The Walls Are Down

It’s been a hard week.

Christmas makes me tremendously anxious.  It’s dark and cold outside, and this year’s multiple storms have made my daily commute much more treacherous.  I’m worried about creating an enjoyable holiday for my immediate family, and about my estrangement from my extended family.  Even listening to Christmas music is difficult because it triggers so many memories from my past.

So when the media flared with the news of an interview with “Duck Dynasty” cast member Phil Robertson, I was already in a pretty vulnerable space.  I don’t watch the show, but some friends are avid fans.  I read the interview quotes, shook my head in disgust at the man’s ignorance, and let it go (or so I thought).

But the media didn’t let it go, and neither did a large number of people who identify as Christian and spoke out in support of Robertson.  Day after day, I saw online articles about the interview, about free speech, about God and the Bible and Corinthians, and each article and its comments pushed me lower and lower to the ground.  My relationship was compared to having sexual relations with a farm animal.  I was reduced to a group: “the gays,” although substituting any other group in that quote (“the whites,” “the Jews”) would have been considered inappropriate.  I was judged and labeled by people who have never met me, never gotten to know me, and it hurt.  Every single time.

This hurt is new to me.  I’m white, educated, and financially secure.  Until I came out, I lived a life I felt was above reproach, and so to be the target of so much hate and vitriol is really painful.  I wish I could have a thicker hide when it comes to this stuff, or that I could live a space of righteous anger about it.  But all I seem to be able to do is return again and again to the online world, absorbing the hate until I am a walking open wound.

I keep looking for kindness from strangers.  On my drive to work, I hear the topic discussed on morning radio, and all the people who call into the show support Robertson because he is speaking about his faith.  I hope the next caller will defend me, but no one ever does, and I walk into my workplace with my head down and my heart aching from the hurt.  I can’t stop myself from reading the online stories and clicking links to more comments, more words about how I am worthless, equal to a terrorist in the eyes of a God that hates me and my homosexuality.  I finally break down in front of my wife, begging her to tell me that it won’t always hurt like this, that I won’t always feel so beaten and hopeless.

After several days of this, I happened to read an interview between my friend Marg and Reverend Audrey Connor, an openly lesbian hospital chaplain and all-around amazing woman.  In the interview, Connor wrote this:

“I cannot overstate how thankful I am for those who take up their personal chisels to chip away at the walls— for me and those walking with me. That is how these walls will come down. I have chiseled some, and I am not giving up, but for right now, I feel a call to live as if the walls are already down.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about those words. “I have chiseled some, and I am not giving up, but for right now, I feel a call to live as if the walls are already down.”

What does that mean?

It means to know I’m okay.  Ten, twenty, thirty years ago, this life I live as an openly gay woman would not have been possible.  It’s because of the work of so many before me with their “personal chisels” that I am able to stand proudly in who I am without fear or shame, and I claim that space.

It means I know that I am loved by a force greater than myself, who calls to me to live a whole and authentic life.

It means that I choose not to participate in hurting anyone else, including myself.  Not in the name of what is “right,” or holy, or in the name of God or Jesus or anything else.  Phil Robertson’s comments hurt.  They were unkind, and that automatically separates him from the God he professes to serve.  I separate myself from God and from love when I judge anything.

It means choosing love over hate or ignorance or indifference.  It means being vulnerable with people who are not choosing love.  It means keeping fire for those who have been hurt by others, who choose to stay in an angry or confrontational space because it feels safe for now.

I’m gay, and I’m loved.  I’m holy.  The walls are down, and I’m still here.

8 Comments
  1. Stephanie Reply

    Moja sastrah, I will keep fire for you.

  2. Debbie G. Reply

    Hang in there, my friend! Be yourself… hold to the love of those around you… and remember… light is returning!

  3. Deb Reply

    You are walking on sacred ground Casey. Keep walking!

  4. Jann Aldredge-Clanton Reply

    Yes, you are Holy, Casey. You are the Divine image. The walls are coming down, and You are helping.
    I chisel with you.

  5. Dan wilkinson Reply

    Casey, thank you for this beautiful blog. I am sorry for your hurt, and I appreciate the Christ like way you are choosing to deal with it. A year ago, I was one of those people who would have totally supported Robertson. This year God has changed my heart completely . Now rather than hating a gay couple, I want to high five them, give them a hug and say, “thank you for having the courage to be authentic and being the person God made you to be.” I really respect Christians who remain true to their orientation in spite of rejection and pain where it should be just the opposite . Hang on. God changes hearts and I believe a big change is coming. There is hope for duck man . If my heart can change , so can his.

  6. Letha Dawson Scanzoni Reply

    My heart aches for you in the pain you feel, Casey, and I know it is representative of what countless other LGBTQ people are feeling from hearing the vile, bigoted comments of people who get some sort of self-righteous “high” out of being mean and spreading hate and misinformation.. But by speaking out courageously and with love, you are doing more than you may realize toward bringing about change. Your computer keyboard and your gifts as a writer are putting a face on what some would like to view in the abstract as “an issue” rather than confront the fact that they’re maligning real persons created in God’s image—flesh and blood human beings with feelings. You’re not letting them get away with that! (One suggestion: Take a break for a while from listening to and reading those cruel remarks on talk radio and the Web. You’ve been breathing in a lot of poison and need some fresh air. Turn on some music or NPR, and think about good things. You might even want to read what Philippians 4:6-9 says about those “good things” and about God’s peace.) Yes, dear friend, you are holy and loved—and loving— and are helping others know that they can live as though the walls are down, too. They’re tumbling down fast and your writing will help speed the day!

  7. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott Reply

    During my many years as a lesbian and transgender activist, I have learned that the best way to shield myself from feeling the pain of rejection is to accurately locate the source of the problem. What Phil Robertson says is about himself, not about gay people. He feels secretly guilty, thinking he is separate from his Divine Source, so he is projecting that guilt away from himself and onto anyone and everyone he thinks to be “other.” We can feel sorry for him and pray that he will wake up spiritually, but there is no need to take his remarks seriously. Instead, let us simply rejoice that we are irrevocably united to God, our loving Creator and Sustainer and Divine Friend.

  8. Jayne Reply

    Casey, Beloved of God. Thank you for your courage to share so much of yourself and your experience through your writings. From the very first time I heard you share the depth of your feelings at an IWC show, I knew that many would be changed because of your willingness to bare your soul and heart. You mention ignorance which is the source of much grief and misunderstanding in this world. Those in the dark don’t even know what they don’t know. I encourage you to not allow ignorance, and the resultant words and behaviors, to hurt you nor make you afraid. I have leaned on the word’s of Eleanor Roosevelt for many years now: “No one can make me feel inferior without my consent.” I often substitute other words for inferior: fear, ashamed, unloved, etc. The words all represent what is really a cry for love. In A Course in Miracles I learned there is only Love, and the “opposite” which is merely a cry for love. When people’s ignorance through their words “hurt” I realize they’ve touched a deep wound that is part of my energy field. A “wound” that needs to be healed at the energy level. Since talk therapy didn’t really get to the level of healing, I’ve had to work with a shaman to address the deeper levels. It’s helping, and everyday, I can face the world with more love and confidence that God is ever present; that God loves me, and you, and Phil, and all the others. God gave us free will, and sadly some use that free will to stay in ignorance. I pray for their awakening. In due time as we all continue to love each other, and hold fasts that God is within, and that all the words of ignorance come from their own fears. Virginia’s comments above have great truth. Hold fast to that which feeds and nourishes you, dear Casey. Know that you are bright, shining Truth-Bringer to this planet. Word by word your blogs will open minds and hearts and keep all of us on track. May 2014 bring you more confidence and love and the ability to trust that God, the Universe, loves you and will support you in all you do.

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