I am a Christian. I am a gay man. Here is chronicle of my symbolic journey west, toward adventure, challenge, mystery and ultimately peace.

Monday, April 28, 2008


The church I once attended--and I attribute much of my growth to that church--had placed a mark on me. Given the members' stance on gay-related issues and the poor reaction I got from a selected group of members to whom I actually came out, I left. I spent years volunteering at that church, and a lot of people knew me. (Or at least the me I chose to share.) But when I finally decided to stop supressing my sexuality and actually deal with it, I had no safe place to go. My plan was not to come out in a flaming gay-affirming blaze of glory, but to at least say a very small set of my fellow church-goers, "I struggle with my sexuality. It is part of me and my journey. I do not know if it is right or wrong or changable or anything. I just need help. Would you walk with me through this pretty depressing and dark area for me right now? Would you help me ask the questions and process the answers?"

But after one or two pretty bad reactions, I bolted. I was told that I would have to submit to several men in the church and have them hold me to a very high accountability level for my feelings. (Mind you, at this point, I had not done anything that would even remotely be considered acting out.) That was odd, because previously I had asked three official office-holding leaders of that church to be a mentor to me; each of them met with me twice, and there was no more mentoring or discipleship. Until, that is, I said the GAY word, at which time the warning sirens sounded. I was told pretty much everyone under the sun was going to know about me and I would be removed from all volunteering and I would have to meet weekly with these three older guys, etc, etc, etc. I found myself actually pitying the people at that church, because they essentially overreacted, not knowing themselves how to deal with someone who is gay.

I went home and cried myself to sleep. I asked the empty space in my apartment where I was supposed to turn, when my church could not (or would not) care for me. I remembered all those conversations with people--mostly youth--about their pain. The son who told me his dad did not love him; the child who closed his bedroom door to drown out his parents' daily fight; the kid who slept on my couch during a winter storm because he had just been kicked out of his house. I had cared for them; now who would care for me?

The one place that was supposed to be safe.

It was not.

And so I left.

I left and went somewhere else for church. I wanted to be somewhere else. Anywhere but "there." It has been years since I quietly left that church, and to this day very few people know the pain I left with. I cringe to even think about going back. And weighing most heavily on me: I have a great deal of anger toward the people "there."

I don't want to be angry, but I also know I cannot go back. It just hurts too much. My opinions of churches changed quite dramatically during that episode, and I am only beginning to unpack my feelings. I have not landed at a perfect church, and I do not know that I would be affirmed by my current church as a gay man. But I have found some grace, some love, someplace to be real, even if only with a very few people.

Churches are odd like this: Getting hurt is painful in a rotten way. Learning to be vulnerable is similarly painful, but somehow leads to beauty. My journey continues, learning how to do the latter without the former.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Thank you, bloggers

I just wanted to drop a little note to say Thanks to all those who stop by here and think of me or leave a note or whatever.

I seem to have stablized just a bit, and managed to get in touch with some long-lost friends with whom I really shared my hurting heart and I feel much better. And I am working toward some professional help with my depression.

There's a pattern here: I get stuck and the pain gets bad enough that I reach out to people. Then I try to be strong and resolute on my own and I get stuck by myself once again. Someday I'll learn.

So thanks, friends. It pretty much blows my mind that people I have never met (and may never meet) stop by my little piece of cyberspace to show their care.