My best friend, my brother from another mother, is gay. He “came out” to me officially in the Summer of 2016. I was not shocked. It had been assumed for several years. My first reaction to his vulnerable sharing was love and acceptance—that is what he needed. That is what he deserved. That is how I felt. My second reaction was fear and worry. Life was about to get hard. Others were not going to be so loving and accepting. Others were going to look at him and regard him differently. I was scared for him because he did not deserve any of these things.
He made the following post to his Facebook earlier this year.
“I am normally not one to engage in controversial or political topics on social media. However, I just cannot handle some of the things that our country and world have debates over. This whole ordeal with the Methodist Church proposing to allow same-sex marriages and LGBT clergy has caused such an uproar among many, especially within the Methodist Church, the nation’s second largest Protestant denomination. By defeating this proposal today, which would have allowed each local church body to decide how to “handle” certain same-sex issues, basically it has sent a resounding approval of and embraces the hatred and division that already fills our country. I am just not sure when the whole “gay thing” became such a stigma to The Church (any church really, across all denominations). Of course, not every church-goer has the same beliefs. I know many Christians that embrace me and the LGBT community, and that is wonderful. Then, however, there is the majority of Christians who would call gays “disgusting” or an “abomination,” despite the fact that their hands are certainly not clean. Because I am here to tell you folks, every person walking this planet deviates from the teachings of The Bible. And I sure don’t feel that somebody LOVING somebody of the same sex is hurting ANYONE. I also find it interesting that church-going Christians who commit sins are allowed to come to church and worship, yet homosexual believers are denied membership, shunned, or turned away altogether. It is sad, and it is the very reason that the vast majority of the LGBT community don’t attend church or quit believing in God entirely. As a believer, navigating homosexuality as a teenager, worrying about my Christian peers and what they would think about me was a big concern. I was being taught that I would go to hell for being gay. And anyone can throw any scripture at me they want, but I find it hard to believe that the same God who MADE ME, would cast me aside just for loving a man. I hear ignorance all the time about how it’s a choice…NO IT ISN’T!!! It’s so funny how everyone who thinks it’s a choice isn’t gay and has NO IDEA what they’re talking about. It is sad to me that this is what makes news. People just need to grow up and be accepting of others and realize that there are bigger issues plaguing our world than boys that like boys or girls that like girls. There is killing, starvation, people that don’t have access to clean water, homelessness, violent crime – I could go on and on. Focus on that! To most of you, I’m probably preaching to the choir, and to any that disagree, take notes – you aren’t God, so you can’t judge. Thanks for reading. #LoveIsLove ❤️🏳️🌈” Clete Walker (Copied as written)
A comment was made in response: “Same sex relationship or marriage is just wrong. We are here to reproduce just like any other mammal on the planet. People are delusional & weird and mentally fucked up this day in time. I normally don’t comment on anything but I totally disagree with homosexuality transgender’s any an all that have to with those two diseases” (Copied as written)
My fear for my best friend was realized. Right there, in black and white on the computer screen. I was stunned, frozen in place.
The world is a mosaic of different people—different races, different colors, ethnicity, ages, religion, opinions, livelihoods, sexual orientations, sexual identities. We should not expect that this mosaic of people will all agree with the way we choose to live our lives. They, in return, should not expect the world to agree with how they choose to live theirs. The above comment made, although negative and ugly, had a right to be made because it is a free country; it was that individual’s right to voice his opinion. However, that does not mean that the comment SHOULD have been made. There is a better way to engage in a controversial conversation—with tact, maturity and objectivity at the very least.
While I am not normally compelled to voice my thoughts or opinions on sensitive subjects via social media, I did respond this time if for no other reason than to take arms up for my best friend.
“As Mrs. Peterson wrote, God knew us before we were even made. He knew you and He didn’t make a mistake. I know life for you hasn’t, isn’t and probably won’t be easy going forward, but the way you carry yourself and the positive example you set for those that truly matter is what counts. How God made you is a gift. Through you, He’s teaching others to be tolerant, to be empathetic, to be compassionate, to be open minded, to be their authentic selves, to be genuine, to be understanding, to live by the golden rule and to love unconditionally. It’s a heavy burden to carry but you’re doing it with more grace than I probably ever could. We are each equally and wonderfully made-no one better than another. “Since God so loved us, we ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11” (Copied as written)
We ought to love one another… Why does it sound so simple and yet proves to be so hard?
Rick Warren is quoted, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” Humanity cannot survive without compassion. I love my best friend for who he is because who he is is a beautiful human being—one that has blessed mine and my family’s life immeasurably. I do not discount the selfless acts of love shown my family and I because my best friend chooses to love other males. Rick Warren got it right. One does not have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
I believe authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity. We should all be so inspired and brave to be our authentic selves like Clete.
The day that negative, ugly comment was made was the day I realized I cannot just hope that Clete will navigate this way of life without facing hardship. He has already been challenged with adversity. He will sadly, probably, continue to be. However, if there is one thing I know about my best friend, he will press forward with more grace and fortitude than I ever could. He was blessed with a heart of courage and a soul of perseverance.
The day that comment was made was the day I renewed a commitment to live my life as a statement of love and compassion. Where there is neither is where my purpose will be directed. “Since God so loved us, we ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11