Today’s post is from our friend Steven Janssen, a common fixture at our Living in the Tension gatherings, and also at our annual I’m Sorry campaign. Today, Steven is sharing his own answer to the frequently asked “So what are you sorry for anyway?” Come back Wednesday for another I’m Sorry guest post from a friend, and if you’d like to participate in our I’m Sorry campaign at Pride on Sunday, please join us tonight — details here.
I’m Sorry. Such simple words that can be so hard to say. I’m Sorry. You can tell the difference between lip service and it coming from the heart. 2014 will be my third pride parade and my third year participating with The Marin Foundation and their annual I’m Sorry Campaign.
What am I sorry for? That is took me 36 years to accept myself as a gay man. That I judged so many “homosexuals” by stereotypes and kept them at arm’s length. I’m sorry that while I sat safely in my closet of confusion that many were fighting the fight, being beaten up, being killed for being gay. I’m sorry that I was not honest with my wife when we married, because I am attracted to men. I have worked in healthcare for over 30 years. I’m sorry that as I cared for patients who had AIDS or who I thought “might be” gay, that I was rude, that I did not treat them as fellow human beings with unique stories and experiences. I’m sorry for not being honest with friends and family about who I am, and I’m sorry for not being supportive.
Having attended and participated for 2 years and JOYFULLY looking forward to my third, I have learned a few things. The parade is NOT the cesspool of naked people and public sex and immorality that has been portrayed so many times on television and religious media groups. The parade is FULL of love and acceptance, joy and celebration. As much as I’m there to love people, hug them and apologize, THEY are there to love and affirm ME! SO many times I have hugged people, said I’m sorry and told them that God does indeed LOVE THEM! Many times the response I get back is “Don’t be sorry, this is a celebration!” Last year, one woman fell apart sobbing uncontrollable in my arms. After she pulled herself together, she uttered the words, “I’m straight, I didn’t know there were Christians that would be sorry and show so much love”. As much as I go to love people, I’m loved back even more.
Why should YOU attend the parade? Maybe you have NOTHING to be sorry for, BUT maybe you have never opened yourself up to see the beauty, compassion, and love folks WHO ARE NOT LIKE YOU want to share and celebrate. I’m amazed that as a group we are recognized, loved, and appreciated by so many in the crowd. They look for us and look for the hugs. Don’t sit back in your perceived safety, but step out and meet people half way. I have heard the question asked, and no doubt it will be making the rounds again this year: “Why is there no straight pride parade?” The best answer I ever heard was “Be glad you never needed one.”
Steven C Janssen-Born again, Spirit-filled, saved by God’s grace, and yes, I am gay.
Check out more of Steven’s story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajT7WbF71pU