#BecauseofRHE

When I read the news yesterday morning that Rachel Held Evans had lost her fight in hospital against unexpected sudden illness, I was beyond shocked.

In one instant, I was angry, hurt, hopeless, tearful, afraid, and ultimately unable to express my profound loss. I didn’t know Rachel personally, but have had the privilege of interacting with her through social media and private online forums. Rachel existed and ministered in the margins. She was a beacon and a balm for LGBTQ people of faith to say the least.

She connected and championed us. She raised otherwise ignored voices to a place where they were not only heard but amplified. In doing so, a new community of questioners and faith-game changers was rising, is rising.

The single greatest thing we have #becauseofRHE is each other. Her legacy is us carrying on her work.

If you’ve ever been silenced by the voice that wonders if what you’ve got to say matters, the one that keeps you afraid to put yourself out there—I want you to look at the last 32 hours of tweets about Rachel’s impact.

She took a chance, giving voice to things and making space for things that most of us who are in a fog of loss were thinking and living daily. We can do it too. We MUST do it. The way we can honour her best is to carry on that work.

Your voice matters. You are the change the world needs. Our love is radical. Our family is international. We got this #becauseofRHE.

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Still Gay, Still Christian

It’s been a few years since I came out publicly on social media. I was out in my close relationships and the local community, but I was terrified of losing all credibility in the circles of faith. I was scared of being found out and ultimately cast aside. You can find out about that journey here and here.

Since then, a few things have changed. I am now in a long-term committed relationship with a wonderful woman. We’ve been together for over a year and I’ve never been more at peace with myself or my sexuality.

I’ve had the privilege of mentoring youth and young adults who find themselves in the crossroads of having to choose between the faith of their family and the truth of who they are at the very core of their being.

There is a shift taking place within the church. Many denominations and theologians are reevaluating old proof texts with fresh eyes. More and more conservative-leaning church leaders are landing on the side of inclusion. Q Christian Network and Generous Space Ministries have many resources for anyone open to learn.

This past month I read Vicky Beeching’s Undivided and realized how similar our stories are. The rhetoric of sexuality being a choice or something a person can change (or should change) is damaging and people are literally dying because of it.

Though I’ve not found an affirming church in my remote location, I have found a community of Christians (mostly straight allies) who welcome me, love me, support me, and stand in a posture of defence and protection for those like me. If Jesus’ teaching are life-saving and God’s grace unconditional, then why are so many advocating hate and violence in his name?

I see you. I stand with you. You are not alone.

Do You Regret Coming Out?

From the archives, originally posted in 2016.

In light of the recent headlines with Colton Haynes officially coming out, I’ve had many people ask me if I regret it at all in my own journey.

What I can say is that I entirely echo Colton’s words that “acting 24 hours a day is exhausting”. What I regret is the time I spent living in fear of being discovered, disowned and discarded. What I’ve found is that most people in my life are embracing me and even celebrating my courage.

I’ve yet to meet a member of the LGBTQ community that regrets coming out. Regret is far often more attached to HOW it happened than being out in the open. Not everyone is as lucky as me. They don’t get to choose when and how they come out. Countless youth are outed by peers or parents far before they’re ready for different reasons. Many are outed within the faith community when coming out to someone in trust and “did you hear about?” becomes a “prayer request.”

Being out to friends and family and being out to the public are also different things–which Colton touches on in his article linked above.

For me, it’s deep and personal. I needed to come to terms with myself and grieve the ways I had acted and hurt myself and others while hiding from the truth. I needed to face the friends that I had shoved out of my life and force myself to ask hard questions.

I needed to choose what was more important to me–what I know about myself or what others expected of a Christian. Talking with my mom, we both laughed at the idea that I ever tried to NOT be bisexual. The first person I was ever in love with was my next door neighbour Melissa.

We were about 8-ish and spent every waking moment of the summer together. It was the kind of puppy love that parents encourage between a boy and a girl as “cute” and “normal”–but it wasn’t until I was a grown up looking back that I saw it for what it was.

Praise the Lord my mother never shamed me for that relationship or a few I had in my teens. In our family, who you love had more to do with how they treat you and others than their gender, race or religion.

What did coming out mean for you?

Upcoming Reading: Portal Launch

Mark your calendars for April 12th. If you live in Nanaimo, BC, or near it. I and many other talented emerging voices will be reading from our work in Portal Magazine’s 2019 issue.

I will be reading from a non-fiction piece titled “Peanuts” in which I describe my first encounter with gambling and drinking from a six-year-old perspective. It explores themes of poverty, abuse (neglect), and innocence.

The event will take place at The Grand Hotel in Nanaimo BC. Watch Portal’s Facebook page or my Twitter in the coming months for more details.

I’m not lost

This week, I was re-reading some old emails. They were sent to me by well-meaning conservative Christian friends after I publicly came out. A theme emerged that it important to address. I am not lost.

It’s painfully ironic that in their rush to tell me how confused by Satan I am and how I am leading others down the road of confusion they failed to enter into an actual conversation with me. Three and four-page letters carry almost mirror-image monologues from self-proclaimed “very intelligent” theologians.

In one sentence they congratulated me for my intelligence and in the next reminded me that they are smarter and wiser and more well read than I, and that it would behoove me to head their wisdom.

In the nearly four years since those original emails were sent, and those now former friends repeated their love for me, I’ve not heard from a single one. I am healthier emotionally, physically, and spiritually now. I owe this all to the integrity a group of individuals said I lacked back then (and probably still think I do now).

While on the topic of integrity, I learned a Peace River Bible Institute a phrase that has stuck with me. In Spiritual Formation class, we were taught that integrity is when the outside matches the inside and a person is whole. That is exactly what coming out is all about. The integrity called into question my hyper-conservatives is the very integrity that demanded I be open and honest.

Even more curious, I’ve known more LGBTQ+ Christians (or people who have renounced that title but still love Jesus) to come out of my tiny conservative Bible College than any I’ve met since. In my group of closest friends from my four years there, four out of five of us came out as LGBTQ+.

The tools we learned there, though not at all intended by the leadership to manifest in such a way, enabled us with the skills to discern God’s word for ourselves. We learned, had drilled into us, that context is key not only when interpreting scripture, but when applying it to our current culture.

There is no precedent for committed long term same-sex relationships historically at the time the Bible was written, there’s also no text for trans individuals, and no text for veganism (to pick something less “sexuality” based). But people still have strong opinions around all of those things and what scripture does or does not say.

What I know beyond a shadow of a doubt to be true is what Jesus said. He said that to be saved we need only to put our faith in him. Full stop. We need to stop making a laundry list of Jesus + this other random thing. Jesus preached a wholly inclusive faith, that’s the point of the feast parable.

All this rambling to say I’m still bisexual, I still love Jesus, and I still know it’s more than okay to be both those things.

If you need some resources to help you out on this journey or if someone you love is LGBTQ+ and you need some support visit the contact us page and I’ll point you in the most helpful direction.

Don’t let people steal your joy, your Jesus, or your value.

#FaithfullyLGBT