This is cross-posted from a new blog – by a local friend and clergywoman named Caela – chronicling the stories of straight people who crossed over in support and solidarity of those in the gay community: How We Got Over.
It was during Biblical Hebrew.
I had started seminary on the East Coast, and to kick off that season I decided to take the intensive language course – a requirement for ordination in my denomination. Unbeknownst to me, it would be a memorable summer for many reasons, but most of all for two reasons: 1) I met my future husband, and 2) I became friends with two gay students.
In Hebrew we were required to form “study groups,” because we would be graded not only on individual exams but on group tests, too. Somehow I got in the mix with another first year student named Mary Beth – a Yale graduate with a love of foreign languages and banjo music – and two 2nd year male students, both of whom were gay.
I fell in love. Not only with my husband-to-be, but with these two boys.
I grew up in a conservative, traditional Presbyterian community, and Korean – a more restrictive combination could not be imagined by anyone in this lifetime. Before going to college, I had never seen a woman preach from the pulpit, there were no women elders in the church, and certainly, homosexuality was so grave a sin it was not talked about at all. It didn’t need to be discussed because it was so obviously a damning lifestyle choice that came with a whole host of other sins like alcoholism, promiscuity, AIDS, and cursing. But, I didn’t think about it much. I never encountered it before college, and in college, I simply avoided it.
But, towards the end of my undergraduate studies, I began to wonder how to reconcile some really glaring contradictions in my faith when it came to my identity as a woman of color. My experiences were markedly different from my mostly Anglo and Asian American peers in the evangelical Christian fellowships. I was a Religious Studies and English major at the time, and as my father likes to say sometimes, I was “contaminated” by the exposure to other religions and, God forbid, other social-political perspectives. Well, that was to be expected being in Boulder where I’m pretty sure there’s a faith community that proclaims smoking pot is a sacred ritual and being topless is legal. All that is to say, it’s a pretty liberal town so, yes, it was inevitable that I would have to confront some conflicts with my childhood beliefs.
When I went to seminary and met Dan and Rob I could not deny how amazing they were as people of faith, and in general, human beings. And we had so much in common in terms of ministry aspirations, passion for people and community, and a love for God that really was the fuel for our lives. Though we should have been studying we spent hours telling stories about our lives, both serious and mundane, and even more hours over beers talking about anything and everything in life. Looking back, I realize that I hardly know anyone now that is more brave, energetic, creative, and faithful than these boys.
And they were, and I’m sure, still are ever gracious. I remember one time taking a break outside and sitting in the lawn with them. There was a phone call from my dad, so I picked it up, and he asked what I was doing at that moment. I told him I was taking a study break with my Hebrew group. He asked who was in my group. I said, “Some wonderful sisters in Christ.” Both of them were sitting there, and heard me. I laughed nervously, and hung up with my dad after a few moments, and apologized to both of them, but they laughed it off. I couldn’t believe I called them sisters. Though it took a little bit longer for me to feel normal and not so clearly awkward and self-conscious, and actually “come out” in support of the GLBT community, particularly to my parents, it was worth it. And I know I wouldn’t have gotten there without the support and encouragement of people like them.
They continue to inspire me today. The love they showed me was an expression of God’s love, and one that I hope to replicate and pass on to others. It’s love that helps us to see the humanity in others, and the belovedness in them, too. It’s love that frees me, and helps me to know that real freedom means my freedom is connected to others’ freedom. It’s love that changes people’s minds and hearts – not morality, not theology, and not logic/reason.
[Image from here.]