One never knows what a little coffee and prayer can do!
Growing up, my mother would periodically remind me of the time our postman asked what I wanted to be as an adult. The average four-year-old may not have a clue, however, I was confident in what and who I wanted to be and responded, “Wonder Woman!” My mother would continue the story with how I actually did believe I was, in fact, Wonder Woman when one day she overheard my older brother getting bullied by an older neighbor and I shouted, “Oh yeah?!” and began spinning to transform into her to protect him.
Although I never became wonder woman, I did learn that to survive in my ultra-Pentecostal family I would need superhero powers. My family was church-going, demon-delivering, tongue-speaking, miracle-believing fundamental born-again Christians. Certainly nothing wrong with my family, or their beliefs – with one exception; you cannot be a church-going, demon-delivering, tongue-speaking, miracle-believing fundamental born-again Christian if you are gay, and I was.
Because I have four uncles that are pastors, church was not just an hour or two event on Sundays, rather a life event all day, every day. I accepted Jesus as my savior around the age of nine. I started speaking in tongues around twelve. I had many revelations around this time including coming to terms with the fact that I was gay. Gay topics were rarely if ever, discussed in our family but when they were gays were depicted as drug-using perverts waiting in foul dark alleys for vulnerable young boys to walk by so they can be preyed upon. Gays were possessed by Satan, hated God, and died suffering slowly from diseases He created to punish them.
I certainly did not want to be any part of that culture so I turned to, and put my trust in, my uncles for “deliverance.” They were going to rebuke and rid my soul of all the evil demons and set me free from being gay. One by one, visit by visit, they each laid hands on me, casting out demons that were destroying my destiny. Some were demanding demons of darkness and destruction leave me, others screamed and shook me to scare the evil spirits back to hell. Eventually, I was told by all four that I was no longer gay, and to have faith and obey God.
Because attractions and thoughts were an everyday part of my life, I felt that I deeply disappointed my heavenly Father and the shame from it manifested in drug use, addiction, and worthlessness. I was told that God loved me but not what I “chose to do.” Wanting to please my Heavenly Father desperately (as well as my family), I decided to get serious about knowing who I was in Christ. I did everything in my power to change. I prayed, fasted, constantly rebuked thoughts and attractions, and read every piece of information on “reparative therapy” I could get my hands on. I even started writing a book in the hope that I would eventually use it as a guide to help others stop being gay.
With my kitchen table filled with Bibles and concordances, I researched and cross-referenced every presumed anti-gay Bible verse like never before. However, while doing research on my book, inaccuracies began to emerge. The five or six presumed anti-gay verses or stories in the Bible were not at all how and what I was told they were. God began revealing that what I was told was misinformation (though well-intended) passed on from generations, and my self-identity because of this was a tightly multi-layered ball of lies. God promised that together we would peel those toxic layers away and reveal the man He created. On my journey, He would constantly remind me that He knew precisely who He was meticulously forming in utero (Jeremiah 1:5) and that He did not make junk or mistakes.
These days, I am contently married with two children. I have learned that God never leaves nor forsakes us; only we can choose to stay away from Him. Would I have chosen to stay away for as long as I did have it not been for the way I was raised? I cannot say with certainty, either way, however, I can say with certainty that I would not be sharing my story in this book had it turned out any other way. Yes, God has a plan for ALL of His children.
In retrospect I appreciate, what many times, I thought were my tombstones as I now have come to understand they were all merely stepping-stones. I am a Christian, father, spouse, soldier, teacher, and newly published author. I am soon to celebrate fifteen years of love and laughter with the most wonderful God-loving man.
I want to tell you a birthday wish but first, allow me to share my average day.
Before the sun comes up Sylvia calls for a changing and morning feeding. Once Sylvia is cared for and content I wake up and make breakfast for, Luke. After going back and forth with him for twenty minutes regarding his school attire I do his hair (another twenty-minute procedure) and prepare his school book bag. After cleaning breakfast dishes (an almost impossible undertaking as Sylvia is opening every drawer and cupboard removing all items onto the floor) she has to be changed again. During this morning obstacle course, I am also tending to cries from falls, cuts, head bumps, scrapes, scratches, hurt feelings and of course constantly taking inedible objects out of Sylvia’s mouth she can choke on. If Sylvia lets me put her down and I get a minute or two – where all disasters are averted and needs met – I attempt to make a cup of coffee (but don’t count on drinking it hot). Luke now missed his school bus – because he couldn’t find one of his sneakers – so all of us must now rush to get dressed and into the car we go fighting morning traffic to make it to school on time.
Shortly after pulling back into my driveway the phone is ringing and the doorbell is buzzing as friends and family assume being home means endless free-time to devote to their wants and needs. While chatting with friends and family I prepare Luke’s school clothes and lunch for the following day, in addition, to quickly picking up the house from the morning chaos. Multitasking, I attempt to respond to some pressing emails that I’ve completely neglected for days, even weeks. Moments later (far from finishing emails and such) it’s nearing lunch time. With Sylvia on one hip and a spatula in one hand, I whip something up that’s debatably healthy. After feeding her (and creating a very dirty kitchen from the circus of lunch) I begin her nap routine.
When Sylvia falls asleep I put myself on fast forward throwing in some laundry, cleaning the kitchen, watering the plants, taking leaves out of the pool, scrub toilets (because we all know, with boys, it’s impossible to actually pee IN the toilet), grab the mail/pay bills, feed the fish, empty the dishwasher, make pediatrician, dental, car etc., appts. and try to fix/repair many things that the kids broke (because when a family is working with one income you do your best to save money wherever/whenever possible) before Sylvia wakes up shrieking for my attention once again.
I feed and change Sylvia, get her dressed and prepare a snack for Luke’s return from school. Luke arrives home and while he eats a quick snack I sort through a mountain of school papers. Once finished I am off to drive him to and from sports practice/events. After sports practice/games etc., we stop quickly for some groceries (and gas so I can mow on the weekend). I finally get home and juggling a baby on one arm and groceries on the other start dinner. While dinner is cooking I vacuum, change Sylvia, help Luke with his homework and start setting the table. I get the kids washed up for dinner in an attempt to enjoy a relaxing/peaceful family meal (yeah, I know, wishful thinking but one can dream 😊
Just then Eric walks in from work and asks if I called the t.v. repairman. After apologizing that I did not get the chance he looks at me perplexed asking, “what did you do all day?”
Taking a deep breath, I make Luke’s plate (and argue with him for a half hour over every bite) then make Sylvia’s food and feed her. By the time Sylvia’s finished with her dinner Luke wants dessert. After giving Luke dessert, I finally get a chance to have a bite of my (now freezing cold) dinner. In the midst of addressing table manners, I am able to choke down two quick bites of food before the kids are finished and antsy to leave the table. Starving, I wipe their hands, faces, and fingers and in the bathtub they go.
After baths, brushed teeth and pajamas, kids are put to bed with a story and prayer. Eventually, both fall asleep and then it is time for me to clear the dinner table, load the dishwasher, finish cleaning the kitchen and (let’s not forget) fold and put away the laundry I’ve ignored all day. I then pick up toys, tidy the house, turn lights off/alarms on and shut it down for the night. Once the house is quiet I take a shower and drop into bed ready to repeat this cycle in just a few hours.
There are no weekends, no holidays, no lunches, no coffee or cigarette breaks and Lord knows no bathroom breaks. If by chance I try to sneak into the bathroom there are little fingers under the door with screams of bloody murder outside it. There are no happy hours after work, no bonuses, pats on the back, “thank yous” or paychecks at the end of the week. If anyone thinks stay-at-home parents lie on the couch and watch Oprah while slowly eating bonbons you couldn’t be more off 🙂
So, what do I want for my birthday? A day off! 😊
That said, you could not pay me enough for a different set of children, spouse, or life. I am beyond fortunate to be able to do what I do and thankful to have a spouse that works equally hard. Every day is a labor of love for my family and I thank God daily for each and every one of them!
Although we didn’t give you the gift of life. Life gave us the gift of you. Six years ago today – at 9:25pm – we cried tears of joy while cutting our first born’s cord. In many ways, it seems like yesterday.
Bound by love. Joined by hearts. Sent from heaven. A gift from God. Happy Happy Birthday, our beautiful boy.
Does this flag represent unity or division?
Although I have read the explanations I must say I am a bit saddened that Amber Hikes, from Philadelphia, decided to re-create a new Pride flag only to emphasize race. This extraneous change of positioning racial lines at the very top of the Pride flag took place just weeks after the originator of the Pride flag passed away.
The colors of their new flag now represent life, healing, sunlight, nature, harmony, peace, spirit and being black. Yes, you read that last one correctly. Now, one could argue it more-so represents the lack of inclusion, but that would be redundant as the Pride flag itself represents inclusion.
And no, I am not “part of the problem” or racist simply for having a differing opinion. Many in my circle are in/from the black community including my son. Regardless, disagreeing with the decisions of a select few does not equate to disliking an entire community so please put down the race card and continue to read.
And now we are inundated with twisted headlines such as, “New Pride flag angers white people” and “The outrage over the new flag proves the change was necessary” etc., This reminds me of a saying I once heard in church, “Satan likes to confuse people by mixing a little truth with lies.”
Yes, white people are angry – and rightfully so – but not for the reasons some are attempting to portray. When Amber Hikes changed the Pride flag she in fact made a racial issue from something that had nothing to do with race and because of that people are angry. Many on ALL sides are (and should be) furious that she turned the Pride flag into a race matter, not just the white community.
When we hear people are angry over her unnecessary alteration it’s not because those people are racist. On the contrary, it’s because she took the liberty to turn a unity flag into a racial issue. What Amber Hikes did was racist, not the backlash because of it. And if Ms. Hikes was looking for backlash perhaps her time and energy should have been centered on adding a rainbow to the BLM flag as there is far more work to be done regarding gaycism in the black community than there is racism in the gay community.
When you look at the gay community as a whole interracial couples are the norm and more received than any other community as we all understand the ugliness of discrimination. Is racism/gaycism a national problem needing attention? Yes! Unfortunately, racism/gaycism affects every community and we must all soul- search to become better/more inclusive human beings. Pompously perverting a trailblazer’s original art, design, vision and meaning however, is (in my opinion) not the respectable way. Click here for a much more eloquent and short clip
I often wonder why Gay History is not taught in our schools. After all aren’t we supposed to give our minority students examples of those they can relate to or identify with? When our innovations, inventions, contributions are unknown, we are not known. When our history, sacrifices, suffering and unfair treatment is not known, we are simply unknown.
Our Pride celebrations today were born from the pain of not being able to go out for a beer after a hard days work without getting harassed, blackmailed, arrested or beaten. Gay Pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn’t a Straight Pride movement, be thankful you don’t need one.
Very few know of our talent, contributions or the barbaric mistreatment that sadly still runs rampant today. When no one knows about or learns about the invisible minority we are simply, well…. invisible.
From Bayard Rustin devising the March on Washington to Billy Strayhorn writing almost all of Duke Ellington’s greatest hits, our history has been stripped away, our contributions erased. Dr. Martin Luther King and Duke Ellington didn’t mind the fanfare these brilliant men brought them but had little interest in crediting or publicly associating with them simply because their personal picture of love was not their ideal. The mere fact that you are reading this on some type of computer is thanx to a gay professor in the 1930’s. A genius who was governmentally castrated (ultimately dying) for being born gay.
Here we are in 2017 and our community is still being overlooked, forgotten, erased. June has been National Pride month for decades yet absolutely no mention of it from the highest office. When is enough enough? Please take a stand and share/support this organization UnErased. Together we can all work toward a better, more unified (and educated) nation. Thank you