The novels of Mary Renault were also my first introduction - literary introduction, at least - to homosexual love.
Simply purchasing them, I recall, was a nerve-wracking experience for a closeted teenager. I must have been 16 or 17, living in Solihull, and I´d head into Birmingham and to a hippie bookshop called the Peace Centre, which reeked of joss sticks but which contained, among other counter-cultural products like Spare Rib and patchouli, a little shelf of lesbian and gay literature. I´d stroll in, check out something left-wing or CND-ish, before edging, with a wideways glance, like a crocodile about to leap on its prey, towards what really interested me.
I mock, but I owe an immense debt of gratitude to that patch of Birmingham around the Bull Ring. Now it has a glitzy new Selfridges, but then it was life-changing. For as well as the Peace Centre´s stack of gay reading matter, my first dip into the gay scene was a visit to a weekly ´Gay Soc´night in a bar just above the market nearby. At the end of every night, we´d all hold hands and sing along to Sing if You´re Glad to be Gay... Gosh, it makes my toes curl just to think of it, but thank heavens it was there - and it was there that I met the man who took my cherry (or at least a decent-sized bite of it) and got me started...
James Collard Times November 2006
One of the grooms has been a friend of mine for 24 years. Bob and I attended high school together: Chaminade, an all-male Catholic prep school on Long Island. In every class we shared I sat behind him, not because of any particular bond between us, but because we sat alphabetically and his last name begins with “Cors”.
Lunch was the only time we could choose our seating partners, and there we sat together again, along with about a half-dozen other guys over the course of our four years there. At least five of those guys have turned out to be gay (another is a Catholic priest whose sexual orientation I’ve never bothered to ask). Go ahead and joke about “gaydar,” but somehow we found kindred spirits years before any of us dared to admit—to ourselves or others—our sexual orientation.
John Corvino May 2007
Jason coming out
The fear of being thrown out of his home was one of many that Jason Osmanski struggled with before he decided to come out to his parents two years ago.
As a child, his family attended a Southern Baptist church where Jason was taught that being gay is a sin. He remembers hearing his father say that having a gay kid would mean he had failed as a parent.
"I prayed every single day, asking God to take it away from me because I didn't want to feel like this and I didn't want to go to hell," said Jason, now a sophomore at Snow Canyon High in St. George.
The summer after eighth grade, Jason lit several candles in his bedroom and wrote a suicide note. He lay down on his bed and held a knife to his wrist. But he stopped.
He pictured his mother's face when she found him.
"I thought, 'I can't do this to her,' " Jason said.
Instead, he called his best friend and confided for the first time what he was going through.
Jason knew he also had to tell his mom, but he didn't know how. He was 14 years old and had spent half his life sensing he was different. Now, he had the words for it. Wanting to break the news somewhere public, someplace safe, Jason tagged along with his mom on a shopping trip to Walmart.
But he still couldn't say it. He took a pad of paper from the pharmacy counter and wrote, "Will you love me no matter what?" Carolyn Osmanski gave him a quizzical look but answered, "Of course." Jason scribbled another note, crumpled it, handed it to his mom and bolted to a nearby aisle.
She looked down at the wrinkled paper: "I'm gay."
After Jason passed his mother that crumpled note in Walmart, she found him shaking on the floor in the cosmetics aisle, beneath rows of mascara and eye shadow. Carolyn Osmanski lifted her son to his feet and gave him a hug.
She told him, "I love you no matter what."
Rosemary Winters 2010 Full story
in Salt Lake Tribune
A Message of Joy
Stories That Reflect How Joy Can Overcome Sadness In The Lives Of Gays and Lesbians As Told To A Hospice Chaplain
By Donald C. Hancock
This book is about the trials and joys of individuals who are gay or lesbian. It focuses especially on those who are living with HIV/AIDS. While all the stories are fictional, they are based on interviews made by the author.
More details here
Coming out as gay at a Catholic high school
by Andrew Doughty
18 November 2012
I’m sure we’ve all the heard the words ‘Faggot’, ‘Queer’, ‘Dyke’ and many other, ‘pleasant’ terms thrown around at some point in our lives. In a high school setting this could seriously knock a LGBT teen down in confidence, alongside lack of education and general knowledge of all things LGBT, I want to ask, is high school really all that bad for a LGBT teen and are things really ‘getting better’?
I remember sitting at my computer desk four years ago as a twelve year old, questioning why I had so much homework, why I was the only one in my friendship group who didn’t have pictures of half naked females on my phone (which of course, as a twelve year old I never used.) But what concerned me more, was why did I feel so uneasy around some of the guys at school, originally I just assumed I was nervous and conscious of my weight, but then of course I realised, I was gay.
Of course, as a twelve year old boy this was the worst thing possible; my friends would hate me, I was doomed to contract AIDs and I was of course, going to become the talk of the school if anyone found out, I would be the queer boy who’s family would surely hate him. Initially, in my fear and naivety, the 12 year old me thought it was only a phase, I was a good person, an academic boy who was a bit chubby, but happy enough; and undoubtedly, that meant I couldn’t be gay, right?
Upon entering my third academic year at school I eventually came to terms with my sexuality, but lacked the confidence to come out. I had dropped most of my fears, I knew that AIDs wasn’t just an ‘LGBT-only’ condition. Still, I was a little in the dark about things; going to a Catholic school meant that sex and relationships were hardly discussed, unless the word ‘Family’ was being rammed down your throat. I had absolutely no chance learning about LGBT relationships.
After comfort eating my way from September onwards I found myself constantly stressed, I hated school and to be quite honest I just wanted to stay at home all the time. At this point I had told around seven of my friends. Many more knew of course, both by suspicion and I later found out one of my friends had told others; but forgive and forget. I finally came out March 14, the third year into high school aged 14.
I was knocked with confusion, why did the people who had previously called me a ‘Fag’ and insisted I come out suddenly start to respect me? From this moment, life seemed to lift up. My mood swings became a lot less frequent and the friends I fell out with started to be pretty civil with me.
Writing this nearly two years on, I’m now deputy-head boy of my school and life seems to be the complete opposite of how I imagined being out of the closet like, at the age of twelve. I’ve had no problems with my sexuality.
But I have wondered on the odd occasion, why does there seem to be a witch-hunt with people my age about their suspected LGBT peers and why have schools done next to nothing to educate people about sexuality?
Whenever I attend parties, it’s very much a usual occurrence for a number of my slightly drunken friends (and friends of friends) to come along and engage in the: ”So, how did you know you was gay?” or ”How do two men have sex Andrew?” conversations. Which of course, were irritating at first but then it dawned on me…How can people accept me, how can they accept anyone LGBT if they don’t understand them and why they love the people they do, or be the person they want to be.
To be blunt, more needs to be done to make people more accepting. High schools will only become more tolerant, when people my age are in the know. How can the average person possibly be accepting of someone when all their life they’ve never been told, that being gay is just as acceptable as being heterosexual, that being transgender is normal; that having all these thoughts and feelings, that you have when you’re entering puberty, are all normal.
I’d hardly say high school is a safe haven just yet for LGBT teens. Hateful comments seem to be less common place, but casual homophobic slurs are ever present. Today alone I counted as I went about my school life. The word ‘Faggot’ was used twice, once in PE when someone in my class used the term ‘Faggot pass’ and then later in the week, a lower-school pupil called his friend a faggot for not lending him some money.
”It’s only casual.” You may say, but I have friends who, because of stuff they hear around and out of school are fearful of coming out and for what? Casual homophobic comments.
Things look brighter for LGBT teens, I feel like I’ve got first hand experience of that. But much more needs to be done before things are as they should be. I certainly feel it’s achievable. But we’ll have to see what the future brings, but I’m sure wherever it goes – it will be more accepting and equal.
Andrew tweets at @MrAndrewDougty
Where would Jesus be if he was on Earth? Liberty Church, Blackpool, believes he would be at Gay Pride dancing, waving and laughing his way through our cities as he embraces the gay community. So that’s exactly what they created with a 4 metre high Jesus this year. He was inspired by a gay man that Nina Parker from Liberty Church met in Pride 2011.
The gay man questioned how it was possible to be gay and Christian when he had experienced such hurtful homophobia from Christians. Nina realised that if Jesus walked our streets today he would be found at Pride, that he was always with people on the edges of society, and usually at the party. So, Big Jesus was created as a symbol of God’s desire to communicate with and love the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) community.
This may seem a difficult concept for some Christians. Over 10 years ago it was a difficult notion for Nina and Jim Parker. But God touched their hearts and asked them to reach out with a message of hope to gay people that Jesus loved them exactly as they are. So, they started an inclusive church welcoming the LGBT community.
They believe that Jesus’ grace is sufficient to put everyone right with God and keep them right, and there is nothing a person can do to alter that. “This radical message of God’s undeserved favour through Christ isn’t new,” says Jim. “it’s clearly there in the bible. It’s a shame that we obscure it by the unwritten rules we can create as churches.”
Nikki Hart is a lesbian preacher at Liberty Church. Every Sunday Nikki shares the good news of Jesus Christ from the stage at ‘The Flying Handbag’, a gay club in Blackpool. She says “I am very lucky; as a gay person in the Christian Church, I am the embodiment of God’s Grace; a testimony that his Spirit reaches out to all. Nothing I can do will alter that. It’s liberating! I no longer worry about whether I’m good enough for God, I just keep my eyes on Jesus and what he’s doing and believe him when he says the Holy Spirit will guide me.
In the 1970’s Christians campaigned to deny LGBT people housing and jobs. Today, many of us would be ashamed by such inhumane sentiments. Yet in 2013 homophobic behaviour can deny LGBT people their dignity, self-respect and ultimately their relationship with Jesus. However, judgement is a two edged sword, and it can backfire and imprison us in a graceless faith. Jim Parker summed this up “Fortunately, God is not about our standards, as we can never reach them; it’s about Jesus and he’s very accessible, to everyone.”
To get more info about Big Jesus, please contact Nina of Liberty Church at firstname.lastname@example.org.