Archive | February, 2013

Letter to Megan Phelps-Roper

12 Feb

Dear Megan,

First, you have displayed an immense amount of courage, love and openness throughout this experience. So many people see that, and while it is probably an overwhelming experience most days, I hope you can find some light in the measure of your own strength. I’m personally sending you love, strength and a giant hug.

Second, I was really struck by the interview/article “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise.” And the reason is because I have had a very analogous experience and I think you might find that a lot people from a certain group have. Ironically, it is a group that you once considered damned to hell; gays.

I love this part: “Forget what you know of the church. Just imagine what it is like to walk away from everything you have ever known. Consider how traumatic it would be to know that your family is never supposed to speak to you again. Think of how hard it would be to have a fortress of faith built around you, and to have to dismantle it yourself, brick by brick, examining each one and deciding whether there’s something worth keeping or whether it’s not as solid as you thought it was.”

It wasn’t hard for me to imagine what you are going through. It wasn’t hard at all, because I’ve been through it. When I first realized I was gay, I was completely overwhelmed with all these thoughts. I felt constantly like I was carrying around a bag of potatoes and that if one more thought entered my head, my head would simply explode. It rocked my world. It broke into the fortress that I had developed of conservative, evangelical faith and once one piece fell, they all seemed to crumble.

I remember having a vivid dream one night about being a child and performing a ballet on a stage. My whole family, friends, everyone that mattered were in the audience. And I realized that no one was paying attention to me because they were all staring at a box in the middle of the stage. I went over to the box too, and when I looked inside there were momentos from my whole life in the box. I suddenly felt like they just couldn’t be in that box anymore so I took them out, one by one, slowly and placed them on the stage. I emptied it faster and faster until I dumped everything out. Then I grabbed my empty box and ran out the back stage door, leaving everyone and everything back in theatre in disbelief. It was a crazy dream, but I guess it mirrored how I was feeling. Like I had all these things thoughts and beliefs that I thought were true and a part of em and then, suddenly, I had to toss them and start over.

I could probably talk endlessly about this time in my life. It was really stressful, heart wrenching and it drained all the emotional and physical energy I had. It involved losing the entire bubble I had been raised in. I lost a meaningful relationship with my family for a time. I did not have as extreme of a family discord as some people do (my family mostly grieved my hell-bound soul while trying to change me/love me). Some gay however, like you, are shunned (I know you are not technically shunned but I can’t think of another word). But for me, I lost my faith. I lost friends. I lost security.

That was a lot to lose! And you have lost so much; all the same things and more! But I gained something I never had before; PEACE. I couldn’t quantify it as spiritual peace at the time but now I believe it was and is.

Anyway, I wanted to write you to say: I’ve been there and it gets better.  I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Trevor Project (a campaign to encourage LGBT youth to hang in there because it gets better). So that’s my message. It gets better. Your brain eventually learns to cope. And I found that the the me in my dream was able to revisit the stage, pick up some really great things and re-incorporate them into my life and dance the most beautiful and colorful dance. All is not lost, and so much is gained!

I hope you’re doing well. I hope that you have found safe spaces to speak your mind and your heart. I hope you give yourself the best gift: forgiveness. I cannot speak for all those you felt you hurt, but I offer you my love and forgiveness and welcome you into the fold of PEACE, exploration, grace, mercy, and doubt (the last one can be strikingly beautiful). Thank you for joining the table of open thought and discussion, YOU ARE SO VERY WELCOME HERE.


Lastly, my book list from this time:
Letters to a Young Doubter by William Sloane Coffin
Unexpected News, Reading the Bible Through Third World Eyes by Robert McAfee Brown
Take this Bread by Sara Miles
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey by Brian D. McLare
The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist by Dorothy Day
Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne*

*This one I suggest with a grain of salt. I think it is a good place to start, but I have a lot of qualms with the author and some of his practices. I also think there are people writing about and living this type of faith that are not white and male.