September 07, 1997


This is the second column written by Kathy Badlock, originally published in "Reno Out" and posted here with her permission:

I woke up in the night crying over a woman I have never met. At 1:45 am when I should have been asleep from a weekend of a ten mile hike, kayaking, late nights visiting with friends and having people over for lunch and yet, another long hike….I was crying over RuthAnn from Wisconsin. My mind was stuck on this 68 year old woman who had PM’ed me at a social networking group I belong to: “Will you be my friend, Kathy?” RuthAnn had read some of my postings on this site where I am one of the few straight people who participates. She is a mother of 4, grandmother of 13, teacher, Sunday school leader, quilter, avid reader and, has lived a totally closeted life as a lesbian for 28 years. Each New Year’s Day she tries to rally the courage to tell someone, anyone, that she is gay. She broke the silence to two friends this January.

I try to put myself in her place and imagine holding any secret so large for 28 years. The more you try to cover something in shame, the more it looms and controls your life. What has she missed spinning her energy to guard and protect this secret? What freedoms have I enjoyed for the last 28 years? Every Friday morning for the last 20 years, I have had breakfast with my dearest friends, no thought untold, no secret kept, no places for the shame to ripen. And RuthAnn hides.

I know some of you are totally out and living as colorfully as you choose, but still, you do not have the freedoms that I do as a straight woman. I have many tenets that I believe, many…one is “If you do not hear the cry of the oppressed, perhaps you are part of the oppression.” I hear the cry. And what makes me so wonderful, so acceptable, so able to be free? Is it that when I fall in love, it is a man. Or is it that I go to church every Sunday or maybe that I am a good and faithful friend? The important questions are always sorted through the God-filter in my head. I want answers with content, with heart, answers that have the moss of wisdom on them, that speak of insight and depth.

The daily confidence I walk in can be reduced to two factors; I know that I am loved and I walk in the grace to be who I am and still be loved. If I could give this “knowing” away to anyone I come in contact with, I would. If you read my column last month, you would know that I’m a Jesus-follower. Simply because I breathe, I know that I’m loved by Him. I didn’t do anything to earn that, I can’t do anything to lose that and that is grace. I am not loved because I am not gay or because I am a “good” person or because I do go to church every Sunday. If you are reading this, you qualify for the same “lavishment” (His words) of His grace. T

here are five verses in the Bible that the gay community calls the “clobber” verses. These are the very five chains of bondage, these five steel traps that have been used to attempt to separate the gay community from the God that indeed created them too. I’ve been trying to study these verses in context, in original language, and now in original thinking to try to line them up with the God I know in the other 13,400 verses. How do I balance love and grace with hate and bondage? Do I get the first portion and you get the second, if any is left? I have friend who says being heterosexual isn’t normal, it’s just common. Just because you’re in the 5 to 8 % of the population, doesn’t make you less acceptable than “common” me.

I could, and in all likelihood will, write about those five verses that have been used by society to hold you at bay. I can certainly find five verses in the other 13,400 that I do not adhere to . Ask my 20 year old daughter Sami, she’ll tell how flawed I am. But does that disqualify me from knowing that I am loved by God? No. Fill in your worst character trait here. ________. Nope, sorry still not bad enough.

So why is RuthAnn in Wisconsin reaching out to Reno, to me, to be her friend? I am far away. I am safe. She knows I will accept her. Society has let her know that she is not whole the way she is. You younger readers can’t grasp this; being out is cool in some venues. Have compassion on those who walked before you. You are stepping on a rainbow path paved with their tears, paved with their bravery. RuthAnn has got some of the pieces of the puzzle solid; she knows she is acceptable before God. She is trying to transition that inside wisdom to outside freedom. She is why I do what I do. Parents, society, churches, employers, political parties, old thinking…they have each added links to chains of bondage. The Jesus I know has bolt-cutters in His tool belt and totes around the “jaws of life”. If I can contribute to His snipping in my words and actions, I will. My sweet friend, Myra, said over coffee one day. “Kathy, I don’t like to see you this way, crying over what you feel. You’re my happy friend, my joyful friend.” And that I certainly am. The life of the party, the colorful one, the one who laughs easily. But, I have been given an ear to hear and a voice to speak for your community and to reach into your community. I do hear the cry of the oppressed. I hear RuthAnn. Until next month….. please think about your worth and His grace. Now I am going back to sleep….