I’ve already received two e-mails asking where the Christmas letter is. Today I noticed a number of new white hairs. Kara first noticed them a couple of years ago when she was cutting my hair. Michael Bolin pointed out some new ones today when he was cutting mine. When I looked later I realized that, yes, it is more noticeable. I guess it’s started. Oh well.
This summer I was in the best shape I’ve probably ever been in, after months of adding yoga to my workout routine, a week at the beach, from which I returned more tanned than since I was a kid, and a new haircut (we are using relaxer on the curls!).
The new look seems to have worked too. After a year of enjoy dating life as a single man, I started a new relationship this fall with Michael Cich. How we met will take us back to the spring of this year. . . .
In March the Soulforce Equality Ride stopped in Oklahoma. The Equality Ride was a group of young people traveling the country and protesting anti-gay discrimination at religious and military colleges. They based their effort on the Freedom Rides of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. The Ride stopped at two places in Oklahoma – ORU and my alma mater, OBU. At ORU some of the students and a few local folk were arrested.
Things went differently at OBU. I participated in the direct action there and was amazed at the hospitality. OBU had definitely relaxed from the days of its anti-gay witch hunts when I was in Shawnee. After the Ride’s visit, an OBU student came out publicly (in Newsweek!) and was allowed to stay in school because the policy had changed. I led a group for gay students the rest of the semester and had a blast with that. And lots of other progress was made. I count it among the high points of my life in ministry. However, the feared backlash occurred this summer and now OBU’s gone back to a more discriminatory position; so I’ll be back there with the Equality Ride again this spring.
Michael participated in the direct action at ORU and was one of the folk arrested. He and I met that week when the Riders were here. I thought he was cute, but would never be interested in me. Come to find out later, he thought I was cute too. So, months went by and we’d see each other now and then.
Among the major new developments in my life this year is joining the “Alliance” or “Circle” (it goes both names). A really tight, close group of friends formed this year, and we have a blast hanging out multiple times a week.
By this summer I was exhausted from work, so it was great to spend a week of vacation in Sarasota, Florida with my friends Bill and Don who graciously offered me the spare bedroom in their time share. I’d get up in the mornings and go down to the beach, then lie there all day reading, walking, napping, sunning, playing in the surf until evening time when I’d clean up and we’d do dinner. That’s life!
I got about five books read that week. My favourite books this year were 1776 by David McCullough, Rosemary Radford Ruether’s Sexism and God-Talk, Karen Armstrong’s The Great Transformation, John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, V. S. Naipaul’s The Enigma of Arrival, Louis Menand’s The Metaphysical Club, and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. The most interesting book I read this year was Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth.
This summer and fall I became even more involved in the community, serving on some committees, working on some projects, etc. One of those is serving on the Board of Directors of OKC Pride, Inc. I attended my first Board meeting in August and who should walk in but Michael Cich. As he tells it, when he walked in, I yelled out “Michael!” completely betraying myself. Well, just that week the fourth friend in a month told me that I needed to be bolder when I liked someone, so Michael and I began some e-mailing and then I asked him out a couple of weeks later and then he asked me out twice the next week and . . . Well, you get the idea. So far friends and family really like him, and my church members might like him more than they do me.
One of our early dates was a Flaming Lips concert that is the only concert I made it to this year. I didn’t attend the ACL Festival, and it seems like I missed the best one yet.
Last week the snow put me in the Christmas mood, plus it was an eventful weekend. We celebrated three months together, and my congregation elected its first congregational officers. This year we’ve been in transition to becoming our own, independent church. That has included joining the United Church of Christ. Last Sunday’s congregational meeting was full of enthusiasm as we participated in this wonderful new moment.
At Thanksgiving I reflected on being a part of the denomination that celebrated that first Thanksgiving. I hosted again and had a house full of family and friends. Mom missed because only that day did she come home from the hospital after having a hip replacement. Kelli is pregnant and was beginning to show, so it was a lot of fun thinking about the changes ahead next year.
Last year I wrote about how crazy life had been all year as I waited for my house to sell. I ended up in a great place, that is my favourite place I’ve lived in. It’s allowed me to begin entertaining a lot again (something you know I love). One party had seventy people in attendance!
Today I’m being filmed for a documentary entitled The Buckle: Being Gay in the Bible Belt. They are here now working on setting up the camera and other equipment. My favourite films so far this year include Thank You For Smoking, The Devil Wears Prada, Stranger Than Fiction, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Queen.
Well, they seem close to being ready for me, so I’m going to wrap this up. It’s been an incredibly stressful year (the third in a row! though each different), but as I come to the end of the year I’ve got a lot of joy. I think there are exciting adventures in store for 2007. In the mean time, have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year.