Recently three gay men in our community invited me to meet for coffee. It wound up being the best meeting of my week. Challenging, thought-provoking, enlightening—I’m grateful I said yes.
I’ll admit that as we all were getting settled around the small table in the downtown café, immediate tension was our common bond—not because any of us is an unkind person, but because there exist thick and longstanding stereotypes about them—gay men—and about types like me—evangelical megachurch pastors—as well as myriad assumptions to overcome. Would they lash out at me in anger? Would I condemn them for their sinful ways? Both parties were suspicious: where was this thing headed, anyway?
What follows are five lessons learned from that hour-long meeting, courtesy of one who stands today renewed in his hope that bridge-building still is possible, regardless of the chasm we’re trying to span.
One: Our stories are more similar than we think.
As I took in the tales of their upbringing—their families, their histories, their quirks—I realized that the details that separated my experience from theirs were grossly outnumbered by the uncanny similarities we shared. The truth is, none of us had perfect families.
Two: Truth isn’t always conveyed in love.
To a person, these three men explained to me that as soon as they came out as gay, they were treated terribly by Christ followers, all of whom wanted them to “know the truth.” Consequently, these men were well versed in the evangelical theories of marriage, family, and sexuality. They were also well versed in the art of being judged and scorned.
Three: Homosexuality is more bipartisan than we may think.
Two of the three men were Republicans, which spurred on more than a few laughs about how both straight and gay people like to keep their money in their pocket instead of adding to the government dole.
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