Category Archives: Equality

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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White Knuckled Decisions: It’s not my job to teach other people lessons.

but why?

The Kid (formerly known as The Tot).

I’m a new mom. Newish.

I’ve held this position for the last 3 and a quarter years now and every day seems to bring a whole new set of rules.

I like it. I’m one of those odd people who enjoy a good shake up every now and then.

Yesterday, I was chest deep in a very awkward and potentially damaging situation where I had to either choose what I wanted to do OR choose what was best for my little hazel-eyed, curly, blonde-haired, 3 year old daughter.

I picked up my daughter from school and wanted to treat her to her favorite meal. She usually goes for shrimp and crab but the budget for the day only allowed for shrimp and we pulled into the local Sam’s Seafood and Eatery.   As I’m getting The Kid (formerly known as The Tot) out of the car, I hear a man shout from the curb and ask me if I had any money.  “Sorry man, I don’t have any cash” is what I shouted back at this tattered homeless man…and then…my mouth opened back up.  “Are you hungry?”  I asked him.

Of course he answered with yes and I motioned for him to come into the restaurant with us. As he met us inside, I asked him for his order and get it to go.  Then I ordered for The Kid and me.

The three of us make it over to a table and sit down. Not much chit chat.  Our server brings our meals out at the same time.  Ours for here; His to go.  He decides to stay and eat dinner with us.  At this point in time, I realize that my daughter is in for more than I bargained for…

She sits across the table from him in her little 3 year old frame…wide-eyed and silent. I look at him as he looks at her.  No sense in trying to side-step the inevitable.  The man, who later became known as Isaac, has a black eye patch that covers his left eye.  He has a scar that runs from the top edge of his hairline, through his eyebrow and left eye down to his left cheek.  There is another deep scar that runs from his right ear across his face to his lips.  His top lip has been smashed too many times and lies much differently than most upper lips.  His arms are also covered in numerous marks and scars. Finally, I say to her, “Are you afraid to talk to him because of the eye patch?”

“No, Momma.”

I explain to her that he looks differently than she is used to but that he has 2 arms and 2 legs just like she does and that he is a just a normal person that has had an accident (or 2 or 6).

Photo: Jake Warga“Why is he eating with us, Mom?” As I explained that Isaac doesn’t have a home and that he was hungry, I told her that sometimes people need help and that if we can help them, then we try to help them.  Isaac nodded his head in agreement and said thank you.  The Kid eyeballed him nearly the entire time we ate.  And I was fine with that.  Isaac tried to carry on a conversation with her but she was content with nodding and didn’t need any other interaction.  And I was fine with that.

As we started to wrap up our meal, Isaac pulled out his Gatorade bottle half full of his drug of choice. I asked him if he preferred whiskey or rum.  He quickly shoved his bottle back into his bag.  “It’s whiskey.  I have a drinking problem.” he said.  “We all have our problems.” I replied.

**Enter the SHAKE UP**

“Yeah…I know. I tried to share a 40 with this woman earlier and she told me she was bisexual.  I don’t like that.  I don’t care for those homosexuals.  They’re disgusting.  Then she said that she was going to go down to that Equality Center and I said that I don’t want to be around those fags.  She got mad at me then and I had to get out of there.  They can keep all of those faggots over there, I don’t want nothin’ to do with them.” he said.

They can keep all of those faggots over there, I don’t want nothin’ to do with them.

At this point, I look at my daughter and look back at him. I tell him that I understand why that woman got upset with him.  I ask the server to bring some boxes so we could box up our leftovers.  “It’s time for us to go.” I say to him.

I could feel two versions of myself fighting each other on the inside of me. One was telling me to breathe while the other had firmly planted her feet and slung out a healthy, “THIS FAGGOT JUST FED YOU DINNER”.

I wanted so badly to “teach him a lesson”. To let him know what he’d done…that he walk away from this place knowing how rude and awful he was.

And then I looked back at my daughter. This was her time.  She had a brief glimpse of what it’s like to help someone in need.  She didn’t need to know the ugly side of it.

I needed to walk away.  I scooped up my little baby girl and we left Isaac sitting at the restaurant.

Now I am white knuckled, trying to decipher if I did the right thing or not.  She’s really quiet but breaks the silence by asking me if I’m ok.  I nodded and smiled big at her, “I’m ok, sweetie”.  As I’m getting buckled into my seat, I ask her what she thought about eating dinner with Isaac.  Normally my 3 year old likes to give her opinion with gusto.  However, after asking her about dinner, she just looked at me through the rear view mirror.  “Were you scared?”  She just looked at me.  “Are you thinking about Isaac?”  She just looked at me.  Trying to think like a 3 year old, I asked her, “was he a good guy or a bad guy?”

She looked out the window and then back at me. Furrowing her eyebrows and tilting her head sideways, she said, “I think that he is good guy AND a bad guy.”

She already knows that there can be an ugly side.

Not everyone is open hearted.  There are people everywhere who misunderstand other people unlike themselves.  Some even wish that the other didn’t even exist.  Gays, Straights, Christians, Muslims, Religious, Non-Religious, War-mongers, Peacemakers, Atheists, Hungry, Homeless, Rich, and Poor.

Since that moment, I have reconciled that it’s not my job to “teach other people lessons” when they offend me. My job is to work at being an amazing mom to my daughter and this particular lesson was for me…to help when I can and walk away when necessary.

For more information about the Equality Center, an amazing resource for the Tulsa area, click here.

For information on a very easy way you can help the homeless in the Tulsa area, click here.

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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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MY terrifying reality of “in-laws”.

in-law (n)

n. A relative by marriage.

I was sharing a funny story today about the video below with a friend of mine and some of the details were about a drive from my house to my in-laws house…which is a pretty good distance.

Now, I know that when I say “in-law”, we all get different pictures in our heads and we’ve all had quite a bit different experiences as well.  There are jokes galore.

A lot of us have heard the term, “Monster-In-Law” and most of us have seen the movie Meet the Parents.  We get that there’s been some less than stellar relationships out there.


So…my story.
I actually have amazing in-laws.  I’ll admit that it was a bit rocky at first.  Their eldest daughter comes out of the closet and reveals that she is gay AND is in a relationship with yours truly.  We had our moments as everyone was evolving to this revelation and the true reality of who my partner is…
It’s 6 years later and I look forward to the times that I get to spend with them.  They treat me as one of their own and I am humbled and blessed to call them my family.
As I was thinking about all of this and in light of the 2 cases that the Supreme Court of the United States, I came to a terrifying reality.
Not my in-law?!?


My partner and I are not married.  I’ve called them my in-laws for years now…it’s what everyone understands…it’s our social indicator, our culture.  When referring to our spouse’s/partner’s/husband’s/wife’s family, they are our in-laws.  These are the words we use but by the very definition they do not represent my relationship with my partner’s family.  This was a sad moment for me.  I want to be able to call them my “in-laws” and what its very definition means – a relative by marriage.
With all of this rolling around in my head, it all became clear to me.  Marriage Equality isn’t about religion, pro-creation, science, politics, or even love.  We don’t say, mother-in-religion, father-in-science, sister-in-love. We say IN-LAW.  Marriage is about protection.  Protection under and by the law.  That’s what I want.  That’s what I want for me, my partner, my daughter, my sisters, my brother, my parents…and my in-laws.
It’s not just about me and my partner…this is about my family.
The Love part?  Well…it’s a bonus.  A great and wonderful bonus.
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