We have been in your corps, your churches and your families since the beginning, but we are unseen. You speak as if we are not there, as if we are some “other” outside of you. We are soldiers, officers (active and retired) and adherents, friends and Corps Cadets. Work colleagues and family members, neighbours and the people you deal with every day. You aren’t sure whether we are a normal part of life or not, we kind of scare you, and we are in your eyes unmistakably “other”.
We are Christians, followers of Jesus, who have come to know and accept that we are not heterosexual.
You are those who have come to know and understand that you are heterosexual and consider that to be God’s only plan for all his people.
Let me start by saying our faith and understanding of God are rich and vibrant, our walk with Him in many cases still close. We still take the bible seriously, although some of us have developed a more nuanced understanding of how scripture “works”. We are probably not as literal in our understanding as some of you, and more literal than others of you. We don’t “struggle” with homosexuality we struggle with a position from Christians that makes no sense and doesn’t seem to be supported by a reading of either the bible or church tradition.
We want to get to know you and you get to know us, we want to honestly and openly talk through a theology of gay people and the church, from our perspective, from the perspective of gay Christians called by God to live out their witness in the world.
I want to explain one way of seeing God's plan and work in the world from the perspective of a gay Christian. It isn't the only way, but is one way of understanding of God's reason and action in creating and blessing gay people. It speaks to my experience, because just as you cannot speak with authority about the gay experience, I cannot speak of being transgender, or bisexual, or a gay man. My lived experience is as a gay woman, and I can only speak of that.
Gay people, however described, are people of deep concern to God. There are stories in the bible in which we can see ourselves depicted. There are acts of God's grace in which we see affirmation for who we are. And yet, when we come out to you our recent experience has been exclusion and rejection. So we don’t come out to you, and you never really get to know us.
Fundamentally I believe the Army is less than it can and should be if gay people, whether single or partnered, are excluded from the life, witness and ministry of the church. We are gifted and called by God, not just to attend, but to minister.
God knew we were gay before we did- in every case (check out Psalm 139 and try to read it as if you have just worked out you are gay).
It is not a surprise to God that we are gay, we are created gay. For us, to be gay is the full expression of everything that God created us to be. Because of that, we can see more clearly and in sharp relief the calling and commissioning of God to those normally excluded from the church, including the GLBTQI community.
We see the depiction of gay people when you don't in the bible, in history and in ministry because we are only too familiar with how we hide our sexuality (and therefore aspects of our true selves) from others. Our “gaydar” (the ability to identify another gay person) is usually nothing more than recognising the language of the hidden:
· the failure to use pronouns,
· the use of "we" with no explanation of who "we" is,
· the absence of chat about what we did on the weekend,
· the long term house sharing arrangements,
· the assumptions of others about the existence of a relationship without ever extending the social niceties you extend to significant others who are of the opposite sex.
While some of us take quite a long time to come out to ourselves, and a small group may say they choose to be same sex attracted, for most of us being gay is a fundamental part of our being. It is not, however, our whole identity just as being heterosexual is not your whole identity and it is not being gay that is the struggle, it is the response.
Messenger of Hope