What is a gay Christian? Good question. I’m glad you asked.
I’m a gay Christian.
That needs more explaining, you say? Yeah, you’re right. Let me go into high school grammar-nerd mode and see if I can dissect this for us (if you’re one of the few humans on the planet who was excited to see the sentence diagram in the title image of this post, you’ve come to a good place, my friend).
“Christian” is a noun. Nouns are the foundation of our sentences in the English language. They are the people, places, and things that perform actions and exist in the world.
The noun “Christian” may have a lot of subtle meanings to it, depending on who you are and what experiences you’ve had with Christians. Some people these days prefer to call themselves “Christ-follower,” or “born-again,” or to identify with a denomination like Orthodox or Catholic. Some make sure to place the word “conservative” or “progressive” in front of that noun.
I’d like to believe that the one thing all of these flavors have in common is that their lives and perspectives have been transformed by the life, death, resurrection, and work of one man named Jesus who entered human history about 2000 years ago.
Does that work for us? Ok.
“Gay” is an adjective, at least in this case. That means it describes the noun and expands upon its meaning. Same as “conservative” or “progressive.” And like “Christian,” it seems to mean different things to different people.
For me, its meaning is pretty simple. It means I’m a man who’s attracted to other men—physically, romantically. Not much more to it, at least as a word.
As an experience, being “gay” has as much subtlety, variety, and history as does being “Christian.” Putting the two words together to describe myself works as a quick introduction, but then leaves a lot more questions hanging.
And one of those questions is certainly, “How dare you?”
All I can say to that is, “Because I am.” I am a man who follows Jesus and who is attracted to men. The term “gay Christian” in this case isn’t so much a political or theological statement as it is a statement of fact. It doesn’t necessarily tell you what I do with the fact that I am gay and a Christian, but it starts us off on the accurate foot—if you meet me, you will meet a man who follows Jesus and is attracted to men. You can call me whatever else you what, but “gay Christian” sums it up pretty well, whatever your beliefs and values happen to be about either of those two words.
Yes, you can leave the “gay” off if you want. The thing with nouns is that they stand on their own. If you want to address me simply as a Christian, then, sure, that works. The thing with adjectives, though, is that even though they aren’t strictly necessary to understand the noun, without them, the noun loses its distinction.
A brick wall is a different thing than a wooden wall. A chicken burrito tastes differently than a beef burrito (though both are delicious). A tall man is a different person than the short man standing beside him. Take away the adjectives, and it’s not clear who you’re talking about. If you want to talk about my particular experiences as a Christian, you have to include the word “gay.”
You could also talk about my experiences as a Christian writer, or as a white person, or a comedian, or a barista, or as a sci-fi nerd who would much rather be living on Deep Space Nine than anywhere else at the moment. Mix and match the nouns and adjectives to get a different story. It’s the same with your life, I imagine.
This blog is about me being a gay Christian, so that’s what we’re going to stick with for now. It’s also, in time, going to be about other people who are gay Christians, or lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. Call us LGBT. Call us queer. Call us sexual minorities. What have you.
We’ll all have different answers to the question in the title of this blog, as well as other questions brought up by the mere fact of our existence. Some of us disagree on how an LGBT Christian should live in the world. Some of us disagree about whether or not we should use the word “queer.” We are not a homogenous group, but discussion with disagreement is better than silence.
That may sound awfully confusing, just a muddying of the waters after I went through so much trouble to provide a nice, dry, technical description of the term. Life works that way, I guess. We step out the door ready to follow a simple path and discover the journey’s a lot more complicated than we wanted.
So if you get lost in the vocabulary, all the new words and acronyms, just go back to the beginning:
What is a “gay Christian”? I am.