Happy Ramadan – buy a coke!
06 / 06 / 18
12 / 06 / 18
This month Interfaith Voices is celebrating Pride Month, with the theme ‘Taking pride in my faith’. In this edition Dave reflects on his personal story, looking back to the struggles he faced through rejection by others that lead him to try and be ‘healed’. During his journey he found solace in the words of God and learned that accepting himself, as both Christian and gay brought him the freedom he so desperately sought.
So many initials, but behind each initial is a person. A person like you and me, a person with feelings. This person and those people are more than an initial can explain, more than an initial can encompass or comprehend, we are all unique and exceptional, we are all special, we need to celebrate who we are with pride!
As I tell my story I want you all to keep in memory Psalm 139 (Google it), a Psalm that has kept me alive, a psalm that, whatever the church may say, whatever people of faith may say, has shown me that God loves me and knows me. A Psalm that I have kept coming back to many times in my life. It was written by a guy who understood the importance of loving someone of the same sex (I am not saying he was gay). He was a creative person and was the director of music for temple worship. When his best friend died he said:
O my dear brother Jonathan, I’m crushed by your death. Your friendship was a miracle-wonder, love far exceeding anything I’ve known—or ever hope to know.
I am in distress for you, my brother Jonathan. You have been most kind[o] to me. Your love for me was extraordinary — beyond love from women.
So, I feel that he has an understanding.
You may not agree with where I am coming from, or think it is just one big fairy story, that’s ok, I’m not here to preach or convert anyone to my belief system, just to share my story and how my belief system nearly killed me, how it is killing people now and causing many of our LGBTI friends mental anguish.
For many LGBTI+ people of faith there is a double coming out; coming out as LGBTI+ to ones’ faith community and coming out to your LGBTI+ friends as a person of faith. Both are very difficult, and both can lead to rejection, both can lead to a sense of worthlessness. That was me in the 70’s to 90’s, I am a 65yo man that identifies as gay and as a Christian. For many years I identified as an evangelical Christian that had same sex attraction and God was slowly changing me, through prayer and counselling.
One of the amazing things that happened to me was that when I decided for myself to follow the teaching of Jesus, I felt that the scriptures stated that God loved me and accepted me and that meant my gayness as well. Yet the church soon took that away from me, of course God accepted me, but being gay was a sin; so, started the road of so called healing and shame. I was fortunate to meet a lovely woman who I fell in love with (and still love her) and we had 5 lovely children (all boys). But my shame in still having gay feelings got in the way of our communication. We separated in 1993 and remain friends.
It is funny that the good news of Jesus is supposed to set us free from shame and guilt, yet us, his followers, put the yoke of religion upon his followers. We allow our culture to influence our belief system rather than allowing Jesus to release our thinking to become renewed and to enjoy the life that he has given us.
I chose to try and be healed, the guilt of failure, the shame of failure, led me to slowly reject myself. Yet here I was a Youth Pastor showing the love of Jesus and sharing that God accepted them as they were, but I could not accept myself. After losing my middle son when he was 15, my belief system started to move away to realizing that God is an inclusive God and that She/He is our loving parent. I chose to accept my sexuality (as from the beginning God had said he loved and accepted me), because I could no longer live in shame and guilt.
All this lead to a sense of freedom, I no longer needed the acceptance of the church or other people, I am me and I am happy with me.
However due to the ministry I received I still feel fear and hurt, I still feel like I can’t trust the church, sometimes church is the last place I go for help. That is the outcome of a faith-based rejection, but the outcome from self-acceptance is freedom to be HUMAN.
I am now happy to be both Christian and gay, I can now shout out the inclusive and embracing love of God without fear, without shame.
Remember we are unique, the shame is not ours to own.
The shame is not yours to own, It belongs to those that gave it to you. It is for those that clothed you in that shame to take ownership.
Those institutions that fed the shame it is their responsibility to take ownership and the consequences.
Those parents, family members and friends that shamed you for being not who they wanted you to be. The shame is theirs. Don’t take ownership.
However long you have worn and lived with that shame, it is never too late to disrobe.
More about Dave…
Dave has been a Christian for over 40 years, though from a Christian background he states that he is a Christian by conviction not by birth and feels that religion can control whilst Jesus came to set us free.
When in the RAF in the early 1970’s he was arrested for being gay and after 6 months of investigation was discharged. During this time, he felt being gay was not compatible with his faith and through prayer tried to change. But this has not been the case for many years.
Dave has been involved in Education, guidance, youth work and counselling for many years. In these posts he has been responsible for the development of post 16 educational provision and advising on support needs for students and young people with special educational needs. Alongside this he has offered individual support and guidance to young people and parents/careers which has included gender issues. He is also Chair of a local charity that helps children and young people access counselling and help. (www.peachy.me.uk)
Over the last 7 years he has helped in developing Oasis response to inclusiveness and setting up the LGTBI Hub. His main passion is the pastoral care of LGTBI people and the church reaching out to those who have been hurt by the church and to the new generation.