Pam, like me, was about 20 years old, and we had a casual friendship. We hung out often at the coffeehouse, and I even remember going on a double date with her and "Ralph" one time. Nothing ever developed (that I know of!) with her and Ralph, but my date was Ray, and we ended up married!
Today I heard from her in an e-mail, and I cried. Here is part of what she said:
I hesitated to send the email to which you replied. After all, this would normally be a very private matter, and it has been many years since we were close.
I admit that I have been one of those who believe the Bible teaches that homosexuallity is a sin. But after the initial shock of the news about Ray, I thought back to the days at Jacobs Well with Ray sitting up in front singing and playing his guitar. It was never himself that he put forward. It was always his love for God that shone through. Although I have not seen him much in the years since, I have seen him enough to know that his spirit has not changed. So I certainly would not judge him. I can only offer my love and support for both of you.
It made a difference to me that Pam reached out in her first e-mail, and I'd answered her immediately. Not so many have realized that Ray didn't change - he is the same person he always has been. It's the fact that Pam is willing to see that "his spirit has not changed."
Last November I met Ann Craig, who works in NYC for GLAAD. Ann is the Director of Religion, Faith and Values, and she coached us to try to affect the "moveable middle," which are ones who will try to listen, and they will try to understand the message you wish to convey. I know it is hard for fundamentalist Christians, who have grounded their faith on teachings they have thought they understood, to change and listen to GLBT people. But it is possible! And my old friend, Pam, is evidence that even the effort to think in a new way can bring grace and a glimpse of understanding. Thanks, Pam, for what you are showing to me and to others. I'm praying for many more "Pams."