We've all been put on this earth. Many believe its to serve God. Many believe its to make the world a better place through religious or political means. Many believe its to help those less fortunate. Some even believe its to provide entertainment or make money. And there are also those who believe there is no reason at all.
Funnily enough I've been known to make the statement, "I'm not in the business of teaching lessons," but I'm starting to wonder if that same statement is coming back to bite my tush. I've been a long-time fighter for the underdog. If there's a person or group being bullied or discriminated against, I run to their defense. We can chalk some of that up to my wish for a true utopian society (those of you who REALLY know me, Lauren, can insert another adjective in place of "utopian"... haha). Mostly though I have my wonderful family to thank. My grandparents were my first examples of standing up for what's right, for opening your heart and home to those less fortunate, and for treating everyone as equals. Even being from Arkansas I never once experienced my parents or grandparents or aunts/uncles of any sort of stereotypical southern bigotry.
I don't think they realized quite the beast they were creating though. As a child I recall standing in line at Knight's grocery store (the old one of course... you Cabotians know what I'm talking about) with my mother while some fool guys blasted every attractive male on the cover of Tiger Beat for being gay. My 10-year-old self spoke up telling them that NKOTB was not, in fact, gay... but more importantly even if they were why did they care? My mother had to hush me up as my ears turned red and my eyes filled with angry tears. It was the first time I felt an inclination to fight for gay rights in some strange way... and so it began.
As a teenager in a sometimes elitist southern suburb I began noticing the closeted gays and sexually confused befriending me. As a 16-year-old this often perplexed me. I wasn't struggling with my own sexuality in the least! I was giggly over boys. I liked to go on dates and get dressed/made up for a boy to take me to the Olive Garden. I liked getting first kisses, passing notes between classes, and cheering for the football-playing boyfriend from the stands on Friday nights. And it always made me incredibly sad when my closeted friends couldn't experience the wonderful joys of teenage crushes. I wished it for them so much. And in my hastiness I would sometimes be that first kiss or that person passing notes just because I felt that it was something no one should have to miss out on.
In that I started losing myself. My own experiences fell by the wayside. I knew in my heart of hearts that being gay wasn't an abomination or a perversion, but in my small mind I also didn't want to see any of them hurting or being made fun of... or even disowned, which was the case with some of friends who subsequently came out of the closet. To me it was more important to be able to look back having been an aide to the underdog than living my own life. So often I have met girls/women who hang with the gays to live vicariously through them or cling to them as a means to have a male influence without putting themselves out there in the dating world. That was not my story. Mine is much more complex and many hours and dollars in therapy have helped me out in this arena :)
Back then I even started somehow believing that everyone could be with anyone depending on his/her situation, circumstances, location, and current state of mind - sexual identity was a complete myth in my mind. Still, I personally was completely straight, but I just thought I was a girly girl and my own thoughts didn't apply to me.
I married a wonderful man. The details don't matter as they are between me and him. All I'll say in this very public forum is that we didn't love each other the way married people should. He is gay. It obviously could not work. And not because he cheated or any of the other many reasons people try to assume. It didn't work because we didn't work. We weren't in love. We needed each other as best friends do, but we couldn't be what the other needed in a partner.
Thus began my journey to find the girl I left back in Cabot, Arkansas. The girl who left herself to help the gay rights plight as she thought in her twisted way she was doing. The girl who was now an adult with the same inclinations to help the underdog and fight the fights of those who can't always fight their own. Now I don't mean that to say that gays can't fight their own fight. I'm speaking of a very specific group of gays and lesbians in the world in I which I grew up. The ones who think they have to be celibate for God to love them. Or worse, the ones who think they have to be untrue to themselves, their families, and their friends just to be "normal" in a world where people lie to them out of fear of the unknown.
For the past 5 years I have toyed with writing a book, or starting a lecture circuit for southern gays and the people who love them, or even just a support group for girls like my 16-year-old self. Outspoken girls who hate bigotry more than anything but don't have to lose their own girliness and experiences in the process of speaking out for what is right. I know this is my reason for being here.
Life gets in the way. Bills, dating, adventure-seeking, family, friends, work... AHHHH!! The list goes on and on. And then someone half-jokingly (thank you, Shawn) sends you a link like this dribble. I sat at my desk for nearly a half hour reading through this. And I have to say, some of it I can't disagree with. But most of it is garbage and needs to be put back where it belongs. The first sentence is how I would start my book/lecture/support group: "Right now in America there are over 2 million couples secretly struggling with homosexuality in their marriages." And that is where Stephen Billings and I end our agreement. I could dissect every word this vile man has to say, but I won't waste your time. If I have enough requests for it, I'll email it out separately or even possibly do another blog on it!
My point at this juncture is simple... if you think your spouse is gay, talk to him about it. Don't go through a trite list by a so-called Christian man checking off what he says makes someone gay. And if your spouse is gay, he has been all along. The truth will set you both free. Freedom from false lives. Freedom from wondering what's wrong with you (I'm speaking to the straight half of the couple here, believe it or not). Freedom from confusion. Freedom to just be.
This is my purpose - my reason for being here. Everything happens for a reason even if that reason isn't evident right away. The happiness and sadness from my experiences should be used to help others learn. "I'm not in the business of teaching lessons?" Oh, yes, Joy. Yes, you are...
Here's the 16-year-old girl I had to go retrieve...
And here's the girl she has become.