by LA Jamison
Despite the White House removing Pride from its calendar and declaring it "The Great Outdoors Month" instead, we gays made no less of LGBT awareness this June 2017. I vowed myself to have sex somewhere in the outdoors for the first time. Now how's that for Great Outdoors month :-). Stick that in your Oak Tree smoke it.
The 30 Day LGBT Challenge put out on Tumblr gives us an opportunity to share some of our sexy thoughts about our lives as gays on a month that up till now, has been nationally celebrated as our time to have a voice. I shared these on my Facebook and put it all in one document for easier reading.
Day 1—Your sexual orientation or gender identity. Be creative
I would call myself a stud-muffin with icing. I think of myself on the Kinsey scale. I am male (today it is referred to as cis-gendered but I'm not anybody's sis lol). I think of myself as about 85% gay and 15% straight. That is, of course, an estimate.
Day 2: Were there any experiences as a child that might have foreshadowed your sexuality?
Looking at girly magazines and being focused on the guys. Being called a "fag" and "freak" most my young life because I looked and acted differently and had different interests. Being glued to a poster of Jim Palmer in his undies in my sister's room. Girls wanting to be my friend more so than boys. Watching my males friends older brothers play sports🏈 on their front lawn. Wanting to play doctor more with my own gender than girls. Greg Louganis, Bob Paris, Dukes of Hazard guys, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Billy Idol, John Travolta, Emilio Estevez, Henry Winkler as the Fonz.
Day 3: How old were you when you knew? What was that like for you?
I knew in pieces, not all at once. I was acting out with boys early on. The fear, the realization, struck me that "something is wrong with me" was when I was like 7ish. A group of us boys got ahold of some girly magazines (the most notably raw back then "Hustler") and I was interested only in the guys and my peers were amazed by the women (I was disgusted). This is when I began to hide, whenever they went to the look at these, and I felt afraid they would find out my desires were still different. To me, it was a "phase" I would hope I would grow out of. Fast forward to Florida in the 1990's. I was obsessed with watching this studly guy in his speedo from above our apt. window. And after awhile, it struck me--what was going on here? I was glued to muscle magazines of men and this guy at the pool. This is when I began to look for what was the truth behind the desires. I didn't feel I wanted sex with the men (funny because I hadn't had sex than to know that) so I determined I wasn't gay. I had also had crushes on girls before so it was hard for me to accept that I was gay so I didn't accept it. I wasn't going to become what the nasty bullies taunted me for being, a scorn to the earth "faggot". I found what I wanted to hear in the ex-gay community and later reparative therapy. Fast Forward to age 39. I had enough. I had done all I could and then some. I had a deeper, richer faith, a healed relationship with my dad, more confidence with straight male peers that reparative therapy said was necessary for me to heal the wounds that made me gay, but I was no less gay. I was a fractured self, a condemned self, a walking psychotic mind split suffering mental breakdowns and living with being a non-essential in churches trying to live up to their cold expectations on my humanity. I began to see that this was indeed a part of who I was and I wasn't ever going to live a healthy life with a part of myself frozen in the ice of rejection. It is still a process.
Day 4: The first person you came out to and that story
A friend of mine, Shari. We shared everything about our lives and it didn’t phase her one bit. We both debated the religious connotations for a while but eventually, both of us determined that it was okay I was gay with God probably too.
Day 5: Did you have any inner turmoil regarding your sexuality? Did it escalate to self-injury or suicidal thoughts?
Uh yah! My lord, I wrote a book about my personal struggle with it and u can find it on my website book space www.gotwords.org. I did not have inner turmoil at all about it until I noticed my peers had moved on to women and I had not. In my world, boys were boys AND men were men, sissies had no place but in the hall of shame and at your mother's side. There was nothing for you. No LGBT clubs. No counselor. No self-help book. You were alone. Isolated without hope. My world made it very clear to me: the worst thing you could be was gay. It was either full-fledged panic or hope it was just a phase. I chose the latter. I was fortunate only in that I did some female crushes. Bullying, health, and social anxiety broke me and I got deep into my faith. As I found solace for that, I found an escape route for my sexual doom--ex-gay ministry which said "You were right! You just haven't really grown past your phase yet...and by the way, this is an addiction and abomination BUT we are to help!" Defeat your barrier that keeps you from straight people, become that straight guy which you envy, and you will finally move past where you have been emotionally stuck and into your true God-ordained straight self. I bought a ticket🎟to ride for many years. In other ways, I found healing through these ex-gay ministries like taking risks, healing wounds, forgiveness but it also gave me more wounds and locked my soul up in a prison I am still trying to get out of (I'm close).
Today I still wrestle with what I so firmly believed especially since my gay experience has been so resolutely disappointing yet freeing in other ways.
I never self-injured and my suicidal thoughts which were flashes in the pan were really more about an overall depression and social anxiety.
Day 6: Did you face any problems regarding religion?
I was raised Catholic and left there on a spiritual explosion and rebirth into fundamentalism, Pentecostal and the evangelical places. Religion was and largely still is (with some improvement) directly opposed to homosexuality. Interestingly enough the founders of these faiths that people use to condemn us never really spoke much about homosexuality in a way that anyone found it worth recording. There is really only an obscure passage by Paul which has largely been attributed to temple prostitutes and anyone who abandons their natural desires.
The subtitle of my book is "a young man's struggle with faith and sexuality". The struggle with religion for me has always been what level of love and acceptance I would find. And that is a struggle that I still deal with today but nothing like when your closeted and trying to pretend that you are something you are not.
Religion required of me, in my mind, at first to have no sexuality in my mind. Later, when you press the sexual issue (specifically homosexuality) it became more like you can have the desires but just don't act on them. This was maddening and contributed to a nervous breakdown or two or three...(at the time I didn't attribute the breakdowns to that). Being 47 now and around the block a time or two even sexually I don't understand why in this country we attribute to God such a firm hold on complete and utter chastity. God celebrates sexuality according to the Book of The Song of Songs. He warns against wantonness when it is more harmful and stands in place of God. Nothing more. As far as sexuality, religion tormented my own sexuality. It tortured me with it and used my sexuality as a weapon against me to keep bound with an identity as "less than", a perputual sinner. However, now, still as a person of faith, I don't see that as having to do with God but man's voice over in place of God -- which no one really can beat Robin Williams in Alladin...not even close lol so give it up. :-)
Day 7: How did your parents take it or how do you think they might take it.
Mom has always been supportive. Dad only knew about my "change" efforts, he passed before I came out. But he often said, it was okay but keep it to yourself. Honestly, I think my dad would be fine with it and I have no doubt at all he would be at upcoming gay men's choir concert as he was to every symphonic concert performance and marching band--even the football games. I know he would tear up too. Two great parents!
Day 8: What does the closet and being closeted mean to you?
The closet to me means a temporary place to change one's clothes. It is meant to be secluded, secretive, temporary storage and it is an intimate place. Only the person or those close to the person take part in using one's personal closet. All our "dressings" are stored in there. Right? Now switch this to a soul level. Being "in the closet" is like realizing all your old clothes no longer fit. What you were before in your soul, no longer fits you. You can try to squeeze into that outfit (what you have been living) but it is not comfortable and the moment you put it on, you can think of nothing else but taking it off. It's too tight, too constraining, suffocating and your body fights you to burst out. So too the soul of the closeted individual. The straight life becomes uncomfortable, constraining, suffocating and your soul and sexuality fights against you to burst out and be set free. The only option is the old clothes, hide in the closet or...put on the new clothes. Now, the new clothes are something your mamma (here I mean society and church "mamma" because my mamma wasn't like that) told you good people don't wear. Who are you to be riske' and different? Only sluts, people who don't care, those that don't tout the status quo wear such revealing soul-wear. It's like putting on a skimpy bikini for the first time when everyone else wears a onesie. It is like trying to choose to wear a tank top when people have mocked your body for years. Don't you do it, don't you DARE do it or we are going to laugh you back into the closet until you come out back in your old clothes. Being closeted is a holding place, a purgatory and some choose the comfort of not choosing and remaining in that intimate, secret place, the dark..the confinement because it is more comfortable. Some choose instead to wear the old clothes, and maybe making some alterations rather than to walk into something new where it seems like others will point their finger and go "OMG!" and dismiss them as a devil. They may never leave that spouse because divorce is a sin, or the spouse holds so much guilt over them they stay in the marriage while acting out in secret. This is what being in the closet means and a little of what it feels like but then magnify the feelings I have just described by x10. Because the stakes are much higher than clothes. It's about heaven and hell, keep and losing family and friends, accepting who you are or living in a psychotic mind split.
Day 9—What do you think about LGBT PRIDE? Is it helpful or hurtful? Encouraged or unnecessary
At first, I went with the often used slogan “I don’t really want to wave a flag or announce to the world I am gay”. But, later, as I saw how under and misrepresented we are, I saw the importance that we do come out and be visible to the community. I think some aspects of Pride are as boring as any street fair but it is still important and should be encouraged.
Day 10: What does marriage mean to you?
It is funny to me that we have people who want to define what marriage must be to everyone. It strikes me as odd. How adamant you are about a set definition everyone must follow only shows how fearful you are that somebody might have a better deal than you have. It's really not about religion or moral standards, it's the idea that someone may rock the apple cart and find a better apple.
Marriage to me is whatever people agree to around a commitment of an intimate, romantic relationship between each other. It is a promise. It is a celebration and consummation of love that people chose to make publically. A public ceremony for the sake of love and accountability with the community that says "yes, we love each other and want to give this a really good go".
Day 11: What is your favorite LGBT book?
Not entirely sure if this means a book about gay people, or a book written by a gay author or on the topic of being gay. I'll assume the latter. I will say there are two "Bi-Sexual Men: Coming Out Every Which Way" (real stories, real people on various levels of the spectrum). Then, "What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality". You can read more about these books and even purchase them here at my Book Space
Day 12: What is your favorite LGBT movie?
Film: We Were Here (Documentary) and I Love You, Phillip Morris
Day 13: Favorite LGBT Celebrity:
This is almost impossible to do just one: Ian McKellen, Ricky Martin, Ellen, Tom Daley, Rob Paris, Jussie Sommlett, Anderson Cooper
Three I wished were and I was in a room with would be Ryan Reynolds and Either Ryan Gosling or Jake Gyellanhall.
Day 14: Favorite LGBT Singer: Sam Smith
Day 15: Favorite LGBT Quote
—“Don’t Yuck on my Yum”--this is from a LGBT group I go to. It is a rule we practice in which we try to not disparage what someone else enjoys just because we ourselves might not like it or understand it.
Day 16: Picture of your first LGBT crush.
Jim Palmer and his underwear posters were the first man crush I ever had. Bob Paris was next when body building magazines came around. The crushes I had on guys in my life I don't have pictures of. No easy way to snap photos like today.
Day 17: Your first experience with an LGBT organization.
It was on my college campus. I had just started on campus counseling because I felt lost in my college social experience and I had a hot therapist. And it got me questioning all the ex-gay and conversion therapy stuff I had going on. So I thought I would go to the campus LGBT center and ask some questions of the director there. I remember her because she was gigantic in height. 7 foot or more. There lobby was called the "Queer" room and I didn't like that. I remember thinking why should it be called "queer", why can't it just be a "room". She really didn't answer my questions the way I wanted her too and all I remember her noting that she found it unusual that every year she had students come visit her who were religious and questioning.
The organization that made any impression on me at all was my experience at Affirmations in Ferndale. I felt like an imposter for a long time going there because I didn't want to be gay so it took some adjustment and eventually some of my dearest friends came out of one of their groups there.
Day 18: Something about the LGBT community you don't understand or have a question about?
I don't understand the walls this community has toward its own, this attitude of superiority and exclusivity with as many cliques as the church has denominations. We should as individuals have open arms and hearts (not just letting organizations and bars do it). Its a huge let down personally that makes me question why I came out in the first place if to only to be silenced and put in a corner by my own people, those I thought would embrace me.
Day 19: Butch or Femme?
I really don't like this question. I"m a hybrid okay? Leave me alone. I'm changing the question....
What is one hope you have for the LGBT community? What is one thing you wish it would leave behind?
The hope I have and see coming is that we arising out of this dark basement, underground status. This gives us the solid ground to really grow as authentic people who are accepted and build authentic relationships that actually stand the test of the time and stand as models for others. Tied to this, on the part of letting go, is all the shallow bullshit that this community has been forced to swim in for any form of acceptance and identity. We can be better, do better and we are better. Gay lives in the dark gave some form of acceptance and identity with shallowness and only fetish objects as a form of "material" identity when we had nothing. But now the dark can no longer contain us. Our light is growing and we are, as sweet Diana Ross sings, coming out so the world will know that we too make the world go round.
Day 20--Your favorite LGBTQ television show or gender positive queer show
Gender positive what? All these words and definitions make my head spin. Can we just say we're all fluid, on the spectrum of gender and sexuality and not get our knickers in a knot because there isn't a label specifically assigned to us. It is just way too much to keep track of realistically.
Anywhooooo....I really liked Sense 8, but they canceled that, Queen Sugar and Greenleaf on the O Network have gay characters. And I like Ellen D.
Day 21--LGBT Political issue that is closest to you or affects you.
Gay Marriage, the sanction of conversion therapy, and bullying in public schools.
Day 22 --An LGBT Image that makes you smile
Ambiguously Gay Duo (SNL skit).
Day 23--An LGBT Image that makes you cry or makes you angry
Without a doubt that has to be the image of Westboro Baptist people.
Day 24—The stupidest argument/comment you’ve heard about gay people or an LGBT issue.
There are so many, where do I begin. I want to give one for being gay, one for being bi and one for being Trans. A gay dumb dumb: it’s okay that you are gay but just don’t act on it (that’s like telling a straight person it is okay that you are straight but don’t act on it). A Bi dumb dumb: they are just closeted gays who won’t come out (no, we are all on a sexual spectrum that Kinsey proved and our range in sexuality can and does vary). A Trans dumb dumb: they should just bite the bullet and accept their gender according to the parts they have (well what about hermaphrodites? And it is much more complex than just body parts)
Day 25--The LGBT slur you hate the most or have taken back and re-defined for yourself.
Honestly, I hate the word faggot (to close to the word maggot for me) and secondly probably queer. I realize many don't find that last one a slur but I've never liked that word because for me growing up it was not just associated with being different, it was associated with being unacceptable, intolerable and strange.
Day 26--Your favorite gay joke.
Grinder--now that is a joke.
Day 27--Favorite LGBT blog/tumblr etc.
Well my own but of course. www.gotwords.org
Day 28--write a letter to someone addressing coming out or their homophobia (you dont have to send it)
Day 29—Scream, laugh, dance—do whatever you want.
I do that all the time!
Day 30--Anything LGBT you'd like to end this on
Homosexuality and sexuality itself is no easy subject. Everyone needs to step back and stop pretending you or the Bible or even science has all the answers as to what makes someone's gender or sexual identification what it is. Those who are out and those who abstain should not be judge so harshly on either side, lest we all forget where we have come from and how difficult the process of dealing with this can be. Also, though religion itself has been terrible toward the gays (I am a victim of that), you do not have to lose your spirituality or faith in God. God is not the Bible and doesn't have to be confined there and only represented there. Happy Pride