“What does it mean to be gay?” A seemingly simple question, but one that's not often asked. With Los Angeles Gay Pride starting today, various gay folks have been giving us their answers in a weeklong series.

James Langteaux is a TV producer and author of Gay Conversations with God, among other books. He grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household and still holds close his spiritual roots. Langteaux shares his inspiring thoughts:

I used to think being gay meant waving giant rainbow flags from your balcony while you lived in the Castro of San Francisco — flying around the country attending white parties, black parties, and every other gay soiree in between. I thought it meant having a sculpted body with hairless pecs and biceps that would absolutely make a scene…

I was pretty sure that being gay might involve having a lisp and keeping your apartment looking über hip and squeaky clean… while maintaining your Po-po-poker face, mouthing every word to every Lady Gaga song ever written — twirling around the gay bar like a flaming dancing queen. I thought being gay involved spending loads of money on the latest fashion, the newest iPhone, and clever gadgets where we could hide behind labels and brands so we could never ever really be seen…

Not that any of this is necessarily wrong, but most of it just never appealed to me — so I didn't really feel the need to be gay, if that was the way being gay had to be.

But life, and too many years to mention, have a way of seasoning us — maturing us and bringing us a clarity we may not have known before — and that is exactly what may have happened to me.

This has been a big year of personal breakthrough, and I am really grateful that I have been invited to write a short essay on what it means to be gay. I'm particularly grateful that this invitation had not come a moment sooner, because I have no idea how embarrassing my response may have been — I'm sure it may have bordered on the obscene.

But today, in the warm light of the awesome sun, where my squinting readily reveals my ever expanding crows feet — I am fully aware that being gay has nothing to do with any of those things. Being gay is something that goes so much deeper than our attractions, fatal and otherwise.

It goes so much deeper than all of that.

After living a life of self loathing where I believed being gay was a sin and an abomination before God and men, I have finally been set free of the years of religious brainwashing that have left me bereft of meaningful love, and a meaningful life — all because I was so willingly believing a man made lie.

This was a lie that would rob me and so many of my gay brothers and sisters from living healthy, God-blessed lives.

I've discovered, only recently, that being gay is all about congruence. The simple dictionary definition for congruence means, in essence, agreement, harmony, and compatibility.

But a deeper look at the idea of congruence can be discovered by studying the work of the brilliant and inspired author and spiritual teacher, IsanaMada.

Her explanation of congruence is where your inner experience matches your outer expression — so what you are feeling on the inside, matches perfectly with the outer expression of your life… the words you speak (saying what you actually mean, and what you feel and what you believe) your actions, and your absolute presence in every interaction.

Congruence involves complete authenticity on every level of your life where you can fully live the way you were meant to — to live open and in the light, to live a life of love, to live a life that is fully free.

So, yeah, that is what being gay means to me. To be able to live a life of authenticity — out in the open in front of God and men — and to be able to express my love for the man of my choosing without having to live under a cloud delusion, self loathing, and shame.

And I am hoping that those who govern nations will one day come to a place where they understand that they are committing heinous crimes against nature when they deprive human beings the ability to live completely congruent lives. This is not about gay rights or even equality as much as it is a basic human right. To live authentically. Right out in the open.

To love and live like we mean it without fear of ramification or the need for validation.

Simple congruence. Where our inner experience matches our outer expression — in every facet of our lives.

That is what being gay means to me.

Read essays by actor James Brandon, actor-writer Doug Spearman, and author Toby Johnson.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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