And if you’re so inclined you can also find out more about Wray here.
For those who need to hear this, when the time comes. When your son, daughter, brother, sister, anyone in your family, your circle of friends, your congregation, comes out.
Last night and then this morning my friend Dave Lieberman made these posts on Facebook I am also quoting here in full. As they were public posts, with his permission I am sharing them out here and elsewhere, though the title above is mine. I need add nothing more to what he has to say. But those who need to hear this, need to hear this.
Eighteen months ago, I came out as gay for the first time. This isn’t meant as an announcement, nor as anything worth commenting on. It is part of who I am, not my entire identity, though a part it took me twenty-five years to accept.
I am posting this because my friend Brian, a thirty-six year old man, is lying in a hospital in New Jersey right now, after he came out to his family and they told him he needed to find God and get well. They tried, according to his sister, to put him in a car and drive him to church, but he ran away, grabbed a kitchen knife, and tried to kill himself by trying to slit his own throat.
When someone comes out to you, they’re saying they trust you with that information. It is, especially at first, the most vulnerable they will ever feel. It is such an emotionally charged moment for most people that reactions to your response will be exponentially more dramatic.
I am speaking from direct experience when I say there is no way to “pray the gay away”. There is no conscious choice being made. You cannot stop being gay, any more than you can stop being straight. I tried for more years than I can count to faith-heal myself. As comings-out go, mine was incredibly well-supported, and yet I ended up in a suicidal depression myself, convinced that I was hopelessly broken and weak for being unable to “fix” myself. With the help of friends both gay and straight, and some medicine and counseling, I am happier now than I have ever been. But that takes time and a certain amount of emotional distance that isn’t available when you’re first dealing with this.
Trying to “heal” sexual orientation or gender identity with religion is just throwing gas on a raging fire of depression. If you do this to someone, you are not a Christian. Don’t call yourself a Christian. Brian’s parents are not Christians. They are not remotely Christ-like. They are self-centered, judgmental monsters who cherry-picked the parts of the Bible they approve of and were more worried about how others would perceive them than about their emotionally frail son. They’re not even worthy to be called parents, much less Christians. Perhaps with time, they’ll realize that an imperfect (in their view) living son is better than a dead son.
If someone comes out to you and you’re uncomfortable with that, say so. Say you’re uncomfortable discussing it. No one is asking you to put your religious beliefs, wrong-headed though I think they may be, aside. No one is asking you to betray God. You can walk away from the conversation, and it will still hurt the person, but not as much as telling someone who is looking for support that they’re a hopelessly broken person and they need a Jesus Band-Aid from the pastor that will keep all those “urges” inside.
Let me repeat: when someone comes out to you, the only acceptable answers are a hug or a polite refusal to discuss it. If someone tells you they’re suicidal, for any reason, your immediate response needs to be to get them help. (1-800-SUICIDE is a good place to start, but so is 9-1-1 or the local ER.)
If this offends you, feel free to vote with your feet. Just do so quietly, so I can continue praying for my friend.
Brian’s sister called me early this morning. He will recover fully from his physical injuries. She let me know that their parents are not allowed to visit him. She is extremely supportive and is making sure that he gets the help he needs. I wasn’t able to speak to him because he is still on a psychiatric hold while medical professionals intervene.
I’m not planning on giving any further updates, but you were all so aghast at what had happened, and so supportive, that I wanted to let you know he will live, he will get help, and if he’s as strong as I think he is, a year or two from now this will just be a painful memory. Thank you all so much.