Hey, welcome back. Gotta say thanks again for tracking with me so far. Writing this has been so helpful for me. Shall we push forward a bit in the narrative of this past year in my life? Cool.
As I mentioned in Six Kitchens, I entered into this period of free time and I had to face something. I’ll get to what that idea/inception/something is I promise. Most likely in Part 3 though. I have to give a bit of back story first.
Stick with me.
About a week or so before I was let go from the amazing job with all the kitchens. I was walking to my car in the middle of a parking garage in one of Atlanta’s rapid transit system stations. I answered the phone as I unlocked the door to my car.
It was one of the Pastors from my church. We caught up briefly and he began to tell me about a sermon series our church was planning to do in the Fall. It would span the course of ten weeks and focus on the beauty of God’s design for manhood, womanhood, singleness, sexuality, and marriage.
I held my breath as I listened. Deep down in my gut I anticipated where this conversation was headed.
He went on to explain that there would be a segment dedicated to Christians who were gay. The specific term he used was “same sex attracted”. He asked if I’d be willing to be part of a video speaking about that. He encouraged me that I could say no, and that I was chosen because of my example of faithfulness to Jesus.
My heart continued to beat fast and my mind raced because I knew my answer already and I had an odd sense of déjà vu. In hind sight, I realize that familiar feeling came from a belief that somehow and at some point I’d “go public” about my sexual orientation.
As I listened to what my pastor described about this series, I began to feel that this video would be the means by which I did just that.
I wasn’t public about my sexual orientation. Very few people in my life knew. My pastoral leadership obviously knew. They had shepherded and loved me well from the beginning of my time with the church.
Then there were my friends. Key individuals in my life who knew and who also loved me well. Who walked alongside me for years. Who said with their mouth and their example.
“I’m here for you, you can count on me”
“I love you”
“Nothing has changed”
“I’ll carry this weight with you, you can’t get rid of me”
and many other reflections of empathy and compassion.
As my mind continued to race while on the phone I began to prepare my response.
My pastor went on to explain that this sermon series would also be part of our church’s way of announcing a stance on marriage in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage across the country.
In the video I would talk about my commitment to abstaining from acting on my sexual orientation – and by extension a commitment to celibacy as an expression of faithfulness to Jesus Christ.
It didn’t happen in that moment while on the phone, sitting in my car in the parking garage- but I would later recall the actual day of my interview at the amazing place with all the kitchens.
June 26th, 2015. I walked into the office bright eyed and nervous. There were vibrant murals all around me and it felt like I had stepped into a painting. I let one of the receptionist know I was there for my interview and she welcomed me warmly and prepared a temporary badge for me and asked me to take a seat.
There was an energy and excitement in the air of the massive office. I heard someone say. “they just legalized gay marriage!”
another person responded “ that’s so exciting!”
I honestly can’t recall my feeling in that moment- I think maybe I pushed it to the back of mind and focused on the interview and how nervous I was most likely. It is however something that I’ve thought often about since. I’ll speak more on that in part 3.
As my pastor wrapped up the phone conversation I took a deep breath and spoke.
“Yes, i’ll do it”
What better way to encourage my church than to share my testimony in this way? I thought.
I’m committed to celibacy. I’m committed to Jesus. My sexual orientation is part of me but not all of me. I can do this.
At thirty years old God had blessed me with an amazing support system. Not only in the form of my church leadership and key friends. But also through an online community of other Christians like me. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Christians who are committed to the traditional sexual ethic – of chastity and celibacy.
Coptic, Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical, – the whole gambit – from all over the world. We come together often in our little online corner of the intersphere to support one another, pray for another, encourage one another and to vent. To celebrate the highs, and weep together over the lows of our lives.
This video, I thought- was an opportunity to share with not only my church but also people in my life as a whole – this whole other world that so many in my personal life did not know existed.
As I hung up the phone with my Pastor and began to drive home I began to think about the video, what I’d say. How it’d be received. So many thoughts.
About a week later is when I was let go from the place with all the kitchens. Thats when the anxiety attacks came. That’s when I found respite in the mountains of Rocky Mountain National park. Shortly after that is when the idea that stared me in the face and demanded to be answered captured my heart.