John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

My Gay Friends

So I sent my friend Adam this email: Adam,

Long time no…er…anything. Seems like the last time I heard from you was in 1999 – you were thinking of coming to the East Coast to do a Ph.D. or something. Though, who knows…sometimes I jumble actual events together with movies I see on late night cable!

Anyway, I have a special request to make of you, and I will totally understand if you choose to decline. I am writing a book. It’s titled Apology: Conversations Across some Great Divides.

I would love to enter into a dialog with you about how you’ve reconciled all of this fundamentalist upbringing with your...um...gayness(?). We could begin by trading email, but eventually I’d love to come and visit you in person.

I understand if you think this might be an unnecessary distraction to your life. But I think this is the kind of book that could help a lot of people who struggle with how to have conversations about difficult issues such as this.

Adam’s response was better than I could have hoped for:

Dear John Alan Turner,

Great to hear from you and to reconnect after nearly a decade! The PhD was something I was seriously considering at one point, but it just never came together and I’m glad it didn't. God had other plans for me, it seems.

I would be delighted to help you in any way I can. My life is pretty much an open book these days, and if sharing my perspective and facilitating a dialogue with people who’ve had a similar journey helps you...it would be my pleasure to be involved in such a worthy project! My social network is probably a bit a-typical of many GBLT groups...which is one of the reasons I love them so. We are not an activist group and we see sexual orientation as an issue on which sincere and loving people can agree to disagree. We don't advertise ourselves or identify ourselves by our sexual orientation...any more than any other group would or would not.  We consider ourselves Christians and many of us also happen to be GBLT. Our view is that sexual orientation is like skin color. One does not choose it and it has no bearing whatsoever on one's acceptability as a Christian.

I personally have worked through all of the so-called "clobber" passages, but my theological perspective has never been homophobic...even when I was in the closet I openly advocated for treating GBLT folks with respect and civility.  I was a bit surprised when I came out that everyone was soooo shocked and appalled.  I think my divorce and the rumor mill had as much to do with that as anything.

I also had to come to grips with the fact that I had to learn to be gentle and patient with people. It took me a long time to accept me for who I really am…it was wrong of me to expect others not to struggle with that too.

Please count me IN. Let me know what is next and thanks for the invitation.  I am delighted!!

Grace and Peace my Brother,

Adam

That initial email volley sparked what some very productive conversations over the next few months. I'll share some of those conversations in future posts, but I want to stop and get your input. First, do you have any gay friends? Second, do you ever talk about your faith with them? Is it ever awkward? If so, why do you think that is, and what could be done to make it less so?

Okay, I'll stop now & listen if any of you want to join the conversation.