Sunday, July 23, 2006

Back From The Bay Area

I'm back from San Francisco and I've gotta say that I really liked the Bay Area. I didn't get to see all that much but from what I did see, I had a good first impression. Leaving Long Beach to get there was a different story. I left Tuesday evening (scheduled to depart at 8:20pm so I got there at 7:15pm) and that was the day that some kind of something crashed into some other thing that knocked out some important thing and resulted in shutting down every Southern California airport for several hours. (How's that for accurate news reporting?) I ended up flying in to SF and getting to my hotel by 2 a.m. . . . .

The training for work went well. I'm excited about getting into the routine of work because I now feel equipped to do my job. I'll be utilizing a Web-based software application and I feel confident in using it. There's always that learning curve whenever a person starts something new and so naturally there's that mix of excitement and anxiety. I'm looking forward to doing what I do well so that I can demonstrate my potential. The other cool thing was that, just as I mentioned before, I was able to not deliberately hide the fact that I am gay. My boss came with me and as we got to know each other I was able to talk pretty casually and openly about myself unapologetically. She's cool with it all.

Since the training was primarily during the day from Wednesday through Friday, I got to see a little bit of the city. I didn't see a whole lot, so i'm hoping to go back possibly during Labor Day weekend (maybe!). On Thursday night, I met up with my GCN friend and he took me to see the Castro area or district or whatever you call it. We went to this really kewl place called Cafe Flore - it was a combination restaurant, coffee shop and bar. I really liked the atmosphere there. It was very comfortable. We walked up and down the street and went dancing at two different clubs. One of the things I was keeping an eye out for was making a comparison between Long Beach, West Hollywood (WeHo), and Castro in SF. From what I perceived, I felt like there was alot less "attitude" in Castro than there is in WeHo. People seemed alot more comfortable and relaxed and laid back and even kinder as compared to WeHo. It was easier to approach someone and have a friendly conversation. I was also surprised to see how ethnically diverse San Francisco is in general - throughout downtown but also at the Castro's clubs. I thought that was kind of kewl. After dancing, my friend took me up to a place called Twin Peaks which overlooked the city. I always like seeing city views like that. It was foggy because it was 2 a.m. by this time but it was still pretty nice seeing all the city lights and stuff. Fun times.

On Friday, the training ended early so I went off on my own to try to see the Golden Gate bridge. I didn't have much time because I needed to get back to Oakland to reunite with my boss and get to the airport and I didn't want to hit the afternoon traffic. I didn't get to go to Golden Gate Park but I was able to find a place to park and walk along the street where all the piers are and I went on a pier that had a great view of the Golden Gate bridge. I really didn't want to leave SF not having seen it since it's such a landmark of the city. Yep, that's me in the picture above on the pier with the bridge in the background. It turned out to be a great day in terms of weather to be out in SF.

I guess going in to SF, I somewhat expected to see a "gay city" with a lot of freaky looking people. After driving around and seeing the downtown area during the day time and after seeing the club life at Castro in the evening, I realized how much I kinda pre-judged SF beforehand. Everyone that I saw in SF looked completely average and normal. In fact, compared to WeHo where you'd typically see the "skinny beautiful blonde and blue" eye candy (both guys and girls), SF people really did look average - and that in itself was attractive. I remember thinking that I (and so many other people in the Church) had/have such a preconceived stereotype of San Francisco and it's easy to judge it like it deserves to be covered in fire and brimstone. But when I saw it for myself, I realized that I was ignorant for thinking that. Just like when I saw the gay community in Long Beach for myself, I realized that God was there and that I was ignorantly prejudging the community. That's what makes me want to see the world for myself - with my own eyes - so that my paradigm and stereotypes can continue to be shattered. And it makes me think that all those people who say such hateful things about gay people (or even well-intentioned condemnation from nice people) just haven't met enough gay people and gotten to know them to see how awesome and kind and loving and genuine and real and "normal" we are. It's easier for them to keep their eyes closed with fingers pointing while imagining that the few extreme examples portrayed in the media represent what the entire community is like. I think they need to go out and see the very people they are condemning, look them in the eyes, then look at their whole life, and then try to judge and condemn them. They pray (prey) against a people they don't even know. I pray that God's love would be demonstrated to them through a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered person so that their paradigms would be completely shattered!

Anyway, where was I?

I'm really looking forward to coming back again to see more of the city. This was huge for me because this was my very first time going to San Francisco and so I was super excited. Some friends are planning on going up during the Labor Day weekend so i'm going to explore the option of me going as well. I've decided that I want to be more intentional about traveling - going on vacations and seeing the world outside of Southern California. I haven't traveled much and I feel like I missed out on alot of fun during my 20's. I always came up with some kind of excuse - i didn't have money, i couldn't get away from the job to go, i can't take time off from the ministry, i'll go later in life. Now that I'm 30, I don't want to look back when I'm 40 and have the same regret. I want to live life, I want to experience life, I want to see life - out there! The more I see of the world with my own eyes, the more I realize how much I do not know about the world. I feel blessed that God opened a door for me to have this new job because it's stable and will give me the financial means to save up and go places. I appreciate the Lord's provision.

No fretting about the work with Catalyst though! I'm still very excited about what we're doing and I still feel like I'm able to do what needs to be done when I'm not working the job. Thanks everyone!

Monday, July 17, 2006

YouTube on TWC

Sometimes there are the funniest things on YouTube. Other times, there are some of my favorite scenes from TV shows. There are also movie trailers and clips. One of my favs are the music videos. There are lots of amateur videos. There are lots of ripped videos. Most of the time, the quality isn't so good. But having them available so widely can be a useful and convenient tool to illustrate a thought, idea or emotion.

I've posted YouTube videos on this blog before. The site has become incredibly popular around the world and there are lots of people out there that love it. There are others that question whether or not it should be legal. As it is now, the site hasn't been shut down, it's not my job to determine its legality (since the question is up for debate) and from my perspective, my use of them on TWC helps to promote whatever movie, song, or artist that is being featured.

So my official disclaimer would be that if you see something on YouTube that you like - go and buy it so that you can own a quality version.

That said, I decided to index all of the posts that I've made here that include a YouTube video. It's a new section that I created on the right side column of this blog called "Posts With 'YouTube' Movies, Trailers, Clips, Music Videos and Lyrics".

There are also a few posts in that section that have new YouTube videos that I added such as the Everwood post, the Seasons of Love post, the Superman post, and the Imagine Me & You post. I think the videos help illustrate the thoughts I write in those posts. Feel free to check them out!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Welcome to the Staff

Just a quick note about my first two days at the new job that I mentioned on TWC's bday on Thursday. It has been going well so far. They even had a huge and beautiful arrangement of yellow flowers (see photo) delivered for me to welcome me onto the staff! Awww...... wasn't that kewl? They are flying me out to San Francisco for a training this coming week from Tuesday night through Friday night. It'll be my first time in the Bay area and i'll have Weds & Thurs evening free so hopefully i'll be able to connect with GCN friends in the area and see some fun sites! =)

Anyway, it's blazing hot in Southern California today so I hope you are staying cool if you're baking where you are too!

On a side note, I wanted to encourage everyone to keep Becky in your thoughts and prayers as she competes in the Gay Games in Chicago this weekend in the triathalon. She's an amazing friend, woman, and sister in Christ who loves the gay community genuinely. I'm sure she's looking forward to meeting different people and gaining greater insight into understanding our community better. The triathalon starts early Sunday morning. We need more people like her and also Zeke in the mainstream church who are willing to love and try to understand the GLBT people within the Church.

Take care everyone!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Happy Birthday Two World Collision

[Note: Scroll down within this post to see Dolly Parton's "Travelin' Thru" lyrics from TransAmerica along with the YouTube video.]

This is it! Sound the party favors!!! The day has arrived!

Happy Birthday Two World Collision!!!!

A year of journeying, exploring, questioning, seeking, reading and listening - i've taken 525, 600 steps forward and I'm at a better place than I was one year ago. I've traveled through along this road that not only leads to God, but follows God.

And here I am. At peace with my faith and sexuality. I am a gay Christian . . . .

It has been one year since my very first Two World Collision post entitled "Torn Between The Two". It's been a refreshing year of exploring the questions that I posed in that first blog post. Almost six months into writing this blog, I took an assessment of my previous years in "525,600 Minutes". Then at the New Year I began the four part "Sankofa" series discussing significant phases of my testimony. And of course, there's the milestone posts along the way that are listed in the right side column of this blog.

Now, it's been five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes of this journey and it has been absolutely exciting! I've explored the spectrum of perspectives regarding the issue of whether or not a person can be both gay and Christian. I've been in continuous dialogue and prayer with the Lord. I've searched the Scriptures and have realized the foreign gospel that I accepted from the mainstream. I've spoken to many gay Christians and have seen the fruit of the Spirit in them - the same evidence of God that I recognize in me.

I began this journey thinking that I would come "full circle" - that I would resolve for myself and own my beliefs about homosexuality (as I understood it at the time) to be a sin. My hope was to be confident enough to speak against it. However, God had a different journey for me to tread. It wasn't for me to come "full circle" in my old paradigm - as if God would tell me what I wanted to hear, that it was a sin. Instead, my journey was for me to come to "completion" in a new paradigm - to accept and hear what God would tell me, that God loves me. It was that simple. And I realized that all of those "Clobber passages" that refer to "homosexuality" - actually referring to a particular context and culture - aren't at all talking about me! Because at the end of the day, I have NEVER refused to glorify God and give thanks to Him. And so Romans 1:21-32 neither describes me nor applies to me.

I am a Christ-centered gay man who is striving to live a lifestyle of faith by loving God, loving others and inspiring others to do the same.

After one year of this journey, that statement best describes me and my identity.

And as is fitting for God's perfect timing, He is faithful to give good gifts. And what a blog birthday gift it is!

Do you remember all the anxiety that I was talking about in "The Not So Fun Part of Living By Faith"? It's tough trying to do something you are passionate about when it doesn't pay the bills because, well let's face it, the bills still need to be paid - regardless of how intangibly rewarding it is. I love being able to build relationships in the community and work towards the vision of Catalyst. But I've gotta tell ya - the stress was mounting and the faith I clung to that God would provide for me (just as He always has!) was being tested big time.

And in typical God fashion, He comes just in the nick of time - at the ninth inning - the calvary comes to deliver its provision as promised.

I got a job.

But the job itself isn't the blog birthday gift. One of the most exciting things (and relevant to this blog) about this whole job situation is that for the first time there is no closet-hiding, no pretending to be straight, nor even a coming-out experience to fellow co-workers or the boss. I interviewed as the person I am, unapologetically, without deliberately hiding or disclosing the simple truth that I am gay. I didn't have to say, "i'm gay" as if it mattered at all. At the same time, I didn't have to shy away from talking about the fact that I've resolved the apparent tension between my faith and my sexuality. (The discussion came up because my resume indicates my work with Catalyst - and during the interview they checked out the Web site which also led to this blog!). They liked me anyway. They accepted me anyway. They hired me anyway.

So the blog birthday gift was that for the first time, I came in . . . "out". Today is our blog birthday. And today is the first day at this new job where I can be comfortable enough to be all of me. We start fresh. And as they get to know me more, they get to know the real me more.

As a blog birthday gift for all of you who journey along with me - each with your own stories to tell - all of us relating in both similar and different ways - here is a tribute to our journey, an anthem to our struggle that says, "let the questions guide the journey":

"Travelin' Thru" by Dolly Parton
For the movie TransAmerica

Read and follow along with the lyrics (thanks to Scott-O-Rama):

"Well I can’t tell you where I’m going, I’m not sure of where I’ve been
But I know I must keep travelin’ till my road comes to an end
I’m out here on my journey, trying to make the most of it
I’m a puzzle, I must figure out where all my pieces fit

Like a poor wayfaring stranger that they speak about in song
I’m just a weary pilgrim trying to find what feels like home
Where that is no one can tell me, am I doomed to ever roam
I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’ on

Questions I have many, answers but a few
But we’re here to learn, the spirit burns, to know the greater truth
We’ve all been crucified and they nailed Jesus to the tree
And when I’m born again, you’re gonna see a change in me

God made me for a reason and nothing is in vain
Redemption comes in many shapes with many kinds of pain
Oh sweet Jesus if you’re listening, keep me ever close to you
As I’m stumblin’, tumblin’, wonderin’, as I’m travelin’ thru

I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’ thru
I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’ thru

Oh sometimes the road is rugged, and it’s hard to travel on
But holdin’ to each other, we don’t have to walk alone
When everything is broken, we can mend it if we try
We can make a world of difference, if we want to we can fly

Goodbye little children, goodnight you handsome men
Farewell to all you ladies and to all who knew me when
And I hope I’ll see you down the road, you meant more than I knew
As I was travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, travelin’ thru

I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’
Drifting like a floating boat and roaming like the wind
Oh give me some direction lord, let me lean on you
As I’m travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, thru

I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’ thru
I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’ thru
Like the poor wayfaring stranger that they speak about in song
I’m just a weary pilgrim trying to find my own way home
Oh sweet Jesus if you’re out there, keep me ever close to you
As I’m travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, as I’m travelin’ thru"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Boys Beware

Here's an old 1950's film designed to educate the public. Of course, my problem isn't with the message for kids to be careful of strangers. It's with the terminology suggesting that "the homosexual" has a "mental illness" and the inference that it causes this kind of behavior. Absolutely outrageous!