Friday, July 22, 2005

The truth will set you free

In response to my last post I have decided to be open about who I am living with. Moving in with my partner has been the best thing I've done this year, and I'm really happy about it. There was never any conflict in our minds that this was the right thing for us to do and the right time for us to do it. Sharing my life with him in a new way is precious to both of us and an important part in my life now. To not mention it would be hiding it.

Friendships and relationships are only possible if we actually know who we are friends with, and that means being willing to share our lives openly with others. Several years ago, a good friend of mine came out as gay to me, fearing my reaction. She had tried to hide it from me, fearing that I would be disapproving and we were both aware that we were both acting suspicious and cagey as a result. Her coming out was liberating for both of us. The new found honesty brought a new depth, closeness and freshness to our friendship. This weekend I'm driving to London to meet her new girlfriend :).

Her honesty also gave me the opportunity to do some coming out myself in choosing to support her, flying in the face of my conservative church background. I remember going to church not long after her coming out and the pastor giving some nonsense about the perversion of homosexuality. I had a long debate with him afterwards and finally decided that it was the final straw and it was time for me to move on. And yes, it was a very happy moment :D!

If I hadn't reacted well, I suppose we would have lost our friendship, and it would have been my fault, not her's.

The friends I am writing to were leaders in the church I went to back home in NI. They have since moved to the south of Ireland to set up a church plant there and although we kept in touch with letters about once or twice a year, we haven't done recently. They are wonderful, caring and gentle people and have been very supportive friends to me in the past. I value their friendship, they are good people and I have a lot of respect for them.

I do not expect that they will send a 'congratulations on your new home' card, but I do feel that if we are going to be able to continue our friendship then I cannot try to hide something that is now such a wonderful and important part of my life. I won't pre-empt a negative response - I shall hope to be pleasantly surprised! I'll simply mention it as I report back on lots of pieces of news that have happened to me of late. It will leave the door open to our friendship continuing in the future. If I get unlucky and they react really badly (which I would be very surprised by I should say) then so be it - I have plenty of other friends!

7 comments:

Lora said...

I think your decision is wise. Sometimes it takes courage to face the potential disapproval of people who you value the opinion of. However, I think people are much more accepting and openminded then you would expect.

Alice M. said...

Hi Contemplative Activist

I want to raise some questions about what lovers' commitment and house-sharing is about in a more general way. And I guess this is a query: are you two in a committed relationship, where you are both intending to be together for your whole lives? I think it's important, though I'm certainly not asking you to answer it "out loud" here in a public space unless that's what you really want to do. I want to go straight past whatever "disapproval"/judging stuff might exist and go right to the question about whether you are being fully loved.

I really love the stuff in that ol' chestnut "Towards a Quaker view of Sex" where it says it's not the number/kind of genitals in a relationship but the depth and quality of the commitment. I feel that lifelong commitment is the appropriate context for lovers living together, whether the marriage has been witnessed and is under the care of the meeting or not. It seems to me that is the best frame for the love and care that people deserve.

For me and my husband it was pretty easy, because we had found the point of lifelong commitment and openness to the possibility of children before we found the opportunity to live together, so we had a wedding first and moved in after.

Thanks for bringing up this topic because I find it very interesting. I hope you are okay with me asking these questions. I am not asking you to justify or explain your choices, I'm sure you're glad to know. I am interested in how spiritual and religious commitment helps us accept what G-d wants us to have - what Love would give to us itself/Himself. I know that you and I come from different places on a lot of religious stuff. Is this one where we have a shared understanding of what is good and holy?

Larry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Larry said...

You are courageous, dear Friend, and have a tender conscience. Regardless of what anybody else may say about your 'life style', I can tell you that you will be loved-- by me, by God, and by many others.

We all have a 'tender conscience' about something, and to confess it is what makes love multiply. When we know people, we can love them; otherwise it has to be something less.

Rob said...

there are lots of differnet variants on what constitutes 'truth' or 'what is right' in this situation and i would probably find myself agreeing with your church leaders back in ireland, but the thing you demonstrate very well is the ability to overlook differences to maintain contact, even friendship. i hope they respond in kind. romans 15v2 says "Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up" and the neighbours here were in sharp disagreement. mere tolerance was not enough - they were encourage to build each other up with requires an active interaction.

Lorcan said...

Dear CA:

I must admit this whole living together thing presents a question of commitment. Look you, my Genie and I lived together before we got married, and look at us, committed marriage and being committed to a loving relationship for now twenty nine or thrity years! Do you really want to open yourself to the danger of that! Think of it! Living together in our case led to that kind of dependancy! 30 years of being each other's whole life!!! My God woman! ( just for those for whom ironic humor is lost... just kidding of course... some times folks don't get the humor when religion rears its less than pretty head!!!! )
:)
lor

Contemplative Activist said...

Hi Alice,

Thanks for your comment.

"I want to go straight past whatever "disapproval"/judging stuff might exist and go right to the question about whether you are being fully loved."

I think, as I'm sure you realise and as 'Towards a Quaker View of Sex' (which is excellent) might suggest, that this same question needs to be something all couples ask themselves - married or unmarried.

"I feel that lifelong commitment is the appropriate context for lovers living together, whether the marriage has been witnessed and is under the care of the meeting or not. It seems to me that is the best frame for the love and care that people deserve."

On one level I agree with you - lifelong commitment and faithfulness is something that I personally aspire to. However, on the other hand, there are relationships that sustain two people for a season, but don't last forever. I think these need to be valued for themselves, and although breaking up can be painful for all, it does not mean that the relationship was worthless. Honesty, openess and non-judgement is critical for couples in such situations to negotiate their relationship.

"Is this one where we have a shared understanding of what is good and holy?"

It might be :)