On March 18, I was fired for the first time in my life, and it had nothing to do with my job performance.
I was fired because I’m gay.
My girlfriend and I were called, one at a time, into the director’s office at Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center. We were questioned as to whether rumors about our relationship were true, and we were given an ultimatum: stop being gay or you’re fired.
Telling someone to stop being gay is like telling someone to stop being themselves, to deny their God-given identity. It is not only judgmental, unfair and wrong in so many ways, but it is also impossible. There is no magic wand that makes the gay go away. You cannot – contrary to what some people believe – cure gay. “Gay” is not a disease.
We knew right away that we would rather be fired than forced to live a lie to keep our jobs, but it didn’t make it any easier to walk away from jobs we loved. There were kids that depended on us to show up and love them every day, and as far as they were concerned, we just disappeared.
The fact that we were gay didn’t hurt them, but I’m sure being abandoned did.
I was raised in a United Methodist church. When my dad passed away, the church stepped in to help my mom raise my brothers and me. I found acceptance and love in the church, and it became a very safe place for me. It was a place I knew would always accept me without judgment.
My view of the church was shattered on the day I was fired. I felt betrayed by the one thing I never thought would let me down.
Over the next few weeks following our termination, I was absolutely humbled by the amount of support we received, both from inside the church and around the world. I quickly realized this issue was much bigger than what happened to us at Aloma.
People around our country, and around our world, are still losing their jobs and being discriminated against because of who they are, and that is wrong.
There are 29 states where it is still legal to fire someone based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity, including Florida. More than half of our country has a free pass to discriminate. It is time that we take a stand and make a change.
If there’s one thing that is important to me in all of this, it’s making sure that no one else has to feel what I felt on March 18. It’s making sure laws are changed and people are protected. It’s fighting for what is right.
And it’s making it possible for LGBTQ+ people to live out their Christian service without fear of discrimination.