An Open Letter to the Church, from a Queer Guy

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Dear Church,

Two disclaimers to start off. First, We don’t have to agree, we could both be wrong. Second, I’ll use the term “gay” or “gays” to refer to the LGBTQ+ community in a broader sense.

I had a lot to say. But there’s already so many people’s voices, and so much already being discussed and said. Just do a google search and you’ll find different voices, different opinions on all sides. So I’ll keep this brief.

The two cents I wanted to add is this: Some of us from the LGBTQ+ community already go to church. We’re already here, sitting in the pews, listening, listening, listening.

What was hard for me, about my relationship with you, wasn’t necessarily everything that was said – a lot of what you taught me was good and enriching and beautiful. But I think that every time we talked about gays, we talked as if they were outside the church, rather than right there, like I was.

Most of the time it the conversation emphasized the us and them, this complete separation of gays and Christians. It was as if church members and LGBTQ+ community members were like water and oil, never mixing. Even when I’m here saying this, it feels like I for a brief moment have to exclude myself from you and only be in the gay community.  Almost, as if I can’t be in both. Which is not true. I’m a part of both communities.

But there I was listening. The hurtful things were said because you didn’t see I was there, listening; you thought I was outside of your community. And I understand, it’s not the easiest to take off the lenses that you received from those before you.

But, please, remember.

We’re here, with you. We sit next to you, helping out with kid’s ministry, assisting in worship and service, every Sunday.

Please, remember.

We are your daughters, brothers, best friends, and cousins.

We’re right here, and we’re listening. So please, listen to your friend and their struggles when they come out. Listen.

One last remark is that I do not in any way represent the entire gay community. We’re all so different, with different stories and experiences within and outside of your community. Some of us have been ostracized, some of us have left you by choice, some of us struggle to remain friends, and I’m sure there must be some of us who are doing just fine with the way things are.

My experience with you, I have found to be one of the best ones out there, and it saddens me when I find out about many others who have had it harder than me, being rejected and from their communities and families.

Thank you so much for your time, your patience in listening to my complaint. I’ll strive to work for a better relationship between me and you. I know we’re still figuring this all out, and it’s hard and complicated. But thank you for trying, for caring. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes.

Sincerely,

Andrew Gilbert


I have wanted to write something like this for the longest time. I only found the courage to finally post this after a recent Sunday when the Calvin College pastor, Pastor Mary, talked about the subject in a very loving and caring way. The sermon was recorded and can be watched here.
Also please note that the way she talks about it, while still holds onto a “us” and “them,” paradigm she acknowledges this and confesses the difficulties of bridging this divide.
If you want to engage the whole debate of whether homosexual activity, two persons of same sex getting in a relationship, is correct or not, I ask that you do that in private, rather than out and loud here. I just want to keep it more civil. Also, some literature that I’d recommend before you fly at all the arguments out there, would be:
Torn, by Justin Lee
What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, by Kevin DeYoung
Bible, Gender and Sexuality, by James V. Brownson
Washed and Waiting, by Wesley Hill
I’m sure there’s other ones I’m skipping, but this can be a good starting place.
I also recommend listening to this episode of the Liturgists Podcast that definitely made me cry when I listened to it.
Lastly, if you can’t afford the books, either money or time-wise, a good place to find some reading material could be here. Though some of the reading material might make you uncomfortable. Look under “blogs,” for free accessible material.

Drawing Series on Depression and Anxiety

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Imagine me, younger, around the age of ten. my hair is longer and lighter. My nose hasn’t grown yet; it still has soft curves. My eyelashes and eyebrows are dark and heavy, hiding my eyes a little. I’m standing on this hill, just outside my house, my legs straight, my gaze firm as I look out into the city that fills the valleys and climbs the hills. The hill I stand on is covered in a green sheet. Not exactly the green you’re thinking of, but the green contaminated with a blue cold and grey tint; the sky is filled with soft shapes and gradations of clouds. Everything feels a little bit quieter. And I’m there on the hill, just quietly sad. My body feels empty, and so does my heart.

I have this memory from childhood, and I don’t recall if it’s been fabricated by my brain or if it happened.

I always was a little bit of a sad person. Even a sad kid really. I’ve heard from people that they see me as a joyful, calm and happy person. But I think I always carried with me a certain weight of sadness. Sure, I also had my happy moments, but there was sadness lurking about within. Almost like my happiness always had to be tinted with sorrow.

I don’t know where it comes from, why it existed. Why it exists. Maybe it’s my sensitive heart. Or maybe it started when my friend died in elementary school, run over by a truck when he was biking. I was 7, he was 6.

Maybe I’ve been enamored to sadness. Sadness has a richness of its own. It’s very nuanced, and feels real and tangible.

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Wherever it came from, this sadness hit the hardest in my teenage years.When I entered puberty and suddenly saw everything changing around me—my own body, my friends, the place I lived in—suddenly carrying my friend Sadness wasn’t ok anymore.

While I struggled to grasp my emotions, to gain some control of them, a friend committed suicide. He was almost an acquaintance really, but we were getting closer. This event ignited my own sadness, and suddenly it burst into thoughts of self-harm; and suicide made its space in my mind. Talking with my mom, we agreed that I should see a psychologist.

I had already struggled with a mild degree of depression, but suddenly I felt like the whole world crashed on me—anxiety was thrown into the mix. I felt unable to solve my problems and unable to be of any help to others. Looking back, I think I felt like a ghost. Unable to affect any real force or change, in the world, or in myself. My pain was cerebral, emotional, abstract. But to some degree I truly felt alienated from my body, and I decided to forget my body. Unable to enact change, I let myself slip more and more into the abstract self, into my head, away from the physical.

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Going to a psychologist for the next year or so really helped me. It helped me deal with insecurities, helped me see myself not as incapable, but as weakened. I could build myself up, slowly.

(To be continued)


I’ll post the second part to this on Thursday the 8th.

I wanted to talk about depression and anxiety. It’s something that I care deeply about, because of my own experiences and of those close to me. There’s a couple of other blog posts that touch a little bit on these topics. If you want to check them out here’s a small list of items relating to this topic, either by referencing it, or searching for solutions.

Liiiiiiiine

What Made Me Cry This Week – Yoga

Remember This 4

Remember This 3

Thank you for reading through this story, your support, time and attention means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. If you’d like to stay updated make sure to follow the blog – button is off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.

 

Orange Unicorn – Remember This 09

Orange Unicorn

Remember This - Sadness and Depression

I keep on remembering. I keep on dreaming…


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Your support means a lot to me: it helps me keep going. So if you’d like to stay updated with the webcomic make sure to follow the blog – button for follow is off to the side!

You can also follow my Facebook Art page, Instagram (@jandrewgilbert), and Twitter (@jandrewgil), for updates.