By the time I got to Rehoboth, I was well aware of the alternative lifestyles that some people had chosen. I had seen it in the military and even had comrades who were gay… but these were worldly people from whom one could expect ungodly behavior. My Christian friend, Ted, whom I worked with and even lived with for a short time while working at Pine Rest, was also gay, although I naively didn’t realize it at the time I knew him. I would later come to this conclusion after his, and some of the other staff (and I would assume patients as well) died in the 80s from untimely deaths because of unknown illnesses caused by a deficiency in their immune systems. I would never have expected to find homosexuality at Rehoboth however, because I was always lead to believe that it was a Godly community of men and women, chosen by God himself, to be his messengers to the Indian people… and it wasn’t until I became one of these messengers, that I was allowed to enter into their closet.
I had yet to identify myself with any group, in regards to sexual orientation… perhaps the main reason being I was not sure of which I belonged. I had never had a sexual partner and, although I certainly was physically aroused by individuals and even fantasized about sexual acts with them at times, their gender was never a factor. I have always loved and been loved by many, and although at times it could have easily ended up in a physical relationship… it never has.
MY LOVER’S LOVE
I hesitate to say this,
for not all will understand,
but I’ve known a thousand lovers,
since the fire first began.
Their gender, age, and color
never mattered much to me,
it was always in the moment,
that our love would come to be.
But in time the flames would falter,
as fires always do,
for passion cannot feed itself,
the lover it consumes.
The flames died out some time ago,
I don’t remember where or when,
and I’ve been coasting on the memories,
hoping just to reach the end.
But something strange is happening…
some might say I’ve lost my mind.
For a new fire now is burning,
but it seems a different kind.
My bed no more is empty,
for I lay at my Lover’s side,
and when morning’s light has broken,
I no longer try to hide.
For the flames that once consumed me,
are now beginning to refine,
and that person I’d forgotten
I now desire to be mine.
I am the Lover of my Love…
my Lover’s Love am I.
In other words, I guess I would classify myself as bisexual in orientation… however I am getting away from the point. I discovered that many of the single teachers and staff at Rehoboth were living alternative sexual lifestyles… and it took a while for me to accept this fact because they were really neat people. Never, that I am aware of, did any of them ever attempt to abuse or try to influence the students in any negative way and some were even great foster parents. They were dedicated Christians who cared and loved the students as much and maybe even more than some of the more conservative missionary staff whose goal it seemed was to hammer and chisel away on the character of the students until they fit into the school’s mold.
Because homosexuality and marital difficulties on the mission field are not considered acceptable behavior by donor churches, frustrations and guilt often lead to pornography, pedophilia, and, for those couples pretending to be happily married, spouse and child abuse or extramarital affairs. This happens far more than is reported and is usually covered up, for fear of losing support.
Over the years I have come to know many gay and lesbian individuals, most of whom are committed to their work far more than married individuals can be. They are the teachers, the healers, the innovators, and the stay-until-the-the-job-is-done people that have always been there in time of need. How unfortunate that the ones doing much of the real work must hide their identities from those who fund the programs… and whose lifestyles are never in question.