..::|:.: Scattered Words

"in brokeness, I could see, that this was your will for me..." :: Jeremy Camp

6.16.2004

Moved.

The new site is ready for you all to start reading. http://scatteredwords.com. Please let me know of any bugs you come across, as I'll be doing a lot of work over the next couple of days.

A couple of notes:
-All the old posts are there, but they are not all completely "functional" -- some links are missing and the formatting has been stripped. I'll fix them when I can.
-I don't have a good easy way to export the haloscan comments, and then import to the new database as far as I know, so I won't be.
-After today, commenting here will be shut down. If I can, I'll leave all the comments intact.
-Commenting at the new site require registration with typekey. It's painless. If you don't want to register, you can still comment but for now, I have to approve the unregistered comments before they're posted (I think I only have to "approve" you once). Registered users can comment with no wait.
-Not all of the archives / indexes are fully functional. As I get time, they will be.
-The new site will more than likely be ad-supported to pay for hosting and bandwidth costs. The blogroll and links will be back, I just haven't had time to add them yet.

Again, please update your links and bookmarks, and let me know of troubles so I can get to fixin' them.

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When.

When there are no more bathhouses, no more gay bars and clubs with "backrooms", no more websites dedicated to cruising and random hookups, etc., etc., etc, then I won't be able to write about those things. When the homosexuality stops revolving predominantly around sex, then...

I know a lot you want to deny my experiences and my observations, that you don't want people to hear what I have to say. Just because you don't like or don't believe its the majority / norm doesn't diminish my right to say it.

I know a lot of you want to believe that what I say isn't true. But I suspect you wouldn't fight so hard if you didn't half believe it.

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6.15.2004

Bathhouses.

I was reading Tony's blog today, Hoshaw. He has a post about a pretty famous bathhouse, SteamWorks, which is in Chicago (there's a couple actually, but he's referring to the Chicago one). I'm suprised that a guy who goes to seminary would be comfortable using a church metaphor to describe a bathhouse (I think he's just repeating a common euphemism, but still). He goes on to describe the bathhouse, but I think he leaves a few things out. I'm going to add my own thoughts here, based on what I've experienced (not only to work through it, but to offer a slightly different interpretation).

Tony's physical description pretty much matches what almost every bathhouse across the country looks like (I've found a few that are pretty "high class" -- but for the most part, they're pretty dingy). A plain facade, a secured entryway and a little man behind a glass booth (but even the pizza place down the street from me is covered in bullet-proof glass).

The worst one I've ever been to is here in DC. It's wholly unsecured, located in a horrible part of town (not that there are "great" parts of DC) and extremely run down. I went once and decided that getting mugged on my way up the street was not a happy thing.

But there's more to these places than just how they look.

That atmosphere is oppressive. There's rarely any talking (except, maybe the common, or non-sex, areas); communication is handled non-verbally, mainly with the eyes. If you like a guy, you make eye contact. Mistaken eye contact is best avoided, as it could send the wrong guy the wrong signal.

Then the chase beings. You generally follow each other around, until you find a place that you can meet up (with an easy out, in case of that mistaken eye contact thing I mentioned). Depending on the guy, it's usually a public place, like the sauna or steam room or hot tub or showers or whatever. Most bathhouses have private rooms, but there are usually lots of public areas designated for sex.

There are some guys who don't wait for eye signals, though. They move in without "permission" and don't really know how to take no for an answer. I've had to physically pull a guy's hands off of me more than once.

I have been in some bathhouses that restrict sexual activitiy to certain areas (or certain areas at certain times), but most are basically open free for alls -- any place, any time.

I had invited one guy to my "private room" one night, and quickly regretted the decision. He was a little too rough and though I told him to stop, he really didn't seem to care. I ended up kicking him through the door just to get him off me. The owners were sympathetic and he ended up paying to fix the broken door jam.

But that's the extreme it's rarely violent. Most of the guys were nice enough (you kind of have to be, especially if you're hoping for sex) and I've never felt awkward or embarrassed while inside.

But drug use, very public and group sex, little to no condom use -- those are not the extremes, they've been the norm in every bathhouse I've been in across the country.

I normally went on weekends, so the places were always packed -- hundreds of guys, usually. They almost always had dress codes (a towel, basically) and some had rules as to where nudity was permitted, but not all.

The staff varied from place to place. I always wondered what they'd tell people when asked what they did for a living. I'm pretty sure most places have a strict no sex on the job policy, but I've had a couple of workers ask me to wait for them until their shifts ended. I couldn't imagine working in a bathhouse.

So, despite all that. I still went. I went a lot. And I've said before, I miss it sometimes. I don't know why -- it's not like there was ever any real connection with anyone. But sometimes I'll hear music or smell something that reminds me of some bathhouse I've been in.

And the strongest temptations for me right now, are these places. I know they're there, ready and waiting. And they'll always be there. Always. I pray I never see the inside of one again.

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6.14.2004

Smooth Sailing.

Not a lot to say right now. I've been working a lot, and thus, occupied (which always seems to be good -- being idle leads to temptation which leads to trouble which leads too...).

I was reading this forum tonight -- I've been skimming it since they started talking about me a week or so ago, but the conversation has taken on a life of its own. There was one poster, who simply noted that she/he knew someone in "real life" who had claimed to have left homosexuality. And that poster promptly got the crap kicked out of her/him. And she/he got kicked over and over and over again.

Now I've noticed that no one's really posted a definitive or though-out reponse to this person. They've just ranted and raved and bashed. No one for a moment has given him/her any credence, that what they're saying could actually be true* -- I don't know, I take people's defensiveness as a good sign. It means a nerve is being hit and when someone responds out with anger from anger, fear isn't usually hard behind. It tells me they're more afraid of people like me being right than they let on. I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- there are some out there that *need* me to be wrong.

*at least as far as I'v read. I've only really skimmed the posts.

Moving.

I've made the decision to move to a dedicated web address and start using Movabletype to manage the site content. The import from blogger went okay, but I have a lot of work to do to restore the links and some formatting to the posts. This site will continue to run as a mirror to the MT site indefinitely; I'll continue to update here the same as the other site, but commenting will be shut down at some point and users who want to comment will be redirected to the MT site. So, in other words, you don't have to do anything right now. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up.

6.13.2004

Amazed.

I've received some really great e-mails tonight. They've been overwhelimingly uplifiting and encouraging, which is so not the norm. I normally don't quote e-mails, as I like to keep those private, but I want to quote this one part (since he was quoting someone else, I don't think he'll mind):

"Sexually abused children not only face an assault on their developing sense of their sexual identity, but a blow to their construction of the world as a safe enough environment and their developing sense of others as trustworthy. In those abused by someone with whom they had a close relationship, the impact is likely to be all the more profound."

I've been wholly amazed at how desperate some have seemed to convince me that prior sexual abuse as a kid had nothing to do with my sexual development, or my "orientation" now.

It's from a site called the National Child Protection Clearinghouse. I find it more amazing that so many have dismissed any link between abuse and adult sexual identity, particularly in my case, without knowning the extent of the abuse I suffered or how I reacted as a child. I don't know why the idea that this could've played a major part in my sexual development is so threatening.

Okay, down off the soapbox. There's a lot to read at that site, and I've only skimmed it. It seems pretty interesting, though.

6.12.2004

Friendship.

I think God's been teaching me some things about friendship. That doesn't mean I know what it is, yet. But there's something I'm supposed to be learning here. What I wouldn't give for a burning bush right about now.

Questions.

I received an e-mail this morning from someone who wanted some clarification about all this stuff. The author suggested all my readers might benefit from the answers, so I hope she doesn't mind if I post them here. I think I have touched on most of these, but they bare repeating anyways.

1 - Why am I doing this? What made me decide to try and change?
A lot of things. Mostly the idea of how destructful I was being to myself and my relationship with God -- that I was "grieving the Holy Spirit" and stagnating my own spiritual growth with every step. I'd been trying so hard to fill a whole in my life and I knew what I was doing wasn't working. There was / is a war inside me and it was time to pick a side.

2 - What's the hardest part so far?
The hardest part has really been turning to God instead of turning to myself. Realizing that I can't do this on my own, that it's not even *my* battle has been rough. Then there's the whole no sex thing. That's not so easy, either.

3 - What about the whole women thing? How does that work?
Beats me. I've had girlfriends before -- but I'm not sure I've ever felt an real "pull" toward them. There are times when I am attracted to a girl, but they're rare. I'm more attracted to a girl when I know she's attracted to me, but I think that's the same for everyone. Will I ever get married? I don't know. Do I want to, yes, very much so. I want a family some day.

4 - And men, where are you at with that?
Surprisingly, it hasn't been that hard to abstain from sex. It's normally a lot harder; I've had trouble going one week, now I'm at like two months or something like that. Does that mean the desire or attraction isn't there? No, it's still there. But I think the "desire" is much stronger than that "attraction" -- I posted a little on that below. I think the attraction is a reaction, almost involuntary. The desire, what I feel in my heart, that's coming from something else. I'm working on it though.

I think that covers pretty much everything that was asked in the e-mail (I paraphrased the questions though). If I think of more things to say about this stuff, I'll add to it later.

A lesson.

Once again, I must diverge from my intended purpose of this blog for a moment. It's to provide a quick lesson in copyright law.

Bill is upset because he wrote about me, and I quoted him. Bill wrote me an e-mail (two actually) telling me how much he didn't like it. I didn't respond to his e-mails, but I'll respond now. He and Steve seem to be buddies, as I found this on a comment thread at Steve's site:
... I gave so called "Ben" permission to steal that quote from me after the fact. It then told me some nonsense about US copyright law. ... your Yankee law has no effect on me and I [will] sue it if it published any more of my comments. I have had no response as of yet from "Ben" it has now provided a link from my quote to my site which was not there when it orginally lifted it....

Ignoring the fact that he calls me it, there a couple things I need to correct here.

First, no where in his e-mails did he threaten to sue me. Second, the link (and his name) where there from the beginning. Whenever I quote someone, I always link to the original source in some way so you can read their words in their full glory. He is right about falling under international copyright agreements (in his e-mail he says international "law", but there isn't really law per se).

What is the international agreement? It's the Berne Convention for the Protection of Artistic and Literary Works, as revised (created in Paris in the 70s, I think). It's a big declaration, but the important part is found in article 10 paragraph 1:

"It shall be permissible to make quotations from a work which has already been lawfully made available to the public..."

I don't need to say anymore about that. One could argue that Bill has usurped my "right to publicity" by writing about me, especially since I'm not a public figure in regard to this blog. But that would be almost as absurd as saying quoting him is "theft" of his property. But wait, Bill does say that, here:

"...direct theft of intellectual property from my site."

Yes, he's upset about all seven words (and amount used is a valid fair use consideration for the courts).

Now there is a very, very simple way for Bill and others whom don't like being quoted to solve their problem. Don't write about me, and I won't have anything to quote. I wonder if Bill knows that falsely accusing someone of committing and indictable offense such as theft, is slander per se -- an actionable defamation (though copyright violations have to be pretty big before they become criminal actions as opposed to civil). Not that I'd ever split hairs like that or anything. I just get tired of all the nonsense.

I guess though, if Bill had his way, anyone could say anything they want about me and I wouldn't have the right to respond, because I'm not allowed to quote. I know, it sounds rediculous, but what else am I to think when I'm told I've stolen someone's property when all I've really done is defend myself by calling him out?

In the post Bill is worried about, he quotes The Promise Tree. I'm planning to write an e-mail and ask the good folks there if he asked their permission first. I'll let you know how they respond. I assume he has, since he's jumped all over me about it.

I also considered posting Steve's e-mail here for you all, since he did me the courtesy on his own site. But since he posted my old e-mail incorrectly (which is still on my old comments here), I'll save that for a rainy day.

Let's all remember, I didn't ask any of you to write anything about me. Though I do enjoy reading it.

6.10.2004

Sobering.

From an article at oneBYone:

"We have never hidden the fact that attempting to change one's homosexuality is probably the most difficult challenge a Christian will ever face..."

Are you kidding me? I suddenly feel very unprepared and too young to be facing my most difficult challenge ever. Isn't that supposed to be something that happens later in life? I question my strength for this. The long haul might be, well, long. I wish it was as simple as red pill, blue pill. Pick one.

Grow Down.

I found a new site, thanks to Every Tomorrow. It's called Deeper Devotion: Grow Down. I read this on their daily devotion page (online devotionals are cool, 'cause they're free).

... I can tell you that the instructions have never forced themselves into my hand or made my face turn and read them. That’s because it’s my job to seek them out and to understand them. The problem is, I don’t value them like I should. Proverbs explains that instruction is “your life.” That sound’s pretty important to me.

Sounds pretty important to me, too. The verse referenced is Proverbs 4:13.

It's hardest, I think, to follow instructions when we don't know what they are (or don't care). I've written about Corinthians 6 over and over again, because in a way, it's a daily reminder of what God's instructions are for sex. And I think about when I started having sex on a pretty routine basis (around 13). I really, really didn't understand that what I was doing was wholly inappropriate and harmful. I didn't realize that God says anything about sex. After being abused (and the abuse was never violent, or even forceful) I just figured it was what I was supposed to do.

I liked to think that if I hadn't been abused, I wouldn't of started having sex so early. Well, I know I wouldn't have started having sex so early -- I wouldn't have even known what it was, really. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't of turned to other guys, either (or at least, I don't think I would've). I just thought it was I was supposed to do (not to mention that I might have been trying to balance a total lack of connection with my father).

Which brings me back to my bare it like Beckham post. My first reaction to seeing a guy has never been "I want to have sex with him," though that thought usually follows. My first reaction is usually "I want to be him." This happens most when I see a guy walking down the street with his shirt off or something. Like there's some kind of subconscious representation of what a "man" is and what a shirtless guy represents to me, for some reason. I don't really understand this, yet. But I've been noticing it a lot lately (summer time).

Choice.

This is one of the few things that does make me hurt, because it represents how little is understood about the ex-gay movement:

"If it can be changed, then it is a choice. If it can be changed, anyone can change it if they try hard enough, and those of us who have tried and failed are just failed, pathetic human beings."

I don't believe it is a choice, regardless of whether change is possible or not. Depression is not a choice (no one asks to be depressed), but you can become "undepressed" through a lot of hard work and emotional healing.

I think this guy was obviously missing the God aspect of his life. If I were trying to do this on my own, I'd end up bitter and miserable, too. I'd also be as defensive as this guy is about it. I've said before that any change I achieve threatens others who don't want to change or don't want to try. At least this guy had enough guts to admitt it. I just wish he had the hope that I do. Maybe things would be better for him.

Then comes the whole aspect of pain. Yeah it hurts. Yes I'm suffering -- but an absence of pain and suffering in our lives doesn't necessarily equal hapiness. And the presence of pain and suffering doesn't preclude hapiness either. I'm reading Lewis on the subject now, and I think he's a pretty smart guy.

And I wonder, does it really matter how many times guys like this fail? That doesn't prove its "impossible" as some have told me. Maybe it shows that its hard, but... duh.

UPDATE: The guy I quoted, added this to the comment thread: "Give me a break. I attend church twice a week, and at one point was attending vocational conferences in the Catholic Church. Just because I don't bow to a hateful, worthless fundamentalist conception of God doesn't mean that I'm 'missing the God aspect' of my life." I just wanted to make sure everyone got to see it. I have my thoughts, but I'll give him the break he asked for.

More misinformation.

I'll leave this guy to read my "Things I've Never Said," post, too:

The dude doesn't say, "I'm promiscuous and have a series of unsafe and empty sexual encounters that leave me deeply spiritually unsatisfied. I want to change that." He says, "Homosexuals are promiscuous and have unsafe and empty sexual encounters, leaving them deeply spirtually unsatisfied. I am a homosexual. Therefore, I want to overcome my homosexuality."

I'd really like to see that quote and where he took it from.

6.09.2004

Thorns.

It's that time of year when most guys (myself included) bare it like Beckham and I had something very insightful to write in regard. But, I think I'll save it until tomorrow. The blog has received a couple higher profile links today, and as I was reading through some of the stuff out ther -- I got to thinking. Put your seatbealts on, it's a rocky road.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. :: 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Paul had something in his life that plagued him, and though we don't know what it was we pretty much know that he died still afflicted from it. So, what if the same happens to me?

I'm not despairing here, at all -- I find a lot of hope in those verses, I always have. It's just that I really don't know where this is all going, where it's going to end. It's not that I have any doubt that God can heal me, that God can take this from me, that God can restore me to the fullness of what He created me to be. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that freedom from homosexuality is not only possible, but fully desireable. I believe it's something God has in store for me.

But I've got to ask the question, because so many out there are convinced it will never happen. If I'm going to deal with this, I need to address the issue: What if I remain this way (gay) for the rest of my life?

Will I embrace my homosexuality? Never. Will I self-destruct under the weight of shame? No. Will my faith in God waiver? Doubtful. I'll always have highs and lows (we all do) but there's nothing that will seperate me from the love of my Father. Ever.

It's a precarious question, it is. Suffering is hard to take, even harder to understand. It's probably one of the most familiar objections to Christianity out there. I don't pretend to understand it or like it. Lewis had a good handle on it in the Problem of Pain. But not even he had all the answers.

No matter what happens, His grace will be sufficient for me. On this matter, I'm resolved.

What didn't work 8.

Trying to Force Opposite-Sex Attraction
Some of the worst ... advice we ever received was to resolve our homosexual feelings by dating women ... to arouse interest. We already loved women - as sisters. We identified with them - too much so.

Our problem was not generally with women, so that's not where the solution lay. Our problem was with heterosexual men and masculinity, and with our own maleness. ... We needed to spend more time with heterosexual men, not with women. Before we could concern ourselves with attraction to women, we had to feel like more of a man. We needed to ground ourselves much more firmly in a male identity and in the male world...

This is the approach Medinger takes in Growth Into Manhood (the latter). He says affirmation and acceptance from men can help one to pick-up where the stages of emotional developmental growth left. It's like a process that all straight guys go through, and though I can't ever go back and fix those things now and develop the way and adolescent boy is supposed too -- I can in a way, make substitutions in my adult life now. It just feels so weird.

Medinger suggests things like sports and other stuff that guys generally like. Though I've known a few guys who were good at sports, I haven't known many. I was okay -- I wasn't like a track star or quarterback or anything like that. It wasn't that I didn't have the physical skill or hand eye coordination either, it was just that I didn't care. I had little interest in playing sports and I have even less in watching them on television (though I do both occassionally).

Part of the disinterest was fear, though. For one, I never did anything that I wasn't really good at. If I sucked, I quit. I never got better and that contributed to a fear of being embarrassed, especially when so many guys were so good, or it just came so easily to them.

I do shy completely away from "guy" situations though. It's a foreign world to me, strange and uncomfortable. I think this is one of the ways the church has been so helpful. The Christian guys I've met have generally been very accepting and affirming of me. I've been able to cautiously step out into this "guys" world and test myself, without getting the hell beat out of my self-esteem. It's still scary though.