When it comes to your anger and frustration and judgment, I wish you could see the world through my experiences -- growing up Baptist, preacher's kid, scared to death that God hated me. And once the Calvinist in my life informed me that being gay was "proof" that I was doomed to hell, I thought, "Well, then. That means I have no chance, anyway. Might as well live it up!"
Took me awhile to get out. I had a band I had to tell. I had a family who I could not tell. I was living in my college town (Baptist).
And the only anchor I had in life -- my relationship with God -- was just, "according to the Bible," severed forever.
My 23 year old head said, "You're free!"
Why wouldn't I go and have the time of my life? If I had no chance for heaven anyway, then wow!
Now, I realize not every kid has a Calvinist to help him along on the road to perdition, but really, every gay kid who grows up in a Christian conservative home, gets this message. It was in my head long before I met the Calvinist. What would you have done?
Imagine your 23 year old self, a virgin whose life experience consisted solely of church, now tossed out into the big world.
Now, straight men, imagine yourself moving to a big city, alone. Naive. In my case, Dallas. You've now been told that God has abandoned you. You go to a club. You don't even know the names of drinks. So, you're scared and alone.
In the far country. As foreign to you as a going to Cuba. And then you notice something else. The bar is filled with nothing but women. Beautiful women. And they all hug you, talk to you, want you, embrace you. They're wounded, too. And they accept you just the way you are, flaws and all.
I know that you think of gay bars and are probably horrified and think, with big red letters SIN. And I'm not making excuses for the choices I made that eventually landed me in the hospital facing my mortality.
I'm just saying that it's easy to judge another person's life. Until you really have walked in my shoes, your protestations -- and I mean this with gentleness and respect -- about all that promiscuity fall on deaf ears because you look at a statistic and make a judgment call about an entire group of people.
This is what your opponents do to you, too, btw. When I saw it in myself, I made myself stop. I cannot judge you without knowing you.
In my experience, true ministry is about listening. When you know the heart of that person across from you, you've given them something way more valuable than your opinion. You've given them your time.
And as Katherine Hepburn told Jim Brochu after he asked about why her lamps were tied to the ceiling with strings; she knocked one aside, it started swinging back and forth like a pendulum, and she dusted the table beneath. Then she said, "Saves time. And time is all we've got, you know."