Common Ground
A Gay Opinion 2/21/02
by R. A. Melos

Last night, very late at night, or early in the morning, depending on your point of view, I was flipping channels in hopes of either seeing Shakira's newest video "Underneath Your Clothes", or finding an old movie, preferably something like "Where The Boys Are" or "Band Of Angels", when I happened upon CNN and a press conference George W. Bush had given on his Asia Tour.

He was talking about his faith based initiative, and the great effect faith has on his life. Well, for the first time ever, I found myself agreeing with George W. This in itself frightened me, but I listened for the few moments CNN allowed, and found I had one iota of common ground with the President. I too have been touched by faith. Our common ground separates at that point.

I was raised Methodist, as I have mentioned in other articles, in the United Methodist Church in my home town of Milltown, New Jersey. I went to Sunday School, and listened to Bible stories, and learned all the words to "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder" and "Do Lord" (also called "I've Got A Home In Gloryland") and the very popular "Jesus Loves Me."

At the age of 13 I was confirmed in the faith and became a member of the church. I obviously no longer attend services there, as I now am a Wiccan. How I got from Methodist to Wiccan isn't that much of a stretch, since there is very much of Paganism which is taught in all the major religions, as part of those religions. The diverse points of most of Christianity and Paganism is the belief in God and Goddess, and the belief in reincarnation.

My reason for leaving the Christian religion and becoming Pagan was partially based on my being homosexual. Paganism is the only religion I have found which accepts homosexuals, as they are, without the requirements of being non-practicing or celibate. Paganism is the only religion which did not tell me I was not welcome in Heaven because of how God made me. Paganism is the only religion which welcomed me with open arms without seeking to change me in any way, and that was what had the most profound effect on me.

Imagine growing up, always knowing there was a greater power than yourself in the universe, something you are part of, which exists in all things, and is accepting of you as you are. Now wouldn't that be a wonderful way of looking at religion, instead of looking at the God I was taught of as a child, who was a "vengeful God", who did not approve of me as I was, and for whom I would have to change in order to please him.

Hell, that sounds to me like a closeted gay male trying to live a heterosexual lifestyle in order to fit into society and be accepted for who he pretends to be instead of being accepted for who he is, and that just isn't for me. Of course, I didn't know any of this when I was 13, because I was so far in denial of my sexuality, repressing any budding urges I had in an effort to be a good "God Fearing" Christian.

There was another concept which I found greatly offensive, the "God Fearing" thing. How could you love God and fear him at the same time? The concept of fear does not go with love, in my book. If you fear someone, or something, and you must try to please that person or thing, then that is a form of emotional abuse, as I see it. In my Pagan beliefs I can love the power of the universe, or God, or Goddess, or whatever you may choose to call him, her, or it, and be secure in the knowledge of that love.

Damn! This is the same thing I want in a mortal relationship, and here it is being offered in the form of spirituality and faith. I wasn't getting this from any of the organized religions which simply wanted my to give money and help build monuments to God in the form of Churches or Worship Halls, or Sunday School buildings. Heck, my religion even made it perfectly clear to me the Spirit of the Universe was always with me and in me as part of me, and whenever I needed to feel the comfort of that power all I needed to do was focus on it, either silently or in verbal prayer, and it was there for me.

There is a hymn "In The Garden", which has the line "And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own," and this is what I found in Wicca. I know God, or Goddess, or the Universal Spirit, hears me when I pray, and I know I am part of this power, and the energy of which I am made up, and all things are made up, is the energy of the universe, or God, or Goddess. I don't need a preacher talking at me on Sunday morning, giving me his interpretation of the Bible and his opinion of morality in the form of a sermon. I am quite capable of discerning for myself what is morally right or wrong, as a free thinking part of the universe.

I know I am what I am supposed to be, and perhaps that is why I get angry at homosexuals who insist on living a closeted lie in order to fit into society, because I know they are not living up to their potential , or to their purpose in the universe. I know those who are in denial of themselves are not only hampering their potential, but stalling the greater work of the universal energy. Those living with oppression, and accepting it as a way of life, are only delaying the inevitable. Even if they have accepted themselves, they need to live as open out and proud human beings, equal to their oppressors, in order for them to reach their potential and live as the universe intended.

In a world where a man of faith can enter into a "Holy War", and still support a religious structure which condemns segments of people for being as God made them, and for other people of faith to condemn segments of society, proves man, as a species, no matter how much faith may exist, is still in an early stage of emotional development where domination is the primary form of control of any situation even if it is done in the "name of God."

We all tend to forget the Bible was written by men, just like us, who interpreted stories told to them by previous generations, and who experienced moments of their own faith and put them into words for people thousands of years later to read.

Yes, I have a great deal of faith, in my religious beliefs, and in myself. I know I am capable of making a difference. The choice of making a positive or negative difference is within me, and the ability to choose which difference I make is mine. We may all say we would choose the positive difference, but our actions speak louder than our words.

I was choosing, for many years, to live a closeted life, refusing to acknowledge my true self, and that is a negative choice. There are millions of homosexuals, just like me, who still make that negative choice, that oppressive, repressive, choice, and that is their prerogative.

Another aspect of my faith is the lesson of "what we put out comes back to us three fold." If we are putting out oppressive or repressive energy, than we shall receive the same three times over, and that is not a good thing, for it is creating more negativity. When too much negativity begins to go out, eventually all the faith in the world won't be able to stop the fallout. We've already seen what negativity and refusal to accept others has brought on the world. Humanity has experienced the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and this is all within the last 70 years.

You know, even as world shaking as these events were, as history making and life changing, they don't hold a candle to the one beating of the wing of a butterfly, the symbol of eternal life, which also effects the world in much more subtle ways. Given a choice between blowing up the world in order to make it into the place I want it to be, or allowing the universe to take its course without weapons of mass destruction, I think I'll go with the subtle.

Yes, I have a great deal of faith, in the universe, and a guarded faith in my fellow man to do the right thing. I've been let down by my fellow man many times, but the universe is a constant in my life. I can go outside, even in the dead of winter, which I have professed to dislike on the level of hate, and still see the beauty in the cold clear sky, and the twinkling stars billions of miles from Earth, and know God, or Goddess, or whatever you may call it, exists. It sure beats looking at a bombed out crater which used to be a shelter for soldiers of a "Holy War."

So my faith differs from George W's. So what? I would rather know the President has some belief, even if it is a belief with which I disagree, than to think of him as a person without faith, hopelessly lost in a search for his true self. I don't need for him to believe as I do, only to accept and respect my right for me to believe as I do, and for me to be as I am. If he can do that, without oppressing me, or attempting to repress me, than we may have more common ground than I thought. I'm willing to give him, and anyone who will accept me as I am, the benefit of mutual respect for who they are, as long as they are honest, and willing to share common ground.