How do some men and some women — even as children — just seem gay? With the mannerisms, voice, overall demeanor? Of course plenty of gay men and women you couldn’t pick out of a crowd. Does this strike you as interesting? A question worth asking?
My haircutter is absolutely flaming. You should see how adorable he is. He dresses like a New Yorker (he’s a Texan) and he told me all about his boyfriend and that they’ve been together four months but that’s like dog-years at their age but they are having so much fun and he hopes they stay together a long long time. I smile and enjoy him. For the life of me I cannot imagine him with a woman. Ever. Gay he is and gay he will ever be.
Gay was much more closeted when I was a teenager. I didn’t even know our neighbor was gay… and he was pretty obvious. I first realized what gay meant when my best friend in high school told me he’d been molested by his Catholic priest and he was gay. For anyone to molest children is tragic, but for a priest in his sacred position to molest boys is unconscionable.
Some years later, Ellen Degeneres talked about her stepfather molesting her as a teenager. As he tried to kick the door down, Ellen had to climb out her bedroom window. The worst part, she said in the interview, was that her mother didn’t believe her. In my mind, two and two had already added up: being gay comes from wounds in one form or another. I didn’t realize how wrong I was. (I talk about this in Part 2.) I actually went to Ellen’s house in California once, when she performed in a charity event for my husband. I met her roommate and she gestured to the living room, kitchen and the one bedroom. “Oh,” I said, and nodded. She wasn’t yet out of the closet, but it was pretty clear.
Fast-forward to Tina and Michele, a couple we met through Rob’s work with kids with cancer. It had been a big ranch event for all the kids and their families. I loved them right away, and they confessed to me later that they almost didn’t come to this Christian event because they didn’t know if they’d be rejected — as they had been by most Christians they’d met.
I was deeply touched that they felt immediately loved and accepted by Rob and me. They’d experienced plenty of rejection in churches over the years. They recalled their years in the conservative College Station, Texas. “We got out of there as fast as we could,” Tina told me. I was torn about them, because by now, having spent years and years in the church, I knew the church’s position: homosexuality is not okay. What did that mean? For them to find a life in Christ, by the church’s standards, meant come to Jesus, renounce your relationship, divorce and either marry a man or remain alone the rest of your life. Hm. I couldn’t see that. I couldn’t see offering all that as the astoundingly good news of the gospel, of the life in Christ I’d come to know.
It’s irresistibly human to attribute cause for things we don’t understand. We are not comfortable with the unknown, really, and if we can fit this whole issue in a box, then we can be less afraid. I found myself troubled regarding Tina and Michele, that somehow we’d put up unnecessary roadblocks. The gospel says Come to Me all who are weary and I will give you rest. But I felt the church pressing me from behind to say, “Come to Jesus, give up your partner, and hope He changes the sexual attraction you have always felt… if not, you have to be alone. Don’t you want to be a Christian?”
I’m not saying it doesn’t cost us to come to Christ, sometimes it does. But I’m not going to be the one to determine the price. Bring them to Him, let Him work in their lives and hearts–whatever that looks like. One day Michele asked me over lunch, “Do you think our relationship is wrong?” Taken be surprise, I said, “Let me get back to you.” I knew what the church would say. But I also knew I couldn’t say that in good conscience. I didn’t know it to be true.
But something shifted in our relationship that day. She didn’t say it, but I knew she no longer trusted me. I don’t blame her – I didn’t trust me either! What did I know about this journey?
Not to be cliched, but I wanted to know how would Jesus handle this. So I began a search that would not only change the way I looked at this issue, but would deepen my relationship with Christ.