Michael was as worldly as they come. He openly (to those he trusted) spoke of his conquests with girls and boys. He was the president of our service club called The Ambassadors. I was Vice-President. When the elders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) told me to stop being his friend he wrote me a letter that included two tunes by Chaka and Rufus. “Nothing’s Gonna Take You Away” and “Best of Your Heart”. He mentioned that he would be thrown away like an old pair of shoes. I cried. I valued his friendship, but I was dependent upon being a JW. It would not be the first time that a DJ (music) saved my life (that’s a song too). We communicated through music. He was earnest in staying in my life. Chaka Khan - Nothing's Gonna Take You Away Lyrics
My ego internalized these Jehovah’s Witnesses’ ideals (“Bad Associations spoil useful habits” 1 Corinthians Chapter 15, verse 57) conflicted with my values (I liked this young man). Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) had a strict code that they were the chosen Christian religion and all others were false. They were called Christendom. After all, these heathens celebrated holidays---all of which has pagan roots. How else do you explain the Easter Bunny and Christ’s resurrection? Everyone else was worldly.
To this day, the lyrics speak to carrying dreams, living on clouds and wishing upon shooting stars. What does an astrologer feel? It took courage to come out as an astrologer---in law school. By my 20’s everyone who was important to me knew my values as it related to my sexuality. If there was interest beyond friendship, I valued honesty more than being on the down low. One of the major reasons I developed a loving relationship with my son's mother was that she accepted my sexuality. There was no dishonesty in who I would sleep with. Contrary to popular belief and heteronormative discourse, a man sleeping with another man is ‘confused’ or ‘gay’ whereas women do not get the same labeling. Today it appears that you can say ‘fluid’ as regards to your sexuality to be more inclusive of same-sex connections. We are at least a couple of generations from December, 1973 where the American Psychiatric Association had ceased to consider “homosexuality per se” as a mental illness. My ideals center upon acceptance and co-existence. In this case, my ideals and values are the same. Tolerance is not enough. Michael taught me this as a teenager. It would be one of the defining moments that propelled me to reject JW’s Values and Ideals.
He was my first love. I acknowledged at 12 that I had a crush. Of course, I told no one. But I was honest with myself. In the ninth grade when he rushed for The Ambassadors, I made sure that he got the easiest assignments. (I didn’t have to rush because I went to a reorganization meeting in the summer before I got to high school. My brother was Vice-President.) Anytime a member doubted Michael’s loyalty, I defended him in a low key manner to not arouse suspicion. He became an Ambassador. We became friends. He became possessive. So much so that he didn’t like some of my other friends. I didn’t value his questioning my other friends’ motives. Secretly I thought if this is what being attracted to a man means, I don’t want any part of it. Besides, JW didn’t accept any of this. Like most folx of that time, I hid in different places where you could have anonymous NSA (No Strings Attached) sex. Michael was no exception.
There was so much internal conflict around the JW ‘good boy’ in my mind versus the grounded loving person who wanted to be his friend, even boyfriend. There were others whom now I would consider mentors. Even in my series of ‘if only’’ can be seen as doing a disservice to seeing what ideals I would want for my life today.
In an ideal world, I would have allowed myself to love this bright, humorous and loving young man. I can remember he wanted to be a medical doctor so that he could write prescriptions. He did become a doctor. In 2010, he died of mysterious causes. Several months before he died, he reached out to me. He wanted to meet. I agreed, but he didn’t follow through. I was told that it was one of the saddest funerals. He died alone. Happy 60th birthday, today November 8, Dr. Rainer!
I learned how to live with the internal conflict between my childhood religion and my ‘worldly’ desires. I learned to live with the inner truth that I was different. As I began to date (men), if they were involved with a Christian religion that they were not inclusive and accepting, it would only be one date for us. Michael taught me to accept me and my desires, to value my unique, if not rigid, perspective. If only I had valued love. Like many LGBTQ teens I lived a double life. Had I followed my heart externally in high school, I would have been ostracized and possibly kicked out of my home. My father would have taken me, though. When I came out to him in my early twenties, he simply responded, “it is best that you live with someone you love and not die alone”. As a matter of fact, I feel he was more disappointed that I didn’t practice law after passing the bar, returning to Michigan and entering the family business of politics. We shared different values, but love was usually present
As ORM teaches me to access the growth of my inner space, I sense these spirits around me. We are rooted together in lessons of joy, hope and grace. Of course, I miss these folx. But, as the lyrics say---”leave the rest up to love/and you’ll be taken care of”. Our souls feed us. Through these 12 pillars of ORM, we get to live in the feeling knowledge that every person whom you’ve ever loved is right down here within you. It’s not a religious fairy tale or something we say to placate our childish side of our egos. As I wrote these words, I felt his presence. I am celebrating his 60th birthday! (Even the I Ching I threw before I wrote these words was Nourishment transforming into Returning). Sigh. I feel nourished, vitally alive and joyous. Now, my soul is the best of my heart. Through my soul, I sense the Returning of all invisible and visible souls. Do I sometimes feel alone? Yes, but rarely do I feel lonely.