I started working at Believe Out Loud almost five years ago. Before that time, I had no idea that there were places to turn to talk about the intersection of being LGBTQ and Christian, other than to talk about it from the harmful narrative that had been forced upon most of us for far too long.
In the 90’s, I was lucky enough to find two books, Our Tribe by Rev. Nancy Wilson and my all-time favorite, The Word Is Out by Rev. Chris Glaser. Both books allowed me to see, for the first time, the true beauty of our diverse rainbow community through the eyes of God. I never would have imagined that almost 20 years later, I would have the honor to meet and work with these two pioneers in the LGBTQ Christian movement.
Both books inspired me to not only embrace my love for God—I also felt inspired to do more.
But at the time, I didn’t know what to do, or even where to turn. I grew up Catholic, but turning to the Catholic Church didn’t feel like an option, and unfortunately I never felt fully connected to most of the other Christian denominations I explored. So for the most part my faith was only personal, I didn’t talk about it much and kept my beliefs between me and my creator, quiet.
But all that began to change the first time I saw the Believe Out Loud rainbow cross. It triggered something inside that I still can’t put into words, but I knew I found something special. I finally felt for the first time not just the permission to believe—but the permission to believe, OUT LOUD!
That didn’t happen overnight of course. It took several months of publishing and sharing other people’s stories at Believe Out Loud before I realized I needed to take action myself.
So I jumped in.
I decided to go back to the church that I not only felt most a part of, but the church that I thought could use some serious help, the Catholic Church! I began my journey back to the Catholic Church by writing my first blog, Why Can’t This Mister Be A Sister, a story about my desire as a little boy to become a nun.
For the first time, an experience from my childhood that I had always associated with embarrassment and shame became one of the proudest moments of my young life.
From there, everything changed. I met an amazing nun named Sister Jeannine Gramick who continues to inspire me each and every day with such a heart full of grace and a commitment to LGBTQ justice, I am certain that when our church finally gets it right, LGBTQ Catholics decades from now will be celebrating her elevation to sainthood. She’s THAT special!
I’ve even been blessed to celebrate a real Catholic mass in front of Stonewall.
On more than one occasion, I’ve gathered with my fellow LGBTQ Catholics during Pride month for the annual Catholic mass. Not to mention, I’m able to attend mass on Sundays at several Catholic Churches that welcome and affirm me and my LGBTQ siblings as the beloved children of God that we are.
I have been forever changed by the power of our rainbow cross and everything that it stands for, which has made my decision to move on to the next chapter of my life so bittersweet. My time as the director at Believe Out Loud will come to an end on September 15th, but my love for this work will continue long after I leave.
So thank you: to all of our bloggers who have shared their stories, to our partners who work every day to open more church doors to our community, to the clergy and congregations who stood up for LGBTQ people long before and after it actually became “Christian” to do so, to the Believe Out Loud team that I’ve worked with both past and present—Sung, Joseph, Gwen, Alison, Tim, Chrissy, and Reese. And I can’t forget our 200,000 plus fans on Facebook—you continue to remind me that no matter how old I get, there is still so much more for me to learn.
You all have empowered me more than you’ll ever know.
And from the bottom of my very gay and very Catholic heart—thank YOU for helping me Believe Out Loud!
Believe Out Loud staff pictured above: Chrissy Etienne, Reese Rathjen, James Rowe, and Alison Amyx