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Weekly Message for Sunday, May 19, 2002                                          


                    Religious Science which I refer to as the "Religion of Jesus," is about gaining greater understanding of Life and letting go of the old ideas, beliefs and concepts that hold our minds in bondage.  Prosperity (answered prayer) is one with a mind that is free!  I have been asked, as a minister, to sign petitions that seek to condemn or restrict the freedom of gay and lesbian people or to prevent the media in addressing related issues.  This I will never do and I assure you, that both Jesus and Dr. Ernest Holmes, the Founder of Religious Science, would agree with me on this one.  I have counseled many people concerning this issue, mothers, fathers, siblings and grandparents.  Dr. Holmes stated, "Love points the Way..." and the Master Teacher Jesus stated, "Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself."  We must eliminate from our minds all judgment and condemnation.  We do this through understanding the Law of Love as stated by Jesus.  Jesus taught consciousness but the world, by and large, has not gained this understanding.  The Bible is a book that details the evolution of consciousness in man from that of fear to Love.  "With all thy getting, get understanding.. 1 John 4:8 - He who does not love does not know God; for God is love."
              
I offer the following story from the Des Moines Register Newspaper from Des Moines, Iowa, located in the Midwest United States.  This story is a demonstration of Truth and Love In Action!
---------------------------

THE STUDENT WHO WOULDN'T BE silent

from the Des Moines Register Newspaper

By MARY CHALLENDER
Register Staff Writer
05/06/2002


Gilbert, Ia. - Jerryn Johnston tells his story with the wary air of someone who knows no matter how carefully he chooses his words, someone will be upset.
This isn't because the slight, focused, fair-haired young man is planning to criticize anyone or insult their mothers or attack them in any way.
It's because he, Jerryn Johnston, 18-year-old senior at Gilbert High School, will ONCE AGAIN be in the media, drawing attention to his school.
Not because of any award he's won, which would be cool, or a play he's in, which would be even cooler, but just because he's gay (which at Gilbert and most other Iowa high schools is not a cool thing to be at all).

Johnston knows many people - some of whom even like him - wish he'd just SHUT UP about the whole gay thing until after graduation, then go away to college somewhere.
Only he can't.
If the past months at Gilbert taught him anything - months that began with having his tires repeatedly flattened and ended with him becoming a hero to many gay teens - it's that he's not the shutting-up kind.
He didn't ask for this, Johnston wants you to know.
No teen-age boy wakes up one day and wishes he were gay.
Deal with it, Johnston says.
He's had to.
****
The first time someone asked him the question, Johnston was in the sixth or seventh grade and attending a basketball camp at Iowa State University.
Long past his "girls have cooties" stage, he was beginning to pass notes with his first girlfriends.
At the camp, two older boys approached him.
"Are you homosexual?" they asked.
Johnston looked at the boys, trying to figure out the proper answer without knowing what the word meant.
"Yes," he said, bravely hazarding a guess.
As the boys erupted in laughter, Johnston quickly changed his answer to no.
They laughed even harder.

It wasn't that Johnston was trying to hide anything. It's just that there weren't any openly gay adults or teachers around Gilbert he could look at and conclude, "I'm like him."
In eighth grade, Johnston began to go through puberty. Like his friends, he struggled with a cracking voice, pimply skin and a suddenly acute self-consciousness.
Only his self-consciousness was around other guys. It wasn't so much that he was physically attracted to other boys. It was mental.
"With girls, I liked them for friends and everything, but there wasn't anything more," he said. "Looking back, I remember some (male) friends I had, I didn't know it at the time, but I was more attracted to them than just a friend felt like."
He denied it, of course, especially to himself. He surreptitiously browsed through books on sexual orientation - checking them out wasn't even a consideration - at the Ames Public Library, hoping to find evidence that what he was feeling was "normal." He discovered chat rooms for gay teens on the Internet.

The summer after eighth grade, Johnston attended a camp in Iowa City and met a girl. He hated himself. She liked him. They started dating.
"The feeling I had wasn't necessarily attraction to her," Johnston said. "I was more in love with the fact that someone cared about me."
He finally decided to break the news that he was gay in a letter. It took him a few weeks to write it. He said he still wanted to be friends and he "hoped she wouldn't cry or anything."
Johnston never heard from her again. She was the first person he told he was gay.

The second was his mom, Sue Ellen Tuttle, a communications specialist for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at Iowa State University. Johnston didn't come right out and tell her so much as draw her a road map.
He was logged onto a gay Internet chat room one day when his mom needed to use the computer. Before, Johnston said, he'd carefully closed out of every site he'd visited. This time he didn't.
"I'd reached the point I didn't care anymore," he said.
Later that day, Tuttle approached her 14-year-old son.
"Is there something you want to talk to me about?" she asked.
The two had a long conversation, with Johnston pouring out the feelings, fears and questions he'd been holding inside for months.
"It was stressful and a relief all at the same time," he said. "It was weird having any talk like that with your parents and then adding that twist to it made it even more so."
Looking back nearly four years later, Tuttle said the details of that day don't jump out in her mind like you might expect.
"I guess I don't even remember being surprised. Was I?" she asked her son.
She does remember one part of the talk. Her son told her it really bothered him when everyone assumed he was straight. It felt as if he were deliberately lying by not telling the truth.
Sexual orientation is not something you need to share publicly, Tuttle told her son, trying to protect him.
"I was afraid of what life would be like for him in a little town like Gilbert," Tuttle said. "He had to educate me that he was doing the right thing for himself."
Johnston began telling his friends, one by one. By the time he was a sophomore, the news had spread around the school.
A friend, fellow Gilbert High senior Christine Wilson, 18, remembers how shocked she was when Johnston confirmed the rumors for her.
"He'd just been to a dance at Ames High, and he had girls all over him," she said. "He wasn't the type of gay you'd notice."

****
Although he may have been the only openly gay student, Johnston wasn't exactly an outsider at Gilbert High School.
He was Frederic in "The Pirates of Penzance" and George Gibbs in "Our Town." He won All-State honors in choir and speech. He played soccer, piano and tenor sax. He took college classes at Iowa State, went to Spain with his Spanish 3 class and worked as a cashier at Cub Foods.
"I like so many things it's hard to choose," he said. "I like to challenge myself."
Which is how Johnston found himself on the high school wrestling team last December, a month after the season had started, even though he'd never wrestled before.

He started thinking about signing up, he said, when the wrestling coach spoke at Pep Fest, asking boys to go out to fill some of the open weight classes on the team.
Because he was openly gay, Johnston knew his wrestling might be a sensitive subject, so he ran it by classmates. They were supportive, if more than a little skeptical he'd actually follow through with it.
"My friends had a bet going on," Johnston said. "One was that I'd never even go to a practice, one was I'd last a few days and one was that I would last a week."
Johnston gutted it out the whole season. Most of his matches ended in a pin, he deadpanned. Some of them were even by him.
It was just a few days after Johnston announced he was going out for wrestling that he walked out of school and found his first flat tire. Four days later, he had another. Bad luck, he thought.
Then, the day he was supposed to start wrestling practice, he discovered three more tires punctured while driving to his final at Iowa State in Calculus 2. This time, Johnston and his mother reported the incidents to the school and the Story County sheriff's department.
When January passed with no further harassment, Johnston and his mother began to think the vandalism had been an aberration. After all, Johnston had been open about his sexual orientation for nearly three years.
Except for students using the word "gay" to describe everything from unwanted homework assignments to unfashionable clothes, he'd never been bothered.
Still, Johnston couldn't relax. Every time he got in his car, he first checked and double-checked his tires. Every time his car hit a bump, he tensed.
It wasn't as if Johnston needed anything else to occupy his mind. Between juggling three classes at Iowa State, preparing for the state speech contest and worrying about his upcoming audition with the theater department at New York University, he had more than enough stress in his life already.

Then came the first week of February.
Johnston had been hearing a rattling sound from the front of his car but didn't know what it was. Finally, he pinpointed the problem. Someone had loosened all the lug nuts on his left front tire.
"That was the week I broke down," Johnston said quietly.
Two days after the lug nut incident, Johnston was spotted by a friend of the family walking down the center line of U.S. Highway 69 north of Ames between the cars. It was about 5 or 6 p.m. and traffic was heavy. Johnston was crying.

"I knew I didn't want to die; I just felt trapped," Johnston said. "I felt powerless these things were happening to me and I couldn't stop them."

He ended up at Mary Greeley Medical Center for a few days. It helped to get away from everything, he said, to have a chance to breathe without worrying about deadlines or appointments or wondering who wanted to hurt him.
His breakdown came with a price. He missed tryouts for the spring play, had to drop a class at Iowa State and missed the speech competition. He also canceled his audition at New York University although he plans to reapply in a few years.

After Johnston's trip to the hospital, his mother went to school administration and demanded changes be made. She pushed for the district to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy.
"It's not a guarantee, but it does set the tone," she said.
The issue went before the school board April 8. At the meeting, Johnston made a passionate plea for the policy change - it ultimately was voted down - even reading aloud a card from his boyfriend. It marked the first time he'd spoken out publicly about his sexual orientation and he wasn't sure what to expect.
Much to Johnston's surprise, the response was all positive. People called, wrote and e-mailed him from New York, Washington, California and Texas. Shoppers at Cub Foods stopped in his line to tell him they thought he was doing a good thing. Older gay teens called him a hero for speaking out while still in high school.

Johnston says part of his confidence came from knowing his mom, dad, two older sisters and his friends were in his corner. He advises other teens thinking of speaking out to make sure they have a strong support system.
"You shouldn't let people make you be afraid of being who you are," he said. "Be the best person you can be, and hopefully you'll have several people behind you 100 percent."

****
Only a few weeks of class remain for Johnston and the other 77 or so members of the Gilbert High School Class of 2002.
Johnston says he'll leave Gilbert with more good memories than bad.
"I love my school," he said earnestly. "This issue just needs to be addressed."
All the evidence suggests that Gilbert is already changing.

In the May issue of the Gilbert Community Schools newsletter, which goes out to every family in the district, Superintendent Doug Williams issued a strongly worded statement reiterating the district's commitment to providing a learning environment "free of any form of harassment or discrimination."
The district also held diversity training sessions for students last week and is hoping to start a diversity club.

Perhaps the biggest step forward was the Gilbert prom. Johnston went with his boyfriend. As far as his mom could tell, they were treated like just another couple. Johnston even won a car stereo at the after-prom party.
Next fall, Johnston plans to attend the University of Iowa and major in music or theater or both. The spotlight will fade from both him and Gilbert, but the issue of how gay teens are treated in Iowa high schools is unlikely to go away.
According to a 1999 survey in Massachusetts, about 5 percent of high school students consider themselves gay, lesbian or bisexual. Studies show this newest generation of gays and lesbians are coming out at younger and younger ages, with the average between 14 and 16.

"Even though a lot of these changes may not affect me personally, it will make it better for people down the road," Johnston said.
His mother looked at him.
"I think it does affect you personally," she said. "You were able to make a difference."  [end]

               Each of us can make a difference in the collective consciousness as we turn to Love and away from Its opposite.  The Universe is Calling us.... are we listening?  Yes, we are!


 And So It Is! 

                                                            
Letting Love use me in Its own Good Way,
Henry Lee Bates

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