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A Backpedaling Apology

In September, I wrote a farewell post. I simply couldn’t take the negativity going on in this culture war. To be honest, I still can’t. Many of you have written me to express your support, your kindness, even your frustrations with me for not continuing this journey of reconciliation. Every single word has been heard, treasured, and put to good use.

After thinking on these things for the past few months, I’ve arrived at a few conclusions:

I stand by my decision to take a break from staunch advocacy. However, I would be remiss if I said my journey had ended. For better or for worse, I still deal constantly with living as a lesbian in the bible belt south. And at the risk of making myself too vulnerable, I feel the need to come clean on a few things.

Before going into that, I must say: I am extremely happy. I love my life. My partner (who I’ve put through a lot, by the way) has helped me realize true love is not a lost cause for this sappy romantic. However, as someone who has experienced social anxiety on some level my entire life, it has become nearly unbearable over the past few years. Self-acceptance was never as much of a problem until I came out.

I worry. Constantly. I can feel the disgust people have for me, even when they don’t say it out loud. It hurts. Like everyone else, I want to be accepted and loved. And to know there are some people who feel they can not be in fellowship with me because of this issue damages me on a cellular level.

I see other LGBT friends living life normally with their partners. They don’t let the naysayers bother them. Truly, they are able to simply brush it off and go on with their happy and healthy lives, without one worry about what people think or say. I envy them. Why is this so difficult for me to do as a grown woman in my thirties?

In addition to everything I just referred to, I feel guilty for mentioning it. I feel as though by giving into these negative thoughts, I’m allowing myself to stay in the role of the victim. And I despise the thought. When I truly give into the negativity surrounding my life as a lesbian: I feel cheated. I feel victimized. I feel hated, loathed, and cynical. I feel talked about. Whispered about. Laughed at. It may not be true for every person in my life, but it’s there. I’ve seen it happen, time and time again: Before someone knows I’m gay, they enjoy my company. They take me seriously. They treat me like a human. After they find out—either by me or the grapevine—they avoid me. They see me as less than. They treat me as the “other”. I don’t want to fall into the trap of over-generalization, but it’s difficult not to when you’ve seen it happen as many times as I have.

So the primary reason I wanted to say farewell to you, my dear friends, is because I don’t have a lot of positivity to give about this subject at the moment. But perhaps there is value in authenticity. Maybe it’s important to come right out and say I’m not in a good place. As it currently stands, I feel like I’m in an incubator, just waiting to emerge a better person. I’m attempting to nurture my soul by immersing myself in hobbies, in spiritual readings, in Christmastime traditions. But despair is still there, underneath. It always is. Maybe with every passing year, it will shrink, growing smaller and smaller, completely enveloped by my joy. Until then, it’s my cross to bear. And as long as I have feelings, I suppose you’ll find me writing about them. For your sake, I wish they were always happy ones. But as long as you’re willing to read them, I’m willing to share them… for better or for worse.

KickStarter Launch Off To An Amazing Start!

I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you guys so much for being so supportive of the new documentary project. Please take a moment to read the first update!

One Liberation Under God

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 7.59.53 AMHi, everyone! After months of contemplation, we finally launched the KickStarter page for the project on Tuesday. It had reached a point where I had to stop worrying about number crunching and statistics, and just actually do it! So far, you guys have exceeded my expectations. In less than three days, we reached half of our first goal of $400!

By now, you probably know how the project will work. But you may be wondering how this fundraising thing works. In order to explain why we set such a low goal, I’ll include an excerpt from the project page:

Nashville is my current city, and northeastern KY is my hometown. Therefore, no extra funds are necessary to cover those interviews. Destinations closest to me will take top priority, so we can make the most out of the time and money we have. So why did we only set a $400 goal? 

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Update: Film Project

Hello, all! This is just a quick update to let you know I have not fallen off the face of the earth. I’ve had a lot going on over the summer, most of which is settling down now. I hope all of you are having a relaxing and adventurous summer!

This map shows the proposed route of interviews for the project.

This map shows the proposed route of interviews for the project.

I’m so excited about the documentary project I mentioned earlier this year. (Yes, it is still happening!) I have not begun a Kickstarter campaign yet, because I want to make sure I’m doing this fundraiser thing right. I’ve spoken with a few people… all of whom have very different opinions about how to approach marketing and fundraising for this project. Some say an extended fundraising campaign will do the trick; others say a brief and focused campaign will be more effective. Honestly, I’m not sure what to do (although I’m pretty sure that doing nothing won’t get me too far)! That’s why I’m asking for your thoughts. If you have any ideas for the “One Liberation” film project, please let me know. I do have a short list of organizations and online communities that are willing to advertise once the fundraising begins, although I’m always on the lookout for more!

Stay tuned for more info! In the meantime, I’ll be working on a “real” blog post.

Cheers!

The Mission

Here’s a little more elaboration on the upcoming documentary project!

One Liberation Under God

Hey everyone! I just wanted to take a second and elaborate on the vision for this project. Here are a few key points:

1. This project is about communication, not debate! This is the single most important point to make. The idea is to gain understanding, and consider points of view with which we don’t agree.

2. The goal is to give equal voice to all points of view. If you’ve seen the promo video, you may be wondering where the straight people are! I included photos of the participants who sent them to me. There are a few other folks who fall on the more conservative side of the scale, and they will be included in the film; they just weren’t included in the video. That being said, I would like to schedule more interviews with more conservatively-minded people, as right now only 15% of our interviewees fit that criteria.

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Promo Video Launched!

FYI: Here’s a link to the official website and promo video for the documentary project.

One Liberation Under God

After several long weeks, I’ve finally been able to finish the promo video. Now, the real work begins! While I’m itching to get started, I realize the fundraising process can be a delicate thing, and I want to do it right! Stay tuned for the fundraising launch, which should be happening in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, send prayers, love, and good vibes this way. Here’s hoping to a successful project that will hopefully help us all to find some common ground.

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Is Social Networking a Viable Platform for Advocacy?

Hello, all! I hope you’re doing splendid. I’ve got a short post today…just something I’ve been pondering a lot lately. And really, it all comes down to one question: How do you use social networking? We’ve covered this topic briefly in a recent podcast episode. Quite honestly, I’ve been struggling with it on a personal level for quite some time.

Facebook is intended to be a pleasant experience. We know that’s not always true. People still manage to grate on our nerves from time to time, whether it’s face-to-face, or via the screens we now use on a daily basis. Most of the time, decent human beings can find a way to coexist peacefully, both on and offline. But when it comes to LGBT advocacy, it can be a touchy subject. If you’re like me, you post about things because you’re passionate about it. You’re happy to discuss it, and you may even hope someone approaches you about your point of view. But you never post something with the purpose of ruffling someone else’s feathers. But sometimes, people interpret your good intentions into bad ones. (You may be able to tell by now, this has happened to me in the past.)

I have many faults. One of them is—and has always been—caring way too much about what people think of me. Once someone becomes truly offended by something I’ve said, my mind goes into analytical mode. I spend the next several days (and sometimes weeks), wondering what I could have done differently. Then, I begin to imagine the worst: that they have grown to dislike me on a fundamental level. What if they’re telling everyone they know that I’m a terrible person? What if they’re shaking their heads, wondering what’s happened to me?

Before you say it, I know: If people really are going to be that way, I don’t need them in my life. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and if they can’t listen to mine, then I’m better off without them. But I just don’t work that way. I want to have peaceful, loving relationships with everyone I know. I don’t want drama; I just want to speak out about the things that matter to me.

But I’m beginning to wonder: Should I leave the advocacy to the straight allies? Are LGBT rights simply too close to home for me? Do I take things personally when I otherwise wouldn’t? I’m torn: part of me thinks I should press on… use Facebook as a means for expression on the issues that are dear to my heart. The other part of me thinks I would save myself a lot of unnecessary stress if I could limit my Facebook activity to check-ins and photos of my cute little fur babies.

How do you handle social networking? Is Facebook a place for advocacy? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

“One Liberation Under God: LGBT Life in the Bible Belt South”

Hello, everyone! I’d like to take a few minutes to tell you about a project I’m extremely excited about… a project I’d love for you to be a part of. As you know, everyone has a story. When you’re gay and Christian, you have a lot of insight to offer others who may be going through the same things. Many of your stories have been shared on this blog, and a lot of people have been encouraged by hearing them.  So, I’m taking things a step further, and making a documentary.

I will be contacting some of you personally within the next several days. But I’d like to get as many people involved as possible. Below, you will find the form letter I’m currently sending out to potential participants. Please contact me if you think you may be interested. For those of you who live long distances from me, don’t let that stop you. I plan to launch a fundraiser (via Kickstarter) in a few weeks to cover travel expenses. If the goal is reached, then I’ll have the means to travel anywhere within the continental US.

Read on and contact me if interested. And thank you in advance!

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Hello! I hope this finds you doing well. I’m contacting you because I believe you and I share a passion for building bridges between the Church and the LGBT community. I also believe you have a lot to offer in the way of conversation, theology, and unique perspective. That’s why I would like to personally invite you to be a part of my new project: “One Liberation Under God: LGBT Life in the Bible Belt South”. This project will be in the form of a documentary film. My vision is to open the lines of communication on both sides of the “Great Gay Debate”, and explore the things that inspire certain beliefs in people.

Specifically, I hope for the film to do the following:

•Outline the arguments held by both LGBT advocates and religious conservatives, and interview individuals on every point of the spectrum.

•Give a greater understanding of exactly what it means to be gay.

•Showcase testimonies from LGBT Christians, and from conservative Christians.

•Be a catalyst for conversation… because no matter what you believe about LGBT issues, we should all learn that it’s okay to talk about it.

•Give an overview of statistics for a number of things, including:

•Christians who are for or against LGBT rights

•LGBT youth suicide

•History of acceptance vs. disapproval of LGBT individuals in the South

•LGBT youth and homelessness

I understand and anticipate that you—as a potential participant in this project—may not have the same views I hold. However, I fully intend on showcasing all individuals, opinions, and thoughts in a positive manner. The goal of this film is to unite and build bridges. Therefore, I do not believe it to be fruitful or beneficial to negatively represent views that differ from my own. If you should choose to participate in this project, you may choose to disclose your full identity, or you may choose to remain completely anonymous.

If you’re up for the challenge, please respond via my email (wilson.mandy@gmail.com) by Monday, March 17th, 2014. This is to ensure that I have time to make travel plans and schedule interviews. This isn’t a large scale production; in fact, I’m planning to film with my iPhone, and edit with Final Cut Pro—things I already have available to me. However, I will launch a Kickstarter profile once things are geared up, in order to cover my travel expenses. And of course, if you participate, you will receive a digital copy of the project, absolutely free.

I’m really interested in telling our stories: gay, straight, liberal, and conservative. I want to do this project because I believe it’s important to have these conversations. By telling our stories and listening to the stories of others, we will gain a greater understanding of what it means to “love your neighbor”. We can achieve the impossible by rebuilding bridges that have previously been destroyed. Ultimately, I think we’ll find we don’t have to agree on everything in order to love one another. In my own life, I’ve experienced such immense joy in these conversations, and I’d like to take the world on a journey. Won’t you join me?

Warmest regards,

Mandy