I have few really great friends. I’m not talking about folks you hang out with or have fun with on the weekends. I’m not talking about people you go to church with or grew up with. I’m talking about best friends. Friends that you’d kill for. I’m talking about the kind of friends who love you like brothers. If you asked them to kill someone they’d do it without question and then ask you later why you needed it done.
I have four friends like that. One I served with in the Marine Corps. Another I worked with as a paramedic. The third one I knew briefly years ago and have become brothers with recently. The fourth one is not a brother based on military service, public safety work, or a past relationship. The fourth one is a brother because we worship the same God and Savior. We got to know each other because we’re both huge comic book geeks.
I’m writing this post based on my relationship with him and the secrets he’s divulged because he trusts me. When you read his part of the post you’ll understand more about that secret. Because of this trust, it’s changed me. I think about certain things and certain people very differently than I used to. In church I was raised with the standard practice of hating the sin and loving the sinner. You know, it sounds really good, but it often ends up manifesting just as a hatred of the sinner in the end.
This change in me has helped me to really understand more. For all the people I’m sure will be ready to bash me over this one, don’t think it means I condone anything. Don’t even cheapen what I’m saying by going there. Do I need to completely write people off because of sin or should I love them because that’s what Jesus did? I think in this situation I’ll err on the side of love. The following words are written by that fourth friend. They’re written by a guy that is one of my best friends in the whole world. I hope you understand more when you read it. I hope that after you read his words that some of you will reconnect with a child, a family member, or a friend who you’ve completely written off. Try to remember that it’s not your job to be the Holy Spirit in their lives and either change them or push them aside. No, it’s your job to love them and show them what Christ has done in your life. You can judge them and lose them. Or you can love them and let Christ work on their hearts.
This blog post was originally published on Written by Adam McLane. He’s a youth pastor in San Diego CA. It is republished here with my friend’s permission.
I grew up reading comic books; it was an escape from the horrible living environment I was stuck in. I had a brother, 9 years older than me, who made me his punching bag; an ex-alcoholic father who switched his addiction to rage, and my mom who had to take a lot of abuse from my dad.
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 explain 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.
I had to hide the fact that I was gay. I mean, who could I tell? And the pressure to date was nearly insurmountable.
I managed coming out to some friends, but the loneliness, the isolation was great. No one got it.
That was about 20 years ago.
Since then I’ve tried counseling for 7 years; it was helpful to unpack a lot of the abuse I took, but I still wasn’t attracted to women.
I had a girlfriend in seminary for a year and a half. I thought I could change and make it work.
I didn’t. I broke her heart.
I have mastered the ability to blend in with straight people; they rarely suspect I’m gay. In the Christian world, being gay is right up there with child molester.
You have to understand; I have had friends I’ve never been able to tell. They make the occasional gay joke or if they see two men who are clearly together, they have some kind of snide remark. And I’m sitting across from them.
Now, just so we’re clear: I’m celibate. I’m not planning on having a relationship. You might be thinking, “Oh, good. You’re one of us.” Afraid not. And so we don’t get into a political quagmire that this blog isn’t designed to function for, I won’t get into the reasons why.
The purpose of me spilling this story, the most painful one I have, is to say this.
We sit amongst you.
We are people struggling with being gay, afraid of what their closest family and friends would say. We laugh at your homo jokes and then we go in the bathroom and look in the mirror and hate what we see. We take a deep breath and we go back inside.
We tolerate churches designed around married couples, married conferences, and marriage sermons.
Most of use can’t come out. We risk losing the friendships we have so we’d rather dine on surface relationships, instead of having none.
We long for someone to understand, to get it. And one reason I don’t play the lottery (besides Dave Ramsey’s advice) is that I’ve already won it. I have friends that I’d take a bullet for, who know my true story and love me. It’s not that they don’t love me regardless because I’m not doing anything. I’m not at gay bars or trolling the internet looking for someone. I’m not sinning in my sexual behavior.
I came out to a friend of mine and he looked down at the table, sullen and said, “Everything must be really difficult for you.” We sat there in silence for awhile and I thought, he gets it.
The church will hug the man that just cheated his wife for a year and shun the struggling gay guy who hasn’t had sex in 10 years. Guaranteed. Easy money.
And I’d burn every earthly possession I have, empty my bank accounts, quit my job, and terminate every relationship I have for a pill to change over—in a heartbeat—I’d walk away from that pyre buck-naked, unemployed, broke, but straight.
But unlike my heroes of my youth, my secret identity clings to me and I am forced to hide from what is called to be most loving, compassionate place on the planet—the church.
So here’s what I ask: be kind to us. We are looking for friends that listen and have compassion on us. We are not looking for you to understand us completely, we just want to go through our day not feeling like monsters. We run the risk of losing the people we value by coming out, but we must weigh that against being fake and pretending we are straight.
I also ask that we cut out the gay-bashing talk; I get that it’s funny with your friends and it cuts to the quick, but I guarantee you’ve said it in front of us and we twist inside and mourn inside.
Be kind to us; we are broken and we need no more reminders.