Definitely Not the Opera, (DNTO) a CBC Radio One program devoted to the art of storytelling in Canada, asked me to tell my story of coming out to my church for their Nov 3 show “Lost Causes”.
I had pitched the idea to them last year for a different show called “Making Enemies” but withdrew the pitch because a) I don’t think I meant to make enemies, nor do I think I have made enemies; and 2) because I didn’t want to restir a pot that has finally calmed down.
But they remembered my pitch. And they sought me out. Which is humbling, and cool. We recorded on Friday morning and they are editing my lengthy story to 3-4 minutes. I appreciate Andrew Friesen’s belief that my story was important and needed to be told. I feel like the story is more appropriate under “Lost Causes” because trying to reason with people who don’t want to listen to you, or discuss with you–and believing that you alone have to spark change–well, it can feel like a “Lost Cause”. But in the end–and the end hasn’t come yet–who knows if the cause is lost? I think every person who says the church must look at the evidence, must consider the Christian testimonies of LGBT folks in the discussion, is a step towards change. We need more people who realize how many people have fallen away from the faith, have decided against Christ, have been repelled from the church, and who, sometimes when there is no hope left, taken their own lives, all because the Church has historically refused to consider the scriptures in an accepting light–and this causes their members to refuse to accept their children in an accepting light. This splits familes. My God and my Christ are not what I encounter when I come into a Baptist Church anymore. I daresay they wouldn’t recognize it. Churches are not all one defined Mass though–as many churches are beginning to change their minds about LGBT people. Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, United Church of Canada–all have begun seeing that this is just the next issue the church has to rethink. As it did slavery, race, and its treatment of Women. And divorce. Change comes when people inside churches decide they can’t hold false doctrine anymore. Christianity and Faith are not the problem. Interpretation is.
Read the rest of this entry »
Esther at the moment of decision---Sir John Everett Millais, painter, 1865
The Story of Esther in the Bible means a great deal to me. On the day I decided to come out it was Esther who gave me the last push. She was the one who told me–you aren’t just doing it for you. You’re doing it to save your people. Every act of coming out is about saving people. But more on Esther in a moment.
Some background is in order: I had kept the secret of being gay for five years before coming out—three of them I was gone from the Yukon, a student in Texas, researching whether or not God was okay with me being gay. He was uppermost on my mind. If He didn’t like it, I would go through therapy, I would become a monk, I would do whatever was necessary to change myself to fit what He wanted. Thankfully, not only was He cool with me being gay, it was how he created me to be. So it was quite a revelation. However, just because God was okay with it, didn’t mean I was itching to tell my church. People are unpredictable.
At first, I wondered if I really HAD to come out. It wasn’t anyone else’s business. I had known many gays who told me to go live my life and not bother with coming out at all. Who needs to know? — Well, I had lived my life pretty open to this point, and it was difficult to keep part of myself from people I loved. In fact, it was so difficult it was hitting me on multiple levels that I had to come out.
1. I had become deceptive. This was hard for me to accept. That I would have to hide who I was in order to keep the life I had been living, to keep the friends I had. I was never a liar growing up—and never a liar as an adult. But suddenly, I was a liar in order to keep the peace, to keep friends, to keep interacting with the church and people I loved. It made me into a person I didn’t want to be.
2. I wanted to share who I loved with the church. They loved me, and I wanted to be as open as I could be with them–letting them know, like anyone else, when I was dating, when I was happy, why I was happy, who I loved. One day I wanted to stand up with my boyfriend like so many other couples in the church and declare that we got engaged. The whole crowd would clap. There would be such a renewal of love and hope in the congregation whenever a young couple announced their upcoming marriage.
3. God told me, point blank, that he couldn’t use me until I came out. How could he use someone that had a secret to spill–a secret that might endanger whatever mission he would give me? And further, how could God put me on any kind of road to minister to other gay christians–when I couldn’t be honest with them?
4. I was hurting others who knew. A woman in the church whom I’d told many months before came up to me and said–we can’t keep your secret any longer. You have to tell the pastor. She set in motion a pressure that would just increase every day until I came out. She wasn’t threatening to tell–but she said that the pressure to keep the secret was hurting her family.
And then Esther came along. I realized what I had to do—but for some reason I thought Easter was the best time to do it. I knew that I would go from family to family, but just like it’s hard when you skydive to let go of the safety of the plane… I was lingering at the door, looking at the thousand mile drop below me. I knew if I went to one family, it would get away from me and I would never be able to control who knew what. The truth would be out and then they could decide to hurt me with it.
Read the rest of this entry »