Thursday, March 25, 2010

Just a reminder...

"Wow. That sucks dick!"

Are you aware of how frequently I hear this phrase coming out of the mouths of youth that I work with? And how much it reminds me of how far into the shadows of my sexuality I need to be in order to communicate with some of these people?

Yesterday I went out with a youth with whom I have had a good, close relationship for about four years. Unfortunately, it had been about a year since we had last hung out. Admittedly, he is the kid that cared about me as much as I cared about him - when I started approaching depression again about a year ago, he was the only person to call me on it. Unfortunately, he wasn't somebody I could tell the source of my depression to.

But he forced me to deal with it.

Yesterday, we were talking about life over the past year. Oddly enough, this always develops into a discussion about God. So, here I was, a non-church membered, former youth sponsor, former Bible camp counsellor, gay former Christian, gingerly drinking my overly hot Chai Latté and talking about God with a kid that was once in my cabin at camp and who has always struggled with his identity as a Christian. We have mutual concerns over one of his cousins who recently returned from a year at Bible College - he seems more than just different; he seems like he is aiming for conversion. Neither of us like that.

He told me two stories.

One about a tragic event. It "sucked dick".

Another about a university staff member who recently came to his high school to try and promote the university football team and used terms such as "faggot", "pussy", and "queer" in his presentation. He shared his frustration, disgust and embarrassment with me.

My heart sank a bit. Because here is a genuine kid - a great young man who will be a golden adult. Here is a kid who, when he is told something is wrong and understands why (I converted him away from using the term "chick" to describe women a couple years ago - I described to him how it is rather derogatory towards women, even if they don't recognize it as such). Here is one of the friendliest, most charming kids on the planet who sees the most attractive aspect of Christianity as the part he sees in peoples hearts and eyes, hands and feet rather than in their words. Here is a kid who is searching for something so much bigger than he is but who has never had good guidance.

But, like so many out there, here is a kid who has never been properly told how sexual and repressive our daily language is - and has never considered how it can hurt others, unless he is told specific terms to avoid. Like faggot, pussy, and chick.

I wanted to tell him that sucking dick probably isn't actually that bad.

And then to cover myself up, I wanted to remind him that his girlfriend was willing to do it to him.


All that being said, I'm getting ready to love this world. I can feel something happening inside me. There is this light - this cancerous growth - that is altering my actions. It is at once familiar and entirely new; I've felt this before, but I've never felt it when I have had so much freedom to be myself. Love.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm probably a bad person

Is it wrong for me to be confused at times by this whole gay thing? Is homosexuality supposed to make sense to me just because it is the only thing I have ever known?

At times it seems like homosexual culture is affected by entirely different values than I understand. Let me tell you a short story.

Last night, after playing the Timpani in a percussion methodologies course at my university, I gave a good friend of mine a ride home. For some reason this friend has become quite inundated with sex recently. In conversation, she is always talking about sex - masturbation - intimacy. These are topics I don't shy away from, but I also realize that these are topics she is not really interested in talking about. Something happened to her last week to change this - I don't know what it was, but it seems as though sex is flocking in her direction.

So, while driving her home, we started talking about sex. She brought up the old television show Queer as Folk, which she proudly spent most of her high school years watching at home. I did not - but I have seen one part of an episode.

Apparently that part that I saw was a big deal - because I can find the scene on Youtube.

I'd love to deconstruct this scene and what it taught me about homosexuality while I was still in the closet - and the misconceptions that I developed as a result. But that isn't the point of this post.

Somehow, in my discussion about sex with my friend, I brought up this video clip. I told her, quite frankly and quite comfortably, that I would never consider having a serious sexual relationship with anybody who was HIV positive.

She told me it that she was sorry for me. I hate this line - it is far too... evangelical for my liking. But it is interesting; the combination of pity and sympathy is just a little too guilt-inducing to ignore.

I expanded this list of people with whom I would attempt to never have sexual relations with to include those who have other STIs.

She then mentioned that her uncle was able to have a wonderful relationship with his partner for 10 years before he passed away, and that his partner never contracted HIV. Which really made me feel like shit.

But I wonder if it is wrong of my to limit sex to those who aren't affecting by an unfortunate, and entirely unintentionally transmitted, disease. Is it wrong to wish to protect myself from the risk of contracting these infections as well?

I can understand the humanistic perspective that she was presenting; the social annexation that one can experience as a victim of STIs and the lack of intimacy that can result can very negatively affect one's psyche. I totally understand this. But, that being said, Che Guevara didn't go around sleeping with lepers. Neither did Mother Theresa. And, though I think I am relatively aware of the importance of intimacy, do I turn my sympathy for those without intimacy into a serious sexual relationship?

No. And certainly not for those reasons.

I don't deny that I am able to love somebody who has an STI - that I am able to choose to love somebody who has HIV. But I don't know if I am prepared to take the serious risks of sleeping with somebody that can so easily infect me. Is this wrong?

I feel like I need to be educated.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Change we can believe in.

You may not have noticed it happen.

There was a breeze though. A change in the direction of the wind. A faint but noticeable fragrance of lilacs. Something happened.

It was yesterday. I was outside enjoying the spring sun. And then it happened.

Americans found themselves covered by health insurance. All of them. When a new bill, complicated and completely new for an America that is increasingly wary of government involvement in their life, was voted on and passed the American houses of representation.

This is the kind of moment that, had it taken place two thousand years ago, would be written about by scholars as though some cloth separating the people from the experience of rightness was ripped in half.

Something happened. And for millions of Americans, life will never be the same.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rumours and a Push

Last summer, just as my homosexuality was exploding onto my life, I told a close friend of mine that people who come out of the closet are usually ready for a relationship. They want to get into one and start experiencing their sexuality.

I told him I was nowhere near that stage.

Now I'm getting closer. I'm almost to the point where I am not only longing for some kind of relationship that has the potential to develop into a lifelong intimacy, but also getting pretty damn close to making my existence as a man that is attracted to men public knowledge.

Oddly enough, this has something to do with church. This past week I received a letter from my church asking me whether or not I was intending on maintaining my membership with them. Apparently they have noticed that I haven't been attending for the past 8 months. Some of them are surely concerned. Recently one of my prize members of the youth group that I worked with for four years contacted my ex-girlfriend and asked how I was doing. He said that he had heard "rumours" about me.


Apparently about me 'falling away from God'. Which I won't deny. This has happened. But not in the past 8 months. More like a general trend of the past 4 years.

My former church kind of missed the boat on that one.

I have a friend that I have blogged about in the past. He is the one who directed me towards ex-gay ministries after I half-intentionally, half-instinctively told him I was gay and then listened to him tell me what it meant to be gay and how he didn't want me to pidgeon-hole myself into being gay. Do I still sound angry? I hope not. This man, a friend of mine for many years and one of the few people that I love and respect without ceasing, has since recanted.

Now he pushes me to be myself, and let everybody know. And be so comfortable with myself that rebukes and concerns that I may sense or hear from any church that I attend bounce off of my like bullets off of a super-hero. And that I push the world to a greater understanding of sexuality, gender identities, and what it means to be Neal Adolph to a world that isn't even remotely aware. He wants me walking down the aisle of my church, holding the hand of my boyfriend, and sitting down comfortably - knowing that I am being silently rebuked, but being comfortable in my relationship and my spirituality all the same (admittedly the former seems more likely than the latter...).

That is a big task. But it has been done before. And it will be done again - this time spear-headed by me, bolstered by my friends and family, and push forward by this sense that I am ok. I'm not great, but I am by no means sleeping with the devil any more frequently than other people (ok, this may be a lie).

I went out this weekend to a music festival in town, and spent quite a bit of time mingling with the various conductors and choirs. One of the conductors, whom I've known and admired for years, is apparently (I had no idea) undeniably gay. And currently seeing 5 people. When somebody asked him if he would ever consider settling down, he said yes - if he found the right person, and if that person believed in God.

I'm starting to get that God isn't exclusive to heterosexuality.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I had intended this post to be about God, and starting to renegotiate what it means to be gay and christian (a response to a close friend of mine who challenged me last week), but far too many ridiculous events are taking place in the world. And so, once again, I am directed towards the topic of homosexuality.

For those of you who are unaware, I am trained as a teacher. For those of you who are unaware, my experience in high school was engulfed in bouts of depression largely circling around my burgeoning sexuality and concerns of coming out to a community that I was certain would not accept me. Once again, for those of you who are unaware, I largely entered the field of education convinced that I would provide some measure of assurance that homosexuality among the student body would become more and more accepted.

I was excited to hear that many schools in my city now have a Gay-Straight Alliance student body. I don't know if that would have resulted in me coming out in high school, but the idea of having a community in which I could find support would have really helped out a lot.

These kind of student groups do not exist in Mississippi. At a county high school in this southern American state, an 18-year old Lesbian student regularly receives education on what it means to live in society. Unfortunately, the education she is getting, both formal and informal, reminds me of why I chose not to come out to very many people in high school.

Constance McMillen was hoping to bring her partner to her high school prom. And wear a tuxedo. Her county school board, rather than saying no to her specifically (well, they already had told her no, but she persisted), decided to cancel the event entirely. Not only adversely affecting her but also her entire senior class. They've released a statement, quoting "distractions to the educational process caused by recent events" as the cause of the cancellation.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Rainbow Connection

Last Saturday night, a few things happened that I didn't expect. I found myself in the local University bar, sitting at a table with my Lesbian friends and a few strangers, watching men and women dance in costume that is usually reserved for people of the opposite "gender". And I was shocked.

This experience was entirely cultural. I started out the evening, upon realizing how much culture surrounded me, by asking a friend if it was wrong to look at the event through the lens of an anthropologist. She laughed - and reminded me that gay culture has been around for a long time - that modern gay culture has been percolating for more than 60 years, and that I had a lot to get caught up on.

A couple notes: the environment was very supportive of the dancers. There is an established system of tipping the dancers. Dancing with your partner on the side while others dance is totally agreeable. Large paintings of penises and vaginas with holes in them are perfect places to take photos. Women are welcome to use the men's washroom - I'm not entirely certain if this is a two-way street. Comeradery is important - relationships are important; friends who have been friends for years sit together and have fun together. It isn't wrong to look around and see if anybody attractive is sitting at the table next to you, and then to strike up a conversation with them. Fun is the raison d'etre - make sure that you have it; and hold back, but don't be afraid to let loose a bit. Watching a man, dressed as Octomom, give birth to the forgotten ninth baby while on stage, lip-synching to a song about the saintly virtues of motherhood will never, ever get old. Laughter was the soup du jour.

It was refreshing to walk into a public environment where I wasn't in a minority; where humour about being gay never felt like a slander or off-handedly offensive slight. Where there were numerous straight people, with their partners, holding hands and enjoying themselves - sitting across the table from numerous gay people, with their partners, holding hands and enjoying themselves. Where the sexualities seemed to naturally blend in a communal revelry of the intricacies of humanity and sex. The room and its activities did not feel obscene or inappropriate; it was instead a celebration of people getting to be who it is that they naturally are.

I felt safe the entire time.

There were moments where it felt like a form of utopia. It was until I was covered in sweat, which was mostly my own, that I realized I was too tired to allow the night to continue.

Also, discovered that the most attractive man at the university is gay. I was pleased. Even more pleased to find he was in a steady relationship - because that was what the night seemed to be about: community, relationship, love, support. Sex, despite the dominance of sexuality as the night's theme, only popped up on the dance floor.

By the way, I danced with a boy. It was a nice experience. Entirely new. Looking forward to doing it again.

Also, life lesson from Saturday night - kissing women really isn't as bad as I have always made it out to be. Their lips are much, much softer.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tomorrow night, I will be going to my first ever drag show.

I look forward to telling you all about it, when I return.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

So much to say....

but not enough time.

I've got a lot of things to post about this week. Lots of ideas. Not enough time. Here's hoping I can get a couple out of the bag today.

I just found a new blog this past week, and started reading some its posts. It is written by a Canadian graduate student, though I do not know where or what he is studying. Regardless, he posted this recently:

"Commitment between two persons of the same sex is not inherently different from commitment between persons of different sexes. "Gay marriage" is a misnomer. A marriage is not gay (though the two persons may define themselves as gay). Being gay is just one dimension of a person, and marriage encompasses the whole person. (...) When people claim their right to marry, their sex or sexuality is not intrinsic to that right, although social prejudice makes it appear so."

-- Ruth Vanita in Love's Rite: Same-Sex Marriage in India and the West (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005: 2)

I like this a lot.