Chris in high school.
Three years ago, Presbyterian Promise invited me to write to my younger gay self as part of a national “It Gets Better” campaign. This was the result.
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Dear Chris (at 17),
You fear you are the only one with same-sex attractions, or the only “normal” one, and that you will never find someone to love and to love you in a lasting, intimate relationship—but you will, and the church and culture will even come to recognize your relationship within your lifetime. In your extreme loneliness right now, I know that’s hard to imagine. Put away your suicidal thoughts, and know that you are NOT alone!
You know already you are loved: by God, by your family, and by your friends. But you fear they might not approve of your desire to be with a man or love you still. Let me tell you, your fear and anxiety and anticipation in telling them is really the beginning of birth pangs—in some ways, the worst part. Once it’s out there, you can talk about it—with God, with your folks, with your friends.
God loves you, and has made you who you are. That’s difficult for you to accept right now and sounds too good to be true. But be logical—why would God create gay people and not let them love, marry, and pursue ministry, or whatever vocation they feel called to fulfill?
Yours is a gift to love, deeply and intimately, someone of your own gender, and all ability to love comes from God. And you have loved God, tried to do what’s right, and have heard a call to ministry. Harmonizing your sexuality and spirituality will give content to your ministry, believe me! Many, many people do not know how to put the two together.
You especially fear your father’s reaction, afraid even that he might attempt to block your call to ministry. You are closer to your mom, but she will have the greater trouble because she will worry about your safety, happiness, and future—that’s what moms do!
And Dad, think about how he’s handled every REAL crisis (not the petty stuff). He gets quiet, ponders, tries to respond both with reason and love. He will be there for you, both your parents will be there for you, even before their questions are answered and their doubts addressed.
Mom will worry about what she did wrong, and both will hope you might change with therapeutic help. But they will read the materials you give them and they will find other information on their own until they understand you and who you are, and they will become your greatest advocates.
You know your friends hold you dear, just as you hold them dear. You know how open they are—it’s the 60’s, after all. Especially when you get to college, your friends will be liberal, compassionate, concerned for justice, and not the fundamentalists you were raised with. And what will surprise you is that those fundamentalist childhood friends for the most part will also become liberal and progressive, and accepting of you. Not all of your friends will welcome you, but most will. Focus on the many, not the few.
However, I must warn you that coming out to the church will prevent your ordination. Yet it will give you a broader ministry. If you’re looking for financial or job security, don’t come out to the church, or do something else. But if you’re looking to make a difference in the church and world, to have a ministry that reaches beyond an individual congregation, presbytery, or denomination, coming out openly and honestly is God’s calling for you.
Mind you, you will then be typecast and your spiritual insights will be ignored or dismissed by the vast majority of Christians, but the people who need you and want you and love you will appreciate your gifts. And you will come closer to God and to Jesus, which is what you hope for.
You will shed many tears, endure hardships, have your heart broken or disappointed in love and in ministry many times, but it WILL be worth it, let me tell you. Joy and love, God and writing will always lift you up again.
And know that I love you. I suffer with you in your struggle. And I admire you. It does get better.
With love, always,
Chris (at 62)
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Copyright © 2013 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved.