My Biggest Concern With This Monkeypox Virus Is Who It’s Going To Be Blamed Upon…

“WHO chief says monkeypox now a global emergency.” That was the first headline I read when I quickly glanced at the news the other day, which I rather regret now doing that. I don’t normally delve deep in the news anymore because it’s become so depressing these days. But, I did, and what I read in that article was deeply disturbing, not so much for the growing outbreak itself with this disease, but more so on what it’s being blamed upon.

In a study of 699 cases of it, the British Health Security Agency has claimed that 97% of them labeled themselves as gay, bisexual, or men having sex with other men. A number of other articles were reporting on the same statistic as well the more I looked into it, and while it wasn’t being labeled it yet, I worry it’s just a matter of time before this turns into being considered another “gay disease” by many.

Long ago before HIV became known as AIDS, the disease was known as “GRID”, or “Gay-Related Immune Deficiency” because most cases being reported early on were happening between men having sex with other men. That was a very tumultuous time for anyone who was openly gay or bi-sexual, as they became the sole source of the blame for the rapid outbreak and spread of a disease most didn’t fully understand yet.

While I was very young when AIDS was first being referred to as GRID, I eventually came to know many years later that many from the LGBTQ community who went through this period would experience a lot of hatred towards them. Most felt like lepers in society, especially if they came down with the disease. People also became afraid to touch any gay person, let alone go near them. There were plenty of hate crimes during that time period targeting the gay community because of the fear of this disease, which honestly really feels no different than how many Asians have been treated over the last few years due to the outbreak of COVID having originated in Wuhan, China. Sadly, people often place blame onto specific groups of people when tragic events occur that are out of their control and make them afraid. Blame that also becomes easier when the news and media, and even our very entertainment glamorizes it.

Case in point, I recently opted to watch the first episode of the new Queer as Folk reboot on the Peacock streaming channel. This show is based upon two predecessors, one English-based and one US-based, both having aired well over two decades ago now. Personally, the original versions helped me to immensely accept my sexuality and learn much about the LGBTQ community. This new version though, the primary focus in it is on anonymous and unprotected sex between males often under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Portraying things like this is what specifically fuels much of the fear in this country when many begin to believe that the only type of relationships men have with each other in the gay community is exactly what they see portrayed in the entertainment industry just like this.

So yes, I’m very concerned about a new outbreak of a disease that is already placing blame upon a culture I’m associated with simply because I have a same-sex partner. Except I am a monogamous individual and so is my other half, and neither of us are alcohol or drug users, yet I can see people just like us nonetheless receiving blame if this virus continues to spiral out of control, becoming yet another pandemic to hit our soil. I pray I’m wrong here, but sadly, history continues to show otherwise…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

When You’re Introduced As Your Partner’s “Friend” Instead Of Their Partner…

A few weeks ago, I was invited out by my partner Chris to one of his work’s social functions they were having one Friday afternoon at a local restaurant. There, he introduced me as his partner to some of his co-workers and their significant others, all of which were heterosexual. At one point when another of Chris’s co-workers arrived and Chris was busy talking with someone else, I got introduced as Chris’s “friend”. I could tell how uncomfortable they were in the process, and I felt so incredibly awkward after that, I struggled to enjoy myself the rest of the time I was there. While I love my partner, Chris, truly I do, and while I can’t imagine being with anyone else presently, and even though I’ve been “out” for well over two decades now in a world that’s changed dramatically in its acceptance of sexuality, I still regularly struggle being myself and often find myself still wishing I was attracted to women specifically because of moments like this.

I know there are many of the younger generation in life now whom I see out and about that have way more acceptance of expressing their sexuality than I do. In fact, I was in a hip and swanky type of taco establishment recently where I saw a gay male couple in their early 20’s holding hands and showing loving affection to each other while they dined with a heterosexual couple in a very crowded restaurant. Many of my generation who are in same-sex relationships still aren’t that way though unless they are in a predominantly gay type of environment. That’s because we come from a time when gay bashing happened more than not and remaining closeted on some level was the safest thing to do. How many romantic moments of my life have come and gone at this point where I didn’t express my feelings to the person I loved over fears surrounding the expression of my sexuality is countless. After getting enough negative glances, judgmental comments, and religious lectures over the years related to my sexuality, it just became easier to hide whenever those moments happened, rather than express my true self to the one I loved.

Heterosexual couples never have to think twice about any of this. They can hold hands easily when out and about and share loving glances, winks, and smooches with each other, where no one will ever blink an eye. They can reserve vacation stays at things like a bed and breakfast or a boutique hotel and never wonder if the owner or manager might have an issue with their relationship. And they can always introduce themselves to new individuals or couples they meet without any sort of reservation, letting them know they’re an item, never having to worry whether it will be met with backlash. The fact is, they can be themselves in every situation without any concern, something I wish I could benefit from as well.

While I still hold my truth that my sexuality isn’t something I would have chosen if I truly had been given a choice in this life, I have come to accept it is who God made me from the day I was born. That doesn’t stop me from longing to be otherwise at times though, especially when I get labeled as Chris’s “friend” or when I get negative looks or comments under people’s breath when I show some sort of affection to him in public.

The fact is, I don’t enjoy feeling like I must walk on eggshells in this world surrounding my sexuality, most of which is grounded upon religious bias from scripture constantly getting misinterpreted. While that may indeed always be the basis for which judgment is placed upon those who aren’t heterosexual, I remain hopeful I’ll see the day when one’s sexuality doesn’t matter and what does matter is simply the expression of God’s love being shown between two individuals who truly do love each other…like I do my partner Chris.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Ellen Page To Elliot Page, A Transgendered Journey That Helped Me To Spiritually Grow…

Over the past decade or so, I came to really appreciate the acting career of Ellen Page in just about everything I saw her in. Her roles in Juno, Whip It, and Inception were astounding on every level. Most recently, I became an avid fan of her role in Umbrella Academy on Netflix, with her playing a superhero of sorts by the name of Vanya Hargreaves. Then quite abruptly, the entertainment news suddenly reported that she was no longer Ellen Page, and was now Elliot Page. I was shocked given how long I had followed his career as a woman and struggled to understand how one makes a choice like that to change their sex. But, then I thought about it and asked myself, what if the decision for a person to be transgender was not a choice at all and was no different than me coming to accept the sexuality I was born with?

I know there are many out there who have thought my sexuality has been a choice all this time, all starting back with a mother who thought she did something wrong and assumed it was a choice I was making to be the way I was. While she never did come to acceptance and unconditionally love me for who I always was, as a number of others along the way in my life never have either, I came to realize many years ago that I was born the way I was and didn’t need to make anyone else understand. I came to see that my being attracted to the same-sex as I isn’t and never was a choice, it’s who I was from the beginning, and instead I made a choice for the longest time to be something I wasn’t by trying to play heterosexual in a world where male and female copulation was the norm.

Thinking about my own journey to acceptance of my sexuality has helped me to fully appreciate the journey that Elliot Page has been on to now. While it was quite shocking to see his shirtless chiseled picture in the news, I must say I applaud his finally being at peace with himself, enough so to share a picture of him like that with the world. I’ve read a little about his arduous journey to get to this place and how difficult it was to remain female for as long as he did. I can relate, as I never had peace dating any of the woman I dated over the years and felt exceptionally guilty forcing myself to be sexual with the woman I did. It wasn’t fair to them or me, as I solely did it for the appeasement of everyone else, to be accepted in this world, rather than get rejected.

Nevertheless, while I myself am extremely happy with the sex I was born with and can never see myself as anything but male, I actually appreciate Ellen Page’s transition to Elliot Page a lot more now than I probably would have years ago, as I used to judge transgendered people thinking it was just a psychological issue within them. I’m sorry I spent the years I did feeling that way and actually now have immense gratitude for those who finally find the peace they’ve sought for years after adjusting to the sex they feel they were always meant to be, but weren’t assigned at birth.

So, the bottom line I have now surrounding transgender individuals is that I don’t have to ever understand anyone’s decision who goes through gender reassignment. All I need to do is simply unconditionally love and accept them as being exactly who they are meant to be in this life, no different than I’m exactly who I’m meant to be as well. Thank you, Elliot Page, for your braveness to finally become who you always were meant to be and for all other transgender individuals in this world as well. We are all children of God, worthy and deserving of God’s unconditional love and acceptance. Never let anyone tell you otherwise…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Has “Homosexual” Always Been In The Bible?

Recently, I came across an article that a friend posted to my Facebook timeline in response to a blog I had written about the inconsistencies of the Bible, especially when it relates to homosexuality. I’ve known many in my life who feel homosexuality is a sin because of what they read in its pages, yet I have always felt the original intention of those passages in question have been taken far out of their original intention and context. I’m more than sure now after reading this article my friend shared with me of the truth in that and am very thankful to be able to re-post it here for all of you. Please take it as you wish, and maybe it might just enlighten you, as it did me. (Note: If you’d like the original link to the article, please private message me and I’ll send it to you.)

Has “Homosexual” always been in the Bible?

The word “arsenokoitai” shows up in two different verses in the Bible, but it was not translated to mean “homosexual” until 1946. We got to sit down with Ed Oxford, a graduate of Talbot School of Theology, to talk about this question. Ed, you have been part of a research team that is seeking to understand how the decision was made to put the word “homosexual” in the Bible. Is that true?

ED: Yes. It first showed up in the RSV translation. So before figuring out why they decided to use that word in the RSV translation (which is outlined in my upcoming book with Kathy Baldock, Forging a Sacred Weapon: How the Bible Became Anti-Gay) I wanted to see how other cultures and translations treated the same verses when they were translated during the Reformation 500 years ago. So, I started collecting old Bibles in French, German, Irish, Gaelic, Czechoslovakian, Polish… you name it. Now I’ve got most European major languages that I’ve collected over time. Anyway, I had a German friend come back to town and I asked if he could help me with some passages in one of my German Bibles from the 1800s. So we went to Leviticus 18:22 and he’s translating it for me word for word. In the English where it says “Man shall not lie with man, for it is an abomination,” the German version says “Man shall not lie with young boys as he does with a woman, for it is an abomination.” I said, “What?! Are you sure?” He said, “Yes!” Then we went to Leviticus 20:13— same thing, “Young boys.” So, we went to 1 Corinthians to see how they translated arsenokoitai (original Greek word) and instead of homosexuals it said, “Boy molesters will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

I then grabbed my facsimile copy of Martin Luther’s original German translation from 1534. My friend is reading through it for me and he says, “Ed, this says the same thing!” They use the word knabenschander. Knaben is boy, schander is molester. This word “boy molesters” for the most part carried through the next several centuries of German Bible translations. Knabenschander is also in 1 Timothy 1:10. So the interesting thing is, I asked if they ever changed the word arsenokoitai to homosexual in modern translations. So my friend found it and told me, “The first time homosexual appears in a German translation is 1983.” To me that was a little suspect because of what was happening in culture in the 1970s. Also because the Germans were the ones who created the word homosexual in 1862, they had all the history, research, and understanding to change it if they saw fit; however, they did not change it until 1983. If anyone was going to put the word homosexual in the Bible, the Germans should have been the first to do it!

As I was talking with my friend I said, “I wonder why not until 1983? Was their influence from America?” So, we had our German connection look into it again and it turns out that the company, Biblica, who owns the NIV version, paid for this 1983 German version. Thus, it was Americans who paid for it! In 1983 Germany didn’t have enough of a Christian population to warrant the cost of a new Bible translation, because it’s not cheap. So, an American company paid for it and influenced the decision, resulting in the word homosexual entering the German Bible for the first time in history. So, I say, I think there is a “gay agenda” after all!

I also have a 1674 Swedish translation and an 1890 Norwegian translation of the Bible. I asked one of my friends, who was attending Fuller seminary and is fluent in both Swedish and Norwegian, to look at these verses for me. So we met at a coffee shop in Pasadena with my old Bibles. (She didn’t really know why I was asking.) Just like reading an old English Bible, it’s not easy to read. The letters are a little bit funky, the spelling is a little bit different. So, she’s going through it carefully, and then her face comes up, “Do you know what this says?!” and I said, “No! That’s why you are here!” She said, “It says boy abusers, boy molesters.” It turns out that the ancient world condoned and encouraged a system whereby young boys (8-12 years old) were coupled by older men. Ancient Greek documents show us how even parents utilized this abusive system to help their sons advance in society. So, for most of history, most translations thought these verses were obviously referring the pederasty, not homosexuality!

So, then I started thinking that of 4 of the 6 clobber passages, all these nations and translations were referring to pederasty, and not what we would call homosexuality today.

Q: How did the translation teams work?

ED: Well, they didn’t operate out of a vacuum when they translated something. They used data available to them from very old libraries. Last week at the Huntington Library I found a Lexicon from 1483. I looked up arsenokoitai and it gave the Latin equivalent, paedico and praedico. If you look those up they means pederasty, or knabenschander, (boy molester, in German.) 1483 is the year Martin Luther was born, so when he was running for his life translating the Bible and carrying his books, he would have used such a Lexicon. It was the Lexicon of his time. This Lexicon would have used information from the previous 1000+ years, including data passed down from the Church Fathers.

Q: So, there is historical tradition to show that these verses aren’t relating to homosexuality?

ED: Absolutely! Sometimes I’m frustrated when speak with pastors who say, “Well I believe the historical tradition surrounding these verses” and then proceed with a condemnation of LGBTQ individuals. I challenge them to see what was actually traditionally taught. For most of history, most European Bibles taught the tradition that these 4 verses were dealing with pederasty, not homosexuality. I am saddened when I see pastors and theologians cast aside the previous 2000 years of history. This is why I collect very old Bibles, lexicons, theological books and commentaries – most modern biblical commentaries adjusted to accommodate this mistranslation. It’s time for the truth to come out!

Yes, my brother, who is a pastor, also told me the same thing, that every sector of the church has seen same-sex relationships as sinful for 2,000 years. But the more I read and study though, the more I just don’t see this being true.

Q: What was used before homosexual showed up in the RSV version?

ED: King James Version triumphed the land and they used the phrase, “Abusers of themselves with mankind” for arsenokoitai. If you asked people during that time no one really wanted to tackle it. So that’s why I’m collecting Bibles, Biblical commentaries and lexicons, in order to show how theologians dealt with these passages.

Q: In Your opinion, how would the church be different if the RSV didn’t change “arsenokoitai” and “malakoi” to homosexual in 1946?

ED: In my opinion, if the RSV did not use the word homosexual in first Corinthians 6:9, and instead would have spent years in proper research to understand homosexuality and to really dig into the historical contextualization, I think translators would have ended up with a more accurate translation of the abusive nature intended by this word. I think we could have avoided the horrible damage that was done from pulpits all across America, and ultimately other parts of the world. But let’s don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater — the RSV team did a great job on most everything else. It was an honest mistake.

Q: And do you think your life would have gone differently as a result?

ED: Yes, absolutely! I think my life would have been starkly different if the translation would have been translated with the accurate historical contextualization – especially within my own family, since they rely so heavily on the English translation and put a lot of faith in the translators for the final product in English. Since most people haven’t studied Greek or Hebrew, they have no concept of challenging a translation, and any potential errors that may have occurred during translation. Therefore, many people are unable to consider the implications of the text beyond the English translation in front of them.

Q: Based on your research, what advice would you have for LGBTQ Christians today?

ED: My advice to LGBTQ Christians today would be three things:

  1. As difficult as it may be, try to extend grace and patience to the Church. The vast majority of pastors in America have not done their due diligence on this topic, so we can’t expect them to be any further along than they are currently. In the same way that God has extended grace and patience with us when we sin, we need to extend grace and patience toward others regarding their error on this topic. Bitterness will only manage to create further damage.
  2. Seek out other LGBTQ Christians who have already done their due diligence on this topic and reached a point of peace between their sexuality and God. We can learn a lot from others who are a little further up the trail.
  3. Often remind yourself that this mess is not caused by God, but instead is the result of people who have been entrusted with free will.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

I Don’t Believe The Bible Is The Absolute Irrefutable Truth Of God, But My Best Friend Does!

My best friend and I occasionally spar in friendly debate surrounding the Bible and it always boils down to one thing, that he believes the Bible is the absolute irrefutable truth of God, while I believe it has some truths, a number of great stories and lessons, and a whole lot of misconstrued words that came from man.

My biggest issue with the Bible continues to be how people for over two millennia have used it for their own gain, interpreting its words to suit their agenda, all while saying it’s under the guise of God because it’s in the Bible. But you know what’s in the Bible, in the New Testament in fact, is a bunch of words from a guy name Paul, who was inspired by Christ, but wasn’t God or Jesus. He was a man who had his own biases, issues, problems, and the like. And yet his words today continue to be considered as from God himself just because they are in the Bible and were inspired by God. Look, I’ve been inspired by God and have definitely felt the presence of God leading me at times in my life. But those words of inspiration won’t and should never be in any book that’s considered the word of God because they’re coming from my own interpretation of them, just like Paul’s was.

While I truly appreciate Apostle Paul for his dedication to spread the love of Christ, Paul was human and had his own flaws in life. He believed that women should be submissive to men, rather than ever being their equal and he also turned a blind eye to slavery, essentially accepting it as part of the customs of the time. But over time, religious scholars have refuted all this and said that both were signs of the times back then and are no longer applicable today, which I’m exceptionally thankful for because women should be equal to men, and slavery itself is such a terrible and wrongful practice. Yet, countless religious people still say homosexuality is a sin even though religious scholars have shown that the same sex practices Paul was referring to had nothing to do with one man or one woman deeply loving a same-sex other. Rather, Paul was speaking about pedophilia, adultery, orgies, and dominance, but that continues to be overlooked and discounted again and again. So, why is it ok to interpret Biblical passages about women and slavery in a healthier way today, but not homosexuality amongst other things? Why are some passages justified as erroneous today while others aren’t?

Well the common argument that comes up here next always seems to point back to Leviticus where it says a man should not lie with man as a man lies with a woman. But if you go that route in an argument, then you need to remember in Leviticus it’s not ok to eat shellfish or wear leather on one’s shoes, and plenty more. So, if we all are supposed to obey those laws in Leviticus, we might as well start heading to hell right now because none of us are practicing any of them with any sort of regularity or consistency.

The fact is organized religion has and always will be built upon fear and fear drives the acceptance or denial of various things, calling one thing a sin, while another acceptable. Men were afraid of losing their power to women at one point in time just as much as they were afraid of other races becoming more in power. So, suppression was born out of this, which ironically, my best friend would have fallen into way back when in Biblical times, because he is black and most likely would have been made a slave then. It’s precisely how the terrible institution of slavery came into our country and did such horrendous things to people, all in the name of God and the Bible, and for a time it was totally acceptable. But now it’s not. And thank God!

I believe religion fears homosexuality for similar reasons. The fear that if homosexuality isn’t a sin, that everyone would just reduce themselves to their lust-based desires, that no one would procreate, and so on. I beg to differ for the several decades long relationships I’ve known of others living lovingly and monogamously that I can’t imagine God not blessing, especially because of the unconditional love they share for each other. My best friend has never experienced that type of same-sex love nor been in a multi-year long relationship with anyone monogamously. I believe that if he had, he might be able to see this quite differently. I can totally see my best friend right now reading this, crossing his arms, and finding every possible way to refute all of this by scripture, maybe even suggesting that the Devil is influencing me right now as I write this. I know him that well and love him dearly, but this is the very problem I have with religion, where some type of fear leads to judgement, and judgment eventually leading to division, separation, hatred, and worse.

While my best friend and I may never agree on our interpretation of the Bible, I’ve come to believe that doesn’t matter. Because the only thing that does matter to me now is the very thing that Christ cared about the most, which was for all of us to love each other and God unconditionally, and letting God be the one to communicate within us as to what is right for us and what is not. Thankfully, my best friend and I do a great job here accepting each other for our differences in this area, even though we might have friendly debates from time to time.

So, while my best friend and I may always disagree on what the Bible represents for us, when it comes right down to it, I’m thankful we both agree and see that the love of Christ is what keeps us bonded together after almost 24 years now, and that says something, especially when he sees the Bible as the absolute irrefutable truth of God, when I most assuredly don’t!

Peace, love light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Learning The Difference Between Intimacy And Sex…

There’s a big difference between sex and intimacy, yet to an individual who gets molested early on in life, like I was at the age of 12, where my first experience with both happened during one tragic act, the wires became seriously crossed in my brain to where I couldn’t differentiate between the two.

Because of this, I spent the better part of two decades feeling that intimacy with someone, such as just being held, just meant the other person was only interested in having some form of sex with me. That unfortunately led to many complications with close friends who truly just wanted to show how much they cared about me whenever they showed me any signs of affection.

Unravelling this mess in my brain has definitely been a serious undertaking that’s for sure!

For the longest time I completely avoided dealing with this issue and opted to only allow a person I was dating to show me any form of intimacy. But recently, the Universe has abruptly moved me in a direction where I now find myself facing this issue head on.

It started a few years ago when I noticed my partner growing more uncomfortable with the closeness we had shared for the first few years of our relationship, i.e. prolonged bouts of holding hands, cuddling, or just regular acts of random affection. The result of this has been me feeling more and more unloved, because intimacy is a huge part of committed relationships, just as much as sex typically is as well.

Nevertheless, there are many forms of intimacy, some of which don’t even involve touch. Things like verbal intimacy where the listener pays close attention to something deep being shared by the other. Emotional intimacy where tears get shed during vulnerable moments of sharing, where no judgment occurs by the other, just silence and a nodding reassurance of understanding. Or spiritual intimacy, where one chooses to pray for the other. All of these have dwindled quite a bit in my relationship in the past few years, leaving me feeling frustrated and feeling unloved.

While my partner is working on this, it could take years for him to figure it all out. Heck, it took me a ton of years to figure much of it out myself. What has arisen out of all this has been many deep conversations between him and I on how I’m supposed to handle his present inability to show much of these levels of intimacy. In response, he’s encouraged me to pursue friendships where these elements are present, of which I have, especially as of late.

That in of itself has been challenging because, as I said, having someone touch me out of their unconditional love for me, screws with my brain’s programming which thinks sex is only going to follow suit. The only way I know how to work through this though is to keep allowing close friends and loved ones to show me their tokens of non-sexual affection, instead of constantly trying to prevent it from happening in the first place.

I just went through this the other night when a woman I know from the room of recovery took hold of my hand during a rough evening I had at a meeting we regularly attend together. She held it for a good five minutes, even though my brain was screaming at me to pull it away. Ironically, I felt a lot better after sticking through it.

The Universe has also seen fit to put a new friend in my life that is extremely affectionate. It’s certainly been a learning curve for me to allow that affection, but I must say when I do, it feels wonderful to be on the receiving end of it.

The bottom line is that I need to keep walking through my fears surrounding intimacy and remain open to it from wherever it comes, as the more I do, the more I know I’ll learn to separate intimacy and sex, two things that for far too long have gone hand-in-hand and never should of…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Downton Abbey”, An Intriguing TV Series And Film That I Related To Far More Than I Ever Thought I Would…

Mere weeks ago, I knew next to nothing about Downton Abbey, other than it was a television show surrounding some English aristocratic family from the early 20th century that ran on PBS from 2010 to 2015. Truthfully, I was never very interested in watching it mostly because I wasn’t too keen on seeing a show about wealthy people of great status I couldn’t relate to who were from a time I didn’t live in and a country I wasn’t from. But, after seeing the trailer for a theatrical movie being released for the same show and after hearing all the buzz surrounding it, including the many friends of mine who said how good the show actually was and how much they were looking forward to the film, I finally decided to start watching it on Amazon Prime with my partner to see what the hype was all about. Halfway into season 1, I was hooked and three weeks later I was all caught up, including with the movie itself, which I must say was thoroughly enjoyable for many reasons, but one most in particular.

Beyond the fact that I liked watching the lives of the servants and could relate more to them versus the aristocrats, I was actually drawn most to the journey of Footman/Under Butler/Butler Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier), a closeted gay man living in a time when homosexuality was considered a mental illness and perversion at best. To the casual viewer, especially someone who isn’t gay, it’s quite easy to hate Barrow’s character, as he was always conniving some type of scheme to try to make it ahead in life, stepping over the feet of everyone else, and backstabbing without regard of who might get hurt. While my partner regularly expressed displeasure in Barrow’s character, I always saw Barrow in a much different light. What I saw was a spiritually wounded man who truly struggled to relate to anyone else, who just wanted to be someone that was appreciated in a world that rarely appreciated people like him. While most of Barrow’s selfish attempts to make something of himself usually backfired, he occasionally exhibited true moments of humility and selflessness that showed he did have a loving heart and soul. Sadly, they usually got overshadowed by all his self-serving actions though, which tended to keep most everyone at arm’s length.

Man, I can so relate.

Over the years of me trying to find acceptance, I regularly hid my sexuality, which often led to me doing actions that hurt others as well, leaving me with a lot of self-loathing and very few friends. Thankfully, I’m a lot more accepting of myself these days and have become far more open with my sexuality, yet there are still days I find myself wishing I wasn’t gay and have even joked about being a straight man stuck in a gay man’s body, all because our world keeps on struggling to practice the true teachings of Christ, instead using things like the Bible and other spiritual books to judge others as sinners rather than unconditionally loving them and leaving all judgments in God’s hands.

It was even worse in Barrow’s time, when homosexuality was considered a sickness by medical standards. These days, while that’s no longer the case, being gay is still far from being widely accepted on this planet. And even when it is, I’ve regularly seen many still make plenty of stereotypical judgments around gay people including why they tend to be such perfectionists, act so prim and proper, and often have incredibly ornate homes and yards. Truthfully, I think it’s because so many of us try to over compensate for being in a minority that continues to hold such a negative stigma of sorts. In Barrow’s case over compensating translated into wanting to be in a higher position that held more responsibility and stature, as in his mind, then and only then, might he become more accepted in the world and make up for his reality that the world was never going to fully accept him for who he was.

Nonetheless, while I was thoroughly engrossed in a number of the other Downton Abbey character’s backstories and growth throughout the series and movie, it was Thomas Barrow whom I found myself the most drawn to, not in a sexual way, but in one where I silently cried quite often for the pain he and so many others like myself have endured throughout the ages, all for being born with a sexuality that frequently has led to rejection and religious persecution.

All in all, Downton Abbey is a phenomenally written series that I’m more than confident no matter what walk of life one may come from, rich or poor, gay or straight, black or white, man or woman, etc., that anyone will find at least one character to really relate to like I did with Thomas Barrow. I highly recommend watching this series and film if you haven’t already and sincerely hope that a follow-up sequel may be on the horizon in the near future.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Struggle I Have With Apostle Paul…

There is one notable figure from the Bible that I’ve had countless discussions around with many people. It’s the one Biblical person I really struggle with and probably the biggest reason why I often refute the Bible being the emphatic word of God and that figure is Apostle Paul.

I’m sure most know his Biblical story in which he formerly was known as Saul and a terrible persecutor of Christians, that is until one day he became blinded on the road to Damascus, during which time Jesus spoke to him and asked why he continued to persecute his people so vehemently. For three days after that, Saul remained unable to see whatsoever and refused to drink or eat anything because of it, until another man named Ananias became instructed by God to lay his hands upon Saul’s eyes, at which point scales suddenly fell from them, allowing Saul to see again. From thence foreword, Saul would take on the name of Paul and become one of the biggest proponents of Christ.

While I always applaud the story of Paul’s miraculous transformation, the part I struggle with is how I feel Paul went from one extreme to the other. You see as Saul, he walked an angry path of violent persecution of the young Christian church in Jerusalem, going from house to house, dragging men and women off to prison, making sure believers of Christ were found guilty of blasphemy and calling for them to be stoned to death. But then as Paul, while he often said how humbled God made him, he still went from place to place preaching about what he felt to be the exact things needed to follow Christ, almost as if he was now the know-it-all on the subject. And some of those very things that are listed in the Bible as what he said to be God’s truths, are now being used to persecute an entirely different set of people, people that include individuals like me.

Paul’s words state same-sex relations is a sin three separate times in the books he wrote. He also claimed in them that women were meant to remain subservient to men and supported slavery as well, amongst a number of other strong beliefs too. And it’s because of those strong beliefs and that belief of the Bible being the irrefutable truth of God, that followers of Christ now persecute in similar fashion as Saul once did, claiming what they know precisely to be a sin and what is not, persecuting many of God’s children along the way.

A good example of this is a guy I once knew who was formerly a Satanist, regularly worshipping the Devil himself, persecuting anyone who believed in God, but then went through his own transformation that led him to be someone that believed the only way to enter the gates of Heaven was to follow the Bible exactly, which he said included following all of Paul’s beliefs. When I spoke about how I believed that God loved me as a gay individual and accepted me in my monogamous same-sex relationship, he angrily told me that Paul’s words were part of the irrefutable truths of God, which from my perspective, made me feel like I was being persecuted all in the name of God.

But here’s the thing. Paul wasn’t a prophet nor was he God in the flesh. He was nothing more than a man doing his best to rectify his former negative ways of being that highly persecuting and judgmental individual of Christians. In doing so, Paul became flawed like the rest of us do on our own quests to find Christ and God. Where we make claims that we know what someone needs to do to find God, yet in all reality, the only one who should EVER be making that claim is God or Christ themselves.

So, while I honor Paul’s spiritual journey and appreciate the great lengths he went to glorify God after his spiritual transformation, that doesn’t give him or any Christian the right to claim their words are coming from the absolute and irrefutable truths of God just because the Bible says so. Using Paul’s words or the Bible in general in a way that persecutes anyone is the very behaviors that Saul did prior to his conversion and on some level, Paul did himself on his path to rectify his past tyranny.

The fact is, none of us truly know Paul’s story, as he was human with human tendencies, human opinions and human flaws. We don’t know his whole back story, what made him tick, and what “demons” he might have had within him back then. Regardless, we know he did his best to follow Christ and preach on what he felt Christ wanted him to do. But, does that make his words the irrefutable truths of God? No and that is precisely why I struggle with the Apostle Paul and the persecution that has followed in his wake because of the words he left behind in the Bible.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

I Think God Has A Huge Sense Of Humor!

Sometimes I think God has a huge sense of humor, because for as crazy as it feels with my best friend who’s been gay his entire life going through a total rejection of that now, receiving an email from someone who once did that very rejecting of gay people like he and I, yet now realizing how far off they were in their views from God’s higher and more loving truth, seems even crazier.

How all this came about requires going back to the beginning, which is over 25 years ago in fact, when I initially became best friends with a guy in college who would eventually become the first true love of my life, even though I was totally oblivious to what was transpiring within me then.

As I got to know this person during that period of my life, who I’ll refer to by his first initial “R”, I’d also go on to meet his mother, who I’d quickly learn was an extremely conservative Christian. I was ok with that at first because I really didn’t know what my sexuality was at the time nor did I even have much of a connection to God then either. A day came though when I’d realize what was going on within me and it came immediately after getting clean and sober from alcohol and drugs. It was then I fully grasped I was gay and always had been, but far more difficult, I also saw that I had fallen in love with “R”. It took me six months after starting my emergence from the closet to actually tell “R” about my sexuality and my feelings for him. “R” would completely reject me after that, even though we had shared many close moments during our drinking days that one would seriously have to put into question his sexuality as well. Regardless, a few years went by before I would work up enough courage to contact “R”’s mother to see if maybe “R” might be open to talking to me again. During my phone call with her, she asked why my friendship with her son had fallen apart and it was then I got fully honest with her as well. I told her about my sexuality, which was as far as I got before she began proselytizing about ex-gay ministries and how I wasn’t keeping to the will and love of God. I mailed her a letter after that call that was intended for “R”, while in turn she mailed me literature about leaving “the gay lifestyle”. I’d never read any of that literature she sent me and during my last contact with her over the phone, she told me “R” wanted nothing to do with me, even all those years later, and had no desire to read my letter either. She told me she’d also be praying for me, to be free of the “lifestyle” I was living and upon hanging up, I had no intention of ever speaking to her again, as both she and her son had caused me great pain and suffering.

But obviously God had other plans, as about a week ago, I’d open my email to see I had received something from my personal website. It was a personal correspondence from someone, which at first glance I thought was just spam, because I get a lot of that on my website. I had almost hit the delete button when I realized it was actually not spam and instead from “R”’s mother, the subject of which said two words: “An apology”.

While I feel her correspondence’s exact contents are probably best meant for her eyes and mine only, I will summarize by saying that she expressed her sincerest apologies for the way she treated me all those years ago due to my sexuality. She also spoke of how she used to be in such a narrow, fear-based evangelical arrogance and that she was in a completely different place today where she saw me with much more unconditionally loving eyes and heart. What’s interesting about this, and ironic for that matter, is how this contact from “R”’s mother came at a time when my own best friend has been going through a place of rejecting his own sexuality due to all the messages he’s been receiving no different from the ones I received from her long ago.

I’ve been pondering the sheer scope of all this and been left wondering if this was somehow God’s way of answering one of my prayers. Truth be told, I’ve been questioning my own sexuality in life all over again solely due to all the conservative Biblical-based messages my best friend has been preaching as of late. Most probably wouldn’t understand what it’s like to have a 22-year friendship with someone who’s gay suddenly say it’s a sin to be that way and reject it outright. Nevertheless, I feel “R”’s mother’s email came at the exact time I really needed a strong reminder from God that I was perfectly created just as I am and perfectly loved just as I am, that being gay.

So, for now, this story has been left with me sending a response to “R”’s mother asking to continue the conversation over the phone. I truly hope she’ll be open to it, as I’d love to know how she went from one end of the spectrum to another when it comes to her views on God. Whether that ever happens or not doesn’t matter so much as I’ve come to accept that maybe, just maybe, God really does have a huge sense of humor in how prayers get answered…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Totality Of God…

A few weeks ago, when my best friend was visiting me, we sat down early on a Saturday morning with a friend of mine who guest preaches at the spiritual center I currently attend, during which my hope was that maybe he might help my friend see things from a different perspective when it comes to God and homosexuality. Although my best friend’s viewpoint on the subject didn’t change after that meeting, I was still grateful to have had the experience, as it reconfirmed my own stance on the matter, especially when it comes to God.

Ultimately, I believe God is a lot bigger than the Bible, although many Christians would probably have my head for saying so. As my preacher friend, who’s also a Bishop, suggested, the totality of God goes way beyond the Bible, the Quran, the Torah, and any other book that’s ever been written about God. I agree and would go so far as to say that if every book ever written on the subject of God was put in an enormously large library, it still wouldn’t even touch the totality of God.

Unfortunately, my best friend feels just the opposite, as he believes that God’s truest word can only be found in the very pages of the Bible and the Bible alone. Hence the reason why he feels as he does now about homosexuality because it’s in those very pages in black and white where several passages denounce any same-sex relations.

I, on the other hand, have seen God in so many other ways in this world. I’ve seen God in a Muslim. I’ve seen God in a Wiccan. I’ve seen God in a Jew. I’ve seen God in a Hindu. And I’ve even seen God in an atheist who may not even believe in any type of God, but still does their best on a daily basis demonstrating the unconditional love of God anyway. Along the same line, I’ve seen God in many homosexuals, each who also do their best on any given day to offer the unconditional love of God too, myself included.

But, like my best friend, for the longest time none of that fell into my belief system since I used to believe the only true God was the one from the pages of the Bible. Because of that I never could fully accept myself and my sexuality in entirety, and if the totality of God was strictly that from the Bible, not only would I never be accepted into the Kingdom of God, but so wouldn’t billions and billions of people on this planet. At some point that started to not make any type of sense whatsoever, hence the reason why I began having to see the totality of God as something more than that which came from the Bible alone. Add in all the discrepancies to how the “Word” was constantly being applied in this world, the countless interpretations from Biblical scholars that all seemed to contradict each other, and plenty of people who warped God’s unconditional love into conditional or judgmental-based views, I realized God’s totality had to be something more than the Bible.

Eventually, I arrived at a place where the totality of God had me still identifying Christ as my Lord and Savior, except without labeling myself anymore as a Christian because of how much negative connotation that seems to hold these days in this world. With the amount of gay people, and people from other religions for that matter, who keep on being rejected because of the Bible and Christianity, I simply tell people now that I follow the unconditional love of Christ as best as I can. This thankfully has helped me to fully accept a number of things including the sexuality I was born with, the current relationship I’m in that’s same-sex based and fully monogamous, and plenty of others who come from non-Christian and non-Biblical-based backgrounds.

Many Christians, including my best friend, might say I’ve allowed the “Enemy” to sway me. If the “Enemy”, which of course is really just another term for Satan, has swayed me, I surely wouldn’t be holding the unconditional love I have for my partner. On the contrary, that “Enemy” was most definitely present in my past during the majority of all my previous relationships when I wasn’t faithful, when I did random hook-ups, when I attempted to break up marriages for sexual gain, when I viewed pornography, and so on and so forth.

So, no, I don’t believe the “Enemy” is swaying me today into believing any of this because for me, the totality of God absolutely includes the unconditional love I have for my partner. In the end, choosing to see the totality of God in this way, beyond the scope of the Bible, has allowed me to connect to countless souls on this planet that are just as worthy and deserving of God’s unconditional love. Souls that are indeed homosexual, souls that may never claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but souls nonetheless that truly do their best, every, single, day, to bring as much Light and Love onto this planet as they can.

And if that isn’t part of the totality of God, well, then I really don’t know what is or ever will be…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

What Do You Do When Your Best Friend Says They’re No Longer Going To Be Gay Because Homosexuality Is A Sin?

There have been many difficult things I’ve had to go through in life, but watching someone who began identifying themselves as a gay individual long ago, someone who just so also happens to be my best friend in the world, come to the decision that homosexuality is a sin, was not one of them.

Writing about this isn’t easy because I have somewhat unstable feelings and emotions surrounding it, not just because it primarily deals with my best friend, but also because it deals with religion overall, chiefly the Christian religion, something that’s always been a loaded topic for me. Thankfully, I did receive the blessing from my best friend before writing this, as he knows how much my writing helps me to work through my spiritual struggles in life.

This story begins with me being born and raised a Christian, which for the longest time I was proud to consider myself one. I was also born gay, as I discovered through many complex forms of therapy I did over the years where I remembered that even in my very early single digit years I was attracted to the same sex, which to this day is still true having never found any sexual attraction to a woman whatsoever.

Nevertheless, this spiritual journey in life to figure myself out took me through intense studying of the Bible, participating in numerous Bible study classes, and even becoming a Deacon at one point. Along the way, I began to see how Christians, and people from many other religions as well, used what they saw in black and white in the Bible, and any other spiritual books they followed, against gay individuals just like me. And the more I did, the more I became disgruntled with religion in general. Eventually, I steered clear of religion altogether because of it, that is until I decided that maybe God was bigger than all those religions and that maybe all their books weren’t necessarily the “absolute” truth of God either. I mean after all, how could each of those religions say their Book was the “absolute” truth of God anyway? In light of all that, I no longer label myself as being from any spiritual background, other than being a spiritual type of guy who seeks God and does his best to use the main principle of Christ (i.e. loving each other unconditionally). Unfortunately, this is where my best friend and I began to clash.

It started about seven months ago or so, after an excessive string of promiscuity had come to an end and a period of celibacy had begun for my best friend. It was then he decided what he had been told from many Christians over the years and what he had always read in the Bible was actually true, that homosexuality was indeed a sin and not approved by God. Believe me, when he first told me this, I was utterly shocked. For being the guy who helped me come out of the closest, the guy who helped me find God and the love of Christ, the guy who led me into my life of recovery from addiction, and the guy who agreed with me for over two decades that those passages in the Bible that denounced homosexuality had to be wrong somehow, it was like receiving a huge slap in the face that stung so hard it left a permanent mark.

But, being who I am these days, I believe it’s ultimately important to live and let live, to accept others for where they are on their spiritual journey, and to just love unconditionally, so I opted to accept his new path as best as I could. That was going just fine until I told him that my partner Chris and I were planning on getting married next year and that I looked forward to him being my best man. We had always talked about us being that for each other if we ever got married. Sadly, it was at that precise moment that he shook his head and said he wasn’t sure if he’d even be able to attend my wedding now, because it went against his new religious beliefs. Immediately, the image of that baker in Indiana who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple came to mind, except in this case, the baker was actually my closest friend in the world.

So, as you could imagine, I was shocked and honestly, I still am. All of those years and all of those rejections I received from pastors, churches, friends, family, and plenty of strangers too, solely because of my sexuality, never once did I EVER imagine that one day, a form of it would come from my best friend. What’s even harder about this is how the last time I had been planning a marriage with someone I thought I was going to spend my life with, my Mom did the very same thing by telling me she wouldn’t attend my wedding either. Things were never the same after that with her or with that partner. With that being said, the dilemma I face now is whether I want to get married at all. If I get married, there’s a strong likelihood that a 22-year friendship could come to an end, and if I don’t, there’s a strong chance that my relationship with Chris may suffer irreparable damage. I feel like I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t and my deepest truth is that I really don’t know what to do now.

What I do know is that I love my partner with all my heart, mind, and soul, and remain monogamously dedicated to him. I so wish that all religious people could see that there is a beautiful God-based love even in a same-sex monogamous relationship like Chris and I have. But sadly, a relationship like ours is still detestable in their eyes and, in their opinion, in God’s as well.

But if God and Christ are nothing but unconditional love as I’m often told, then why wouldn’t God support the unconditional love my partner and I have for each other and our desire to enter into marriage? And wouldn’t my best friend coming to our ceremony be part of demonstrating that? These are the questions I continue to wrestle with over and over again as I try to put myself in my best friend’s shoes. Shoes that have never been in any long-term, monogamous, deeply loving relationship with any man. Shoes that only knew for the most part, a promiscuous lifestyle with men. And oh, how do I know those shoes so very well, because I lived in them at multiple points, and it’s those shoes that I believe are the actual sin that those spiritual books like the Bible speak of, not the ones I have on now where I absolutely love my partner and want to spend my life monogamously with him.

So yes, I have a hard time believing that God is really telling my best friend that he shouldn’t come to my wedding. I have a hard time as well believing that God actually disapproves of my love for Chris. And I especially have a hard time believing that God approves of all those judgments that continue to be made towards gay people just like me, because God made us the way we are. I certainly didn’t choose my sexuality, but boy if I could, I absolutely, positively, wouldn’t have chosen to be gay in a world where Christians and plenty of other religions constantly choose to look down upon people like me day after day after day, calling my lifestyle a sin.

In the end, all I know is that I love both my partner, and my best friend, immensely and equally, and don’t want to lose either. That’s why I’m choosing to leave this conflict in the hands of God to figure it all out, because I honestly can’t make sense of any of it.

So, what do you do when your best friend says they’re no longer going to be gay because homosexuality is a sin? I really don’t know, but I believe God does, and hopefully His unconditional love will prevail through it all…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Arthur”, A PBS Kids Show Under Fire For Depicting A Gay Marriage

Say what?! Mr. Ratburn on the kids tv show “Arthur” is gay and getting married? Oh, the heresy! Well, that’s at least what Alabama Public Television (APT) thought, opting to not air the episode depicting the marriage and instead airing a re-run.

While a number of conservative value-based families from Alabama and beyond praised APT for their decision, many others expressed their disapproval. For example, school teacher Misty Souder from McCalla, Alabama saw the marriage as a celebration of inclusion and was looking forward to watching the episode with her 9-year-old daughter, only to be severely disappointed when she discovered a re-run was aired instead. In response, she reached out to the APT and used the experience to teach her daughter about the importance of speaking out for minority groups.

The statement provided by APT in regards to why they made their decision was that “Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate, and inspire. More importantly, although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards, parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the “target” audience for Arthur also watch the program. Our feeling is that we basically have a trust with parents about our programming. This program doesn’t fit into that.”

Sadly, back in 2005, another episode of “Arthur” came under similar controversy when it depicted the children of two lesbians living in Vermont. Except back then, PBS, who airs “Arthur”, pulled the episode due to how much flack it received, mostly from fundamental Christian groups that said the show was no longer “clean”. Ultimately, the feeling seems to still be the same in regards to this recent gay marriage episode, at least in Alabama, with 48% of those living there agreeing with the decision.

48%! With almost 5 million people living in Alabama, that means that there are at least 2.5 million people there who are still strongly opposed to homosexuality and feel it goes against their spiritual and moral values. In light of that, I began to wonder how many also feel the same way in the rest of our country? Does half of our population still strongly oppose homosexuality and feel it goes against the will of God? Honestly, I’m beginning to feel like our country is going backwards and I often think that at some point, there’s going to be an attempt to abolish gay marriage in our country.

Frankly, all of this makes me quite sad and maybe a little angry too. It’s 2019 for Pete’s sake and our country remains strongly divided on something all because the Bible continues to be thrown at people and judgments placed that God considers homosexuals to be sinners. UGH!

Sometimes I really wish that Christ would just get it over with and return, if only to remind everyone that the two most important “laws” were to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Somehow, far too many people continue to forget that and opt to protest things like a kid’s cartoon that’s showing a gay marriage because it goes against their spiritual beliefs and the God of their understanding.

My feelings about all this? Why can’t people just let people be people. Why can’t we just live and let live for Heaven’s sake! For as long as the Bible continues to be used as a means for judgment and not love, I honestly think our country is going to go in the exact opposite direction as to where the God of my understanding would love to see us headed in.

Sometimes I think we could actually be headed for a Tolitarian society that is Biblical-based and while many fundamentalists may totally cheer the idea of that, others like myself shudder at the notion of living in a country that could become no different than back in Christ’s time when there were so many severe factions and laws, something Christ fought hard to abolish. And if Christ is nothing but unconditional love, are all those judgments that continue to fly out towards homosexuals including decisions like not airing a gay marriage episode because it’s deemed “unclean”, really depicting Christ’s unconditional love at all?

That being said, I profoundly applaud PBS and “Arthur” for creating an episode that showed an act of unconditional love between two male characters, Mr. Ratburn and Patrick. Someday, hopefully I’ll live in a world where people simply love each other and don’t use a spiritual book as a weapon for separation and disunity, rather than one for inclusion and acceptance, as maybe then, people might actually see Mr. Ratburn’s and Patrick’s marriage as something to celebrate and not to denounce.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Sad Plight Of Conservative Christians With LGBTQ Individuals…

Two people I know have now been accepted into membership of conservative Christian churches recently. While that in of itself doesn’t seem like it would be anything inspiring to write about, it’s the fact that both are also gay individuals, but are choosing to live out lives of celibacy.

It’s probably best I define what I mean by conservative Christians before I delve into this any further. Simply put, it’s anyone that believes the Bible is the absolute word and truth of God and 100% accurate. Personally, I stopped believing that the Bible was 100% accurate long ago when I started seeing the same persecution going on today that was going on with religious folk some 2000+ years ago during Jesus’s time.

Honestly, I’ve lost count of the number of LGBTQ individuals who have been persecuted by conservative Christians. The stories I’ve come across over the years are actually quite heart wrenching. Christians who have kicked their own children out of their homes for their sexuality. Christians that have guilted and condemned LGBTQ individuals so bad that it’s led to their suicide or them succumbing to drugs and alcohol to deal with it and choosing atheism or agnosticism as a result. It’s utterly tragic.

It’s tragic that countless Christians claim they know the truth and will of God when it comes to the 700,000,000+ LGBTQ individuals who are living on this planet and were born the way they were, individuals just like myself.

It’s tragic that countless Christians throw the few passages in the Bible as proof of how God really feels about LGTBQ individuals and saying the only solution is to either convert to heterosexuality or remain celibate, and if neither are adhered to that they’re not welcomed.

And it’s tragic that countless Christians don’t even realize how their judgmental actions towards LGTBQ individuals are only leading to a more unloving and unaccepting world, the very thing they claim they are trying to prevent.

Nevertheless, when I think of the two gay people I know who are now celibate members of their respective conservative churches, I wonder how quickly those same churches would change their tune towards them if either chose to stop being celibate and enter into a same-sex relationship with someone.

Frankly, all of this seems so not of God or Christ or filled with any type of Holy Spirit whatsoever. Isn’t Christians using the Bible as a tool towards condemning LGBTQ folk no different than how the Sadducees and Pharisees were acting two millennia ago, which Jesus spoke out so harshly against? What right does any human being have to claiming they know the absolute truth and will of God? Aren’t those who condemn LGBTQ individuals by using the Bible as their means doing just that, playing God?

It amazes me how countless Christians ignore plenty of Old Testament laws that definitely apply to them, yet still point out the ones that convict LGTBQ individuals. It also amazes me how countless Christians tend to ignore the Old Testament laws altogether and instead cite only those in the New Testament they feel apply to everyone else like LGBTQ individuals, all while ignoring the fact that plenty of other passages exist that don’t make sense anymore in this day and age.

Passages like the ones that say how women are supposed to look modest, never have short hair, be flashy, or wear jewelry.

Passages like the ones that say how women are not meant to be have a voice in church and should always remain silent.

Passages like the ones that still advocate for slavery and even talk about runaway slaves needing to be returned to their owners.

Passages like the ones that say to never be showy in prayer and worship and instead do that behind closed doors.

And passages like the ones that permanently condemn any woman who ever gets divorced.

So, while all those passages seem to constantly be forgotten about or easily tossed aside with the belief that times have changed, LGBTQ individuals continue to have Biblical passages thrown at them by countless Christians who have shunned, and even at times beaten and killed them, all in the name of God.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Christ say EVERYONE was welcomed at God’s table? And when did the word of Apostle Paul become the word of God? How do we really know that Paul wasn’t biased on his own spiritual journey? If conservative Christians say the only perfect person on this planet was Christ, then doesn’t that mean that Paul couldn’t be perfect and thus his word wouldn’t be perfect either?

That’s why I feel it’s an outright travesty when any Christian person or any Christian church denies an LGBTQ individual entrance into their life or place of worship. For me, it’s a downright disgrace to the true teachings and unconditional love of Christ.

While I would agree that my many adulterous and promiscuous actions of my past were sinful in nature, my loving my same-sex partner today and doing my best to remain devoted heart, mind, and soul to him is not and I absolutely believe that God and Christ would agree.

How can I say that? Well didn’t Christ himself say the two most important commandments were to love God with all one’s heart and soul and to love one’s neighbor as themselves? If that’s true then isn’t loving my partner unconditionally and asking God every single day to guide my relationship with my partner doing just that? On the contrary, isn’t condemning homosexuality, ostracizing countless LGBTQ individuals in the process, and citing out Bible passages as laws that support their actions not following these two most important commandments? And lastly, is telling LGBTQ individuals that their only choices in life to be fully accepted by God is to either convert to heterosexuality or become totally celibate really practicing either of those two commandments either?

Gracious God, I so live for the day when all of Your people are actually allowed to be their true selves on their individual walks with You, where the Spirit guides each of us individually, where our sexuality isn’t a criterion for acceptance and membership into Your kingdom, and where your son Christ’s true teachings of unconditional love finally become the reality for all of us on this planet, and not just some of us…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

What Are Your “Must’s” In A Relationship?

What are your “must’s” in a relationship? What attributes do you seek in a partner? I asked this very thing recently to a good friend of mine who really struggles being single for as long as he has, and it ended up landing me in somewhat of a heated discussion. Why my discussion became heated was due to a belief I hold that many of those who seek relationships that have been single for a good while often have too conforming of a box, a box that leaves them in a very small pool.

Case in point, my friend is quite adamant about not ever wanting to express any sort of public signs of affection whatsoever with a partner, even if the mood struck. So, say for example, if you were ever sitting on a park bench somewhere with someone you had feelings for and the mood suddenly struck you, maybe because of a beautiful sunset in front of you, or just because, that you decided to lean in for a brief kiss. While that would be a no-no for my friend on every level, it would be quite welcome with me. For him, much of that relates to him being gay and the prejudices he feels still remain out there, but for me, I decided long ago that I wouldn’t let fear control me like that, mainly because I don’t want to ever miss out on an opportunity to share a special moment that I will never get back. While I can’t speak for the rest of the world, I can speak for myself and say that showing signs of affection is a must for me, whether that’s holding hands, or a quick kiss on the lips, or a wink, or a silly tickle to make a person laugh, or resting a hand on the other’s leg, each being things my partner Chris and I have done over the years that I’ve come to treasure immensely.

A few other qualities that are must’s when it comes to me being with a partner are things I’ve come to understand about myself that are important to the growth of my spiritual journey in life. The first of which is the avoidance of anyone who is dependent on alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, gambling, or anything of the sort. Basically, anyone who has a severe addiction that rules their life. Because for anyone who is living with an active addiction that rules their life, there is no room for a romantic relationship, given their first love will always be the substance of the addiction itself, where the importance of everyone and everything else becomes a distant second or far worse. Any attempt I ever made to prove that wrong has only ever led to me becoming very sick and toxic myself.

The second deals with negativity. I work so hard to be a positive person in my life because of my health issues and I’ve seen how negative energy easily affects it. It’s precisely why I don’t like being around negative people nowadays and would rather spend time alone if need be. Because people who seem to complain about everything that doesn’t fit into what their ego thinks should be happening, like how drivers are driving, or how this person shouldn’t be doing this or that, or how crappy some politician is, etc., is totally draining to my spiritual self, and eventually leads to affecting my mental, emotional, and physical states as well.

The last one deals with God. It probably is the most important thing I seek in a partner these days, as I truly desire to be connected to someone who enjoys praying with me, worshipping with me, and talking with me about spiritual things that expands my views on God rather than limits them. Connecting to God has become the sole drive in my life and to not have a partner interested in being a part of that would leave a very gaping hole in a relationship for me. While I never expect my path with God to be the same of my partner, I do believe it’s important for those paths to intersect regularly in a partnership.

Regardless, there are plenty of other attributes I seek in a partner, but many of them have shifted over the years. Beyond those I already mentioned as must’s, I do my best to remain open and not place my partner in a very close-minded box. To make a partner conform to what’s comfortable for me is a very limiting thing indeed when it comes to a relationship, and it’s something Chris has really helped me to see over the past few years.

So, if you happen to be someone who’s single and longs to be in a relationship, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having your own “must’s” for the partner you seek. Just realize that some of them could end up being so limiting that it might leave you in a very small pool, one that could very well leave you single in the long run, rather than partnered…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Should I Tell My Neighbor That I’m ………?

I have an elderly neighbor who lives a few streets away, that I see from time to time on my one-mile walks that I take occasionally whenever I’m feeling up to it. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, as he tends to always be sitting on his porch either reading or smoking a cigar whenever I pass on by his home. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about him over time, it’s how deep his belief in Christ is and how much he places his faith in the Bible being the absolute word and truth of God.

For the most part, I’ve truly enjoyed each of our conversations and from what he told me just recently, so has he. He even went so far as to say how much it’s been positively affecting his life and helping him to see God in new and different ways. Why I say “for the most part” though, is because of his stance on one subject and that’s homosexuality. While we haven’t talked more than a couple times about it, I’ve come to learn how strongly he believes homosexuality is a sin, like so many others who believe what the Bible says is 100% the truth.

Knowing someone who feels this way is nothing new to my life, as I know of plenty of people who feel as he does about homosexuality. The challenge I have with this man though is that he has no idea that I’m gay and thinks I’m actually in a relationship with a woman. Because of that, every time I talk to him, I feel like I’m living a lie and have begun to wonder if God wants me to tell him the truth.

I’ve faced this situation so many times in my life, with people who were benefiting from the insight I had from my own spiritual journey with God, people who were feeling blessed by the spiritual connections I made with them. That is, until I would tell them I was gay, which would most frequently lead to me getting either Biblically lectured or them rapidly disappearing from my life or both.

Honestly, it makes me sad that I’m afraid to be 100% truthful with this man. Because I’m pretty sure if I am, he’ll no longer be receptive to anything I have to say about spirituality and faith from that point forward. I have a pretty good idea how he’ll actually react because he told me how one his family members confronted him on this very subject and they no longer speak to each other. He also has claimed that he is very close-minded when it comes to a few hot topics such as homosexuality. I know there is no real reason why I need to tell this man that he’s talking to a gay individual. Yet, at the same time, I don’t feel like I’m being my true self with him either.

Truthfully, it sucks I live in a world where Paul’s words from the New Testament are interpreted today as sexuality immorality means homosexuality is a sin. It sucks that Jesus never spoke on this subject in the Bible ever. It sucks that most people disregard all the crazy laws of the Old Testament, except for the ones that talk about sexual immorality. And it royally sucks that friendships and families are regularly becoming divided these days, all because of some guy trying to love another guy or some girl trying to love another girl.

Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that if I tell my neighbor that I’m gay, that positive feeling he’s been having with our conversations will quickly evaporate and any good I’ve been doing to help him to see greater Light through my own spiritual journey will suddenly be erased. That’s the sad state of homosexuality and Christianity nowadays. Two words that even in 2019 are still such strong antonyms to each other.

Regardless, Christ says to love my neighbor as myself, and for that, even knowing my staunch Christian neighbor’s beliefs, I continue to practice unconditionally loving this individual, which somehow continues to help him on his own spiritual journey. Why God is using me, a gay male, to slightly expand a very reserved Christian’s beliefs I don’t know, but I often wonder if a day will come when my neighbor actually asks me about my own personal beliefs with homosexuality.

Should I tell him I’m gay?

Or do I simply state my deepest belief that whomever one loves, that God asks us to do it with all our heart, mind, and soul and that everything else on the subject doesn’t matter.

I don’t know what I’ll say if that was to happen, but for now, I just wanted to share what it’s like being gay in a very Christian world, that still has yet to see someone like me as a loving child of God and not a sinner…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Difficult Challenges I Faced In Going To A Christmas Eve Service…

I’m not a church goer anymore, yet I promised myself I’d attend a Christmas Eve service at my sister’s church to support her and my nephews during my visit to them over the holidays. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how difficult that decision would end up being for me.

Let me begin by saying that there was a time when I really did love going to church every Sunday. That started well over two decades ago now when I found a very lively church in Washington D.C. to attend called The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). There, my Spirit moved every Sunday and I always looked forward to attending the services there. Yes, I was one of those who would raise my hands and praise the Lord, and no, it wasn’t a fake thing, as I truly felt that much joy in my life in serving God. Frankly, it was such a major shift from the previous church I had belonged to, that being one of those revival churches with a live band and a projector on a big screen, as they had rejected me when I came out of the closet and told me I was a sinner. Nevertheless, I spent the better part of a decade affiliated with MCC and even became a deacon during my years of membership there. After a period of a few years where I moved to the middle of nowhere and wasn’t able to find a church to be a part of, I came to the Boston area to be closer to my sister and attempted for the next several years to find a new church home. Sadly, I’d experience three separate rejections in the process, each because of my sexuality, and each being one of those revival types of churches. While there were a few churches I attended that did accept me for who I was, I didn’t feel my spirit leap at any of them. Regardless, I became fed up with all of it and began to forge my own path of hope, faith, and spirituality with God, one that didn’t involve being a member of any physical church.

So, in light of all that, when my sister asked if I wanted to attend a Christmas Eve service at her church during my visit there, I said yes, only because it had been so long since I’d been to any service and also in that I wanted to support my youngest nephew who really wanted to spend as much time with me as he could. As I sat there in the service with him and the rest of my sister’s family, as well as my partner, I watched a number of people raise their hands and praise the Lord just like I used to do. I wish I could have felt what they were feeling and boy, did I try to feel some of that. All I could feel though was sadness. Sadness for all the people who have been rejected by so many churches that have looked and felt just like this one. Sadness for all the health issues I continue to face and the silence I continue to feel from God about it. And sadness for feeling so darn alone inside, even in the midst of all that joy.

I wasn’t present during this service at all really, and found myself jotting down my thoughts on their bulletin while there, which led to me writing these very words here. About the only time I was present was when they asked if anyone wanted to come up during the service and be prayed over. I waited and waited and waited while that part of the service was going on, yet kept feeling a desire within me to go up. I honestly had a battle in myself during that time and eventually found the courage to walk up. I don’t remember what was said during the prayer that this 20-something guy said as he embraced me, but what I do remember was the tears flowing from my eyes, tears that yearn for a closer presence from God, tears for all the people who have felt rejected from God because of conservative religious people, and tears for all the pain I still have to live within this body.

When the service ended shortly thereafter, I have to say I was very much relieved and was glad to head back to my sister’s home. While I would love to be a part of a church again, especially one where my spirit moved with upbeat music and plenty of fellowship, I truly struggled to feel much of that there. Whether that was because of my past or present circumstances I don’t know. What I do know though is that I hope to one day be a part of some church again that practices the unconditional love of Christ, one that doesn’t look at things like homosexuality as a sin, and one where all are welcomed no matter what. But, for now, I know God knows I tried my best to be present at my sister’s church, and hopefully one day I will find a congregation again I can call home…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Kevin Spacey Sexual Allegations, Pedophiles And Child Molesters, And Being Gay

Anthony Rapp, a notable actor, recently came forward and claimed Kevin Spacey, another notable actor, sexually coerced him at the age of 14 when Spacey was 26. Unfortunately, Spacey sidestepped the allegation by seizing the moment to come out of the closet. This in turn has caused people to raise forth a long-standing judgment and stereotype that all homosexuals are nothing more than pedophiles and child molesters.

But for those who might not know, this assumption isn’t based upon any factual or statistical evidence. Ironically, I found it to be just the opposite through a little research I made on the Internet. In one specific study in fact, I discovered that 95 percent of convicted offenders labeled themselves as heterosexual, with the majority of them also being married. Yet somehow gay men get labeled far too often as pedophiles or child molesters anyway.

This ultimately is disheartening and one of the very reasons why I continue to struggle identifying myself openly as gay, even though I’ve accepted it’s who I was some two decades ago. And personally, having been molested by a heterosexual man myself when I was 12 years old, it sickens me with the thought of ever bringing harm like that to a child or teenager, or anyone for that matter really.

I spent much of my early adulthood going through hours of counseling to work through being molested and have now pledged to speak openly in my life about what I went through, to hopefully bring healing to those who too were molested, but never found that themselves. Because of this work, especially in the past year, I’ve met a few other gay men that were molested even more viciously during their childhood than I ever was. In their cases, the offenders were heterosexual and married men as well and they too are disgusted at the thought of ever bringing harm like that to any type of child.

But somehow, we as gay men continue to be labeled by far too many people as pedophiles or molesters of children, when indeed the majority of us would never, ever, do such a thing, and are horrified by the very thought of it.

And just so know, in my case, I’m rarely attracted to anyone younger than I, or even close to my age for that matter. As far back as I can remember, even in my own pre-pubescent years and before I was ever molested, I was constantly admiring men far older than I, which is the very thing my molester preyed upon when he saw me doing just that from a distance, long before I even knew what I was doing or knew what having an attraction even meant.

Nevertheless, because of Spacey’s comments about being gay arriving at the very moment he was accused of being a pedophile and child molester, it now pours a ton more fuel onto a fire that has been stoking for years by far too many racist people. And that is why I will continue to have to deal with this issue in my world, even though it’s something that isn’t true, not for me, and not for the majority of those who are gay either.

So, while I am extremely saddened at the thought of what happened to Anthony Rapp during his youth, I am just as dismayed at how someone I’ve often admired because of his acting skillset has now caused me and plenty of others even greater hardship, as we continue to battle the demons of prejudice, stereotypes, and judgments that unfortunately still exist against gay people in this world, and will keep on existing the more things like this happen.

Yet I have hope that one day, people will finally realize that not only are pedophiles and child molesters mostly heterosexual individuals who are very sick and needing treatment, but that homosexuals aren’t an evil on this planet that need to be purged and indeed are a part of God, just like I believe every single one of us are, no matter what our sexuality is…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“The Christian Box”

I had a strange experience recently that I thought might be an answer to one of the prayers I put out to God a good while ago, but in the end only reminded me of something I choose to call “The Christian Box”.

The experience I’m speaking of began one afternoon when I was sitting at a coffee shop talking to someone who was considering me to be their sponsor in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. Suddenly, in the middle of my conversation with them, a thirty-something guy approached and said he was sorry for overhearing our discussion surrounding God, but that it sounded like something he wanted to hear more about. He then handed me his number and said if I felt comfortable, to give him a call sometime and maybe we could talk a little more about my spiritual journey.

I was immediately pumped when this happened because I had been praying for some time about God bringing new friendships into my life that would be open to talking about the many multifaceted ways I believe God is present on this planet. Unfortunately, most of the people I currently know haven’t been that interested in discussing things like this, hence the reason for this long-standing prayer.

So, when I actually made the phone call later that day to this individual, I talked for a few minutes and made plans to meet up with them for an afternoon meal about a week later. When the day arrived for that meal, I must say I was somewhat excited about the possibility of finally having someone in my life locally who loved exploring spirituality as much as I do. But I’m sad to say that an hour later, things turned out quite differently.

Initially as we began eating, he talked happily about his wife while I did the same with my partner. Everything seemed to go topsy-turvy after that though. He told me he was a Christian and felt the Bible was 100% the truth of God and began asking me questions that ultimately felt like I was being put on the defensive. In all honesty, it reminded me quite a bit of the many conversations I’ve had in the past with other Christians, who were never able to see outside The Christian Box, as I call it.

Why I call it this is for the mere reality that so many Christians feel the only truth is what’s in the Bible. And if it’s not in the Bible, then it’s not the truth. As for me these days, God never has and never will live in a box, which is precisely what I told him. I also told him I believe that God created me and my sexuality, and that it wasn’t a mistake nor a sin. I followed that in saying I felt the path to God can come through many other ways as well, from other religions to other forms of spiritual practice.

Needless to say, none of that went over so well.

But I’ve learned over the years not to get into debates with someone who appears to be a very strongly-opinionated Christian, because it never turns out well. So instead, I just listened. I listened to what he had to say about the church he attends weekly, about his belief that the only way to God is through Christ and that any other will only lead to destruction. I even listened with an open heart when he asked if I ever prayed to God to take the gay away, although he didn’t quite put it in those terms.

Regardless, I remained a good sport throughout the entire time I spent with this guy, because I truly feel that God is in every single human being on this planet. In other words, I looked at him as an extensive of God like I do with everyone else nowadays, even when their viewpoints may be completely different from mine. It was somewhat sad though to observe a person who said they were hungry and exploring a deeper relationship with God go from that to talking about the same things I always seem to talk about when I speak with extremely devout Christians.

Look, I’m a Christian, but I also consider myself a Buddhist, a Spiritualist, a lover of nature, and so much more. I see God in far more today than just what the Bible speaks to. And as many know with me, I don’t feel the Bible is 100% accurate. It was written over 2000 years ago and been interpreted over and over again to make the versions we see today. None of us lived back in Jesus’s time, thus I take the Bible today as part of my spiritual guidance in life, just not the sole truth.

The sole truth is something that’s ever-expanding with me, one that has led me to believe there are multiple lives each of our souls live, one that has involved me exploring the truths in things such as numerology and tarot for example, and one that has shown me there are infinite paths to God, with Christ being just one of them.

While I may proclaim Christ as my Lord and Savior, I cannot and will not ever put that on someone else, because I’m not God and I don’t know the spiritual path that God has chosen for every single person on this planet. What’s worked for me in my exploration for the love of God may not work for someone else, and that’s the sole reason why I don’t live in the Christian Box anymore, because for me it feels far too claustrophobic.

The bottom line for me is that if God is in everything, then maybe Christians and everyone else for that matter who thinks their religion is the only way to God, might want to start thinking that God could be present in a whole heck of a lot more than just what they currently believe…

For New Blog

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Religious Anti-Gay Text Message I Didn’t Want Or Need

Have you ever received a truly disturbing text message that you wished you could unsee or never had received it in the first place? Unfortunately, I have and it came just recently from a casual acquaintance in my recovery from addiction circles when I awoke early one morning several Saturday’s ago. This is exactly how it read, word for word.

“I can’t betray my sense of right and wrong. Forgive me if you are offended. Being gay is a demonic perversion. It is an abomination to the Almighty. I beg you to ask Jesus to free you from this bondage before it is too late. Your friend in Jesus. I do care.”

At first, upon reading this, I was shocked. Shocked that anyone would send me such a thing, especially from a person I barely knew. But alas they did, yet I didn’t feel any resentment, anger or negativity towards them. Instead what I felt was sadness. Sadness that this is precisely why so many gays and lesbians in this world often avoid developing any type of relationship with God and Christ. The fact is, I’ve known far too many on my own spiritual journey thus far in life who have refused to ever connect with either because the first thing that comes to mind is a Christian who once told them something quite similar at some point along the way.

As far as I’m concerned, Christ never wanted fear, guilt or shame to be a motivating factor to seek Him or God. Rather, it was Christ’s unconditional love that always drew so many to His teachings and ultimately to God. But countless Christians and many people from other religions around the world continue to explicitly and quite outwardly denounce on behalf of Christ, God, or Whomever their Higher Power is, that being gay is a sin and one that will send an individual to some dark place such as hell. If that indeed was true, why would anyone ever want to follow what that person believed in and was selling?

If I never had been exposed to Christianity in my entire life and was still searching for something to follow, and if this text message was my first exposure to the teachings of Christ and God, I would have run as fast as I could away from it and not towards. I don’t respond well to fear, guilt, and shame, as that only makes me feel worthless and less then in life. Hence the reason why I believe this type of approach was never intended to be the one that Christ wanted any of His future followers to take with spreading the messages He taught.

That’s why I find it so sad the number of gays and lesbians who have had to experience this negative type of approach to Christianity or any other religion for that matter in their life.  Personally, I’ve been refused membership at churches, denied friendships, and received plenty of hateful messages throughout my life from Christians, Muslims, Jews, to name a few, over a part of me I was born with.

I may never have wanted to be born gay, but it’s something I’ve come to accept is the way God created me. Because if God created me in His unconditionally loving image, then I trust that God didn’t make a mistake when it came to my sexuality. Thus being told by anyone I’m a demonic perversion and an abomination because of my sexuality is going against that unconditional love of God and doing nothing more than spreading greater fear and darkness in this world.

So as I conclude today’s entry feeling great sorrow over this religious anti-gay text message I didn’t want or need, I’m going to end it with an uplifting reminder for all those in this world who are gay or lesbian, or bi-sexual, or transgender, or questioning, or anything else for that matter. Know that you aren’t and never have been a demonic perversion, an abomination, or a mistake. And know that the only thing God and Christ ever intended for you to receive from them is unconditional love.

Hopefully one day, the rest of the world will see this…

For New Blog

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Sexual Immorality”

“Sexual Immorality”. These two words are frequently written in a number of religious books in our world, but the one that has affected me the most has been the Bible. While the words themselves actually mean carnal wickedness or debauchery, the Bible continues to be interpreted by so many in saying it also refers to what two gay people do with each other in a bedroom, even when they’re in love with each other.

What I find so frustrating about this first and foremost is the number of people who become disillusioned with God over this. Take what happened to me some six years ago when I approached a church’s pastor in the Boston area and said I’d like to join because I truly felt the spirit moving in me there. Instead of saying it would be great to see me as a member of his church, he went into a long discourse about the “sexual immorality” I was living in and that I couldn’t join his congregation because of it. Recently I experienced something quite similar with a neighbor down the street and after leaving his presence, I felt completely unloved and unaccepted by God. Yet, I know that wasn’t God because I fully believe what God offers is nothing but unconditional love and that definitely wasn’t that, not with him and not with that pastor.

What most people don’t know, because they don’t do much biblical research, is that 2000 years ago, there was a lot of sexual fornication going on, such as orgies, domination, bestiality and the like. A good example is how many invading troops would come in to an area and force the women and men there to have sex with them. To me that’s truly what the Bible was referring to when it talked about “sexual immorality”. So why is it that it’s mostly being defined today as referring to homosexuality? And why would God bring so many homosexuals here on this planet if that’s truly what this was referring to?

I recently read a statistic that said it is estimated that 25 percent of the world’s population is gay, which means that close to two billion people identify themselves in this way. So are we saying then that God didn’t make these people in this way? Are we saying that they are just choosing that? If so, why would anyone choose to be this way with all the religious persecution being thrown their way still to this day?

If I had a choice, I wouldn’t be gay, that’s for sure. But from the age of 5, I remember staring at guys and being more interested in them, then a girl. So was I meant to deceive a woman in my life, pretending to be happy, thus making the relationship miserable? Or was I, along with a billion other people, meant to come here and just be celibate for life?

I can’t imagine that God would want either. I also can’t imagine that something happened to me before the age of five that made me gay. Ultimately though I must say that there were former moments of my life when my sexual behaviors were immoral such as when I was in orgy rooms, or sleeping with married men, or having different partners every weekend, or leading people on all for the sake of having sex.

But I’m not doing any of that now. I am with a man who I love with all my heart, mind, and soul, and am doing the best I can to unconditionally love them as I believe Christ would and I can’t fathom that God would deem that as being sexually immoral. By the way, speaking of Christ, not once in the Bible, anywhere, does Christ ever condemn a gay relationship or say two men being with each other is immoral.

So if loving my same-sex partner is somehow against what God intended for me and countless other gay couples, it simply doesn’t make any sense. Because if God is nothing but unconditional love, then I absolutely believe that God would be 100% happy with us settling into a relationship with one person whom we love dearly, even if it is of the same sex.

Regardless, I want to make mention of one other thing that relates to this subject before I finish todays entry. There were plenty of other laws thousands of years ago that were written in the bible, that no one ever seems to pay attention to when they come across them. For example, did you know that it says anyone who curses their mother or father was supposed to be killed. That very verse is listed right next to one of the most notorious passages used against gay people. And if one argues that incongruences like this only come in the Old Testament, then realize that in the New Testatment there’s only person who ever mentions anything about men being with men and that’s Paul.

Paul was always a deeply conflicted person, having once himself be the very person who condemned so many. None of us have any idea what tormented Paul from within. Did Paul have some guilt inside himself that related to homosexuality? Was Paul biased on this subject for some deeper reason that he never spoke about? Did any of this cause Paul to slant his words from more of a human perspective versus a God-based one? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions and sure, they are purely speculation. But the fact remains that none of us were alive 2000 years ago to know what Paul struggled with or what he really meant by what he said.

Thus I tend to believe the words “Sexual Immorality” have become the thing countless religious people grasp onto these days, solely to point the finger at what they feel is wrong in the world instead of looking at themselves and realizing that their judgment is what’s making the world the unloving place it is. And while it may be true that there are plenty of gay people out there who still engage in sexually immoral acts like I once did, there are many others who also desire nothing more than having a beautiful monogamous union with another soul like I do now, which is precisely why I can’t for the life of me, ever choose to believe that an unconditionally loving God would deem the latter as being sexually immoral as well…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Now That Same-Sex Marriage Has Become Legal – Part 2

Back in July I wrote about a local judge here in Toledo who was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples after same-sex marriage became legal (That article can be found by clicking this link: https://thetwelfthstep.com/2015/07/20/now-that-same-sex-marriage-has-become-legal/). In it, I was quite passive about the matter and truly thought it was just going to become an isolated incident. But since then, there have been a slew of many other individuals across the country following in the same shoes, all basing their denials on the grounds of religious freedom. Because of this, I find myself feeling a lot different now with this growing issue.

Look, I’m all for someone having religious freedom. Personally, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many paths to the same Source. Thus how one practices connecting to their Higher Power really doesn’t matter to me, so long as it doesn’t take away my ability to have equal rights. But when it begins to infringe upon them, putting me in a place where I’m facing roadblocks and outright denials to something that another human being is able to receive with no problems, strictly because a trait about them is accepted within their beliefs, when mine is not, that’s where I begin to draw the line.

I understand and fully accept the fact there are still plenty of people in the United States, and frankly around the world, who are vehemently against homosexuality, most due to their religious beliefs. Having an opinion about that is one thing, but outright refusing to perform the duties of their job to another because of their beliefs, feels like we’re returning to a time when black people were denied service in establishments deemed as white-only, or even worse, when the Nazi regime persecuted Jews so heinously. Thankfully, right now this movement of anti-homosexual individuals is only in the denial of marriage licenses arena in the United States. But who’s to say that if this unfortunate discrimination pattern continues here, that it doesn’t morph into something much worse.

Another interesting thought I had about this subject is what if the reverse was true and all of these people using their religious beliefs to deny a service to another were denied access to services themselves because the person in charge felt something about them was against their own religious beliefs? Wouldn’t there still be a major outcry and public backlash?

Thus it seems as if this is just going around in circles, and the fact of the matter is, didn’t God bring us all here to love each other equally no matter who we are, what we look like, or what we believe in? Isn’t deep down within each and every one of us a piece of God? If you truly believe this, then why should any of us ever refuse to provide a service to another, as wouldn’t that be an act of denying God himself?

So as you can see, I have begun to change my stance on what I originally wrote in my last article surrounding this issue. While a few months ago I was ok with letting someone practice religious freedom and instead opting to go to someone else who would provide me the same service, I’m not anymore. Seeing the growing number of individuals follow this trend, using religious freedom as a way to deny someone something they truly deserve, feels like it’s taking us in the opposite direction of what God would want of us. Ultimately, I know my Higher Power loves me unconditionally, as well as every one else here on Earth too, which is why I feel it’s my spiritual duty to always do the same, even if it goes against my own beliefs. Because maybe, just maybe, I am being challenged during those moments to look beyond my limited sight and see with eyes more like my Higher Power’s, as with them I’ll be far more embracing, compassionate, and accepting, than if I remain looking through my judgmental own…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Straight Man Stuck In A Gay Man’s Body?

My sponsor was joking with me just over a year ago when he said he wondered if I was a straight man stuck in a gay man’s body. I had a good chuckle with him over it back then, but in all actuality, there have been plenty of times since when I truly feel I’m the polar opposite of the majority of the gay community. And this is precisely how I felt the other day when I went to a gay pride picnic and fundraiser with a friend of mine.

Upon arriving at the event, I already felt like a fish out of water given that I hardly knew anyone there. But thankfully, two friends of mine from recovery showed up just as I was walking in, which relieved that feeling somewhat, yet I still remained a little unease. It wasn’t because I have a problem socializing with the gay community nor was it because I’m uncomfortable with my sexuality, because I’m not. I guess what was most challenging for me as I stood there and tried to mingle were the stereotypes that so many of the gay community fall under, of which I have such a hard time relating to.

Acting campy and flamboyant, wearing loud clothing, listening to diva house music, and watching men dressed up in drag while they lip sync and strut their stuff on stage isn’t really my idea of a good time. And given that alcohol often seems to be consumed in great quantities at many of the gay events, I really struggled to feel a part of this picnic from the onset.

Ironically, it was held at a park where a Frisbee golf course was present and I actually spent more time watching the people play that game more than I focused on what was going on around me. But maybe that was also due to the fact I was trying to tune out my old thoughts and desires of what I did at every single gay event I used to attend in the past.

Many years ago, my only goal at any gay get-together would be to act out in my sex and love addiction in some way. Whether that was to get a person’s phone number, fool around or establish some type of sexual intrigue, the memories of most of my bad behaviors were done at events just like this one. This is why I was so grateful for my two recovery friends showing up, because I know on some level that God was watching out for me by having them there. After they left, I didn’t stay much longer, although I did try to watch a segment of the drag show and socialize for a moment before I did. But in all honesty, I must admit I felt slightly relieved when I finally got in my car to head home.

Look, it’s not my place to judge any of the gay community, especially because I’m always going to be a part of it. And frankly I’m actually ok with all the behaviors that fall under those gay stereotypes. It’s just not me though. My interests over the years have changed so greatly, and I feel far more comfortable hanging out these days with a few friends talking about spiritual interests, life in recovery, and helping others.

Maybe I’m just getting older and this was always bound to happen, or maybe my spiritual journey has shifted me away from the demographics I once was so much a part of. Regardless, I’m still glad I went to this pride picnic and enjoyed the laughter I did there. I’m also thankful I was able to see how much I’ve changed from how I used to be, especially at events just like this one in the past. Nevertheless, I guess you can say I’m still chuckling at my AA sponsor’s joke because this picnic reminded me how I really do sometimes feel like I’m a straight man stuck in a gay man’s body…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Now That Same-Sex Marriage Has Become Legal…

Now that same-sex marriage has become legal across the entire United States, it seems as if it’s also opened the door for the next wave of court battles, including one where judges are refusing to marry same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs.

Here in Toledo, Municipal Court Judge Allen McConnell was the first to do so, stating it was due to his own personal and Christian beliefs. Up until now, I haven’t weighed in on this issue at all, solely because I actually understand both sides of it. If McConnell truly does feel it would be going against the God he serves, I totally get his dilemma. On the other hand though, the same-sex couple that was refused is saying it’s in McConnell’s duties of his elected position to perform the marriage regardless of his personal beliefs, which I completely get as well.

Being in a same-sex relationship myself, I could easily just take the same stance as the denied couple. But, frankly, after thinking about my own spiritual beliefs for a moment, I realized I too might do exactly as McConnell did if something was asked of me that went against them.

The reality is that there are plenty of other judges out there in every single state including Ohio, who would marry a same-sex couple at this time. In fact, Toledo Municipal Court Judge William Connelly, Jr. did so for the refused couple later on the very same afternoon they were initially turned down.

Look, while I’m all for having equal rights, I’m not one who desires to add any stress to my spiritual journey in life when it’s not necessary. Sometimes I feel that we as human beings have the tendency to want everyone to conform to what we feel we deserve and when we don’t get it, we engage in great battles, many often legal, to get our way.

Well now that same-sex marriage battle is over, I wonder if people are going to start the next one by pushing for every single person in our country to support it, especially those in positions of power like McConnell. For me, that’s not how change actually happens. Change happens gradually and often not when someone is pushed into it.

Is it possible that McConnell’s views on this issue could change over time by receiving more guidance and direction from his Higher Power? It’s quite possible, but then again, his views may never change either. But should he be forced into doing something at the present that’s against his personal spiritual beliefs? I genuinely don’t believe so, only because there are so many other local judges willing to marry a same-sex couple. I must say this though. If no judge were willing to marry a same-sex couple in one’s local region, then most likely yes, I’d be willing to head into a legal battle to acquire my constitutional rights.

So in this case and for the present moment, I say why bother rocking the boat and cause more stress, trying to change or force someone into doing something they don’t feel comfortable doing, especially when there are other options available. It’s not my place to judge McConnell on his beliefs and I know the God of my understanding would want me to love him unconditionally like everyone else. Who knows, maybe if we all offered him, and others like him, a lot more of that, his views might change? Now that’s some food for thought isn’t it?

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Playing It Straight”

As much as the world has moved forward quite a bit with acceptance of gay people in the past two decades, I still find myself “playing it straight” at times out of fear, which is unfortunate, as I believe the only way to reach a milestone where nobody cares anymore whether a person is straight or gay is to walk through that fear and just be myself.

So what do I mean by “playing it straight?

Well the most common is when a person asks me if I have a girlfriend and for some reason I seem to be asked this a lot these days. Sometimes I’ve answered it truthfully and said I actually have a partner and then admitted I was gay. But more than not, I’ve either lied responding with a firm “no”, or even worse, I’ve said yes and when asked “her” name, I say “Chris”, even through Chris is a guy and not a girl.

Along the same lines are those times I’ve been around a guy or group of guys who are checking out a woman they find hot. That’s when my playing it straight card has occasionally come out and I’ve made a comment about the rack or butt on the woman they are all gawking at.

Another good example of when I’m playing it straight is when I’m out and about with my partner. If we’re at dinner or at the movies and people are sitting directly next to us, I’ve had a tendency to not show any affection or signs that Chris was even my partner.

Then there’s the example of playing it straight when it comes to sports. I like sports, but I’m not a fanatic nor I don’t follow any team or watch any type of games with any regularity. But put me in a room with a bunch of high testosterone-filled guys whom are all talking about the latest football or baseball or hockey game and I’m right there in the center of conversation pretending I know what I’m talking about.

Last but not least, one more example of me playing it straight has been in my words and mannerisms. At times I’ve purposely made sure to cross my legs like most males do, or I’ve walked with a greater strut, or I’ve worn a ball cap like I’m a badass, or I’ve used various slang that made me appear hyper macho.

But honestly, none of these examples of when I’m playing it straight are going to help lead this world to fully accepting a gay person as nothing out of the ordinary, as long as I keep doing them. The fact is I do need to be myself a little more and not worry what other people think of me, even if they don’t accept homosexuality.

So my conclusion is that it’s not healthy for me to continue playing it straight, even in the slightest. Because as long as I do, and as long as I keep letting this fear overwhelm me, I’m never going to be able to make any impact on the world coming to full acceptance of my sexuality. If our planet is ever going to see the day where no one really cares whether a person is gay or straight, it needs to begin with everyone just being themselves and saying goodbye to all those fear-based moments of when we find ourselves still playing it straight…

Peace, love, light and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Is The Unconditional Love Of Christ Present In Indiana’s New Legislation?

I’m truly saddened as I sit here and begin to write today’s entry. Why? Solely because legislation was passed in the state of Indiana several days days ago that could possibly make room for new forms of discrimination, all under the guise of religious freedom. But the question I really find myself asking after reading up on this new legislation is the same as the title of today’s entry. Is the unconditional love of Christ present in Indiana’s new legislation?

Before I get into discussing that though, I wanted to provide a few more details about this extremely controversial religious freedom bill. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), as it’s called, gives the right to Indiana businesses and their owners with strong religious beliefs, the ability to deny their benefits and services to others if it comes into conflict with those beliefs. The case that was used to push this legislation forward dealt with a private business and the University of Notre Dame who each had to file separate lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage that violated their religious views. Although this new legislation does not mention sexual orientation, its opponent’s fear it will now allow for business owners to deny services to gays and lesbians, using their religious views. Many have felt the RFRA was a direct response from conservative group’s failure to preserve a same-sex marriage ban in the state’s constitution last year, mostly because at the time of it’s private signing into law, the heads of several of those groups were present. Regardless, I’m not specifically writing this blog entry to debate any of these concerns. I’m actually writing it to talk about whether the unconditional love of Christ was or is present within its words.

After all, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to argue the fact that Christ is probably the most notorious figure throughout history to represent unconditional love. Yet, I read the predominant people that supported the RFRA also claimed that Christ is their savior. So with that being said, I don’t understand how can they claim that, and then back a bill that can be used to deny rights to any person? Is that truly showing unconditional love, by denying another human being some basic rights? Unfortunately, what could happen now with the RFRA being in effect in Indiana could be as simple as a gay or lesbian walking into something such as a coffee shop and being denied service just because the owner feels homosexuality is a sin.

I know I’ve said this before in previous writings, but I feel I must say it again. I’m convinced that God wants us to embrace each other unconditionally no matter what our race, color, creed, sex, gender, sexual preference or orientation, disability, or national origin is. And I truly believe that Christ would feel and do the same if alive today. But there seems to be a strong movement on this planet as of late, especially in the United States, to divide rather than come together, to discriminate, rather than find total equality. To me that’s not practicing the love of Christ at all. I can’t believe that Christ would ever deny rights to anyone, including gays and lesbians, because the Christ I learned about welcomed everyone at his table.

So if that’s the case, what’s it going to take for everyone to finally grasp this? What’s it going to take to convince each and every person on this planet that Christ and God is about unconditional love and nothing more? The only truth I know is that if we continue to sign into law any legislation or bills that can ultimately lead to removing any of that amongst us, then maybe the unconditional love of Christ wasn’t and still isn’t present within it…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Vacation Part 6 – The Anti-Gay Pastors

I’ve had the Bible thrown at me plenty of times throughout life because of my sexuality, but I never thought that would ever happen during my extended vacation in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Sadly, it did and it definitely became the lowest point of the entire trip for both my partner and myself.

It all began three days earlier when we were swimming in the large pool at the Gran Porto Real Resort we were staying at. There, we occasionally found ourselves talking to other guests because that’s just what people seemed to do there. On this particular day there was a man and a woman wading nearby whom you could tell had just arrived because of how pale their skin was. I told them they might want to be careful and wear lots of sunscreen given how easy it was to burn being so close to the equator. That sparked a quick conversation between us where we learned they were from Edmonton, Canada and had only gotten there yesterday. It wasn’t too long after that where they left the pool area, but given how small the resort was, we ran into them rather frequently over the next few days. Each time we did, we would have another brief conversation that was always pleasant and enjoyable. Finally after enough of these brief encounters took place, I decided to put it out there that my partner and I would be open to them joining us for a meal if they were up to it.

On most of the trips my partner and I’ve taken, we’ve usually met some really nice couples, both gay and straight, in similar ways that have always led to us enjoying one or more meals with each of them. So this wasn’t out of the norm for either of us to ask this friendly heterosexual couple this question. They responded to it by asking for our room number and said they may take us up on that offer and would call us.

When Saturday arrived, which was the second to last day of our trip, we hadn’t received any message from them in our room yet. As I was leaving the pool that afternoon to go work out in the gym, I ran into them in the lobby where we had another great conversation. There, I posed the question once again about our dinner offer and their response was an apology for them being old fuddy-duddies. I told them I understood because there were times I too wanted to not being around anyone other than my partner on a vacation. They thanked me for understanding and I waved as I headed off to the gym.

Later that night, my partner and I chose to go out to dinner in town where we ended up at an authentic Mayan restaurant named Yaxche. We were delighted to get a seat outside on the patio directly next to the busy shopping street appropriately named 5th Avenue. As we finished off the remaining bites of our first course, the couple from Canada suddenly appeared and greeted us warmly. Both my partner and I offered them to sit down and join us, but they said they had already eaten. Being as friendly as we are, we said they could still join us if they didn’t mind us eating while they sat there. They decided to do just that and for the next 20 minutes or so, my partner and I ate our dinner and talked about our life in Toledo, jobs, my recovery from addiction, and a few other random topics.

By the time we took the last few bites of our delicious meals, I decided to express some gratitude by telling this couple how refreshing it was for a couple to embrace our relationship. If there was ever a moment when you could hear imaginary brakes screech to an immediate halt, this was it.

“Well I probably should tell you that my wife and I are both ordained pastors of our own Christian church,” the man said in response.

And that’s where everything began to go downhill.

For the next 45 minutes, he went into what I felt could best be described as a sermon. Neither my partner nor I were barely able to get a word in edgewise as he talked about homosexuality being the downfall of society, that it was an instrument of the Devil, and that the only reason why either of us was gay was due to the sins of our forefathers’ generations back. He cited out those passages from Leviticus in the Bible, as well as the ones that Paul supposedly wrote in the New Testament that continue to be used to denounce homosexuality. He also said his sister was a lesbian and how he keeps trying to get her to reform her ways and be with a man. Through it all, his wife held his arm and nodded approvingly, occasionally throwing in her two cents as well.

I could feel my partner cringing the whole time, biting his tongue, and wanting to scream at them while I, on the other hand, wanted to show this man that I wasn’t going to go to battle with him. I’m sure that’s what he expected and maybe even wanted. In all honesty, I had to pray A LOT while he continued to go on and on about gays and lesbians and occasionally would reach over and touch my partner’s leg letting him know I was there with him through it all. I began to lose some of my composure when this man said that Lady Gaga would face judgment one day because her music is leading young children to be gay and lesbian. My partner almost lost his when the man began to express how AIDS was due to the sins of homosexuals, but thankfully the sermon stopped abruptly when the man saw my partner’s reaction.

All in all, he must have told us a dozen times during his preaching how he liked us and that this wasn’t directed towards us one bit, which made me truly wonder if he understood just how judgmental and unloving he had been with us. The persecution I felt from them during those 45 minutes was like nothing I had ever experienced before, but through it all I not once said a single negative thing to either of them. Why? Because I know that Jesus, God, or any of the master spiritual teachers and leaders that have ever walked this Earth would never have expressed anything but unconditional love towards my partner and I.

So the only thing I said to this couple in the end was the God I know loves us unconditionally and totally supports our monogamous relationship. He said that if that was true, he wouldn’t want to serve a God like that, and with that, the evening would end a few minutes later on the most awkward note. My partner and I were both cordial by shaking hands and wishing them a good night, as we quickly walked away stunned and hurt.

Unfortunately, we ran into them a few more times before our vacation ended where with each my partner chose to remain silent and say nothing, while I was still cordial and said hello but not much more. Ironically, I could have spent hours dissecting, cross-referencing, and debating the Bible, Christianity, religion and homosexuality with this couple, but I never did because I knew they weren’t opened to seeing things in any other way. But I also knew that’s not what really mattered either.

I truly believe the only thing that matters in life is to express unconditional love towards every single human being on this planet regardless of what one’s age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability is. Hopefully one day, this ordained couple from Edmonton, Canada will understand this and lovingly embrace a couple like my partner and I, rather than strike us down as only sinners who need to seek redemption and change our ways…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Springfield, Missouri’s Quest To Keep Gay Discrimination?

Sometimes I just don’t understand why people think the way they do? I say that only because a close friend of mine recently informed me of a discrimination issue brewing directly in his backyard in Springfield, Missouri.

It appears the issue began back in October when the city became the 14th community in the state to extend protections to gays, lesbians, and other sexual-identity minorities in the areas of employment, housing, and accommodations. It was added to the city’s already existing nondiscrimination clause that includes race, religion, and disability. While that seems like such a great achievement and a huge step forward in overall equality, the Assembly of God and Springfield Citizens United openly denounced the legislation once it passed. Since then, they have also been able to garner enough signatures from the surrounding community to bring it to the next ballot for a public vote.

I’m sure you’re probably wondering what the driving force is for them to want to overturn this new legislation. It’s actually pretty simple in that they believe it now forces everyone in Springfield with deeply held religious beliefs to have to go against them. For example, it would require a deeply conservative Christian owner of an apartment complex who believes homosexuality is against the word of God, to have to accept a gay couple seeking housing. But if the legislation were overturned, it would end up protecting that owner by allowing him to deny housing to that gay couple.

While I find this deeply disturbing to my very core, I did have a good laugh after reading one citizen’s comment on a Springfield news article that reported on this story. It said the title of that article should have been “Religious bigots vow to repeal law so they can continue to legally discriminate.” And although I found their comment amusing, there is definitely a sad truth to it.

Our country has gone through this very thing so many times before, you would think we’d finally all have spiritually woken up to the travesty of denying rights to our fellow human beings. Women, people of color, people of non-Christian based religions, and disabled people have all fought for equal rights over time, having been denied things they never should have been in the first place.

The more I thought about this growing issue in Springfield, the more I wondered if the opposition to the new legislation would support denying equal rights for employment, housing, and accommodation to a woman, a non-white person, or someone in a wheelchair? Probably not, but that’s only because the main argument they’re using is how homosexuality goes against the word of God.

Frankly, I’m so tired of this issue. I’m so tired of the Bible being used as a weapon to support discrimination. I’m so tired of people speaking on behalf of God or Jesus and stating what they do or do not support. As far as I’m concerned, they both represent but one thing, unconditional love.

So for all those people out there that support the Assembly of God or Springfield Citizens United in their quest to overturn this anti-discrimination legislation, please take some time in serious prayer and meditation to ponder one final question. Would God or Jesus, if they were truly filled with nothing but unconditional love, really deny a man or woman a job, housing, or accommodations solely because of their sexual orientation. To me the answer is pretty clear. I just hope the rest of the world will one day see that for themselves as well…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Coming Out To A Blast From The Past

I knew a tremendous amount of people during my college years at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). In fact, I was a regular partygoer with most of them during my drinking and drugging heydays. Sometimes I’ve wondered if that’s precisely the reason why I never was able to fortify and deep and long-lasting friendships with any of them back then. But other times I’ve questioned whether it’s due to an action I took after graduating, which was to come out of the closet. Ironically, the latter of which was confirmed recently when a former college-drinking buddy resurfaced in my life named Frank.

When I met Frank, I wasn’t out of the closet. In fact I was only dating women at the time and had no real idea about my sexuality. While there were plenty of moments I had my doubts about my sexual attractions then, I usually took them as the result of my excessive drinking and drugging, especially given the ways my brothers in Phi Kappa Psi acted when they drank as well. In all honesty, I assumed it was just being one of the guys.

It was because of Phi Kappa Psi though that I befriended Frank, as he was a friend of one of my fraternity brothers. In time, the two of us started hanging out and partied quite a bit together. For the majority of a good portion of one of my college years, things remained that way until he became more serious about his academia and I more serious about my growing addiction to alcohol and drugs. Soon, we only saw each other in passing on campus, as I was always off to the next party, while he tried to focus more on getting his degree.

Six months after graduating, I was working in Fairfax, Virginia and at the bottom of my alcoholism and drug addiction. I hadn’t spoken with Frank for at least nine months, maybe more. He was one of those I had begun to regret losing contact with at that point in my life. I started having many regrets like this as I tried to sober up, because I realized my disease had pushed many good friends away just like Frank.

After I finally got clean and sober from alcohol and drugs, I started facing my sexuality issues. In time, I came to acceptance that I was gay, and began taking steps to call various fraternity brothers and former friends of mine from college that I had lost contact with hoping they might accept me. Most didn’t go over so well. Frank was one of them. I don’t remember much of our conversation, other than it being the last one I’d have with him for almost two decades.

On and off throughout a good portion of the years that would pass after that conversation, I often wondered where Frank was, how he was doing, and hoping one day he might resurface in my life. Sadly, somehow I forgot his last name and was unable to look for him because of it. But I think that’s the way my Higher Power probably wanted it. I’m not sure if I would have had as much of an appreciation for Frank resurfacing in my life if it had been during any of my addiction-riddled years. Thankfully, I’m not in that place anymore and I truly believe that’s why my Higher Power knew I was ready to receive a spiritual gift that would come in the form of Frank finding me on Facebook.

The wonders of social media are sometimes a very beautiful thing because Frank was able to locate me on Facebook just over a week ago now. After getting a message from him there, I received a phone call from him a few nights later and an apology on how he handled my “coming out” to him all those years ago. He told me guilt had riddled him for years and wanted to say he was sorry, of which I wholeheartedly accepted.

I’m not sure if I would have had as much of an appreciation for that hour-long conversation with Frank if I were still actively engaging in the things I did during much of the 19 years that had passed since last hearing his voice. Regardless, I’m just grateful for the gift from my Higher Power and take it as a sign of the spiritual growth I’ve made in my life.

So even though I may have been a little too erratic and hasty in my coming out process with people like Frank back in the mid-90’s, it goes to show that my coming out to a blast from the past wasn’t really the end of a connection, it was only a long pause to one. I think that has to happen sometimes to allow for two people to grow enough spiritually so that they may reconnect on a much healthier level down the road. Thank you Frank for reaching out, as you really helped to bring a little more peace and serenity into my life and for that I’m truly blessed…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

TLC’s “My Husband’s Not Gay”

TLC has another new show that seems to be creating a tremendous amount of uproar from various people and groups around the country. It’s called “My Husband’s Not Gay” and is based on four Mormon men living in Salt Lake City, Utah, who are each married to a woman, but attracted to men, yet they don’t identify themselves as gay.

As of the time of me writing this, the GLAAD organization has been one of the most outspoken stating, “the show is downright irresponsible.” And that “No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to. A Change.org petition was also started specifically to ask TLC to cancel the show and has already garnered over 80,000 signatures. Over on TLC’s main web page for the show itself, there’s now a growing amount of debates, anger, and rage being written in the comments section for those in support of the show and those who aren’t.

Sadly, after reading enough of those comments and enough of the news articles about this new show, I found the issue is really no different than what been an ever-increasing hot topic for the past decade or so. And it boils down to just one thing and one thing only…

Team A: Homosexuality is a sin and a choice.

Team B: Homosexuality is not a sin and a person is born that way.

With that being said, the show “My Husband’s Not Gay” now joins the ranks of those who have kept this debate alive such as Duck Dynasty, Chick-Fil-A, The Salvation Army, and the Boy Scouts of America, each having previously stood on the foundation that begin gay is morally wrong, all the while using the Bible’s words as their platform.

Frankly, I’ve grown quite weary of this issue and of the hate coming from both sides of the debate. Some of the comments I read were downright vicious and polarizing from those who support homosexuality and those who don’t. But the reality is to each his own. So what if a bunch of guys have chosen to be married, but still have feelings towards men? I’ve met a ton of them in my lifetime already. Some have cheated on their wives repeatedly behind their backs with other men for years. Others have remained faithful but miserable inside because they have never felt like they were being true to themselves. While a bunch have lived in complete denial for years about the entire issue. But most seemed to have lived in fear for much of their married life, fully believing that God says homosexuality is a sin.

Look, I’m not God and can’t say how God truly feels on this issue. I also can’t say whether the Bible is God’s absolute truth or not and neither can anyone else on this Earth either. The fact is that each person has their own walk in life and whether they choose to remain married and faithful with gay feelings, or to act on them and commit adultery, or to live fully as a homosexual, is really all about their own journey with God.

I’ve had my own journey with God in terms of my sexuality and come to acceptance over it. It took me more than two decades to get there, but I have an incredible amount of peace and serenity now when it comes to my sexuality. Unfortunately, there are plenty out there in this world like the four men in this new TLC show who still battle what they probably refer to as their inner demon.

While I don’t know whether this show will be successful or not, it’s already fully successful in one thing, and that’s in showing the continued separation of our country between those who believe God looks down upon homosexuality and those who don’t. Until everyone comes to a place of unconditional love and acceptance in their hearts about a person’s sexuality, a show like “My Husband’s Not Gay” is only going to keep on sparking outrage and further drive us away from receiving the absolute love of God himself…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Pastor Calls For Killing Gays To End AIDS”

I’m not exactly sure who or what God is, but what I can say is that I’d stake my life on what God isn’t and that’s hate, which is exactly what I believe a preacher is spewing from his pulpit in Phoenix.

Quite reminiscent of now deceased Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church is Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church, who recently led an anti-homosexual sermon that said killing gays is the way to an AIDS-free world.

During his homily Leviticus 20:13 was cited as justification, which says, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” Anderson fully supported this passage by stating, “And that, my friend, is the cure for AIDS, it was right there in the Bible all along. Because if you executed the homos, like God recommends, you wouldn’t have all the AIDS running rampant.” He also went on to say that “all homos are pedophiles” and that “no queers or homos are allowed the church, and never will be as long as he’s pastor.”

What outright saddens me first and foremost is how his words have now made its way into nationwide news. I only happened to learn of this when I noticed a hatred-filled headline in USA Today that read, “Pastor calls for killing gays to end AIDS”, while looking for the latest movie reviews. Because of all the previous rejections I’ve received in the past to joining several churches due to my sexuality, I read the article in its entirety. And although I’m sure there will be plenty of people who end up feeling the same pain I did after reading it, there will sadly probably be just as many who will end up applauding and supporting Anderson’s beliefs as well.

Both Phelps and Anderson have stood for something that I can only compare to hate. Wishing, hoping, or calling for the death to all gay people is something I don’t believe God would ever advocate. So many pastors, preachers, and the like have cited this passage in Leviticus as a way to justify their hate.

“It’s in the Bible, so it’s coming from God and it must be true.” This is often what has been presented to me by several pastors and very opinionated religious people I’ve met over time. I remember this passage specifically being pointed out to me by a pastor back in Massachusetts when I sat at a table with him inquiring about joining his church.

It truly is no wonder why so many gays and lesbians get turned off to finding and developing a closer relationship to God when people like Phelps or Anderson are making nationwide news citing passages like this to support their claim that God hates gays. But the image I hold onto these days with who God is sits exactly on the opposite side of this spectrum. To me God is nothing but unconditional love.

I refuse to believe that God would want to have anyone be killed given that all religions seem to believe that God was also the one to create each of us in God’s image. So if that were the case, why would God create someone only to want him or her killed? If God created me just as I am, as a gay man with an open heart who’s here solely to bring equality, unconditional love, and hope for this entire planet, why would God also want me to be killed given I’m only doing what I feel God brought me here to do?

Ironically, each of the passages in the Bible that continue to be used by pastors such as Anderson to denounce my sexuality in some way always seem to overlook the other passages that condemn just about every single person on this planet. In the same area in Leviticus that Anderson uses for his AIDS argument, it speaks of banishing all men who have had sex with women during their period, or putting to death all men and women who commit adultery, or killing all people who curse their parents, and so on and so forth.

And although the statistics I read on AIDS.GOV shows the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the United States to be originating from a large percentage of unprotected sex between men, there is also just as much of a large percentage coming from heterosexual sex and needle use as well. This changes even more drastically on a global level, especially in poorer countries such as Africa, where the higher percentages of people with HIV OR AIDS are not coming from homosexuality at all.

Knowing all this I choose to look at Anderson’s preaching as just one man’s hateful rants and yet I still have compassion for him. Why? Because I know God would want me to, especially given that I know of plenty of men who were molested by an adult male at a very young age and grew up spewing hatred towards homosexuals because of it. In fact, I was once one of them.

So whatever Anderson’s inner demons are that drive him to preach in the name of God about killing millions of people I truly don’t know. But what I do know is that I really would stake my life on the sole existence of an unconditionally loving God who cares about all of us equally, regardless of sexual orientation, or any other trait that makes up our identity, because weren’t all of them just made in God’s image anyway?

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Walking A Religious Path To Find Spirituality

I was born into a religious family and because of that, my first exposure to a Higher Power came solely through a religious perspective. I’ve been slowly trudging on a path though, over the course of my entire life since then, that continues to lead me away from being religious to that of being spiritual.

My religious path began in my Methodist family, as we were all devout members of the United Methodist Church in Poughkeepsie, NY during all my childhood years. One of the things I learned there very early on was how important it was to attend each Sunday’s worship service and to make sure I studied the Bible. It was often stressed that the Bible was the strict word of God and that everything in it was supposed to be obeyed. But frankly the Bible bored me, as did each church service back then. I usually did what I was told though, so I still attended those services each week and frequently read the Bible as well. By the time I left home and went off to college, I had 18 years of this religious upbringing and my idea of God was all about obeying rules and living in fear of breaking them.

It was in college that I began to face the fact that I might be gay, and unfortunately because of this strong religious upbringing, the notion of being a homosexual wasn’t sitting well within me. I kept remembering those few passages in the Bible that contradicted the sexual attractions I was feeling towards people of the same sex and it upset me greatly. So alcohol and drugs soon became my way of escaping all of my religious and sexuality worries. But that all changed when I fell in love with one of my closest friends during my senior year. It was then that I faced my first real religious crisis.

If “lying with a man, as a man lies with a woman” were immoral, why would God have created me only to fall in love with someone of the same sex? Was I really being immoral by loving a man with all my heart and soul? These were questions I didn’t have any answers for and my desire to find them was much in part why I became clean and sober. I knew I would never discover them so long as I kept myself inebriated or high, as that only left me in a constant state of being numb from whom I really was inside.

I spent the first few years of my newfound sobriety from alcohol and drugs going back to my childhood roots. I found a church I loved and began attending it, as well as regularly studying the Bible again. I began to utilize prayer as a way to asking God about my sexuality, but no answers came so I started living a double life because of it. On the one hand I tried to be a devout Christian by doing exactly as I was taught in my religious upbringing, but on the other hand I was supposedly going against what I was taught by being in same-sex relationships. This internal calamity led me to finally sit down with the leaders of this church to ask for some guidance. What I received from them didn’t help my dilemma though, as they only pointed to the Bible and said my actions were immoral.

I left that church only to spend the next seven years or so angry and confused. I couldn’t understand why God had made me the way I was if it was supposedly wrong, so I allowed this confusion to lead me into a living a life of promiscuity. It was almost as if this became my act of rebellion to the religious God I was brought up with. Thankfully, my discovery of meditation would change all this. It was through one of my earliest deep meditations one night that I finally received the answer from God that I so desperately had searched years for. During it, I was told it didn’t matter whether I was in a relationship with a man or a woman, so long as whoever it was with I’d love with all my body, mind, and soul. My entire life began to change after that because this spiritual experience went directly against the Bible and the “word of God” I was told all of it contained. If I had to label a single point in time where my path of spirituality truly began, it was after this meditation ended that night.

I immediately began to study the books and teachings of a bunch of other religions and attended several services of many of them as well soon after, only to find more rules and principles that just alienated people instead of embracing them. I ultimately realized that my religious upbringing and living a religious life wasn’t going to work for me anymore. But through daily prayer, meditation, and working the 12 Steps of recovery, I began to discover a more loving and accepting God who was able to show me more of the actual truths behind the words and beliefs I had read about or was taught in my religious upbringing. This led me to accept the fact that there was no religious book on this entire planet that could ever encompass every single word or truth of God. Instead, I began to believe that religion and all of its books only had a piece of truth in them, and it would take internal guidance and direction from my Higher Power to fully figure out what they were.

Nowadays I receive my communications from God not through the Bible, church services, or any other religious context. On the contrary, I receive them through the movement of my heart and soul and do my best to apply each of them to how I live my life everyday. I no longer allow anyone or anything to tell me what God’s words are, as to me this is what being religious was all about. Instead, I wait patiently upon God now for the answers to come from within, as I believe this is what spirituality truly is. So I guess it just took me having to walk that religious path to finally find the one I believe I was always meant to walk on…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson