This week something bothered me immensely and it was not because someone made a comment like "that's gay". I don't want to reveal this person publicly and slander his name so let's call him Peter as an alias.
I had recently invited Peter to a concert I would be performing in for the Bridge City Chorus, a GSD friendly choir. It had been a while since I had seen him, probably over a year. I had met him through a homophobic Alliance church I had attended for many years but stopped going after I started to be more open about my sexuality. Leaders in the church were trying to persuade me away from "living a life of sin" but I have fond memories of Peter being quite respectful of my beliefs on sexuality and religion.
Peter text messaged me on my cell phone Tuesday asking if I was able to meet up and of course I agreed to. Later that evening he comes and knocks on my door and we go for a rather short and abrupt walk. He tells me that he would not be attending the concert firstly and I instantly realize from the tone of his voice that it is because of the GSD themed nature our choir. I respond with a simple "okay.." and leave it at that. I ask him how he is doing and how his church is going. "good" he says and asks me how am I doing and what I have been up to. I tell him that I am doing great and there is lots of news in my life.
He goes quiet for a bit and I know what's on his mind. I could tell that he was upset with my recent media appearances and the GSD friendly Christian movement which I had brought to light through my own personal stories.
Here's an interview I did with CTV:
We begin walking downhill towards the Rotary Park by the old Victoria Bridge and that's when he begins speaking what has been on his mind. He calls himself a coward for not being firm on "The Word", I reply "okay..?" with a tone of curiosity in where this conversation was going, even though I already knew. He tells me that for me to say that God being in my "sin" is blasphemy. A very different approach from him that I was used to.
I was surprised at him that he would intrude on my life after not seeing me for a year and only see me because he had contrary beliefs on the subject. However he listened to my responses which were from what God had pressed onto my heart over the years. I tell him a brief account of what I went through in the past due to thinking of my inner-longings as sinful.
I tell him about growing up in a non-practicing Catholic home who accepted gays but somehow I still worried that people in church had a better idea of the matter. I mention what it was like for me when I started to get more serious about church as I was attending his Alliance church. How I prayed even harder for God to take my longings away and was even at the point of having a girlfriend. But falling in love with a boy at the church rocked my world after my relationship ended with my girlfriend and this boy stopped seeing me due to drug addiction. This gave me a need to reflect. I mentioned how believing that these longings for love were sinful and my extreme wanting to express them killed me inside. I think to myself how a person would want me to go back to that and wonder if they even realize how cruel and hurtful they are being.
A friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. For someone to intrude on one's life and tell them that all of the supporting and healing we take part in is wrong. That can unfortunately diminish affection we have towards someone. Homophobic values kill friendships but it doesn't mean that we should hate them. Yes their values are pitiful and harmful but we also need to understand that they are victims of brainwashing due to the fear of a love they don't fully understand. Forgive them... However if you find that your relationships with people like this are becoming too harmful for you, you do not have to continue seeing them.
After I unload my story onto Peter, he starts to debate things in a biblical sense which I then tell him that I would not take part in. We begin to walk back where we came from. In my life I have discovered that debating in such a manner can be pointless since people often twist the Holy Bible around in a way that suits their own needs. Thus we have homophobic people in the church who have convinced themselves that their behavior is perfectly acceptable in Christ's eyes. But really, people could say the same thing about Christian gays... So we have to look at the common sense of humanity. Which behavior is harming people and which behavior is about love which Christ is all about? In which case homophobia would be the sin and not a natural, healthy longing of love.
As our walk is coming to an end I mention one last thing which is The Golden Rule. "Treat others as you would like to be treated", a valuable biblical teaching brought up many times throughout my life. I mention that for someone to intrude on someone's personal life and disrespect them by telling them it's wrong is extremely disrespectful and goes against The Golden Rule. By this time he had given up on trying to persuade me from the work I have been doing in the community and as we finally reach my apartment, I am wondering if he is going to say a homophobic prayer over me. Instead he shakes my hand and we say our goodbyes.
What hurt the most about our visit, was that he only wanted to discuss the gay topic... He didn't want to sit down and hear what I had been up to over the last year. The fact that when I told him that I wouldn't debate with him and he turns around and starts walking back to his car. It shows me that he didn't really care to sit down and hear how I was doing. He already judged for himself how I was doing due to the media appearances and possibly social networking.
I hope and pray that the Holy Spirit would rock his world and show him how the words that are coming from his mouth are not doing anyone any good. At one point of our conversation he even scapegoated Jesus by saying the classic saying "It's not me, it's God". Just another way for many homophobic Christians to attempt to weasel out of their actions and somehow feel better about their fear of a love they do not understand. But through our love and our stories we hope that people will reconsider what they have been taught. I've experienced a few encounters of changed hearts already which shows me that we are making a difference in peoples lives. :)