A Surprise Liberation – New Job, New Home, New Town… Oh my! (Life Update)

Photo: Dan (in white) talking lawn stuff with our new landlord.

My last blog post was exactly one month ago today. And… everything is different now. Well, almost everything. Something remarkable has happened; a surprise liberation.

I am still The SuperGay. Still dating and in love with Dan. Still can’t seem to put the word “President” directly in front of the word “Trump.” Still love chips & queso and still think the new song “Passionfruit” by Drake is possibly the worst song ever made.

Like, the most awfulest song ever.

For a while now I have been struggling with the idea of being an LGBTQ advocate full time or just having a fulfilling job that has nothing to do with anything advocacy or non-profit related. Lately, there has been a huge desire for the latter. I felt very conflicted about that because I had not imagined life outside of some sort of advocacy/non-profit work for almost three decades. Yet, I kept being drawn to that idea.

Plus, I also remembered a dream I had as a teen. You know how sometimes kids will dream about their wedding days? At 13, I dreamed about being married to one of the Duke brothers (either Bo or Luke would have been fine :).) We would be successful, have a ranch style home, a Siberian Huskey, a Pomeranian, twin Honda Accords (now it would be Teslas), and hold each other’s hands as we grew old rocking in the rocking chairs on the back porch. For a while now I have been yearning for that dream again, to have a nice job, a husband…a family.

So, I really began testing the waters of assertively looking for a new full-time job. In relatively short order, I was hired for very nice management position at a Medical Spa! I have been there for three weeks and love it. It’s quite challenging and fulfilling. It is 50 miles (one way) from where I currently live so after talking with Dan, we are going to move in together in three weeks! The new abode is a CUTE remodeled house in Mount Dora. Mount Dora is halfway between here and my new job. We have to stay close to this area because of Dan’s daughter… who will also be living with us during the times he has her (half time). SO excited and she is thrilled about the move, too.

We don’t have any dogs (fur-kids) but guess what Dan does have for the back porch? Rocking chairs! #HappaRanda.

No, we are not engaged…but this is a pretty huge step. One I am very glad to be making with him; incredibly grateful for his love, and support. I have never lived with a “partner” and his daughter before! But, moving there without them never entered my mind as a possibility. My home won’t be a home without it being *our* home.

About that whole advocacy thing, I still plan on helping as much as I can with the local HRC Steering committee, Daniel Karslake’s documentary “For They Know Not What They Do,” and with Kristine Stolakis’ documentary. Plus, blogging and whatever else I can do to help end religious stigma and be an encouragement to others seeking a way out of the ex-gay/conversion ministry world. Our current environment mixed with ancient religious stigma almost requires good people to stand up, lock arms, resist, and fight back.

Plus, being a loudmouth is something I can’t seem to not do from time to time :).

The realignment of focus and priorities over the past month fell into place so easily, and quickly, it feels like another mountain has fallen off my shoulders. I believe this is the life I am supposed to lead and not an idealized one I am trying to create (of any sort.) Plus, I’ve got Dan and rocking chairs… I can live without the twin Teslas (for now.) 🙂

And as I head into my 49th birthday week, this may be one of the happiest times of my life.

Leaving The Little House On The Edge Of The Boonies

When I entered the little house on the edge of the boonies three years and 10 months ago, I was still relatively conservative (spiritually, politically and otherwise). I was the Executive Vice President of Exodus and trying desperately to help figure out a way, with Alan’s direction, of course, to redefine and cast a new vision for the “world’s largest ex-gay ministry” or set a course for shutting it down.

From 2013 to now has been the most tumultuous season of my adult life. Many highs and quite a few deep lows. Today, it feels like a rebooted life. Completely different…transformed and free. While moving forward into the unknown, it doesn’t feel strange or cumbersome. As I drove away from this house for the last time, it felt as if a mountain fell off my shoulders and a fresh wind is empowering the journey forward.

This house has seen a lot of pain.

Here my prayers were answered and the resulting meditations helped make a case for and eventually shutting down Exodus. This house has seen many tears during the implosion, infighting, public criticism (from all sides), and betrayals at Exodus. This is also where I came to the humbling (almost humiliating) realization that I had also caused others pain and hurt during that time as well.

This house saw deep mourning as I continued to grieve Michael’s suicide shortly before I moved in here. It is here I experienced another type of relational death in that I got some shaming texts from an elder at a church I attended (copying my friends at the church) that pushed me over the edge to leave. After 23 years of attending church every Sunday I could, 10 of them at my last church, I have only visited a few services a handful of times over the past year and a half (my choice).

During my time here, after Exodus closing and my coming back out, I lost almost all of my long-time friends. There are a few that survived (thank goodness, love them!) but not many.

Even though there has been a lot of pain, don’t want to elaborate and recreate a full “bitterness” list (no one needs that), it was all part of blinders being ripped off and the death of an idealized false authenticity. In other words, it was a healing pain (or turned for good and productive pain) and not wounding pain left to fester.

This house has seen a lot of love.

In two weeks I will have been “out” as a gay man for two years. It is here I fell in love with another man and had my first passionate “moment(s)” with him in over 20 years. It is where my current love interest and I tease each other and watched “The Crown” on Netflix together. He also helped me move out of this house and has been a great support and incredibly loving.

It’s here that my war on Big Ass Spiders gained social media traction :). It’s in this cute little house on the edge of the boonies where I baked my first Whiskey Chocolate Pecan Pies and painted my first large paintings. It is here that I gave names to a cast of characters like Hubert the Handsome Humble Hybrid, Arnie and Annie the Armadillos, Joe the Tortoise, Henrietta the Hangry Hawk. Danger Kitty (various feral cats) that prowls through the yard three times a day to protect us from Zombies and Sasquatches (raccoons). Also, the day I “came out” publicly, I saw a pair of bald eagles so vividly and clearly… beautiful moment.

It is in this little house on the edge of the boonies where I have begun a new career as an Online Content Creator and Social Media Consultant; embraced that I am truly a “creative” writer and artist. It’s also where I have made many new friends locally and around the world. Yay, Interwebs and social media!

It is in this house I found my own voice, vision, and passion that will not adapt/modify for someone else’s purpose.

This is where I have had many, many, moments of laughter and fun conversations about life, about and with God, friendship, love, and joy. So many life-giving and beautiful moments.

Ready, Set, Launch!

This house has heard bitter tears as well as laughing so hard I got dizzy… more than a few times! This house was the safe place where freeing epiphanies came to reveal that, of course, God would never forsake us. This was also a season of deeper revelations about grace toward others in times of conflict; not being derailed by the “should be” and staying focused and gracious toward “what is.” We are united in His Spirit, always have been, always will be.

I came into this house talking about freedom a lot. Now that I am leaving this house, I am actually, truly, free. My pursuit of freedom hasn’t changed, finally living this deeper understanding of it is.

I came into this house at the top of my “game.” I am leaving this house realizing that life isn’t a game. That life cannot be lived in a false authenticity and a false idealization. Real life is only worth living in love; to love and be loved by God, to love and be loved by others.

No more games. Eyes, mind, and heart open.

Coming into this house, I was a caterpillar; leaving a butterfly. Came in as a Mourning Dove; leaving as an Eagle. But, obviously, I am still into over-the-top metaphors!

I wept while thinking of all the “moments” and changes that have happened in this little house on the edge of the boonies. Now, the tears are done. My wings are unfurling as I launch off into the future…