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#WSPD – LGBT suicide

In my last blog I talked briefly about suicide.

Here’s an excellent follow up from Anthony Venn-Brown.

I can’t begin to stress how serious this problem is! It’s why I’m here. I fought with suicide ideation constantly my entire life for these exact reasons. I survived. I lost my faith as a result, but I have no regrets about that. For me, I realised that my entire Christian belief system was unnecessary to be a healthy, happy functioning human being who could bring unconditional love to myself and the rest of the world.

Many do find a way to reconcile their faith with their sexuality and gender identity, and Anthony is one who has done this with integrity. Check out his site ABBI.

Read his post here.

Love yourself!

A wonderful friend (Ru Gof) posted this pic today, which reminded me that this is the greatest and most powerful truth we can embrace.

We may THINK we feel love for others – we may become overwhelmed by emotion for others and feel a huge heart response to them.

We may genuinely put others first and try to meet their needs. We might do everything that looks like love – but it isn’t. It’s a subconscious construct that we adopt to hide our own lack of self love. Its a deflection from the need to look at our own self loathing and fear. Our lack of self love/worth colours every single thought, emotion and action.

Self love is THE only way to truly love others, no matter how you justify it, no matter what your emotions might say, or how loving your actions look. It’s not real.

Love yourself first. Only then will the love your experience and express for others be pure and untainted by our own needs.

This is a hard reality – very hard!! Because there are so many beautiful people who do incredibly loving selfless actions, based on their emotional perceptions and responses. They are genuine and do amazing things for so many, and they can be incredibly empathetic and compassionate as well!

But it’s not real love!

This can be horrific for those fragile ones amongst us to recognise, mostly because it means they have to confront their inner demon of self hatred, which often masks itself as “sacrificial” love, and “empathy”. It can be a large can of worms, especially for abuse victims – which includes religious abuse (and even just devotion to standard christian doctrines!), as well as physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Self love is the key to freedom, no matter what any religion or philosophy tells you. It’s not pride or arrogance. It’s not narcissism. It’s a true evaluation of the uniquely beautiful and perfect you.

Be brave – live loved!!

New levels of support!

We are pleased to announce the addition of a new support group to Silent Gays.

We now have two Facebook “secret” groups –
SG1 and SG2 to cover the level of support you may need.

SG1 (our original support group) is a group for people to share their hearts and stories, to rant and rave and find people who can relate to their experiences with religion and being LGBT. It’s very safe, supportive and non-judgemental. It’s also relaxed, fun and a great mix of all kinds of belief systems. Unconditional love is the foundation.

SG2 is for those who are really struggling, especially if their mental health has been compromised in any way. It’s moderated by counsellors (who care enough to help people voluntarily) who can provide gentle, loving support and advice, as well as referrals to the right kind of help. It’s a community of people who don’t feel safe anywhere else. And yes, unconditional love is the bottom line.

We are really excited about this, and welcome folks from anywhere in the world.

You can join SG1 by sending us your email address and we’ll send you the link.

To join SG2, send us a message with your email address for the link and a very brief statement of what’s going on for you.

Confidentiality is our number one priority, nothing will EVER be shared beyond the groups!

Feel free to contact us for more details.

 

 

The Missing Chapter

This is probably the most difficult thing I’ll ever share about my life.

In my book “It’s Life Jim…” I shared the complexities of my life with as much honesty, openness and integrity as I could – except for the 22 years of marriage. I gave it a general, neutral sort of appraisal, mostly out of respect for our families. I have no wish to tarnish Min’s memory, but in sharing this I hope to be able to bring light on the area of abuse, especially under religion.

Min was a wonderful woman, intelligent, warm, talented, generous and a sharp dry sense of humour. She had many friends who can attest to the genuineness of her heart, as can I when it came to relationships and her passion for justice and the underdog. She was a beautiful soul indeed. umbrella-rain

But in our marriage it was a very different story. We shared something of our struggles with sexuality when we first got together, so she knew I had “struggled” with being gay, although I could never tell her the depth of the ongoing struggle. She’d also had same sex relationships. But we both “knew” that being gay was not an option as Christians, so marriage was part of the process for changing my aberrant sexuality. Due to my complete non-attraction to women, and only ever feeling romantically and sexually attracted to men, the only solution to my survival was to become almost asexual, but putting on a good act for romance and sex.

We got on well otherwise with so many similar likes and dislikes, and our passion for God, social justice and music, especially worship music. However, pretty soon into the marriage, she began to feel let down, and rightly so. I was hardly the romantic knight in shining armour type. On top of that, I’m ADHD, although I wasn’t officially diagnosed until around 15 years later. This meant I was forgetful, easily distracted, brain running non-stop, always putting my foot in things, impractical, disorganised – all the things she found really annoying. She became determined to change me. Not that she’d actually say that, but she was, none the less.

The church made it so much worse though. They were into the man being the head of the house, strong, authoritative, organised, the “priest” in the family – all that stuff – stuff that was utterly beyond me. She demanded I take the role in ways that were a never ending source of failure and humiliation, and then berate me endlessly every time I failed.

The worst was the emotional abuse. The constant belittling, endless arguing, comparing me directly to other men who apparently had it all together. I was constantly on the back foot because it was all true – I wasn’t like that, but I had to be, because, well, religion. She judged every action, my motives and my heart, forever causing me to doubt everything about myself. She would call me at work two or three times a day, usually upset about something I’d done or not done, or wanting me to affirm her, or to be the man in some situation. I nearly lost a job over the long tense phone calls. She would do weird things like demand that I call someone to organise something or sort out a mess, and then stand next to me and tell me what to say – incredibly demeaning!

I lived in absolute fear. Sometimes we’d go to bed and she’d lie there telling me off for what seemed like half the night. If I said anything, it was wrong, so I’d say nothing and that was wrong. I would often lie there in the dark with my fingers jammed in my ears till they hurt so I couldn’t hear her.

Sometimes I’d explode, and the arguments would be dreadful. We had a physical fight once, early in the piece, out of utter frustration. Turning up to lead the church worship, each with a fat lip, was not a good look! I never did it again, the shame and guilt ate at me endlessly for not having enough self-control.

Our son often got the brunt of it as well, especially as she would constantly change how we treated him. I’d try to be firm and she’d undermine me and spoil him, or I’d be loving and understanding with him and she’d tell me off for being too soft. Again, religion was the underlying factor for a lot of this. The expectations of trying to be a perfect family were impossible. Our frustrations with each other were palpable.

We lived a complete lie, a sham. It’s taken me this long to come to terms with the level of abuse I lived with for 22 years. I kept thinking I deserved it, that I was the problem and if I became the man of God I was supposed to be she would simply be OK. The idea was that the man was always at fault for any problems in a relationship – that the woman would always be magically sorted out when he was righteous enough.

I can vividly recall the utter fear and desperation of the relationship. The dread of coming home from work wondering what I’d done wrong today, just knowing there’d be something. Every outing together was an exercise in anxiety, wondering what I’d do wrong, say wrong, forget to organise, leave at home etc. I was expected to initiate and provide interesting conversation all the time, and to think of endless ways to show my love. I was constantly hounded for not thinking of her. Yes, I certainly had my problems and I regretted every one of them. I sweated over every one of my faults, and hated the fact that I wasn’t honest enough to say I was still just as gay as I ever was. But I couldn’t even recognise I was abused, I was convinced it was all my doing. Not physical abuse, but emotionally and spiritually.

It was actually horrific abuse, and I’ve finally got to the point where I can call it for what it was. It nearly killed me, literally. I lived in total suicidal depression, and yet I had to hide that as well. I couldn’t afford to let anything show, although it often did, and then I’d be put down and abused for not being strong and getting the “right” help. When any visiting ministry or “man of god” came to our church she expected me to go up for prayer, and if I didn’t I was being rebellious and stubborn, refusing to let God fix me.

When she was diagnosed with cancer I was devastated – after all, despite our problems, I’d sacrificed 20 years of my life for her, and still experienced a lot of affection for her. But I was the one who wanted to die and she desperately wanted to live. The hell of the next 20 months became worse, if that was possible.

The guilt and shame I experienced daily was relentless, and she still controlled and manipulated me emotionally to the point where I was glad she would be gone. And that was the most horrific thought imaginable – that I was capable of thinking something so cruel! So I blamed myself as she got worse, thinking I was “cursing” her. I did incredible mental gymnastics to sidestep the conflict in my head and heart.

When she died, I cried inconsolably – for us, for what we never had, for who she was outside of our relationship, for our friends, for our son, for everything I’d done wrong, and for the relief. Then I had a “breakdown”. The depression and anxiety swamped me like a flood of black mud, but that’s another story.

I was a victim of abuse, and I had the classic victim mentality. I deserved it after all. I couldn’t leave because she loved me and needed me, and if I changed enough she’d stop abusing me.

I understand what caused a lot of her need to do this, and in hindsight, feel so much compassion for her. I also understand why I allowed it to happen. I can’t change anything, but in sharing this perhaps I can help others who have experienced abuse, and it’s a cathartic exercise to explore it and bring it to the light.

Do I blame religion? More than I would have thought. Sure, our basic needs and drives were there in the first place, but religion inflamed everything. It validated the abuse. Religion gave power and provided the structure.

Although I’m a very different man these days, it still hurts to remember, and I still “walk with a limp”. Maybe I always will, but life is good now.

LGBT vs The Church

I engage with Christians every day who wrestle with scripture, trying to justify being LGBT with their faith.

I’m constantly confronted by traditional and fundamentalist Christians as well as many from the “grace” movements, convinced that being gay is sin and it’s all to do with how we wrestle with and treat that sin. Many are genuine, loving and concerned people. Others are, well, not so loving.

This constant barrage of how to treat the sin fails to recognise the effect of the whole issue on LGBT people. We are the ones being discussed. We are the ones being told that we are sinful, broken people needing Jesus saving grace, just like murderers and paedophiles and addicts etc. We are the subject of judgement by those who have no idea what its actually like.Anti_gay_San_Francisco

But hardly any Christians fail to look at two key points. Firstly, it’s not just “gay or not gay”. There is an incredible lack of knowledge when it comes to understanding what sexuality and gender really is. They keep trying to force everything into a heteronormative paradigm that flies in the face of all the science and psychology, to say nothing of the personal experiences of millions of LGBT people, claiming that the bible is the foundation for their knowledge, despite the fact that the bible’s track record on scientific accuracy leaves a lot to be desired (astronomy, geography, physics, etc), as well as human rights (slavery, racism, misogyny, etc).

Here’s the truth. Sexuality and gender are psychological attributes, defined by a continuum of expression and identity. Even our physical bodies can be ambiguous with varying amounts of hormones determining a huge range of gender identification.

Secondly, the bible was never meant to be factual about anything. It’s a book of allegory and metaphor based on mythology and folk lore. It’s full of deep truths that have to be gleaned from the cultural morass of the societies that wrote it.

Christians can argue how to deal with the “sin” till the cows come home, but until we realise that our sexuality or gender has nothing to do with sin in any way, we are fighting a losing battle. Our belief in the personification of God through Jesus, and all that entails, has zero to do with who we love and how we feel about our gender!

Being outside the heterosexual norm IS NOT A SIN. It’s that simple. Our morality is a whole different issue and if we chose to live a lifestyle that is unloving and damaging to others then sure, address that as you would with anyone.

Religion is our worst enemy. It stereotypes, shames, demonises, patronises and calls good bad and evil good. If by some miracle you can hold to your belief system through the abuse, all well and good. But most LGBT people in the church are like abused wives who keep going back to their abuser who promises so much but never delivers, only to deal out more abuse.

You are not sinful.

You are not broken.

You are loved – live loved!

 

The Sissy-boy Experiment

In 1970, a five-year-old boy named Kirk Murphy was subjected to an ex-gay experiment…

This is a four part documentary (about 30 min total). We still face the same toxic mentality today. All ex-gay therapy is extremely damaging, to the point of inducing mental illness and all too often, suicide.

 

sissy-boy

Marlon James – “ex-gay” exorcism survivor

The winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize says he underwent exorcism as part of a therapy pushed by the “ex-gay” religious movement in Jamaica.

britain-booker-prize_1.jpg

Openly gay author Marlon James, who won the Man Booker Prize in 2015 for his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings, underwent the therapy thinking he was trapped in a cycle of self destructive habits.

“It’s only in talking to people who’ve been through the ex-gay movement that I realise what I went through was exactly what they went through – I didn’t know there was a rule book,” he told The Sunday Star Times.

“I went through it because I thought I was trapped in a cycle of self-destructive habits and I needed more than prayer every Sunday to break it.

“But having read about other people who went through ex-gay therapy – about the two preachers, the praying, the driving out spirits, the having the bags on the floor so you can vomit in them when you throw up – it occurred to me they were doing the same thing.

“I went through that because I thought I was on this cycle of temptation, sin, forgiveness, redemption, temptation, sin, forgiveness, redemption and I had got tired of it. And the funny thing is that I really do think that exorcism really did clear things up – it made me realise that you could try to get rid of temptation and you could try to get rid of sin or you could try to get rid of religion – and I’d tried all the others and it really hadn’t worked.

“Then I said ‘what about if I get rid of religion’ – and that has worked out fine…”

James came out publicly last year in the The New York Times when he was commissioned to write a piece that was a voyage to himself.

 

Original article here

We’ve only just begun…

Reparative therapy – Conversion therapy – “pray away the gay” – is on the decline and many organisations are closing their doors because they have realised that it doesn’t work. There’s a few fundamentalist die-hards that have regrouped to form even more evil and destructive “ministries”, and some of the smaller ones persist despite the overwhelming evidence that it not only doesn’t work but is extremely harmful.

So this is cause for cautious celebration isn’t it?gay deliverance

Well, not so fast. The problem is far deeper than these higher profile groups.

Most fundamentalist churches are extremely anti-LGBT. Perhaps they have a policy of welcoming them into the church, but it’s on the condition they change, and that’s where the fun begins.

The basic premises of reparative therapy have been accepted amongst Christendom as truth and adopted by every amateur prayer counsellor. Nearly every church has at least one “expert” ready to pray away the gay. They may be an elder who claims to have God’s anointing, a well meaning elderly woman who is regarded as the “intercessor”, the home group leader who has aspirations of running his own church some day, the prayer team who believe they can change anything if they pray long enough… many of them are really well meaning, genuinely believing they are helping people into freedom and new life. They all believe that anything outside the traditional sexual/gender stereotype is a sin – whether it’s caused by some deep emotional scar or a lifestyle choice, even if it’s from being led astray by ungodly relationships.

These are the ones that do just as much, if not more, damage as the established reparative therapy groups.

Deliverance (casting out demons) is a favourite practice in many circles, especially Pentecostal churches. Whatever methods they use, the results are the same – deep trauma, cognitive dissonance, lowered self-worth and much more – often leading to complex mental health issues and all too often chronic depression and suicide.

We may be winning the high profile battles against this evil practice, but we have yet to face the real battles. Religion itself is the enemy. A religion that is based on conditional, performance driven “love”, fuelled by traditions and dogma.

Unconditional love is the only answer – an answer that religion fails to understand at the deepest level.

Being Gay, Living Silent!

Being Gay Living SIlent

I’m proud to announce the publishing of a new booklet for the LGBT and religious community.

For too many LGBT people in religion, they are literally “being gay, living silent”. For many, education is the first step to freedom: education on the basics of gender and sexuality, mind sets or “paradigms”, religious abuse, and hope for a better life.

It provides succinct information for LGBT people and their friends and family, about the nature of sexuality and gender, our paradigms that govern the way we view belief systems, reparative “pray away the gay” therapy and church ministry, the impact of religion on LGBT people and encouragement to find a way forward.

Millions of LGBT people suffer silently in churches, too afraid to speak out, living in crippling shame and guilt, unaware that there is hope, life and love beyond the prison of dogma and religious control.

It’s an easy read, designed to be passed around.

Only $2.99 for Kindle and $7.99 for booklet.

Bulk orders available

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Evangelicalism, You Have Traumatized Me.

This is a powerful comment by Robert Lofgren from his blog “The Gay Post-Evangelical”

The gay post-evangelical

Evangelicalism, You Have Traumatized Me.

 

http://www.thegaypostevangelical.com/blog/evangelicalism-you-have-traumatized-me