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Posts Tagged ‘Gay’

The girls wanted to know what to look for in a boyfriend.  The boys wanted to know when the time is right to ask a girl out.  But one dad at my lunch table told us that the gender-specific classes weren’t reaching every attendee.  Because they weren’t reaching the gay kids.

I spent the Memorial Day weekend at Washington Family Ranch, a Young Life camp in central Oregon.  As an “adult guest,” I had no duties and treated the opportunity as a private getaway.  I attended a few of the scheduled sessions.  I listened to my daughter speak about repentance.  I attended worship.  I wish I’d gone to more.  Specifically, I wish I’d gone to the sessions for “girls” and “boys.”

Instead, I sat in the sunshine writing and reading.  I heard about the sessions later, at lunch with the other adult guests, and regretted missing it.  I could tell those girls a few things.  They had questions about topics other than dating and boys—you know they spent some time asking where a girl can find a prom dress that doesn’t reveal half an acre of breast flesh—but dating was definitely the main subject.

The words of that dad got my attention.

He knew something was different about his daughter.  But he didn’t know anything about homosexuality, and had no idea how to give her guidance.  Now that she’s out and in a long-term relationship, he knows that she got most of her advice and support during her teen years from a high school teacher who may or may not have also initiated his daughter’s first sexual relationship.

Half of the people at our lunch table fell silent and stared at their plates, suddenly fascinated with the appearance of their lunch.  Two of us engaged with him to ask about his daughter and her journey.  I knew I wouldn’t like it if one of my children got advice about dating and his or her innermost feelings from a teacher at school.

We asked him how he felt the camp could reach out to gay teens.  He didn’t have an answer for that.  We didn’t either.  But I can understand that a Christian parent would appreciate it if kids like his daughter had the opportunity to be able to ask their questions, too.  He’d like it if kids like his daughter were told they are God’s masterpiece, and that they deserve respect, affection, and care regardless of their sexuality.

This is a topic I explored when I wrote Steadfast.  What was it like for a young Catholic man to come out to his family?  How would they respond to the news?  What about the young man’s friends?  Would they stick around or abandon him?  And what if he was also dying of the AIDS virus?

At no time did this dad talk about whether he approved or didn’t approve of his daughter’s sexuality.  That wasn’t his point.  He just wanted kids like his daughter to have a place to ask those embarrassing questions, preferably in a setting that honored their faith in God.

It’s hard to argue with that.

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I’m good at using the internet to find people.  My father was in the Air Force, so my old friends don’t all get together at one particular reunion.  We’re scattered across the country.  Social media has given us the perfect way to stay in touch, and from time to time I get motivated to find more friends from back in the day.  Males are of course the easiest to find.  Men with unusual, distinctive names pop up in one search, no matter where they’ve landed.  Girlfriends are much rarer.  They marry, divorce, make new lives in new states.  Girlfriends, I must hope, will try to find me.  (Fortunately, some do!)

This practice hasn’t been without its sad moments.  One of my best friends from the seventh grade died before her ten-year reunion.  A boy I knew in the same neighborhood was murdered.  A high school boyfriend died under mysterious circumstances, and the last guy I dated before dating my husband has died of heart disease.

This week I had one of those bursts of curiosity that sends me to my keyboard.  I had the urge to find a couple of guys from high school.

Our final move, when my dad retired, landed me in Spokane at the start of my sophomore year of high school.  And for reasons that would take far too long to explain, I found myself, for the first time, without an active social life.

After my first lonesome year, I knew of one more way to gain acceptance on the social scene.  Today, a lonely girl would attend a few club meetings to find one in search of new members.  Heck, today, that girl would start a new club.  Me, I looked for a boy in need of a girlfriend.  I’m too old to be embarrassed about it.  It was a standard gambit for a girl of my era.  So stop judging me already.

I found him in the back of my German class.  Steve was a gifted athlete one year older with a glum expression and a bad case of acne.  Besides our strange interest in German, he was, like me, a bit of a social outcast.  I discovered through diligent research—no need to call it stalking—that his father had a drinking problem.  Mine did, too.  I also discovered that he lived in the same not-quite-up-to-snuff neighborhood where I lived.  He already gave me a slight lift of the chin if he saw me in the halls.  All I had to do was wait for the right moment, which in my day meant waiting for the dance which required the girls to do the asking.  I knew we would hit it off and get along beautifully.  The plan involved more details, of course, many more details, but I won’t bore you with them here.  Just take my word for it:  I took all the right steps, and my plan could not fail.

You already know, of course, that when I mustered up the courage to invite him to the dance, he didn’t say yes.  Instead, he looked confused and said just about the worst thing a boy could say.  He said, “I was hoping someone else would ask me.”  You don’t need me to tell you how I froze in the hall as he continued on his way.  You don’t need me to explain that I spent the next two weeks fixated on my shoes as I walked the halls, afraid to let anyone read my bewildered expression.

You see, another girl had moved to town several months after I did.  Two of them, actually; they were twins.  They fit in better than I did, and one of them noticed, as you probably already guessed, that there was a talented athlete walking the halls without a girlfriend.  Everything I had in common with Steve, all my good intentions, they weren’t of enough value to him.  He needed a ticket to the inside, too.  I could offer him affection.  But she had true social currency.  She already belonged.

Steve continued to play sports well, though not well enough to play in college.  He attended a local community college and became a chef.

I saw him only once more after his graduation.  He was at a party, probably during the summer, standing in the doorway looking just as glum as I remembered.  But instead of raising his chin in greeting, he reached out his long arms to give me a hug.  And he apologized.  He told me he was sorry about what he’d said to me and for not accepting my invitation.  He hadn’t enjoyed his date with the other girl at all.  He knew he’d have had a much better time with me.

He wasn’t one of the first people I wanted to look up online.  I typed his name into Google just yesterday.

Steve died in a house fire in 2001.  The reporter shared his athletic achievements in football, basketball, and the high hurdles, explained his restaurant career.  I was pleased he included all those things, but less pleased that he shared explicit details about how Steve was found.

Today I tried to find my Sr. Prom date, Mike.  I first met Mike working at The Early Dawn Ice Creamery, one of those old fashioned soda-fountain places.  Mike was handsome, funny, and smart.  Most teenagers wanted to talk about other kids or sports figures or celebrities.  Mike liked to talk about movies and food and current events.  We dated briefly (he broke up with me out of the blue) but remained friends.  He later transferred to my high school, and I invited him to be my prom date.  At our 10-year reunion I learned he was working in a nearby city, and intended to get in touch to have coffee or something.  But I never did.

Mike died in 1995.  His obituary doesn’t state the cause of death—unusual for a young man of 35.  It does mention a companion, and asks that remembrances be made to the Seattle AIDS Support Group.  Mike was, of course, one of the guys who inspired me to write Steadfast.  I never imagined he might have actually met the same fate as the character in that book.

I’m taking a break from finding old friends.  It’s just too sad.

 

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According to an article in The Week magazine, researchers are about to conduct human trials of a technique that has eradicated HIV in skin cells.

Eradicated.

Such a lovely word.

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He’s an athlete.  He was raised to love Jesus.  And he’s gay.

Today I read an article in Sports Illustrated in which Jason Collins explains why he’s chosen now to come out.  He writes with complete clarity about why he waited until now, and why he doesn’t want to wait any longer.

I admire his courage.  What about you?

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Fathers of Gay Sons

Posts about the fathers of gay sons fill my Facebook newsfeed today.

One wrote a private message to his son after overhearing the boy make nervous plans to come out to mom and dad.  His affectionate note has now been seen by millions of people.  Everyone seems to think this dad is swell.

The other is a United States Senator, whose views on homosexuality have changed after learning that his son is also gay.  His views have now been heard by millions.  This dad is getting a beating in the press.

Why the different receptions for these two stories?

Portman is a conservative.  Announcing his views on gay marriage could cost him his seat in the Senate.  Yet he spoke out anyway.  I think he’s brave to acknowledge his change of heart.

Nate’s father, like Portman, loves his son.

It seems to me that if we want legislation that allows gays to marry, we need more conservative senators like Portman to have a change of heart.  It seems to me that we want to encourage, not criticise, those who are willing to adopt new attitudes.

While homosexuality is not a choice, the opinions we form about homosexuals *are* a choice.  I’m happy to see Senator Portman choose support.

What about you?

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“A cure is something we can no longer write off as impossible.”  I found this quote at the end of an article in The Week magazine.

A baby has been cured of HIV.

So now a man–Timothy Brown–and this child have been completely cured of the disease that wiped out an entire generation of gay men.  Such great news, but…

It concerns me that young people continue to be the group most at risk for HIV.  Many young men are completely unaware that unprotected sex can expose a person to the virus.  Although people with HIV can now live to a ripe old age, this lack of awareness means that HIV will not be eradicated.

And that makes me sad.

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Steadfast is up!

Time to visit Authonomy.com and show your support for my second book, Steadfast.  This one is about what happens when one of the Monahan boys returns from college suffering with AIDS.

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