At the risk of losing my job, and any dream of a career in the Church of the Nazarene, I’ve decided it is time to go public, and tell folks ‘Yes Virginia, there is a gay Nazarene.’
The beauty and curse of the internet is that I can be 100% anonymous. That is not my goal. There is power in a name, at this moment do not feel comfortable enough to reveal my identity. My intent is not to be secretive, but clearly that is the point of this blog, had I felt like gays can come out in the Church without harm, there would be no blog. I just want the Church of the Nazarene to know that one of their own, is gay, and a pastor (although, I know I’m not the only one).
So who is ‘Neal’?
Neal grew up in a Nazarene Church, and was saved on a Sunday in ‘Big Church’. Later on in youth group Neal got sanctified and felt called into ministry. This call led him to a Nazarene University, where he went on to get a degree in Theology & Ministry. Since graduation he has worked for the Church of the Nazarene. Throughout his journey growing up he was a closeted gay Christian. Along the way he heard the comments; the jokes; the slurs; the put-downs; the homophobic sermons; the generalization/stereotyping; and the same verses quoted over and over. Feeling powerless to stand-up and not ready to go against the gain, he sat quietly, taking it all in, and waiting. Waiting for someone else to speak up and be the voice for change. But that person never came and Neal kept waiting… Neal could be anyone, but it just so happens he’s a personification of my out self.
Then everything changed…
This past summer and fall everything changed for me. News stories from all over the country were reporting the tragic deaths of teens who took their own lives after being bullied because they were or perceived to be gay. I would read each one and weep because these kids had no one, and no place to turn. My heart would break for the bullies, who were pawns in the hands of the powers that enabled them to think it was okay to treat another human in such a way. Teens who are rejected by family, friends, school, and worse of all the church. The place where people should find safety, love, and support was treating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) teens as outcasts as well. This was the tipping point for me. I resolved to put an end to the hate; put an end to the bullying; call the Church of the Nazarene back to being a welcoming place for everyone.
After much thought and prayer, I decided that I’d go to the blog-a-sphere. I want to create a safe place for people to discuss and share their stories. I want a welcoming Church. For people who visit this site, know that you are not alone, and that there is at least one other person in Church of the Nazarene is on your side.
I want the Church of the Nazarene to welcome the LGBT community into their pews, and to behind their pulpits (cuz they already have, they just don’t know it yet.)