I admire an open voice that takes seriously the struggle toward identity of self and in God, accompanied with the love and acceptance that slowly comes with both. My journey has taken me into the lives of several gay folks that have opened me up to a more expansive vision for how God is at work in the world.
In honor and inspiration of this new blog queermergent I want to share part of my own emerging story for being changed by listening to and shaped by a gay man...the first of many really that have helped me to learn a life of love.
I was 19 years old and serving a summer volunteer position in Holden Village. Words will never describe this place, you've got to visit this quaint little village nestled in the remote woods of Washington's Cascade mountains!!! That summer ('89) I attended an open forum on sexuality. Now you've got to remember Holden has always been more progressive than many other faith communities, even since its inception in the early 60's. During this session I remember watching from the balcony as one of the summer directors shared his own self discovery journey as a gay man. Of particular "wow-factor" for me was his direct invitation to the crowd toward the end of his talk. He said, "don't just judge me when you haven't even gotten to know me. If you want to know who I am, get to know all of me. So come and talk to me."
There it was, the invitation. I was so impressed and honestly very curious. I mean how many opportunities come along like that when someone says, "yea, get to know me I'm gay!" Not many I've known about.
That evening, guess who was standing in line with me waiting for some delicious Holden ice cream? Yep, you guessed it, this forum dude. And so i struck up a conversation saying, "I was listening to you today at the sexuality forum, you said people should just learn to make up their minds by talking to you. Can I talk with you? I'm pretty ignorant of this whole thing, but very curious, and I do want to make up my own mind, that is, by listening to you."
With that we arranged a time and later that week went hiking together. You know, interestingly enough I only can recall a couple things. One, that he never remembered choosing this life but that it was a gift from God. Two, and more than anything else, I remember feeling a shedding away of all preconceived notions for what gay people were like. My comfort level soared to new places that I never thought were possible. I wasn't afraid any more. I'd never really knew any "out" gay people before, but had my first encounter through this amazingly transparent, REAL and refreshing engagement that changed me for life.
This, although a simple story, had profound implications for me and my emerging openness to the struggle of gay people as well as offering a gift to me, the gift of being transformed by another person, learning to make space in me for another, and not to be threatened by it, but to celebrate it.
By the way, when my parents came to visit me a little later that summer, I had them hook up and go on a hike with this guy too. Turns out, this was one of the first encounters they'd ever had also.
To all those queermergents, gay and Christian AND gay and whatever, I welcome you, I celebrate you for the gift God has created you to be.