A few days ago, I wrote about the beginning of an important conversation in my life. It is all built around my call, my drive, my need, my passion to have a place of ministry that positively impacts and makes a difference in other people’s lives. That call, drive, need, and passion is informed by the heartbreaking statistics of young people choosing an unhealthy life or death…informed by the loneliness, disconnectedness, and “discountedness” that many closeted LGBTQ people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities attest to experiencing in the church and in her educational institutions…and is ultimately informed by the love of Christ and a deep abiding belief that we (the Body of Christ – the Church) can do better, much better.
The process of communicating on this topic in my particular context is a slow process, and intentionally so. It carries both negatives and positives. This post deals with only the stressors and negatives of the conversation…I will write about some positives in the next day or two.
I have to make sure that my biological family is ready. If I continue with this conversation, then I must have “buy-in” from all my immediate family members. My wife and children have to be “OK” with me taking this step. And, they have to be prepared for the aftermath. Unfortunately, they will face some negative and very harsh statements and treatment at the hands of the “holy.” I need to make sure that I’ve done all I can to prepare them for that eventuality, and to assure them of my love and support throughout the toughest parts. I also need to know that they have my back. Some of the biggest challenges in this regard will come from members of my extended family…and that will make it even more painful and costly.
Many in my denominational family are not ready. I am a part of a conservative protestant “holiness” denomination. That means that even discussing “straight” sexual things is embarrassing and threatening. So, it means that I must go slow, precise, and intentional with who I talk to, when I make the specific contacts, and how I frame my words.
I will be told that I’m “confused.” I’ve already heard this one. I know where this comes from…ignorance. I will be told that since I’m married to a female and we have children, that I’m not really gay but just confused about my sexual orientation…that I just need to admit that I’m straight or confused…but I certainly can’t be gay. Trust me, I know what I know…better than anyone else. Confused, I am not.
I will be told that I’m unchristian. I’ve already heard this one, too. I’ve been told that “gay” and “Christian” cannot be used together to describe me, or anyone else. This offensive statement comes from ignorance of what it means to “be gay.” Most of the people who respond that way are assuming that I’m jumping in bed with every hot guy I can. I have been very clear on this blog and in personal conversations with other people that “my gay” is an orientation only and does not mean any kind of “gay lifestyle,” whatever that means. To some, my perspective does not suffice…I just need to pray the gay away. It simply doesn’t work that way. But, I know who I am, and I know who He is living in me.
I will be excluded and misunderstood. I get that. For my families (biological and faith) this will be a threatening conversation. Some, in the interest of avoiding the difficulty, will simple walk away and assume that I have evil motivation in broaching the subject, that I’ve been become demon possessed, that I’ve let a mid-life crisis define my world, that I’m out to change the theological stance of my denomination, or that I’ve become so liberal so as to become useless to anyone and any church. Deaf ears and distance will be the order of the day. And, yes, I’ve already experienced some of this, as well. But, this conversation has to take place, so I will need to steel myself for this eventuality.
In some contexts and in some ways, this conversation will be like a battle. I will experience wounds, fatigue, occasions of defeat, and discouragement.
Am I ready for that?