What I learned from George…
BY Thomas Mathie AKA Headphonaught
About 6 years ago I worked with a chap called George. I only worked with him for a short time but in that time he taught me a valuable lesson that I wanted to share on Queermergent.
At the same time, about 6 years ago, I lived a very compartmentalised life – my home / social / church “lives” were all separate from my work life. I never really mixed at work and there was very little crossover between work and non-work. Some people call this “work-life balance” but for me it seemed segregated.
At work I was known as a “churchgoer” and as a Christian… but that was about it. Whilst I was part of the evangelical tradition, I wasn’t all Ned Flanders about my faith… it was something personal.
George came to work in my team & the rumour mill started to go into overdrive… basically George was gay.
It honestly wasn’t that big a deal for me then or so I thought – I held the egalitarian “we’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns” approach towards homosexuality… and, for that matter, towards all other folks “different” from me. I am a male, white, able-bodied albeit short, curly-haired heterosexual Scotsman who does wear kilts but not everyday… so most people are different from me.
George was a breath of fresh air for the team… and hilarious. He was camp as a pantomime dame… very much in the Christopher Biggins school of dames.
We got on well… but there was a reservation.
He never admitted to me he was gay… and I never admitted to him that I was a Christian.
There was this reservation that we both shared… a reluctance to be truly ourselves… and it bothered me.
I raised it one day with a colleague I trusted and I found out George was scared of me… or should I say scared of what I’d say about his sexuality. He thought the church and the folks who clung to her were all hate-filled… dispassionate… and judgemental towards gays. I struggled to disagree with that sentiment.
I also realised, in considering this, that I was scared of what George thought of me… I thought he’d be quick to condemn me for being a Christian – you know, guilt by association.
We quickly came to an amicable mutual understanding and respect… He knew where I stood and I knew where he stood. In essence, we got to know who each one of us truly were… and, thankfully, there was no condemnation. We took each other for who we were… not what the stereotypes or our prejudices said we were.
I learnt two things from George…
Firstly, to be out there as a follower of God in the way of Jesus… proud but humbly so, if that makes sense? I have a tremendous respect for my gay brothers and sisters who are out and honest about who they are… and I am inspired by this openness to be the same.
I learned from George to be open in all areas of my life… to live a “whole of life” life… to be honest to everyone about who I love… to be out as a lover.
I also learned about the baggage that comes with labels… especially the label “Christian”… I saw differently that this term brings with it feelings of fear, resentment, hurt & exclusion… as a result of all the damage done in Jesus name.
As such, I have tried to live a life of love in all areas of my life… and have sought to demonstrate this love. I try to be patient, gracious & humble in my interactions… and seek to converse with those who are different from me… so that I may understand those differences and strive to find the common ground. In doing so, I attempt to break down the walls of exclusivity & demonstrate that the “whosoever” of John3:16 isn’t just for a select group of people.
I don’t work with George anymore & I doubt he’ll ever know the impact he had on my life… but he did have an impact on my life & I am grateful.
I’m a 30-something follower of God in the way of Jesus.
I live in Motherwell, Scotland; with Olly, my two lovely daughters, Dayna & Miriam, and a Cairn Terrier called Pippin.
I’m big on Japanese food, rich coffee and big mugs of tea… I dig obscure soul, classic rock and glitchy IDM…. I love design, photography, charityshopping, and my iPhone.
Most of all… I’m big on God’s love and wish to see His new love economy extended.
I blog at Headphonaught’s Nanolog.