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.
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Ironically, my pastor at RBC suggested I write for Geez magazine. I don’t think he imagined what piece I would eventually write for them. But here it is, Issue #24, on “privilege”. I wrote the fast version of my coming out at church. I centered it on the idea of privilege–of the privileges I had as a single, white male Christian who had leadership potential and of the privileges I no longer had when I added “gay” to that mix.
The church has to change. It has to. It may not change from those fighting it on the outside, but it will have to incorporate change if it is to survive further. It faces irrelevance, it postures with discrimination, it plays favorites, it values money.
Not all churches–no. (When I say a statement like this I have to stop and say, Thank you, churches that are moving more towards social justice, focusing on issues like poverty, the environment, civil rights. You do exist, but I wouldn’t, yet, call you the “Church”–as the “Church” tends to be the Catholic Castle or the Evangelical Juggernaut. One day, you will take on that mantle–you will be the “Church” and it will have a positive ring.)
The full essay is here, Moving Up, Coming Out, Moving On.
Anyway, there it is, in Geez #24. If this brings you to this website, welcome. There’s lots here, I hope, that will spark conversation. If this entry leads you to Geez, welcome to Geez. There’s lots there that will spark conversation as well. It’s a valuable, important magazine carrying on “the” conversations we need to have happen. It is intrepid, bold, and unflinching.
I would marry Geez magazine if it looked like a bear and loved me back.
*apologies to Kevin James, pictured, who is not gay.
–a poem for the seekers
In the glow of the computer screen you search
for biblical truth, having already made a deal
with God, that he not strike you dead for researching
But you have to know if you’re really
going to Hell or if you can one day have
a boyfriend, or a husband without impunity.
And here, at midnight, when your parents are asleep,
you look for scraps of scripture which will boost your hope,
make you a believer again.
These gay Christians sound authentic–
they pray, and they love God
and they read their Bible every day,
and they are as worried as you about screwing
up everlasting life, except they’ve found a way to have
their husband and their Father too.
How did they do it? Can they teach you
in the next thirty minutes before you think
about the boy that asked you to kiss him, how he leaned
his face close enough for you to feel his warm
breath and the heat of his arm, before you hate
yourself, and let the guilt swallow you
in the dark.
Can God give you an answer soon? Because
if you’re going to die for this, you need to know.
You’d rather there be a loophole, somewhere.
You’re no theologian, but you can’t ask
your parents, or your pastor. And you don’t
want to hurt God either. If He gets upset at a kiss,
you wonder if He’s really paying attention
A thump down the hallway makes you scramble
to click the pages, erase your steps, turn off
your lamp and sit breathless at your desk
in a darkened room, where all you can see
are your mother’s socks blocking the light
under the closed door, as she stands
waiting for you to either stop squirming
or come out.