Yourself as the Audience?

Yourself as the Audience?

For decades I remained silent. On rare occasions I would share snippets of my struggle. I asked an Old Testament professor about the meaning of a passage about cross-dressing, “for a friend.” I told another professor enough for him to show compassion and give my circumstances a name. In my twenties, three friends knew a fair measure of my story. Interestingly, none of them have been in touch since I transitioned.

As I grew older I began therapy and confided less in friends. If I told them, I knew our relationships would never be the same. Based on the way they reacted after hearing the news, I was right. Evangelicals do not have maps for dealing with transgender individuals.

Talking with Cathy last week, we both lamented how often I was not fully there. When she looks at pictures of Paul, there is a sadness, not just because Paul is gone, but because a part of Paul was never really there. Until we had today’s comparison, I don’t think either one of us knew how true that was.

I have heard from closeted transgender individuals who still minister within my denomination. They saw the public ridicule I faced, and it affirmed their decision to remain in the closet. I do not blame them. Yet in their voices I hear a tragic loneliness that causes me to fear for their lives. I lament that they are not fully there.

It did me no good to hide. In John Steinbeck’s novel, East of Eden, Samuel Hamilton asks a penetrating question of Adam Trask, a man who suffered a great indignity. “Do you take pride in your hurt?’ Samuel asked. ‘Does it make you seem large and tragic? Well, think about it. Maybe you’re playing a part on a great stage with only yourself as the audience.”

Suffering alone leads to tragic self-absorption. It does us no favors. We are communal creatures and need to work out our lives in a safe place in which our true selves can`be reflected in the love of an accepting community.

Through my family, church, and friends, I have that community. On Wednesday I am meeting Mark Tidd, one of my pastors, at the Bacon Social House in Denver. I will have two of my granddaughters with me. Every time I think about the day my heart is warmed. I will have lunch with three people who take delight in me just as I am, no questions asked. And I will be eating candied bacon. What more could you ask?

Today, I am present to my life and the lives of those around me. Even on my darker days I have energy to bear burdens, share a little insight, and leave the world better than I found it. I live whole-heartedly.

This past weekend was the annual retreat for the staff and board of the Gay Christian Network. Over two days I spent 19 hours with 12 people working hard to plan a vibrant future for GCN. We want LGBTQ Christians to find the one thing lacking in the world they inhabit – hope.

GCN’s board includes a psychologist, three attorneys, two pastors, an accountant and two lobbyists. We are black and white, gay and straight, trans and cisgender. But the common bond that holds us together is our conviction that love wins.

I am silent no more, and I am a better person for it.  I end with the final stanza of another poem I wrote before transitioning:

 There is no way but east to west

No stopping time or turning back

No wishing for what’s left behind

Just hearts aflame unyielding

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7 thoughts on “Yourself as the Audience?

  1. This is wonderful to read how comfortable you have become and no longer acting on the stage of life. I am sure this gives hope to others suffering similar feelings and perhaps they will take courage and eventually become themselves completely!

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  2. You got it right at the end and are who God designed you to be. I am happy for you and glad to know you are doing well. If your travels ever bring you back to LI I’d love to meet Paula.

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  3. I am one of those still closeted ones. And yes, there’s sadness and struggle, lack of satisfactionand a longing to one day be completely happy. Unfortunately, transitioning might bring greater burdens than remaining the same. And yeah, the worst part of it all is the sense of loneliness.
    Do you have any recorded speech or conference that could help people just like me?
    Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely, encouraging words Paula. So glad you broke through your barriers. I hope the closeted transgender ministers in your denomination find the strength to come out and be themselves. Each of us only gets to live this life once. Who wants to look back at the end of their lives and say,” I should have been me but I worried so much about what others thought that I never could be authentic. I could never be me. Now I am at the end of my life. The people whom I wanted to impress are all gone and I can never taste the life that I should have had.”

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  5. Paula. I came from a wonderful home. The best parents but my father always told us when we wear getting married. The clock goes around once if u are not happy get out. Jeri

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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