For about three years, I’ve been writing imaginary blog posts for myself. It started out as a form of journalling–trying to process my thoughts and feelings by writing them down. I’m terrible at journalling, and my perfectionistic tendencies often paralysed my ability to put pen to paper. I couldn’t force myself to start writing anything until I’d planned out the whole sentence perfectly, including endless google searches to find the perfect synonym before I wrote the first word (yeah, I’m THAT kind of guy).
Then I found a loophole that helped override my perfectionism. I discovered that journalling in a word document on my computer helped me get the words out. Something about being able to go back and edit words after I’d written them took away some of the anxiety. I also discovered that I could start journalling topically, using a separate word document for each topic I wanted to write about, and keeping all my thoughts neatly bundled together in different files.
Predictably, the word document on the topic of faith and sexuality quickly gained the highest word count. At a time when I was struggling with the anticipation of some coming-out conversations, I coped by writing imaginary letters to people I wanted to come out to, giving myself the chance to choose my words carefully. I found it so helpful to imagine writing to another person, forcing myself to take their perspective and articulating things with the clarity they would need to understand me as someone who can’t read my mind. Before long, I was writing all my journal entries like this, as letters or blog posts to an imagined audience. Eventually, I realised I had a document with 30,000 words’ worth of fake blog posts on the topic of faith and sexuality.
Now I might end up thinking this is the worst idea ever, but I’ve decided to publish some of those posts in the hope that these thoughts might encourage others. This blog will be a place for me to share some personal stories and thoughts with a focus on the intersection of faith and sexuality. One of the main reasons I finally decided to publish this blog is that I’ve become very conscious of the power of story. Narrative has a tremendous impact on how we understand the world and ourselves in it, but often the stories we most need to hear aren’t the ones that are being told. As I’ve reflected on my own story and the secrets I kept about my sexuality for so many years, I’ve realised how desperately I needed to hear stories like mine when I was young. I’ve also realised how powerful it is to share my own story: both the catharsis for me in letting it all out, but also the value for the listener who gains an insight deep into the mind of another human being that experiences the world differently to themselves. My aim for Singled Out is to create a platform for stories to be shared as a means for deepening our understanding of and empathy for other human beings.
My decision to keep this blog personal and story-based means it may not be as deeply theological, philosophical, or academic as you’re hoping. There’s plenty of that on the internet already. I do love theology, philosophy and academic research, and my extensive reading of these will, I hope, inform the thoughts and stories I share. But please understand that I’m not seeking to publish authoritative content so much as inviting people to step in and see a bit of my heart. That includes the messy, vulnerable parts of my heart as well as the more joyful experiences.
Please bear in mind as you read this blog that the stories I share do not paint a complete picture of the person I am. They won’t even attempt to do that. For those who know me in person, please don’t think that the issues I write about here are all I care about and are the core of my identity; they’re not. But there’s a time and a place for everything, and this is my time and place for sharing thoughts on a particular topic area.
At times, sharing my story may involve sharing the overlapping stories of people in my life. In some cases, I may use initials or changed names to protect those people’s privacy. Please join me in respecting their privacy by not playing the role of detective if you think one of the stories sounds like someone you know!
Finally, why the name “Singled Out?” The title struck me as a play on words which works at least four different ways, all of them of personal significance to me while also relevant to the subject matter of this blog:
- The “Single” part of “Singled Out” relates to my experience of long-term singleness as a celibate gay Christian. Often it feels as though celibacy and singleness are the more complicated parts of my life and the hardest for people to understand, both Christian and non-Christian. This blog exists in part to shed some light onto these parts of my life and help readers understand more about the experience of long-term singleness with all its ups and downs.
- The “Out” part of “Singled Out” relates to my experience of sexual orientation and my desire to bring this part of my life into the light: to ‘come out.’ Like most gay people, I’ve spent much of my life in hiding for fear of how people would treat me if they knew I was attracted to guys. Fear and shame is no way to live, especially for the Christian for whom ‘there is now no condemnation’ and whose reality is that ‘perfect love casts out fear.’ This blog is a reflection of my resolve to live more openly and break down the secrets that once made me afraid to be known by others.
- “Singled Out” is a phrase that resonates with me as a gay person who has spent most of my life feeling uniquely set apart from the people around me. Being openly gay in an evangelical church makes me something of a unicorn, and being a celibate Christian in the LQBTIQ+ population makes me a minority within a minority. I’m starting to feel more like I belong, but the sense of being different still lingers–and I think that’s a beautiful part of the story that I want to share here.
- Finally, “Singled Out” is also a beautiful description of how God has specially chosen his people as adopted sons and daughters to be loved and held for eternity. At the core of my identity is my relationship to my heavenly father who says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” (John 15:16)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. Ephesians 1:3-5