Month: November 2009

Thanks

I was quite taken aback by the response to my last blog post. I wrote it from an emotional place, obviously, but never expected the emotional responses in return. I still haven’t responded to the flood of comments, mails, smses and calls I received. Some of them were really beautiful and some were really heartfelt, but in all of them I felt encouraged. I also sensed that I wasn’t alone in my journey. And that was good.

Over the weekend I tried to distance myself from the emotion and take a rational look at what i believe in. a few comments mentioned that this was the start of me discovering my own perception and view of God or a higher power. Some told me that I needed to believe in something, anything, as long as I believed.

I have been addressing what I called my “crisis of faith” from an intellectual place too. And I think it’s fair that I bring that into the equation. I don’t blame Barry’s death for my faith-wavering. I blame silence. And from an intellectual place, authors like Richard Dawkins and Robert Wright make sense. The God of the bible is man-made, they say, and evolved into the biblical God, or the God worshipped by other religions.

I know faith is not meant to make sense, but taking a step away to look at what I believe in can not be harmful.

I will keep you posted when I am able to formulate a well-thought out response. But thanks for all the comments. I wish we could all sit around a cup of coffee and talk about this.

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silence

The last three months have been really strange for me. I’ve alluded to it in some of my previous posts and this morning I really felt the need to write about it. Let’s call it another attempt at catharsis. I feel like I got a bit “lost” over the last few months. It started with some testing issues that I can’t go into, but the breaking point came when Barry died. Somehow, and I had no idea it was happening at the time, the way I saw the world began to shift. Not in a “life is so unfair and I want to die” kind of way. Just a real sadness and a sense that my picture of the way we are expected to live our lives is different to the reality.

Barry was a minister, and an amazing man. I never kept in touch with him as often as I should have over the last few years, and that’s something I regret, but the significant role he played in my life cannot be disputed. But I loved it when we spoke. And suddenly, he was silent.

Man, did I pray that he wouldn’t be.

My first experience of religion was when I was a child. My mom was catholic and my dad is Methodist and as kids my brother and I were asked to choose which church we wanted to belong to. This meant very little to us; we had hardly spent any time in either so our frame of reference was limited. My brother took the lead and suggested we go to the Methodist church; I think he had friends that went there so knew it was cool. I remember this causing a bit of friction in our family, although I wasn’t sure why. I took it to be my mom feeling rejected by her sons. So my first experience was a tad bitter.

We went to a large Methodist church that I eventually became a part of actively – to the point that I worked for the Church on a full-time basis. I loved it. And loved that my life was significant. People matter (as my friend and author Trevor Hudson says) and I could live that daily.

It was during this time that I met Barry and was the time of my life that I was most at battle with myself internally. I remember someone walking up to me during that time and offering to pray for me. I was quite taken aback by it – most people who knew me saw this gregarious (and slightly overweight) youth pastor who was always making jokes or singing. We sat down and he said “people see boldness when inside you cry”. The tears streamed and I walked out thinking that I was free from this internal battle.

But the battle raged and was exhausting. I believed in a God who said he died for me. I loved a scripture that said he had my name written into the palm of his hands – the same palms that had nails driven through them (yes, I know it should be wrists but work with me you detail-types). This God promised to ease my burden and love me. Nothing could seperate me from his love, Paul wrote.

At the same time I was fighting (to the point of exhaustion) my attraction to men. I was petrified that someone would find out because it would mean that the one thing that God apparently hated within me would have me excluded. I was very aware that something could seperate me from his love, or at least that’s what I was being told. I was fighting something I really felt no control over and had no choice in because admitting it meant exclusion and, at a base-level, unemployment.

I prayed. I fasted. I walked in victory, even though I wasn’t victorious. I spoke my heterosexuality into being. I secretly joined ministries that said they offered Godly solutions. I stood on God’s word (at times literally) screaming for some sense of relief, and I cried. I wanted to please God above all-else.

This wasn’t a temporary quick thing. I went through this for years. I moved to Cape Town and continued my journey to being the man God wanted me to be. I prayed and prayed.

All I ever got in return was silence.

I experienced God through people. But those same people eventually excluded me from the Church and the community that I loved when I exposed my battle with my homosexualty and the fact that I wasn’t seeing God’s victorious hand in it. I assumed that the good came from God and the bad from humanity, but I question that now.

And when I joined the throngs begging God to let a man lost at sea be found and returned to his wife, the church he led and the two young kids who would never know him if he didn’t walk in the door again, I received my usual response.

Silence.

I have been criticised when writing this blog about my attempts to be gay and a christian. I’ve always tried to respond from a place of strength and to allow people their opinions. Around the time of Barry’s death a person left a comment on a past blog that negated my journey, and reminded me that I had no place in the kingdom of God because I love a man. I went home and prayed about it. And I received my usual response.

Silence.

I’m disillusioned by silence.

And I’m not sure that you who I thought was out there, really is.

And it breaks my heart.

And it frees me.

Silence.

Two weeks, I notice…

Once again it’s been a manic two weeks. I edit a political bi-annual publication that went to print on Monday and, gawd, has it been consuming. That all said, I do find it interesting to work on. Before this I was the kind of guy who know more about Helen Zille’s botox than I did about policy, but things have shifted now. I’m meeting the heads of the country, sometimes even being called by them on the phone and getting to hear them speak about their way forward in South Africa. Stimulating stuff, I tell ya…

My free time, though, has been filled with my new favourite pastime – Singstar. I don’t know why people go out when they can just stay inside on warm sunny days and sing into their Playstation microphones. There is nothing more satisfying than a computerised voice announcing your version of Miley as hit-artist worthy or that you version of Dancing Queen is so good you are a superstar. FJ and I wake up early to sing, and even found ourselves taking the mic’s to friends over the weekend so we could sing after the roast they made us. The friend’s were horrified at the prospect but after one song they were online ordering their own singstars to keep them going for the week.

I arrived at work on Monday morning and was totally hoarse. Everyone assumed I’d had a weekend filled with smoky nightclubs and late-night drinking. I never corrected them. Telling them I had spent the whole weekend screaming does your mother know that you’re out just didn’t seem appropriate.

FJ is also getting really good at it. He’s always had aspirations to be a backing singer (?!?!?!) and this is a perfect outlet for him. And me. Especially since I’ve had aspirations to be Madonna (with clothes on) since I was 13 and need a backing singer in order to shine while I do a dance routine. And, unlike Britney, I just can’t bring myself to lip-sync. Unless, I drink wine… but that’s a blog post all on it’s own.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnyyywaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy..

One month until Christmas… unlike Simply Mel I will only do my Christmas shopping the day before the gift needs to be handed over. If I attempt any pre-shopping I usually end up buying more for myself than others so I’ll rather not make that mistake again. And the recession is over apparently, so I really do hope that the gifts I get are expensive. There is no longer a valid excuse…

It’s just phase…

I have been going through a rather odd phase. some may say it’s an age thing. I choose not to believe those evil, evil people. Some may say it’s the moon’s cycle. I choose to slap people like that. Some may say, it’s just what happens – we go through phases. Makes far more sense.

Well before you think this is a post that’s not about me, let me expand.

Bad choice of words, because that’s the first phase I’m in – one of expansion. When my 20-year high school reunion (insert scream here) was announced, I decided to make sure I looked as pretty as possible and started a vigorous gym regime. I joined the gorilla’s in the pit and flung my three-kilo dumbbells around with the energy of a Jack Russell on diet pills. I never allowed the ogre next to me benchpressing his friend who was benchpressing weights at the same time to intimidate me. Feeling lean and pumped (for about three minutes after leaving gym) I started thinking that I could really show the fellow almost-40-year-olds I matriculated with that you didn’t have to turn into a beer-guzzling oros man after leaving school.

I even started spinning. Which I loved. Who wouldn’t? You wear tights and fling yourself around to gay music (except for the one instructor who thought playing ‘Loslappie’ was a scream). Spinning and flinging weights around were good. Were.

Then winter hit, and I suddenly found every excuse under the freezing sun not to go near the gym and to pile every carbohydrate into my mouth I could instead. Suffice to say that all my hard work and the one or two muscles I was actually starting to see when I stood in a certain position and in the right light, have disappeared into the same void my abs are.

I tried on a pair of shorts on the first sunny weekend and let’s just say they wrapped themselves around me far more snuggly than they used to.

So my period of expansion must come to an end. I will no longer eat fries like a shark in a feeding frenzy and will try not to eat FJ’s food while he isn’t looking. I will return to the gorilla pit to fling the (let’s up it to 5-kilo’s shall we?) dumbbells, and will try fit into my cycling shorts that will probably make me look like I have boobs as my “tyre” rests on its waistband.

Another phase I’m going through is a vegetarian one. I’m trying not to eat anything that has lived previously(except for fish – man can not live without sushi). I have this sudden need to preserve the preciousness of life and try not to deny anything else that breathes (in air or is referred to as a mammal) it’s chance to reach old age.

I know what you’re thinking – me, a vegetarian. Do not stress, I’m not turning into a lesbian.

And the final phase, which is probably the one consuming my mind the most, is what some would call “a crisis of faith”. I’m not ready to blog about it just yet, but my worldview feels as if it’s shattered and I’m slowly picking up the pieces of a life that’s slightly clearer than it was before.

But I’m keeping mum on that one.

Happy Monday y’all

Where was I?

You probably think I’ve been in hiding? Or sunning my gay skin in some little resort on the Mediterranean. Maybe you think I’ve been on some silent retreat getting to know the inner beatings of my ego. Maybe you think I’ve been up all night burning the midnight oil as I studied the ways of the world and got familiar with nuclear physics.

Well, you’d be wrong.

I’ve been lazy.

And busy…

Well, with what you might ask…

Where to start. Would you believe me if I told you I was busy meeting the President instead of blogging? I was actually. Spent a day waiting to see him and ten minutes shaking his hand and watching him chat to people more important than I am, but I met Zuma nonetheless.

And that’s significant. Because Zuma knows Madiba. Which is significant. And Madiba knows Naomi Campbell. Not so significant. But…. Naomi shot the Sex book with Madonna and was naked with her, so by default I kind of met Madonna.

S’true…

So what else have I been up to?

Planning a wedding darlings… planning a wedding.

The big day is less than seven months away and I have recently had more and more people saying things like “how is the planning going?” or “shoo, you must be stressed”. Their questions have made me more stressed than the planning has, because I hadn’t really done any planning. We’ve booked the venue, chatted about the meal, started looking for someone who’s keen to marry us but won’t want us to wear feather boas because that’s what they think a gay wedding should be, and started notifying family to prepare themselves to see two men kiss in front of them.

What more is there to do?

A lot it seems. I got one of those marriage magazines (there’s none for men – not even grooms or for the gays) and saw the lists of things they told you to do. Apparently I have to get a training programme together so I can lose weight. Apparently you must be thin for your wedding. Especially if you’re wearing a sleeveless number. I never thought of wearing a sleeveless number, but hey, you know gay men and their love for vests. But May is not good for sleeveless numbers (this magazine is full of good advice) so best to wear a shawl.

Please can someone refer me to a site or magazine that gives advice for homo’s who want to get civil-unioned? Reading about the importance of seeing if wearing my hair up will work with the veil I’ve chosen is not really ideal.

I am obviously wearing my hair up.

It’s also really difficult to find someone to do the vows. We’re not planning a big “walk-down-the-aisle and have a talk about being submissive” (which is totally different in gay terms to straight terms – my Dad would pass out) kind of thing. We want the “let’s-say-our-vows-between-starters-and-main-meal” kind of thing. Most people want to charge a deposit on a house just to do that… and those that don’t want to do some kind of apache vow and traditional smoke signalling to union us. Finding the right fit is proving to be hard.

Meeting Madonna and planning a gay ol’ union has been frightfully consuming, but I do promise to be better about keeping in touch.