Ray, in his own words: “Being gay means many things to me. As a child it was a stigma of shame. It was my scarlet letter and an object of my own disgust and disdain. Later, being gay was simply a biological expression, no different than height or hair color. However, in my 30’s I have come to embrace being gay as a gift of the Divine. I believe divinity has qualities of both male and female, that is both masculine AND feminine energy. So, to be gay means that I too possess both energies, and is therefore a divine gift given to me as I maneuver through the world.
For me, religion has been a paradox in my life and has served as the catalyst for my greatest challenge as well as my biggest success. As a child and teen I suffered from paralyzing insecurity. I felt as if everyone else had the key to living life well and somehow it had been kept secret from me. So, I looked to conservative religious understanding to give me a strict “how-to” guide to help alleviate my insecurity, live life and simply fit in. Needless to say this helped for a while but ultimately stripped me of my authenticity and left me upset and bitter. I eventually overcame this challenge, and now live life as authentically and honestly and I possibly can. To me, this is my greatest success. Oddly enough, the great success of authenticity couldn’t have been achieved without the comfort, encouragement and faith I often drew from the foundation of a religious upbringing (particularly in my darkest moments). Truly the paradox of life!
The gay community is Dallas is large and in many ways very active (Dallas’ local chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, The Federal Club, is annually a leader in fundraising for the HRC and the largest gay church in the WORLD is also located in Dallas), yet a word that is often used to describe the Dallas at large is “clique” and this is no different in the gay community. In many ways Dallas is still reminiscent of its segregated past…but today’s segregation happens not only across racial lines but across socioeconomic class, gender (gay vs. lesbian), geography (where you live in the city), and social groups. There are many clicks who rarely find the need to intersect with the others.
My coming out story is quite lengthy, so I’ll share the short version. I was raised religious; I was raised to be closeted, therefore I married very young (19 years old) and I had three children very young. I fell madly in love with a man. I could no longer go on with the farce….not to mention when I asked my wife for a divorce she went into my email and found a love letter to the gentlemen and confronted me with it….after which 99% of my friends distanced themselves, leaving me to recreate a new life…. high drama indeed (a screenplay waiting to happen)!
If I could tell my younger self one thing I would tell him to be your unashamed and unapologetic authentic self…no matter what!”