My Hero is Bi

Most novelists have a day job, and mine is transcription. I work with people from all over the country, since I do it all online. Several of my clients have come to me through my membership in American Christian Fiction Writers. I'm a Christian, and I actually enjoy (most of the time) transcribing sermons and things of that nature. It's interesting.

I did not grow up in a typical Christian environment, though. My parents grew up in the Baptist church, but when they started searching things out on their own and reading the Bible as it is, instead of as man wants to interpret it, they left that denomination. We lived for many years in a place where there was no church my parents were comfortable attending, because the theology was always screwy in some way. Then we moved and eventually ended up at Grace Presbyterian, part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. We have an amazing pastor who encourages us to read the Bible like we would read Dune or Lord of the Rings, which means accepting the Author's world as valid the way it's presented and not trying to make it be something it's not. (How cool is it to have a certified geek in the pulpit? We're trying our darnedest to turn him into a Whovian.)

I've always known in my head that Christianity and gays don't get along. But I didn't understand why, because the faith, Bible, and God I know is all about compassion and reaching out in love. Then last week, while working, I encountered the reason Christianity and gays don't get along. For the very first time, in thirty years of being in church, I heard the damnation most "Christians" preach toward gay people.

And it left me upset, discombobulated, and ranting about it to my crit partner and my mom. The entire hour long class I transcribed was a diatribe of hatred and judgment. It went on about how gay sex is nasty (which, honestly, the ick factor can be pretty high at times), about how these people hurt the ones around them, and how we need to help those who have been hurt by the gay people in their lives.

NOT ONCE in a sixty-three minute recording did I hear a word about compassion or love to one of the most hurting groups of people this world has ever known. It was damnation and judgment after damnation and judgment, with a side of "this is nasty, unhealthy, and gross". My God, the God of the Bible, demands we have compassion. Paul tells us to be all things to all men, so that in so doing we may save some. That includes being friends with gay people and loving them without condemnation and judgment. Jesus ate with tax collectors, for Pete's sake! Tax collectors back then were thought of roughly the same as pedophiles are today.

And who did Jesus reserve the strongest condemnation for? Not gay people, or tax collectors, or the Roman oppressors, or the prostitutes and adulterers murderers and rapists and thieves. He excoriated the religious people. He called the religious leaders of the Jewish people a brood of vipers and hypocrites. And what did he tell the woman at the well who was in the middle of an affair, and the adulterous woman about to be stoned? He touched them and forgave them their sins. He touched them. He loved on the people hurting most, those ignored and condemned by the religious leaders.

This really hit home with me for one big reason. A'yen, my space opera main character, is bi. The saga opens with him still in mourning for his dead male lover. Yes, you read that right. He was in love with a man, and in fact had a fifteen-year relationship with said man. I knew the moment he told me that last May, there was no room in Christian fiction for him. Before that I'd been writing Christian fiction, since I am a Christian, but I was struggling with the lack of reality in how we're expected to portray characters.

A character like A'yen, with real flaws, real problems, and the way his heart was broken, isn't welcome in a Christian novel. Most Christian readers would flame it online, write angry letters to the publisher and the author, and many of them would return it. Why? Because A'yen never "repents of his sin". He continues to accept that he's bi, embrace what he is without flaunting it, and ask that his friends and family love him as he is. He settles down with a woman because she makes him feel complete, but he doesn't regret his years with a man. Because that man taught him the true meaning of love.

Back in February I decided to leave behind the chafing restrictions of the Christian market and embrace writing on the other side, known in Christian circles as the ABA or secular side. In large part because A'yen isn't welcome in Christian fiction. Because being honest and real about the struggles people face in the real world isn't welcome. I have a problem with that, and I refuse to muzzle my characters and force them to be something they're not.

The whole experience with this file still bothers me. It left me crying out inside "Lord, have mercy!" Instead of showing his love to the world, far too many of us have become that brood of vipers.


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