessary to give the person a sermon about faith and positivity in that moment?  Can’t we just let the person vent their frustrations and understand, sympathize, without making them feel guilty for “not being faithful”?

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Another Quiet Week-End

Not too much to report this week-end.  After work on Friday, I stopped by Karin’s house to drop something off for her and ended up staying for three hours, hanging out, having dinner and, of all things, talking religion… go figure.

I slept late on Saturday and then took my recyclables to the recycling center.  I buy way too much Diet Pepsi, so I pay way too much in California Redemption Value (bottle deposits), not to take them in and get my money back.  Every few months I load up my car with trash bags full of aluminum cans and plastic bottles and take them in.  Yesterday, I got just a few cents shy of $45.00 so I’d say this is a worthwhile exercise.

After I dropped those off, I went to Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits to get some… well, chicken and biscuits.  I was feeling the need for a little comfort food.  It helped a bit.  I spent the rest of the afternoon just relaxing and hanging out.  Watched all the regular television on my DVR.  Watched a Netflix DVD, original Doctor Who, the episode where Peter Davison relinquished the role to Colin Baker (not that anybody knows or cares about that), and then I watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog.  It was pretty good and funny, right up to the end, and then it got a bit weird.  Oh well.  I even got some recreational reading done.  And in spite of all that resting I still managed to stay up way too late last night.

I slept in this morning, but woke up to a very nice voice mail message from Gene who, sadly, returned to San Diego today.  I got up and watched last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Maya Rudolph (very funny) while I ate my lunch and then it was time to get ready and head out.  Today was Lil’B day and we went to the movies.

I occasionally ask him if there’s anything in particular he’d like to do and he almost always says, “I don’t know”, which comes as a surprise to exactly zero people, I’m sure.  But last Monday night, when I was taking him home after dinner, I asked him if he had anything in particular in mind that he’d like to do this week-end and after a moment’s contemplation he told me he wanted to go see Journey 2, The Mysterious Island.  This is not a movie I would have opted to go to on my own, but Lil’B rarely expresses a specific desire of any kind so when he does, I like to try to make sure it happens.

I posted this on my Facebook page:

About to watch Journey 2 with my Little Brother…  I may have to watch this movie through my fingers!!!

I thought this movie was going to be filled with over-sized creepy crawly things and that my skin would be crawling by the time it was over.  There were a couple of instances with enormous centipedes, some massive spiders and a couple bee’s large enough to ride (I’m allergic to bee stings so they always oog me out!) and of course a lizard as big as a house, but all-in-all the movie wasn’t terrible.  It actually had a pretty good story that should have been pretty entertaining but it was not as well executed as it could have been.  Too bad.

I spent the rest of the evening cleaning up my Twitter account.  Deleting people who have either been inactive for a long time, or who do not follow me back and therefore aren’t interactive.  Or at least I did until Twitter started having technical difficulties and now here we are!

It’s a long week-end and mercifully I do not have any big plans tomorrow.  Officially, it’s not a holiday for me, but my company is kind of weird.  We have multiple entities that all co-exist, but the employees are on different payrolls.  Since my office building is owned and operated by the Northern California Region which considers Presidents Day to be a holiday, the building is closed, but since I am not a Northern California Region employee and Presidents Day is not a holiday on my payroll, I am required to take the day off and use one of my four float days for it.  I don’t really mind though.  I used to be a Northern California Region employee and I had the holiday but no float days.  Now I have four float days but lost this one holiday.  So I choose to look at it, instead, as though I have three float holidays and continue to have Presidents Day off as a paid holiday.

I texted Michelle earlier today to see if she wanted to go see This Means War tomorrow but as it turns out, it’s not a holiday for her.  So I guess I should just be grateful.  And I am!

Nate Berkus Will Destroy Your Marriage

I read this amazing article on The Huffington Post the other day.  Wouldn’t it be nice if every parent could be as insightful and loving as this one:

… The first time you’re born, you identify the people in the room as your family. The second time you’re born, you identify the whole world as your family. Christianity is not about joining a particular club, it’s about waking up to the fact that we are all in the same club. Every last one of us. So avoid discussions about who’s in and who’s out at all costs. Everybody’s in, baby. That’s what makes it beautiful. And hard. If working out your faith is not beautiful and hard, find a new one to work out. And if spiritual teachers are encouraging you to fear anyone, watch them closely, honey. Raise your eyebrow and then your hand. Because the phrase repeated most often in that Bible they are quoting is Do Not Be Afraid. So when they tell you that gay people are a threat to marriage, honey, think hard.

I can only speak from my personal experience, but I’ve been married for nine years and barely any gay people have tried to break up my marriage. I say barely any because that Nate Berkus is a little shady. I am defenseless against his cuteness and eye for accessories and so he is always convincing me to buy beautiful trinkets with our grocery money. This drives your sweet father a bit nuts. So you might want to keep your eye on Berkus. But with the exception of him, I’m fairly certain that the only threats to my marriage are my pride and anger and plain old human wanderlust. Do not be afraid of people who seem different than you, baby. Different always turns out to be an illusion. Look hard.

Chase, God gave you the Bible, and He also gave you your heart and your mind and I believe He’d like you to use all three. It’s a good system of checks and balances He designed. Prioritizing can still be hard, though. Jesus predicted that. So he gave us this story. A man approached Jesus and said that he was very confused by all of God’s laws and directions and asked Jesus to break it down for him. He said, “What are the most important laws?” And Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love others as yourself.” When in doubt, Chase, measure all your decisions and beliefs against that. Make damn sure that you are offering others the same rights, courtesies, and respect that you expect for yourself. If you do that, you can’t go wrong…

Read the rest of the article here.

Moving Melodies: The World I See In You

During my brief forray into the world of the college student in 1993 my sister and I went to a concert at an Oklahoma City University by a Christian Recording Artist I hadn’t ever even heard of but Erin liked.  I went for the experience.  I had not been to very many concerts in my lifetime and I wanted to broaden my horizons…  Also I think I MAY have gotten the ticket for free… Maybe.

The concert was actually quite fun and I came away from the venue that night with, if you can believe it, a cassette tape.

For those of you youngsters out there, a cassette tape was a little plastic cartridge, roughly the same size and dimensions as your iPod touch (just lighter) that had two wheels inside with a magnetic tape wrapped around them, which through some sort of witch craft scientific engineering actually had sound recorded on them.  You had to have some sort of specialized player in order to hear the recordings.*

Anyway, nearly 20 years have passed and I still enjoy the music on that cassette tape, though I did purchase it a second time in the form of a digital download when I became a part of the iPod generation.

For you old fogies out there, an iPod is a device, roughly the same size as your old cassette tapes (only heavier) with wheels and boards inside, which through some sort of witch craft scientific engineering actually have hundreds and hundreds of hours of sound recorded on them.  You don’t even have to have a special player to hear them, just some earphones.  They are self contained with controls right on them.  Ask your Grandkids.  They’ll show you.

Today, as I was driving to get my lunch a song from that album came on my car iPod.  (For those of you youngsters out there, an album is… eh, nevermind.)  For the first time, I thought a little more about what the lyrics said and was both amazed and saddened to realize how far-reaching the sentiment isn’t among the Christian community.

Pay special attention to the lines in bold.

The World I See In You
Recorded by Margaret Becker

No one could ever make me doubt it
No one could make it be more true
Written in a stone, and set in cement
Are all the things I feel for You
When I look into Your eyes, I see the love that I need
When I look into Your world I see everything I’d like to be

CHORUS
I believe in, I believe in, I believe in
The world I see in You
I’d like to live in, I’d like to live in, I’d like to live in
The world I see in You

No back is ever turned in Your world
No hand is ever pulled away
Love is the law, the jury and judge
And the only debt there is to pay
When I look into Your world I see a land of Mercy
When I look into Your world I see the place I’d like to be

I believe in, I believe in, I believe in
The world I see in You
I’d like to live in, I’d like to live in, I’d like to live in
The world I see in You

I believe in, I believe in, I believe in
The world I see in you
Got to have it, I got to have it, I got to have it
The world I see in You

In Your world I’ve yet to see
A man too far, a mark too deep
A prodigal or refugee
That could not find shelter in You

I don’t believe in politics, no heavy-handed moralists
Right wing supremacists, lame brain rhetoric
Cultural genocide, judgment from the justified
Your world isn’t that
Your world isn’t that
I believe in love
I believe in truth
I believe in mercy
And the passion of pursuit

I believe in, I believe in, I believe in
The world I see in You
I’d like to live in, I’d like to live in, I’d like to live in
The world I see in You

I believe in, I believe in, I believe in
The world I see in you
Got to have it, I got to have it, I got to have it
The world I see in You

*Realizing that I just this week heard that the last vehicle with a manufacturer installed tape deck has just gone out of production, if anybody actually reads this post who really doesn’t know what a cassette tape is, I will be very, very sad.

Riggledo’s Story: Magic Pills

Riggledo (and so will you) is a very new blog which I have only just begun.  Its purpose is to serve as a constant reminder, to myself and to anyone who see it, that we are OK just the way we are.

The subject matter of this post is something that is very sensitive for me and I was not sure when I created this blog if I was going to address it, let alone how soon.  But after reading what prompted this post and thinking about how it affected me, I realized, this blog can not serve its purpose if I do not address this topic.  So, proceed with caution and be kind of thought and word should you choose to comment. Thank you.

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I just read a blog post that has really got me thinking.  It started with a tweet on Twitter.  Anita1956 said, “Would I take the straight pill? Here’s my answer.” with a link to her blog http://tinyurl.com/aa78mp. Here’s what she said:

The Straight Pill

Date March 13, 2009

If there was a pill that could make me straight

…..Straight in body

…..Straight in mind

…..Straight in heart

…....I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would restore all my lost friendships

…..And regain my parents pride

…..And give back my families respect

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would return me to my former ministry

…..And the admiration of the congregation

…..And the loving welcome of the church

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would replace the love I have for my wife with an equal love for a man

…..And we could legally marry

…..And we would be granted full rights under the law without fighting for them

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would mean no one would reject me for being who I am

…..And for saying what I believe

…..And for standing boldly as one who follows Christ

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill could take the world back in time,

…..Before I came out of the closet,

…..Before I said I was gay

…..Before I knew I was gay

…..Before inequality touched me

…..Before hate revealed its ugliness to me

…..Before anyone rejected me

…..Before anything was lost to me

…..Before I ever questioned God’s love for me

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking that pill would make me straight

…..And famous

…..And wealthy

…..And talented

…..And adored

…..And beautiful

…..And thin

…....I would not take it.

…....I would not take it.

…....I. Would. Not. Take. It.

I would never take a pill that would make me straight because

…....I love being who I am

…....I love being whole and free

…….I love seeing the world from where I stand

…....I love knowing God from this place

…....I love feeling passion burning in me for equality

…....I love being part of a people who are courageous and relentless

…....I love being one in Spirit with every queer youth

…………..With every gay man and woman

……………With every bisexual man and woman

…………..With every transman and transwoman

……………With every ally and friend

……………With everyone who questions, doubts and searches

…….And I love being one in Spirit with you

……………Bound in hope, and faith, and love

……………Bound in God

If there was a pill I could take that would make you straight

………..And taking that pill would end all your confusion and anxiety

……….And remove your fear that God has rejected you

……………I would not take that pill even for you.

You are gay.

…..You are not wrong.

…..…..You are not sinful.

…..…..…..You are not evil or perverted.

…..…....…..You are not unworthy.

…..…..…..…..…..You are not a mistake.

…..…..…..…..…..…..You are not to be ashamed.

You are gay.

…..God loves you.

…..…..God holds you.

…..…..…..God stands with you.

…..…..…..…..God delights in you.

…..…..…..…..…..God calls you “My own.”

If there was a pill that could make me straight

…..And make you straight

…..And you

…..And you

…..And you

…....I would not take it.

…....I would not take it.

…....I. Would. Not. Take. It.

Before I even clicked the link to her blog I answered that question for myself.  “Yes!  I’d take that pill in a heartbeat!” Being gay is one of the biggest struggles I’ve ever dealt with in my life and most of the time I feel like if I could chose not to be gay, I would.

Growing up in a “Christian” home as a gay boy is an incredible challenge.  It is made abundantly clear to you from the beginning that homosexuality is wrong, that homosexuality is a perversion, and that homosexuals are damned for all eternity.  There is an incredible amount of fear that is driven into Christian children about hell and sin and damnation and we learn from a very young age that we want to do everything in our power to make sure we don’t go there.  This results in tremendous amounts of guilt and shame.

For me, the shame was too much to bear and I denied who I was for most of my life.  I chose to believe that I was not gay, that there were other, perfectly legitimate reasons why I was aroused by the images of the male models in the International Male and Undergear catalogs I subscribed to when I was a teenager.  I convinced myself that one day, when I met the woman God had in store for me, I would be physically attracted to her and I would feel normal and complete.

I finally began to admit to myself that I was gay and accept who I was about four years ago and I said it out loud for the first time when I told my therapist two years ago.  By this time, I had read the bible, The King James version, from cover to cover and learned that what I had been told my entire life was cut and dried, well, it really wasn’t.  I learned that there were a lot of discrepancies between the things I had been taught to believe and what I determined for myself in those pages.  I learned that while the Bible is an important resource that there is more research to be done and so I did.

I researched on-line the question of whether homosexuality is an immorality, whether it’s a sin and what it means to be gay and a Christian.  When it all started, I went in search of something definitive that would tell me what I was already sure must be true:  That Homosexuality is, in fact, an irrefutable sin.  What I found instead, was a whole lot of the same rhetoric, the same answers and explanations about why homosexuality is wrong, with all of the same holes that I had yet to explain away.  The same holes that made me question the accuracy, the validity of what I’d been taught.  These holes left me with questions and doubts.  The explanations didn’t sit well with me.  They didn’t feel… They didn’t feel true.  I believe that we all, each of us, possess a spirit that is to some extent or other, in tune with the Holy Spirit.  I started to realize that the reason these explanations didn’t feel or seem right to me is because my spirit knew they weren’t.  My spirit was hungry for the truth.

So I dug deeper and I found several resources with more information.  I found resources that did a better job of explaining what the various Biblical references which are used against us might have really meant.  I found scholarly authors who had a deeper understanding of what the times and the languages were like, and how the Bible might have been translated incorrectly over the generations and centuries that have passed. And I found a reminder that the God I love and serve is a loving God who wants the best for me, who wants me to be happy.  I finally came to accept that the thoughts and feelings and urges that I was stifling for so many years, close to 30 of them, were normal and natural and a part of me, who I am, the way God made me.

I didn’t take this information lightly, and I didn’t set out to find justification for me to behave in a way that was not morally right.  Honestly, I set out to prove, once and for all, that what I was taught my whole life was absolute fact and that I had to continue to suffer until God saw fit to change me and make me “normal”.  I resisted the things that I read that told me that I was OK as a gay man.  I resisted the urge to rejoice at the affirmations that I found because surely, as my mother would have told me were she involved, I was “possessed of the Devil”, I was “being deceived.”  Surely it wasn’t possible that I could, in fact, be gay and be acceptable in God’s sight.  But the evidence mounted, the case was made over and over again… and my spirit?  My spirit was at peace.  I stopped hurting.  I started healing.  I told my four closest friends.

I still struggle with the internalized homophobia that I was raised in.  I still struggle with accepting myself, but now, it’s because I’m programmed this way, not because I really believe that there’s anything wrong with who I am.  I have to believe that as time moves on, I’ll struggle less and less and be more and more content in my life.

What I really struggle with, though, is the shame.  Not shame because I think there’s something wrong, but shame because I’m so sure everyone else will.  I get anxious when I write something like this because I’m sure that someone will read this and tell me that I can’t be both gay and a Christian.  (Of course I can.)  I’m afraid someone will read this and begin to scrutinize me and my behavior in a different way now that they know I call myself a Christian.  (I’m not living my life for those people, but no one likes to be judged.)  The truth is I hold myself up to the measure my mother has set out for me and I know I fail miserably.  Most days I’m OK with that.  I know I will never measure up to her expectations and I know that most of her expectations are unreasonably high anyway, but part of my internal programming is to see her expectations as those of all Christians and I assume I’ll be judged and condemned by all of them for one reason or another once they learn that I call myself one of them.  (I don’t really call myself one of them and I suspect that will make for another lengthy blog post in the future, but the terminology is the same even if the intent is different.)

The shame that I struggle with has crippled me with regard to coming out to my family.  Not a single member of my family knows that I’m gay while I have to believe some of them may suspect.  It is with this knowledge that as I bring this post nearer to its conclusion and prepare to press that “publish” button I am shaking and feeling genuine anxiety about putting this information out there for the world to see.  You see, my Twitter account updates my Facebook status.  My brother is my only immediate family member who is on Facebook.  I post links to my new blog posts on Twitter which means they’ll show up on Facebook as well.  It is not a stretch to think that my brother will actually see this post and because I am such a coward, this is how he’s going to learn the truth.  Will he say anything to me?  I don’t know.  Will he tell other members of my family?  He might.  Am I disappointed in myself that I can’t just say it to them? Of course I am.

So if such a pill existed that could make me straight, would I take it?  I’m afraid that is not as simple a question as I first thought it was.  I’d be inclined to take it.  I’d never have to worry about telling my family the truth.  I’d never have to worry about facing the internalized doubts and fears that persist.  I’d never have to worry about having to tell people in my daily life.  And I’d never have to worry about trying to learn how to date as a gay man, or find someone that I could happily spend the rest of my life with.  Life would certainly be easier if I were straight.

On the other hand, maybe taking that pill would be like turning my back on everything that I learned in this process; that God did not make a  mistake when he made me; that I am gay because that is how God intended it; that there is nothing wrong with me just because I’m gay; and that God loves me every bit as much today as he did the day I invited him into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior and the only thing that has really changed is, now, I know the truth.

If there was a pill that I could take that would make me straight, would I take it?  I’m sad to say that it would be a tough decision to make, but in the end, No, I would not take it.

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My special thanks to Anita, author of the blog that started this, first for writing the post to begin with and second, for granting me her blessing to re-post it here for all to see.