This week I had the privilege of being interviewed for an episode of the Life on Side B! I’ve so appreciated the work of Life on Side B and the way Josh Proctor has reached so many people with stories of Christian sexual minority people over the past few years, so it felt pretty surreal to become one of those people sharing some of my own stories.
We got to chat about what Christian culture often calls ‘identity labels’ and why both ‘identity’ and ‘labels’ are actually pretty unhelpful ways of framing the conversation. Any Christian who is attracted to the same sex is well acquainted with the classic “Gay versus SSA” debate that Christians never seem to be able to move past, and I confess I’m bored to death with the discourse myself. I’ve written about that before, and I firmly believe that we can move the conversation forward into much more fruitful and nuanced discussions about how our language choices connect to certain approaches of differentiation and solidarity.
So in this episode I got to chat with the delightful Sarah Abbey and Grant Hartley about some of these ideas and shared some personal stories along the way.
You can watch the full episode below (or skip ahead to 17:35 for the juicy discussion if you’re short on time and don’t want to hear about my current musical theatre obsessions!). You can also stream it on Spotify (player below), Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this conversation!
“There are instances in which I will use a word like ‘same-sex attracted’ so people can understand me better, but there are other times when I might use a word like ‘gay’ so they can understand the word better.”
“If I start using the word ‘gay’ to describe myself, that helps [my friends] reframe their understanding of the word ‘gay’ and that is a profoundly helpful thing sometimes.”
“I read someone say the other day that no one ever left the faith because a Christian described themselves as ‘gay.’ No one’s leaving the faith over things like that, but people are leaving the faith over thinking that they could never be loved by God as a gay person. I’ve seen it happen to so many people that I love, and even seeing 12-year-old kids who, the day they realised that they were gay, they decided they could never be a Christian because ‘God could never love them.’ If using a word like ‘gay’ means that a 12-year-old kid could hear that and think ‘Oh! You can be gay and Christian?!” … that’s the sort of thing that can massively change someone’s life and their faith and their relationship with Jesus by reframing people’s understandings of these words, and so I think sometimes I do use words so people can understand me, but other times I use me to help people understand words.”