It’s time for me to come out of the closet. I’m a jerk. I’m a total asshole. I’m a hypocrite. I’m working on trying not to be those things, if that is any consolation, but for now, we might as well just face the facts. I’m a bigot.
Here’s the thing. I preach against homophobes all of the time. I can’t believe there are people in the world who still think being gay is something to be ashamed of. I post news stories about people getting beat up because they’re gay. I follow the stories of the LGBT youth who are so bullied at school that they feel their only recourse is to take their own life. My heart breaks over these stories. So I cry and I rail and I send out these stories to my friends and I post them on Facebook and I donate to the “It Gets Better Project” and I put a special message in my novel about how it really *does* get better and I try to live my life as an example of a good person (for the most part) who can (and has!) changed people’s minds about their own homophobia. And that stuff is all great. If we leave it there, I’m a good person. I’m stellar. If I end this blog right now, you can walk away from this thinking about how nice I am and how much I care and how I try to facilitate change and we will all be happy.
Except, I’m not. And it is time for me to correct a wrong that I have been perpetrating for a long time now. See, I’m anti-Christian. I have been for many years. Whenever I met someone who said they were a Christian, or that they had a relationship with God, I kind of nodded and my eyes glazed over and I got away from them as quick as possible. Of course, I have my reasons. All bigots can find reasons for their bigotry. There’s Fred Phelps and his contingent of hatred. There’s the fact that so many homophobes use the bible as an excuse to bash gays. There are all of those Southern preachers making headlines for their many comments about gays. “Let’s throw them all in a prison and let them die out.” “If your child exhibits gay behavior, beat it out of him.” “God hates fags.” I was even in a church once, and it was the last time I went to church, where the whole sermon was about AIDS being an example of God’s wrath. It was likened to Noah’s flood. Only this time, I guess all of the straight people were going to live, as long as they didn’t have any contact with any gay people. This is important to note. God-loving Christians in this church were being told that they shouldn’t associate with gay people, that they shouldn’t allow them to make physical contact. That’s a pleasant thought. Not only was I an abomination, but people were being directed not to touch me… not to pat me on the shoulder or give me a hug or even hold my hand.
It’s enough to make any gay person cry.
So I shut down interest in being friends with anyone who was Christian or religious or who said things like, “I’ll pray for you,” because let’s be honest, when people say that, they really mean, “I’ll pray for you because you’re a miserable sinner and I don’t want to be contaminated by your wickedness.”
Am I bitter? Maybe a little.
It didn’t stop there. If it had, then maybe I could refrain from calling myself an asshole. If all I did was fester in my own little bubble of bitterness and fear, I could still be okay with the fact that I am now having to take a second look at my bigotry. But that wasn’t all I did. I actively worked to bring an anti-Christian bias to other people. Did I run around to churches with signs, protesting their services? No. But I sought out stories about the evil Christians, the ones who “hate fags,” the ones who advocate beating the gay out of your children, the ones who think it is okay to rape a woman to “cure” her of lesbianism, the ones who still think being gay can be prayed away, as long as there is sufficient motivation and perhaps some electric shock treatments. I sought those stories out and I reposted them. I shared them on my Facebook page and I sent them out to my Twitter followers and I emailed them to my contacts. And so, without meaning to be an activist, I became one. I became an activist against God and Christians.
Let me equate this to someone who seeks out stories about gay people who happen to be criminals and uses them as an example of why all gay people are evil. Do you see what I’m getting at here?
It gets worse.
Within the past couple of weeks, I have started having a lot of questions about God and Christianity. It came about because of two stellar people I have met, one gay, one not, who are Christians with a strong and joyous faith in God. Neither of them preached at me, nor did they try to convert me. They just exist as they are and let me see by their peaceful and loving lives.
Well, meeting intelligent and loving Christians confused me. And when I am confused, I look for answers. So what do I do when I have a question about anything? I put it out to my Facebook friends. I simply wrote this:
Gay Christians… or non-gay, but accepting Christians. If you want, please consider messaging me. I’m curious about a couple of things and would love to ask a couple of questions in a completely non-judgmental way. Thanks.
In fifteen hours after sending out that message, I got sixty responses. Sixty. I haven’t even finished sorting through them. I’m overwhelmed with the responses. Some of them were from people I know personally. Some of them were from people with whom I have become facebook friends in one way or another, even though we have never met in real life. Some were from people who weren’t even Facebook friends, but friends of Facebook friends. Some were removed by two or three or even four direct links. And my email exploded, too. The call went out and people responded, forwarding the questions to their preachers and their uncles and their friends and their fellow church members and their old college buddies.
The two main questions I had were these:
1. How do you reconcile homosexuality with being Christian?
2. If there is a God, does He hate me?
This is where it gets kind of embarrassing.
All of the messages were brimming with love. I mean, every single one. All of them. I don’t know how else to express this. I have been message bombed by people who have taken time out of their own lives to tell me that they love me and that their God loves me. They explained how and why the bible has been misinterpreted and how the press likes to focus on these bad Christians which makes a lot of the rest of them look like intolerant bigots, when really they are just people living their lives in non-judgmental ways. JUST LIKE JESUS SAID! The messages were short or long. They quoted bible verses or they were just personal heartfelt expressions. Some were scholarly, some were not. One was listed in bullet points with references. Many said they needed time to think about just *how* to answer, but in the meantime, yes, you are loved, yes, you are loved, yes, you are loved. A couple were requests for a face to face meeting or a phone call to talk the issues over in person. Without exception, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, they were kind, loving, beautiful, and overflowing with that kind of warm and joyous faith that I found in the first two women who even made me start questioning in the first place.
Well, now I feel like a total dick.
And now I have to go back and rethink everything I have thought about God and his followers. Now I have to stop looking for the evil in Christians, and let myself be open to the good. Now I have to take a good hard look at my own bigotry and my own thoughtlessness and figure out how to move forward from here in a loving and compassionate, and dare I say it, Christian way. Am I a Christian now? No. Do I have a deep and abiding faith in God? Not really. But I have a strong and joyous love for all of the Christians who messaged me last night and this morning. And this is how it starts. *THIS* is where we start building the bridges. Because there are gay Christians out there… and there are straight, but accepting Christians out there. And even more importantly, it seems, at least from what I have seen in the last couple of days, that there is a place in this world for gays and God.
For the record, though, I still think Fred Phelps is a douche.