"Two American Anglicans would watch the events of July 1997 and be stunned by what happened. Both knew that Anglican attitudes toward homosexuality would shape the lives of people like themselves. Both believed that the decisions of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion could result in more heartbreak and tragedy in the lives of same-gender-attracted people, or else the decisions could bring those same people to spiritual fulfillment and the peace of God. One of the Anglicans was a leader in a gay ministry. The other was the leader of an ex-gay ministry."
In the late 1990s, most Christian denominations and other faiths remained deeply divided on the issue of homosexuality and related topics, such as gender roles. This collection of narratives and traditional news articles looks back at that tumultuous period, when Christians around the world engaged in battles and occasional dialogue in an attempt to determine the future of the Christian Church.
This 30,000-word collection is part of the Narrative Nonfiction series, providing narratives and other nonfiction about religion, literature, gender, sexuality, and other topics.
Maggie Heineman was tired of moles. As a Philadelphia member of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), she was taking part in the Marriage Mailing List, an e-mail list for people advocating the right for gay people to marry; Ms. Heineman had a gay child, so this was a matter of personal interest to her. She knew, though, that another, less sympathetic person was "lurking on the marriage list," as she put it: Robert R. Larimer, Jr., the chairman of Washington for Traditional Values. Fuming, she sent an open letter in May 1996 through the list, asking Mr. Larimer to read a speech by Mitzi Henderson of PFLAG, "Bridges of Respect." Ms. Heineman quoted Ms. Henderson as saying, "I am not recommending that we give up one iota of commitment, but I am reminding us that we must continue to share our humanity with those with whom we disagree, and invite them to do the same. Only then will we be able to enter a real dialogue."
Dialogue with the enemy, though, seemed highly unlikely. Still unsettled over this incident, Ms. Heineman turned her attention to the mailing list for which she was Webmaster, an unofficial PFLAG discussion list. In doing so, her attention was caught by a message posted by a new member of the list, an Ontario resident named Steve Calverley. He was responding to an earlier posting by someone who had said that they had never known of any gay person who "went str8." Mr. Calverley wrote:
I know too much from my own experience to let that pass without comment.
I certainly don't dispute that Deb has not previously met anyone that meets that description but it has actually been my own life experience.
For fifteen years (from about age 17) I self identified as gay and was "out" for ten of them. I was in three gay relationships, the longest of which was 3-1/2 years. I was fully "out", serving a term on the board of Gays for Equality (Mississauga), played ball on the Cabbagetown Gay Softball League (1981), and, well, what else can I say. I really was there.
Seven (plus) years ago through a process that I wasn't even looking for before it began, I found myself leaving it behind. Once I understood that I was actually headed out (of the gay lifestyle) I began to actively pursue it. As a result, I left it behind and I'm very happily married now and have (finally) found what feels to me like real freedom and peace within myself.
It really is possible.
After this confounding announcement, more correspondence followed between Mr. Calverley and the other members of the list. Then, in Ms. Heineman's eyes, Mr. Calverley dropped the ball; he mentioned that he had read Mitzi Henderson's speech. Now Ms. Heineman knew what she was dealing with: a spy sent to infiltrate the PFLAG list.
¶ Available as a multiformat e-book (epub, html, mobi/Kindle, pdf, doc): Pro-Gay and Ex-Gay Christians – Is There Room for Dialogue? Narratives and News on Christianity and Homosexuality during the 1990s