The topic was life rituals, and how they change and effect your own life. When I read this now, a short time after America has gone through such a major change as the destruction of the World Trade Center and Pentagon at the hands of terrorists, I wonder what new rituals will effect my life? Just how will the daily ritual of watching the news each night, and hearing the ever increasing figures of "missing" victims, change the way I look at things?
Double, Double, Toil And Trouble
A Gay/Pagan Opinion 4/27/01
By R.A. Melos
Several years ago, even before I was outed as a gay man by someone I loved
and trusted more than anyone else, I had come out as a pagan. Now coming out
as a pagan was not on the same level as coming out as being gay, since many
people still aren't sure what it is to be pagan, while everyone has a definite
opinion on homosexuality.
These two emotional rituals of awakening happened in my life around the same time, my 30th birthday. Perhaps it was the impending doom of turning 30 which triggered major changes in my life, or perhaps it was just time to accept things in my life openly instead of living lies and hiding the real me from myself and the world. I've thought about all the possibilities for many years before and after the occurrences, and am still digesting the changes both have had on my life.
I knew for many years before, while being raised as a Methodist, I didn't fully believe any of the things I learned in Sunday School. I'm sure many people can find comfort in their religions, but at that point in my life I found no comfort in what I was being taught. Of course, there were many underlying issues, not the least of which was my homosexuality, which, I learned from listening to the whispers of adults, was considered a crime against God.
Well, as a child I didn't want to commit any crimes, yet, deep in my heart, I already knew I was a sexual criminal in the religion in which I was being raised. It never occurred to me I would or could change religions. Oh, I'd heard of people who were one religion, and changed when they married, but that made no more sense to me than choosing your sexuality.
Of course religious beliefs, as I found out, whether or not you really believed in them, could be changed like socks. Unfortunately sexuality, no matter what some people believe, can not be changed just to suit someone. Oh, I know there are some persons who have the ability to lie to themselves and the world, and pretend to love a God they have no real belief in, nor do they care if God really exists, as long as they make money and can support their desires for material needs and wants. And many of these same people also believe they can suppress their sexuality, or their natural born desire for same-sex intimacy simply by denying to themselves, and everyone else, they ever had such a desire.
I was never very good at lying, even when I placed myself in the position of having to lie just to get along with people, whether it was in a religious setting or in my daily life. Well, sometime around my 30th birthday I lost the ability to care what other people thought of me. Perhaps it wasn't an ability, as much as a desire to be accepted by people for whom I had little or no respect.
I discovered this lack of respect after talking to many of them and realizing how hypocritically they lived their lives. Now I know that sounds judgmental, but it isn't. The reality of the situation is, I wasn't being judgmental, but it was a mutual discovery of complete incompatibility on issues which are important to many people.
I quickly came to the decision I had to live my life honestly, and openly, in order for me to be happy with myself. One of the most important lessons I've learned is my own happiness comes first, and if being happy meant I had to stop living lies, change the ways I did things, and be open about everything in my life, then I was going to do it.
The last issue I had was my closeted sexuality. I had been living a lie long enough, but was willing to continue living it for the sake of my ex-lover. I told him on many occasions I would come out if it was what he wanted? I told him, if he wanted to be honest and be out, I would gladly come out, as long as we were together.
In retrospect, he never did anything to really deserve such love or loyalty, but from the moment I met him he became part of my daily ritual, and changing that ritual was one of the hardest parts of having him turn on me. It wasn't so much the betrayal, his outing me to my mother, but his ability to then simply pretend I never existed. Aside from the fact it was insulting and hurtful, it was yet another lie.
I have never ceased to be amazed by human beings capacity to lie to themselves. I know in my heart I did not misjudge this man, because I saw good in him, but he tried his best to fight any possible good in order to fit into the image he had of himself, which did not include being an out gay man. I watched helplessly while he set out to destroy his first marriage, which he thoroughly did, with the help of the woman who became his second wife. (Soon to be his second ex-wife, in 2002, according to sources.)
Again I was amazed by the changes I witnessed, the daily routines which were altered in order to accommodate lies. When parts of his truth finally were revealed, he had already altered his life, irreparably, tailoring it to fit the image he wished to project. In the craft this is called a glamoury, a form of illusion which is projected for others to see. It is just another form of a lie.
Unfortunately, these type of lies don't just effect the person committing the lies, but also the people who are close to the liar. Children, and future children, are effected by such lies, and I witnessed this, not being able to prevent it. I still loved this man, but I saw how he was changing to accommodate his lies, his illusion of himself, and it sickened me.
It really shouldn't have bothered me, because he pretended I didn't exist, but that is the same as pretending there is no Empire State Building, or Windsor Castle, or Great Wall of China. Just because you say something or someone doesn't exist, does not make your self-delusion real. I've witnessed self-delusion, and felt the pain caused by one man's self-delusion, and all of this resulted in the ritual which has turned me into someone who can not lie, or stomach those who do lie.
The misfortune of my choice to love someone not worthy of my love, incapable of returning such unconditional love, has made me someone who now has a daily ritual which involves living openly and honestly, and out. I was changed by my ex-lover's lies, and am still changing as a result of his shortsightedness.
When I was 30 I never would've spoken out so openly, or honestly, about myself and the pain I've experienced in coming to terms with my spirituality and my sexuality. When I was outed the experience, like dropping a leaf in a pond, caused a rippling effect in my life, which still laps against the shores in the form of my writing gay opinions, and speaking out against such things as discrimination based on sexual orientation, or denial of same-sex marriage, or any of the multitude of issues facing homosexuals in our slowly awakening society.
Thanks to the inadvertent changing of his rituals of living, my ex-lover has turned me into someone who urges all closeted homosexuals to face themselves and come out of the emotional closets which are tearing apart their lives. I constantly urge homosexuals to come to terms with themselves and to live up to their potential honestly, instead of attempting to live a straight lie as my ex-lover has chosen to do.
The rituals of my life have changed, because the rituals of his life have changed. One life touched another, at first in a loving and tender way, and then in a hurtful and hateful way, and the results are two men going in separate directions, both determined to have the lives they want. We will both get our separate ways, which saddens me because one of us chose truth, and one lies, and while the rituals are similar, the results are not.
Living openly and honestly sends the message of truth and honesty as a way of life. It takes away emotional pressure and offers inner peace, while living lies offers stress, shame, and fear as constant companions. It teaches the lessons of the end justifying the means, or doing whatever it takes to get your way.
For me, the changing ritual of my life and that of the life of my ex-lover was emotionally painful, because I could do nothing once he made up his mind to live a lie. It wasn't even losing him from my life which hurt the most, although that part of it still hurts, but it was my having to face how emotionally weak he really was which hurt me. I can only liken it to watching someone you love fight an addiction and give into it.
Unfortunately, our society is geared toward assisting gay men to live lies. It is slowly changing, but not soon enough to help someone who could've been happy living a truth if society had been accepting of that truth. No, our society encourages homosexuals to lie, by refusing to grant recognition of same-sex marriages, by denying benefits to same-sex partners, by encouraging such behavior which results in gay-bashing and hate crimes.
If there were truly a pagan ritual which would force society to wake up and face the consequences of its actions which result in homosexuals being abused, being turned into liars, being driven to suicide and emotional breakdowns, I would perform this ritual. If it would save one homosexual from going through the pains I've gone through, I would cast such a spell, if it existed.
But there are no short term rituals which, when performed, change society to open up to honesty and acceptance. The process which will change society to the open, loving, and accepting lifestyle which is inevitable, is called time. Unfortunately, no matter what changes do occur in my lifetime, I will never be satisfied with the results because I saw what should've been, and what could've been, and have been disappointed by the results falling far short of the mark. I know they will eventually surpass even my expectations, but it will take far longer then my life span.