Several years ago, around the age of nineteen, I lived with my grandparents for a few months. I had pretty much already come to realization that I was gay, but I still clung to the hope that a true born-again experience would change all of that and I would be a ‘normal’ person.
The church that my grandparents and I attended held a revival with a female preacher, one who had a very powerful, magnetic presence in the pulpit and seemed to have a personal interest in me. I highly respected this woman and appreciated her attention and concern.
A year or so later, after going through much personal hell and coming out to my immediate family, I was spending a few nights at my sister’s house when this preacher lady decided to pay me a visit. During the course of our conversation, she proceeded to tell me that a Christian friend of hers had dreamt that she was given a tour of hell. She said that hell had different levels and that when she got to the very bottom level, she saw that all of the homosexuals where there. Nice story to tell a person who’s feeling incredibly fragile and wondering if their family is going to abandon them, huh?
Anyway, from that point, I had no respect for or intentions of going to see this woman preach again. Anytime she was in a revival there, she would send word through mutual acquaintances that she wanted me to come to church. I never did. I simply could not get beyond the fact that she, and others like her, think that something that I can’t change makes me worse than a rapist, murderer, child molester, terrorist, etc.
So, to bring this full circle, last night I went to the funeral visitation for a man that I’ve known my entire life. Several members of my family were there, including many who are very religious. I don’t see most of them very often, so it was a reunion of sorts. I was standing in the chapel talking to my grandfather, when I hear, “Hi! Do you remember who I am?” It was the preacher lady. Our conversation went something like this…
Me: How are you?
Her: Can you guess where I’m in revival?
Me: (names church in question form)
Her: Can we be expecting you to come?
Me: Honestly, probably not.
Her: Don’t you think you probably need to come?
Her: I pray for you often.
Me: Thank you.
Her: Well, you think about coming to church.
This woman has no idea how my views of God, religion and homosexuality have changed over the years since I was a teenager. I could have told her, but what’s the point? I can’t change her opinion and she can’t change mine.
I had taken my elderly neighbor lady with me to the visitation, and recounted this story to her on the way home. She immediately informed me that there was nothing wrong with me and that she would “fight anyone who thought so.” I laughed, picturing this 88 year old gal taking on the world in my defense, but I understood her sentiment.