Category Archives: Biography

Marriage and Kids?!? …why ruin my life?

Warning:  The next few paragraphs are just streams of thought and garnished with a tinge of sadness.  I am completely aware that it’s a jumbled mess and I am throwing a pity party for myself.  But…I am anxious right now and I will hurdle this anxiety much sooner if I word vomit.

Most of my life, I was conditioned to the norms of our American society.  Men had their jobs to do and women had theirs.  My Mom worked hard to build confidence in us to be and do whatever we wanted but she was deeply rooted in the culture that men ate dinner first and had the best of whatever was offered because they worked the hardest.  Could have been a Super HeroHer mom’s idea of life was “men were to work hard and women were to look pretty”.  It’s hard to break out of an ingrained mindset and my Mom works hard at doing just that.

We’re working our best to raise our daughter as gender neutral as possible.  I want her to know that she can play with whatever toys she wants and her favorite color CAN be something other than pink or purple.  I just want her to believe that no matter what she might be taught by outside forces, that she can be good at math and science…  that she can become a Scientist Athlete Artist Princess…if that’s what she wants to be.

While growing up, I never talked much about getting married or having kids.  Occasionally, I would talk about what it would be like having kids but I NEVER pictured my life with a spouse or children. Happily Ever After I never had a plan or idea of what my wedding would be like because I never thought I would get married.  Ever.  I pretended so I could fit in but in my mind’s eye, nothing seemed to add up the way it added up for all of my friends.  I was told that I needed to act a certain way so I could meet a good man, get married, and have him take care of me.  But man…that just didn’t make sense to me.  SO, my mantra turned into “marriage and kids?  why would I want to ruin my life”.  I pretended that getting married and having kids would “cramp my style”.  I was a world traveler and these things were not part of my plan.

The truth is, I never thought anyone would love me.  I was set on the idea that I would never find anyone to share my life with in a way that made me feel loved and allowed me to love back. 

Fast forward to 2007:  I’m FINALLY out of the closet (as in not afraid to be myself in front of others) and have rekindled a relationship with one of the smartest people I know…my crush from high school.

Fast forward to 2008:  I have finally recognized the unfamiliar emotions that have been creeping up and realized that THIS is what all my childhood friends were experiencing when they giggled about getting married.  On October 11, 2008, I proposed…well, she proposed because I got choked up.  October 11, 2008We buy a house together and crack jokes about how we’ll be perpetually engaged because getting legally married would never happen in our lifetime.  For the first time in my life though, I start imagining and planning what my wedding day might be like.  And I love it.

Fast forward to 2010:  We find out we have an opportunity to adopt our daughter.  Our DaughterWe find out that only ONE of us can legally adopt.  The other of us is in legal limbo.  We were able to be present during the pregnancy and in the room the moment she breathed her first breath.  Heather rushed to our baby.  I stayed with the birth mom and held her hand.  Our daughter was a bit too early and spent 2 weeks in NICU.  We were there every minute.  The adoption was finalized in 2011.  Still just one of us are the recognized parent.

Fast forward to October 6th 2014:  Our Wedding DayAfter a long 10 year battle, same-sex marriage becomes legal in Oklahoma.   Scrambling for every available protection under the law for our family…for our little girl, we decide to get married as soon as possible.  That day was October 11, 2014.  It was just the 3 of us, the Pastor, a photographer, and 2 witnesses.  Not exactly the wedding celebration I had been planning in my heart for the last 7 years.  But we were married and that’s all that mattered.

Fast forward to June 25, 2015:  I’m tumbling in my thoughts today because we are so close to a decision from SCOTUS about marriage equality in the United States.  A decision which can solidify the current legal standing I have with my better half OR nullify it.  I’m tumbling because had we been able to marry 4 years ago, we could have adopted our daughter together instead of having to adopt her once for one parent and a second time for the “step-parent”.  I teared up just typing that.

Working on leaping this emotional hurdle.  I am so grateful for what I have and where I am in my life.  I feel like a spoiled baby for being sad about these things.   Angel and the GirlI feel like a spoiled baby for wanting a wedding celebration.  I feel like a baby for being frustrated about going through another adoption process to legalize something we’ve been all along.  I am aware that my journey hasn’t been nearly as difficult as those before me but for the last 922 words,  I was able to blow off some negative steam that was fogging up all the blessings in my life.

Now that I’ve put it all out there, I’m feeling much better.  I thought about not posting since I am feeling better, but, just in case there’s a kid out there worried about their future…hang on just a little bit longer.  The familiarity of being an outcast will lose its grip.  Thanks to the patience and bravery of the souls before me, the lifetime wait for marriage equality for the entire nation is just days away.  I am grateful.

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How my Strength caused My Paralysis.

We all want to be strong. Right? Am I right for thinking this way?

quote-strength-persistIt seems that we all have a desire to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually strong.  Most of us anyway.  For me, it has always been important to “have a good head on my shoulders”.  I have modeled my life around being as diplomatic to situations as I can possibly be…sharing multiple points of views and relating to many sides of the story.  I grew up this way. I was the first born child in my household and had a very strongly opinionated and hard working mother. It became necessary to understand that there were more sides than just 2 to any given story at any given time. I had to take on the task of being “momma” while Momma was at work and also act as liaison and advocate for my siblings once Momma came home because ultimately she was the final authority in all things.

Momma taught us that we were leaders. Momma taught us that we were strong.

What happens when it all backfires?

I’ve shared before that we were exceptionally poor. Growing up in a house that had only one room…just a box that we played in, slept in, and ate in. No electricity or running water.  I know that all we wanted was to escape.  For a couple of my siblings, their escape was writing.  For me, my escape was physical and the moment that I met someone who told me I could do it…I did it.  I left.

I was ushered into a life of travel and I LOVED it.  I also loved the idea of helping people. I had already “roughed it” most of my life so to travel to 3rd world countries to help build sewer systems or water towers to help others seemed like a dream.  I was introduced to an organization that honed in on my eagerness to lead and my desire for traveling.  At this point, I knew what it was that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  What I didn’t know was the power that had tapped into me.

It was January of 1993. I had been groomed to attend what was called a Discipleship Training School.  To most Christians, the title of the school seems harmless enough and looking back on most of my training, it was really an amazing school.  We learned about diplomacy, public speaking, travel, working and living communally. We learned about humility and patience…it was a very hippy-esque school but I liked it and this lifestyle liked me too.

Here’s the rub.  See, in all of this, we were getting ingrained to learn a school of thought about chain of command. I had already gotten a good grasp of this while living at home but here at the school, I was one of the younger and newest recruits.  I had MANY people to answer to and many voices to obey.

Head down...don't ask questions.

Head down…don’t ask questions.

It’s so weird to type this out.  My memories of this time in my life carry a desperation and it’s hard to know that I was so easily paralyzed.

We lived a very strict life.  We couldn’t do much without the consent of our leaders. We couldn’t go home to visit family, we couldn’t choose the jobs we wanted, we couldn’t date, we really couldn’t do much of anything…unless we had the approval of our leadership. To this day, it’s still hard for me to see that this WASN’T ok.

I was considered one of the “rebellious” ones. Not so much because I rebelled but because I followed questionable orders with a grimace on my face.  Trust me, I get protocol.  I get the need for a chain of command.  However, I didn’t understand why I needed to be told what to wear, how to wear my hair, who I could date, what I could do with my leisure time, who I could and couldn’t be friends with, when or if I could leave the base to visit my family…and on and on and on.

We weren’t a military base.  We were a Christian organization of missionaries and our leadership had overstepped it’s boundaries from leading to controlling and I had been brainwashed.

I had been brainwashed.  I had been brainwashed.  I had been brainwashed.

Here’s the deal.  Before I left for missionary school, I had been treated for homosexuality.  That’s right, I was gay and had been put through a gay to straight program.  I was told that in order to fulfill my “life calling” I could never act on my homosexual tendencies and in order to learn to be straight, I had to listen to and do everything I was told or I WOULD FAIL.  I would fail at life, fail my family, fail my God, fail at being a leader, fail at being strong.  So… I did what I was told.  I obeyed.

After living in this cult type atmosphere I started to test the waters. I had climbed the ranks in the organization, so to speak, and decided to act on an attraction I had towards another girl in the organization. After a few weeks, our relationship was exposed to the leadership and after 2 years of blindly following their every dictation, including a humiliating “outing” to the entire organization, we were sent home packing.

Photo Credit: Yannick Bouchard

Buried Alive…what it feels like to be paralyzed by fear and control.

Have you ever witnessed someone experiencing drug withdrawals or someone grieving?  Writhing in pain, unable to think, unable to breathe, unable to sleep, unable to bear being alive.  This is what it was like for me.  Everything that I had built my life around and for was taken away.  And it was easy for them to do so.  I thought at this moment that I had forever ended the life I was meant to live.  I was back to square one.

The very thing that I had strived to leave behind…the very thing I had desired to escape became me, once again. I was an outcast.

And still I longed for the escape. I longed to travel and to help people and I longed for the only way that I had learned to do so.

After being relieved of my position, I agreed to complete another gay to straight program in fear that I would never fulfill the purpose God had for my life.  And really, when you’re in that situation, your only thought is do what you’re told or give up living all together.

So…I did it again. I obeyed.

It’s been over 20 years since that journey began.  And since then, I have battled the resentment, the failures, the damage, the brokeness.  Sadly, it wasn’t until today that I realized how much of my life has been affected by what happened during that time in my life.  I still struggle with confidence and standing up for myself.  How do I recover when the desire to be strong backfires? How do you trust yourself to have the ability to make good decisions?  How do you trust yourself to trust the right people?

I have recently stepped back into my career of public speaking. It has been nearly 10 years since I stood in front of a crowd and shared my heart.  I was all but banished from the arena of public speaking in the way that I have always known it. But today, I refuse to count myself out.  I refuse to give up my dreams.  I refuse to be told that I am broken.  I refuse to believe that I have nothing to offer.  My story may not line up with yours. You may not give two cents about anyone who is gay or their journey.  You may have never been so low in your life that you allowed someone from the outside to paralyze you.  I don’t know. But what I do know is that there is someone out there who needs to hear that someone else knows what they are going through.

I will be your someone else.

I have decided that I will be vulnerable by my own volition. I will share my heart again and I will help people again.

I speak on these very topics of Shame, Guilt, Vulnerability, Poverty, and Overcoming Gay Reparative Therapy.  If you have an event that would benefit from these talks or an event that would welcome these discussions, please contact me at Angel Adams Media Services.  And please share this with others…My heart is that no one be paralyzed by someone else’s doing.  We are supposed to be free. We are supposed to be different.  We are supposed to be strong.

You are welcome to follow Angel on this journey.

You are welcome to follow Angel on this journey.

Be strong, my friends.

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ANGEL’S HALL OF FAME: My ever growing list of kindness.

Here it is…the announcement of the day.  Hold on to your butts…it’s a doozey.

I’m not perfect.

There it is…in all its glory.  Announcement #2?  I don’t know how to spell “doozey” but…well…hopefully, you get what I’m trying to say.

I have been reminded everyday how blessed I am despite my awkward existence.  Last week I was reading posts about one of my unwitting music mentors, Amy Grant, releasing a new album next month (“How Mercy Looks From Here” will be available May 14).  This of course, reminded me about the time my sweet friend, Eric worked diligently with my friend Lionel to arrange a meeting with Amy.  A meeting that was so surreal and meaningful to me that even today, I can not be reminded of it without having to wipe a “happy” tear from my eye.  I am so grateful for the thought and work it took to make that moment happen.  I thought about Amy and her music.  Her strength…that pulled me out of dark and sad times during my childhood.  I know that I’ve said this before but to see a woman so young writing and commanding a stage…it changed my life.  It changed my direction.

straight aheadI will be ever in debt to my friend Angela Calhoun for introducing me to “Angels Watching Over Me” and the Straight Ahead album. 🙂

This led me on a two week course of gratefulness and reflection.  Something that I have spent hours a day on as of late.  The more I got to thinking about how blessed I am, the more faces I could see.  People who have impacted me in such great ways.  People who pushed me to be better and raised the bar of compassion, intellect, thoughtfulness, and encouragement, the list is infinite.

From arranging lifetime meetings, buying cribs, car seats and stollers, replacing stolen Christmas money so I could buy my daughter’s first Christmas gifts, hugs and laughs, unexpected letters of encouragement, kicks in the ass that I really need, a surprise coffee, smiles galore at just the right time, a look in the eye that says, “you can do it”, a job, Facebook messages that say, “you’re better than that.”, teachers who make leaving my daughter every day just a little bit easier, French lessons just because, to cleaning my backyard because it looks like a ghetto zoo exhibit <<<yes, that’s true, and did I mention laughs?  Your random and not so random acts of kindness and genuine love for me and my family have built a better human being.  Not quite a bionic Jaime Sommers but SUPER close.

And do you know what I love about these people?  If any of them were to read this, they would ask themselves how they got on this list.  These are the humans that act out of goodness.  They show selflessness and without a thought of what anyone else may think,  they just do because they can.

hall of fame

Heather Threadgill, Sam Snavely, Vicki Peters, Steve and Lori Nance, Michelle Davis, Eric Himan and Ryan Nichols, Erika Hardin and Natalee Pendergraft, Julie Nikel, Lionel Vargas, Stephanie and Joe Christiansen, Cheryl Lawson, Michael and Catherine Ray, Barb Hauxwell, Joel and Kelly Russell, Stacy Acord, CC Lawhon, Kristi Perryman, Virginie Gill Dejour, Staci Walkup, Michael Shoopman, Travis Jackson, Howard Stump, Jessica Butchko, Billy Sauerland, Steven Nix, Kimi Hann and Chris Lieberman, Miranda and Phil Kaiser, Missy Wilson, Chrystal Kelly, Betsy Chase, Courtney and Casey Nichols, Michael and Amanda Mitchell, Janice Sawatsky Sahr, John and Jane Ray, Rebecca Smith, Deke Coop, Stephanie Schrepel, Caleb Taylor, and Jennifer Jako.

To my Hall of Fame:  You have been rocks to lean on and hands to pull me up.  You have been a crutch, a counselor, a clock, a mirror, a party, an icepack, a rope, a map, a compass, a hope, and my teacher.  I have been changed forever (for the good) for knowing you.

Thank you all for your compassion, kindness, and grace. You give me courage and I will never be able to adequately thank you…but it’s a start.


		
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Oscar’s statue of frozen vulnerability.

SO…I’m sitting here at midnight on a Tuesday evening watching the Oscars on Hulu Plus.  Congratulations to Hulu for creating such urgency for me to sit here and watch the awards show in it’s entirety simply because you said “only one day left for viewing”.

Well, here I am blubbering and smiling for all the winners.  I do this because for me, all awards shows bring such inspiration.  I love these shows.  Even the ones with terrible hosts, technical difficulties, and… when my favorites don’t win.

I’ve been beaming for Adele.  It’s not because I think that her song Skyfall is the best song ever written.  Nor is it because I think that she is the greatest singer.  Although, I can say without a doubt that I really appreciate the gift of her voice.  She is remarkable.  What I saw tonight was a young woman who stepped out and took a chance to follow what her heart was leading her to do.

I gotta say…I, at different times tonight, went from elated to super pissy.  I was so inspired to write and sing and compose that I got all excited and anxious.  And then…it started to spiral.

I’m just going to throw this out there. I’m really frustrated that I haven’t put any music out in a record or single or even freaking cassette tape.  I’m frustrated that I feel like I’m waiting. And waiting. And waiting.  I’m frustrated that I see so many of my musician friends recording all the time.  HOW DO THEY DO THAT?  How are they able to get the people together to learn the music, to go to the studio, to do their part.  How come I can’t seem to pull my shit together enough to make this thing happen.  For crying out loud, I don’t want to be a superstar.  I just want to write songs and let other people sing them and become superstars.  I’m angry.

Then it hit me.

People might crap all over what I have stressed over and poured over and cried over and shared from my guts.  And then I tried crawling back in my shell.  What the hell.  I realize that this is just a stream of thought but follow me.

It’s not about people not liking my music, my voice, or my songs.  I already know that not everyone is going to like my stuff.  Every time I try to write or sing, I hear the voice of a childhood friend tell me that I “shouldn’t quit my day job”.  I know that even some my closest friends aren’t going to like it.  It’s just the way things are and I’m really okay with that.IMG_7202

It’s about where these things come from….my life, my experiences, my emotion.  Raw and  visceral.  By sharing any part of yourself, whether it be acting, music, writing, painting, blogging, you name it …when you choose to share this part of you, you lift a veil.  You lift a veil that so perfectly encompasses your ugly, dark, beautiful, and bright self.  You are no longer protected by what shields you.  This scares the shit out of me.  And I mean this in every sense of the phrase.

Vulnerability.  Being vulnerable.  What a tragically horrifying and beautiful thing.

So, Mr. Oscar, you are a statue of sweat, tears, triumph and vulnerability and if I ever get to place my hands on you, may it be because you have frozen my very self into your being.

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“You Killed Your Sister”.

This is what I was told after the accident that left my little sister burned on over 50% of her 22 month old body.

It was 1977 and I was a sassy almost four year old with a curiously sweet and shy little baby sister.  We were living in a place that has survived only as pieces in my mind’s eye.  I don’t remember much of my childhood at all.  I don’t remember much of anything unless it’s a story that’s been told over and over again OR if it was something that was documented in a photograph…but this, I have held onto this memory for 35 years.

Sisters

The two of us before the accident.

The accident happened when Jammie and I were in a kitchen and trying desperately to find a way to some chocolate donuts on top of a counter. In the midst of our endeavor, a crockpot was knocked off the counter top.  The contents poured down the left side of my sister’s head and face, down her left arm, and completely covered her back. I have no recollection of this catastrophic event. All I know of this moment is what I was told. Little Jammie was whisked away and taken to Hillcrest Burn Unit. She wasn’t expected to live and what happened to her from that point, we only know from medical records. I am certain that the quick response of our mother is what saved her life. Sometimes we think, that in moments like these, we’ll remember all of our training, all of our senses, all of our “know how” and for some, it’s true. Regardless of what choices were made in that moment, I will never know how my mom was able to do what she did. Through shock and panic, she saved Jammie that day.

I don’t know what happened to me in the moments after the accident. I don’t remember anything but the feeling of suffocation.  All I do know is that after absorbing the words, “you killed your sister”, my mind shut off.  They tell me that I quit talking and walking.  My mom, who never left the hospital (except for when the orderlies dragged her out so she could “get some rest”) didn’t know what was going on with me until my aunt told her. Once again, it was my mom that came to the rescue. She took me to a therapist who, at that point said that the only way I would recover is if I knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Jammie was in fact, alive.  The ONLY memory I have of any of this tragedy is the moment that I saw Jammie’s face. They brought her frail little body to the doors of the burn unit. It was a typical hospital double door with the long and thin rectangular windows. I remember seeing her face through one of those windows and at that moment, a nurse opened the door so that her tiny hand could pass through the opening.  They let me touch her.  It’s been 35 years and I still can’t recall that instant without tears.

Adults do weird things in times of panic and mayhem. Placing the blame and guilt on my shoulders was one of those things. I need to say that my parents never made me feel guilty or made me feel the blame of the accident. They never uttered the words used to title this post, but when someone did utter those words, it changed my life forever. I walked through our school years hearing the taunts and watching bullies pick on Jammie because of her scars…I also beat the crap out of some of  them. I carried the shame and guilt of this accident for a very long time. Now that we’re adults, it’s so weird to look back on that time…on all of it. She’s such a strong woman. I am learning to be.

Here we are during the 2012 World Burn Congress.

It wasn’t until Jammie and I attended the World Burn Congress, presented by the Phoenix Society of Burn Survivors that I was able to shake free from an accident that was never my fault. Our time there was very emotional…we were forced to take a look at a very hard time of our lives…parts that had holes, stories with pieces missing. She and I were able to put the together some shattered, broken parts of ourselves. I learned that Jammie had moved past the accident way before I ever thought possible. She taught me that I am a survivor too. That it was ok that I survived. She also reminded me that we were just babies and that neither of us could possibly be held accountable for the accident. I was able to take a look at 4 year old Angel that still hid deep down inside and tell her that everything will be ok. That everything IS ok. That it was an accident. A terrible accident.

So…a chunk of my life that I carry, but that I no longer have to carry so harshly.

I don’t know why I share this story now…maybe it’s because my own little one is coming upon the age that Jammie was when all of this happened. Even now, it’s kind of hard to look at my daughter and see how little she is, knowing that Jammie had to brave such a travesty with that same tiny frame.

I am so proud of Jammie. I am proud of the woman she has become. She is a brilliant writer, a fascinating mother, a cherished part of my heart.

For more information on Phoenix Society of Burn Survivors click here: www.phoenix-society.org.  To discover the unbelievable talent that is my sister, click here: jammiekern.com

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Sure, I’ll jump off this cliff…and hope I make it.

Yes.

Allow me to define it for you.

yes – adv. : It is so; as you say or ask. Used to express affirmation, agreement, positive confirmation, or consent.

1. An affirmative or consenting reply. 2. An affirmative vote or voter. tr.v. yessed, yes·sing, yes·es  To give an affirmative reply to. interj. Used to express great satisfaction, approval, or happiness.


Here’s my thought:  I’ve been knocking around the idea of new ventures for years now but I’ve become quite complacent with my job and content with the security that comes with it.  Back in the day, I thought that I was a super hero of sorts and because of that, took on adventure after adventure without ever having blinked an eye.  I thrived on adrenaline and the “sport” of travel.  Before I was 25, I had discovered 13 countries for myself and lapped up every cultural morsel the world had to offer.

Here I am at 19, traveling on a train somewhere between Minsk, Belarus and Moscow, Russia…some 5600 miles or so from home.

After returning to America, I took on my first dream job and worked as a minister for 4 years (I know, I know…I was a Rev. and some of you are giggling).  After realizing that I didn’t fit into the ministry culture, I resigned that position to work at my next dream job…graphic designer.  Here’s the dealio, I’ve been doing graphic art for 12 years and moved into an Art Director position 8 years ago.  I freaking love it.  In the midst of doing this graphic design stuff, I became a member of an indie rock band called Eric and the Adams. That was four years of adventure, travel and creativity all wrapped into one.  Crazy town.

The last 6 years of my life, I have become happily engaged, bought a home, was the drummer in a rock band, had a child, raised money (not because I’m amazing but because my friends are) for a solo album, worked on tour with a phenomenal musician – learning the hard work of a stage hand, and now….

Well.  Now what?

The message of what I’m trying to convey is that all these humbling opportunities came to me and I had to make a decision.  What do I say?

“Angel, would you like to travel all over the world?”

“Angel,  would you like to come work for me as a graphic artist?”

“Angel, would you like to be the drummer in my new band?”

“Angel, will you record your music?”

“Angel, will you marry me?”

YES!  I said, “Yes.”
Things have been a little strapped because of the way the economy has fallen and I have found myself scrambling to make ends meet.  With that and the very real fact that I mentioned earlier that I just don’t fit the culture of where I am. I realize more everyday that I don’t fit into the traditional role that a patriarchal socially structured environment would want me.  I need to redirect my path.

I have been looking for a way to open doors for myself so that I can step into a new phase of life.

Not too long ago, I was given an opportunity to take a class at a community college here in Tulsa.  It was a radio class.  The class was paid for…all I would have to do is enroll and show up.  If any of you have known me for long, you know that I really enjoy entertaining (when I was younger, I would practice my award speeches out in the yard – I’ve accepted countless Emmys, Tonys, Oscars, and Grammys).  Here’s the sad part…I got wrapped up with too many things that don’t matter, instead of focusing on the stuff that will get me on track.  I didn’t say, “Yes”.  This class would have gotten me on track.  It was my next step and I missed it.  Have you ever done that before…a few weeks later you wish you could go back in time and slap yourself out of your slumber?  Things change for me when I say yes.  No more missed opportunities…

SO, I’m in full preparation of a new chapter…a new “dream job”.  I’ll work diligently at my 9-5er until I can fully step out on my own but let me tell you this…it is not without fear, anxiety, adrenaline, and hope.

photo credit: Stuart Anthony

My partner and I have a running joke from a familiar cliché.

The cliché?  “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”.  Our variation?  “We’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it.”

I’m lucky to have a partner who supports my ever growing need to push the boundary, break the glass ceiling, smash socioeconomic class, and jar the mindset of poverty.  I’ll happily jump off this cliff.  I’ve jumped off of so many and it has taken me to places I’ve never dreamed.  My way of opening doors for myself is to say, “Yes”.

SO, I say yes to the things ahead.

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Words For My Eulogy

There’s a guy in Tulsa, Oklahoma who is one of our city’s nicest.  His name is Jeremy CharlesImage

I don’t get to spend a lot of time with Jeremy now that he’s nearly super famous and now that my band no longer exists but, he is still someone that I treasure.  I spend a lot of my social media time creeping his photographs and catch myself grinning at the mere fact that one of the good guys are being treated so well in this universe.  He’s one of those creatives that keep me on my toes to do better…to be better.

Yesterday, while getting caught up on my Twitter, I caught a picture taken by Jeremy at the recent KISS/Motley Crew concert at our beloved BOK Center.  As are most of Jeremy’s photos, this was extraordinary.  However, it wasn’t his photo that caused me to stare into empty space for the next 5 minutes, it was his words.  On two separate occasions, he used words that changed my guts, or what my mom calls my “knower”.  You know that place that exists in you where you “know that you know that you know that you know”?  Yeah, that place lit up…like it was on fire.

I started thinking about the greatness of these words and I realized that if I want these words to be mine…if I want these words to ever be used to describe me then I had better start fitting inside their definitions.  In this case, it was used for KISS and them being titans of rock and their empire of success.

To be known as a titan of anything or be equated to having anything remotely connected to the word empire…can you imagine that?  My mind started racing…the kind of racing where I’m certain you could hear whistles and clacks of train tracks.

I think that I’ll start writing my eulogy and once I get it, it should be a piece of cake…right?  Working backwards from the answer in math was a flawless technique…as long as you freaking understood math.  Let’s pretend that I’ve got my mind wrapped around this universe and go from there.

What do I want for my life, my legacy, and how do I get it?  It only makes sense to start conforming to the words I want people to use to describe me.  Today is the day.  However, it’s not just “the day” for me…it is for you as well.  And I’m curious…what are the words you want in your eulogy?

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What?! Here’s a little sneak peek.

I’ve been battling every aspect of performance and stage fright like a motha…

I decided to suck it up and put something out there.  I had some free time at work today and decided to work on revising a song.  Here it is in all it’s raw glory.  🙂

The lyrics were written in 2009, I think and the song has been rolling around ever since.

Be expecting to hear this on the album…probably much different than you hear it here once the producer gets a hold of it.  Thank you for taking a listen and  hopefully soon, you’ll being hearing the rest of the album in it’s entirety before the end of the year.

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Unintentional

To those of you who know me, You know that I am generally always laughing.  I typically sit back and watch things happen, watch people and giggle at how we tend to view and handle things.  After all, the things that are usually going on in our lives are tiny in comparison to the big picture and the world view of broken countries and humanity as a whole.  I’m learning as I watch Americans, that justice is most of what we rely on to keep our sanity…to keep our society running.  When things start breaking down, it seems that it’s because someone somewhere feels threatened and hasn’t been taken care of “justly”.   For the LGBT community, for Christians, for Muslims, for African Americans, for Veterans, for the poor, the rich, the educated, the uneducated, the sick, the well, the list goes on and on…when we feel threatened or treated without fairness, integrity, and impartiality, we enter a survival mode and instantly try to reclaim what every human being craves and deserves.  Impartial Justice.  The sad part is we expect it but we are not always willing to give it.

I was recently taken out for my birthday to see a movie.  I really enjoy the horror genre and I really enjoy history so it was a no brainer for me to choose to see Abraham Lincoln the Vampire Hunter.  Of course the idea of the movie and even the title of the movie makes me giggle but I went to see it anyway and was quite surprised at the “mark” it left on me.  I thoroughly loved the spin they did to the Civil War.  Strangely though…I couldn’t shake what it did to me.

Thanks to Facebook, I have had the opportunity to see all of the rants and raves from friends and family on both sides of the current civil issue of Gay Marriage and it’s ugly. I live in a red state.  A very conservative state.  When I walk outside, whether alone or with my family, I walk with eyes wide open and short breaths ready to defend myself and my family from what may be lurking near me.  WHY? Why do I do that? Because I’m not safe. Certainly those on FB who vehemently oppose my point of view are capable of doing harm…their posts alone can be terrifying. I can’t imagine what would happen if we met on the street.

We are breaking down.  We are failing to be Americans.

I’ve been struggling a lot lately about the Civil unrest that is splitting our country.  I have a tendency to research the heck out of something that I’m trying to understand….after all “knowing is half the battle”, right?  I went back to America’s Civil War.  Studying it all over again made me ask so many questions.  I wondered at what point in time was Lincoln told he was on the “wrong side of history” when he pursued the idea of emancipation for slaves.  I wondered at what point in time were families torn apart for their personal stances on what they believed to be right, wrong, or biblical.  I wondered how many of my own family died because of this war…I wondered about which side they died for…

I started thinking about one of the next great Civil movements and was flooded with memories as I revisited a trip I took while I was in college to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.  I can still recall standing there with so many generations of different colors of people learning about their struggles and seeing the very site where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of that balcony.  I remember tears welling up in my eyes…I remember turning and looking across the way to where the shooter allegedly took his shot through a bathroom window.  My stomach was sick.

I feel that I must say that I have never experienced tragedy or discrimination as a person of color…well…because I’m not a person of color. I have no personal frame of reference to compare what it’s like to live in that world.  What I do have is the life I’ve lived as a gay woman.

I found it incredibly interesting that a part of the exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum shares this:

Protest (1940-1955)

Protest (1940-1955): The aftermath of the 1954 murder of 14 year- old Emmett Till and numerous lynchings sparked protests. African-Americans began economic boycotts, sought legal redress against segregated educational facilities, planned a demonstration march on the nation’s capitol, organized voter registration drives and sit-ins, attended grassroots organizing workshops and sought an end to military discrimination.

Is any of this starting to sound familiar?

Freedom Rides (1961)

Freedom Rides (1961): Segregated interstate bus and train travel was illegal by 1961, as well as segregating travelers in bus and railway station terminals. The Freedom Rides were planned to expose the continued practice of discrimination despite federal laws. <<<<< Did you catch that last part??  Even now I hear the echoes of history in the voices of our state leaders.

When you get a chance, watch the documentary…it’s so incredibly moving.  The picture below shows the aftermath of how the mob forced the crippled bus to stop several miles outside of town and then firebombed it.  As the bus burned, the mob held the doors shut, intending to burn the riders to death.  I watched with tears covering my face.  I just don’t understand.

SO…thanks to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I started thinking about a new Civil War.  People are vicious and the violence is turning towards the new civil issue.

When I came out of the closet at 17 years old, I was forced into a gay to straight program.  Not physically forced but when you grow up in middle America and you want to be a missionary for the rest of your life, being gay is a death sentence.  Not only did I have to attend and flourish in this program in order to be a missionary with my church, I was also fighting to stay out of hell.

When I went away to Missionary School and Bible College, I was outed by church leaders and was “forced” to attend another gay to straight program or would be kicked out of the organization.  I did attend and worked my ass off so I could stay, only the leaders were so mystified as to what to do with me, they kicked me out anyway.  And it wasn’t just a “sweep it under the rug” scenario either.  I had to stand before the staff and entire student body and confess to being gay and confess to misleading everyone I knew there at the school.  I was humiliated.  It was the point in my life that I realized that I was about to lose everything that I had worked for…since I was 14 years old…I worked as a missionary and planned on doing that for the rest of my life.

This is when I broke.  Not because I was gay…but because the church considered me useless and broken.  I was sent home.

Upon my arrival, I was told that if I ever wanted to work in the ministry again or be a missionary again, I had to complete yet another gay to straight program.  I had one more chance but I was near exhaustion and this one was vowed to be more intense (3 programs rolled into one long journey with curriculum from Exodus International, Purity with a Purpose, and Restoration Outreach) and completely stripping me of all ability to think on my own.  I was removed from my parent’s home and placed with a church family who, while they loved me very much, had no real idea of what I was going through.  I was completely alone.   I was spiritually, socially and mentally beaten to nothing.  Nothing.  Do you understand what I am saying?  I had no ability to make decisions on my own.  I couldn’t think past my next breath.  I did nothing but live eat and drink this program.  I poured every part of my being into the only stable thing I had…and that was my God.  And even so…I was dying.

Not only did I attend these programs, I did so well, that I became a spokesperson for them.  I spoke on many panels to many universities about what life is like as an “ex-gay”…all the while still being gay.  So…let’s talk about the here and now.  Why THIS post?

How do all of these things add up and what do they have to do with me now?  I watch all of the strife and conflict happening to my community and my brothers and sisters, Christians and Gays and once again, my stomach is sick.  It’s caused me to think about what would happen if we had another Civil War.  The country would split North and South.  My family would also split…some fighting for Gay Rights and others fighting against.  My little family and I would have to pack up and leave Oklahoma…we might even have to escape.  Another “underground railroad” of sorts.  We would lose everything.  What a sad thing to think about.

Here’s what it’s like to be gay for me:

The tragedy, discrimination, and fear that I’ve lived with for 20 years…

According to church and my most of my friends and family from there, I am going to hell.  I am broken.  I will never be a whole and healthy person because of this “choice” I’ve made.  I will never be allowed to be a missionary or minister again with the organizations I grew up with.  They choose to look away and not acknowledge that after all that I went through throughout these programs, after having nothing but God, I did not choose this.  I am this.

I was reading a friends FB page and she said some things that I will incorporate here.  I will be married someday BUT for now, I worry about what a nightmare health insurance coverage is for my family…has anyone who’s not gay read what we have to go through just to get coverage?  And that’s just if your particular state feels like offering it to you…which in my case, does not.  I worry about if we should bring our advanced medical directives and the guardianship papers for our daughter everywhere we go “just in case something happens.”  I want to not have to carry outrageous sums of life insurance so that my partner or I would have enough money to pay estate taxes on the house we own, and pay for together.  I want to be able to file taxes as one family unit.  I don’t want to be told by our attorney that if a family member contests either of our wills in court after our passing, that “due to the political climate” that my partner or I would lose and must be prepared to potentially face that issue. I would like to be honest about my marital status on forms I fill out, because I haven’t been single in 6 years. Most of all, I want, my partner to be able to adopt, without me dying, our daughter that we have raised together.  I want to be able to walk beside my partner while out in public without the fear of being yelled at or physically attacked.  I want to never be afraid of losing my job just because I’m gay…or be denied service at a restaurant or spit at while I’m walking through a hospital.  I will not sit quietly and act like I have never been treated grotesquely for being gay.

I worry about RIGHTS a lot.

For those who don’t recall, Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples’ physical and mental integrity, life and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as physical or mental disability, gender, religion, race, national origin, age, status as a member of the uniformed services, sexual orientation, or gender identity;[1][2][3] and individual rights such as privacy, the freedoms of thought and conscience, speech and expression, religion, the press, and movement.

You know…I’ve only had 2 church friends ask me about my life…what I went through and what struggles I’ve had after coming out.  One is someone I met while working in the Philippines.  She just recently contacted me on FB and was the most gentle and kind person I have come in contact with in a long time. And the other is from the missionary school I attended and She has always been by my side.  Sadly, most of the rest have just said, “well, you know how I feel about your lifestyle…”.  Well, you know how I feel when you say that?  You don’t?  That’s right…because you’ve never asked me.  A straight friend of mine who is trying to wrap her mind around all of it said this, “Would you feel loved by somebody if they included rules, context, and/or explanations about your lifestyle every time they spoke about how much they don’t hate you? Only when talking about gay people do Christians feel the need to preface their “love” or “non-hate” with some variation of “I don’t agree with your lifestyle, but…” Christians don’t talk about any other group of people like that–only gay people.

So, I want to believe Christians when they say “I don’t hate gay people.” But sometimes proof of that is necessary.”

For those of my friends who are so frustrated with me using my recently found voice to stand up to what I’ve suffered, I have earned my place.  I have more than just scars…they are my stripes.  It was unintentional but I have become a voice.  By all means, it was determined to be squashed out of me but I am still alive.   I will speak and I will speak loudly.

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Dear God…what have I done.

Seriously, this is the third time that I have started typing a post…what was supposed to be the first post of my life.  I feel like I’ve been flushing a toilet in a rickety twin engine airplane and this tiny hole (a vacuum, if you will) covered with an off-white cracked plastic flap opens and sucks the words right off my screen and into this waste that seems to disappear into thin, crappy, air.

Nonetheless, I have done it. I have succumbed to this…the writing of a blog.  I’m thinking about the fact that there aren’t many folks out there who are interested in reading about the life and times of Angel Adams but I am aware that there are a few around who might be…and for you, I invite you into my heart and head for a journey that I hope we all can see ourselves a part of .  And by the by, I’m not worried about grammar or spelling…well, I’m a little worried about spelling. But for the most part, the words typed in this small window will be spilling out in the form of my thoughts and not so much in the form of my Sr. High English paper as annotated by Mrs. James.  So…suck it.

So…here we are.  The road ahead seems like a long unchartered mess (and that’s my “cup is half full” version) and the road behind is full of potholes that are full of mire and dung (also “half full”).  BUT, don’t let that mislead you into thinking that this is a wah-wah downer of a life story blog.  It is the contrary.  The fun part is that it’s my life…my amazing and incredible “how did I get here” life.  I have trials and triumphs and super tall hurdles that this shorty of a  5’4″ frame finds hugely uninviting but as I type I also hope that you see my every moment is focused on making those hurdles my bitch.

Other than that…I merely take every day as the miracle it is, good and bad. And believe me, there’s a lot of both.  We’re effin human for crying out loud.  Most of the time, I’m just looking around trying to figure out how I got here.  Whether you believe in a higher power or not, you gotta wonder sometimes.  I’m certain that I had no super powers in my possession that could get me to where I am today.  This is my equivalent of “it wasn’t me”.  Take that as you will.

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