The AEP committee meetings are interesting for lots of reasons and not least because the people sitting around the table represent a range of religious beliefs and none at all – from practicing Catholic to confirmed atheist. That range is reflected in our membership and supporter base.
Recently, Jason shared a heartfelt story about a pastor, Larry, who Jason knew in his early 20s. Larry told Jason that he has a gay son, David, who had just come out publicly. Following David’s announcement, the family had gathered together for a meal and Larry had shared a statement with everyone.
This is (part of) what Larry said at that family dinner.
“I suspect none of us can fully understand the journey Dave has been on – the years of silent pain, the fear of rejection, the heart searching and turmoil he has had to go through all alone. For years our family was involved in pastoral ministry and I realise now that my vocation would have made David’s pain and turmoil even more severe.
“In your case Dave, this is even greater because you have also declared publicly, ‘I am a Christian’. In doing so the threat of rejection intensifies and is compounded by the fact that people could well start dropping Bible verses at you that land like bombs, carefully aimed and fired from behind so called Christian barricades.
“I am glad that the tide of public opinion and attitudes is changing even in the church. I am heartened because it means there is hope. But at the same time, there is a long way to go. There is still potentially a rough road ahead.
“Jo and I have said both privately and publicly to Dave, we support you, but I have to ask myself the question now: What does that mean?
“David, it means I accept who you are and my acceptance and esteem of you as a person is unconditional and it is not determined by you needing to change.
“It means that if any point the decisions you make bring condemnation and rejection from any person, church, place of employment or any other area of life, I will stand at your side and defend and affirm you till my dying breath.
“You were a precious gift at birth. You are a precious gift still. You are my son. Mum and I love you just the way you are and that will never change. This is my solemn promise to you as my son.”
For us, this story is a reminder that the intersection between the LGBTIQ community and the faith community is far from simple. While the religious right has a loud and influential voice, we know that many people of faith actively embrace and support the LGBTIQ community. We want the AEP to represent those people too.
Jac Tomlins, Deputy Leader, AEP
This is the third post in an ongoing series called “The Senate Seat” by Jac Tomlins. You can read last week’s post here.