Living as Genuine Me

My most used words on Facebook (Sept 29, 2016)

Two years ago, on August 1, 2014, I wrote a page-long statement in my private journal, “Who Am I Today?” It contained paragraphs on religion, politics, personal values, sexuality, and personality. I was trying to sort through what I believed, how I identified, what I valued, what I felt and thought, to put this all into words.

Two years later, and I’m still trying to answer that question: Who am I today?

While I have a much better sense of the answer, with each new day, week, month, I’m discovering new things about myself. For the time being, I’m enjoying the journey, meeting new people, experiencing new things, stepping out of my comfort zone a little more, inventorying the pieces of life that stick to my personhood.

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have noticed that I’ve changed. Or at least my outward appearance has changed. And this post will probably reflect that change. The Me inside really hasn’t changed—a fact that showed clearly when I recently had dinner with an old friend from 25 years ago. But the freedom with which I allow that Me venture into the open has changed. He’s no longer caged up, no longer a prisoner in his own soul. More and more, he’s allowed to venture out and express himself without shame. He’s getting better at listening to the people around him, taking in the world. And more and more, he’s feeling more comfortable in his role as Me, and feeling more courageous, more able to set healthy boundaries, more able to stand on his own.

So who am I today?


I am an atheist. I don’t believe any god literally exists, and I don’t want to identify with any god that I’ve met.

I don’t believe in the god of Christian fundamentalism with whom I grew up. I don’t believe prayer does jack shit. I don’t believe in demons or angels, in heaven or hell.

I also believe that the stories we tell ourselves are more powerful to our minds than literal reality. And I think some stories are better than others.

That’s why I don’t believe in original sin, and I think that in the Biblical creation story, Eve was the hero. I think the god I grew up with is an abusive monster. He traps innocent souls by capturing them at their weakest and most vulnerable, bombarding them with his so-called good news: “You are worthless sinners. No one will ever love you, and you deserve nothing but torment. Aren’t you lucky you have me?

This story is highly destructive. It’s manipulative and coercive. It displays a weak sense of personal boundaries and no working concept of consent. “Love” and “kindness” for this god does not mean supporting others in meeting their needs, in their separate journeys, does not mean empathizing or showing compassion, but rather means fixing others according to the dictates of dogma. I may not be an anti-theist, but I am an anti-fundamentalist.

At the end of the day, I don’t believe in much. But I do believe in the value of limitless love.

And I think that’s what my old religious acquaintances probably find scariest.


I am a social liberal and a political libertarian. I have a strong sense of personal boundaries, and I think that each of us is responsible for pursuing their own happiness. I believe the role of the state is to protect these rights, and I think that’s a complicated and broad enough mission that we’ll probably never quite figure out how to accomplish it.

When Evangelicals refer to gay people as “broken,” “sinners,” “those who are perishing,” that’s bigotry. I celebrated the day the Supreme Court of the US ruled that gay people can get married in any state, because gay relationships are just as valid as straight ones. I’m waiting for the day that plural marriage will also be an option, because nonmonogamous relationships are also just valid as monogamous ones.

Abortion is a profoundly difficult and personal choice, and I will never vilify anyone for choosing to abort a pregnancy or to carry it to term. But I do vilify those who force their judgment on others, especially through political action and unjust laws.

I believe the state should not interfere with a peaceful person’s individual choices, even if I disagree or disapprove of those choices, as long as they’re not violating the consent of another. I also think that once you drill down into that statement, you see it’s much more complex than many libertarians, especially objectivist libertarians, seem to recognize. But then again, I’m not an objectivist. I’m more utilitarian. But I also want to see good evidence—not platitudes or anecdotes, but good evidence—before I hand over the reigns of my life and the lives of others to a human being with power.

In general, I am skeptical of state action, and I get the sense that those on both the right and left are too quick to believe in it, when politicians make promises that appeal to their hearts. I think reality is more complicated than “There ought’a be a law.”


I am a straight, white, male, sex-positive, feminist, polyamorous slut.

I think I’ll leave that line in a paragraph by itself.

I came out as polyamorous on Facebook on February 1, 2016.

Since then, my polycule map has changed significantly. I am now single, though still close friends with many of the people from the original diagram, plus others. But I still identify as solo poly. Whether I am by myself, in a relationship with one person, or in many relationships (for some definition of “relationship”), I will I think always be poly.

I have a beef to pick with mononormativity—and I see mononormativity as the opposite of polyamory. Part of my beef is that I’m bitter from my experiences with religious monogamy. Forcing someone into an exclusive relationship is as wrong as forcing them to join a harem or wear a burqa. (That’s a swipe at the Evangelical pot calling the Islamic kettle black.) The other part of my beef with mononormativity is that it’s just plain broken. We need a consent-based relationship ethic, which I also see as a key poly value.

I see sex as beautiful and wonderful and fun. I link sex to its wonderful feelings, and think about the wonderful things I associate with it. I feel comfortable talking about sex. I want to be honest about sex, with my kids, with my partners, with myself.

And I enjoy sex. I enjoy everything about sex: the taste of skin, the smell of excitement, the feel of pubic hair against fingertips, the sound of breathing, moaning, screaming, the feeling of skin against skin, the shape of body parts. And I see this experience as an expression of affection and excitement.


I am passionate, authentic, an outgoing introvert. I love parties, love meeting people and sharing stories, love exploring thoughts and feelings, love excitement, and retreat into my own quiet to recharge.

I thrive on one-on-one interaction. Even at a party, you’ll see me circulating into and out of deep conversations with one or maybe two others. I hate small talk. I’m as transparent as cellophane, and I appreciate the same from others. I most enjoy even exchanges. My best friends share with me as much as I share with them, and depend on me as much as I depend on them.

If you watch certain movies with me, you’ll see me cry. And I like it that way. I prefer honesty in relationships and in life. I do not believe in manipulating others.

I do not live in the closet. It’s cramped in there. And I do not like to pretend to be someone I’m not. It’s simply no fun.

I grieve every relationship transition, losing a friend or a lover. When I love someone—even a friend—for just a moment that person becomes the most important thing in my life. An afternoon with someone can keep me smiling for the whole rest of the day. And a day with the right person can keep me smiling for a week. The people in my life give it meaning and purpose.


This is the person I am, and the person I want to be.

This is the person I am, and the person I want to be.

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Comments

A few comments:

I trust that your description of fundamentalism calling non-fundamentalists “worthless sinners” is not something my faith promotes in your observation of it. I agree that this harshness not only misrepresents a biblical concept of “grace” but it is vitriolic and not by any definition ..love.

“…as long as they’re not violating the consent of another. “ I think you mean not violating another’s boundary of personal choices. I think it impossible to promote personal interests that meet with universal “consent.” Some people may even be offended by what I say and do although I did not say it or do it as a personal assault against them.

I appreciate your openness.

I think if you typed “worthless sinner” into Google, you might be shocked.

Here’s an example from a local Baptist church’s statement of beliefs:

We believe that all men are sinners by nature and by choice and are, therefore, under condemnation. We believe that those who repent of their sins and trust Jesus Christ as Savior are regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:12; Rom 3:23; John 3:3; 2 Cor 5:17; Rom 10:9,10).

This was a very consistent and powerful meme while I was growing up, that if you don’t believe in a certain god, that you’re “sinners” and “under condemnation.” Any value that I had did not rest in who I was as a person, but in who my god was, and in the so-called grace that he showed me.

An old religious friend sent me a gift of a book, Mike Foster’s People of the Second Chance. That’s a whole other blog post. But just turn to the very first page: “In spite of my deepest flaws and even beyond my own beliefs about myself, I am God’s beloved.” Except I don’t have any flaws that I feel ashamed of anymore! I don’t have to hide who I am (which is part of the point of this blog post). And I am not one of those who, as page 2 puts it, “bravely live in their identity of being God’s beloved.” Because my identity rests in me, and my value rests in me as a person. And what I suspect my old religious friend doesn’t get is that I am living my second chance, a second chance without those beliefs about myself. My life is finally becoming whole and beautiful, in the way that my god had always promised but had always failed to deliver.


By “violating consent,” I do mean “not violating personal boundaries.” In consent culture, we talk a lot about sexual consent. (See, e.g., https://youtu.be/oQbei5JGiT8) But really consent is everywhere we go and in everything we do, and it boils down to acknowledging that we each own our own bodies and our own minds. If someone is offended that you voice certain views, then consent means that they get to say, “I’m not talking to you, and I’m not hanging around with you.” Consent does not mean they get to shut you up, and it really has nothing to do with whether they perceive your words the same way you perceive them. Consent just means they get to draw personal boundaries around their own bodies and their own minds and their own space.

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