On a more personal note, in 2011, I started another writing project which turned into a website. The website, Talking Dog, is full of resources on LGBTQ folks and Christianity.
After my own experience coming out to my church, I wanted to be able to give resources to churches and individuals to help them navigate through this difficult bend in the river. Change is very hard for everyone. It is especially hard for the Church because change involves rethinking what God may want. It’s not that individuals can’t change, or even won’t change, but that change might involve God’s change–and that’s a change Christians have a hard time imagining. I understand that. I also understand, however, that God does not think negatively about queer folks and that the change I’m asking, and others are asking them to make, is the change to orient themselves with God’s own position.
Christians have been wrong on God’s opinions about slavery, about the treatment of women, and divorce. We’ve abandoned stoning our children for disobedience! With every leap we’ve made forward, God has not left us. And even in this, in embracing the LGBTQ community within the church as natural, and their Christianity as valid, God is on our side. We need everybody in this journey. We can’t afford to exclude in error.
Current teachings about LGBTQ in most Christian churches are in error. Telling queer people they can’t marry is an error. Telling them they can’t serve in your church is error. Unfortunately, for the Church, it is an error they can’t afford to make any longer. Their error costs lives. The church’s negative teachings on the LGBTQ community cause them to hate themselves, which can and does lead to suicide. For the sake of the lives of gays and lesbians who sometimes take their own lives when they, falsely, think that God does not love them, I built this website. There are several more like it by others. But I felt compelled to do something. Because I had been one of those people. Convinced that God did not love me, though I had dedicated a lifetime to God and church service, I knew what it felt like to be abandoned, to be treated with contempt, and I also knew what it was like to search, in desperation, for any information on the lives of queer Christians. I could not stop being gay, and I could not stop being Christian–so I needed something that combined them. Websites like the one I created helped me. Maybe mine will help someone else.
But it’s also there for churches and church members to read and understand that some of their members right now are queer, and certainly some of their children will grow up to be LGBTQ and that their churches will have to face this issue head on, soon. Forced to choose between faith and their children, church members feel they only have one choice. I want to show them that there are options on keeping both.
My website, Talking Dog, was created out of a short story I wrote called “Believing in the Dog” about a deacon saved from suicide by his black lab who suddenly speaks. In the short story, I said that it was too bad I had to resort to giving the ability to talk to the dog—but it was the only way to save the character’s life. I wished there were more people who would speak out so we didn’t need the Talking Dog. But until they do, he’ll keep speaking.
If someone you know is in a situation where they must choose between faith and themselves, or faith and their own child, or faith and a friend, tell them they don’t have to choose between two good things. They can keep both.