My response to Dan Savage’s column…

Which can be found here.

Hi, Dan…

I’m the minister at St. Andrew’s Haney United Church – the guy who posted the sign at the top of your article. This morning, I had a chance to read your response to LR and then your post here, to JLGAHF.

I’d love to get into a debate with you about this.
I’d love to be able to argue that you’re wrong.
I’d love to lay out my proofs that the majority of Christians around the world are working our collective asses off to support and celebrate gays and lesbians and folk who are bi and transgendered…
but I can’t.

Because you’re right.

That isn’t to take away from the individuals, groups, congregations and denominations who do stand up – both in the world and with our “co-religionists” – and scream, “SIT DOWN, SHUT UP AND LISTEN, there is nothing wrong – nothing sinful – about being lesbian, gay, transgendered or bi.” It isn’t to take away from the Christians (like the United Church of Canada) who argued in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in favour of Same-Sex Marriage. It isn’t to take away from Christians (of what ever sexuality) who are doing all they can to create places that are NOT simply tolerant, but celebratory. Because there are. And they are working their asses off, and putting their money and their life into that fight.

Sadly, I believe that a majority of Christians world-wide, here in Canada, and in your own country either tacitly or overtly support homophobia.

It hurts to recognize that. It hurts even more to know that our voice is always going to be drowned out by the majority of our Christian siblings. Because we don’t have the numbers or the money to build the “moderate and ‘welcoming’ Christian groups that are just as big, well-funded, aggressive, and loud as the conservative Christian organizations…” And, yeah, it hurts that people are going to be pissed off because we’re not doing enough and others are going to be pissed off because we’re doing anything at all.

But it’s not going to stop us from doing what we can. Shouting where we can. Protesting where we can. Challenging – with love, but also with justice and strength – the messages of homophobic hate. Helping our children to see the inherent value of all people. Working (hopefully with you) to get the “it gets better” message and the “there are safe places” message and the “please, let us help” message to LGBT children and youth, and the message to everyone that the bullying will stop *NOW*.

Why? Because it’s right and necessary and just and loving.
And because the guy who said, “Love one another as I have loved you,” would demand it of us.

Christ’s peace – Richard

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The Mess.

It started a little while ago –
the mess, I mean.
Just
one
piece of paper that
morphed
into two.

Which became a pile
that migrated across,
no…
that m i g r a t e d a c r o s s the desk,
onto the floor
and began
to absorb the
chair.

And the side table.

And
the
cat. (mrrwarr!)

I really didn’t mean for it
to be so…
be so…
so…

oh, excuse me.

I have a bit of a problem.

The mess, which started on the desk
as just a piece of paper,
which moved onto the floor,
as a happy little pile,
which came upon the cat,
with a satisfied little *burp*
has just
covered

me.

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“Hey, faggot…

I’ve got something you want.”

There are a lot of things I remember from elementary and high school.

Not all of those memories are good.

I remember being called gay.
I remember being called “you fuckin’ faggot.”
I remember being hung on a coat hook in a bathroom stall.
I remember having my head flushed in a toilet.

I remember trying to stand up for myself.
Quick-witted lines like, “Don’t worry. You aren’t my type. I prefer people who are actually good looking,” got my face slammed harder into the brick wall of good ol’ MHS. My fists flying out blindly, because I had no concept of how to fight – just knowing I wanted to hurt someone who was hurting me.

I remember being 12-freakin’-years-old, and two guys in grade 8 lifting me up in the air, then jamming me down on a trailer ball hitch – holding me there. “Say you like it. Fags like it up the ass.” Pushing down harder, “Say you like it and we’ll let you go.” What do you do except scream, “I like it,” both desperately hoping and desperately terrified that someone – some adult – some responsible human being – will hear. Hoping, because they might makethepainSTOP… terrified that they… wouldn’t.

I remember being grabbed from behind, held in a headlock, an arm over my eyes blinding me, and hearing a muffled voice say, “I’ve got something I bet you want, gayboy…” and a zipper being pulled down. I still wonder what would have happened if one of my female friends hadn’t banged on the bathroom door, yelling, “Hurry up, Rick! They’re waiting for us at the Plaza!”

You know what’s weird? Throughout high-school, I was pretty certain I was straight. Though I would be a virgin until I was in my 20s, it was women to whom I felt attracted. It was women about whom I wondered and dreamed and fantasized. I could then, and can now, see the attractiveness of men who were my acquaintance, but didn’t really have any desire to make love with them.

I wonder. If I had had to live through all of that crap and abuse – being taught by many of my peers that being gay was abnormal, sick, disgusting, less-than-human, and wrong – and had been in a more ambiguous place about my sexuality, or had been attracted to guys… what would I have come to believe about myself? And, if I had come to believe that I was “abnormal, sick, disgusting, less-than-human, and wrong” – or come to believe that the pain would never stop, that I’d never get away, never be safe – what might I have done then?

Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Eric Mohat, Meredith Rezak, Raymond Chase and Billy Lucas.
Eight faces and names that, I believe, are a visible presence of an invisible tragedy.

The tragedy? Not that they were, or might have been, gay.
No, the tragedy is that they will never really have the chance to find out who they are.
Others’ irrational fear and unthinking hatred killed took that away.
Others’ irrational fear and unthinking abuse killed them, by making them believe that there was no way to live.

Tyler. Asher. Seth. Justin. Eric. Meredith. Raymond. Billy. Everyone who loves them.

Ripped apart.

Requiescat in pace. May God’s grace, Christ’s peace, and the Spirit’s fire heal us all.

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192 days

That’s what I’ve got left until my sabbatical begins.

I’m going to be away from the congregation for five months. Some of it holidays, the bulk of it sabbatical.

I’m still working on what I’m going to be working on. So far, however, my plans look something like:
. sleep;
. complete a few courses in my Adult Education diploma at UBC;
. put together – and “market” – the “Walking a Disciple’s Path” exploration series;
. sleep;
. have a conversation or two with God about where my life is going;
. have a conversation or two with God – and with some of my colleagues – about a direction I seem to be being tugged towards;
. sleep;
. write and reflect.

The Church Board is on-board. A colleague who knows the congregation well has volunteered to be the Pastoral Charge Supervisor. Other colleagues in the Lougheed Corridor have volunteered to be present for emergencies. The Worship & Sacraments Division has decided that the congregation will take on the responsibility for worship leadership for the time I’m away, and are meeting on Sunday to get the schedule laid out. The Board is working with me to name and prepare people for other leadership while I’m away.

There’s a lot that’s going to happen between now and then.

Exciting, isn’t it?

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