As we careen at breakneck speed towards the legalization of gay marriage, as people yell and stamp and scream and justify and demonize, consider this moving, quiet, patient, eloquent plea (with a follow-up) by an anonymous writer to just stop using words that freeze, reduce, diminish and thrash gays and lesbians.
I was attracted to comic books because it clearly spelled out who was good and evil; the good guys won most of the time and what I liked at the end of the day was that they could conceal their identity. Superman became Clark Kent. Batman deftly changed into the billionaire, Bruce Wayne. Green Lantern willed himself back to being Hal Jordan. And poor Spiderman usually stumbled back into his apartment, collapsing onto the bed as Peter Parker.
Their secret identity brought them peace; they protected their loved ones by having it. They managed two distinct and separate lives. It’s something that sounded so great.
But when you have a secret identity, it is more painful than a bruise on your chest or cigarette burn on your arm.
When I was about 14 I realized something; I was attracted to the guys in my high school, not the girls. The realization is a lot to take in, especially around the time that AIDS had surfaced; people were scared; protests were hitting the streets. The words “faggot” and “homo” were en vogue.
I knew I was in trouble.
I managed to keep in secret until about 18 when I told my high school counselor. He sympathized and explained that there were other people out there like me. Once I got to college, my life would change.
It did. My first week at college I became a Christian.
And I was still gay.
In the college Christian group I was a part of, there were great people, but a large majority of them used the words homo, queer, and faggot. I was in some deep trouble.
He talks about the loneliness and fear and isolation.
Now some have said, “Be brave, come out! We will accept and love you.” And that’s great—honestly, it is—but most of us are not ready to live a life of Fight Club. We do not want our lives to be full of conflict and fear. What if we sign up to watch the kids in the nursery? What if we help out at youth group? Join the basketball league and have to share a locker room? We have to be ready for a punch to the face at a moment’s notice, figuratively and sometimes literally.
We have to be ready to don our leper robes and ring a bell, “Unclean. Unclean.”
And this is such a small part of our lives—as my friends will tell you I struggle with pride and anger much more than homosexuality….
He gives some great instructions about how we might practically attend to those among us who struggle, suffer and fight sin in this, before concluding that:
Christ loves us. You. Me. And I long for the day when I look back at this life in His Kingdom and laugh a bit; I’ll laugh at the foolishness of it all and that it won’t be like that anymore. And all of us, we’ll gather for awhile. I’ll shake your hand. I’ll give you a hug. We will know each other deeply.
And one day we get this white stone with a new name on it. A new name. A name only God knows. (Rev 2:17) And all the other names, even the one on my driver’s license melts away.
So if anything, this thorn I have makes me a better friend, more loyal. And it makes me long for Jesus and for home.
Fourth, you’ll have a million questions. Maybe ask two. And when you get together, don’t make every time some kind of Oprah Q and A. We will tell you as it comes up.
Five, just love us. Invite us over. In a marriage-based church culture, where couples get together, single people are left kind of on the margin. We like restaurants and movies; we like your kids. We will help with dishes. We go home to an empty apartment; we like the warmth of your place.
Hug us often and don’t interpret it as anything other than a hug. Celibacy is a hard road for the sake of the cross. Human contact is a rare treat.
Amen, and amen.