Monday, December 8, 2008

Remembering Christmas Past

Music plays in the background. "It's the most wonderful time of the year..."Well, not exactly. Christmas has always been, for me one of those happy-sad times of the year. In 2008, it's no different. I am reflecting back on the last 63 Christmas celebrations
If you have been following my blog, you know that my Twin sister, Arlene, passed away in June. This is my first Christmas without her. In her will, along with other things she left me, she said, "To my sister Darlene, I leave 63 years of memories." So, this is part of her gift to me...memories good and bad. I want to share a few of the good ones with you.
As children, on our very first Christmas, an Aunt,gave us matching ornaments. Well, almost matching. If you look closely, you will see a rattle shaped red man, and the blue one on the upper right side of Arlene's picture. Mine was the blue one. Every year at Christmas, these were the first ornaments on the tree. We weren't allowed to play with them, but to me, the tree wasn't complete until both the blue man and the red man were hung on the limbs.
When I was in college, mom gave me the blue man, and I began my own tradition of hanging it on my tree each year. Arlene got her red man and needless to say, it became a treasure to display, as it was the one thing that was as old as we were.
This year, after Arlene died, my other sister, Debbie was sorting through things to go into the yard sale, or be passed along to Arlene's granddaughter, Cheristy. There in the middle of lights, and paper ornaments, was the Red man. Of course, Debbie knew the history behind the ornaments. When she came to California in September, she brought Arlene's ornaments and gave it to me. This week, as I began to pull out lights, and ornaments from past years, I found my blue man. Once again both are hanging on my tree, a reminder of those early years, and my sister. Thanks mom, for making sure we kept them safe year after year, so they could be part of my 63 years of memories!
So, other memories from Childhood Christmas Time. We always seemed to be sick with colds, and mom would put a pan of water on top of the wood stove in the dining room, and fill it with Vicks Vapo Rub. She would put a sheet over our heads like a tent, and we would stand there and breathe the fumes. The radio would be playing Christmas songs from local DJ's. Yes, this was the days before television!!! I remember hard striped Christmas Candy, which I couldn't find this year...A story book box of lifesavers- butterscotch is still my favorite! and then, decorating the tree with mom. When we were really young, the tinsel got thrown in bunches up on the limbs. I was never patient enough to do one strand at a time! This was back in the 40's...and the economy was repressed, much like 2008. Money was hard to come by, but we each got one toy and one clothing item. There was a good will group called the sunshine kids, who would bring us a surprise item, and that was pretty much our Christmas. We always had snow and sometimes extra money could be earned by cleaning walkways for neighbors. As I grew older, it wasn't what I received, but what I could share with others, even if it's just 63 years of memories. Where ever you are, and who ever you are, my prayer is that you cherish the Christ of Christmas and the family times you have, even if it remembered by a special ornament! Merry Christmas to each and every reader! Thanks Mom...thanks Arlene, thanks Debbie. I'll keep the little guys on the tree for as long as I'm alive!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vermont Trip

November 20, 2008
A month ago I was still on my East Coast trip that started in Boston and ended in Nashville. The memories of the fall colors will long be a part of happy place!
I was looking at this shot, taken at Stonehedge New Hampsire. I immediately thought of a poem I learned in English Lit so many years ago. It's by Robert Frost-called Mending wall. A couple of the lines, are "Something there is that doesn't love a wall,That sends the frozen ground swell under it, and spills the upper boulders in the sun..Before I build a wall I'd like to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offense..Something there is that doesn't love a wall.." We had to analyze that poem and I concluded that it is LOVE that doesn't love a wall. (I found Robert Frosts Grave in Bennington Vermont, which really was a highlight for me.)
Back to walls. We all have them, sometimes to protect ourselves emotionally, sometimes to keep people out...or in. It's hard to always know which. We think we are open to others, but one harsh word can still hurt us.
I saw this at the recent Proposition rallys. There could be a thousand signs of support, and one sign of condemnation. We remember the one sign.
What saddens me is the people who have lived so long behind walls that in their isolation they are incapable of touching or being touched by the love of God. Isolation seems to do that. You think you are protected, but to be fully alive and human, walls need to come down. Love is the only thing I know that can melt the years of hardness and allow life to be lived fully.
I make a conscious choice daily to not let walls be built inside my heart. When violence and angry words are spoken, it is not a commentary on me but upon the speaker. I'm a daughter of the most high God, fully accepted and loved by Him. My prayer is that walls will come down and healing will take place. Peace.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

San Jose Rally for Equality

Saturday 11-15-2008, Becky and I stood with several thousand Gay,LesbianTransgendered,heteorsexual families, people of Faith, and some with no faith at all, holding signs and cheering, (2-4-6-8, we will not give in to hate!) I stood with many interfaith clergy, wearing my rainbow stoll to declare that I will not let my faith be hijacked by the religious right and those who declare they speak for God. We speak for God too, and declare that God loves everyone, and excludes no one! This photo says a lot! It shows our back side. I am the one wearing the American Flag behind the poster, next to me is Rev.Nate Miller, then Rev.Dawn Peters all from SJFCC/a UCC congregration. Rev. Margo is on the right side. This was in the San Jose Mercury news!

In the days since Proposition 8 passed by 3% of the vote, We have attended meetings, and spoken out about the unconstitutional process where a majority took away civil rights of a minority without a 2/3 vote; where our constitution was voted on to deny a segment of society their rights by changing a few words; where heterosexism was declared valid and where our marriage is now in jeopardy! Of course, they say because we married prior to the vote, we are still legal, but there are those who want to remove that right also!

My anger is tempered by the knowledge that a vote cannot change who I am, A Christian and a Lesbian and fully accepted by our Creator God! While I am still legal, many same sex partners cannot marry, and if one person is denied Civil rights then no one is free! Domestic Partnerships are not "same but equal" as opponents have said. I will not be refused a place at the counter or move to the back of the bus and keep silent. This change to our constitution is wrong and mean spirited, and must be opposed.Those who claim to follow a God of love need to consider if they are loving like their Father in Heaven! The last words have not been spoken, the last vote has not been taken, and my prayer is that my heart will not give in to the anger against my Christian community . I am encouraged by those heterosexuals who have stood up to say, You are not alone. Thank You, Thank You, Thank you

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our Family Matters Conference

Becky and I have just returned from the 4 day conference in Nashville. It was an event that I will long remember. Second Presbeterian, Holy Trinity UCC; Vanderbilt Univ; GLAAD; and Tennessee Equality were just some of the sponsers of this event. PFLAG was also represented. I joined with Peterson Toscano, Christine Bakke; Kim Clark; Ray Boltz (singer) and dozens of others to share our stories of being Christian and Gay, and reaching out to families not only in Nashville, but around the country! This was at the end of a three week trip to the East Coast to view the fall coloring, and I will talk about that in a later post.
What is important for me to share is that while one voice declaring God's love and acceptance for all of His children might be lost in the www world, all of our voices together will be heard well into the future!
Ray Boltz gave an awesome concert, his first return to Nashville since "coming out" in the Washington Blade a month ago. So many well meaning Christians have sought to crucify him for his honest declaration of his sexual orientation and his faith, however I was blessed by his spirit of truth. I met his ex-wife Carol, and was so blessed by her support for Ray, and for all of us who name the name of Christ and declare our sexual orientation as GLBT! I realized once again how important it is to have straight allies!

I wish you all could have been there, but I hope you will all join me in praying that the influcence will continue to save lives and plant seeds of hope.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Our Wedding

Our wedding is now part of the historic statistics of California Same sex marriages. September 27,2008 at First Congreg. Church in San Jose! We created a cake tier and put lemon scented votive candles with purple ribbons to decorate the layers. On top, was a lemon meringue pie which we shared. Yes, we had more for our guests!
The flowers were sent by our sister, Debbie and her husband Quin from Washington. She couldn't be there, but knew our colors and wanted to help make our day. It did!
The wedding was performed by our pastor, Rev.Dawn Peters of SJ FCC. Music was an Irish whistle played by Shauna McFadden from Long Beach; and Becky's nephew Andy walked us down the aisle! What a joy. Kim Clark, producer of the God and Gays Documentary was there to Vidio our event. We stood on the rainbow quilt that I completed last year, and I spoke about our friends being like the quilt pieces of many colors.
We were blest with friends from near and far (Naomi Harvey attended from Washington State)
She is the woman whose story I wrote earlier this year. Our wedding came together as does our life, shared by those who love us, and some who still do not understand why we wanted to Marry. I am thrilled to say it was the best day of our lives, so far.
Please vote NO on proposition 8-that we and others will not have our happiness taken away.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Life

Becky's nephew and his wife welcomed their first son into the world this week. I had hoped Ben would arrive on my birthday, but God had a better idea. He is perfect, and as his great Aunts, we will spoil him at every opportunity.

Andy and Mary will make wonderful parents, and their love will create a caring home for Ben to thrive.

How do I know? Andy and Mary have been very open and accepting of Becky and me as a lesbian couple. They have shown us love and support in our upcoming wedding, and that is the home into which this new little life has been born!

New life. New beginnings. Change and challenges. That's what we are blessed with each and every day. As we continue to look forward to our legal wedding later this month, I whisper a prayer that new life will be breathed into the faith community, into the gay community and into the lives that make up every family. So many folks have indicated support for us, but said they don't believe in Same Sex Marriage-because of their faith. How can you support us and want to take away equality for all? Ben's arrival is a reminder that there is hope, there is new life to celebrate, in so many ways! Welcome to our world Ben...there's love to go around!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Birthday conspiricy

This is my birthday week. It is the first Birthday without my twin sister, and I am still grieving her untimely death from lung cancer. My partner Becky, ever kind and concerned as she is, conspired with my sister Debbie, who also lives in Washinton. Debbie flew down this past weekend to help me celebrate, and make some sister memories of our own. Becky had her sister, Susan and her husband Ken, drive to the Airport and pick Debbie up, all without my knowing a thing! I was sitting in my recliner Friday night and the front door opened and Debbie walked in!

It's not too often that I am speechless, but my brain couldn't comprehend how she got here, and where her husband was, and how she got here from the airport! Becky just stood there grinning.

We had a wonderful weekend, touring San Francisco and having a wondeful meal at the House of Prime rib. Becky had planned it all without my knowledge! Is it any wonder that I'm getting ready to marry her at the end of the month? She's a keeper.

This is my 64th year. Yep, I still tell my age. I've outlived my father, my mother and my twin...however I carry all those whom I have loved, deep within my heart. My sister Debbie will never know how much it meant to have her walk through that door...Well, perhaps she will if she reads my blog.

This is a conspiricy I can live with!

Peace to all who share my journey.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Planning a Wedding

Next month, on September 27th, Becky and I will become part of History. We will be legally married at our Church, SJFCC. People ask why we do it, when we've already had a committment ceremony To us, it makes a statement, not just for us, but for our community that we can be equal with all other married couples. (almost). The Federal Benefits are still denied us, but for the state, it is legal!

It seems strange to spend months planning an event that will take less than half an hour! We will have friends and family there to take part, and to witness our marriage, and I can't help but wonder how it will feel to legally be a "spouse"not just a partner. Or if it will feel any different at all.

On November 4th, 2008, the state will vote on whether to terminate our marriage by Prop.8. Folks think it is just about Gay marriage, but it's really a question of Marriage equality for everyone. I have faith in the people of California to Vote No on this bill to take away our rights. At my age, I want to enjoy all the rights we can.

It makes me sad that my family can't be here. Arlene was at the ceremony I had a few years back, and Debbie was at our ceremony in Hawaii...but This is a real marriage! I will have a birthday in two weeks, the first time in 64 years that Arlene and I won't celebrate together. That makes me sad. And, it will be the 1 year anniversary of the passing of Arlene's oldest boy, Star. On the other hand, My sister Debbie will celebrate over 30 years of marriage--to the same man even:)

So, a lot of milestones. I pray that our wedding will be just one of many!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Contact from an Exodus leader

This week I received an email from an Exodus leader I haven't heard from in almost 15 years. At first, I was just surprised, then I started really looking at his message. It read: Darlene, I'm glad I ran across your blog. I still miss you. I am sorry to hear that your lover died of breast-cancer. Darlene is God sending you a message? Please consider coming back to Exodus. You are loved and missed. Why would God call you back to lesbianism, give you a lover and then take her away. I'm sorry that you are going through this. My heart is breaking right now but I believe that you belong to the Lord and "He chastizes the one's that he loves". I believe He is calling you back. If you want to talk I am here to listen. Please call me if you want to talk. May God Bless You, Anthony Falzarano

Anthony was the founder of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and has been active in Exodus for many years. When I first left Exodus in the early 90's...Anthony called to share his concern and assure me of his prayers for my return to the fold. He never called again.
I don't want to sound harsh, or judgmental of his recent contact, but I need to respond in this blog! I want to thank Anthony for reminding me WHY I left Exodus leadership and ministry.
1. He misses me but hasn't reached out in 15 years
2.I accept that he is sorry to hear about the loss of my partner due to breast cancer(over 3 years have passed since that event.)
3. Is God sending me a message? First hint of judgment.
4Please consider coming back to Exodus.- He obviously is not aware of my apology for that involvement, or how deeply I have been impacted by seeing the great harm done to individuals and families through this message.
5. You are loved and missed.---Somehow I've missed that message from Exodus leaders
6.Then...Why would God call you back to Lesbianism, give you a lover and take her away??
I think this is the line that hit me right between the eyes. Far too many Christians beleive that God will punish you if you don't toe the mark! To assume that bad things don't happen to God's people is to have an unhealthy view of the Christian life. God didn't give Des breast cancer, and take her away because of our committed 12 years relationship. I reject that Judgment.
7. He beleives that I am the Lord's-and that God is correcting me because He loves me. That concept is Biblical, however I reject the context of illness being a result of preceived sin! AND, I DO AGREE THAT I AM THE LORDS WORKMANSHIP. HE IS MY SAVIOR, AND CREATED ME JUST AS I AM.
8.He beleives that God is calling me back. To where? To What? I haven't left, and I am still active in this is a bit presumptious.
9.Anthony then says he is there to listen. Hummm..He has his mind made up that I'm living a sinful lifestyle, has judged me; tried to place guilt and shame on me to conform me to the accepted behavior...How can he Hear my heart when there are so many hinderences?
10. So, I remembered when I had all the answers and thought I was listening when I directed an ex-gay group. I told them how to pray and change their orientation so God would accept them completly.(Or was it so the church would accept them?)Anyway..This email has given me the chance to say one more time. I'm sorry for the harm I caused by that message of conditional love. Please forgive me. Darlene

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Moving Foreward

My life is moving foreward after my twin sister's death. It didn't ask permission, it just faces each new day with information that causes me to interact with people, make decisions and plans that are my future. Part of me wans to live in the past memories before death separated us. I can't do that, so moving forward happens by default.

I can't help but notice that my friends are in the same "mode". One friend whose relationship has ended, is devistated. She doesn't want to "move forward", she wants the love pledged to continue growing deeper. But when one party moves on, the other must move forward.

On a happier note, a nephew and niece are expecting their first child. They are moving forward into the role of parents. We rejoice and celebrate with them. Moving forward always brings new challenges and experiences, and hopefully the grace to grow stronger and more loving to those in our world.

In September, Becky and I are moving forward in our relationship. We are getting legally married because California has now afforded us that opportunity. We are happy with this foreward thinking, and join several of our long time friends in this new step of exciting events for our future!

We are looking forward to a trip back to the east coast; involvement in the new God and Gays Conference, "our family matters", and engaging others with forward thinking. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Things that give me hope

This past month has been a blur. It's hard to drive when you are crying. I flew to Washington to facillitate the memorial service for my sister, Arlene. I have a growing respect and love for my other sister, Debbie. She and her husband are a huge part of my life, and sometimes I forget to tell them how much I love them. Debbie and I put together the service for Arlene. We held it in the bar where Arlene was known and loved. Where love is, God is...and I'm more convinced than ever that Arlene is with Him. I was encouraged by all the folks who really loved her, and I'm learning not to be so judgmental on the lives of others. Hummm...I think I know a lot of folks who could benefit from that insight.

I flew home to California, and Becky and I left for So. Calif to do an action with Soulforce at the Saddleback church with Rick Warren. We were not well received, and our words fell upon the ears of men and women who were already convinced that they have the correct viewpoint. I continue to pray that the impact of American Family Outing will change hearts..if not minds about accepting all God's Children as Equal.

We came back home, and now I'm preparing for the Evangelicals Concerned Conference in Tacoma Washington. I'm teaching a workshop in Healing from the ex-gay theology which has damaged so many lives. Hopefully, my story can show that there is a place of Oneness in the Spirit, even if we don't agree on every point.

I have found that getting to know Arlene's friends, who would not identify as Christian, have helped me to expand my awarness of God's grace...and that gives me hope that those of us who Claim the Name of Jesus will seek unity, with all of our differences.

I'm still in the grieving stage..but I'll be ok. And so will you who might read these words.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Time to Mourn

June 3rd, 2008. My twin sister Arlene, passed away last night. We had just spent 2 weeks together when I was up in Washington with the God and Gays screening. She had been sick and in a lot of pain, but the doctor kept telling her take more motrin. It didn't work. In just over two weeks, she was in the hospital pretty much on life support, and still in pain. They think it was cancer, but it was really fast. I couldn't get up there to spend time with her, although we knew it was really bad. Arlene's friend Teri, who had been her boss for over 10 years, went to see her on Monday night. She sat by her bed talking with her, Arlene unable to really communicate. Teri decided at that moment to call me and ask if I wanted her to put the phone by Arlene's ear so I could say good-bye. What a special gift. My partner Becky and I both talked with her, giving her assurances that she would be out of pain soon and see Mom, Des and her son Star who passed away in September. We prayed that she would allow God's peace and love to fill her heart and carry her across the separation of this earth to that one. Teri got on the phone and said Arlene was nodding and that she seemed to relax and close her eyes. She tried to talk but only moans came out. Our time to mourn...Arlene's time to rejoice. Grieving sucks!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Upcoming trip to Washington

So, we will soon be on our way to Washington to visit family and take part in opening the dialogue about Christianity and sexuality at the Hoquiam United Methodist Church. I am so thrilled as May 10th seems to be taking on a life of it's own. Kim Clark one of the film makers will join with me, and Dotti Berry and Robi Sapp from Soul Force. What a joy that these all come to pass on the same weekend! I believe with all my heart that God not only wants to heal people but to make a safe place for his children to worship. I've made a new friend in Pastor Gregg Sealey from Hoquiam. I'll do a follow up soon.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The book is available

This has been an exciting month. The book is available and is doing well in it's first month. I'm preparing to take a trip to Washington this month and see my family, as well as have opportunities to promote both books.
In July, we will be participating at the Evangelicals Concerned Conference in Tacoma, and then in October will be part of the God and Gays Conference in Nashville. It's a busy year, and it's only April.

I just read an article in my hometown newspaper about churches splitting a vacation Bible school over one church being open to Gay and Lesbian persons! (Good for them.) I can't believe that the issure of inclusiveness and reconcillation has come to my little home town! But it's sure a long time in coming. Fourty Five years ago I thought I was the only gay person on Gray's Harbor. What a delight to be able to support the UMC now there and say, hey, we've been here all along and we are Christians too! I'm excited about the weeks ahead.
Stay tuned!
Yours for action~~~~Darlene

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Our New Book

A Miracle Woman-the Naomi Harvey Story is now at the publishers. We have met with some opposition from one of the persons in the book who spent 18 years in ministry with Naomi. She doesn't want to be included, although she is part of the story. This has reinforced my feeling about spiritual and religious oppression I'm sure there are things I don't know about this bitterness that is clothed in Christian Love! Why does the events of 40 years ago still have an impact on emotions today? And what can make one person try to justify actions of verbal abuse? I want to stand up and scream "hypocrite" but who would listen?

Lord, this is your book, your story of grace in a woman of clay feet. she isn't perfect, but she has remained constant in her love for you. Please help me to remember your message...Grace and unconditional love.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


So much of life is lived in reflection. I wanted to be more current at keeping this active. I've been writing a new book to be a voice for another woman in the gay community. Look for it later this year. The Miracle Woman-my journey of restoration. The Naomi Harvey Story as told to Darlene Bogle. This picture was taken from the press conference at Beyond Ex-Gay last summer. I like to be reninded, that I am busy! Peace.