Where Faith, the Real World & Gay Life intersect!

How ‘Bout Those 49ers?

49ers-1_4104370599_e856cb7e82_zI am so grateful for my friendship with Chris. I am blessed that he has been a constant force in my life for almost twenty years; and although we live on opposite coasts now, our friendship transcends the thousands of miles that separate us.

He telephoned me one evening shortly after Sergio and I moved to North Carolina in October of 2011. “How ya’ll doin? So are you officially a gay redneck now?”

“I reckon so.”

He laughed heartily. “See, yer even startin’ to use words like ‘reckon.’”

“Daggumbit! I reckon I am. No since’in hidin’ it. Guessin’ I might better git used to hearin’ double negatives from now on. I heard an expression today that cracked me up: ‘she’s about as dumb as a box of rocks’ – gotta love it.”

“But Lar Bear, you have to admit that even after all your years in California, you never lost your southern accent completely. It was most pronounced after you done been a drankin’. You’d break out in expressions that took me right to the set of Hee Haw. Like seriously, dude, things like ‘I might could’ and ‘I used to could’.  Dang it to hell, L.T., I done cain’t believe you done and went and moved so far away. So youins’ fetched any road kill fer ya’lls supper yet?”

“Well, as a matter a fact, we was ridin’ down the road the other day and saw us a dead deer layin’ in the ditch. Daggone if somebody ain’t done went and cut its head off. Reckon they done took it to the taxidermist to get it mounted.”

“Well, L.T., how come ya’lls didn’t fetch the carcass and drag it home?  Umm, I betcha you coulda invited over the kinfolk and feasted on a big ole pot of venison stew. I reckon from now on a night of fine dinin’ for ya’ll is going to be the Golden Corral.”

charlotteI laughed. “Believe it or not, Senor Chris, we have real restaurants here, some actually pretty amazing. If you can believe it, Charlotte actually has a culinary institute. Had brunch last Sunday at this place called Mimosa Grill. Downtown. Beautiful plaza and fountain in front. Best prime rib I ever had. And bottomless mimosas! Of course, we couldn’t order them before noon. Stupid North Carolina liquor laws, no booze before twelve o’clock on Sundays. I kid you not, the cashier at Food Lion will stand there staring at her watch waiting until the precise moment when she can legally ring up your beer. Ridiculous! Oh well.  But despite it archaic liquor laws, Charlotte is actually a very cosmopolitan city, very up and coming. Diverse. Multi-cultural. So different from when I left after college. Certainly not the Charlotte I remember as a kid, that’s for dang sure.  We have a beautiful downtown, a vibrant gay community, gay bars, and a gay weekly even. And yes, contrary to an often distorted view of the south, we have museums, a great music scene that involves more than country twang, and hell dude, we even have Whole Foods and Trader Joes.”

“But you forgot the trailer parks!”

I smiled. “You’re such a dick head!”

“I’m just messin’ with you. I can’t resist. You know I love ya more than my luggage.”

“But, dude, seriously Charlotte isn’t half bad. Did you know that she is dubbed the ‘Queen City’?  Check this out, there’s actually a gay bar located on Queen City Boulevard. How funny is that? The Woodshed. A total dive with old fashioned juke boxes and pool tables and bunches of hot ‘gay rednecks’ as you like to call us, you brat.”

“How’s Serge?”

“Doin’ good. I think it’s going to be more of an adjustment for him. This is home for me, familiar, comfortable. I know what to expect. He doesn’t. But dude, I can’t believe our house. Shit, for what we paid for this place wouldn’t even have covered a down payment in Marin County. And almost a half acre to boot! I can’t wait for you and Joe to visit. How’s he doing by the way?”

“He’s good, sittin’ here chompin’ at the bit to say hello.”

“Well, tell him to just hold onto his britches for a minute.”

“So, L.T., how are your neighbors? Have you gotten any salvation tracts in your mailbox yet? Bein’ in the Bible Belt and all?”

“Well . . . actually we did already – from the neighbor next door.” We both laughed. “But she’s real sweet.  She means well.  I was out planting bulbs the other day. . .”

“Shit, L.T.,” Chris interrupted, “already out there playin’ in the dirt and I bet the house isn’t even unpacked yet.”

“Yeah yeah, whatever. Anyway dude, she came over to introduce herself. We stood there and talked for at least an hour. She was fishin’ real hard, ya know asking questions like ‘So are you married? Do you have children?’  On and on she went until finally I just came out and told her that I was gay and here with my same-sex partner. Chris, man the look on her face was priceless. Finally she just mumbled, ‘well, I don’t agree with your lifestyle, and I think it’s wrong. I just know Jesus calls me to love the sinner and hate the sin.  I’ll be prayin’ for ya’ll.’ I put on my thickest southern charm, and told her that I’d appreciate that very much and then with as much tact as I could muster I told her that it would probably be best if we not discuss politics or religion.  Well, she must be kinda clueless because the very next day I found a tract, an invite to her church, and a loaf of homemade pumpkin bread in the mailbox. Geez. What audacity! Of course Sergio was pissed off at me for coming out to one of the neighbors already. ‘Hell, L.T., we might as well just paint the damn house pink and put up a rainbow flag and a big sign proclaiming that we’re queer and we’re here.’”

Chris roared, “L.T., stop it! You’re gonna make me wet myself.”

“But seriously dude, I’m so over caring what anybody thinks. I’m cool with me. Of course we’ll run into some homophobes here but heck, we experienced that in California travelling into the Central Valley. It’s everywhere . . . but so far we’ve met some pretty cool peeps here.  And my family – wow – dude! They’re beyond awesome. I still can’t believe how cool they are with everything. God’s good. I’m amazed at how broken relationships with family have been healed. I would have never imagined in the program that things would turn out the way they have. Never did I think it possible that I could be openly gay with my family.  Never in a million years. But shit dude, even the kids call Sergio ‘Uncle Serge’. It’s precious.  And my grandma, well . . . I swear I think she loves him more than me. He’s a real in-law. I am so blessed, man. I have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure it’s real.”

“So how’s it going with God?”

“Dude, God is so awesome. I love the connection He and I have. I went to church last Sunday. It’s lead by two lesbian pastors. They seem pretty cool. The music is awesome, and the message was so inspiring, and so outside the lines – the way I like it. We sang ‘Amazing Grace’ and instead of ‘that saved a wretch like me’ we sang ‘that saved a soul like me’. So cool. I mean seriously man don’t you think that to call ourselves wretched is a slap in the face to God? Can’t deal with that bullshit theology no more.”

~~~

 Three years later and Chris and I are still as close as ever.

The other night I was perusing Facebook and he initiated an online chat. “Wassup poodle?”

“Nothing much, what ya doing?”

“Just drinking some red wine and watching some Warriors basketball.”

“You and your silly sports. Remember that time you tried to teach me how football worked?”

49ers-2_6723361369_baa071e385_b“Oh God, L.T., that was like trying to teach a foreign language. I remember trying to explain to you how there are set plays for both sides of the ball and how the offensive line really sets up what is going on for the defense,  so I was going into how some parts of the offensive line might pull and act as blockers for the running back. Swear you looked at me like a poor limp wristed deer caught in the headlights.”

“Might as well have been Greek to me. After a while I totally tuned you out.  Sorry dude, but the gibberish that spewed from your mouth bored me to tears. All I could think about was the cute guys running around in those tight uniforms and how good they looked all sweaty and grubby and sexy.”

“Yikes … ewwww. I have never had a sexualized view of football. Gross!”

“LOL . . . Oh that’s right – the NFL players are too young for you anyway . . . you like ‘em older, grayer, more sophisticated. Aged and wiser. Remember that bar in the Castro nicknamed the ‘Glass Coffin’? Wasn’t that your favorite hang out place?”

“Hehehehe . . .”

“So, Chris, question for you . . .”

“Shoot.”

“Where would you say you are twenty years later?”

“That’s easy. My relationship with God is still the most important thing in my life. A big part of that began, truly, at New Hope ministries. You?”

“LOL dude. All I gotta say is God must have one helluva sense of humor. Because when he made me he must have been laughing. Perhaps I was an experiment. But I love it! When I was a kid, I was such a dork. I could spend hours with my grandmother’s set of encyclopedias. Now we have google! I was surfing Mother Teresa online the other night. I love this quote: ‘In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.’ So, to answer your question – that’s where I am with God. It’s just the two of us and that’s good enough. Totally changing the subject, who was it that came up with that expression ‘how ‘bout those 49ers?’ Was it you?”

“Yep, it was me. Remember how we were discouraged to gossip and encouraged to call each other out if we were being ‘non-edifying’? The shortened version became NE – remember? For some reason I always remember Jason saying it more than anyone else. LOL. Perhaps it was just the flamboyance with which he said it. With his arms flailing wildly he’d shrill at the top of his lungs, ‘NE NE NE NE’ until finally we had to shut him up. Swear to God that boy needed a sedative. He was so hyper. Anyhow I was the one who came up with the perfect segue into a more uplifting conversation, ‘how ‘bout those 49ers?’”

“Of course I remember the whole ‘NE’ thing, and funny how I remember saying that to Damon more than anybody else. For a leader, he sure could be catty. I’m just glad he and I came around eventually. Remember that night in the Castro when we all got ridiculously drunk?”

“Oh yah, we ended up at that bar . . . what was the name of that place? Hmmm – oh yah, the Pendulum. That was kinda strange for me  … seeing Damon at that bar flirting with all those men in tight shirts. God, he was so provocative. That kind of weirded me out.”

“It was good for me. That experience brought me closer to Damon. I think it was the first time we’d hung out since he’d finally abandoned the teachings of New Hope. It was so healing to just hang out and forget all the bullshit dogma.”

“Dude, some good times! Hey I’m sending you a link to one of my favorite songs, ‘No One Is Alone’.  I really love the line ‘Witches can be right, Giants can be good, you decide what’s right, you decide what’s good.’ It seems so reflective of our experience.”

“I’ll check it out . . . hey dude tell me a good night joke before we sign off for the night.”

 

Well . . . a thin, snivelly librarian goes to prison for white-collar crime. When he gets there his cellmate is a three hundred pound Hell’s Angel dude.

His new roommate asks him, “So . . . do  you wanna be the wife or the husband?”

He says, after some thought… “I… I think I’d like to be… the husband.”

“The good ‘ol boy opens his arms wide and says, “Good!!!! Now come over here and give your wife some lovin.’”

My fingers danced across the keyboard at a frenzied pace . . . “NE NE NE NE!!”

 

Photo credit:  John Martinez Pavilga via Flickr, cc; and Bay Area Bias via Flickr, cc.

 

Ex-Gay SurvivorL.T. MILLER was born in a small southern town. While in college, he became involved in ex-gay support groups, and in 1996 was accepted into the New Hope Ministries residential program in San Rafael, CA. During his two year stay, he questioned everything until finally he completely abandoned a misguided ideology that made less and less sense. He found a gay church in San Francisco where he was accepted for who he was, and with the loving support of a lesbian pastor he was able to begin life anew as an openly gay man.  L.T. Miller is the Ex-Gay Survivor.

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