In light of the last few posts and the string of passionate comments in those posts, I want to talk about a question I get asked a lot:
“Who put YOU in charge?”
Sometimes I get that in a completely sarcastic tone, sometimes an angry tone, sometimes it’s just a genuine query. I’ve never really thought about the answer before, until now, as it seems like the right time I should talk about it (and why it keeps coming up).
1. I had no intent to be “in charge” of this national dialogue. It all started in the summer of the year 2000 when my three best friends all came out to me in three consecutive months. Then I immersed myself (with no plans of it being my life’s work), but saw for the first time the pain and separation and furtherance from God that people like me had caused the GLBT community. Then on July 1, 2005 the IRS officially recognized The Marin Foundation as a non-profit organization—of which my goal was to show love to, and bridge the culture war within the 15 blocks that consist of my neighborhood, Boystown. That’s it. 15 blocks. I had no plans/expectations/goals for this to ever be a national organization, or myself a national “leader.” I was just concerned with my neighborhood, my 15 blocks.
Then over a two year period The Marin Foundation started to get local media attention (that I never sought out) because of my life’s ‘hook’: no one had ever heard of such a thing—a straight, conservative, evangelical male moving into the gay neighborhood and having and organization working to end the culture war. From that local media (a cover story on a local newspaper), the secular national media then picked up on it. From that secular national media attention, the Christian media then got a hold of it. The next thing you know it’s all over and I’m getting asked to speak around the country to teach others how to live out my unique balance in their own local communities (in both the GLBT and conservative Christian worlds). Shortly after, I’m getting approached by three publishers to write a book about my unique experiences. And here we are today. I don’t have all the answers. Never will. But I am willing to learn how to live, love and peacefully disagree to advance the dialogue publicly, so that all of us can do this thing together. This is not about me; it’s about what you do with these conversations in your own life and sphere of influence from here on out.
2. No one put me in charge. There wasn’t one moment when any “gatekeeper” put me in charge. In fact, truth be told, many of the so-called gatekeepers distance themselves from me because, 1) they don’t know what to do with me, or b) don’t want to touch this topic in a non-traditional fashion with a ten foot pole. (At this moment I have to give mad props to all for the GLBT and Christian churches/organizations/universities who have had the guts to put me on their main stage). This whole thing has been the direct result of me saying “yes” to every single opportunity that presents itself to me over the past 4 years. I’ve never turned one down (unless something was already booked for that day(s)). The way I see it, if a church/organization/university are wanting, and willing, to talk about this and go so far as to invite me to help them process everything, then yes, I’m totally there! This bridge building work is a movement. It’s not been given the once-and-for-all stamp of approval by hardly any “big-namer”, but it’s a ton of individuals around the country hungry to learn how to live and love (from both communities) in our postmodern culture that ‘accepts’ quicker than many of us can even think about cognitively understanding.
Part 2 comes tomorrow…