Posts Tagged ‘gay Christian’

Well, it’s time to start going “public” a bit more.  I’ve started a YouTube channel because I really feel a calling to get my story out and to speak to the damage that ex-gay ministries cause.  Please subscribe to my YouTube channel…more great things to come!

Those of you who are around my age will probably remember the film, “Free to Be, You and Me”.  It was a film designed to help kids in the early 70’s to feel good about themselves and to be understanding of others.  It was truly “evil, left-wing propaganda” designed to break down stereotypes.  🙂

I’ve been thinking a lot about that song this week.  The reason is that for the last year, I’m finally beginning to understand what it is like to be free to be me.

Gosh…I spent so many years trying NOT to be me.  All through junior high, high school, and college, I worked hard to make sure that nobody knew I was gay.  After all, being gay was a fate worse than death back then!  Being gay was my little secret…kept in my head and not talked about with anyone.  I was too ashamed about the fact that I wasn’t “normal”.  And of course, Christianity told me I wasn’t normal so that made it worse.  If God didn’t like me this way, then I was in trouble!  I had to do my best to change.  Years of counseling ensued with all sorts of techniques aimed at learning how not to be me.  Then I got married and I spent 19 years in a marriage, trying to deny who I was so that I could be a good straight husband and pastor.

I spent so much energy for so many years trying NOT to be myself so that I could be somebody else.  And ultimately, that didn’t work.

And so now, I have learned that it is ok to be me…and with that has come a great deal of freedom…

I am free to notice attractive men.  I am free to act in ways that are natural, rather than trying to cover up any gay tendencies.  I am free to love the man in my life.  I am free not to worry about what others think.  I am free to be open about who I am without having to hide.  I am free to be in church and have my arm around my partner.  I am free to minister out of who I am, rather than trying to minister out of a caricature that I have created.  I am free to be me…and that feels really good.

I love the freedom I have to be me.  I love that I don’t have to waste energy being someone I’m not.  I love that I can put the voices of nay-sayers behind me and not worry about them.  And I love living in a city where being gay is not looked down upon.  I am a normal part of this city and I don’t have to hide.

My prayer is that everyone who is reading this would find the courage to be themselves.  You don’t have to change.  You don’t have to be anyone else.  Do whatever it takes to be ok with who you are…and then live it!

You and I are free to be you and me.

 

 

Sorry for my lack of posting for the last few weeks.  Life has been crazy.  I will get back to my regular updates shortly.  But today I want to pause and add this post as a part of The More Excellent Way blog carnival on the subject of “inclusion”.

I am in my 40’s and have been “in the closet” for most of my life.  I lived a straight life, got married, had kids, and have been a pastor for 17 years.  All along, though, I knew I was gay.  But the message that I got from churches and from seminary was that being gay is not ok…and therefore I had to do whatever it took for me not to live as a gay man.  During the past 20+ years, I have silently struggled, constantly trying to suppress my sexuality so that I could be a “good Christian”, a pastor with integrity, and a husband and father.  Unfortunately, the result is that I ended up depressed, withdrawn, and acting out in unhealthy ways because I was trying to be something that I was not…straight!  You can only suppress your identity for so long before it affects your emotional health in negative ways.  My negative emotional health crippled me, my marriage, my parenting, my relationships, and my ministry.

18 months ago, I began a journey towards emotional health.  With the help of a counselor, I came to grips with my identity, my sexual orientation, and how living a lie has caused tremendous damage to me, my family, and my ministry.  As a result, I have recently quit my job at a large Evangelical church in our area, had to find new employment, am moving out next week, and will be getting divorced from my wife.  After so many years in the closet, I am now beginning to live a new life out of the context of who I believe God created me to be.  There has been tremendous cost to become who I already was…but I now believe it was worth it so that I can be true to myself and how I am wired.

I am in the process of planting a new church that is radically inclusive and I have found that there are many people in our city who have been a part of conservative Evangelical churches and have suffered a similar lack of emotional health due to the lack of a message of inclusivity in those churches.  Many are very wounded by the lack of acceptance…and even downright rejection…that they have felt.  It is so sad that so many of us have had to live a lie because we couldn’t be accepted a Christians in any other way!

I often wonder how my life would have been different, had full inclusion for the LGBT community been a value in churches 20 years ago.  While I am thankful for the blessings that have come out of the last 20 years of my life, I know that the pain and damage done could have been avoided if I had had even one Christian tell me that I was ok.  If only I had known that God loved me just the way I was!  If only I had learned that I could be gay AND a pastor!  If only.

My new little church plant seeks to be inclusive of everyone.  I pray that other people’s lives will be touched by the message of Grace that I hope we always communicate.  And maybe…just maybe…a life will be saved from the damage that I had to go through in the past 20 years.

Full inclusion of the LGBT community in Christian churches can LITERALLY save lives from the irreparable damage that is caused when a person tries to suppress who they are for the purpose of acceptance by God and other Christians.  While people my age can’t go backwards to fix the past, we can certain fix the future for the sake of our brothers and sisters who desperately need to know they are loved by God and others!

Things have been moving so quickly, I have hardly had time to stop and write about things that are happening.  But this week I will write a few posts to get caught up!

I resigned from my position at my old church a couple of weeks ago.  I actually gave notice til the end of the year but the senior pastor likes to get people out the door quickly.  So…he decided to pay me into January but get me out the door on November 30.  So Wednesday of this week is my last day.

It has been a whirlwind!  My resignation was announced to the congregation a week ago as I stood before 1000 people and told them that I was moving on.  And yesterday was my last Sunday in the church services.  I can’t believe it happened so quickly.  I had to say “goodbye” to people the past two Sundays and I know there are some people who haven’t been around those two weeks and have no idea I am gone.  Crazy!  I had a story down that I was telling everyone as to why I was leaving (all of which was true…it just wasn’t the whole truth).  There were tears shed by some people and I know there are others who are confused as to why I left.  A lot of people said really nice things to me and I was wished well.  I only wonder what those same people will say and think when the truth finally gets around!

There is so much change going on in my life right now that I don’t think I have really processed the emotions of leaving the church.  I love that church…and love many of the people.  My time there was really good.  I will miss seeing those people regularly!

 

 

I have to be honest with you…I have really been up and down lately.  My emotions are up one day and down the next.  I don’t know what to do with it all.  I guess it is to be expected.  I mean, really…I’m kinda going through a lot right now!  It feels like I am riding a seesaw of emotions!

You may have guessed from my “Niche” post that I was feeling pretty good earlier this week.  Sunday’s service with my new church was extremely fulfilling and I felt the blessing of God in a huge way.  I was feeling energized and exited about the future.  I felt freedom in being myself and connecting with the people of our church in a very authentic way.  It just felt so good!

But things came crashing down as I got into this week.  My evenings this week have been very discouraging at home.  It’s hard not feeling welcome in your own home!  There has been a deep silence between my wife and I and that just compounded the alienation I have already been feeling with my kids.  Yesterday was a particularly “down” day for me emotionally.  I can’t begin to communicate the despair I was feeling.  The hurt and rejection I feel from my family runs deeps.  I was starting to question whether there would ever be healing in my relationship with my kids.  I wondered why they feel so hurt so as to feel the need to completely distance themselves from me.  I was feeling discouraged about job opportunities.  And all this week I have been feeling like I can’t do this “double life” thing much longer.

I think that is what is really getting to me.  I have wonderful glimpses of my future life from time to time.  But then I get forced back into the closet…back into conservatism…back into hiding…back into dishonesty…back into having to fit into a mold of constantly proving my value at my old church…and all of that crushes me.  I am getting to the point that I just want to scream, “I’m done!  I can’t do this anymore!  The box you are all trying to fit me into is squeezing the life out of me!”

I know that all of this points to the fact that the end of this period in my life is quickly coming to an end.  I will have to take the next step soon, one way or another, or I will literally go mad.  I cannot keep my world together as it is much longer.  I will be forced out of the closet and into my new life because I will be unable to keep up the charade.

Up and down.

The pressure is building.

Relief MUST happen soon.

 

I have to tell you, I have really found my niche.  It feels really good and it is very energizing!  I am excited to see where this all leads.  For me, being a pastor of an evangelical church that is open and affirming is the niche I really believe I was created for!

Several years ago, I felt “called” to reach out to the gay community and to minister in the gay community.  But because of where my life was at that time, as well as my belief at that time that homosexuality was a sin, I never acted on that call.  I knew it was something God had put on my heart but I didn’t know how to step out and do it.  Now…I am doing it.

My new church is still small.  Because I have not officially come out yet, I can’t really do any advertising other than word of mouth.  But our church is growing, slowly but surely.  And it feels so right and so natural to be a pastor to the people God has brought.  I get to be my 100% authentic self and don’t have to hide or put on a mask.  I get to minister out of what God has done in my life and who He has created me to be.  I am finding that it is SO NATURAL to love the people God has brought to this church!  We have nothing to hide from each other so there is a freedom to be ourselves and to love each other just for who we are.  I appreciate them and they appreciate me.  We support each other.  We laugh and have fun.  And most importantly, we pursue God together.  No one is telling me how to do my job because I don’t get a paycheck (yet) from the church.  So I can just do my thing…honestly and authentically…out of the love that God has poured into my heart for these people.

Regardless of anything else going on in my life right now, I love my new church…and I love that I have found my niche!

Sometimes all you can do is tread water and try to keep your head up.  That’s what my life has been like lately.

I’ve had a number of people say to me in the last week, “You haven’t written anything on your blog.  What’s going on???”  Well, all that has been going on is that I have been treading water.  Nothing of significance has changed.  If anything, it is getting harder and harder to keep my head above water.  Here’s some of the reasons why:

1)  My wife gave me a deadline at the beginning of the year to have my future worked out by the end of this year.  In case you haven’t noticed, that’s 2 1/2 months away!  I still have been unable to secure a new job and that has kept us living in limbo for way too long.

2)  The distance continues to grow between me and my family.  My two oldest kids continue not to speak to me.  And just this morning, I realized that my daughter “unfriended” me on Facebook.  It hurts that they resent me so much.  I am trusting the counseling process, though, that my son is in and I pray my daughter will be willing to see a counselor at some point.  As of now, she refuses to go.  My wife has days that I can tell are “bad days” for her.  I think her patience with this process is waning.  Still, she wants everything to go well financially, so she has no choice but to wait this out.  It’s just hard on all of us.

3)  I am growing more and more discontent at the church where I am employed.  I am struggling with the narcissism exemplified constantly by my senior pastor and it is getting very difficult for me personally to work with him.  I have “recovered” significantly through counseling from the narcissism that I grew up with in my dad…so working for a narcissist is painful and frustrating.  In addition, I have grown to be so much less conservative in the application and practice of my faith…so I really struggle with the conservatism our church stands for.

But there are a few good things happening.  First, I have an interview this week for a part-time position with the Postal Service.  Also, I am hoping to meet with a guy who I hear may be hiring for the funeral home that he manages.  Please pray for these opportunities!

I have a couple more things I want to share but I will put them in more posts later this week.