From Homophobe to Straight Ally – Part 1
BY Hugh Hollowell
This is the first post in a four part series in which Hugh Hollowell shares his journey from homophobe to straight ally. We will publish one part of his story each week, so you may want to subscribe to our RSS feed so you don’t miss anything.
While there are various permutations, I find that there are three distinct positions within the Christian church on the issue of homosexuality.
• That homosexual thoughts and actions are sin. Gays should repent and act like heterosexuals.
• That homosexual action is sin. Gays should be celibate.
• That homosexual actions are not sin in the context of a monogamous relationship.
In the last 25 years, I have held and embraced all three views, and in the order I have just presented them – I went from totally anti-gay to totally gay affirming. This was not something I did lightly. It took years to make each move, and each one was a struggle and challenged what I thought I knew about God. And despite what my critics will say, I have felt closer to God with each move.
I did not ask Adele to let me tell my story because I think I am anything special. In fact, I am rather unspectacular. Instead, I felt the need to tell my story because I thought it might help some people who are struggling right now with balancing what their intellect and heart are telling them with what they think God wants. Maybe in my story they can find a way to reconcile that for themselves. Or maybe they can at least feel that they have permission to explore, to ask questions.
Several people close to me have advised me not to write my story. I know full well that I live on support, primarily from Christians, and that some people who support me disagree with me on this issue. And I would be lying if I told you that I am not scared of what losing that support could mean to me and my ability to do ministry. But this is an issue on which I feel I cannot be silent.
Because others were silent, I thought I knew what God was like. Because others were silent, it gave me permission to hate. Because others were silent, it allowed me to hurt people. I cannot be silent.
If you disagree with me on this issue, I understand, for I was once one of you. And while I recognize that almost nothing I can say will get you to change your mind, I do hope at least you will keep your mind open enough to listen to what I have to say. And if we end up disagreeing, I hope we can at least be civil.
As much as my heart goes out to those who disagree with me, I find myself writing primarily to the person who is conflicted, whose heart tells them that love is worthwhile but whose religion says God hates people who are “like that”. I am writing the testimony I wish I could have read, the words I wish I had heard, the story I wish someone had told me. In short, if you are struggling with this issue, I seek to tell you that you are not alone, and to give you permission to change your mind.
As I talk to Christians, I find that many of you agree with me, at least in principle. And yet you keep silent. I understand that. You probably think you are being wise. You probably think that you will let things sort themselves out. I disagree with you. There were people who disagreed with the civil rights abuses in the South, and yet said nothing. We do not now admire them for their discretion. Instead, they have found themselves, in the words of our president, on the wrong side of history. If you are one of us, I urge you to speak up. There are more of us than you think.
Hugh Hollowell is a writer, speaker and urban minister in Raleigh, NC. He is the founder of Love Wins Ministries, an organization that seeks to demonstrate the love of Jesus to all those society would leave behind.