Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Gay Friend Dumped Me When I Became A Christian

Deb & Liz exchanging rings at
their wedding last year.
You can view more pics here.
Yesterday was a monumental day in history. Marriage was legally granted to ALL human beings thanks to the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling

I cried in my bed when I heard the decision over the radio, cried on the way to work, and bawled when I got to my desk at the cube farm. They were tears of pure unadulterated joy. 

For me the decision represented the result of perseverance in the fight for equal rights. I have heated discussions with my boyfriend about our responsibility to take action, to stand up for a cause we believe in regardless of how high the odds are stacked against us. 

This ruling wouldn't have happened if people remained complacent, or worse, ambivalent. This shift in history wouldn't have rocked solid ground if there was a collective attitude of "Well, what can we do to fight the system?" 

Change happened because people took action and persevered to fight for equal rights. 

Last October I photographed a good friend's wedding to her longtime girlfriend. I didn't call it a "lesbian wedding" it was my "friend's" wedding. It was a day so saturated with love I kept blinking back my tears of happiness behind my camera. Their wedding was one of the most unique weddings I've photographed because they structured it according to the things that made their relationship grow. 

Deb and Liz avoided the traditional wedding elements and created their own. Instead of cake they had pie because man, does Deb love pie. Instead of a DJ and dancing the guests were treated to a night of serenading. I won't go on, you can check out my blog of their wedding, but I drove away from their wedding enveloped in goodness

How could their beautiful love be so wrong? 

Since yesterday's news, thoughts of someone special to me occupied my brain space. When I cried seeing how vibrantly lit in rainbow colors the White House was I sent loving thoughts toward him---wherever he was. You know the question: who was that one person who got away? 

My answer to that question was never an ex-boyfriend. It was my former best friend, Phi, who happened to be gay. Again, he was never my "gay friend" he was simply my best friend whom I loved so much. 

He and I met in 2000 when I worked in an independent pharmacy in a predominantly LGBT community in Long Beach.* We hit it off the moment we met and our friendship formed a deep bond. Besides being my music festival buddy we shared a common love for art and books. When he went through a break-up I listened to his pain. When my then boyfriend lied and cheated on me he was my anchor. 

If anyone questioned our odd friendship no one ever brought it up to my face. But we were an odd couple. He was a young 20-something gay man hanging out with a 30-something single mother of three kids. Our friendship was seamless and it just flowed. 

In 2003 I became a Christian much to my surprise and I'm sure Phi's dismay. He and I had long discussions on spirituality and faith, searching for peace in our hearts. Phi witnessed my agonizing soul-searching journey and knew the last thing I wanted was Jesus. I didn't know the last thing I wanted was actually the one thing I needed. 

It was shortly after my conversion that Phi cut all ties with me without notice or explanation. I understood his reasons because I've seen and heard the ugliness of Christians' stance on homosexuals. 

But it still hurt. 

Since we didn't have a chance to discuss why we couldn't be friends any longer I can only assume that he feared I'd turn into one of those hateful, vitriolic, judgmental Christians. And you know what? I don't blame him. I've seen it with my own eyes and have struggled to love them as I would my neighbor. 

I didn't have the chance to reassure him that I wouldn't change and that my capacity to love grew abundantly since experiencing the unconditional love of Jesus. I never had the chance to explain to him that I, too, have been marginalized by God-fearing Christians. 

I couldn't share with Phi how my "loving" Christian friend sat me down after my second divorce to tell me that I could never marry again or be accepted in any Christian church because I'm forever an adulteress. To back up his truth he pointed out the following bible verses: 

Luke 16:18 Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 
Mark 10:12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

If I had the chance to share this story with Phi I would have told him how I shrugged at this now ex-friend and simply said okay. Phi and I would have laughed (maybe), rolled our eyes (definitely), and then hugged each other (absolutely). 

Had we remained friends today I would explain to Phi that I have no time pointing out other people's sins because I'm focused on my own sinful plate; nor do I have any right to judge others as I've made my share of mistakes which I've learned/repented from. 

I'm sure he'd get a kick out of how a handful of my well-meaning Christian friends spent their precious time trying to change my mind about not getting married again (for the third time), yet, experienced marital issues themselves. (I know because they later confided in me.) 

I've heard all the debates, arguments, opinions, and truths which have caused mad chaos and hatred amongst friends and on the Internet. All I know is that I can only navigate through life knowing that Jesus loved the marginalized and I can do my best to exercise love and forgiveness toward others. 

It might be simplistic to some and incredibly wrong to others but haven't we witnessed recently how much #lovewins? I used to be a hateful, bitter person but love, and learning to forgive, have divested my life from the oppressive darkness that plagues a poisonous heart. Sure I struggle with those who are different from me and hold opposing beliefs but acceptance of those differences moves mountains. 

Wherever Phi is I hope he celebrated yesterday's victory as well as he did 12 years ago! How I wish I could have shared the moment with him the way we used to. 
Dear Phi,
Remember this painting? Yes, I still have it! I gave it to
my daughter, Maricelle, (I know she's an adult now) to hang
in her apartment but I took it back last year when she moved
to New York. My boyfriend, Ray, surprised me one day
by hanging it up along with my race medals on our office wall.
I'm not talking out of my a$$ when I say I think of you
every day. This painting is the only part of you I have.
I miss you. I love you. Be well. Be happy. 

*Name of pharmacy and Phi's last name are intentionally omitted for privacy reasons.