The Difficult Challenges I Faced In Going To A Christmas Eve Service…

I’m not a church goer anymore, yet I promised myself I’d attend a Christmas Eve service at my sister’s church to support her and my nephews during my visit to them over the holidays. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how difficult that decision would end up being for me.

Let me begin by saying that there was a time when I really did love going to church every Sunday. That started well over two decades ago now when I found a very lively church in Washington D.C. to attend called The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). There, my Spirit moved every Sunday and I always looked forward to attending the services there. Yes, I was one of those who would raise my hands and praise the Lord, and no, it wasn’t a fake thing, as I truly felt that much joy in my life in serving God. Frankly, it was such a major shift from the previous church I had belonged to, that being one of those revival churches with a live band and a projector on a big screen, as they had rejected me when I came out of the closet and told me I was a sinner. Nevertheless, I spent the better part of a decade affiliated with MCC and even became a deacon during my years of membership there. After a period of a few years where I moved to the middle of nowhere and wasn’t able to find a church to be a part of, I came to the Boston area to be closer to my sister and attempted for the next several years to find a new church home. Sadly, I’d experience three separate rejections in the process, each because of my sexuality, and each being one of those revival types of churches. While there were a few churches I attended that did accept me for who I was, I didn’t feel my spirit leap at any of them. Regardless, I became fed up with all of it and began to forge my own path of hope, faith, and spirituality with God, one that didn’t involve being a member of any physical church.

So, in light of all that, when my sister asked if I wanted to attend a Christmas Eve service at her church during my visit there, I said yes, only because it had been so long since I’d been to any service and also in that I wanted to support my youngest nephew who really wanted to spend as much time with me as he could. As I sat there in the service with him and the rest of my sister’s family, as well as my partner, I watched a number of people raise their hands and praise the Lord just like I used to do. I wish I could have felt what they were feeling and boy, did I try to feel some of that. All I could feel though was sadness. Sadness for all the people who have been rejected by so many churches that have looked and felt just like this one. Sadness for all the health issues I continue to face and the silence I continue to feel from God about it. And sadness for feeling so darn alone inside, even in the midst of all that joy.

I wasn’t present during this service at all really, and found myself jotting down my thoughts on their bulletin while there, which led to me writing these very words here. About the only time I was present was when they asked if anyone wanted to come up during the service and be prayed over. I waited and waited and waited while that part of the service was going on, yet kept feeling a desire within me to go up. I honestly had a battle in myself during that time and eventually found the courage to walk up. I don’t remember what was said during the prayer that this 20-something guy said as he embraced me, but what I do remember was the tears flowing from my eyes, tears that yearn for a closer presence from God, tears for all the people who have felt rejected from God because of conservative religious people, and tears for all the pain I still have to live within this body.

When the service ended shortly thereafter, I have to say I was very much relieved and was glad to head back to my sister’s home. While I would love to be a part of a church again, especially one where my spirit moved with upbeat music and plenty of fellowship, I truly struggled to feel much of that there. Whether that was because of my past or present circumstances I don’t know. What I do know though is that I hope to one day be a part of some church again that practices the unconditional love of Christ, one that doesn’t look at things like homosexuality as a sin, and one where all are welcomed no matter what. But, for now, I know God knows I tried my best to be present at my sister’s church, and hopefully one day I will find a congregation again I can call home…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Kevin Spacey Sexual Allegations, Pedophiles And Child Molesters, And Being Gay

Anthony Rapp, a notable actor, recently came forward and claimed Kevin Spacey, another notable actor, sexually coerced him at the age of 14 when Spacey was 26. Unfortunately, Spacey sidestepped the allegation by seizing the moment to come out of the closet. This in turn has caused people to raise forth a long-standing judgment and stereotype that all homosexuals are nothing more than pedophiles and child molesters.

But for those who might not know, this assumption isn’t based upon any factual or statistical evidence. Ironically, I found it to be just the opposite through a little research I made on the Internet. In one specific study in fact, I discovered that 95 percent of convicted offenders labeled themselves as heterosexual, with the majority of them also being married. Yet somehow gay men get labeled far too often as pedophiles or child molesters anyway.

This ultimately is disheartening and one of the very reasons why I continue to struggle identifying myself openly as gay, even though I’ve accepted it’s who I was some two decades ago. And personally, having been molested by a heterosexual man myself when I was 12 years old, it sickens me with the thought of ever bringing harm like that to a child or teenager, or anyone for that matter really.

I spent much of my early adulthood going through hours of counseling to work through being molested and have now pledged to speak openly in my life about what I went through, to hopefully bring healing to those who too were molested, but never found that themselves. Because of this work, especially in the past year, I’ve met a few other gay men that were molested even more viciously during their childhood than I ever was. In their cases, the offenders were heterosexual and married men as well and they too are disgusted at the thought of ever bringing harm like that to any type of child.

But somehow, we as gay men continue to be labeled by far too many people as pedophiles or molesters of children, when indeed the majority of us would never, ever, do such a thing, and are horrified by the very thought of it.

And just so know, in my case, I’m rarely attracted to anyone younger than I, or even close to my age for that matter. As far back as I can remember, even in my own pre-pubescent years and before I was ever molested, I was constantly admiring men far older than I, which is the very thing my molester preyed upon when he saw me doing just that from a distance, long before I even knew what I was doing or knew what having an attraction even meant.

Nevertheless, because of Spacey’s comments about being gay arriving at the very moment he was accused of being a pedophile and child molester, it now pours a ton more fuel onto a fire that has been stoking for years by far too many racist people. And that is why I will continue to have to deal with this issue in my world, even though it’s something that isn’t true, not for me, and not for the majority of those who are gay either.

So, while I am extremely saddened at the thought of what happened to Anthony Rapp during his youth, I am just as dismayed at how someone I’ve often admired because of his acting skillset has now caused me and plenty of others even greater hardship, as we continue to battle the demons of prejudice, stereotypes, and judgments that unfortunately still exist against gay people in this world, and will keep on existing the more things like this happen.

Yet I have hope that one day, people will finally realize that not only are pedophiles and child molesters mostly heterosexual individuals who are very sick and needing treatment, but that homosexuals aren’t an evil on this planet that need to be purged and indeed are a part of God, just like I believe every single one of us are, no matter what our sexuality is…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“The Christian Box”

I had a strange experience recently that I thought might be an answer to one of the prayers I put out to God a good while ago, but in the end only reminded me of something I choose to call “The Christian Box”.

The experience I’m speaking of began one afternoon when I was sitting at a coffee shop talking to someone who was considering me to be their sponsor in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. Suddenly, in the middle of my conversation with them, a thirty-something guy approached and said he was sorry for overhearing our discussion surrounding God, but that it sounded like something he wanted to hear more about. He then handed me his number and said if I felt comfortable, to give him a call sometime and maybe we could talk a little more about my spiritual journey.

I was immediately pumped when this happened because I had been praying for some time about God bringing new friendships into my life that would be open to talking about the many multifaceted ways I believe God is present on this planet. Unfortunately, most of the people I currently know haven’t been that interested in discussing things like this, hence the reason for this long-standing prayer.

So, when I actually made the phone call later that day to this individual, I talked for a few minutes and made plans to meet up with them for an afternoon meal about a week later. When the day arrived for that meal, I must say I was somewhat excited about the possibility of finally having someone in my life locally who loved exploring spirituality as much as I do. But I’m sad to say that an hour later, things turned out quite differently.

Initially as we began eating, he talked happily about his wife while I did the same with my partner. Everything seemed to go topsy-turvy after that though. He told me he was a Christian and felt the Bible was 100% the truth of God and began asking me questions that ultimately felt like I was being put on the defensive. In all honesty, it reminded me quite a bit of the many conversations I’ve had in the past with other Christians, who were never able to see outside The Christian Box, as I call it.

Why I call it this is for the mere reality that so many Christians feel the only truth is what’s in the Bible. And if it’s not in the Bible, then it’s not the truth. As for me these days, God never has and never will live in a box, which is precisely what I told him. I also told him I believe that God created me and my sexuality, and that it wasn’t a mistake nor a sin. I followed that in saying I felt the path to God can come through many other ways as well, from other religions to other forms of spiritual practice.

Needless to say, none of that went over so well.

But I’ve learned over the years not to get into debates with someone who appears to be a very strongly-opinionated Christian, because it never turns out well. So instead, I just listened. I listened to what he had to say about the church he attends weekly, about his belief that the only way to God is through Christ and that any other will only lead to destruction. I even listened with an open heart when he asked if I ever prayed to God to take the gay away, although he didn’t quite put it in those terms.

Regardless, I remained a good sport throughout the entire time I spent with this guy, because I truly feel that God is in every single human being on this planet. In other words, I looked at him as an extensive of God like I do with everyone else nowadays, even when their viewpoints may be completely different from mine. It was somewhat sad though to observe a person who said they were hungry and exploring a deeper relationship with God go from that to talking about the same things I always seem to talk about when I speak with extremely devout Christians.

Look, I’m a Christian, but I also consider myself a Buddhist, a Spiritualist, a lover of nature, and so much more. I see God in far more today than just what the Bible speaks to. And as many know with me, I don’t feel the Bible is 100% accurate. It was written over 2000 years ago and been interpreted over and over again to make the versions we see today. None of us lived back in Jesus’s time, thus I take the Bible today as part of my spiritual guidance in life, just not the sole truth.

The sole truth is something that’s ever-expanding with me, one that has led me to believe there are multiple lives each of our souls live, one that has involved me exploring the truths in things such as numerology and tarot for example, and one that has shown me there are infinite paths to God, with Christ being just one of them.

While I may proclaim Christ as my Lord and Savior, I cannot and will not ever put that on someone else, because I’m not God and I don’t know the spiritual path that God has chosen for every single person on this planet. What’s worked for me in my exploration for the love of God may not work for someone else, and that’s the sole reason why I don’t live in the Christian Box anymore, because for me it feels far too claustrophobic.

The bottom line for me is that if God is in everything, then maybe Christians and everyone else for that matter who thinks their religion is the only way to God, might want to start thinking that God could be present in a whole heck of a lot more than just what they currently believe…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson