I am Ronald Moore, and like all of us, I am the sum of many parts—a native of Detroit, graduate of Michigan State University, member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Hewlett Packard retiree, devout Christian member of The Riverside Church of New York, proud African American, and a proud gay man.
It took many years to include my sexual orientation as one of my assets I am proud of, but I can now say that if a pill were invented to “make me” heterosexual today, I would not take it.
Being a gay man is who I am, and I don’t want to tamper with God’s creation.
I always knew I was attracted to men. I knew when elementary school friends shared a couple of pages from a nudist magazine in the boy’s lavatory—they were focused on the nude women, but I was drawn to the nude men.
I hoped I would outgrow the feelings. My prayers were answered about other childhood fears, so perhaps, I thought, this was just a phase.
I was a good student who loved to read, so it only made sense to go the library to learn about these feelings. I was a 15-year-old looking in the card catalog at the Detroit Public Library. The card titled “Homosexuality” had below it, “Deviancy—see Abnormal Psychology.” Well, I took this card to be truth at the time to who I was—a social deviant.
Seeing that card made me feel that my homosexuality was not something to share with anyone.
While keeping these feelings a secret, I continued to pray very hard that they would go away. I was an active member of St. John AME Church, just a few blocks from my Detroit home. St. John was where I first spoke in front of people, developed leadership skills as the junior usher, and taught Sunday school to my peers. I loved that church and everyone loved me, but I always thought to myself, “If they knew my secret, would they still love me?”
My high school, Cass Tech, was in downtown Detroit. Being downtown every day, I discovered the secret world of homosexual men in the 70’s, and it was during this time that I went to my first gay bar. I can still remember the song that was playing on the jukebox when I first walked in—“Who’s That Lady” by the Isley Brothers.
My world changed forever when for the first time, I was in a crowd of men that I could safely assume were like me. They were short, tall, old, young, feminine, masculine—all different, except for one thing: sexual orientation. I felt safe.
By my third year at college, I had bought a car and was making the 90-mile drive back to Detroit’s gay community.
It was at Michigan State where I first came out to friends. The first people I came out to were my Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers/roommates. I felt lucky that they didn’t change at all, telling me that nothing would affect our friendship. Over 40 years later, we are still close friends.
After graduate school, I was hired by Hewlett Packard and relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. I tried attending an AME church in San Jose, but after having single women pushed towards me, or me toward them, I gave up on church. This was my cross to bear.
After three years in the Bay and four years in St. Louis, a dream of mine came true—I was moving to New York City. I began living in the fast lane: Broadway, Central Park, partying until sunrise, drinking, and drugging. I was not out at work, but out in every other aspect of my life, but after two years, I felt empty. “There has to be more to life than one-night stands and getting high,” I thought. So while volunteering at the Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, I made a list of gay friendly churches to explore.
The Riverside Church was the first one I went to, and I never had to look any further.
There, I was told God didn’t mind me being gay because She made me this way. I marched in my first Pride parade with Riverside, and it felt great. The only problem was my drug use. I had smoked pot heavily at Michigan State, but still managed to get undergraduate and graduate degrees. By 1989, I had moved up the drug ladder to smoking crack.
At first, I only smoked on the weekends, never making the actual purchase or having the equipment to smoke it. I still went to church every Sunday, so I would tell myself that I wasn’t a crack head. After getting high all night, I would shower and go to church, looking at the cross wondering how I could stop.
One Monday though, I had to terminate an employee who had a crack problem. He was crying in my office, telling me how crack had ruined his life—meanwhile, I had smoked crack all weekend. His lips were moving, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I so clearly saw myself sitting in that chair crying about being terminated.
I understood the path I was on. God was asking me, “Is this what I need to stop?”
Shortly after that, I started going to gay 12-step recovery meetings. I remember going to my first sober party—it felt like any party I had been to before. Everything was the same, except for no drugs or alcohol, yet they were still having a good time. It was then that I decided I could stay sober, without it meaning I had to give up on fun.
After four more years in New York, and a short stint in Chicago, HP asked me to move to Atlanta for a big promotion. In Atlanta, I joined a very LGBT-friendly United Methodist Church, St. Mark UMC. It was here where I went to a seminar called “What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality” that changed my entire religious life.
The woman who taught the class was a lesbian who before coming out, lived with her husband in South America translating the Bible into indigenous languages. She had a strong scholarly background, and she helped me understand the basics of translation—how often you come to a word that can have multiple meanings. She taught me the Bible was not written in verse and chapter.
I finally understood how to interpret the Bible and not just read it.
I began to look at authors and their perspectives, what their focus was, and what was the culture of the society they lived in was like when translating Biblical texts. I learned the meaning of prooftexting, using one Biblical verse to prove a point, and refused to continue to have my faith be guided by it. After all, the four gospels are all about the same story, yet often told in different ways. This was no different than how my American history courses denied or minimized contributions of African Americans.
After absorbing this seminar three or four times, I realized God had never rejected me—a homophobic culture had. God and therefore Jesus were all about love. After many years of accepting myself as a gay man, I was now able to accept myself as a gay Christian who was just as deserving of God’s love as anyone else.
As I realized that God loved me, I started to learn how to love myself. I no longer look at my sexual orientation as “the thorn in my side,” or ask people to love me even if they cannot love my sin. As my former Atlanta minister, Rev. Mike Cordle, told us, “You may go to hell, but it won’t be because you are gay.”
Now, as with any Christian, I want to spread the good news.
As a retiree living back in New York, I now direct my civic energy to deal with homophobia in the Black community and racism in the LGBT community.
Being a gay man is who I am, and I don’t want to tamper with God’s creation. God made me this way, and She loves me as a gay man because of it.
Photo via Believe Out Loud