Stories…

6 10 2012

John
I was born in 1947 and raised and educated in the Roman Catholic tradition, with many of the prejudices common to my generation and my religion. The first openly gay man I knew was a widely respected Jesuit who taught at my college. He came out to his students by explaining that he was a gay man and a fitful priest. That is, he honored his vow of celibacy the same as his fellow priests. This exposure to the utter normality of same-sex attraction in the presence of this wonderful teacher-priest-man made it immediately impossible to retain the stereotypes with which I had been raised, and made it even more impossible to see homosexuals as other than members of the same faith community as I.

Lisa I grew up in The United Methodist Church, but when I went to college, I became involved with a very conservative congregation in another denomination. This church saw all things in black and white, including sexuality.  The pastor made it clear: Homosexuality was wrong.  Even if his own daughter was gay, he would disown her.

When one of my closest friends came out to me a year later, it shocked me to my core.  I had no idea how to respond.  This church told me one thing, but my heart told me another. Deep down, I knew that God loved, embraced, and cared for all people.  I decided to walk the journey with my friend, a journey of coming out to her family and some of our other friends.

This experience transformed my life.  I watched as her parents not only embrace their daughter, but also became active in our local PFLAG chapter.  I saw my own heart grow from narrowly constricted to widely open.  I now feel called to advocate, particularly within the church, for the acceptance and affirmation of my friends who identify as GLBTQ.

I was recently ordained as a pastor in The United Methodist Church.  While I am privileged to serve a local church that is opening and affirming, I recognize that the rest of our denomination is struggling to affirm all people.  As my heart continually expands, I have promised to strive for the day when we embrace all people, regardless of their sexual identity, as beloved children of God.

These stories are from an amazing branch of PFLAG called Straight For Equality. It is an amazing resource for anyone wanting more information about being an ally.

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