My senior year in college I was the hall mentor in the freshmen and sophomore men’s dorm. I had a room to myself, but the door was almost always open so that guys could come by and talk. About ten o’clock one evening I heard a knock on the door as I was settling in for the night. Outside was a friend of mine I had known for several years. He wasn’t from my floor and didn’t come to any of the worships or Bible studies that I led, but it didn’t matter. He just wanted to talk, so of course I said yes and we sat down on the old couch I had dug out of the trash like any good college student does. We weren’t great friends. We didn’t hang out or socialize, but we had been part of a study abroad group together for a year and knew each other more than casual students who share a campus. I could tell he was nervous. It didn’t take more than a few minutes before he just came right out and said it. “I’m gay”.
There was so much pain in his decision to make me the first person he told. When I asked him why me, he said “You’re engaged to a girl you’ve been dating for 4 years. You’re athletic, don’t like chick flicks, and are just one of the machoest guys I know. And no matter what you never treated me different from any other guy.” He then proceeded to sob as he told me the abuse he had suffered by other straight guys just at the thought of him being gay.
I didn’t really know what to say.
I more or less just listened as we talked for nearly two hours.
He said how much of a struggle it was, because he grew up in a Christian home and desperately tried not to be gay. He tried to “pray the gay away”. He said he had a strong relationship with Jesus, but he knew he’d no longer be accepted at church. He didn’t want to leave church. But he knew he was gay and he was going to accept who he was and live that way. Again I was speechless. Leaving church because you were gay was never something I thought of. Why would that matter?
Several weeks later, another friend came to my room to share the same thing; that he was gay. Word was out, if you were going to come out of the closet, I was the guy to talk to. And honestly, I had no clue what I was doing.
Up until that point, homosexuality wasn’t an issue I had given much thought to. Like most Christian’s I believed it was wrong, but didn’t know anyone personally. I joked about my “Gay-dar” and the clerks working at Express hitting on me, but it was always distant. Never personal.
Homosexuality is THE hot button topic right now. Most people have drawn their line in the sand before even beginning to talk about it. Those who are anti-homosexuality have books, studies, and Bible verses to show how wrong it is. Those in support of homosexuality are so hurt by the stance of the others that they have taken an equally irrational stance to the opposite extreme with their own books, studies, and Bible verses. Then those who want to be in the middle defend both sides and say things like “I’m not homophobic, I have a friend who’s gay”. It’s like people back in the eighties saying “I’m not racist, I have a friend who’s black”. What does that have to do with anything? Do you still see that person as different though?
Sadly, if you’re not gay, lesbian, or bisexual you most likely don’t have an experience to base any of your emotions and feelings on about the subject. You haven’t grown up with a brother who’s gay or an aunt who’s lesbian. You haven’t had someone come out of the closet and make you the first person they were going to tell. And you most likely haven’t had to look into their eyes and say “I still love you. Nothing has changed”.
The whole Homosexuality debate isn’t like picking a sports team. You can’t just throw on your jersey to cheer blindly for your team and get in fist fights with fans from the other team. It’s not about choosing sides. Whenever the debate starts, I always go back to that moment in college when I was told “You don’t treat me any different”. Why would I? Why would him coming out of the closet change that either?
There are bigger issues in this world that cause so much more harm than homosexuality. Things worth spending time debating, protesting, and raising awareness for. War, Disease, Poverty, Hunger, Human Trafficking, Slavery, Child Abuse…
Rather than choose a side and engage in combat, I would rather care for the casualties. There are enough other people to fill in the hate and be prejudice.