Acceptance, A Bitter Pill to Swallow

What happens when you are forced to re-evaluate your life, and one realizes that the life you had been living is no more? And all those parts of life, that make you, who you are, no longer apply?

When I “Came Out,” I came out into a world that was segregated, to itself. There was a particular door, I needed to walk through, and there was only one location, where that door existed, according to the man who told me this piece of information.

For the whole of my life, I consumed every piece of reading material that I could find, in the home I lived in. Reading material that I found titillating and erotic. I knew, I was Gay, before I knew what Gay was, because the media I consumed, via radio and print, was specific.

I had an idea of the life I wanted, because it was fantastical. It was, a Fantasy.
A Fantasy that would never materialize. Never …

If you are gay, sex is part of who you are. it is what we do. It is how we express love and attraction. If you were gay, then you were sexual. That was a given. And in my twenties, I was pretty, desirable, sexual. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that there was only one way into the Gay Community.

That One Way, was through a bar. A location where like minds drank and socialized.

I was told, to go to a particular bar, Uncle Charlies. A bar I knew well, later on in my story. But I went to this bar, parked my car, and set my resolve that I was going to go inside and have a couple of drinks, because I was told, that IF I DRANK, fireworks would happen.

For a decade I did that. I would go to a bar, and I would drink, and eventually, fireworks would happen. I knew, that if I showed up, people would notice me, and notice me they did.

I made numerous mistakes. I met all the wrong people. And I did stupid things, when I drank. I was a tornado in the lives of people. I became a selfish liar.

Now I know, I was sold a delusional bill of goods. Being gay, for me, was a selfish lifestyle. But it was all that I knew. because for the time being it worked for me, until it stopped working.

I never knew where I was going to end up, once I started drinking. What house I would end up in, or in who’s bed. That drinking charade lasted, until one morning at 7 a.m. I was sitting in a bar in Fort Lauderdale, and I entered into an agreement, an alcoholic agreement.

That one sexual event, was the event that changed my life. I took me a very long time, to realize that on that morning, the Proverbial Bullet was shot. And evidently, I was the target, I did not know I was the target, but in the end, it was Me who Lost.

Meanwhile, James was on his way out of this life. I had separated and began to figure out what I was going to do after falling for a serial liar and cheater. He would eventually commit suicide. I would find him five days too late.

Up till now, the fantasy life I had imagined, had yet to materialize.

One night, I decided to go to the Old Stud. A kid in jeans and t-shirt, walking into a rough and tumble leather bar. I knew, it was trouble I was looking for. I went there on purpose.

That was the night that Todd stepped out of heaven and wrecked my world.

He knew, why I was standing in his bar, with a drink in my hand. His first impression took me by surprise, but it was love at first strike.

And you know, that fantasy life I so wanted, died that night.

Todd saw fit to never allow me to entertain my darkest fantasies. Ever. He knew the trouble I sought, and in ensuing years, after I got sick, and sex all but dried up forever, he knew the trouble makers out there, and he knew that if I went there, there would be even more trouble for me. Trouble that I would never survive.

And survival was the thrust of our relationship, Todd and I. He worked very hard at making sure I lived, when everybody else died, slowly, miserably and addicted.

I got sober. Because I was dying of AIDS.

I turned my will and my life over to the care of Todd:read:God, on a nightly basis. I learned Step Three on a nightly basis. Getting sober, came in a distant second to surviving AIDS in the 1990’s.

I did stay sober. I never had sex again. I did try, but men are evil. That was a bitter lesson.

How was I going to survive as a gay man, and never have sex again? I had no idea, but as long as I had something to do, to stay out of my head, and work, I did not have time to think about sex.

When Todd moved away, and I relocated to Miami for a doctor, AA, did not welcome me. It was just the opposite. AA told me to go away and never return.

That was sick, evil, and could have killed me in the end.

When they told me to go away, my ego and my selfish pursuits rose in my throat. It consumed me, and the next decision I made, SOBER, was to pursue sex.

I pulled a geographic in sobriety. 1000 miles away. For SEX. Point. Stop.

I did not find it. However I found more addiction, drugs, and alcohol. I did not only drink, I used drugs. Until I hit the moment that the cops showed up and took me away, and sent me to a rehab house in another state to dry out and sober up.

I was there for a month.

The life I lived in the past, the life I knew, was used against me, and I almost lost my life, in the selfish pursuit I was on. You cannot have sex, with an individual who is addicted and mentally unstable. You don’t know what you don’t know, and I did not know the state of the man I was after, before I got there. it was plainly, a total surprise.

A month later, I returned to Miami. On a bus, across the United States.

I was still drinking, thankfully, I never touched another drug.

9-11 happened. And that stopped the taps for a couple of weeks.

But once we started drinking again, it only got worse. I knew I could not drink every day, so I chose to binge on Saturday nights.

At age 34 … I had pissed away four years of sobriety and was on the end of my eighteen month slip.

I would go to Salvation, a nightclub in a big hall, with big sound, and Pretty Men.

I knew the drill. Arrive at 11 p.m. wait till midnight, when the main hall opened, start drinking. At 1 a.m. the bells would ring, and the liquid nitrogen was dropped on the club, wherein men of all stripes would strip their shirts and get down to business.

I figured that if I drank, someone would notice, and sex would happen.

I did drink, until I fell down.
Somebody noticed; and got me from the club into my bed, across several weeks,
Sex never happened.

I prayed to God for the Solution. The solution came.

Troy took me to my next First Meeting, at SOBE. December 2001.

I got sober, and have been sober ever since.almost eighteen years in December.

11 months into Sobriety, I met my now husband. In short order, we dated for a month, I moved into this apartment over Christmas 2002, and I never left.

I became a Canadian Citizen on February 13th, 2003.

For a short while, before mental illness took the man I met away from me, we had sex a handful of times. As of that date, we’ve never had sex, ever again. Bi-polar medication does things to ones brain, when medicine is pounded for a year, without fail, until the correct mixture was found.

What was a sex life, became non-existent. We don’t talk about it, and we don’t have sex, it is not at the top of either of our personal lists.

Cue to April 1st, 2019.

I have the third prophetic dream and in that dream, Chastity becomes a solution. I knew, that if I did not act on this dream, I would be making a mistake. Ignoring God a third time, would end up, a wall falling down on top of me, because I ignored Him three times.

I was not going to ignore Him a third time.

It took me six months of selfish wrangling about my sex life, to finally turn it all over, and accept that I am not a sexual being any longer. I am not having sex, with anyone, because I’d never cheat on my husband. So masturbation was the constant.

A constant that had to come to an end. And I had to be ok with that.

Like I said, it took me six months to ACCEPT this little truth about myself. But Accept I did, without reservation. I turned this last portion of an old selfish idea of myself over to God, as I understand Him.

Acceptance keeps coming up in meetings, and several times over the past few months, I’ve had to eat this word, bitterly. Acceptance IS a Bitter Pill to swallow, when one realizes that the person you thought you were, when this journey began in my twenties, no longer exists. This is who I am today.

I want to rid myself of character defects and shortcomings.

Being Selfish is an old idea I really need to shed, today, and not tomorrow.

I need to believe that God has my back. No matter how hard I trust God, I still second guess Him, to my own peril.

Let’s just say that I am openly admitting my selfishness, and how ugly it is, and that I cannot abide in God and retain selfish motives or needs.

Giving up of myself totally and without reservation has to be the final Godly order.

I know what is right. I just need to believe that I can do the right thing, even if I do not want to do the right thing, because the right thing, takes away the final part of what makes me a gay man, and what will I be when I take away everything that made me who I was when I came out of the closet all those years ago ?

I have no idea. But I am on the way to finding out.

My best friend and I are participating in Locktober.

Change is coming. As long as we can see the truth.

Finding the Right Lock

Tonight we read the Seminal Most Important reading in the book, Page 417 …

Acceptance IS the KEY to ALL of my problems.
Nothing happens in God’s World by Mistake, Nothing …

When the chair announced the reading several of us GROANED with emotion. And my friend sitting next to me said to me … “AH Jesus, this reading AGAIN?”

I know that if I have a problem with anyone around me, the real problem lies within me. And I have to stop and look in the mirror and see where I am at fault. I’m really not a control freak, because I know how that goes. But I do have some truth.

I was once told that
“Just because you have time, does not necessarily mean you are sober.”

It took me over twelve years to figure out what that meant. I have endeavored to have done the necessary homework to be able to speak clearly, with conviction, and truth. Because sometimes we have to tell the uncomfortable truth, even if it hurts.

I went to the meeting tonight, to find one of my kids. Whom I fear, has used up his nine lives and I fear, the next time he might decide to go down his rabbit hole, that he won’t make it out alive. And I so badly want to try and help him.

But my friend Josh said to me after the meeting, that I need to let him come to me, if even that might happen, because our kids won’t ask for help, and we must allow them their free will to chose what they wish to do. But it was a good thing he took several newcomer chips in the last week, so he knows to come back.

I cannot save my kids unless they want help. I cannot force sobriety on them, because the greatest sin is this:

“To get in the way of anothers spiritual journey.”

All I can do is hope. I asked another friend who had seen my young man the other night, to text him my phone number. now it is up to him to use that number, and soon.

Let Us Pray …

LOCKTOBER

Last night I had a coffee date with my best friend. Wearing my really cool, “Team Locked” sweatshirt. He had a good laugh at me. He could not believe that I would wear it out in public. Not that many people have any idea what chastity is, and why we would engage in this practice.

Suffice to say, he will be participating with me in Locktober.30 days to refocus our brains away from ourselves, and onto much better things to do, like helping others.

This morning I went grocery shopping and stopped in at The Tire to see if I could find a better lock for my rage cage. I could not stand the pin and small lock that was provided. And the pin hole on the wings of the base ring is wide enough to accept a much larger lock that would fill the pin hole and not give the cage the ability to come apart.

I did find that lock, it is much larger than the original lock. Now I have the cage I want, that is the best choice I had made yet. I have the proper lock I want to secure said cage.

Over the past month I have been talking to my guys in my Chastity community, and they have given me sound advice. Full time chastity is a nice thought, but not viable in the long run. Because once you hit a certain age, (read: Your fifties) one must be careful to avoid Prostate Cancer. Because once you hit fifty, doctors will begin testing you for prostate cancer. The older you get, the better the chance you will develop a problem.

Making sure you “Cleanse the Pipes” every so often, will lessen that chance of a build up of fluid that can react with your biology and problems arise.

Too many of the gay men I know, in the rooms, have all had cancer. And I watched them navigate their choices. One of those men died last year. And there are just a few of them left, alive. Many of our older men have had Cancer.

I don’t need Cancer. I have enough problems of my own.

I am powerless over people, places, and things.
There is a God, and I am not God.
I cannot save every kid I would like, even if I wanted to.

Acceptance is the key to All of my problems.

Truth

When we were kids, what was the one thing our parents told us, that was the most important idea ? Always tell the truth.

Growing up, I told the truth. Sometimes at my own peril. I learned early on, just How Much Truth, to let loose. When alcohol entered the picture, truth and all those other necessary ideas of honesty, went out the window.

Tonight I heard what happens, when you cannot tell another lie, to cover up all the lies you had already spoken, and the world caves in on you.

There is something I cannot wrap my brain around today.

Why are people so averse to telling the truth and also, hearing the truth?

Why are people so hell bent to shut you up and walk away from friendships and relationships, because you tell the truth ?

I’ve been sober a long time now. And I’ve seen a great many things over time, and I’ve also heard many things in many places. I had this conversation with a couple of friends tonight.

I’ve said, in an earlier post, that the train of thought in our rooms is this:

Feel Nothing, Say Nothing, Do Nothing.

God forbid, I speak a feeling in open community ! God forbid, I loose my cool, or even slightly raise my voice in a public setting. An Heaven Forbid, I tell the TRUTH, in front of my friends.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned about vulnerability, guilt and shame, from the Master Teacher Brene Brown. Vulnerability is not a liability, it is an Asset. And I live by that thought today.

We go about our lives, listening to people, tell us to just shut up. Listen to people tell us, that to openly feel an emotion in the general public is not advised. To the point, we become a Vulcan.

Say Nothing, Feel Nothing, Do Nothing.

Like I said before, I am not a robot.

If someone upsets me, I feel an emotion. In sobriety, the book tells us that “Acceptance is the key to all of my problems.” And that to admit that I am Powerless over People, Places, and Things, is the first thing I need to know before I open my mouth and say anything.

The book also says that “If I have a problem with somebody else, that in reality, the problem exists within me.”

Which means, SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP.

You’re not supposed to say that someone upset you, because you are your own problem. You are not supposed to be resentful at all, because an alcoholic’s worst adversary is an unjustified resentment.

That we aren’t supposed to get angry, If we’ve read the book, and worked our steps and we are OH SO SOBER !

We all have feelings. And to just sit back and listen to people read these passages from the book ad nauseum, turns my stomach. Because I cannot ignore my feelings any longer. And I am not just going to:

SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP, and KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT !!

Why are people so afraid of the truth ? And why is it such a sin to speak the truth when the necessity of speaking said truth arises?

I see, and I listen, and I watch. I remarked also tonight, that over as many years, I hit meetings, and listen to the reading and I share whatever it is on my mind, on any given night.

And I wait, for Someone, Anyone to challenge me, to tell me to keep my mouth shut, or maybe I am not so sober, if I am having a reaction to someone or something.

The implied silence rule still applies. Say Nothing, Feel Nothing, Do Nothing.

None of my peers would ever break protocol and challenge me. Not one Old Timer has the balls to call me on the carpet or even say something like, you’re talking bullshit, or maybe:

I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL, LET ME TELL YOU HOW I DEALT WITH THAT!

I’ve never heard ANY of my friends, fellows or any old timer, for that matter, say this particular phrase to me or anyone else around me.

My best friend pissed me off. I sat on my resentment for weeks, until two nights ago, I wrote him a letter, and told him the truth. And tonight, two nights later, he has not a word for me, sideways.

He’s gonna walk away because I told him the truth. The last time I was in a situation where I was on the emotional bubble, and I spoke a truth, all of my friends, and ALL of my sponsees ran for the hills, and never spoke to me again. Because I was feeling in open community. Because I had an emotional reaction to being over worked, stressed, and tired.

Yes, I think we can be overworked, stressed, and tired. Making seven meetings a week, for months on end, doing all the work to keep an entire fellowship floating, takes a toll on you after 4 months of doing all the jobs IN a meeting, while everyone else is away on Summer Vacation. And needing people to step up and assume responsibility, is not a lot to ask for, in my opinion.

We get sober. We learn how to live soberly. We learn how to deal with life on life’s terms, and we learn how to tell the truth.

The proviso: DO NOT BE Vulnerable. DO NOT say anything, and for God’s sake NEVER tell the truth to your friends. And never tell the truth in a meeting, because like to old adage go …

YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.

How true those words are in today’s climate of lies and untruths.

Fuck me for being Honest.

I just don’t understand, and I wish someone would explain this to me in language I can understand.

Because I don’t lie to my friends, let alone my hubby.

At least that is a Sober Act.

The 8th day of the New Year

I’ve been sitting in a place of sadness for the past few days. But life had to go on. There were responsibilities to follow through with, and people who I needed to see, and meetings to hit.

Acceptance is the key to ALL of my problems. And moreover, “Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”

Where ever you are, in the grand scheme of things, we are where we are supposed to be, at any given moment on the continuum.

My father has been dead, one calendar year, yesterday on the 7th. I have not heard from my mother, nor my brother, on this matter YET !

I feel insignificant. I feel like certain people in my nuclear family don’t even, under the pain of death, admit that I even exist, that my humanity does not even matter, nor makes a difference in this world.

I hit the meeting last night, (boy was it BITTERLY cold outside). And I shared on this topic. Today, I was feeling like shit, and I was up before dawn because my stomach was tossing and turning, so I got up and took something for it, and farted around here for a bit. I went and ran some errands, and spent the afternoon doing nothing special.

I had committed myself to a friend this evening. I knew I was supposed to hit a meeting, off schedule, because I wanted to see one of my friends. I took a shower and got dressed and hit the meeting.

The topic came from Page 417 … Everybody knows 417. That is the reading about Acceptance. And I said out loud, that I hate this passage, and I’ve hated this passage since the day I first got sober, because when I was at my worst, the old timers used to quote this page to me, ad nauseum.

I was like, Go Fuck Yourselves with this acceptance bullshit.

The book is correct, even when I want what I want. Just because we stop drinking and using, our minds still exist. Obsessions and feelings still remain. Some days are better than others. Today I was feeling insignificant. and I did not want to hit the meeting, but I made a promise to show up.

So I Showed Up !

And got bitch slapped in the process by the reading.

That nostalgic side of my brain goes into over drive during the holidays, because I want what I want, come hell or high water. But I know, I’ve always known, that I cannot control other people.

Evil exists. I know it exists.

And I know certain people would rather eat dirt than to allow me to speak my feelings to them. They will never acknowledge my existence, because if they did, they would have to allow me my voice, which they have shut down my light by turning off my light switch. Because that’s how they operate. I watched them do this to others as a kid and now they do it to me, because they are inherently EVIL !

On the way home, I went by the Econo Fitness gym, which is right up the street, and joined the gym. I bought the platinum plan which allows me to access any gym in the system city wide, so I can work out with friends in other gyms, within the gym system.

I called one of those friends on my walk home, and he reiterated to me that he cares, and his wife cares, and his family cares, and that people care that I exist. And that woe are those who cannot see how good a human being I am. Those words came from him, and not me, by the way.

I am the best I can be. I am kind and gracious. I help others. I go out of my way to be a good human citizen of my community. Not a day goes by, that I don’t do something good, because I can, not because I need to do something to make myself or my ego expand, exponentially.

I am a good human being. I am a good friend. A good sponsor. A good husband. And a good member of my city and my community here at home.

Sobriety does that to you eventually.

If you stay with us, it will be like having a gold quiver of bows on your back. And when a problem arises, you will be able to reach back into your quiver and select the right bow, and string it in your bow, and THWANG !!!! Always hit bullseye every time.

Lorna shared this story with us about when she got sober some 34 years ago. She was slipping and not sure she’d stay with us, and the above story was told to her, by her sponsor. And for Lorna, that was the hook.

I know what to do, even when I don’t want to do, what it is I am supposed to do. Those are called direct acts against my will.

The Next Right Thing …

In the Hour of Need

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“I know how you feel, let me tell you what I did …”

If you need to pray for spiritual help,
Saint’s John Paul II and Mother Teresa are your best bets…

You never know when life is going to turn on a dime and force you to face reality in a way you did not expect.

My best friend suggested I find someone (outside the fellowship) to talk to. And I had a contact up my sleeve. Last week, I made contact with a friend who was my academic adviser, mentor, professor and friend or many years.

We met when I began University in my second year of sobriety.

At that time, the run up to the Iraq war had begun, and expats here in Montreal, were marching in the streets. Not to mention everyone who joined in as Canadians. \

That was my first foray into Montreal Demonstrations. Let me tell you, Montrealer’s really know HOW to Demonstrate. We do it for any kind of reason, and we have the numbers to prove it.

Back then I was warned to sew Canadian flags to my backpack, so as to not get singled out and pummeled by demonstrators. That was a rude awakening for sure.

When I moved here, back in 2002, I was not settled in the life I wanted just YET.

I had one foot in the South, and one foot in the North.

I had not figured out my loyalty or where I stood in the world, because, I had made the move, but it took time to find my feet, so to speak.

Today I am 100% Canadian. Both my feet are firmly planted in Canada.

I have only one connection to the U.S. which is necessary, because it pays our rent.

I reminded my friend today of sage advice he had given me all those years ago, because it applied to our conversation today.

Not knowing where to turn or what to do, and not trusting myself just yet, I needed to learn how to navigate the city, the university and my life.

My friend said this:

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE TO GO, OR WHAT TO DO, SIT DOWN.

SIT DOWN RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE. TAKE OUT YOUR MAP, AND FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE TERRAIN AROUND YOU. TAKE STOCK, OBSERVE YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND GET A FEEL FOR WHERE YOU ARE.

CONSULT YOUR MAP AND FIND YOUR PLACE. WHEN YOU ARE SATISFIED THAT YOU HAVE THAT FAMILIARITY, AND ARE READY TO MAKE A DECISION ON WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NEXT, ROLL UP YOUR MAP, AND TAKE THAT NEXT STEP.

BUT NOT BEFORE YOU ARE SURE OF WHERE YOU ARE GOING.

I thought I needed to talk to my friend. In the end, I think he needed to talk to me.

My life is littered with little pieces of information, across a wide spectrum of topics. Like I said before, there are things I KNOW, for CERTAIN.

Life and Death are two of those certainties.

You never know what is gonna come at you. I sat with my friend, in the same cafe, that I spent 3 months talking to Elder’s Christensen and Sorensen. That is where I was introduced to the LDS Faith.

That was a whole other discussion. Let’s not go there.

Let’s just say that, that particular coffee shop, holds a very important place in my heart because that was where Spencer and I became best of friends.

I have a little of Spencer within me, which was very useful to me today.

My friend’s initial email said that … A lot had changed since we last saw each other, and somewhere, deep within me, I knew that the news was not going to be good. I was prepared for that possibility today.

I was right.

I know what it feels like to have someone tell me that I was gonna die. And I know what it feels like when someone close to you says the same thing, that they are going to die.

Today, my friend told me that he was terminal. That he had small cell Cancer, and that there was no cure, that every two months he goes for scans and right now, things are ok, but Fuck, you never know do you ?

What do you do in cases like these ? Swallow hard and try to find the right words to comfort and of understanding.

Been there, done that.

Spencer said to me earlier that I was in the right place for the right reason.

That my friend needed to talk to me, more than I needed to talk to him.

Spiritually speaking, we both are from Religious backgrounds. He teaches and IS an Anglican Priest. He was my teacher when I was working on my B.A. in Religion.

We both are Papabile.

And he knows my take on Saint John Paul II.

John Paul II always said that suffering is Salvific.

That there is saving grace in suffering, that suffering is something humans must do, it is unavoidable. Looking at it spiritually through John Paul II’s lens … We are saved through our suffering.

For many, many years, as a pope watcher, I studied John Paul II intimately. Like I have studied Francis intimately too.

I jokingly said to my friend today that maybe he should pray to John Paul. You never know when the intercession of a saint might work.

He admitted that he was in the Final Season of his life, and that he really needed to know what his calling was to be at this juncture of time. I asked him the very same question.

I told him what I did and how it felt. He told me to listen to God and to survey my life and see what I do well. And maybe, in determining what I do well, just might be, in certainty, what I need to do now.

We asked the same question of each other, HE had the answer for both of us.

Normal, mortal, human beings, never think about death and dying until it hits them squarely between the eyes.

We in fact, my friend as professor and I as student, had a class together called:
Death and Dying.

Nobody thinks about dying till they lose a parent or child. That is the ultimate loss. Friends and extended family, might be serious, but the further you travel from the trunk of the tree, the less the sting.

Having experience in Death and Dying, sets me apart from all of my friends and fellows. I have knowledge that not many people have inside of them, because I have been to the graveyard myself and picked out my plot.

Then I survived and realized that I did not need it.

While working at the bar, all those years ago, Todd’s lover Bob, lay in the graveyard that was located just across the street from the bar itself. Todd knew death already. And around us the next onslaught of death was taking place.

Todd kept me too busy to focus on dying.

That Pin Point Precision knowledge saved my life.

I know that with the utmost certainty.

If it were not for Todd’s Love and Grace,
(read: If not for God’s Love and Grace) I would not be here right now.

We all will die but it is not up to us to make the decision as to when.

However some want that choice here in Canada, to choose their own route, method and date. I want that choice for myself, I do really. I’m not going to end up in some hospital shitting in a diaper, unable to speak or feel.

I am going to go out on my own terms.

Today began another journey of walking someone I love to the final gate.

With Courage, Love and Compassion.

Friday: The Beauty of Islam

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This is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Photographed by a friend of mine who lives in the U.A.E.

The week that I had crossed my first year sober, my addictions counselor asked me a question… She said, “You’ve been sober a year now, what do you want to do for you?”

I really had to think about my answer. In the end I decided that, at age 35, I would go back to school, and complete my studies in a field that I had begun in, when I was only nineteen years old.

I did not make it into ministry through the front door. And a lifetime would go by until the day I reached the point that I would finish my religious studies “in the field.” Almost a decade in studies took place, and I got my two diplomas.

World Religions and Pastoral Ministry …

It was odd, getting sober, in the rooms, AND studying Religion, by the book. I learned about God, by the book. I found Him as real, IN the rooms.

A requirement that we were invited to do was, at each unit of study, in whatever religion that was, we had to in-bed ourselves in that particular faith community. We did not just study the books and go to class, we participated in every religion we studied.

Islam, was a unit of study. The good thing about Concordia University, is that there is a very high population of Muslim students, from all over the world. And in the Hall Building, the university set aside two rooms that are dedicated prayer locations, so that students can come and make their prayers and participate in their own community and not have to leave the university while they are there.

I have Muslim friends. I am intimately familiar with the Muslim population here in the city, mainly because of my participation in the Muslim community when I was a student.

For many Friday’s, I attended Friday Prayers with my fellow students, both men and women. Those first few years, after coming to Montreal, I had to find my own footing. politically, mentally, and spiritually. The many faith-based communities helped me find my way.

The way people hate so hard is common, around the world, no matter where you come from. In my case, it began at home. I learned how to hate hard by my parents.

Thankfully, I never hated that hard in my life.

People tend to hate what they don’t know, it is easier to hate, then expanding their minds to learn about others, so that understanding is possible.

In the United States, Americans live in a predominantly Judaeo-Christian society. What did we know about Islam, for a very long time? I had NO exposure to any other religion than Christianity and Judaism.

I was not introduced to World Religions on a grand scale, until I moved to Montreal.

My father lived in the thought that, He loved his country, fought for his country, and you either loved it or left it. New comers to the states, be they immigrants or religious minorities or religious communities, the “Other” was always viewed with suspicion, as if something “New” had come to supplant what was already there.

The old Judaeo-Christian conquest conflict of East Meets West, Islam is coming to the West to take over the world mentality, is pretty scary to people who grew up in generations past, with all they know of is Christians or Jews, to have to expand to open themselves up to Islam, or Asian religions, or South East Asian religions was preposterous and not to be attempted.

People tend to freak out, as we have seen over the past fifteen years since 9-11.

It is easier to hate everybody and not know why we hate, then to figure out who we hate, and why, and not pigeon-hole Everybody into One Lump Hatred Society.

And by Everybody, I mean that because of some men who choose to do what they did, we hate all Muslims no matter where they come from, because we saw One thing and came away with One opinion. Because we were fed that opinion by the media.

We did not spend any time learning for ourselves what was either True or False.

And the way the media and society spins that hatred is mind-boggling.

And depending on where you live, that hatred is spun into an evangelical frenzy.

Evangelicals are some serious people who believe in a set way of life, with set scriptures and set teachers and believe they have ALL the right answers, no matter what ever info exists to the contrary.

Hatred, in many places, is as potent as Evangelical Frenzy.

Because Hatred that lives in an Evangelical vacuum is seriously dangerous. You cannot teach anyone who lives with evangelical truth or hatred, Anything… Because they know who God is and He is Christian, and nobody is going to teach them anything else, from any other perspective.

God said it, I believe it, that settles it …

I’ve spent a great deal of time studying the Quran. I’ve read it. Learned about it. I have a Quran in my reading library. Islam is part of my life today, because you know, there are Muslim men in the program of recovery here.

Many of them are my friends.

Before you judge ANYONE else based of country of Origin or Origin of Religious faith, take a step back, and think about respect and dignity. Think about their humanity. Think about their families.

You cannot go very far in Montreal, without meeting someone of Muslim faith in any shop, any restaurant, or any service industry, in this city.

The Middle East – all of the Middle East is fraught with serious conflicts.

Middle East religions were not part of educational curriculum when I was a kid in school. That was not introduced until University here in Montreal. Many, MANY people in the West know Nothing about Islam, but for what the media feeds them on any given night from television.

Or from the pulpits of their churches. 

And the more evangelical that news presentation, the harder the hate and misunderstanding and misinformation. The harder the media tries to paint ALL of Islam by ONE brush, with ONE vision, and only ONE understanding, what does that do to those who are fed that message ?

They hate as hard as they are fed that message.

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Do you know Muslim men and women, Do you know their families ? Are there Muslim citizens living in your community ? Do you know or do you even care ?

Hatred and Islamophobia is alive and well here in Canada. We are not immune to the messages of Hate and Exclusion. Social Media and right leaning news organizations fit that bill very nicely, not to mention the media that comes out of the United States.

You cannot blame ALL of Islam, for the failings of certain specific communities. We should not paint every Muslim man, woman or child with the same brush.

For decades, the Middle East has exploded into calamity. That portion of the world, that is so Steeped in Religious history, is fraught with complications, like I mentioned earlier.

The Powder keg that is the Fertile Crescent has fallen into mass civilization destruction and genocidal death.

Where do all those people go to flee war, killing, death, starvation ???

Europe is on their doorstep. And we all know how that turned out.

For the Christian West, as happened, was the bastion of freedom, of life and of the pursuit of happiness. Why would people NOT come to the West, to seek a better life for their families? And why as we, as Christians, not welcome the refugee ???

I mean, why does the Statue of Liberty stand in that Harbor, welcoming the huddled masses from all over the world.

We have forgotten or refuse to admit, that North America began with people who came from someplace else FIRST…

I mean, do we all get that Jesus was a refugee ? That when he was born, his parents took him from his home and fled to Egypt because of King Herod wanting to kill him ?

Do we all get that Jesus was not a Caucasian white man ? He was of Middle East parentage, and had Middle Eastern looks, and a life spent living in the Middle East, and preaching there as well ?

So why do we hate so hard, when Jesus taught us how to treat each other with Love and Charity ? I don’t get how you hate so hard and believe in a God that taught you what you should do, and in reality, you could not be bothered to accept the “Other” and love and respect them as God has taught you to.

All because they worship God in another form and tradition, and that threatens your safe and sound ideology that does not serve you well.

In fact it makes you hate harder, instead of Loving your neighbor better.

If we loved as hard as many Hate, the world would be another place …

That is what the rooms teach us. How to love ourselves, and each other. And we learn to serve each other, in the least of these on a daily basis.

Lessons the world at large could really benefit from.

Right now, here in Quebec, our Muslim communities have opened their mosques to the public, for us to come and participate in and learn from their community.

Will you participate ?

Hatred is NOT a Christian Value.

In fact it goes against EVERYTHING that Jesus taught us.

The reason so many people hate as hard as they do, is because they listen to only those people who feed that kind of fire. I call it Evangelical Hatred.

Evangelical hatred is much more energetically potent vehicle because God is behind that kind of hate. Gay men, during the AIDS crisis and to this day, suffer that same hatred by many.

Now the world is saturated with this kind of hatred of Islam and the “other.”

Hate everybody, because that’s what we are told to do by those who teach hatred from their pulpits. And all those people, voted for the man, in great numbers, who just banned Muslims from seven specific countries in the Middle East and Africa.

But he did not ban Muslims from countries where the President has business ties.

Hmmm … Business Security comes before National Security. 

We cannot live in a world of peace, until we end systemic and evangelical hatred.

Systemic evangelical hatred is poison for the soul.

It tarnishes our souls, and separates us from truth and love.

It pits One God over Another, Allah.

Jesus against the Prophet, Blessed be His holy name.

Religions of the world exist.

And we are all here, because our God created us, and gave us a faith of origin. And what right do we have to be judge, jury and executioner, to say that one religion is the Ultimate Religion, and Truth, and that No Other Religion or Truth will be Listened to, Learned about, OR Accepted as Legitimate.

We sit in the balance of the war between the Christian God of the West versus that Muslim God of the East.

Nobody will win this war … More will die to defend their faith, than will survive it.

Where will you stand in this religious battle for truth ???

Will you love or will you hate ?

God weeps that we have let our world fall into this abyss of conflict.

When it all comes down to LOVE.

Friday: Part 2, FEAR of Being Red Lighted

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The stories of Voices of Hope are as varied as the human sharing their story. Rejection, Denial, Ostracism, Not being understood, or Validated are very very real, for many of the young men I have listened to.

And after today’s episode that I watched earlier today, where I heard MY story told by someone who walked this very same path, knowing that HE got the Green Light, and was baptized into the church, has put some real fear into my heart tonight.

I’m really afraid that for some reason or other, the man who will be charged in green lighting my baptism, will say NO. It is a logical fear, because my story is a bit complicated, but I’ve done all the work I need to do. I’ve thought this all through, I have reached my conclusion that, I am done with Gay.

I want to be baptized. I want to be part of the community that was shared with me. I have turned to Heavenly Father for wisdom, and love. I just really need to trust the men who have been ministering to me that they know the particulars of my story, and when I see them on Sunday morning at Church, I will share with them my fears.

I just need to relax and pray for peace and understanding.

I know, Heavenly Father knows what is going on with me and that He loves me for who I am, an imperfect human being who just needs to hear that I am just ok.