We all found love
I created 12 w/e retreats for Gays, Lesbians, Mormons and Fundamentalists to find out they could love each other without agreeing with each other.
Each retreat, about half the participants were repeaters. About 80 different people participated over the 12 retreats: 35 Gays & Lesbians, 25 Mormons, 7 or 8 Fundamentalists about 15 people just wanted to come because it sounded cool.
Each retreat, things would get quiet and safe Saturday night (after being rather contentious Friday night and Saturday). The first retreat, Sat. nite, a gay guy described what it was like that his family wished he had never existed. He cried. It was quiet awhile. Then a Mormon guy described that he had begun grieving for the pointless of his life--all 4 of his adult children want nothing to do with the LDS Church, and Heaven to a Mormon is not an individual promise, it is a family experience. These men stood and embraced each other. Sunday, nobody would go home and those 2 men and their "spouses" exchanged phone numbers and had dinners together and did things together for months.
Maybe the 8th retreat, that Mormon man was present when a gay guy who'd driven to Washington State from San Fran shared with us that he was attracted to teenage boys who were easy pickups because of emotional estrangement, and that the only sex that worked for him was rough sex. Most of us were startled and dumbfounded by this. He began to sob at the bankruptcy of his life. That Mormon guy put his arm around him to give comfort. On the drive home Sunday night, this guy asked, "Nathan, what the hell is the point of these retreats?" "The POINT?? The point is what you did Saturday night! You were totally put off and offended by that man's lifestyle, but you extended love and comfort to his pain! Is there some greater "point" to anything?"
Maybe the 5th retreat, when things got safe Saturday night, an octagenarian who'd come for her 2nd retreat announced, "I want to use the safety of this group to say in public a thing I have never spoken of. When I was about 7 yrs old, my mother was very psychotic and she smothered me with a pillow. She wrapped me in a sheet and buried me in a shallow grave. My dad came home just then and pulled me out and gave me CPR. You know that "Being of LIght" some folks say they saw? I saw him and he said I'd have to go back. You can imaging I didn't much want to. When my father revived me, he told me that if anyone ever heard about this thing, we'd never see our mother again. And I was to NEVER speak of it, and I was to just forget it ever happened. And I did. Until last month when my guru was urging me be freer with my anger and wanted me to scream and shout. Since he had a small office, he gave me a pillow to put over my face while I screamed. Wow!! That brought back memories!!"
Maybe the 4th retreat, this young mother described a loving relationship she'd had with a gay roommate--then came home one day to find the police there. He'd committed suicide. She was so angry with him that they'd been so close but he wouldn't share whatever was going on. So she refused to read his suicide note. And hadn't grieved his death. Too angry. So she, and we, grieved his death. Then she returned the 6th retreat and said she'd found his mother who still had the note, so they sat and read it together and grieved him again.
Several stories like that. I changed from a homophobic, active Mormon to a former Mormon, sometime Sufi "dancer", Sri Chin Moy meditator, Methodist, etc with several gay friends.
A few years ago, my brother backed out of a backpack trip we'd planned. I really wanted to go. I asked my wife what my gay friend, Roscoe, would think if i asked him to go backpacking (there's a rude joke goes along with here) and she urged me to just call. I did, we had a great time!