Earlier this week, Chuck Bomar offered 6 questions gay students are asking of youth workers. And I thought this was an excellent perspective to take on the issue of how to minister to gay teenagers.
Last year, I wrote a book specifically for youth workers that was really a first of it’s kind. In a few weeks an new edition of this book will be released, and it will offer even more practical advice for youth workers, family members, and even the church at large.
My heart is to see gay individuals become connected (and stay connected) to Christ and His body in authentic relational ways. This passion stems from my own story of being a gay teenager and young adult, and one who still wrestles with same-sex attractions even though I’m married and in ministry.
This year at SYMC, I am teaching a workshop on ministry to gay and lesbian teenagers. So for the next few weeks, I want to touch on specific ministry issues and questions that youth workers are either facing right now or will soon face one way or another.
YM from a Gay Teen’s View
If you are not familiar with my full story, you can read it here on my blog. I’ve always been attracted to other guys. I don’t know for certain how these feelings came about, and really I’m not concerned anymore. I tried dating girls but nothing felt right; I wasn’t attracted to them like I was to my own sex. I was deeply confused, and always felt alone. My parents didn’t talk with me about what was going on, and most times it was passed off as “a phase” I was going through. I had a small group of friends who stood with me – which I am grateful for, but by-and-large I was rejected by everyone else around me (at least that’s how I perceived things).
I went to school with a lot of Christians. Some of them were nice, but for the majority of them, we had a mutual agreement: they hated me and I hated them. These Christians would take every opportunity to inform me I was bound for hell, God was sick with me, and God’s love did not extend to me. Being agnostic, I was fine with this; however, looking back, their message was damaging in multiple ways. My self-worth continued to lower. My views of God were deeply warped. Their words didn’t help my already suicidal state (I still shudder when I think about this time as an unbeliever, what if I really did succeed?).
I was never invited to youth group by these individuals, much less a time to sit and talk about Jesus. It was always condemnation, or some other threatening remarks. And all I truly wanted was to be accepted and liked for who I was. This desire to be liked extended beyond my sexuality. Sure I wanted people to accept that gay was OK, but more than that, I wanted people to accept my gay friends and I for who we were. I wanted people to know that I was more than a sexuality label.
How I wish there was a place for me to go, to belong, so that I could talk about my questions concerning God and life. How I wish there was a place I could just get away, or at least escape the consuming pressures of the day for awhile. How I wish an adult would have reached out to me in support and spoke truth into my life.
This is why youth workers are so vital in a gay teenagers life. We have the hope of Christ living within us. We are vessels God wants to use to speak truth into a gay teens life, whether they know Jesus or not. We have the ability to create a safe place for gay teens to come, find true connection, and the chance to forget about the day. God has given us an amazing platform and calling to reach every student, that He created and died for, and whom He wants a personal relationship with.
Are we such vessels?
Do we offer such places of common ground in our ministry?
With you and for you,