Married fundamentalist Christian out of the closet at 40

Hi John -

Though I live in New Jersey and work in New York City, I’m just now writing you from Lynchburg, Virginia. I’m visiting my four kids, who live here with their mom, who is my ex-wife.

As you may know, Lynchburg is the home of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. It’s pretty much ground zero for American fundamentalist Christianity.

Writing to you has been on my bucket list for quite some time now. I’ve been following you on Facebook for awhile now, and I just recently received your book UNFAIR. (I appreciate the autograph and message inside the book, btw.) I’m probably half-way through it. I’m loving every word.

I’m compelled to write you on this summer evening from my Lynchburg hotel room, which is located right across from Liberty University. As I am writing my two daughters (ages 8 and 6) are on the bed playing with dolls. I’m writing you now, I suppose, because I’m sort of “in the moment.”

Your recent blog about fundies [I've loved me some gay-condemning fundies] actually made me tear up as I was reading it.

I’m smack dead in the center of it all when I’m here in Lynchburg. There are still so many sad reminders that I face all the time of my life, my upbringing, the changes in my life, and of course the big changes in my children’s lives, and how they are coping with it. All four of my kids attend Liberty Christian Academy.

My ex-wife and I both went to Liberty University in the late 80′s – early 90′s. We were married in 1992 here in Lynchburg, right out of college. My ex-wife has family here. So she and the kids moved back here two years ago after our divorce was final.

Right after turning 40 I finally came out as a gay man. It is still so weird for me to read that sentence. When I see those words, I can’t help but feel radically separated from the world in which I’ve always lived. I feel unequal. And for the first time in my always-privileged-white-kid life, I know what it feels like to be a minority.

So I guess it’s the visit here in Lynchburg that, as usual, has drained me emotionally. Often when I’m here I’ll see someone from my college days, or will run into an ex-brother-in-law or some other ex-family member. It’s weird. I can’t quite describe it. I guess it’s just that weirdness of being an outsider, of knowing that there are whispers about you swirling about. (And sometimes I wish they were just whispers. Not too long ago someone wrote about me on Facebook, “What man could ever leave that beautiful wife and those beautiful children?”)

I’m actually on good terms with my ex. We just had ice cream with our two daughters. And it’s always a good way for us to catch up on what’s going on in everyone’s lives, particularly my two oldest sons (15 & 13), neither of whom speak to me. They’re still angry about the divorce, and about dad being gay.

The good news is that they are thriving academically and socially. Tears welled up in my eyes when my ex, Janet, told me about how compassionate our sons are with regards to kids in their school that are not popular, that are a bit on the outside. She told me how our youngest son had recently stood up to two older boys who were bullying an overweight kid at school. That made me so proud.

I hope that one day my sons will be able to accept and love me just as I am. Despite the conservative environment they’re in, they are huge fans of Glee and Lady Gaga. So there’s hope.

Anyway, my point with this letter is to say thanks. Thank you for your tireless crusade and message that I believe is having an impact in our American culture. Thank you for speaking up, for calling these crazy Christians on the carpet. More of us need to speak up. It really saddens me that there are still so many people out there that will end up getting married to someone of the opposite sex justy because they lack the courage and/or support to live as they truly are.

I can’t help but look at most of these “biblical” Christians that I see and think how ridiculous they are—but then have to remind myself to “forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And sometimes I’m even at odds with that thought, because they really do know better. They know what harm and pain their words cause. I’ve certainly been deeply wounded by so many “Christians” who couldn’t wait to condemn me. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of “loving judgment and spiritual concern” from my longtime Christian friends, their view of the Bible now so vastly different than mine.

Being removed from church membership because of my “lifestyle choice,” for instance, was such a painful and surreal experience.

I know firsthand how being treated as I have been can put one in the grips of depression and despair: thoughts of suicide can even completely take over. For me it has all made for a long and brutal road. And I sense it’s going to remain that way for quite some time.  I honestly fight it on a daily basis.  A former boss/friend of mine recently texted to ask how I’m doing. I replied, “You know, God gives me just the right amount of grace each day.” True that, but I could use just a wee bit more, please.

On the other hand, I’ve discovered a Jesus that I never really knew nor appreciated. It’s his life and words that inspire me to keep on going. As well as people like you, John.

I’m so grateful to the Universe and God for the Internet, and for how we all connect for the greater good.

Christians against homosexuality! Be afraid!

Hide your children!

Mobilize your legislators!

Call upon the very wrath of God!

Or, you know: rethink the Bible’s clobber passages, free yourself and those it harms from your bigotry, and start insisting upon a newer, better Christianity.

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. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • Tori Phillips via Facebook

    Thanks for posting this John…….

  • Tammy Lubbers via Facebook

    This is BEAUTIFUL!

  • LUAlly

    Hey. Just a message to the writer of this letter, to John, and to any other gay Christians, straight allies, Liberty students, those on the fence or any combination thereof:

    There are those of us within Liberty who are there. We are fighting, some of us in private, such as myself, and some of us in public for gay equality in our corner of Christendom. I’ve had so many conversations recently with current and former Liberty students about our LGBT brothers and sisters and how wrong we’ve been about them.

    Some of those conversations bore visible fruit right away, and others still require more work by the Holy Spirit, but I feel confident those people will come around. “I’ve loved me some gay-condemning fundies” as well, and still do. Most of my close friends fit that description. It’s incredibly painful for me to watch good, smart people who love God believe abhorrent things that grieve the Spirit, but that’s my burden to bear, as well as that of the others who are fighting.

    LU is full of wonderful people, despite what they believe about homosexuality, and I firmly believe; I’ve seen miraculously in my own life that Christ is in the business of changing hearts and this “issue” (I hate even calling it that) is no different. The road to that bright future is paved with tears and pain, but it is the road we walk and God will never give us more than we can handle. We can handle this. We are weak. We are scared. I myself am too scared to even go public with what I believe. We can never move forward save for Christ being our strength and our courage, the same strength and courage I see displayed on this blog every time I visit.

    I apologize for this longwinded rant, but I just felt like God was telling me to say these words.

    • Marlene Lund

      Keep fighting the good fight, LUAlly! May God give you courage to speak out, and the opportunities to do so!

      • LUAlly

        Thanks. I can always tell when it’s time to talk to someone. The Spirit moves me and gives me words I would be too scared to speak on my own.

    • GLP

      You can’t fight against God and win. Perhaps a few battles, but not the war. Please align yourself with word of God not cultural misinformation-that’s your responsibility as a Christian.

      • DR

        You are an ignorant, terrified human being who hides behind our beautiful faith because you are too terrified to change. If you didn’t do so much damage, I’d completely ignore you but I can’t because of how you harm the gay community – particularly children. Your ” theology” is rooted in oppression, homophobia and hostility but you’re too scared to realize that.

        Thankfully your beliefs will only be a faint memory, this current generation of Christian kids finds yrials dangerous and embarrassing as I do (thank God). But until then, you need to be either countered or just silenced so we can protect people from you until you snap out of whatever keeps you so indifferent to the impact you have on God’s Beloved children. God have mercy on you.

      • Melody

        You can’t win by hiding under a million aliases, FRANK. Give it up. You’re so out of the loop on what constitutes true Christianity, you were left in the dust ages ago and are still floundering. Echoing DR, God have mercy on you.

      • LUAlly

        Right you are. The collective opinion of the Church has been fighting this war against God to cling to dehumanizing beliefs about LGBT people, they’ve won a lot of battles, but God’s Light continues to conquer battlefields. My own heart is one such battlefield, Christ has conquered more through me and I have confident assurance that more will come. Even yours, brother.

      • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

        Isn’t it a little blasphemous to tell someone who disagrees with *your* interpretation of a small handful of verses that they’re “fighting against God”? Neither you, your church, your pastor, your denomination, nor your preferred translation of the Bible are God.

        • Don Rappe

          I think the more accurate word is idolatrous, and these ideas are somewhat characteristic of those who have been seduced by the inerrancy heresy. Here, by heresy, I mean a misconstruction of theology which incorporates idolatry. The inerrancy heresy arose among some Christians after the (Anglican) scientist Charles Darwin made his revolutionary discoveries about the origin of species. There were some Christians who were afraid this discovery invalidated the sacred teachings of our faith, and acting out of fear, not trusting the creator of all things, invented a teaching that confused God’s inspiration of scriptures with a kind of “dictating” of them and used this misunderstanding to contradict God’s direct manifestation of his work in the created world. This idolatrous misunderstanding seduced millions of people including our own little troll. Idolatry is destructive of the faith and the unChristian acts of fearful bigotry we notice on this blog is only one of the consequences. Another is that many, mistaking this heresy for the true faith, may lose their faith when they notice, that like every idol, it breaks and fails.

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      Let the strength that caused you to write this continue to rise up within you. This was a good start but you’re at that school for a reason. Despite there being really lovely people there who I’m sure, have no intentions of hurting anyone you know they are. You can read that here.

      God continue to bless you, to provide you with the clarity you need to pursue the path of Truth. It always comes at a cost – always. You will lose some of this community of friends if you speak openly. And those are exactly the friends you need to lose.

      Don’t be afraid. Do the right thing. You started with this post but your work is far from over. Much love to you, it’s really scary, I know. Do as much as you can. xoxo

      • LUAlly

        Thanks. And I know I’m there for a reason. Some nights God won’t stop SCREAMING at me act publicly on what I know to be true. I’ve grown immensely, by the grace of God over the past couple of years, and the closer I get, the more my heart is broken for what break’s Christ’s. And yeah, I’m scared I’ll lose friends. Some of my close friends are religion majors who can probably out-argue me. One more reason to not attempt to do this on my own power. Every time Christ uses us to speak Truth and Light into the lives of others, we are but mouthpieces. That provides a lot of comfort in and of itself. I appreciate the love and support.

        • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

          It’s scary to lose friends, you realize in this situation how much we rely upon them! I know exactly what you’re going through. You’re a tough cookie and what you are doing is so important. Thank you for your willingness to count the cost. xoxo

  • Kristin

    As someone who also came out later in life, I understand the weirdness of the perspective shift. Never having felt the minority feeling until then, it is something that takes some getting used to to say the least. On the flip side, there’s no greater peace than laying your head down each night knowing that you’re finally being true to yourself as a gay individual and that is a priceless feeling.

    This post and a recent conversation with an “old-fundie” friend has made me realize again how important straight allies like Mr. John Shore really are to the community–and to humanity as a whole. Because I AM gay, it is seems much easier for Christians to label my argument as just another aspect of my larger deception, but when straight allies speak out, I believe it throws a small essential kink in the anti-gay rhetoric. A very needed voice.

    Good luck and more grace to the above….and congratulations for being true to yourself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

    The writer is very eloquent. His words convey a deep sense of compassion and a perceptive intellect. They make me want to reach out and hug him. I can relate. In my early 40′s, with two teen sons, I found myself in almost exactly the same situation he is in now. (I’m 68). And it’s even that same way with my ex. We get along better now than before in those rare times we find ourselves thrown together for whatever reasons.

    Hang tuff, letter writer. It does get better. Time heals. Maybe not ALL wounds. Some can’t be healed, but it at least covers those with band aids that yes, slip off occasionally. There will be more tears. But Jesus’ Spirit will sustain you. Take it from one who is, I suspect about 20 years ahead of you and been there, done that, sometimes literally flat on my face. God, the pain constricts me still. A band aid just slipped……..

    Hang on and God bless you.

    And yes, thank you John, for being. I wish I could hug you too. I gotta stop now……

    • Jill

      Solidarity–sometimes, some days, that’s all we’ve got. But the LGBTQ community and their straight allies have to stick together and lift each other up all the time because that wall of hatred hasn’t been torn down yet. Like the Berlin Wall, it must and it will come down for keeps.

      Until then, these are spaces we hang together and send love and blessings. On some days, that can be enough.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

    Just a quick PS John. I can’t figure out how your headline relates to the letter. I could grasp NO “terrifying agenda” or “anti-Christian” or any kind of “agenda” in it. What am I missing?

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

      A sarcasm detector? :-)

      • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        Of course there’s a terrifying anti-Christian gay agenda going on! Ice cream with the kids! Doesn’t anybody know the danger of rainbow sprinkles?

      • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

        I have a Speech degree and I understand that vocal inflections, eye contact and body language don’t show up in the written word.

        But even knowing your intent of sarcasm, I still don’t see it. Not being critical. Just don’t get it. Even sarcasm has to relate somehow and I don’t see how that headline does.

        No matter. You’re great. Don’t let me throw you into a depression..

        Heh.

        • Don Rappe

          I’m slow, so I understand your question. John’s headline simply parrots how many in the “Christian community” such as LU have described the letter writer. When you read the letter and see how far it seems from John’s description, that’s a joke! jaja jeje get it?

  • Jackson Hearn

    I, too, can relate to what the letter writer said. I want to tell him to hold fast to hope, for there is hope. Even more hopeful is the response from the Liberty University Ally who commented on how there are changing attitudes even at LU. Did you read the book, The Unlikely Disciple, by the Brown University student who “studied abroad” at Liberty to discover what those people were like? He discovered that they are essentially good people, which a strong faith, who just need to be loved into a change of heart.

  • Rev. Carl Johnson

    Beautifully and fully written. I pray you find the Grace that those with open eyes and hearts have found. That you sons defend those who are bullied says much about the lessons they apply. I pray your family, and especially your sons, find the path to forgiveness and understanding.

    It gets better.

  • Matt

    Hey letter writer,

    I’m so glad you have found the courage to be true to yourself. Don’t feel bad about being on good terms with your ex-wife; my parents have been divorced for years and remain good friends. You can’t erase 25 years of partnership and co-parenting as easily as a marriage.

    Ultimately, you will be a better parent to their children. They have seen a powerful shift in their father and it will leave a permanent positive impression on them.

    I’m glad I broke through my denial so early in my life (I’m only in my early 20s), but I have such respect for the older crowd who are finding new lives for themselves :).

    • Matt

      *your children, that is. Goodness, I need to have a sharper editor’s eye!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bob.rogers.56 Bob Rogers via Facebook

    Once again, Thanks John.

  • Allie

    I feel so sad about this man’s relationship with his sons. The conservative Christian “family values” types have a lot to answer for when they set sons against their father.

    • Molly by Golly

      The pain is authentic, the injustice real and everyone in this story is a victim of a culture of repression and disunity. However, the letter writer embraced and supported a form of Christianity grounded in division and exclusion until he, himself, was ejected from the fold. He helped build the walls he now suffers outside. Part of the “answer” must come from him.

    • Lymis

      Amen.

      And all too often, vice versa.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

      Jesus told us it would happen in Luke 12:53, the verse about sons against fathers and fathers against sons, etc. If you point out the divisiveness to them, they will simply fall back on that verse, putting themselves on the “righteous” side, never mind that is could be interpreted either way.

      The Living Bible version gives it a different perspective that I think is very helpful.

      “A father will decide one way about me; his son, the other; mother and daughter will disagree; and the decision of an honored mother-in-law will be spurned by her daughter-in-law.”

      That version totally changes the perspective from a discussion of a particular social issue, to one of how we think of Jesus. Too bad it hasn’t been like that all along. Biblical interpretation has caused so much pain in human life………

      • Allie

        Ugh, you’re right, they would use that verse as an excuse. I don’t even think that way. That verse really should be used as a reason for doing the RIGHT thing, not an excuse for doing the WRONG thing.

  • Jana Harrison Currier via Facebook

    Wow! I’d love to give him a hug!

  • TheIntellectualGerbil

    hi there,

    i would like to address the writer of that letter. thank you for sharing this, i was deeply moved by your words.

    i am happy for you that you are on good terms with your ex-wife. this way you can see your kids without some very ugly fights and can maintain a good relationship with them.

    as for your sons: they probably just need some time – at 13 / 15 it is hard enough to get to grips with your own identity. fitting in a father that (from their perspective) suddenly “turned” gay is not easy, especially growing up in a very conservative surrounding.

    i hope you can rely on your ex-wife to put in a good word now and again. that would really help i think.

    if it seems to take forever for your sons to come around, just remind yourself how long it has taken you to come to terms with who you are. give them time to get to grips with the situation. they are your kids and it is very likely they will reach out at some point, just don’t give up. try to stay in touch, keep the line of communication open even if it is just a monologue on your part for now.

    also, if i was in your shoes i would try to write them a letter and tell them how you feel … that you love them, that you love your ex-wife (which i know is true, just not in the way necessary for a marriage), that you are sorry for what has come to pass but you could not lie to yourself and the people you love any longer.

    a letter will allow you to articulate your thoughts better than a conversation could because you can reflect on what you need to say and how best to say it.

    if they don’t want to talk to you, you could ask your ex-wife to deliver that letter for you. if she wants to support you in reaching out, this move on her part would help a lot because it actively shows your sons that their mother is, given the circumstances, at least relatively ok with the situation.

    stay strong, you will find a way to reach your sons.

    my heart and best wishes go out to you.

  • Sarah

    Dear writer of this letter,

    I’m deeply sorry for your pain. While our circumstances are different I understand the ache of despair and how it feels to know (not imagine) the journey ahead is long and looks difficult.

    May you continue to feel as if you have enough grace for the day. Sometimes when people tell me about their desire for grace – to handle things like someone who parks too close – I can’t help but wonder if they realize the “enough” we need is so much more than they imagine. Probably not. It used to make me angry but then, as you have, I found a couple of places where good people spend some time (like this site) A few of these people radiate grace, it’s pretty comforting, eh? – “connecting” as you call it. Please know that I’ll be praying for you and that I don’t take that commitment lightly :) may you be blessed with strength, energy, and peace – all the necessities for your journey. Much love (and grace) be with you.

    Sarah

  • Mary

    What a beautiful, heartfelt, well written letter! Thank you John, for posting it. Thank you to the letter’s author for sharing with us. I just know YOU are going to be fine. I have many high school friends that went to the Liberty schools & university & many more that went to Bob Jones University. Unfortunately, for most of them, they have never been able to escape the fundamentalist oppression under which they were educated. Needless to say…. we are not close anymore. Thank God for the questioning spirit & mind He gave me…. without it I would be missing out on so much life has to offer.

  • Michelle P.

    My thoughts, prayers and love go to this letter writer and his family.

  • Lymis

    Dear Letter Writer.

    Hang in there. You’re not alone. There are people in the gay community who can support you, and more and more people in the Christian community who are coming to openly support us.

    Time in the desert always sucks.

  • InaCat

    it may take years – but at some point, I suspect your sons will find themselves kicking the ground and understanding the love and sacrifice that underscore both phases of your life – and they will find that their father (like their savior) has been waiting, hoping, for that moment all that time, because that’s something that each of us have to come around to in our own way, in our own time.

    for now… blessed be.

  • Marlene Lund

    To the man who wrote this letter, my heart hurts so much for you! You have been on a very difficult journey and God is sustaining you, even though your pain leaps off the screen in your letter. I pray that your sons will come to see you are still the loving father they have loved all their lives, that their minds and hearts will not be poisoned by teachers against you, and that your ex-wife will continue to honor you in their presence. I also pray for peace for you, and that you will find a faith community that will embrace you and hold you up during this time. Peace! May the God of love be with you!

  • Joy

    I appreciate the author’s words and hope and pray for healing within his family. I have a niece and nephew that attend LU and they are warm and loving young adults with a strong faith. Yes, I disagree with them on many things about Christianity (having left the Baptist church and joined the Episcopal church) but they are not hateful people. They just honestly believe their interpretation of the Bible. But they are young and have a long way to go in their faith journey (as do the author’s sons). Who knows where God may lead any of us. I am so glad to hear from LU students that things are beginning to change a little there. God’s love casts a wide net.

  • GLP

    He didn’t believed God’s word about this and gave into desires that came out of his upbringing and early environment. Current false ideas are deceiving people about the real cause of this disorder. God have mercy.

    • DR

      Troll alert

    • Don Rappe

      No one can call Jesus Lord, except by the Spirit of God!

    • Melody

      You are a horrible, unfeeling, disgusting excuse for a person. Still believing anti-gay lies and blind as ever to reality.

    • Lymis

      “Current false ideas are deceiving people about the real cause of this disorder.”

      How true. People believe that this comes out of upbringing and early environment, despite the fact that everyone who has studied it and everyone who has experienced it make it clear that there’s more going on than things like “bad parenting.”

      God has a a lot of words that we are fine just the way He created us, and that all love is of God and anyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

      On the other hand, God’s word also has a lot to say about how you are supposed to treat your neighbor, and some pointed things to say about condemning others. You might want to review those parts before you continue to hurt other people.

      It’s clear that it never occurred to you that being led to tell the truth, come out of the closet, and pursue a life of love in authenticity and integrity is precisely God’s response to the Letter Writer’s prayers.

      Having to put up with people like you isn’t, though it does, sadly, come with the territory.

    • Mindy

      I won’t even dignify this ugliness with a response, except to say that if it WAS his upbringing and early environment, then it was the fault of fundamentalist Christianity, as that is how he was raised. Or did you miss that part?

      • http://MaleSurvivor.org John C.

        Way to go, Mindy! That’s one point most on both sides always seem to miss. Thanks for bringing it up :)

      • Lymis

        Unfortunately, the people who need to hear what you meant will simply hear that as a call to double down and be even more horrible to their kids.

        They’ll hear it as that they weren’t fundamentalist enough.

    • Carol VanderNat

      Wait…read that again and pretend that I, a gay woman, am saying that about YOU!!!! and your (disorder) bigotry!! It’s kinda funny, actually…..

  • David

    I read this fellow’s post with personal interest as I graceless the same path starting four years ago. Though there are differences…the difficulty and pain are shared. I can only assure him that God will give him grace sufficient to carry on…He never abandons…we sometimes forget musty how loving He is. If this fellow traveler would like to contact me for the purpose of sharing…knowing he is not alone…I have found this to be extremely helpful…then I share my name and e-mail address. I hope he does contact me…David J Martin…duckman44625@yahoo.com. Namaste and be at peace

  • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

    Dear Letter Writer,

    Those who go against their family to pursue the truth while knowing they are going to experience loss and misunderstanding are my inspiration. It’s so hard to be true to who God made us to be when there is so much pressure – even rejection – to be just that, to be fully ourselves. There are a million ways to experience this that have nothing to do with being gay but the institutional oppression you face while doing so and being gay is something I can’t imagine. I hope your heart and mind are finding ways to rest, to refresh themselves and I hope you’re finding lots of Grace and Peace. Much love to you.

  • http://lgbttraining.blogspot.com.au/ Anthony Venn-Brown

    faaaaaaaaaaabulous……..just faaaaaaaaaaaaaabulous…..you must be so chuffed to recieve such a heartfelt letter. I know the feeling. We are blessed.

  • John C Hoddy via Facebook

    I am a Lynchburg resident and former Liberty student as well. May God continue to bless this brave gentleman in his journey! You sir are an extraordinary believer.

  • jesse

    What a BEAUTIFUL and amazing letter! i think the fact that the letter writer’s sons are especially involved with “less popular” kids at school means that they ARE coming to grips with the major changes in their lives. Baby steps, one at a time. It sounds like they are at least on the right track and will hopefully come around to accept and fully embrace the letter writer being honest and real and exactly as God made them.

  • Elizabeth

    Both the letter writer and your response are spot-on. Always such a pleasure, John.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christie.draper.58 Christie Draper via Facebook

    Courage to this wonderful man…those of us with gay children thank you for your courage…

  • Jess Abel Wright via Facebook

    I anxiously wait for a day when there is no need for a closet. Love to you and your family as all continue to heal! ♥

  • http://www.facebook.com/valreia ValReia Ann Lavigne Cox via Facebook

    Whosoever believes shall have everlasting life.

    • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

      And your point is…?

      • Melody

        It threw me, too, at first. I think she means that anyone is welcome in God’s kingdom, including LGBT people.

        • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

          That’s what I think too, but I can see a literalist-oriented person asserting that only those with the right sort of beliefs will make the cut.

  • Brian W

    Touching letter, I wonder though if the writer always knew he was gay and was he living a lie when he met, presumably fell in love with, married and fathered 4 kids with his ex, or is he living a lie now? Most letters and posts I read on here from gays claim they “knew” they were always gay or born gay. When I read letters like this, I end up scratching my head and wonder how it can take nearly 40 years to “come out” when someone was always gay. I guess it was fundamental Christian manipulation /brainwashing for nearly 40 years. My heart does go out to him when I read how his sons have cut off all communication with him, perehpas with time, that relationship can be healed, by God’s grace.

    • Diana A.

      The Christian culture (particularly the Fundamentalist Christian culture–but even the more mainstream Christian culture has been slow on this issue) tells people gay, straight and in-between that homosexuality is a sin–that if you’re sexually/romantically drawn to a person of the same gender, it’s because Satan’s got a hold on you and that you need to fight this “temptation.” Up until recently, there’s been no leeway given for the findings of science or the real experiences of the GLBT (etc.) community. So, a young Christian, finding within his/herself, these impulses will seek to deny them, suppress them, drown them in heterosexuality–whatever it takes to make them go away. Only, they don’t.

      This is why the kindest thing we can do for all concerned is to make it safe for the QUILTBAGs to come out. The truth is, gender and sexuality are far more complicated than we’ve been lead to believe in the past. The sooner society comes to terms with this and quits trying to force square pegs into round holes, the easier it will be for all people to be themselves instead of trying to force themselves to be what they are not.

      • Greg McCaw

        “QUILTBAGs”? Please inform me of the meaning of this odd acronym? My own story is nearly identical to the man who wrote this letter to John, except that I don’t have any children. And, now I pastor a very progressive church mostly made up of LGBTI persons. Still, I find myself clueless as to the meaning or origination of this acronym… Greg

        • Christine

          Don’t worry. I’ve only ever seen “QUILTBAG” on this site. It’s aweful. Please feel free to let it die a painful death here.

          • Diana A.

            Sorry. I’ll stop using it.

          • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

            No apology necessary. It’s used here and the was no reason for you to think anything wrong with it. But it would actually make my day to think it won’t ever be refered to as a quiltbag again. :) Most words with “bag” at the end applied to a person would sound insulting. Saying “accept the quiltbags” sounds no better than “we’re stuck with the douchebags/dirtbags/nutbags, so we might as well deal”. It’s, well, mean-sounding.

          • Diana A.

            True, especially regarding the fact that adding the word “bag” is now an effective way to turn any word into an insult. That’s too bad because the word “bag” in itself is pretty harmless. Oh well. Such is life!

          • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

            Personally, the term has always conjured up an endearing image for me.

            I once worked at an arts/craft store and one of the things that we sold were these handbags and shoulder-bags that were popular with the grandma set. They were colorful-paisely and they were quilted. They sold out quickly every time we had them because, well, people thought they were cute. I regret not ever getting one for myself – though I’m too young for it to be fashionable for me. They were quilt-bags! And they were cute!

          • Diana A.

            Just goes to show how different words bring different associations to people’s minds depending on their experiences. Oh well!

          • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

            Which is simply why communities need to name themselves.

            Maybe if selling these quilt-bags was part of being a sexual/gender minority, then QUILTBAG would be the ultimate acronym! The label needs to match our experience.

          • Allie

            I read a comic called that, so I was familiar with the term. However I doubt such a mess of alphabet soup will ever catch on. It’s also by no means a given that all people with non-vanilla sexuality want to be grouped together.

          • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

            I consider myself the “A” in the list – Asexual. I’m one of those “too old to be a virgin” people who is, by choice, because of indifference. Of course, when I’m asked if there’s something “wrong” with me, I bring up my wonky brain chemistry, so I have an “excuse,” I guess.

            I don’t think it would be fair to lump me into a big “Queer” crowd. I used to spout the crap I heard from preachers like this place’s trolls use some years ago, so even though I’ve changed, I don’t feel the “right” as it were. I also do not feel particularly persecuted for my (lack of) sexuality – on the same grounds that people don’t have unicorn-hunting parties or feel the need to ban marriages between elves. Being “nonexistant” in the eyes of most of society can actually be a good thing. You remain relatively un-discriminated against simply for flying under the radar.

          • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

            This is a good point, Shadsie. Arguing for LBGTQ rights is something specific, often legal, which is different from the challenges of the Is and As.

        • Diana A.

          I’ve heard it on this site and here’s what I think it stands for:

          Q=queer

          U=undecided

          I=intersexed

          L=lesbian

          T=transgender

          B=bisexual

          A=asexual

          G=gay.

          That said, I note Christine’s objection to the term so I will stop using it. My point remains: gender and sexuality are far more complicated than we’ve been lead to believe in the past.

    • Patrick Woodbeck

      Hi Brian,

      I know that I cannot speak for the writer of this letter, but I can speak from my own experience. When you are raised in a environment that expects certain things from you, you live into those expectations ( I myself was raised very strict Roman Catholic). Although I had feelings towards other men at an early age, I could not reconcile this within myself; it could not truly be me. I was ashamed and afraid of who I might be and so I pushed all of those feeling deep down inside but the shame and guilt was still there. I was so ashamed of who I was, there was no way I could admit it to another person….because I could not admit those feelings to myself. I am lucky because my sons accept me and my partner for who we are and we have a great relationship with them now, even when their mother was alive we all had a good relationship.

      What we learn as a child can and does affect us for many years….I know I wished it was different but the reality is in the process of my coming out I still hurt those I cared about the most, my children and their mother.

      • Brian W

        Diana and Patrick,

        Thanks for your thoughtful replies, always learning…..always learning….

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

          Brian: get to know ONE gay man who was married for, say, 15 years or more, and who then came out. (You’d have no problem meeting and getting to know such a person; they’re everywhere.) You’ll never again ask how such a thing could be true. (And/or read my book UNFAIR. One of the reasons I collected the letters from gay Christians I therein present was by way of definitely answering your exact question.)

          • Brian W

            Will do John

          • Matt

            The idea of “born this way, always this way” comes from the idea that gayness is a discrete, separate category from the rest of humanity–it’s leftover from the days when homosexuality was “diagnosed” by psychiatrists, without input from the person whatsoever. We still act out this “diagnosis” nonsense–ever heard of gaydar?

            There is enormous pressure on LGBT folks to “always know,” otherwise we’re “fake” or “just seeking attention.” Our genders and sexualities, immensely private and personal parts of ourselves, become instead a set of characteristics we need to check off in order to be taken seriously or even treated fairly.

            But at the same time, the majority of us grow up in communities that have no space for us, no peers like us. There aren’t even WORDS to describe us, sometimes. It’s only natural that many of us (including me) would choose the path of least resistance–be straight, be the gender you were born as. And there are always other considerations in our lives–being LGBT doesn’t define us, and there may be things that mask or cover it up as well.

            I have no doubt that the letter writer was sometimes happy and even content with his previous life, and that he loves his children and ex-wife (that much is obvious in his letter). It makes it infinitely harder to step out of that comfort zone to live an authentic life that’s wonderful but scary and unknown.

            In short: He is so incredibly brave there are no words :).

    • Lymis

      I’m probably a bit older than the letter writer, at 52. But I don’t think a lot of people understand, looking at the way things are today what they were like not all that long ago.

      I always knew I was different, and it didn’t take me very long to realize that different was bad, and that it was desperately important to figure out fast how to not be different and to stay as visibly not different as possible. It felt as if my life depended on it, and since I succeeded more or less reasonably well, I never had to find out whether or not it really did.

      There were no positive gay role models. Period. Nobody on TV. Nobody in politics. Nobody out in public. Nobody who was that wonderful gay couple next door. The year I was born, sodomy was still illegal in every US state. I didn’t find out there was a word for what I was until 7th grade, and even then I didn’t make the obvious connection that if there was a word for it, I couldn’t be the only one.

      Pre-internet, the only sources of information about homosexuality were the public library and porn. And in most communities, especially in the south, the library was certainly not going to carry much information, and access to gay porn was pretty abysmal until the 80′s.

      So “those people” were universally horrible. “They” were monsters, and everyone knew “they” were mostly interested in little boys, anyway. They were completely anti-social, never had any friends, couldn’t possibly be members of any church, had no social contact with members of the opposite sex, and they were always sad, damaged, and on the fringe of society.

      And absolutely everyone knew it was a choice.

      So even if you did know, or dimly sensed, what was going on, even if you knew that it was men who attracted you rather than women, if you were a relatively happy, well-adjusted person who went to church, had female friends, loved God, and didn’t wear pastel pink and frilly neckscarves, well then, whatever the hell you were, you weren’t “one of them.”

      Believe it or not, it really was perfectly possible to know that you were only attracted to men and not to realize you were gay.

      And remember, even to this day, most Christian denominations absolutely forbid sexual activity until after marriage. The further back in time you go, the more they meant it, and the more practically able they were to have it be real. Put stronger social pressures against premarital sex in place, keep people from adolescent access to even straight porn, much less any gay porn, and it’s entirely possible for someone never to really consciously make the connection that they’d rather have sex with someone of the same sex.

      All of society shares the blame for this, but conservative Christians more so than most. Because even once homosexuality did come up on people’s radars, they doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on the idea that it was simply a particularly grievous sin, and to this day many completely deny that there is even such a thing as sexual orientation. The cure it to pray and to get married (to someone else’s daughter, not mine, thanks) and let Jesus make it all go away.

      Besides, sex isn’t supposed to be all that important, anyway, and sex for pleasure is suspect in and of itself. So as long as you are procreating, whether you are happy or not is completely unimportant. And most gay men can be great best friends with women and love them dearly.

      For someone raised in that environment, including what sounds like exclusively Christian schooling, it actually ends up being a fundamental denial of one’s religion, one’s belief in the inerrancy of the Bible (as taught to these people) and a rejection of Christianity itself to even consider the idea that you yourself might be gay, wired that way, and incapable of change. For a lot of us, it isn’t until we actually are willing to let go of all of that, often because we hit a crisis point that it’s letting go or literally dying, that we can even begin to consider, much less believe, that there isn’t a conflict between being gay and loving God, and never was.

      • Steve Cooper

        This is where I am at exactly (including my age!) and very well said. I found the courage to come out at age 46, married and father of one. Also employed by a church (!). I have been more fortunate than most, as my former wife and I love each other dearly, as well as our son, and my church, though it went through some very rough times, did not fire me. The “inner work” necessary is what will take longer for me, I think. I remain grateful for so many people willing to share their stories, and for our “straight allies” in our churches and communities.

    • Brian

      yes, I always knew, but I’m with Diane. The problem was that it was never an option. The choices were: be straight, or go to hell. You see the categorically reason for suicidal thoughts there?!

      Until the fundies get their hateful heads out of their hateful butts, the bullying, depression, condemnation, and judgment will continue….all I can do is live the Truth, in courage and love…being authentic to who I am and not making any apologies.

      Ezekiel 16:49

      For THIS was the sin of Sodom: She was arrogant, overfed, unconcerned, and did not help the poor and needy.

  • Yomy Isnot via Facebook

    What a horrible contradiction and destruction he had to live through. Not that his sexual orientation was a sin but that he denied it for so long and that caused damage to other and himself. That is so hard to live through and he is brave for finally coming to terms with it. Why can’t conservatives see that this prejudice does such destruction? Because that would be to admit they are wrong about so many things and that the flaw is in themselves.

  • gmknobl

    I have a hard time with just a little bit of anger every time I go through Lynchburg. I see Fallwell Airport and think of all that money spent honoring someone whose chief contributions seem to be hate and educating other on using that hate all while making tons of money for himself and other rich people. I get upset when a Bretheren church camp has a majority of its counselors come from Liberty or when a father will only give his son money to go to college if he goes to Liberty to “learn the Bible.” I find it hard not to say something snide or mean or even simply “Liberty is not where you can learn about Jesus teachings.” I want to say “are they even accredited as a legitimate college or was that rating system bought off too?”

    Honestly, just thinking about it makes me angry right now. Not all people in Lynchburg thing this way though. Some are truly good liberals who follow the teachings of Christ in action if not by name. Some conservatives are good people too that are just misguided. And my anger only makes others angry. I pray I can get over that anger I feel as a knee-jerk response to all the self-serving conservatism that exists here in Virginia and elsewhere in the U.S. now. That same self-serving conservatism used to be rejected while the term liberal was a compliment, even within my lifetime. Now, the reverse is true. God, help me get over my anger or at least, don’t let it upset me so much. If possible, can I affect a positive change in one person outside my family too?

    • R Mills

      If it makes you feel better, Falwell airport is not named after Jerry, but rather his brother. From what I understand the two sides of that family were quite different in their beliefs.

      • Diana A.

        This actually does make me feel better.

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    As a divorced parent, I’d just like to say to the writer to give your older sons time…if they are as compassionate as they sound, accepting your sexuality will probably be the easiest part of the healing process. Older kids, in my experience, are very angry at their parents when they divorce, particularly the parent whose life changes might be the reason for the divorce to happen. Their once-stable world has deen destroyed, through no fault of their own. If if they are able to rationally understand why it had to happen, they still need to come to terms with their anger and grief. Even if they have compassion for LGBT people, they may still be mad at YOU for being gay because you are supposed to be married to their mom FOREVER. PERIOD. END OF STORY.

    I think my children will always want me to reconcile with their dad, even though I’m now very happily remarried to a man they both adore.

    Divorce is just tough on kids, even when its a divorce you can’t really avoid.

    I believe your sons will eventually come to terms with their feelings about you and the divorce and your sexuality. Your former church…likely not, may God forgive them. Kudos to you and your former spouse for maintaining a friendly relationship. Its such an adult thing to be able to do and I know so many couples who can’t. I wish my ex was able to be friendly with me, but he just isn’t. It makes it harder for the kids.

  • Scott Jensen

    Sometimes true acceptance has to start with ourselves before others can accept us. Hang in there. It’s a beautiful universe.

  • Joel

    Brian

    Im right there with you brother. I was married for 14 years. I didnt have any children but I know what your saying about ex family members, being shunned from your church and dealing with life being a gay man here in Southern Missouri. I spend most of my time feeling out of place and a little alone. I came out about 3 years ago now and things are getting better as time goes by. I have no regrets other then the fact that I lost so many years not being true to who I was, slowly I am coming to terms with it. Stay strong!

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.ray.52 Matthew Ray via Facebook

    It amazes me how a child could disown their parent, especially for being honest about who they are. I hope they grow up, and learn what Christianity is really about. It is encoraging to see a supportive ex-wife.

    • Rachel G.

      Your sons will grow up, eventually, but right now they are children. What they thought was a brick-and-mortar family foundation has been wiped out. When they no longer are having their own private pity-party, they’ll come around and ask you for forgiveness and inclusion. They are just kids!

  • Laury

    @ Greg….

    A more inclusive acronym to be used instead of LGBT

    Q – Queer/Questioning

    U – Unidentified

    I – Intersex

    L – Lesbian

    T – Transgender, Transexual

    B – Bisexual

    A – Asexual

    G – Gay/Genderqueer

    • http://www.unn Christine

      Do we REALLY have to be QUILTBAGs? I mean, of course we do need to be, even excessively, inclusive – obsessively so. But that is just THE worst acronym I have probably ever heard. I just cannot muster enough PCedness to want to ever be referred to as a quiltbag. I just can’t do it. Can we not just let the Q (queer) be the umbrella term we need and leave it at that? Please?

      • Drew

        I’m gay and “old” (51) and just emerging. I’m down with “queer.”

    • Susan Carter Finazzo

      I really like QUILTBAG; Nice, Laury! John, I loved your book Unfair (although I have to admit I prefer the original title); and am now reading Jay Michaelson’s “God vs Gay? The Religious Case for Equality! Well Done.

    • Greg McCaw

      I think I have to stand with Christine on this one. Thanks for the answer, however. I appreciate any attempts to be inclusive, in fact I work closely with the LGBTQIA office on the campus of UNC Wilmington. Do you have any idea on where this acronym originated? I’ve never heard it before and I’m pretty deeply involved in all kinds of activism. I do not like it, at all, frankly. Unless someone can give me some reason to like it, as in, how does it somehow speak positively of our “otherness”? Thanks!

      • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

        This reminds me of why I don’t want a new acronym. I came to know of it as “LBGT” issues/rights because of the name of the group on campus where I went to university – where my gay friends went when I was fundy. Then “LBGT” or “GLBT” issues/rights in the news through protests, parades and court rulings. Through winning on gay marriage. “LBGT” means something to me – it resonates. You can’t just replace something that has so much meaning for people. That OUR term. It belongs to us. I’m all for adding new letters, but I don’t want to lose the feel of the original.

      • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

        It’s basically a memory trick for remembering all those letters in LGBTQIA with the addition of ‘u’. The problem with lgbt is that it leaves a lot of gender and sexual minorities out. “Queer” as an umbrella term is problematic with the older generation who never encountered the word except as a prelude to a beating until fairly recently. It’s also a rather othering term.

        I suppose QUILTGAB works as well, but suggests a gathering to discuss quilts.

        • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

          Yeah, how about not turning a whole community’s experience into a nemonic device?

          I mean, can you imagine how far we would have gotten fighting for “quiltbag rights”? Who would have taken us seriously?

          Just put in the effort to remember the letters (which, let’s face it, keep changing). Seems like a small sacrifice.

          • Susan Carter Finazzo

            In the perfect world we wish we lived in there would be no need for a term to describe anyone’s “otherness”. I have used LGBT and GLBT (with and without the Q) . Maybe it’s just that I see a “QUILTBAG” as a bunch of fabric squares waiting to be interwoven into one beautiful piece of artwork, that can be wrapped around my shoulders to make me feel warm and comfortable. I still like it, just make it plural and you’ve covered everyone! (I think. . .)

          • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

            Yes, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need it. But in this imperfect world, we should make an effort to call people by the labels they prefer.

  • Christine

    You know, once you changed the title, it put a whole different spin on the picture.

  • K.E.

    Thank you to the letter writer for your bravery and honesty. I hope that as your sons mature they will realize just how much courage it took for you to come out the way you did, and will forgive you and reconcile your relationship. It sounds like they are great kids, they’re just hurt and confused, and I imagine that with loving and kind parents like you and your ex wife they will come around with time.

  • Joan Reeves Jackson via Facebook

    I’m sure this man wants no pity, but how could anyone read this without tears? Sharing and sharing and sharing…

  • jack

    I feel so sad…I hate it when I hear/read the word ‘suicide’.

    To our dear “letter-writer”,

    I truly hope you have at least one good, true friend that hears and accepts your plight. Someone who will walk along side, before, and behind, to support and love you. I hope that you hear/read all these words of love and encouragement, and can find some sense of comfort. I can’t bear to think of your isolation and torment. Please, please don’t give up. It sounds as though you have a relationship with Jesus. Try to stay in tune with HIS love and mercy. Let His quiet whispers touch the deepest, darkest parts of your pain. Let His strong arms hold and protect you from the constant onslaught of evils fears and accusations. Let HIS promises fill your mind with visions of ‘tomorrow’, a land with no tears. Oh dear letter-writer…you’re loved! Please know that!

    What an inspiration you are to your sons, your children. Though they don’t quite understand that yet, as you persevere through this horrific nightmare, your strength, love, forgiveness, and compassion are going to bring such comfort and power to their lives. They may not see it now, but one day, their hearts will be enlightened, and they’ll see you as the brave, and courageous man that you are. On that day, their embrace will soothe the weeping wounds of your broken heart. You’ll know then, that your life has impacted them in such amazing ways. And that impact will grow, and live on not only in them, but in your grandchildren. What an wonderful heritage you have to pass on to them. Please hang on!

    Sorry to go on and on…

  • Jarod

    To the letter writer:

    Well… Same thing here. I was married for 10 years. As a matter of fact, it was the 10 year anniversary coming up at the time that made me really start to think (about 6 months before) that it was time that I be more truthful with myself, with her, and with everyone who knew me… The story is almost cliche. Grew up in an Assembly of God Church. My mother, I think, knew on some level… and as a blunt New Orleans woman, often found places to inject her thoughts on the issue of homosexuality, and of course all negative and all stereotypical.

    My now Ex and I met in college deep in The South, both sharing the same major and circle of friends. She WAS my best friend, both before marriage and during our marriage. We were intellectual equals who had a undeniable attraction to one another for a variety of reasons. On that, we found what we both felt was a rich love. We shared a life together, had a child together, formed careers together, and were each seeking that amazing level of happiness that everyone seeks… together! I had been deeply in love with her, and in ways that any physical attraction could not measure or surpass… although, in retrospect, I can say now that I knew that attraction was there… I just ignored it. I wasn’t important. Only she was. Everyone knew us as a couple, and we even worked together in very visible positions in the public school system. However, like what may happen to anyone, as one-half of any type of couple, somewhere along the way I lost my true love for her…

    She is a wonderful person, and deserved better. Some may say she deserved better even when I did feel as though I was “in love” with her, but… alas, we were VERY good together. We made each other better people. I know that while she is still very hurt by me, by even the sight of me, that she too would admit that.

    What I wish I knew how to explain to her, is that I too am/was hurt by me… by the path that I took… I hurt myself… as I am the type of compassionate person who dreaded the thought of inflicting pain of any type on anyone, especially someone whom I’d once felt deeply in love with. That day of “doom” was the source of nightmares in the latter days of my resolution to tell the person whom I’d built a life with about a part of me that I’d kept veiled from everyone. I knew that EVERYTHING would change.

    We are deep in the “Bible Belt” here where we both live. I too now pop over into the adjacent town where she lives to pick up my daughter or run an errand, and I can feel the stares of people. I can literally hear them talking about me in the grocery store while I am shopping with my daughter. I have resigned my highly visible position in the school system, and am headed out of state to start fresh.

    I hope that one day, for the sake of our 6-year old daughter that we can again learn to be “friends” in the way that we were that first drew us into a relationship in the first place. I hope that she can find it in her heart someday to know that on some level, I will always love her. That I never wanted to hurt her… I thought that our love and “fit” with each other could override this part of me… I want her to find someone who “fits” with her in EVERY way…

    Things are easier now… sort of. I’m in debt up to my ears due to taking my half of our assets (debt), and also attempting to put a sufficient roof over my head. The nightmares have stopped. There’s nothing in the back of my head anymore. Everyone I know has “heard about” me, because in The South we “fellowship” with information about others. We don’t gossip. Most people are “OK with me,” as if I am supposed to be concerned with what/how they think… Some have disappeared from my social and occupational web of acquaintances.

    My mother continues to refer to this as “the choice that I made.” Yes… because I would have “chosen” this. I try to explain to her that I was chosen; I have just stopped running from myself.

    As for my relationship with Our Savior. I love him as I always did, stronger now than before. I still believe that he loves me and everyone like me… and I now know more than ever that the people who spew the hate-speech, these so-called “Christians” know nothing truly about the love of Christ.

    Jarod

    • Jill

      Powerful story Jarod, and thank you for sharing it so honestly. How true we all make ‘choices’: whether to live gay or straight, whether to live an obvious church-going lifestyle, whether to stay close to a family that doesn’t want to see you for who you truly are, etc, etc.

      The challenge always remains for each of us, I think, to determine what our True North is and take daily steps to follow it. Even when that sometimes means leaving people we have loved behind.

      The god I’m down with gave me my path–good and bad– and all I can do is honor that path the best I’m able. And that’s all I can ask of others in my life.

  • Brian

    Letter writer– I am SO glad this was posted today. I am YOU! Separate by a few years and a couple of kids…but a gay L.U. survivor who came out at 36!

    Married for 14 years, two kids, and feeling the isolation of it all once coming out. I wonder how long you’ve been out? For me, it was more of a “Ok, I just went from being the guy who ‘struggles with his same sex attractions,’ worthy of a good ‘how to be a good little ex-gay’ seminar” to, “Yep, I’m gay.” After my wife’s second affair in particular, it was clearly time to call a spade a spade, even though she knew as well the whole time—guess we were just both trying to force a life that we thought we wanted, but was clearly inauthentic and void of any true fulfillment.

    I commend you for your courage—I know what it’s like in particular to be both a believer, an ex-ex-gay, to have kids, and to come out when you’re past the “ok to rage” age! We are definitely few and far between. I deal with feelings of isolation all the time. But, I continue to just plug into new, accepting communities, and even though I may feel the loneliest at night, it’s nowhere even close to the isolation, desperation, hopelessness, and isolation that I felt when lying next to a person with a wall in between us & I was living a lie.

    I have my kids, 6 and 2, with whom I am tremendously blessed, and I have opportunities that others only dream about. And now I am actually PRESENT for them. Peace, love, joy—yeah, I get it now….the Holy Spirit is NOT out to get me, or you. Yahoo!

    If you haven’t already, read “The Velvet Rage: Growing up Gay in a Straight Man’s World.” A friend gave it to me; changed my life.

    Thank you again for sharing your story.

    Ezekiel 16:49

    For THIS was the sin of Sodom: She was arrogant, overfed, unconcerned, and did not help the poor and needy.

  • Jill

    For anyone feeling inclined, one of the biggest companies on the planet makes a formal commitment to help decriminalize homosexuality and eliminate homophobia throughout the world.

    Check it out:

    http://www.google.com/diversity/legalise-love.html#pride

  • Ric Booth

    I loved this letter. My prayers go out to this man and his family.

    btw John, I love the original title as it reads in my google reader.

  • NJ Guy

    I’m the letter writer, and well, I’m also lame for not responding to all of the many wonderful people, and their loving comments. Several things struck me as I read through the comments. I always knew that my story wasn’t unique at all, but hearing from so many others out there simply reinforced that. Which of course, saddened me too. And which also makes me think of the other thoughts that I didn’t address necessarily, but want to add in. It’s not just me that has gone through the ringer — so many others. My lovely ex-wife, my wonderful kids, my parents, my friends — all discovering a part of me that they never knew. And as I shared with many of them how my point of view on the issue of Christianity, the Bible, and homosexuality had changed, their worlds were rocked and turned upside down in ways as well. The other thoughts that I wanted to convey & confess — I was terrible at times in the things I did, the betrayal, the things I said. I wish I could go back in time and erase — and behave differently — handle the situation in a much better way. But I can’t. But I’m asking for forgiveness.

    So, it’s not just my loved ones, but so many other peoples’ loved ones go through this same turmoil. I was struck by how many of you on John’s post and thread are so loving, compassionate….and articulate and intelligent. Grateful for John’s messaging out here as well as so many others that are creating a voice to help educate our world. So a very big thanks to you all that took time out to write back such insightful and informative responses. Wish I could give you all a big hug.

    I also believe that, if there’s any beauty or any learning through truly hitting rock bottom, one gains a far greater understanding and sense of compassion, for those that are hurting and in need. Whether it be someone that is homeless, suffers from depression, or has experienced loss — I have had my eyes and heart opened wide. And for that I’m truly grateful — it has made me a very, very different person. Someone commented on another of John’s posts this past week, and what she said really underscored what it’s all about.

    Blessings – and peace and the love of Jesus to you all.

    • http://www.unnameablecuriosity.blogspot.com Christine

      :)

    • Lynchburg Native

      I am a little late to this post, but I was touched by it as I grew up in Lynchburg. My family was not part of the group we call, “Falwellites,” but you couldn’t help interacting with them everywhere. (I’ll never forget one summer job with L.U. students in which a co-worker who wanted to be a minister said she couldn’t be because of Paul, and as sad as that made her, she never picked and chose pieces of the Bible. I think her faith was quite shaken when I gave her the standard list of Leviticus craziness that no modern Christian adheres to.)

      I also have known other LU graduates who have gotten married and had kids and subsequently come out of the closet. I just want you to know that you are not alone and that there are quite a few people who went to LU who realized later in life that sometimes Rev. Falwell did not speak for God. I wish you luck in the future, and next time I am back visiting Lynchburg, I will think of you and your family.

    • harrisco

      NJ Guy – All good wishes to you as you continue your journey. May God be with you. When you write of forgiveness and compassion, I get the sense God is at work, and with you indeed, in his mysterious way. Claim that compassion. Lean into it. Explore it. If there is a newness and sense of growth in you arising from a place of pain, smile wistfully and realize you are in the hands of a loving God.

  • Joel

    I can’t stand that attitude from the people at my Christian high school and Liberty Univ. There’s too much pressure for gay women and men to get married. In the end, it causes heartache for loving spouses and children. These churches need to change their approach to the subject.


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