Offering a Straight Apology

For about a year now I’ve been aware of the great work being done by Kathy Baldock, of Canyonwalker Connections. I recently invited Kathy to use this space to introduce herself to those of you who may not know her. Readers, meet Kathy. The rest are her words.

In 2000 I had no gay friends (that I knew of), and believed the traditional biblical view of homosexuality. All that changed after I met and became friends with Netto, an agnostic Native American lesbian.

Over the course of the next five years, as Netto and I developed our deep friendship, the gay and Christian issue became personal to me.

For over six years now, I have actively sought equality for glbt Christians in the church. After dozens of glbt Christian conferences, where I was one of the few or only straight Christians present, God has deepened my compassion and created within me a zeal to speak to, and stand for, these too long maligned brothers and sisters in Christ.

This year I formed a 501(c)3 called Canyonwalker Connections, the mission of which is to repair the breach between the church and the glbt Christian community. Through my blog, CanyonwalkerConnections.com, I seek to educate people on issues of reconciling faith with sexual orientation and gender identity. I challenge those who belief that “gay and Christian” is an oxymoron to think beyond the English words in (modern translations of) the Bible. I encourage glbt Christians to stay connected to their faith. I act as a mother to many gay young people. I also try to motivate straight Christians to speak up and do the Jesus-thing: to fight for the equality and against the oppression of glbt Christians.

Four years ago, at San Francisco Gay Pride, I began the initiative “Str8Apology,” where I and those increasingly joining me go to gay pride events wearing a tee shirt imprinted, front and back, with the words, Hurt By Church? Get a str8apology Here. People at such events read my shirt, and talk to me. They tell me their often heartbreaking stories. I am often the first and only person who has ever told them that the Bible has been misused against them. On behalf of Christians everywhere, I apologize to them, and tell them that it is not the heart of Jesus to reject them because of their orientation. I direct them to my site, where they can learn about how the Bible does not, in fact, condemn them. I hold their faces, and look into their eyes. I assure them that God adored them.

At the many gay pride events I attend, I get hugged a lot.

If you would like to help repair the tear, please consider joining me in wearing a Str8apology t-shirt at an upcoming event where glbt people gather. Christians regularly tell me that they know the treatment of the glbt community is not Christ-like, yet they themselves remain silent on the issue.

God used an agnostic lesbian (who is now a Christian) to help change me into someone who is willing to fight for what’s right. Perhaps I can help change you in the same way.

Perhaps you and I together can help change the world.

 

I will be at San Jose Pride on August 20 and 21.

Here I am:

[Update: At the 2011 PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) national convention (November 3-6), Kathy will be conducting a workshop on faith and GLBT youth.]

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Linda B

    Awsome I will check out your blog. I have just recently realized I am gay and though not a christian ( I once was, long story) I do wonder as a seeker of the truth how it can all work together. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  • http://www.canyonwalkerconnections.com Kathy Baldock

    Thank you friend!!! I appreciate your help in attention given to this action.Kathy

  • textjunkie

    that is awesome!!!

  • Dirk

    What a contrast – this wonderful woman actually following Matthew 22:37-40 and the Texas Hate Rally led by Pastor Perry yesterday.

    One can be a follower of Christ and gay, lesbian or bisexual.

    It is out of the question that one be a follower of Christ and a conservative Christian.

    • Mindy

      I have heard you mention Canyonwalkers before, John – but I admit just now really learning about it. Thank you for sharing this, and Kathy – THANK YOU. People like you raise up Christianity ten-fold in my heart and mind.

      • http://www.canyonwalkerconnections.com Kathy Baldock

        thank you and do follow the blog—lots of info and resources for reconciliation of faith and sexuality and education for the straight Christians trying to find a way thru this issue in Jesus

      • cat rennolds

        I read Kathy religiously:) She’s right, follow it.

  • http://efenz.wordpress.com Ellen

    My (s)hero! ;o)

  • Lee Walker

    we love Kathy so much! :)

  • DR

    I adore her.

  • A’isha

    One of the first things I read when I was trying to truly, once and for all, reconcile my faith with my sexuality was Kathy’s blog. Afterwards, I felt this incredible peace, knowing that I had just read complete truth. For the first time I knew that God and I were going to be alright. Between finding her blog, John’s blog, and a couple other places online has made an amazing difference in my life. Thank you!

  • Kate

    Thank you, Kathy. One of the biggest reasons that I lost my faith and became an atheist was that I was unable to reconcile the behavior of so-called “Christians” with the teachings of Jesus. I remain an atheist, and I will probably always be so.

    It does my heart good to read about you, and I thank you sincerely for what you’re doing.

    It ain’t much coming from an atheist, but bless you!

    Kate

  • DR

    This reminds me of what a friend of mine did when marriage in California was legal. She is a very conservative christian, a Baptist. She’s a meek, gentle little soul (actually little, she doesn’weight more than 100 lbs). She’s also a staunch advocate of gay rights.

    She went to the courthouse where people were getting married and she picked fights with those who were screaming at the newlyweds as they walked down, the Christians with the “You are going to hell!’ signs. They turned their hate and their hostility onto her. She called me, needing me to come and pick her up, she was feeling sick and couldn’t walk home. I got there and watched these protestors scream at her in her face with such intensity, the spittle flew in her face. She was white as a ghost and shaking. Of course – knowing me – I got in their faces right back and we had some choice words.

    I got her some tea and then tucked her into my car. I asked her why she did it and she said, “Because I knew if they focused their anger on me, they’d leave the people who just got married alone.”

    I will never forget that demonstration of love in action.

    • DR

      (as they walked down the steps of City hall).

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        WHOA. What a story.

        • DR

          She is incredible.

          • Molly

            Wow. That story gave me the chills. What a beautiful woman.

          • DR

            She is. Can you imagine if more people did that?

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

      Wow! What a brave woman, and an example of love if I ever saw one. Good for her!

    • Mindy

      DR, what a friend. You AND her – what a brave act. As another straight advocate of glbt rights, I am sending hugs and high fives across the Interwebs to both of you!

    • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

      DR, that was absolutely beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. I can’t imagine anything more Jesus-like than that…

    • Vicky

      That brought tears to my eyes. She was very much like Daniel, standing in the lion’s den. Bless her.

    • A’isha

      Incredible! That’s such a perfect example of the love of Jesus. She took the hate and anger upon herself so others could be free from it.

      • DR

        She did, I will never, ever forget it.

  • roschelle

    Thanks for showing Christ’s love! I’m a straight christian and I want to apologize for the behaviors of my other blinded brothers and sisters. I am also African-American and I know how hate can be preached from the same bible that states God is Love. Hold on to your faith in God and Christ and forget the rest of the imperfect people in the church. Love you all!

    R.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Lovely. Dig it. Thanks, Roschelle.

  • http://www.darlenebogle.com Darlene Bogle

    These stories from straight supporters give me new strengh as a Lesbian to speak out more strongly for Equality for all. While I am a Jesus Follower, I know many are not, and so often it’s because they have seen awful things done in Jesus Name. Thanks for the stories that change that. Reminds me of a poem:

    I’d rather see a sermon,

    Than hear one any day:

    I’d rather one should walk with me,

    Thank merely tell the way.

    And the best of all the preachers

    Are the ones that live their creeds

    For to see Love put in action;

    is what everybody needs!

  • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

    Kathy, were you at the GCN conference in Alexandria, VA a few years ago? I feel like you may have spoken, or perhaps I met you there, but sometimes my brain creates memories :)

    Either way, thank you so much for sharing your story here, and for all the WONDERFUL work you do and continue to do…

    • http://www.canyonwalkerconnections.com Kathy Baldock

      yes , I was—i do the friends and family workshops which grow EVERY year. This year I ran out of notes and had about 60- 70 people in there wondering how to be better allies. Are you linked to me on FB??? Please do–Kathy Verbiest Baldock

      • DR

        Kathy, I just became a Facebook fan and a follower of your blog. You are truly, such an encouragement I think I’ll learn a lot from you.

  • http://lisainbc.blogpost.com Lisa Salazar

    In Sept. 2010 I started attending Rainbow Community Church in Vancouver after about a two year hiatus from church during which time I transitioned. One of the consequences of attending this loving, GLBT affirming congregation was the number of new Facebook friends and friend recommendations I was flooded with. Among them was Kathy Baldock and even the guy who’s been trying God’s patience since 1958. The firs of Kathy’s posts on her blog that was shared with me was the one with a video titled “Transgender and the Church” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cV7XJFz_RSM). In the subsequent months, Kathy has generously allowed me to grow closer to her and it is my privilege to be counted among her friends. As her ministry has continued to grow and more and more Christians been willing to to read and listen her message of equality and inclusion with open hearts and minds, so has the vitriolic opposition from. Sadly, some of these religious folks resort to personal and mean spirited diatribes. Kathy must be doing something right. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Kathy and John, you are both in my prayers and thank you both for your loud and straight voices!

    • http://www.canyonwalkerconnections.com Kathy Baldock

      And sweet Lisa is on my BOARD too. http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/board/ I have the most amazing people to advise me as we begin to YELL where we need to, love and whisper in other place and educate at every opportunity. Lisa’s book is a great read with a personal story of a tranwoman. Linked on the BOARD page on the blog.

      • Lloyd Peacock

        Lisa attends our church, now called ” Lighthouse of Hope,” where the love of Jesus is truly practiced. There is no judgement, or discrimination, only lots of hugs and prayer for one another. God is doing mighty works through our little church that said; “YES.” I have recently been honored to read Lisa’s story and I wasn’t able to put it down when I started. Read about the pain, humor, and courage of this amazing woman. Your views will never be the same.

  • David J Martin

    As a Gay – husband, Father, Partner, Physician I commend Kathy in her efforts. There is nothing more reassuring to a gay person – of any age – but especially youth – to know that they have the love and support of persons or all orientations – and of God, despite the vial diatribes spewed for by preachers, ministers, priests – who speak not for Christ but for an all too human – sinful institutional church which has persecuted, murdered through the ages in “defense of the Faith”. As a physician who is “out” I have experienced gratitude and love from all patients for having the courage – to defy societal and religious bigotry but not remaining closeted. One young man thanked me for doing so in the small country community in which I practice because in his words ” it gives he and other gay youth hope”. So, Kathy, thank you for doing the work you are doing – work which the clergy should be doing if they truly served Christ

  • KC

    This is a much-needed initiative but the ads that pop up over this video creep me out and infuriate me because they’re the same fundamentalsit crap that this woman is trying to counter. How did THAT happen?

    • http://www.canyonwalkerconnections.com Kathy Baldock

      It is part of a series done by Recycle Your Faith where Craig Spinks, the very brave evangelical recovering Christian, did a four week series on Homosexuality and the Bible and I was featured in one of the weeks. His target audience is Christian, so it was quite ballsy of Craig to even give me a voice. We have since become friends and he even came to a Gay Christian Network Conference.Hope that give some reasoning. THE GOOD THING IS, when the folks in the other camp go watch the other opposing videos– they get me too and probably say ‘where did this liberal crap come from?!”

  • http://kenreads.wordpress.com KenLeonard

    You know, I suspect that a lot of people have similar stories, although most of us don’t then do as much with it as Kathy. Good for her!

    I was raised with a certain view of homosexuality (let’s call it the traditional Biblical view, and deal with how historically-accurate that is some other time), but that view couldn’t make it through me actually getting to know a couple of gay guys. Everything I’d thought was wrong.

    It’s a lot easier to hate, distrust, fear, etc. people when they’re an unknown quantity. It’s really tough to look at Jon and pretend that those stereotypes apply to him when … they don’t.

    Very cool story.

  • A’isha

    This got me thinking about a conversation I had recently with my mom. I told her I had started seeing a woman and was enjoying getting to know her. One of the first questions she asked was if this woman was a believer. Now ideally I’d love to date a woman who is a Christian, but in my small town it’s hard enough to meet any woman, let alone a Christian lesbian. I thought about this for a few minutes and then got angry. I don’t often get angry with my mom. I told her that maybe if the church (full body of Christ as well as the local church where she’s a pastor) hadn’t been so bent on persecuting and oppressing LGBT people then maybe we all wouldn’t have run away from God as fast as possible, believing that God was the one that hated us instead of just His people. Maybe if the church had spoken truth instead of bigotry, love instead of hate, then it wouldn’t be so darn hard for me to find a Christian lesbian.

    Now, because of the internet, I know that there are many, many LGBT Christians, but in real life right around me I don’t know any. None. There is no welcoming or affirming church here. There are no groups that even try to love or minister to the LGBT community.

    So yeah, it gets me angry that the church has diligently pushed LGBT people away from God yet she expects me to date a woman who believes in God. It’s illogical and I’d had enough. We need more people like Kathy and John to be “ministers of reconciliation” which is a term my dad used in his sermon this morning on oppression, an incredibly timely sermon for me! Sadly, I don’t think many people got it.

    • Lloyd Peacock

      Hi A’isha, There are so many GLBT friendly churches out there, my guess is that there is one close to where you live. If you are on Facebook and would like to become my friend, I’ll try and direct you to a gay affirming church. If I can’t help you I’m sure Kathy can. Blessings to you.

  • DR

    John, I wonder what would happen if you started a thread – in the spirit of Kathy – where straight people could share our apologies to the GLBT community, perhaps even our story of how we came out of ignorance and privilege to where we are today? That could be very cool.

    • Lauren

      I’d also love to hear from other GLBT Christians, like myself, who came /back/ to church because of people like Kathy. I had all but given up on God before i became friends with someone who, like Kathy, truly lived the teachings of Christ, and helped me see that i /was/ accepted, that i /did/ belong.

  • Molly

    This was very sweet to both read and watch. Thank you for posting it.

  • http://www.constitutionalwarrior.com Dan Clements

    Can you please share the Scriptures that are being misinterpreted?

    • A’isha

      If you go to Kathy’s site, canyonwalkerconnections.com you’ll see the various Scriptures used to condemn LGBT people. She gives very good responses to each of them.

    • http://www.canyonwalkerconnections.com Kathy Baldock

      yes–go to the entire VERSES tab on my blog and engage me there. I have read every counter, heard every one of them. I may just point you to my answer.

  • http://graceemerges.blogspot.com Bradley D

    Kathy I read your story and appreciate what you are doing to help bring reconciliation. When I discovered how my faith had (previously) caused me to hurt people by not accepting them the way that God does, I made a commitment to turn things around. In my blog I have posted an open letter to anyone, LGBT or otherwise, that has been rejected by the church. It’s at http://graceemerges.blogspot.com/2011/06/letter-to-unaccepted.html . Feel free to use this letter or the idea of it anyway that can help your cause!


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