(Others of Us)
Once I started looking, I found dozens of blogs, and websites, and twitter accounts. People talking about what it meant to be gay and Christian.
About what it meant to be Christian and celibate, about what it meant to be Christian and married to a person of the same sex. About what it mean to be gay at a private Christian College, about what it mean to be gay and brown and Christian, gay and a pastor, transgender and Christian.
Dozens and dozens of people like me. Of people like us.
I found Julie Rodgers, blogging on her own site and writing for the Washigton Post and a dozen other publications. She was the first person I’d found who was Side A (affirming, who wanted to get married) and could write. And she wrote about forgiveness, about gentleness, about her own story. About briefly being the LGBT chaplain at Wheaton, about being in conversion therapy—being the conversion therapy poster child—for years before something changed. Before God’s plan seemed to change, and she could really see herself. And everything she wrote was gentle, and deeply thoughtful, and consumed with joy. Joy that she was this way, that she was gay and Christian with a God who loved her. That she was just like me.
And I found Patrick Gothman, and he was angry. I read what he wrote (here, and here, and here): about the feeling of being called, foul, of choking on the broken, lying image of yourself that other people fed you, and I felt my own anger, rising in response, thick and twisting in my stomach, and I wouldn’t have known what to call it if I hadn’t been able to see it in him first.
And I read his righteous indignation, his fury, that others were still being made to feel that same choking rage, that he had been made to feel it. That I had been made to feel it. And I never, ever, would have been able to feel that if I hadn’t felt it in him first.
And I read the Medium blog Patrick edited, Reaching Out, and I read posts by a bunch of other people, and one of them was Jonah Venegas. And he had wide ranging interests, and wrote about everything, and it was the first time I saw someone really look at the way their queerness touched the most mundane parts of their lives—their clothes, the TV they watched, their hair—and I felt like I could let that happen too. Like I could open the compartments I’d kept myself in, and let my gayness, my queerness, be a part of all of me.
And from reaching out I also found Nathaniel Totten. And he wrote about being gay at Private Christian College, and—again—just like me. But he wrote about being out, about dating there, about facing discrimination, about other people knowing, and I was surprised by this burn of jealousy, by this revelation that yet another experience had been taken from me. And I wished I could have had that too.
And I followed his struggle, and his rage, and from a thousand miles away I cheered him on.
And I followed him and his boyfriend (then fiancé, now husband) Eliot on twitter, and my heart broke and melted and I felt this tremendous burst of reassurance—it was possible.
And from Nathaniel I found another college student, Caitlin Stout, who was going to a Private Christian University and was fighting back—hard. And from Caitlin I got sociology and Queer Theory, and rage honed to a keen, cutting edge. And she took people down. And she wrote about boundaries, and telling people no, and for the first time I explicitly saw a queer person who didn’t just see themselves as allowed, but who also saw themselves as someone with dignity, who deserved respect and was right to demand it. And she had a fucking amazing twitter account.
And Caitlin Stout linked me to Morgan Muriel, who I think was her roommate (I don't know, we're not actually friends, I just stalk them on twitter), and Morgan wrote searingly about anger, and depression and self-loathing. And about coming out ok. And about taking care of yourself and trying to learn to like yourself and about fucking it up. And about that sometimes being ok too.
And through the grapevine of gay kids at “Campus Pride's Worst LGBT Schools” (hey, mine too), I heard about the 95 stories project happening at Hope College, and I stumbled onto Joshua Chun Wah Kam, writing ornate and deeply candid rambles about sexuality and the mystic revelations of making out with another boy. Writing cutting, savage and fiercely true observations on conservativism and dealing with white people, in the sort of brutal way only a person who’s had all the fucks beaten out of them can.
And I kept reading, and I found Reverent Sexuality, by Karen R. Keen. And she talked about the process of changing from non-affirming to affirming, and what that was like as a gay woman, and what that had cost her. She’s a biblical scholar, and her analysis of scripture, of evangelical stances like the Nashville Statement, and of sexuality, were deeply insightful and rigorous in a way that was deeply comforting. I had felt my way into becoming affirming, but I was still allowed to think, and there was still extremely good thinking to be done in this new framework.
And I found Alicia Johnston, systematic, angry, and generous. She wrote eloquently, purposefully and convincingly on theology, and queer issues, and acceptance and homophobia in the church. She’s a former 7th Day Adventist Pastor, who resigned after realizing she supported gay marriage and subsequently coming out as Bi. And her writing reflects her expertise, her concern with the impact of theology, and rigorous refusal to give an inch when she’s found the truth.
Somewhere along the way I found Matthias Roberts, and his podcast Queerology, where he interviews queer Christians (some of the people I’ve already mentioned) about their lives, viewpoints, and whatever else they want to talk about.
And I found Blue Babies Pink, BT Harman (maiden name Brett Trapp)’s blog about growing up, coming out, and learning to accept himself. And you get to know him, through his words and his story and his thoughts. It’s wide-ranging and earnest and thoughtful, and in some ways what inspired this project
And one of the last blogs I found was Sophia Young Ji. Writing about being Trans and in the closet, writing aching and tender pieces about what it’s like to swallow yourself and to pretend to be something you’re not, about the pain of that process and the deep hurt of knowing that (for now) you need to do it. I found something of myself in her story, I found something of my pain brought to the surface in a way I could recognize, and a way I could start to hold. Something of the pain we shared as queer people, that she was brave enough to bring to the surface and display.
And the people I’d found before, all of the celibate people I’d found and come to know, they kept writing. And I got to keep learning from them too, these other people just like me.
I found Matt Jones, posting at gay subtlety under the alias “Jordan” and then on his own blog, under his own name, out and proud and celibate and funny and vulnerable. The first other gay Christian I ever found or heard from, a voice warm and familiar that started to feel like my friend, and then like a close friend, the more I read about him.
I found Joey Prevey, posting as Steve Gershom, literate and flowing and broken and true. Willing to examine things I was too scared to think about, honest with his failures in a way I was still struggling to be. Able to see them as mistakes, and not grievous, mortal sins, in a way I never quite could.
I found Gregg Webb, nervous and questioning but deeply committed, Orthodox with a capital O, invoking the wisdom of glittering, almond-eyed icons and never denying the constant burden of his daily sacrifice, that same sacrifice I was committed to making.
All of these people that were like me. All of these people that are like us.