By Ken Hutcherson and James Hansen
Coming out of the closet is a difficult decision to make, especially when close, personal relationships are at stake. Will my family abandon me? Will my friends still look at me the same? Will this announcement be worth the risk? These are indeed valid concerns that can make a person live like a double agent for years. And even though this decision is acutely personal, it does help to stand alongside someone else who is ready to announce the very same thing. It is a shared declaration. Coming out may be a personal choice, but doing it with someone you love somehow feels so right. It is with this spirit of unity that we, Pastor Ken Hutcherson and ministerial partner James Hansen, would like to shout loud and proud, “We are gay!”
For full disclosure, most of the people who are close to us have known for years how gay we are. Both of our wives know we’re gay and are completely supportive of this lifestyle choice. Our coworkers know we’re gay and have often asked us how they, too, can live as a gay Christian. And even though we’ve never made a formal announcement together, the bulk of our congregation has suspected it for years. How could they not? Our gayness is obvious in the way we talk and the way we act toward one another. Hold a gaydar up to either of us and it’s likely to read “Fabulous!”
So, this announcement will only come as a surprise to people who don’t know us that well. For those on the outside looking in, this would be the furthest thing they would ever imagine coming from two pastors at a conservative evangelical church. For some reason, Christians aren’t allowed to be gay. We’re seen as angry, oppressive malcontents who look like they’ve been baptized in vinegar. We’re often caricatured as plastic phonies who are willfully naïve, or miserable misfits who aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy. But from our perspective, certain individuals in another community seem like they’re the unhappy ones who are overtly hostile to anyone who disagrees with them.
For instance, Dan Savage claims to be gay. But he’s not. He’s just a vapid agitator who happens to be homosexual. His subcutaneous vitriol recently burst out at some high-school students when he saw they didn’t support his view of the Bible. And despite the obligatory apology he gave for his tirade, Savage’s hostility is what those teens will remember. Nice going, Mr. Tolerance. Now, we ask you, does Savage sound gay? Of course not. How could somebody that sour and unhappy label himself that way? For our part, we would like to extend the proverbial olive branch to this errant activist: Mr. Savage, please come over to our office and we’ll teach you how to be gay. You’ve tried it your way and it’s not getting you very far. It’s only made you a humorless bully. We promise that Jesus can bring you true happiness. If you let us show you how to really be gay, we know that you’ll leave our office a changed man.
And speaking of change, it’s this subversive change in language that has us so concerned. The homosexual community has often accused Christians (the gay community) of being unloving and intolerant. But why should disagreement imply hatred? Isn’t it just a difference of opinion in the marketplace of ideas? We remember a time when love meant that we cared so deeply about another person that we would tell them the truth about their destructive lifestyle. After all, a mom didn’t warn her kids about the hot stove out of malice. But try doing that today with children raised on tolerance’s pablum, and they’re likely to sue her for reckless maternal insensitivity. Ah, progress.
Maybe some of these changes need to be made. For instance, we’ve been thinking a lot about changing our culture’s perception of that colorful reminder of God’s love … the rainbow. Recently, I (Ken) wrote a column about taking the rainbow back for God. We’ve heard from many of you asking how, in practical ways, this can be done. It’s simple. Find anything with a rainbow on it and display it. Get a rainbow tie and wear it. Get a rainbow sticker and put it on your car. Rainbow umbrellas, rainbow scarves, rainbow wigs – the possibilities are endless. You can even contact us and we’ll send you a rainbow pin. Then, when you’re asked about it, you can let people know that the rainbow is God’s loving promise to never again destroy the entire world by a flood. And when you’re there … the Gospel is waiting to be shared just around the corner.
So Christians, take it from two flamboyantly gay pastors. Come out of the closet. Leave the confining hovel you’ve built for yourself and let people know the true “you.” Let the world know you’re happy, not discouraged. Let them know you have joy, not apathy. Stop hiding in that suffocating closet and remember that the Christian message is one of authenticity, hope and love. And if that message doesn’t make you gay, nothing will.