I remember how scared I was the first time I told someone I was gay.
That was almost twenty years ago. If you’d told me then that someday I’d be the director of a non-profit that helped start conversations in churches and families about same-sex attraction, I would’ve shuttered with disbelief and fear.
I pray all the time to not ever forget what that fear felt like.
Because every day I encounter people who are terrified to confront their own fears around the topic of sexuality, especially if it involves same-sex attraction.
For so many people, this conversation is hard. Some might read this thinking, wow, I can’t believe there are people who have a problem with someone being gay, or talking about any issue pertaining to sexual minorities. But for those of us who grew up in homes that taught a sexual ethic that not only didn’t embrace same-sex relationships, but believed that expression of sexuality between two people of the same gender is morally wrong, it’s still scary.
That’s why this conference that’s happening in our little part of the world is a really big deal.
People are coming together – many from very traditional backgrounds – wanting to understand more. To learn a more Christ-like response. To learn how to love LGBTQ daughters and sons. To remind ourselves that we don’t all have the same opinions. To affirm the truth that, regardless of those opinions, Jesus invites us all to the table.
Twenty years ago my fear of someone finding out about my sexuality would’ve kept me from coming to this. Honestly, if someone had invited me to a conference like “e3,” I would’ve found all kinds of reasons to not go. I would’ve been terrified of seeing people I knew, and what would they think, seeing me at a conference about same-sex attraction?
Some of the people already registered to attend are afraid, but they’re coming anyway.
So we’ll be serving lots of cookies during breaks! We’ll be sharing meals together, because it’s next to impossible to stay afraid once you get to know someone over supper.
We’re going out of our way to make this event as relaxed and informal and welcoming as we can be. We’ll listen thoughtfully to each other’s experiences and ideas. We’ll express our own opinions graciously, gently (if we feel the need to tell you what we think at all!). And we’ll worship God and pray together, around the same table.
I wish there had been an “e3” conference a long time ago and that a bunch of people from my church had asked me to go with them.
It would’ve saved me a lot of years of living in fear.