Cindy, the Gay-lover
I probably met Brandon in seventh grade choir, when I was twelve years old. I don’t remember ever meeting him, I just remember knowing him. We both sang soprano and we were both very much “square pegs.” One summer afternoon, Brandon and I had plans to hang out at his house. I don’t remember what prompted it, but one afternoon, he kissed me. Not a romantic kiss, just a kiss. That must have been when it happened: that must have been when I caught the gay-loving germ. He wasn’t out yet, but it wasn’t long until he was.
When we were in high school, it was before the days of the “It Gets Better” campaign. Before Ellen was out. Before Cameron & Mitchell were raising Lily and before Kurt & Blaine were shipped. Brandon and I didn’t spend as much time together in high school as we had in middle school. Being an out teen in the suburbs wasn’t easy (or safe, for that matter). He faced greater challenges than I could ever understand as we slogged our way through high school. We grew closer again during our senior year, and while I was excited to graduate and leave the overcrowded popularity contest that was high school, NOTHING made me happier than seeing Brandon graduate with me. After we walked off the football field, I grabbed my friend and gave him the biggest hug. We separated and went to our respective families who were waiting in the parking lot. My father, a conservative former minister had two questions for me: 1) Was that B? [yes] 2) Was he wearing glitter eye shadow? [yes]. Not knowing what to say after that, he simply said “Huh. Well, I guess I didn’t have to worry about you spending time with him, did I?”
Brandon and I lost touch not long after high school, not because we wanted to, but when you’re young and flighty, friendships get lost. Now and then I would wonder about him, where he was, if he was happy, if he’d found someone who loved him like he deserves. It wasn’t until a few years ago that we found each other on Facebook, and it was the happiest reunion! We laughed like no time had lapsed. We joked and kvetched and life was good again. We’ve mostly just talked on Facebook and texting, but there is one thing that I cannot deny: I love him. I love him in the way that is simultaneously joyful, protective, and seeps into the very marrow of my bones.
I think I was maybe 15 when one of my very oldest and best friends told me that she was bisexual in an email. She had lived 1000 miles away for a few years, and email was brand-new, enabling us to communicate much faster than before. She was afraid that my Christianity would make her sexuality a deal-breaker. I read the email and the only thought that I had was “why on earth does that change anything about our friendship? She’s the same person I loved yesterday.”
Melissa and I had both started fifth grade as new kids in class, both quiet, smart, and incredibly uncool. In fact, uncool would have maybe been a step up. We were inseparable. We spent our free time reading books stolen during dumpster-diving expeditions behind Borders and Barnes & Noble, listened to Blue Oyster Cult, and watched Rocky Horror Picture Show while we had mini-bonfires in her basement. When her father was transferred out of state in eighth grade, we managed, through the miracle of the United States Postal Service, to stay friends. It was perhaps because of the combination of the solid base we had built and then the distance between us that we were able to confide in each other with a level of trust that I don’t see in many marriages. So why, I wondered, would she have feared that I would drop her? I was glad she was honest with me, told her I loved her, and I think that was about the end of it. We weren’t friends because we were straight, so why would we not be friends because she was bisexual? Now, 22 years into our friendship, we are still 1000 miles apart, but we are soulmates, and I love her. She is my biggest cheerleader, my most trusted adviser, and the first person I think of when I have good news. I love her for all her triumphs and faults. She is my Melissa, and I’m her Cindy – something that is understood by her fantastic fiance.
Besides Brandon and Melissa, there is a sea of other friends who aren’t straight, and I could tell you all about why they are wonderful people who make me proud on a regular basis, and I love every single one of them. I love them and they love me. They love me despite my faults, and despite the frequent homophobia that comes from other people in the Christian community.
So when the topic of non-heterosexuality comes up, even in – especially in – theological circles, it is personal. When I am asked if I’m a “gay-lover” – as if that’s a bad thing – it’s personal. It is personal to me because it’s not a generic group of people we are talking about, we’re talking about Brandon, the first boy I ever kissed and who can make me laugh on the worst of days. We’re talking about Melissa, my platonic soulmate, the one who knows my heart as well as I do and loves it anyways. It’s personal because I want ALL my college friends to be able to marry the person whom they love. It’s personal because I don’t want any of my friends to lose their jobs, homes, faith, families, friends, or rights because of whom they love. It’s personal because when someone uses the word “gay” as an insult, he/she is insinuating that to be like my friends is to be somehow less than someone who is straight. It’s personal because I love these people. It’s personal because a part of my heart beats inside of theirs. It’s personal because the God I serve made each of them, loves each of them, and gives me the privilege of loving each of them.
If you and I ever have a conversation about non-heterosexuality and its place in the church or its effect on “the sanctity of marriage” or on families, I won’t assume that you’ll entirely agree or disagree with every opinion I have. I hope, though, that if we disagree and I get worked up, hurt, or passionate, you will keep in mind that it is because it is so very personal to me, and because I am a gay-lover.