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  1. December 1986 Dusk had come early that afternoon and by the time of the church’s Evensong Service, all that could be seen outside the windows was black night. The church’s windows only reflected darkness, not even vague shapes or movement within it. In the time before the service began, I sat in my pew and stared at those dark night windows. It was called The Youth Service. Once a month, the church’s Young People’s Fellowship was allowed to take part in the Evensong Service, though not the church’s big Sunday morning Eucharist Service. We, the young people, were allowed to lead the service’s music, even choose some of it, read the lessons and lead the prayers, even perform a short dramatic sketch, but we weren’t allowed to choose the service’s theme and we were certainly not allowed to preach the sermon. At twenty, I was still classed as a “youth” at church and was a member of the Young People’s Fellowship. I was sitting in the pew, waiting for that month’s Youth Service to begin. Two of us were going to perform a short sketch about where the kingdom of God actually was. Back then, my writing was very Christian and focused much more on Christianity’s message than any attempt to create realistic characters and situations and then to explore themes through them. The high point of the Evensong Service was the sermon; the whole liturgy of the service seemed to lead up to it. That Sunday, the church’s curate was preaching. He was a middle-aged family man who took a very literal view of the Bible and that Sunday he had chosen a very topical subject for his sermon. The previous week, James Anderton, the chief constable of Manchester police, the neighbouring city, had said that people with HIV/AIDS were "swirling in a human cesspit of their own making" (1). The curate chose this as his sermon topic that evening. In the sermon James Anderton was called a prophet of God and the curate applauded him for what he said. He said Anderton was standing up for the truth and that AIDS was God’s punishment for homosexuals. He told the congregation that homosexuals were a sin and now God was enacting his judgement on them. He said that people chose to be homosexual and therefore chose to turn away from God and they deserved AIDS. I sat in my pew, wishing I was a million miles away from there. His words felt as if they were a direct attack on me. He was telling me that I wasn’t wanted there and that I was going straight to hell just for being who I was. It was as if his anger and hatred was directed straight at me. I was being told I wasn’t welcome there even when I was still deeply in the closet. No one there knew I was gay, not even the curate the night he preached that sermon. I barely knew it, I had certainly not acted on my sexuality, I had not kissed another man, not even held another man’s hand back then. James Anderton was a divisive figure, even in 1986. Before his bigoted statements on people with HIV/AIDS, he had been called “God’s Copper” (2), and it was deserved. In 1987, he called for homosexuality to be criminalised again. He said, “The law of the land allows consenting adult homosexuals to engage in sexual practises which I think should be criminal offences. Sodomy between males is an abhorrent offence, condemned by the word of God, and ought to be against the criminal law.” (3) He also encouraged his police officers to patrol the Canal Street area of Manchester, the heart of the city’s gay village even then, to stalk its dark alleys and arrest any men caught in the merest clinch (4). There were also allegations that Manchester police used a colour-coding system to identify anyone homosexual in their files (5). Anderton wasn’t just homophobic, he also had far right-wing views that he happily allowed to influence his role as chief constable. He openly stated the elected Labour politicians, who were running Manchester’s council, were part of a left-wing conspiracy to destroy British democracy (6). In late 1977, Anderton secretly met with a National Front leader to ensure that the far-right group could hold marches in Manchester without the risk of counter protests, when other cities had banned marches by the National Front. He allowed the marches to happen as long as their routes were kept secret beforehand (7). In 1987, he called for the corporal punishment for criminals until they begged for mercy (8) and he also called for the castration of rapists (9). Anderton saw himself as having “a direct line to God” (10) and therefore being a prophet of God (11). He claimed that God was calling him to speak out on moral issues, therefore implying that his views could not be questioned because they came directly from God. (I have met this attitude many times in my life and always found it extremely worrying and even dangerous because it always seems to be used to justify extremist views.) Anderton’s statements and behaviour didn’t go unchallenged. After his bigoted comments about people with HIV/AIDS and his claim to be God’s prophet, in January 1987 Manchester Council called for his resignation (5). The council leader wrote to then Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, calling for Anderton’s behaviour and his handling of Manchester’s police force to be formally investigated and him to be reprimanded (12). Other chief constables said Anderton was “bringing ridicule” onto the police service (12). Anderton ignored the call for his resignation, which is not surprising, but recently it has emerged that he was being protected by Margaret Thatcher’s government and Thatcher herself (12). In response to calls to restrain Anderton’s public announcements, her private secretary wrote to Douglas Hurd stating, "The Prime Minister has commented that it would be outrageous if the Chief Constable [Anderton] were required to seek clearance for all his public speaking engagements." (12) Thatcher also stopped any enquiry into Anderton’s behaviour, saying he shouldn’t be stopped from speaking publicly at non-policing events (13). She protected him. In December 1986, I didn’t know of most of this, but I had heard Anderton making his statement on people with HIV/AIDS. His words were incredibly harsh and lacking in any compassion or concern; he actually seemed happy in his condemnation. How could he be speaking God’s will when there was no compassion to his words? Even though it was only 1986, I had taken a lot of time to read and learn about AIDS, though on my own and in secret, and nowhere could I see the facts of AIDS reflected in Anderton’s words. Sitting in that church pew, I felt so beaten down and depressed. This was what the curate felt about me and now he was condemning me to hell, even though he didn’t know it was me he was specifically condemning. I had joined that church as a safe place, a place where I could be myself, a place where I was known as myself, not solely as my parents’ child, a place where I was wanted and could belong. I had been wrong. This wasn’t a safe place; this was a dangerous place of condemnation and hatred. I wasn’t wanted there. I felt sick and afraid. I didn’t know what to do. It was a relief when the sermon was over, the end of the service rapidly approaching, but I couldn’t unhear those words. James Anderton, with all his hatred and bigotry, had been identified as prophet of God, the curate publicly stating that all his words were the truth. The words of that sermon told me so much—I wasn’t welcome there and neither was I safe, but where else could I go? After the service I made some quick excuses and left the church early, I couldn’t risk hearing people say how much they agreed with that sermon. I had to leave that building and hurry out into the dark December night. But hurrying home still didn’t nullify that sermon, didn’t silence its words in my mind. When I reached home, I found my father in a very chatty mood. My mother was out visiting a friend that evening and he wanted someone to talk to, but I just wanted to be silent. He started asking me how the service had been but got quickly tired with my monosyllabic and vague answers. I claimed I wasn’t feeling well and retreated to the solitude and safety of my bedroom. How could I tell my father what had happened? I could barely admit it to myself and to tell him would have involved, in some way, telling him I was gay, and back then that was an impossible task. Even as I heard that sermon, I knew its words were untrue, but the prejudice and hatred behind it was all too real. My greatest regret from that evening was that I didn’t just stand up and walk out of the church as soon as I realised what that sermon was about, silently announcing my opposition to all of its hatred rather than condoning it with my silent presence. But that was far too big of a thing to ask of myself back then, too much to force on my very closeted self. But hindsight is still a wonderful thing… (The photograph illustrating this essay is not a picture of the church where this took place) Drew
  2. Homophobia is a word used frequently in our media, but what is meant by it? The dictionary definition is fear of someone homosexual, but Julie Fish (senior lecturer and research fellow in social work at De Montfort University, Leicester) doesn’t think it goes far enough to define the discrimination faced by lesbian, gay and bisexual people. This is the argument behind her book. In her opening chapter, Fish argues for the use of the term Heterosexism for prejudice/discrimination against LGB people. Her argument is homophobia is seen as a personal fault, the prejudice of just one person, it doesn’t have the social/political element of sexism or racism and therefore can be marginalised as the fault of the individual and not society. Changing to the use of Heterosexism also encompasses this social/political element. This might not be a new argument, originating in America, but Fish firmly roots it in British culture and health and social care, making this book very relevant for British readers. Other chapters analyse LGB health care needs (not just sexual health), how stereotypes feed into discrimination (not just negative ones), the barriers to LGB research (why often there is so little published), why information on LGB demographics is often poor, examples of Heterosexism from research, and the last chapter is a review of the current government’s legalisation that affects LGB people and the way forward for social equality. Though coming from a social care background, Fish’s book has plenty to offer for nurses and healthcare professionals, especially challenging us in how we marginalise LGB people often without thinking. Though an academic, Fish’s tone here is straightforward and readable, not the dry and uninteresting tone that often creeps into academics’ writing. The main drawback is its price, which for such a concise book is high—which sadly shows how little faith the publishers have in it. My advice, if you can’t afford it then pester your Trust’s library until they get a copy. Certainly a must-read for all in healthcare. (This review was originally written as a commission by the Nursing Standard magazine) Find it here on Amazon
  3. Autumn 1985 At nineteen, my main mission in life was to “fit in” with the world around me. If I kept my head down and didn’t draw attention to myself then people would not guess my secret and not hate me for it, as I feared. It was a simple but very flawed plan, though at the time it was all I could see to do. At that time, most of my world revolved around being a member of my church and being a good Christian because that was what was expected of me with my membership there. It was an Evangelical Anglican church, and being Evangelical they preached that the church had to be all of your life, and I happily agreed with that because I so wanted to fit in somewhere. Up until then I had been an outsider in my life; I didn’t like the things other kids were passionate about, I didn’t follow all the different trends that consumed the other kids around me, I was plainly unpopular, but fitting in was the most important thing where I grew up and I failed at it. Church gave me the chance of a place where I could belong, of a place where I could be wanted, and I grabbed at it with both hands. At nineteen, church offered me a full social life and happily I jumped into it, I was wanted. There was the church service on a Sunday morning and the Young People’s Fellowship on a Sunday evening, plus the Bible study group, prayer meetings, worship practice, drama group rehearsals, and other meetings all throughout the week, but the most important of all was the Sunday morning Communion (Eucharist) Service, and everyone was expected to attend that. After this service the congregation would always move into the church hall to have a cup of tea and split off into our different cliques. This social element seemed almost as important as the service itself, or at least we had the chance to discuss the service and then discuss other people’s lives and actions. I so enjoyed this part of the morning, I belonged somewhere and there were people I could talk with. It was an extra forty-five minutes to an hour before I had to return home. The clique I belonged to was the Young People’s Fellowship, the church’s spiritual youth group. For me it was a safe clique to hide away in. We all sat together in church, went to the same church activities together, and when the Young People’s Fellowship met, we’d all agree on the same things, the things we were told we needed to believe and agree on. That Sunday morning, the church service had been noticeably different. Our regular organist, Nicholas, wasn’t there. Instead, an elderly man, with a bald and domed head, had slowly and awkwardly played the church’s organ, all the hymns at the same painfully slow pace. Now, after the service, it was all anyone could talk about. Where was Nicholas and how terrible the hymns were, some people were even calling the organ playing a disgrace, talking about how we hadn’t fully worshipped God’s glory. Suddenly I felt like an outsider again; I didn’t know what was happening, no one had thought to include me, again I had to find out for myself. I did what I had always learnt to do, I stayed quiet and listened to the conversations around me. If I listened carefully I would always learn something. Each Sunday morning, during the Communion Service, Nicholas had sat at the church’s organ, playing the hymns with gusto and energy, while his friend, Robin, sat in the pew next to him. Those two men had fascinated me. Nicholas was ten or more years older than Robin and yet they were still friends, almost constant companions at church. People from different ages didn’t mix at church, it was very much divided along age lines. People from the Young People’s Fellowship didn’t mix with the members of the Mothers Union, who didn’t mix with Full Gospel Businessmen’s Luncheon group; everyone was in awe of the church’s council members, and we all looked up to the clergy. But here were Nicholas and Robin, open with their friendship. Nicholas had always been conservatively dressed at church, he wore neat and dark suits, his grey hair cut into a short and neat style. Robin was far more stylish, obviously aware of his clothes and appearance. His hair was always neatly styled, brushed in a careful way and always parted at the side. He wore a suit too, but his suits were always sharply coloured, rich browns, bright blues and greens, neat charcoal, they were always worn over a matching waistcoat and a coordinated tie tied in a large and prominent knot under his collar. He wore several rings on his fingers back when men didn’t wear rings, even married men didn’t wear a wedding ring. The most prominent one was a gold signet ring he wore on the little finger of his left hand and he would absentmindedly turn it around on his finger when he seemed preoccupied. I was fascinated by these two men, but my fascination was always from afar. I would watch them from my pew in church. I could never speak to them because they were in such a different social circle to me. If I had spoken to them, what would I have said to them? I could never have asked them that question that nagged away at the back of my mind, were they like me? But how could I ask it when I could not even ask it of myself? I wasn’t like that, it was just a mistake, just a phase my life was stuck in, something I could deny and push down as far as I could. The Young People’s Fellowship was run by two married couples, the clean-cut Richard and Elizabeth, and their growing number of children, and the round and comical Iain and Sadie, who always had the latest electronic gadget. That morning, Iain almost bounded up to our group as we stood together in the church hall, exclaiming, “Have you lot heard? Nicholas the organist has had to leave the church because he went and married his husband!” “What?” Elizabeth replied. “Robin, that friend of his, was his homosexual lover and they went through a mock marriage,” Iain gleefully added. “That’s disgusting!” Elizabeth said, her whole face twisting up with distaste. Suddenly the whole group was alive with the subject, talking hurriedly and excitedly about it; this was true gossip that everyone could condemn and they were all condemning it. Homosexuality was disgusting, immoral, a perversion, sin made flesh. No Christian could be a homosexual, they said and they were certain that God condemned it, simply look at AIDS and all the other failings they attributed to being homosexual. And they knew they were right because they were certain they were. Elizabeth and Richard were strong in their condemnation, certain they were right in the way they were always certain their beliefs were always right. I withdrew to the edge of the group, my hands pushed into the pockets of my duffle coat, and just listened to the words bouncing around me. I knew I failed so often as a Christian, I could not live up to the high moral standards required of me. I struggled to believe all the things required of me because of the inner doubts that plagued my mind, telling me I wasn’t good enough and that I failed at every attempt. The biggest doubt that rang in my mind was that I was already going to hell just for being who I was. I am gay, but at nineteen I couldn’t begin to admit it to myself, it was my dark secret that I dreaded anyone else finding out. The only expression of my sexuality I dared to make were quick and very furtive glances at handsome men when I though no one else was watching me. In the next moment I would be flooded with guilt. I was disgusting and going straight to hell, the guilt told me. Hearing what those around me were saying, the force of their condemnation of Nicholas and Robin, again I knew I was right to be afraid. These people around me, they were the people who called me their friend, who told me they were my Christian family, and they were now pouring out the most terrible prejudice and hatred towards homosexuals. Would they turn that onto me if they knew the truth? I couldn’t take the risk so I pulled myself further within myself. Friendships were a risk; I couldn’t let people into my life, but how could I avoid hell? I was lost. That moment was chilling, I saw all my friends and my faith in a new light, this church wasn’t the safe place I’d always hoped it would be. But in the next breath, I wanted these people to like me and I wanted to be part of this group. If they found out I was gay would they treat me the same way? Would they pour out their prejudice on me and force me to leave this church? I couldn’t take that risk. I had to increase my efforts; I had to ensure I fitted in, even though I couldn’t take the biggest step, I couldn’t change my stripes. Eighteen months later, I was outed at church and they did behave exactly as they had done towards Nicholas and Robin. I was left with no choice but to leave. I should have known it would happen, I had watched it play out with their treatment of Nicholas and Robin, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. (All the names here have been changed. I am no longer in contact with anyone mentioned here so I do not know what their beliefs and views are now. People do change) (The photograph illustrating this essay is not a picture of the church where this took place) Drew
  4. Twenty years ago today, on December 1, 1998, the Miami-Dade County Commission approved the addition of sexual orientation to the county’s human rights ordinance. The battle many had fought over the past year culminated in victory. A temporary achievement since the hateful Christian Coalition worked to place the decision on the ballot the following year. They lost. For over a year, I helped increase awareness, raise money, conduct outreach, lobby politicians, debate homophobes, and granted countless interviews to the media. I was called vile names by those professing their Christianity often enough my dislike for the religion became permanent. To this day, any mention of Christian values makes me frown. On that fateful morning, my boyfriend and I awoke in darkness and were in front of the Commission chambers by sunrise. With hateful chants as background, I spoke to National Public Radio, The New York Times, the Voice of America, Armed Forces Radio, and who knows how many more outlets in both English and Spanish. My fifteen minutes of fame thanks to the marketing people thinking I spoke well and came across as a level-headed individual. Ha! Seeing my name on the front page of the Times and listening to the NPR report the following morning was a thrill. I still have the newspaper and a cassette of the radio show. However, the most wonderful part of the experience was working with the men and women who made the day’s events possible. Maybe it was not on par with the promise made by the signers of the Declaration of Independence to “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor,” but to me it was close. The time and financial commitment made by many propelled us to victory. Liebe Gadinsky stands out amongst all. The mother of two and her husband became friends, and although we rarely communicate these days, I will treasure the time I spent with them for as long as I live. Liebe and Seth were proof that the fight for our humanity was not limited to GLBT community members, but encompassed caring individuals who felt discrimination was unjust. Many of you dislike and dismiss political involvement, I read the comments often enough when I posted a story revolving around a presidential campaign. As an aside, my involvement back then influenced much of what I wrote in that book. I would like you all to remember that without drag queens fighting in front of the Stonewall Inn in 1969 or volunteers canvassing throughout Miami in 1998, most of us would be hiding in the back of a closet too scared to live. Go out, give money, volunteer, make phone calls, write letters; do whatever it takes to elect individuals who will not treat us as second-class citizens. It was the experience of a lifetime and I am grateful I was part of such a momentous event. My participation also allowed me to keep a promise I made when the Anita Bryant-backed forces led to the overturn of a similar ordinance in 1977. I swore that if the issue arose again, I would not remain quiet. I am glad I did not. I’ll close with Margaret Mead’s words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has” https://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/02/us/2-decades-on-miami-endorses-gay-rights.html
  5. NickolasJames8

    Election

    Well, I cast my first vote in an election yesterday, and I'm happy to say that almost all of the people I voted for won here in Virginia. The moderate Bob McDonnell trashed the extremist Creigh Deeds, the left of center candidate for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli easily defeated the radical Steve Shannon and a bunch of local republicans won here as well. The only candidate that I voted for who didn't win was Jody Wagner, but I don't really think this was a good year for her to run. She was a great candidate, but she got stuck on a losing ticket with a group of left wing racists here in Virginia and the people went another way. Unfortunately, the democrats in Maine have voted against gay marriage. But on the plus side, New Jersey has a new, though morbidly obese, republican governor elect. Hopefully he'll trim more fat from the budget than he has from his diet. Hopefully, the republican fools don't get too overconfident about what happened yesterday and start to think that they can cruise to victory next year in the mid-term elections. And hopefully for the democrats, they'll realize that Tim Kaine is an inept party leader and that when they snubbed Howard Dean, they screwed themselves over. Because the truth is, before Dean was chairing the DNC, they had nothing. Under Dean, they regained complete control of the house, the senate and the white house. Not to mention the fact that they won an overwhelming majority of the governorships in the nation. They should probably give him a call and beg him to come back.
  6. We've all written antagonists, characters whose purpose in fiction is to anger and annoy, to push people's buttons and force your other characters to evolve and move forwards, regardless of whether this happens through discussion or fighting. But has anyone written a main character that they don't like. I refer to my current MC, Bay 'star' of Bad Stereotypes. I love him, he's adorable, but as his story evolves i am starting to dislike him a little bit. Bay has really bad internalised homophobia, and though his progression in the story is natural, i am starting to become angry with him. So has anyone else had a main character that they haven't liked?
  7. "Chelsea captain [and former England captain] John Terry has been banned for four matches and fined £220,000 for racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand." http://www.bbc.co.uk...otball/19723020 Good. This follows other moves to stamp out homophobia in football and other sports http://www.gaystarne...nti-gay-charter
  8. Hey Guys and gals I have been wanting to write a story about a man who is ex-gay (yeah I know, went there myself, and there is no such thing) in a Charismatic Christian church. I come from that background myself and went through the whole thing. Much of what I would write about I actually experienced but It's no autobiographical. It is steeped in christian terminology and so may be a turn-off for some, but because my own life is still solidly based in at least a stream of Christianity, I wanted it to be real because I believe there are many, many people who would love to express their relationship with a Christian God in a positive light, that need to see that it is possible. First of all, is there anybody who wants to comment on that? I realize that to some it may be completely incomprehensible ... but here goes Secondly, here is about half of the first chapter. It's called Rivers of Living Water * * * The young blonde twenty-something-year-old man stood in front me with his head bowed. His eyes were closed and the lids fluttered, the glistening drops of his tears framing his long, black lashes in liquid crystal. A slight flush painted his cheeks and a frown came and went as unnamed emotions coursed through his chest as the Holy Spirit touched him deeply. The gentle keyboard music in the background, with the worship leader gently singing "Come, Lord Jesus, come," provided the emotional cushion for his obvious distress. My voice murmured as I spoke in tongues, paused, gently feeling inside myself for the words the Christ was whispering to the distraught man. “I sense you may be feeling shame, a deep sense of shame, and Jesus wants you to know that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8.1) I was watching the expressions cross his attractive face and the muscular arms hands that he held out before him were shaking slightly as he responded to the accuracy of my discernment. I absently noted the glistening golden hairs on his forearms that stuck out of the rolled up sleeves of his shirt. The tears that had previously only rimmed his lashes brimmed over and started to trickle down his cheeks, trailing silvery paths of heartache and desperation. I ignored the discomfort in my pants as I laid my hand on the back of his neck, feeling that the Father wanted him to know how deeply he was loved; wanted so secure him as His son. I spoke those words to this prodigal. “The Father says to you: ‘My son, I see you exactly as you are, and I love you. I have made you, and you are my passion, my desire. Receive my love…! See, I wait with my arms wide open if you wish to return to me.’” His body started to shake as the import of the words began to take effect. As is often the case when I minister to young men, a deep sense of fatherlessness often characterized their condition in a society where men were not taught how to secure their sons, their own fathers normally being sadly lacking in that department. His short, bristly hair rubbed against my palm that was resting on his muscular young neck, and once again I was dimply aware of the erection in my pants. This often happened to me when I prayed for young guys, as I had explained to my pastors, who knew that I had been in the gay lifestyle before. But that was behind me, a legacy of a different era, and as I stilled my mind to discern the voice of Jesus for this young guy, I though I felt that he needed a hug. “Do you mind of I hug you?” I asked, and he shook his head and leaned into me, his head on my chest, his arms between us as pulled him to myself, my left arm around his broad young back and my right hand still on the back of his head, I whispered into his ears. “Jesus says: ‘My blood washes you clean of all sin, cleanses you of all shame. What was crimson will be wool; what was scarlet will be snow.’” (Isaiah 1.18) His body started to shake with sobs and as I put my cheek against his head his short blonde hair smelled of hair gel, but I ignored the pleasant fragrance and carried on ministering God’s love to him. I stood with my pelvis well clear of him as my body betrayed my calling, since I was determined not to dignify it with my attention in such a Holy Moment such as this. Just then a young woman called Irene, also in the ministry team, came up to us and joined in the ministry. She leaned in to my ear and said that the pastor, John, wanted me to come and pray with him for another young woman who was manifesting a demon. I reluctantly released the young man in my arms with a “bless you man, God love you so much,” and left him in the capable hands of Irene. * * * Later, when the service was over and everybody was having coffee, I was approached by the young guy I had prayed for. He had a mug in his one hand and a rusk in the other and he sheepishly smiled at me. His eyes were still red and he looked adorable. My heart melted for him, as I instinctively knew that he was deeply troubled. “HI there, my name is Danny, you prayed for me earlier.” As if I could already have forgotten the delicious joy of holding him to my heart and sharing God’s love with him. I shook his hand. He had a firm grip and I was tempted to hold on to it for a while but was content to feel the warm masculine contact transmitted through the brief touch. He was about 5ft 7 and quite muscular. Now that his eyes were open I could see that unexpectedly for a blonde, they were a startling amber colour. He had dense black eyebrows, which framed his beautiful eyes, which still looked at me with deference. I was pastor after all, and at least ten years his senior. “Yes, I remember. I’m Doug. How are you feeling? Did anything I prayed for you make sense to you?” He ducked his head and nodded silently. I could see that his heart was still quite tender, and I knew that when the Lord touched somebody, especially when he poured his love into them, they often struggled to come down from it straight away. “It’s ok Danny. Whatever it is, God knows, and like He told you, He loves you anyway.” When he looked up again, his lashes were rimmed with tears again. “I’m sorry man, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m not usually such a baby.” He gave an embarrassed chuckle as he looked around for somewhere to put his mug and rusk down. I helped out by taking them from him so he could reach for his hanky. As he wiped his eyes and blew his nose, I waited patiently, taking in the vision of this attractive young man before me. In a different setting he would look like a cocky, hunky young buck with the world, and no doubt a whole bunch of girls at his feet. But here he had the liberty to be a vulnerable young guy with his issues and problems, with no obligation to put on a front. That was one of the reasons I loved being on the pastoral team of our church. We could extend unconditional love to those that were the debris of the world that would, if it could, spit them out after chewing them up. “Thanks,” he said as he retrieved his mug and rusk from me. “The thing about the shame and stuff was just so spot on…” he said, trying to look me in the eye and not quite succeeding. “It’s ok Danny, most of us have stuff that we feel ashamed about. That’s one of the reasons that Jesus died, so the Enemy wouldn’t have anything on us anymore. When he died, and you received Him as your Saviour, old Slufoot lost all his power of accusation against you.” The familiar words tumbled out of my mouth, and I could see that they were having the desired effect. “Yeah, I suppose you’re right. It’s just that I can’t help it. You prayed for me, all right, and I feel batter, forgiven and so on, but then, just when I least expect it, the feelings are right there again…” His face flushed dark red as he blushed with shame, realizing that he may have said too much and given away his secret. I knew that it could only be one of a few: masturbation, lust or sex before marriage, and in the occasional case, unwanted same-sex attractions. I had seen it all and knew how to put his mind at ease. “Listen to me Danny, you aren’t your sin. The voice that you hear that telling you’re worthless sinner isn’t God’s voice. Listen to what he told you when I was praying for you, and remember that feeling of freedom and safety. That’s the Truth. Nothing else matters!” I put my hand on his shoulder and my eyes looked into his. “And when things get too hard for you to bear by yourself, he has give us brothers and sisters to help bear the load. Remember that. James 5.16 says that if we confess our sins to another and pray for one another, he wil be faithful to heal us. Nothing is to bad for God to understand and heal.” He swallowed deeply, his eyes still held by mine and I again felt that familiar discomfort in my jeans. He turned around as a woman who was on tea duty relieved him of his empty cup and half-eaten rusk, and when she walked away, he literally flung himself into my arms. “I’m just so scared that I’m going to be like this for the rest of my life! What if God doesn’t take these bad feelings away?” It took all my willpower to release the sweet young guy from my arms and with a hand on each of his shoulders, I once again looked him in the eye. “Danny, do you want to make an appointment with one of the pastors to discuss what’s troubling you? I mean it, you don’t have to go through this alone.” “Are you willing to see me? I feel like I can trust you.” “Sure Danny. Call the admin office tomorrow and they’ll set something up. I’d be glad to help." “Thanks so much!” His eyes shone as turned. He looked over his shoulder. “I’ll definitely call.” I was looking forward to it. A lot. ********* PS. I've not edited it at all so there are errors. I will do that later Ben H
  9. Hey Guys and gals I have been wanting to write a story about a man who is ex-gay (yeah I know, went there myself, and there is no such thing) in a Charismatic Christian church. I come from that background myself and went through the whole thing. Much of what I would write about I actually experienced but It's no autobiographical. It is steeped in christian terminology and so may be a turn-off for some, but because my own life is still solidly based in at least a stream of Christianity, I wanted it to be real because I believe there are many, many people who would love to express their relationship with a Christian God in a positive light, that need to see that it is possible. First of all, is there anybody who wants to comment on that? I realize that to some it may be completely incomprehensible ... but here goes Secondly, here is about half of the first chapter. It's called Rivers of Living Water * * * The young blonde twenty-something-year-old man stood in front me with his head bowed. His eyes were closed and the lids fluttered, the glistening drops of his tears framing his long, black lashes in liquid crystal. A slight flush painted his cheeks and a frown came and went as unnamed emotions coursed through his chest as the Holy Spirit touched him deeply. The gentle keyboard music in the background, with the worship leader gently singing "Come, Lord Jesus, come," provided the emotional cushion for his obvious distress. My voice murmured as I spoke in tongues, paused, gently feeling inside myself for the words the Christ was whispering to the distraught man. “I sense you may be feeling shame, a deep sense of shame, and Jesus wants you to know that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8.1) I was watching the expressions cross his attractive face and the muscular arms hands that he held out before him were shaking slightly as he responded to the accuracy of my discernment. I absently noted the glistening golden hairs on his forearms that stuck out of the rolled up sleeves of his shirt. The tears that had previously only rimmed his lashes brimmed over and started to trickle down his cheeks, trailing silvery paths of heartache and desperation. I ignored the discomfort in my pants as I laid my hand on the back of his neck, feeling that the Father wanted him to know how deeply he was loved; wanted so secure him as His son. I spoke those words to this prodigal. “The Father says to you: ‘My son, I see you exactly as you are, and I love you. I have made you, and you are my passion, my desire. Receive my love…! See, I wait with my arms wide open if you wish to return to me.’” His body started to shake as the import of the words began to take effect. As is often the case when I minister to young men, a deep sense of fatherlessness often characterized their condition in a society where men were not taught how to secure their sons, their own fathers normally being sadly lacking in that department. His short, bristly hair rubbed against my palm that was resting on his muscular young neck, and once again I was dimply aware of the erection in my pants. This often happened to me when I prayed for young guys, as I had explained to my pastors, who knew that I had been in the gay lifestyle before. But that was behind me, a legacy of a different era, and as I stilled my mind to discern the voice of Jesus for this young guy, I though I felt that he needed a hug. “Do you mind of I hug you?” I asked, and he shook his head and leaned into me, his head on my chest, his arms between us as pulled him to myself, my left arm around his broad young back and my right hand still on the back of his head, I whispered into his ears. “Jesus says: ‘My blood washes you clean of all sin, cleanses you of all shame. What was crimson will be wool; what was scarlet will be snow.’” (Isaiah 1.18) His body started to shake with sobs and as I put my cheek against his head his short blonde hair smelled of hair gel, but I ignored the pleasant fragrance and carried on ministering God’s love to him. I stood with my pelvis well clear of him as my body betrayed my calling, since I was determined not to dignify it with my attention in such a Holy Moment such as this. Just then a young woman called Irene, also in the ministry team, came up to us and joined in the ministry. She leaned in to my ear and said that the pastor, John, wanted me to come and pray with him for another young woman who was manifesting a demon. I reluctantly released the young man in my arms with a “bless you man, God love you so much,” and left him in the capable hands of Irene. * * * Later, when the service was over and everybody was having coffee, I was approached by the young guy I had prayed for. He had a mug in his one hand and a rusk in the other and he sheepishly smiled at me. His eyes were still red and he looked adorable. My heart melted for him, as I instinctively knew that he was deeply troubled. “HI there, my name is Danny, you prayed for me earlier.” As if I could already have forgotten the delicious joy of holding him to my heart and sharing God’s love with him. I shook his hand. He had a firm grip and I was tempted to hold on to it for a while but was content to feel the warm masculine contact transmitted through the brief touch. He was about 5ft 7 and quite muscular. Now that his eyes were open I could see that unexpectedly for a blonde, they were a startling amber colour. He had dense black eyebrows, which framed his beautiful eyes, which still looked at me with deference. I was pastor after all, and at least ten years his senior. “Yes, I remember. I’m Doug. How are you feeling? Did anything I prayed for you make sense to you?” He ducked his head and nodded silently. I could see that his heart was still quite tender, and I knew that when the Lord touched somebody, especially when he poured his love into them, they often struggled to come down from it straight away. “It’s ok Danny. Whatever it is, God knows, and like He told you, He loves you anyway.” When he looked up again, his lashes were rimmed with tears again. “I’m sorry man, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m not usually such a baby.” He gave an embarrassed chuckle as he looked around for somewhere to put his mug and rusk down. I helped out by taking them from him so he could reach for his hanky. As he wiped his eyes and blew his nose, I waited patiently, taking in the vision of this attractive young man before me. In a different setting he would look like a cocky, hunky young buck with the world, and no doubt a whole bunch of girls at his feet. But here he had the liberty to be a vulnerable young guy with his issues and problems, with no obligation to put on a front. That was one of the reasons I loved being on the pastoral team of our church. We could extend unconditional love to those that were the debris of the world that would, if it could, spit them out after chewing them up. “Thanks,” he said as he retrieved his mug and rusk from me. “The thing about the shame and stuff was just so spot on…” he said, trying to look me in the eye and not quite succeeding. “It’s ok Danny, most of us have stuff that we feel ashamed about. That’s one of the reasons that Jesus died, so the Enemy wouldn’t have anything on us anymore. When he died, and you received Him as your Saviour, old Slufoot lost all his power of accusation against you.” The familiar words tumbled out of my mouth, and I could see that they were having the desired effect. “Yeah, I suppose you’re right. It’s just that I can’t help it. You prayed for me, all right, and I feel batter, forgiven and so on, but then, just when I least expect it, the feelings are right there again…” His face flushed dark red as he blushed with shame, realizing that he may have said too much and given away his secret. I knew that it could only be one of a few: masturbation, lust or sex before marriage, and in the occasional case, unwanted same-sex attractions. I had seen it all and knew how to put his mind at ease. “Listen to me Danny, you aren’t your sin. The voice that you hear that telling you’re worthless sinner isn’t God’s voice. Listen to what he told you when I was praying for you, and remember that feeling of freedom and safety. That’s the Truth. Nothing else matters!” I put my hand on his shoulder and my eyes looked into his. “And when things get too hard for you to bear by yourself, he has give us brothers and sisters to help bear the load. Remember that. James 5.16 says that if we confess our sins to another and pray for one another, he wil be faithful to heal us. Nothing is to bad for God to understand and heal.” He swallowed deeply, his eyes still held by mine and I again felt that familiar discomfort in my jeans. He turned around as a woman who was on tea duty relieved him of his empty cup and half-eaten rusk, and when she walked away, he literally flung himself into my arms. “I’m just so scared that I’m going to be like this for the rest of my life! What if God doesn’t take these bad feelings away?” It took all my willpower to release the sweet young guy from my arms and with a hand on each of his shoulders, I once again looked him in the eye. “Danny, do you want to make an appointment with one of the pastors to discuss what’s troubling you? I mean it, you don’t have to go through this alone.” “Are you willing to see me? I feel like I can trust you.” “Sure Danny. Call the admin office tomorrow and they’ll set something up. I’d be glad to help." “Thanks so much!” His eyes shone as turned. He looked over his shoulder. “I’ll definitely call.” I was looking forward to it. A lot.
  10. I recently started, slowly, 'coming out' as gender fluid. Some of my close friends and husband, some random people at work and acquaintances i felt would be accepting/ understanding.\ Started updating my wardrobe and finding ways to battle the dysphoria when I'm in a situation I'm unable/uncomfortable presenting honestly on "boy days" (such as at work or situations where I have to be "kiddo's Mom". Today was a "boy day". Hubby, kiddo and I went shopping. I had on a great neutral outfit and was feeling awesome. And handsome Got some great neutral and "boy day" clothes. Had dinner and scowled when the waitress very obviously put the candies down in front of me and the bill in front of him . And chuckled when the hubby passed it right over (because I always pay) . Then, walking home a pick-up truck full of teenage boys drove by and yelled out the window at us. I'm not 100% sure what they yelled, they were driving pretty fast. But I'm pretty sure it was something along the lines of "F*ck*ng Fairies" or "F*ck*ng F*gg*ts" . And the inner conflict began..... Part of my was all "who gives a sh*t what they think! F*ck 'em" Part of me was all "what kind of low lives think it's okay to yell things like that out the window at people? For christ sake give it up!" Part of me wished I had moved quick enough to flash my (usually very obvious) t*ts their way to teach them about judging someone based on appearance. But another part of me was just a little excited that walking down the street with my hubby and son a group of strangers was so convinced I was a guy they felt confident to assume we were a homosexual couple. Those guys are till ass holes though.
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