A dear friend of mine received some troubling news this week.
In the middle of the day he received a horrible text. It was from his mother. It asked him a question that most sons never want to hear. I am only paraphrasing, but in summary, it read, [Do you think that you are going to Hell, because you are gay?]
Startled by the choice of words, coupled with the delivery and timing of this message, my friend was thrown for a loop. His mind raced back in time. He searched through a dozen awkward conversations, then a million unrealized ones. He thought about all the Christmases and family reunions, the birthday messages and Sunday afternoon calls, the trips home to celebrate weddings, births, and graduations – the mourning of family members too soon gone from this world. He connected how during these moments of laughter, sorrow, and love that no one ever asked him the questions that one is asked by family. Who are you dating? Where do you like to hang out? Who are your friends in that picture that I saw online?
*Swoosh* *Ding* My friend forwarded me the text.
Me: Are you ok?
Brother: [I don’t know what to do.]
Me: [Just do what you need to do.]
Brother:[I’ll deal with it later.]
Me: I’m here for you.
Tucking his phone away, my dear and justifiably upset friend returned to his work.
Few people in life should be so lucky as to have a friend like mine. He is among the kindest and most generous people that I’ve ever met. He is a first-choice confidant, while still offering healthy perspective when he thinks that I am doing something stupid. I am overwhelmed by the way that he helps people – mostly in subtle ways. He veils his love for humanity in sarcasm, but just below it is a heart of gold – no, platinum! When I am blue, when I am happy, when I don’t know what to do with myself, he is the remedy phone call. When we have missed each other for several weeks, we mourn the time, and when we find the moment to connect, it is always a parade of tales about the boys, the dates, the hilarious moments, or hard choices that we had to make. And, even if he was only half of these things, he is my brother, and I would still love him.
*Ding* An email arrived in my inbox. Having a few hours to process the morning’s event, he had decided to write a letter. He sought my counsel.
Immediately, I opened the attachment. Dear Mom… It was a lovely note. He talked about wanting to hear her and thanked her for her opening the door. He shared where he disagreed with her, but offered her love and kindness. He stated his belief in God’s salvation for his life. And then, he spoke bravely, and for the first time, about the boy whom he had recently come to adore. This boy adored him back. Actually, he was a noble man – a grown-up, whose character and values reflected those of my friend. My friend was happy and full.
[Please, Mom, come into my joy!]
He sent the letter.
*Swoosh*Ding*Swoosh*Ding* Swoosh*Ding* Three texts in a row. This can’t be good. A series of Facebook messages from Dad. [How dare you?] [Here is where you are wrong.] [We don’t condone your choices.]
It is hard not to resent ignorance. I find it especially hard when it is a proud surprise. And, perhaps one of the hardest things for me to hear is, “I am your mother/father, and I love you, but…” It doesn’t matter what follows the “but.” Because love is actually one choice and one direction. You either choose to love somebody and you move forward, or you choose to hate someone and you move backwards. It is a delicate, critical, and tough choice, which is why it does not always work.
“I would love you, but I am afraid.”
“I would love you, but it requires me to change.”
“I would love you, but I would rather believe a lie from a stranger than accept the joy of my own son’s freedom to love as he was designed to love.”
It is madness, and I hate it. My temptation is to blame something or someone. This is a human behavior, so there has to be a reason. Where is the pattern? How were they raised? Look at Fox News or their church. I just can’t. I am so tired. See, because my friend’s story is my own. And, it is the story of so many whom I adore. Not just LGBTQIA folks, but so many of the disparaged and easily shunned.
When do we get to stop climbing this mountain of doubt in our ability to be fully human and fully loved by Christ? How can I be seen both as a child of God and queer? I am so tired.
Fortunately, my battle cry is written for me. In Romans 8:38-39, the holy scripture reads, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
AMEN. See, I don’t need; my friend doesn’t need; 40% of homeless youth (who are LGBT) don’t need; the LGBT people in Russia don’t need; your gay friend at work doesn’t need; nor, does the lesbian who teaches your student everyday need your approval. We are the wonderful and perfectly formed creations of God. We are recognized by the same Creator and the same Judge whom has promised us that he will never fail us. And, if you refuse to share the banner of Christ with us, then surprise, you are on the outside.
My brothers and sisters, I welcome you in, but you better pick a better lifestyle. Why? Because, my read of scripture is that God doesn’t have time for your exclusion, and if nothing you can do will separate me from God’s love, then in the words of a modern day prophet, “Bye, Felicia!”
Go in Peace.