Thursday, April 23, 2009

Three Lessons Along A Straight Gal's Journey

This is a letter written to me by Pat who recently joined our other TWC site - Two World Collision Collaborative Christian Community. That's a place for both gay and straight "Journey Christians" to walk with each other beyond the Side A/Side B/Side X framework.

Pat is a straight gal on a journey through this issue and she shares three lessons that she has learned for herself so far. She gave me permission to share her letter with everyone here. Thanks Pat!

Hi there, I'll update my profile later, for now I'll introduce myself a little:

I am a Mexican Catholic straight girl who came to this whole hot zone discussion by complete accident: to make a long story short I stumbled upon Andrew Sullivan's blog, felt totally immersed by it and felt really curious that he was both Catholic and Gay (go figure, I didn't know that was possible) ... fast forward 40 days (I am a little obsessive person) and now I know about "reparative therapy" the damages of reparative therapy, the possible biological link to homosexuality, gay sheep, marriage laws in the states, anti-gay propaganda, gay parents, gay struggle, gay kids suicide rate, bible passages, etc.

Names that only yesterday meant nothing to me like "Nicolosi", "Alan Chambers" and "Jon Cameron" or "Mel White", "Boswell" and "Mychal Judge" ring bells for me now, whether for disapproval or approval.

I have become an avid reader of Box Turtle Bulletin, Warren Throckmorton, Gay Christian Network, Ex Gay Watch, The Marin Foundation and, of course, your blog.

Through this journey I have learned three things so far:

First Lesson: That we all as Christians have a VERY big obligation to the Truth. If the first commandment is to love, I would say that the second commandment is to restlessly pursue the truth, no matter where the truth takes us. We cannot get comfortable by "just knowing". When we don't actually know, we must investigate, look, knock, ask, call. Every truth comes from the Holy Spirit, and I dare say that no matter WHO says something (a church, a president, a reverend, a priest or even, gulp, the Pope), if we find out that what is being said is false, then that is not possibly coming from the Holy Spirit.

Second Lesson: I am convinced now that being gay is not a choice, and since it is not a choice, it cannot be (substantially at least) changed. And all our following judgments about the question should take that as a premise.

Third Lesson: A constant I have found with all the anti-gay propagandists is that they lie. I'm not talking about what they believe, I am talking about plain and simple ignorance or distortion of the facts. The bare facts. So that makes them really suspect in my book. The other thing is that they are usually very very spiteful people.

So that's it, I don't know where this journey will further take me, I know that I want to do something, but I don't know what exactly. So joining this network is a start, I guess.

Pray for me! And congratulations on your courage! (great web design by the way!)



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Green Long Beach! Festival 2009

Happy Earth Day everyone!

In recognition of all things "green", I thought I'd write a post today on the Green Long Beach! Festival. This will be Catalyst's first big city-wide event as we co-host the festival. I've been serving as the Logistics Coordinator and it's been keeping me quite occupied! But I'm having a blast and I'm working with a terrific team!

Check us out at!

Tweet with us at!

Find us on Facebook here!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Disrespectful But With a Smile

I'm just gonna say this upfront - I reserve the right to vent on my own blog.

That said . . . . what the frickin' hell!?

I'm serious! I mean, really, how in the world can straight "professing Christians" smile with arrogance and then slap me in the face and think that they are doing the Lord's "good work"? I probably shouldn't say "Christians" because some of the people there were cool. It's more like this particular pastor of A Village Community here in Long Beach.

I literally wiped my feet on the mat, not before entering this "house of worship" but rather AS I LEFT this place.

"If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town." - Matthew 10:14

All through the service I kept mentally shaking my head at the things I was hearing . . . .

The whole service was about asking questions. People were asked to text message their questions. The pastor even started off with talking about "us having a conversation with each other." But instead of a discussion about the value of having questions or that we sometimes ask the wrong questions or what are the right kind of questions or at the very least having a discussion about the question - like I suppose I was expecting from this kind of a topic - instead, the pastor read off a question, answered it himself, then read off another question, then answered it himself, then read off another question, then answered it himself.....blah blah blah.

I mean seriously, who does he think he is that he's got all the answers according to his worldview?

And here's the kicker. After reading off a question that said, 'Does God love believers more than He does unbelievers?' he arrogantly and resolutely "ANSWERED" with an emphatic "YES".

Seriously. He said that there is scriptural evidence to suggest that God chooses some and does not choose others and that He loves some and does not love others. Seriously.

Now, yes, there's context to this whole thing. But that's still the bottom line of what he was saying. And I'm not saying that I don't believe in a distinction between "God's people". I understand that as well as the "setting apart" of them. But in this discussion about "questions" I was absolutely dumbfounded that it didn't even occur to this pastor or anyone else that perhaps that was the WRONG question to ask. I mean, really, do you really want to talk about how God loves some people but not other people? Was that the "message from God" for today?

It didn't even occur to him that perhaps the better question to ask instead of 'Does God love believers MORE than He does unbelivers?' but rather would have been better to ask 'How does God want me to love both believers AND unbelievers?' That would have been a question God would answer. I mean, how many times did Jesus NOT answer a stupid question? SO MANY times! Why? Because people asked the wrong question.

But no. Instead of reframing the question, he stayed on that direction to go on and on about God's sovereignty to love whomever He chooses and to NOT love whomever He chooses. Why, did this pastor say? So that the ones He chooses to love could FULLY APPRECIATE the love. So that the ones He chooses to love could see the contrast. Seriously. He spoke about an exclusive love. No empathy or compassion for those outside of God's love. Just that those whom God chooses to love should appreciate being chosen.

I also wondered why the pastor wasn't coming up to me to shake my hand or welcome me during the entire service - particularly since there was literally 12 people in the room and there was a 'say hello to your neighbor' time and also two times where everyone broke up into tiny groups to discuss stuff. There were times when he could have said hello. I wondered if he recognized me because we had met once or twice YEARS ago while I was with that faith-based non-profit that I co-founded. But maybe he didn't recognize me. Yet still he chose not to greet or welcome the obvious ONLY newcomer.

At the close of the service, he prayed a prayer of just accepting truth in faith. Um, the truth that HE just presented? Without question? Without doubt? The prayer was to accept it even when it was hard to accept. His answers. His truth. His interpretation. His worldview. I seriously thought this, but during the prayer it really felt like it was a brainwashing. But this wasn't a cult out in some remote ranch. This was a church just like most in the city.

So then after the service when everything was done and over with, he walked up to me saying my name, 'Eric, you remember we met before.' And I was completely friendly and saying that it was good to see him and he asked a couple probing questions about what I was doing now. I told him about Catalyst Community and I told him about the Green Long Beach! Festival and that some from his church were having a booth and selling T-shirts. I told him about some of the good things we're doing in the community. I didn't say anything gay-related.

He wasn't interested in what I was doing now though. He wanted to probe because he had thought I was a pastor. I told him that I encouraged some communities of gay Christians to feel supported because there are so many that want to worship but are being rejected out of their own congregations. But no I said I wasn't a pastor. And in that context of conversation, he began to say what he really wanted to say which was that he wanted to make it CLEAR that they were not an "affirming" congregation.

(And in my head, I'm thinking why is this relevant? I didn't bring up the gay thing, he did. And if he didn't know me before this, he wouldn't have even known that I was gay.)

Really? I'm here visiting your church and was actually looking for a place to start going to regularly and the welcome sales pitch is to make it CLEAR that they were not a place that thinks "gay" is okay. Really? And after me telling you that there are SO MANY CHRISTIANS who are gay that WANT TO WORSHIP JESUS but are being REJECTED out of their OWN CONGREGATIONS, you feel it necessary to talk about the gay pride parade and how there are churches in the parade that are affirming of "the lifestyle" and there are churches on the side that are holding picket signs and yelling "burn," and you want to tell me that your church represents "neither" but that you want to make it CLEAR that "we are not affirming"? Really? That's what you want to tell me?

And after saying these things to me, he started saying with a smile, "That's my main concern. I wanted to make that clear." After he said that a couple times, I thought it was odd. It seemed out of context. So I inquired, "wait, sooooo, what's your CONCERN?" I asked genuinely with a 'I don't get it' tone. I wasn't saying anything about anything gay regarding me and this congregation. And he said, "well the festival. If we're going to have a booth, I wanted to make it CLEAR that we're not affirming." So I was like, "but the festival is a GREEN festival. You know, GREEN as in, the environment? The festival is about encouraging people about sustainability and how to use energy efficiently and to talk about recycling." And he was like, "oh."

"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy." Ezekiel 16:49

Who's the Sodomite?

So now as I think back to the lack of welcome and the lack of eye contact and the messages that God loves the believer and NOT the unbeliever and the closing prayer to accept the truth and the intentional effort to make it CLEAR (his words) that they were not an affirming church . . . . I get the sense that it was all because he did recognize me right from the beginning. Remember, there were only 12 people present. I was clearly the newcomer.

After he realized that I was helping to organize logistics for a GREEN festival, he said his goodbyes to me, stepped back and away to assemble his post-church service meeting (which was actually a debrief of their 'outreach project').

I said my friendly goodbyes to the folks I met, started shaking my head and wiped my feet at the front door as I LEFT them.

What a freakin' arrogant hypocrite.

So I drove home just pissed and angry and mad at how disrespectful he was but with a smile. I'm SURE he has NO CLUE as to how offensive he was. And I'm SURE he has NO CLUE as to how he hurt me and his own witness.

By the time I got home, still mad, the first thing I saw when I turned on the television was the ending speech from Sigourney Weaver in "Prayers For Bobby" (see below) and by the time she hugged her son/that kid at the side of the parade I was literally balling my eyes out just crying like really really heavy tears.

I mean, seriously, why can't I just go to a church service with other people that love Jesus and not leave feeling worse than I did when I arrived? (And no, maybe I don't want to always go to a church where the congregation are mostly gay.)

As far as I've gone on this journey, I'm still surprised at how this still affects me the way it does. I still take it very personally, the Church's rejection of gay people, because my own story of suicide is very real and relevant to me. And I was the one who gave THEM a chance. I freakin' allowed myself, yet one more time, to go into a place knowing that these freakin' Christians might freakin' hurt me freakin' again. AGAIN! It still affects me profoundly and as strong as I think I am, they still freakin' make me cry every time.

Damn it.

Break the cycle of hurt. Go to

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Choosing to Love

This is a letter written by my straight Journey Christian friend Becky to a pastor in response to a comment he had made about gays:


The truth is, you never know how you are going to react to something until it is close to you.

Whether or not I think being gay is right or wrong is not the issue. This is an issue of love. How we choose to love and respond when people are being hurt and treated as being something less than human . . . .

There was a day when I had to make a choice. I chose to listen to the stories. A story about a young man just beginning his life who was hung on a fence post to die. Why? And what makes it even more horrifying is that "Christians" to this day still protest saying this boy is now in HELL...I refuse to believe that.

Then there was another story about a friend of mine who loved the LORD with all of his heart, who had to leave his church and the youth group he loved..for many reasons... but mostly because he feared the reactions of his fellow Christians should they find out he was gay.

There were friends who do not want to leave their house because of how they have been treated. Humans who believe that they should not be on this earth!

There was a close friend who lived in fear, every day of his life. Fear that he would be "found out", always looking over his shoulder if he chose to go out with friends. Who might see him in the "gay" district. I began to ask myself why there was even a "gay" district in cities. I related it to biblical times when so many Christians were persecuted and had to go live in groups together in hiding to get away for the hatred and abuse. They could not tell anyone who they were for fear of losing their lives.

So, therefore I chose to listen and be a positive force in place where people feel like darkness sounds them everyday. I chose to be light in the darkness. I want to make the darkness and pain go away for my friends. I want to go to the places I believe JESUS would be. HE would be with the broken, hurt and suffering. HE would be with the people who have been abused, and all in the name of the Lord.

I had to make a choice a number of years ago when 3 very close and dear friends of mine all came out to me in what seemed a matter of days. I had two options, one was to hurt them, alienate them and leave them alone. The other was that of LOVE. That no matter what, I would love them through my actions, to accept them and everyone right where they were at. Was it right or wrong? I don't know, but I would allow God to be God and if it were wrong then He would convict my friends. My job was to have no agenda, to love them right where they were at, as hard as that may be. What grew out of that decision, both filled me with love and also shocked me.

One time I accompanied my friend to the "gay district" and I met a man who told me he hated "Christians", hated everything about them. I told him that I was one of those people he hated. He asked why I was there then? I explained to him how I had no agenda, that I was there with my friend, to support him. It was amazing how that turned him around and we talked for hours about everything. I questioned him and began to dig deeper, and found out that he had a great sense of who God was and knew that God was bigger than the universe. Before we went our separate ways that night he said to me that I seemed "different", a good different, different than most people. I just smiled, knowing what it was. It was an 'aha' moment for me, I felt shalom come over me. That is exactly what I wanted. I want to be different, I want to be a Christian without ever having to say I am. Without ever having to quote from the Bible. I just want people to see something different in me, and that being Jesus Christ.

That was not the only occasion, afterward gay people seemed to be everywhere. I had to reexamine what I was forced fed. Here is what I know, I believe that everyone was created equally in God's image. That He loves everyone the same, and that it does not matter what someone has done, is doing, or will do for He knows all.

I have become extremely passionate about erasing the stereotypes that are often held against the gay community. Yes, there are gays who do go out the bar, just like many straight people. There are gays who do sleep around with many sexual partners, just as do many straight people. There are gays who refuse to walk in the way of the Lord, as do many straight people. So why does our society deem it "normal" when straights do these things and "perverted" of gays?

In the end, it does not matter to me if a friend of mine is gay or straight, they are my friend. Unless of course they were endangering their life, I would let them know and beg them to stop, gay or straight.

I have come to realize that people are people, no matter what their sexual preference may be, no matter what their denomination or religion, no matter the color of their skin.

I contend that if my beliefs are wrong that I will be shown that in one way or another from God. I believe that HE is the ultimate is up to HIM, not me nor any other human being.

The Pharisees are mentioned many times in the Bible. I remember the story of one of the Pharisees inviting Jesus to dinner and the Pharisees being upset because Jesus did not wash before the meal. Jesus tells them that they clean the outside but the inside is full of greed and wickedness. In many ways that is not too far off from so many Christians of today. We look great and "clean" on the outside, we go to Church services on Sunday and forget about "Church" the rest of the week.

I recently watched a movie called Prayers for Bobby! It was a true story about a young gay boy growing in a conservative Christian household, with a mother who was misguided by what she was taught. She made her own son feel like he was nothing. She would tell Bobby he was going to hell, and that she would never accept him, ever and neither would GOD! After years of struggle, Bobby ends up taking his own life. It is not until after his death that his mother realizes what she had done. She found his journal and read of the struggles he had, how he prayed endlessly to change and how he questioned GOD. It was then that she too began to question, how could a beautiful, loving boy like her son be damned to hell? In the end she realizes that the judging should have been left to GOD, not her, nor any other human. She knew she was partially responsible for what happened to her son because of her close-minded thinking. Her fight to change that thinking continues to this day.

In the end, it does not matter what I think or what anyone else out there thinks. To me it only matters what GOD thinks. I believe that JESUS loves us all the same. His love is unchanging for everyone. I think that if we focused on what we had in COMMON with one another, instead of the differences, then we could live in true COMMUNITY as we were meant to live! I do not know what made GOD lay this topic on my heart? But, he did and I can feel in the core of my bones. It has allowed me to learn so much about myself and who I was created to be. To understand what it means to be a Christian and love one another unconditionally. To show people love through my actions. I believe that love really does win!!!! Love is a choice and I choose to love! Love wins.

Becky O F

Romans 15v4-6

"If you judge others you will have no time to love them."~ Mother Teresa

"Before you echo 'Amen' in your home or place of worship, think and remember...a child is listening." Mary Griffith.


If you are a straight Christian who, like Becky, thinks that expressing genuine love is more important than the divisive politics of the Church's homosexuality debate, then join us at Two World Collision Collaborative Christian Community and find out what it means to be a "Journey Christian."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Outside the Village Walls

So I happened to see a post card flyer of an event called "the Murder Jesus Project" that i was thinking about checking out tonight. It's hosted by A Village Community, a local Long Beach church. I spent an hour checking out their web sites and watching many of their videos. Here's the one on that project:

From what I could see from many of their creative videos is that they welcome people on life's journey. I found myself wondering if this village community of believers even had the capacity to walk with these kinds of people. Attracting them to the church is one thing, but what happens once they've "attended"? I wonder how willing this village community is to really journeying with us or if they simply wanted to bring people in for an event.

I noted, by the way, that their stated spiritual beliefs is just a link to the Missionary Church denomination and I enjoyed reading about their beliefs that "homosexual activity, like adulterous relationships, is clearly condemned in the Scriptures". Who knows if this particular local church agrees with their denomination mother ship but their site doesn't say otherwise. Would that mean that I'm not welcome in their village community?

And so why would I want to set myself up by trying to join their village only to have them set me outside the village walls once they get to know the real me? Or worse, allow me inside the village square without inviting me into their homes.

[enter sarcasm] And people think of the gay community when they think of the sin of Sodom? (Ezekiel 16:49)

(I know, it sounds like I'm pre-judging this local church but i'm more commenting on mainstream churches in general. I'm still gonna check them out tonight.)

In describing my own journey, I'll often talk about not being a part of an institutional church because I have a different paradigm of "Church" - that Church is the community of believers connected by Spirit and relationship, not a place to go or a thing to do. We are the Church. And i'll often justify not going to a sunday "service" because i'll say that i'm in regular community with believers.

That's not been the case so much these past few months. I've kept myself occupied trying to do good things in the community and I've actually had a great time getting to know many folks in the creative communities and even the green communities. But the truth is, I've been out of fellowship and the next time someone asks me what church I "go" to, I'll probably respond authentically with "I don't".

I've been talking to Jesus about it actually. It's just that I don't connect with or resonate with much of what I see from many churches. I've been around too long and so I can see right through the gimmicks. It just turns me off. And what's more, I'm kinda bugging over people who say one thing but don't follow through. I'd like to see a community of believers who were investing in mutually knowing each other - both regulars and newcomers instead of being content with simply seeing each other at events.

I know tomorrow is Easter. I've no idea what I'll do. And my family decided not to get together for the traditional lunch gathering. It's easy for them to decide that when they all have their own families to be with - spouse and kids and in-laws. I don't have that just yet, being single and all. They are my only family.

I'm not too keen on attending an Easter service either when I barely even go on any other sunday.

You get that I'm not all that concerned with presenting a super gay Christian image, right? This is just me (today), unapologetically.

Either way, me and Jesus are still sticking around doing our thing.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Through My Eyes

I really was not expecting to tear up and cry while here at work after seeing this again.

My own story rings clearly for me and while I hear clips of their stories, they sound so much like mine. (see "Suicide and the Porcelain Punisher").

I suppose I teared up this morning because I've been feeling kinda alone in recent weeks - for a lot of reasons, really. But after seeing the trailer for Through My Eyes, GCN's recently released project documentary of young Christians wrestling with the issue of being gay and of homosexuality in the Church, I found that it stirred up a lot of those familiar emotions and memories of searching for connection and never seeming to find it.

These days, I busy myself with helping others to connect. I've been working non-stop on the Catalyst Community ( and the Green Long Beach! Festival ( the past three months. Not to mention my other project, the Two World Collision Collaborative Christian Community site ( as well as many of the other collaborative communities and coalitions that I've been trying to help catalyze. These are all reasons why I haven't blogged here so frequently.

But in working so hard to help others connect, the heart of where that comes from is my own desire and need to connect - to feel connected. I long for reciprocity. And I appreciate the few truly mutual friendships that I do have in my life. It's just hard when relationships seem to come and go or fade before a root takes hold. What's harder is trying - really trying - not to internalize this pattern as my fault. Or perhaps it is. Or some of it.

Regardless of the reasons why or what the pattern means, at the end of the day I still find myself alone.

In thinking about these stories of young Christians who live and/or wrestle with being gay, what resonates for me is the fact that we want to connect. We want to live in faithful Christ-centered community. But when our churches reject us, what more do we have left?

A pastor asked me once regarding me not having a home church and asked if there was a community of believers who missed me when I wasn't present. The interesting thing is that after attending services at that church, no one acknowledged that I was present in the first place. And after subsequently discontinuing attendance at those services, I've not heard from the pastor. It's hard to miss someone you didn't realize was there.

So I suppose the answer to the question is "no."