Should you Seduce your Muse in Venice? by Sharon Irven

Should you Seduce your Muse in Venice?

by Sharon Irven

“Travel is like love: it cracks you open, and so pushes you over all the walls and low horizons that habits and defensiveness set up.” Pico Iyer

The answer to whether you should seduce your muse in Venice (or any other far away location) depends on why you would want to leave home and your cozy writing space in the first place. Are you feeling stuck in your work, forgotten why you launched such an ambitious writing project, in need of some new stimulation or just plain wanting to get away? For me, having the distinction of living in the second coldest capital city in the world, I felt that I had endured too many days of jaw dropping cold weather last January when I heard about Davina’s workshop.

Christmas was over and coincidentally, so was my marriage. I had spent the previous month talking to lawyers and other creatures from the dark side, so I desperately needed a change. Most of my friends had already escaped for warmer climes: Florida, Texas, even Goa, where can I go? It was too late to get reservations for a cheap trip to Cuba (half of Canada must already be there); a Caribbean escape felt way too decadent. Besides, I’m not much of a beach bunny, preferring to learn something new on holidays, and I don’t mean new places to shop. Now that I have more time on my hands, I wanted to get back to my writing.

I rounded up the usual suspects on-line, consulting trusted web sites and blogs for escape ideas. I knew about a writer’s retreat in Chile that is popular with Canadians (our winter is their summer, so handy) but the facilitator was a poet. Although I love poets and poetry, I don’t see myself writing it. In another blog, I found an intriguing reference to a ‘seduce your muse’ writers’ workshop. Following the links, the stunning pictures of Venice on Davina’s website seduced me, instantly. I had always thought of Venice as a tourist trap (it had not ranked high on my bucket list) but it did look gorgeous in those pictures. Besides, I had heard that Venice was sinking so it felt like I should experience it before it goes. And the price was right. The timing fit too – being in March allowed enough time to get my passport renewed.

I forwarded the url to three fellow scribes and there was a lot of interest; only Jacqueline could see her way clear to attend with me. OMG, cue the rockets; we are going to Venice! We did not realize then how useful this sojourn would be to support our writing aspirations.

Before we immersed ourselves into attracting our muses, we spent a day wandering about Venice acquainting ourselves with all its considerable charms.

We happily got lost amidst the narrow streets (some ending abruptly at canals with unprotected entrances: heads up!), we browsed in shops selling everything imaginable (shoes, gloves and handbags especially caught my eye) and noticed, on every street corner, a gelato shop. They are as popular as Tim Horton’s are back home in Ottawa.

The next day we checked into the comfortable apartment where our workshop was taking place. Did I mention spacious? It had a fully equipped kitchen, handy for making breakfasts (one of the participants created three lovely gourmet meals for us here), a living and dining room where most workshop sessions took place, two sparkling ceramic bathrooms and sleeping quarters for up to 5 people. A tiny balcony off the kitchen opened onto a canal: one day we watched a ‘near miss’ between two gondoliers heading in opposite directions around a tight corner. Thank goodness for skillful maneuvering! Compared to the cramped hotel rooms that one usually encounters in Europe, it felt like we were staying in the Taj Mahal. Jacqueline joked that one almost had time to eat lunch moving from the bedrooms to the living room.

As a way to launch the workshop, Davina guided us through the city on a full moon walk. Clearly she knows and loves this city: we loved seeing the full moon hovering over the centuries old buildings and shining on the canals. What a wonderful introduction to this magical kingdom. It was also an opportunity to invoke the spirits of other creative geniuses associated with Venice: Ezra Pound is buried at nearby San Michele Island; Browning wrote ‘O to be in England’ while living at the palatial Ca Rezzonico that overlooks the Grand Canal; Antonio Vivaldi was born and composed his fabulous music here, just to name a few. We invited our artistic muses to visit us here in this mystical city of shimmering canals and car-free streets.

So what did we do to nurture our writing muses during the seven days of the workshop? We shared our dreams as writers, responded to creative prompts, either from Davina’s imagination or from the majestic surroundings, we practiced writing different forms (I’m still not a poet) and, under Davina’s gentle prodding, set new writing intentions for ourselves. After we got home, Jacqueline successfully applied for (and secured) a spot in the coveted Banff Creative Writing Studio. She attributes her Venice experience for giving her the resolve to do so. I decided to break out a partially completed novel that was in hiding amongst the dust bunnies.

Davina had designed a workshop schedule that allowed for an agreeable mix of personal and group time. In between writing sessions, we toured the city, either as a group or alone, exploring all the traditional sights, like San Marco Basilica, the splendid museums and galleries, jewelers’ and artists studios. We went for two relaxing gondola rides, a bit like canoeing, only someone else is doing all the work (sometimes they sing too). We dined al fresco in the sunny campo; one evening we attended a classical music concert by candlelight at a lovely renaissance church filled with art. We had an amazing holiday.

There were tears when we said our good-byes at the vaporetto stop, en route to the train station. We were sad to see our group go our separate ways to Canada, California and Amsterdam. Hope we meet again, preferably near a canal and under Davina’s inspiring leadership.

To attend Seduce Your Muse or to learn more go to http://www.seduceyourmuse.com

Begging for Equality!

Glenn Schmoll met his husband, Lowell Houser, in 1961 at a friend’s home in Los Angeles to watch a televised panel on homosexuality, something that was radical on two accounts, one homosexuality was illegal and having a television was a rarity. The couple were together for 45 years and were officially married on July 25, 2008 in Ft. Bragg, California before Propisition 8 passed. Like many of our LGBT seniors, Glenn has been denied benefits that would be granted to an opposite-sex spouse. The financial hardships on him have been immeasurable.

How many LGBT widows and widowers will face homelessness because they are denied the federal benefits associated with marriage? Every day the DOMA law goes unchallenged LGBT seniors and LGBT widows and widowers face injustices and unnecessary cruelties. We must repeal DOMA. We must not allow laws to exist that keep American citizens from having full access to equality. DOMA continues to deny same-sex couples 1,138 federal rights.

This election year we must seriously consider where we will put our resources and who we will vote for. Will we support a candidate that has already repealed an unfair ban against LGBT people serving in the military or a candidate, like Newt Gingrich, who has had multiple opportunities to exercise his freedom to marry, yet does not feel that his own sister should have that right? Nor would he feel that Glenn Schmoll and Lowell Houser deserved that right even though if they had had full marriage rights Glenn would not been in the unfortunate position of petitioning the Masons, where Lowell was a Brother, for financial assistance typically afforded other spouses of brothers.

In my over ten years as a marriage equality advocate, it breaks my heart to continue to receive stories from LGBT people who have to beg unions, politicians, judges, and other organizations to recognize them as the spouses they are or have been. LGBT people should not have to beg for equality.

Occupy an Open Heart in the Ozarks

Last week I received a facebook message from a woman who lives in Arkansas. Her story touched me deeply and showed me how important it is for us to continue to work towards equality, not only on the coasts, but in the heartland and the South too.

She wrote “My wife and I, along with a few other couples wanted to get some advice. My wife and I went to Iowa and got married in September of 2010. I have 3 children from a previous marriage to a man. My divorce decree states that I cannot have anyone stay the night in the home who I am romantically involved with unless we are married. Because we live in Arkansas and Arkansas does not recognize our marriage, my wife cannot stay the night in our home when the kids are home. For a long time we rented 2 places, but because of financial reasons (we have been in the middle of a custody case over the kids for a year and a half. We have spent $20,000 so far) can no longer do that. She now spends the night with my parents or grandparents on the nights when the kids are home. At this point, we are in the middle of the appeal process for custody of my kids and I am a little scared about making it too public.”

Imagine what it would be like to be legally married and yet have to ask your spouse to leave the home because your marriage isn’t recognized in the state you live in, thus making it a crime. It made me think of the 2003 Lawrence V. Texas Decision and how these custody cases are just another way to criminalize same-sex relationships.

And if her situation wasn’t heart-wrenching enough, she shared some experiences of others couples she knew that were also hoping I had some advice for them. She said, “I know that one of the other couples were living together and she was taken to court by her ex husband over it (in this case an unmarried female partner staying in the house when the kids were visiting) and the judge ordered her girlfriend out of the home. They now rent the house across the street from the one they are buying, so when the kids are home at night, she goes across the street to sleep. Another one of the couples lost the kids to the ex husband because of their relationship and the fact they were living together. The ex husband moved the kids to Texas. They are now in the middle of a custody case trying to get the kids back. They are engaged, but not married yet.”

I racked my brain for advice for these couples. I asked her if they could approach one of the big LGBT legal groups, but she said that they didn’t have anything substantial they could do to help.

This is a seemingly impossible situation, yet I know that even the strongest wall can be dismantled one brick at a time. I know to “win this case” a change of heart and consciousness is needed. That means first letting people know this situation exists, that there are real people out there who are suffering because of antiquated notions of family and the allowance of discrimination to exist. So I ask you to begin sharing these women’s stories with the people you know. To change a situation we must first shine light on it

Secondly, if you are someone who prays or believes in the power of thought, please send positive thoughts and prayers for these couples, please send positive thoughts and prayers for the judges to open their hearts, and  please send positive thoughts and prayers that the people of Arkansas will recognize these couples’ marriages as fulfilling the custody requirements.

Another thing you can do is to raise your voice to repeal the Denial of Marriage Act (DOMA 1996) which keeps same-sex couples’ marriages from being legally recognized in states that have banned same-sex marriage. It is one thing not to allow same-sex couples the right to marry in their state, (which of course I believe is government-sanctioned discrimination), but quite another to deny legally married couples the rights of marriage in their home state.

There are many things you can do to begin working to dismantle DOMA. I have a whole list of things in my book Love Warriors, including a sample letter you can send to all of your senators and congressional leaders.

We must also speak out for the injustices against others on their behalf. I feel very grateful that I can speak out for others. When I asked her if she’d be willing to talk to the media about her situation, this woman wrote, “I do not want to risk anything while I am trying to get my kids back.” She agreed that once the custody battle was over she would be more comfortable being an open advocate. I understand her fear.

So, I invite us all to speak out on behalf of those who are silenced because of the threat of losing their children. Please let people know about this injustice, please send your positive thoughts and prayers out for these families, and please get involved and help repeal DOMA through letter writing, or the many other ways I outline in Love Warriors, and through your own creative efforts to occupy equality and an open heart and create a world that works for everyone.

Moving Toward Equality for LGBT Servicemembers

There are 93 spousal benefits that LGBT veterans are denied and 275 provisions related to marriage benefits for federal civilian and military service benefits that LGBT servicemembers are denied, and those are just the ones tallied by the GAO in 2005 of the 1,138 federal rights that come with marriage. This number does not include the random benefits that married servicemembers get (e.g. phone cards or time to call a spouse while deployed).

So, it is nothing short of awesome that this week the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network filed a lawsuit in federal court to secure spousal benefits for legally married gay and lesbian troops. According to the Gay Politics Report, “the suit takes aim at the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the Pentagon and other federal agencies from offering the same benefits that are available to married heterosexual service members to families of openly gay troops.”

If you are curious about these rights, you can read more about them in my book Love Warriors or Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage. They include things like the right to be buried with your spouse in a veterans’ cemetery, the right to shop at the commissary, health benefits, student and housing loans, and pension benefits.

Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of SLDN, who has worked tirelessly for many years advocating the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, says that these men and women are “rendering the same military service, making the same sacrifices and taking the same risks to keep our nation secure at home and abroad.” So it is “plain and simple. It’s about justice for gay and lesbian service members and their families.”

Let’s recognize Veterans’ Day this year by speaking out for full and equal employment benefits for our LGBT servicemembers. 

 

Straight Southern Methodist Minister Defrocked For Marrying Same-Sex Couples

Jimmy Creech is about the nicest guy you could expect to meet. He’s like John Boy all grown-up. He’s sweet, gentle, and has an easy on the ears Southern drawl. I met him in 2004 when I was on book tour in Raleigh, North Carolina for Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage. Jimmy Creech

I’d been introduced to Rev. Jimmy Creech by Mel White, Soulforce Founder. Mel was so proud to tell me about this Straight Methodist Minister who’d been defrocked for marrying same-sex couples. “You must interview him,” Mel insisted. After our interview, I was equally smitten by his courageous actions before same-sex marriage was legal anywhere.

Rev. Jimmy Creech began performing blessings of same-sex unions in 1990. He believed he was answering to a higher calling by supporting and affirming the love of same-sex couples. Although this was at odds with the politics of the United States Methodist Church, he continued to bless same-sex couples’ unions even after he was told by Methodist church officials to stop. Soon he was told he was “no longer welcome to serve churches in North Carolina.” However, in 1996, he was invited to serve as the senior pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska.

In 1997, Rev. Creech blessed the union of a lesbian couple who attended that church. When church administrators heard of the news they brought charges against him. Luckily Rev. Creech was acquitted because, at the time, there was no clear law prohibiting ministers from celebrating same-sex holy unions. Rev. Creech was willing to sacrifice his career in order to stand as a straight ally and religious voice to end discrimination. But when he blessed the union of two men in April 1999, the Methodist Church had an official policy that prohibited gay unions and Rev. Creech was defrocked.

He responded by saying that “it’s just clear evidence of the heterosexism and prejudice within the church, that even the highest court of the church would decide that one little sentence out of a whole document of material would be law when everything else is guidance. The church wants to use its power and all of its resources to persecute gay people and to deny them full equality.”

Since then, he has made equality for LGBT people his life’s work. He has received the Flagbearer Award from PFLAG National; the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award; the Saint Alive Award presented by Metropolitan Community Church, San Francisco; the North Carolina Pride, Inc. Award; and the Lee and Mae Ball Award, presented by The Methodist Federation for Social Action. He was selected as one of OUT magazine’s “Out 100” in 1998 and 1999.

Jimmy was a featured guest at the Washington, DC Marriage Equality Rally I organized on October 11, 2004 and has been speaking around the country this year about equality for LGBT people in conjunction with the release of his new memoir about his moral journey of rejecting the church’s teaching on homosexuality, his revelation that same-sex love was of equal value in the eyes of God to the love of a man and a woman, his decision to bless those unions, and the ensuing censure from his job and spiritual home. The book is called Adam’s Gift.

Adam’s Gift honors the relationship of mentor and student and how the student is sometimes the one who teaches and expands the mind of the mentor. You’re going to love this book and Jimmy’s Southern cadence.

Click here to get your copy of  Adam’s Gift

or for information on Jimmy’s book tour and upcoming speaking engagements.

Jimmy is the epitome of a Love Warrior which is why you can also read about his thoughts on marriage equality in Chapter 16 of Love Warriors: The Rise of the Marriage Equality Movement and Why It Will Prevail 

I highly recommend it.

October 11th is National “Coming Out” Day

 

The day where we all get to declare who we are and who we love. Sometimes coming out is more than just revealing our sexual orientation. Sometimes we need to come out about other aspects of who we are that others may not agree with. But as Rev. Deborah Johnson, Author of Sacred Yes and Your Deepest Intent, told me in a recent interview I did with her, she learned early on from a PFLAG mom that if we share our truth and people turn away from us, then they never really loved us in the first place.

My friend, Pastor Marcos Apolonio, experienced a devastating loss in his own life when he came out to his church community. In fact, he thought he had lost it all. At the time he was a married man with children living in Brazil and leading a congregation of 3,000 7th Day Adventists. He had been living a closeted life and finally the closet door could no longer hold his authentic self in. Marcos has had a powerful “hero’s journey” in the words of Joseph Campbell.

After coming out, Marcos chose to leave Brazil and immigrated to the U.S. where he applied for asylum twice before being granted it. He has built his new life out in the open with his same-sex partner, Obed. Marcos has since graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Work and leads Kinship, an international ministry of former and practicing 7th Day Adventists who are LGBTIQ and straight allies. He will be featured in an upcoming movie called 7th Day Gay Adventist.

In recognition of National Coming Out Day, and to acknowledge all of us who struggle to live our truth out loud and be our authentic selves, I’m doing two FREE tele-seminars Coming Out.

Please join me on Thursday October 6, 2011 at 7:00 PM PST/ 9:00 PM CST/ 10:00 PM EST for an interview with 7th Day Adventist Kinship Pastor Marcos Apolonio as he shares his story, strength, and hope with others in this unique interview.

 

REGISTER NOW: https://www.davinakotulski.com/workshopinfo.php?w=27

 

I am also offering a FREE Coming Out tele-seminar called “3 Steps to Come Out of the Closet and Into Your Power!” This tele-seminar is based on my experience as a coach, psychologist, and LGBT rights activist to support LGBTIQ people and their family members in the coming out process.

Join me for: “Three Steps to Come Out of the Closet and Into Your Power!” Tele-Seminar– October 20, at 6:00 PM PST   

 You’ll Learn How To:

  • Feel Confident Speaking Your Truth!
  • Influence People’s Responses To Your Coming Out.
  • Avoid Painful Mistakes Many People Make When Talking About Being LGBTIQ.

In the words of Martina Navratilova–“Just by being out you’re doing your part. You’re doing your part for the environment if you recycle; you’re doing your part for the gay movement if you’re out.”

Spiritual Divorce

 Spiritual Divorce

Spiritual Divorce by Debbie Ford is a really great book for anyone who is going through the ending of a relationship, who wants to understand themselves better and who is open to a spiritual approach to understanding their divorce.

Debbie Ford says “when we use our divorces to heal our wounds, to learn, grow, and develop ourselves into more loving, conscious human beings,” rather than staying stuck in our pain, then we will have “a spiritual experience and liberation of our souls.” Ford, who ascribes to the metaphysical “they are no mistakes” principle, affirms that “our lives are divinely designed,” therefore accepting whatever is taking place in our lives gives us power to move forward.

Ford identifies 7 “laws” of what she calls a “spiritual divorce.”

1. Law of Acceptance: “everything is as it should be.”

2. Law of Surrender: “When we stop resisting and surrender to the situation exactly as it is, begin to change.”

3. The Law of Divine Guidance: “God will do for you what you cannot do for yourself.”

4. The Law of Responsibility: “With divine guidance, we can look at exactly how we participated in and co-created our divorce drama.”

5. The Law of Choice: “Having taken responsibility, we can choose new interpretations that empower us.”

6. The Law of Forgiveness: “After we have cut the karmic cord, we will be able to ask God to forgive.”

7. The Law of Creation: “Experiencing the freedom of forgiveness opens up the gates to new realities.”

The book has some really thoughtful exercises to look at each person’s part in the breakdown of their marriage and to bring out their “highest self” even in the midst of “divorce drama.” I highly recommend it.

What did you so this summer? I got divorced.

What did you do this summer?

You probably know what I did this summer.

I filed for divorce.

The news of my divorce appeared in the Huffington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Bay Area Reporter, the CBS news, and on many local radio stations. It also appeared all over my soon-to-be ex-wife’s Facebook page. She has 2000 plus friends, so you can imagine word travels fast. It was the same time former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s marriage to Maria Shriver was imploding, a great reminder that marriage equality includes divorce equality.

Needless to say, it was surreal. It is one thing to have your joy and advocacy for marriage equality out there in the public eye, quite another when it’s your personal pain being publicly paraded. I did not answer media queries during that period as I felt the need to process the ending of my marriage privately.

Ending my marriage has not been an easy process. The other day someone told me that they were one of the 18,000 couples who were married in California before Prop 8 passed. I responded that I was one of the 18,000 couples who were married in California and one of an unknown number of those 18,000 couples now going through divorce.

For over a decade, I’ve devoted my life to marriage equality. Now like over 50% of married heterosexuals I am going through the Big D. I’m trying to understand what it means to be a marriage equality advocate going through a divorce.

The reality is that many marriage equality advocates marriages and partnerships have ended in divorce/dissolution like straight allies Mayor Gavin Newsom and Mabel Tang and pioneers and named plaintiffs in the marriage equality movement Genora Dancel and Ninia Baehr (Hawaii Court Case1993), Julie and Hilary Goodridge (Massachusetts Court Case 2004), the Woos (California Marriage Court Case). Many of the activists I’ve worked alongside for over a decade have divorced and are on their second marriages. Isn’t that cool? If we repeal the Prop 8 ban, LGBT people can have their second and third gay marriages too, just like straight people.

But seriously, getting divorced sucks! It is truly one of the hardest rites of passage that I hope you don’t have to go through unless it is for your soul’s evolution. As a coach and therapist who also does couples’ therapy and couple’s coaching, I recommend that you give that a try before you make a big decision like ending a marriage. I continue to recommend John Gottman’s books Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, 7 Principles of a Healthy Marriage, etc. and his workshops. Divorce is like a death, so if you can bring your relationship or marriage back to life, then go to the mat for it.

Sometimes, however, we change in directions that are different from our spouse/partner or we are in relationships that are abusive or co-dependent. If you are unable to break these unhealthy cycles or if you find that you and your spouse are just on different paths and incompatible, then I encourage you to try to disentangle yourselves in as healthy of a way as possible. Couples therapy is also useful for helping you to talk through the challenges and get support in letting one another go peacefully. Talking to a trusted spiritual mentor such as a pastor, rabbi, minister, imam, etc, is also a good idea.

If you have an unwilling partner, or for safety reasons you cannot meet with a neutral third party, I strongly recommend getting into your own therapy, finding a divorce group, a coach or a clergy member or spiritual practitioner who can support you during this transition. Having support can help you deal with your feelings of grief and loss and minimize your reactivity to the hard process of disentangling.

One other resource that I have found helpful in looking more deeply at the demise of my marriage and processing my feelings is the book Spiritual Divorce.  I have included an article about it and I hope you will read this and share this with others who are going through a divorce.  As this book will help you look at your part in your relationship dysfunction,  it could also be a good book for those who are considering divorce, but who want to see if they can salvage their marriage.

 

Everyone knows, Uncle!

“Everyone knows, Uncle!”

What would you do if you’re entire hometown found out you’d been keeping a secret?

January 9, 2010 was a surreal day for Isaac Namdar, a Jewish surgeon living and working in New York City. That afternoon he received an e-mail from his nephew telling him not to come to synagogue that weekend and to stay away from the Sephardic Jewish Community he’d grown up in.

“Everyone knows uncle,” his nephew wrote.

Isaac panicked. Someone had discovered his on-line wedding album with pictures of him and his husband, Andrew. Okay so a handful of people had found out that he was gay. He would manage somehow.

But he was stunned to find out that over 5000 people viewed his online wedding photos and someone had hacked into his Facebook page and other assumed “private” digital files. The dam had broken. He was being swept up into a current of homophobia that included  being excommunicated by his rabbi the following weekend.

Isaac had never brought his husband, Andrew, home to the insular spiritual and cultural community he had grown up in. Different than his peers, Isaac chose an occupation that would take him away from the community. As a physician, he was able to relocate to the big city where he struggled for years with his sexual orientation. When he met and fell in-love with Andrew he stopped struggling. The two legally married in Connecticut in 2009. Isaac expected that he would continue to keep his community and his marriage separate, but on that fateful day the two collided.

Isaac and Andrew glimpsed an opportunity for education and seized it. They opened their wedding website up for dialogue. What ensued was two weeks of unbridled posts about homosexuality, Judaism, and God. It was an online town hall where people could hide under various profile names and share their true feelings and engage in a dialogue.

Some of the posts were thoughtful and supportive.

“Congratulations to you both and BRAVO for following your path. Kudos for choosing to embrace the way G-d created you. May you have a blessed and happy future as a family.”

“Mazel tov to Andrew and Isaac. What a gorgeous couple! I genuinely hope that you two don’t mind that your site has become a platform for a serious discussion about the value system in our community, of which I have grown to become a staunch critic.”

Some were predictable for a conservative religious community.

“We are an orthodox Jewish community which does not allow 2 men 2 get married. I’m sorry if that offends anyone. It isn’t close (sic) mindedness, it is who we are. It would be the same if someone married a non-Jew.”

 “Homosexuality is not in line with Judaism, but neither is shaming a fellow man.”

 Others were just plain stupid.

 “Suck cock Jewish Father and everyone else who aggrees with the Gay ways.”

“Is he so gay that he couldn’t get it up for a woman even if he tried to?”

(Um, isn’t that sort of the meaning of gay for gay men?)

After a couple of weeks Isaac chose to shut it down and to turn these posts and his experience into a book. You can order his book In This Day and Age?!: A Community at the Crossroads of Religion and Homosexuality through your local bookseller or online.

Presently Isaac is speaking out at temples and spiritual conferences about his eexperience. Issac hopes that his story will foster more understanding and respect between religious leaders and their LGBT congregants.

In February 2011 I did a tele-seminar interview with Isaac. The interview will be included in my upcoming CD Package-How to Come Out of the Closet And Into Your Power or you can download the interview How to Survive Being Outed and What to Say When Someone Tells You That You Can Change!” at https://www.davinakotulski.com/workshopinfo.php?w=20

Isaac said that if he had been younger or a more insular member of his community and not had the kind of outside support he had as a successful surgeon, this experience might have caused him to commit suicide.

I want to honor Isaac for his courage to take a terrifying situation and creating an opportunity for others to grow. Isaac you are a Love Warrior!

Remember a hero isn’t someone who does not have fear. A hero is something who does something courageous despite the fear she or he feels.

Take a moment to reflect on when you’ve been a hero. What did you do even though you were afraid? Acknowledge yourself. Being an LGBTIQ person or a straight ally often means being true to yourself and doing things even in the face of fear.

 

 

Seventh-Day Gay Adventists

Thursday I spoke at the Kinship Conference in Pomona, California about equal rights for LGBTIQ people and how communities of faith can make a positive difference in the marriage equality movement. Kinship, an International 7th Day Adventist organization, around since 1976, champions human rights for all people. They believe that “everyone is created in the image of God and that no one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.” http://www.sdakinship.org
On a side note, the conference was held at the Kellogg Conference Center at CalPoly. Kellogg of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Kellogg was a Seventh-Day Adventist himself. Observant 7th Day Adventists do not smoke, drink or eat meat and like Orthodox Jews they observe the Sabbath from sundown on Friday night until Saturday evening. This is the cool thing about having a book tour that focuses around outreach to spiritual communities, I get to learn a lot about different religious and spiritual traditions. I enjoy doing outreach so that others can do “inreach” in their communities.
The morning’s conference featured Fritz Guy author of “Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-Day Adventist Perspectives.” http://www.sdagayperspectives.com Professor Guy, a straight ally, elder in the church, and observant Sabbath observer, spoke eloquently to the international audience of fifty practicing and former Seventh-Day Adventists about love. That God loves everyone and there’s nothing that can take that love from us and nothing we can do to make God love us any more or any less. He emphasized that the true teachings of Jesus were about love.
Professor Guy praised the audience of LGBTIQ people for their continuing to show up with their families and communities in a place of love even when they are treated unjustly and when their church communities don’t practice the teaching of their own faith. While more scholarly than charismatic, Guy’s words echoed the words of Dr. King in Strength to Love. We must continue to love. Our liberation comes from loving the “unlovable,” loving those who have hurt us. Loving those we call the opposition. There is truly power in that.
Following Professor Guy’s presentation a short film entitled “The Last African Taboo” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVp8V1npqyk
was shown. The film shows first hand accounts about the radicalization of Ugandan Christians against homosexuality by the influx of American Evangelicals, especially leaders like Lou Engel of Focus On the Family who also created his own organization The Call which is radically anti-gay. My friend and colleague, Karen Ocamb, has written about him in previous Bilerico Posts http://www.bilerico.com/2008/11/listening_to_the_call.php
Another speaker at the conference was straight ally and filmmaker Daneen Akers. Daneen and her husband, Stephen Eyer, former Seventh-Day Adventists themselves, are working on a new film “Seventh-Gay Adventists.” http://www.sgamovie.com The movie covers the complications LGBT people face within the Seventh-Day Adventist church and the challenges their families face coming to terms with love and loyalty to their family members versus church doctrine.
Religion continues to be the biggest weapon aimed at LGBTIQ and same-sex loving people and why I will continue to do outreach into spiritual communities because this is where the final “battle” will be one. But it won’t be won by making people wrong or calling people bigots. It will be won with love, opening hearts and minds, one person and a time.
Congratulations New York!