Below is a note from a friend who took a chance on his fellow church members. I found it fascinating and a reminder to engage in the daily activism of being ourselves everywhere we are.
Well, it seems that 2011 is off to an interesting start. Throughout 2010, a friend at church has been asking for permission to nominate me for Church Council and I resisted. Not only was I concerned about whether I wanted the additional responsibility, I did not want to be elected to Church Council without people knowing that I am gay.
So, that put me in a bit of a spot; just how out there did I want to be? While some knew (some friends, Pastor, and attendees of a meeting over a year ago) the larger part of the congregation did not know. I finally acquiesced and let my friend nominate me. A couple weeks ago, I received an e-mail from the church secretary asking for my "bio." I had quite a lump in my stomach as I wrote my bio, knowing it would be published with my picture in the church bulletin:
As a single gay man, I appreciate how welcoming the church family has been to me and my family. I attend with my mother and try to bring my niece as often as I can. [...]
I am honored to have been nominated for Church Council and, if elected, I look forward to sharing whatever talents and skills I have in service to this Church, its church family, and its outreach.
I honestly did not expect to be elected. Others who were running are, in my estimation, more qualified and dedicated to the church missions, outreach, and administration.
Further, I was sure that the first sentence of my bio would move me to the bottom many parishioners' lists. So why did I run if I didn't think I would win? It is a little complicated and there are a number of answers to that question but here are just a few.
- A friend asked for permission to nominate me and I appreciated his endorsement and confidence so I wanted to honor his request.
- I often wondered if I could have been of greater help when my former church was falling apart or even if I could have helped keep it from self-destructing. I had been asked to run for Church Council there many times but was afraid to do so, in part because I am gay and, in those days, would not have been allowed to serve had anyone known.
- I felt that submitting my bio as written might, perhaps in small ways, move some hearts to greater levels of acceptance. Even if it only caused some to take a moment to consider how they feel, that would have been enough for me.
- I don't like living in the dark.
Our annual meeting and election was conducted after today's church service. In the brief coffee break between the service and meeting, I knew I was going to be elected. The outpouring of support, handshakes, hugs, and well-wishes (even from those I do not personally know) was startling. What struck me most was the feeling that I was being elected not only despite being gay but also because I am gay. Who would have thought? Beyond endorsing me, the congregation was sending a message of acceptance.
I know that some of those who are receiving this email do not share my faith in God and some might question my involvement with any church at all. I accept and respect that point of view. I share this experience because it is uplifting to see that hearts can be moved, acceptance is a possibility if you let it happen, and it is important to have faith in your life; whether it be in God, in people, in possibilities, in yourself, or in the sun coming up tomorrow!
I also know that I have never had a conversation with some of you regarding my sexuality but I trust it is something that has always been known, even if not discussed specifically. Please know, you are getting this note because you matter to me and I wanted to share this with you.
I hope your 2011 is filled with life's blessings!