“Invite people into your life who don’t look like you, don’t think like you, don’t act like you, don’t come from where you come from. And you might find that they will challenge your assumptions and make you grow as a person.” – Melody Hobson
Update: For Part II, click here.
The following interview is one that my friend and I have been thinking about for a while now. I met him a few years ago when I was attending the Norwood Seventh-day Adventist Church while I was living in Montreal. We found out that we both were Torontonians (perhaps me more so), and we both were attending McGill. We also realized that we both were quite open-minded and critical when it came to social issues compared to some others in our peer group and so he and I quickly became fast friends.
While hanging out with him, I started to suspect that he was gay, but I left it at that — a suspicion. However, my suspicions were confirmed when one night, when he was walking me home from salsa dancing, he came out and told me that he was gay. We sat in my apartment lobby as I peppered him with questions and began putting two and two together. We had a really good conversation. I asked him to let me know if my questions came off as intrusive or daft, and to let me know if I had ever said anything that offended him. He said I hadn’t. I had never met someone like him before – a gay Seventh-day Adventist. So my biggest question was how he managed to reconcile being gay and being an Adventist. How did he/does he reconcile his religiosity with his sexuality? Can they be reconciled?
As Adventists, or even as Christians in general, when we talk about homosexuality and sexual minorities in the church, we often do so from a distant, ignorant, ill-informed, theoretical and disingenuous standpoint. It’s easy to misunderstand and uphold stereotypical views of a certain group when you don’t personally know any members who belong to that group – whether Black people, Muslim people, or, in this case, gay people.
With that view in mind, my friend and I thought it would be an interesting exercise to talk about his experiences as a gay Christian in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
I’m not pushing any agenda, and I’m not taking any sides. All I’m doing is giving someone a voice – a voice we don’t often hear. I think there is value in hearing the lived experiences of people – all people. I think that by hearing the stories from each other, we can learn from each other and perhaps even do better. And since this is my blog, from time to time I want to share the experience of people I love, such as my dear friend. Hear him out. I think if we did more listening to people than judging we’d get a lot further in life.
We wanted a more conversational vibe to this interview. He came over and we had a convo – him sitting on my couch and me sitting on the other end, me in my PJs and glasses, Sunday morning sunshine streaming in. He’s asked me to withhold his name until later on in this blog post (you’ll have to read ’til the end to find out who he is! 😉 ). Here’s what I learned and here’s what he had to say:
Continue reading “Growing Up as a Gay Adventist”