Anthony: Hi I’m Anthony and I’m gay.

Church leader: Hi, I’m Joel. Why do you have to say you’re gay? I don’t feel the need to announce I’m heterosexual.

Anthony: Well I was thinking of coming to your church and I know that churches like yours have been anti-gay. It’s my way of checking if I’m welcome.

Church leader: Our church is open to everyone. Whether you’re a criminal, prostitute, alcoholic or homosexual all are welcome. We don’t discriminate.

Anthony: So my partner can come as well. We’ve been together for 12 years and he’s a recovering alcoholic. He’s been sober for 10 years. I’m very proud of him.

Church leader: Of course he can come as well, just don’t hold hands or tell people you’re gay because we don’t want people coming in here promoting the homosexual lifestyle.

Anthony: I’m not sure what you mean by the homosexual lifestyle, I think there isn’t much difference between our weekly lives and yours. Work, shop, eat, friends, family. We’re pretty normal really. Some would say boring.

Church leader: It’s what you do when you’re not working, shopping, eating or spending time with family and friends that’s the problem. We believe that God has only ordained for sex to be within the confines of marriage.

Anthony: Oh so you’ll marry us then.

Church leader: Sorry but Gods word says that only men and women can get married so they can have children. Remember, children deserve and mother and a father.

Anthony: But we don’t have or want children. We’re gay. We have pets.

Church leader: To be clear then, we believe the bible condemns homosexual acts.

Anthony: What’s a homosexual act? A drag show?

Church leader: You’re making me feel awkward now. I guess I’ll have to spell it out. Homosexuality is condemned in the bible it says man shall not lie with a man as a women. They shall be put to death.

Anthony: You can be put to death for having a snooze with another dude?

Church leader: No! It’s anal sex God condemns. Sodomy. That’s what God is against.

Anthony: You mean this all comes down to putting a willy in a bottom?

Church leader: Since you put it that way, yes.

Anthony: Thanks for clarifying that for me. It’s been a while since my partner and I did that. We’ve been together for 12 years remember. Mostly we just cuddle and sleep in bed, so I guess we are fine. This is also good news for my lesbian friends. I’ll let them know they are welcome too.

A puzzled look came over the Church leaders face, unsure what he’d just committed himself to.

© Anthony Venn-Brown

Author of A Life of Unlearning: A preacher’s struggle with his homosexuality, church and faith.

NB: This was not a word for word conversation but it is disturbingly close to many I’ve had.

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