Just Like You (From a gay Christian to an anti-gay Christian)

high_fiveThe poem below is a collaborative effort between me and Ford, a friend of mine. It was inspired by this piece, which Ford published on his blog yesterday.

Just Like You

(From a gay Christian to an anti-gay Christian)

I am not a homosexual.

I am more than that.

Yes I am.

I am a person.

You would turn my sexuality

into a noun

that you employ

to define all of me,

turning me into,

as you like to say,

“a gay.”

But my sexuality

is but one amongst many qualities

defining me.

I am

an intricate, blinking matrix

tethered to an unknowable

core of identity

that

(despite it all!)

perseveres.

And all of it, I know

—all of me—

is above all

and always

loved by God.

I am not

“a gay.”

As you are not

“a straight.”

My sexuality is part of me,

yes.

But it is not me.

Just like you.

I am just me

a vulnerable being

making my steady

unsteady way in the world

dreaming

watching

waiting

hoping

longing

to love perfectly

with all that I have

and to be perfectly loved

for all that I am.

Just like you.

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.

  • http://castlerockbear.tumblr.com Keith

    Thank You for that :)

  • Elizabeth

    Perfect.

  • mariko

    its poignant simplicity unhinges me.

  • Brian W

    Nice poem. Since the term “Conservative Christian” can be somewhat ambiguous or conger up a claim “that’s not me”, I think it would have a stronger impact as “From a gay Christian to a Catholic” since Catholics are arguably the largest Christian denomination in the world and they are definitely homophobic in their teachings on homosexuality. Far more people identify as Catholic than conservative Christians and they are quite clear in their anti-gay doctrine.

    • Anakin McFly

      What.

      What about all the Catholics who aren’t homophobic? I know lots, and am baffled that you seem to believe that none exist (why else ‘to a Catholic’ rather than ‘to an anti-gay Catholic’).

      Also, most of the Catholic people I’ve know have been LGBT friendly, and some are LGBT themselves. Whereas the bulk of homophobia and transphobia I’ve experienced has come from conservative anti-gay Christians.

      • http://Fordswords.net David S.

        Agreed Anakin.

        There’s a yawning cavern between the Catholic leadership and the laity regarding homosexuality (and how they respect the humanity of people who are gay).

      • Steve Flower

        It is easy to label “Catholics” as homophobic, since it is The Church who have fought so far afield on issues like Prop 8. However, I can tell you that the first 3 people I came out to were active, faithful, practicing Catholics, and they welcomed me with open arms. Not every Catholic backs the Church party-line; and for me it’s important not to set them on fire while flaming the Institutional Church.

    • storm

      Catholics may be the larger denomination, but the oned who do the most damage are the ones whom I identify as spiritual terrorists. That would be conservative Christians, baptists and fundies Not so much Catolics. They are annoying and persistent, but don’t necessarily have the intent or effect of inflicting emotional pain.

    • DR

      Here comes Brian once again promoting his anti-Catholic agenda while at the same time, minimizing and dismissing his own denomination’s role in homophobia in our country (including his own).

      Brian, your hostility for the Catholic church borders on creepy.

    • Lymis

      “Far more people identify as Catholic than conservative Christians and they are quite clear in their anti-gay doctrine.”

      Not in my experience, I think you’re getting sloppy with your pronouns. The Catholic hierarchy is among the most visible and vocally outspoken anti-gay Christians in the world. No argument. And given the anecdotally (and let’s face it, transparently obvious) high percentage of gay men IN the Catholic hierarchy, accusations of hypocrisy apply in a lot of cases, too.

      But the rank and file Catholic really doesn’t buy the majority of what the hierarchy is trying to sell, and in ways that most non-Catholics have no conception of, really don’t pay much attention to what the hierarchy is ranting about at any given point.

      The closest parallel I have come up with is trying to claim that an American by definition agrees with the policies of the current administration, even if it’s run by a party they didn’t vote for.

      Roman Catholicism is a one-party system, but that doesn’t change things.

      And even among the Catholics who agree with the hierarchy on specific points, many disagree with legislating or enforcing it, especially in matters of civil law.

      And, too, you have to separate out the feelings of conservative Catholics regarding whether someone should be allowed to be openly gay and accepted as a practicing Catholic in good faith, as opposed to the question of whether someone should be allowed to be openly gay, and treated equally under the law while not claiming to be Catholic. Very different issues.

      Given the way the hierarchy behaves, most people are surprised at how “live and let live” most Catholics actually are.

  • Julie

    Wonderful. Thank you. By the way, most of the anti-gay Christians I know are not Catholic. They are all conservative.

    • Dan(Chicago)

      Me too.

      • Barbara Rice

        And they regard Catholics with suspicion.

        • Elizabeth

          Since Luther.

  • Allie

    I had this conversation recently with an older man who meant to be gay-affirming but didn’t personally know many gay people and was unaware that “a gay” was offensive. Always be gentle educating those who don’t mean to offend.

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

      Is there something about this you find ungentle?

      • Julie

        Gentle is good in theory, but sometimes we need to call it was it is. When you are talking about Christians saying hurtful things and using the Bible to justify it, it can become a dangerous dialogue for gay Christians who are young and/or questioning. We have to continue to be vocal and firm when discrimination is cloaked in Bible verses and prayers so that we can communicate that the vitriol from many Christians doesn’t represent the majority and so it doesn’t take away the rights of LGBT folks.

        • Julie

          I turned off my “gentle” and turned on my “firm” when a well-meaning Christian friend aligned my gay son with rapists and murderers.

          • http://Fordswords.net David S.

            A hurtful and tiresome comparison for sure. Add to that pedophiles, alcoholics and adulterers, and you have the royal flush of “gay is sin” comparisons. Thanks for being a great mom to your gay son. He’s lucky to have you.

          • Julie

            Thanks, David. I consider myself lucky to have him.

      • Allie

        Sorry for being ambiguous, didn’t mean to imply your post had anything wrong in it. Just wanted to add that it’s good to bear in mind that not everyone who uses this terminology is being intentionally hurtful.

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

          No worries, A. Thanks for explaining.

    • Steve Flower

      Thank you for this last line. I occasionally find people who *don’t* want to offend, who literally want someone to talk through the issues with them. Those people are the ones whom I am glad to “gently educate” – I will talk to them all day long, if I can. My partner’s uncle is one of them; I am delighted when he is willing to talk about the topic, and accepts my nudges of what would be more positive or less offensive.

      There are many people with whom I struggle not to crank up The Guns of Navaronne – but I am also glad to report that there are many, many people who are willing to listen. It’s important not to roast them with the rest, I believe.

  • http://www.theworthingtonpost.net Aliza Worthington

    This is perfection. You guys are a great team.

  • DR

    This is stunning.

  • Kate

    Thank you, John. For this and for everything else you do in the spirit of equal rights and the grace of God.

  • charles

    cool piece- I have come to the conclusion that there is a certain tyranny in using our sexuality as the seemingly most salient defining characteristic of “who we are” is.

    • Jill

      Yes! Reducing humans down to a seemingly salacious, sinful, singular and intentionally shaming point of reference. As if sexual nature isn’t God’s design.

  • Donald Rappe

    Good poem!

  • Beverly Nelms

    Thank you for this.

    I’m hoping there is implied permission to forward this to friends and post on facebook when you posted it publicly.

    Just in case I’m wrong, I’ll wait a bit before I repost it to see if you disagree.

    I found this after liking your page because of the photo you posted with “e’re all just walking each other home” on it. I had no idea it would lead me to a treasure.

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

      Yes, here on the Internets everyone is more than pleased to have you share their posts. Thanks for your kind words.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X