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Growing Up a Gay Southern Baptist

Crossposted From RepealNOW.

I was born to very young parents, my mother was eighteen and my father was seventeen. Actually, I was three months old at my fathers High School graduation. The idea of religion was not something that began very strongly in my childhood. My father, after joining the Air Force, moved to Oklahoma and my mother and I soon followed. Being that my parents were young it wasn't until I got older that we began going to church. I remember my first trip to church that I remember with my aunt and uncle. I remember many things from that time, one of them was accepting jesus into my heart.
I spent the next decade trying to be the best christian I could be. My parents had moved back to a small town from which they grew up when I was ten and I began attending Pisgah Baptist Church. Pisgah was a Southern Baptist denominational church led by a great pastor named David. David used to speak to me something fierce. I remember my faith sparkled with passion during that time. Maybe that is why David is today the Executive Director of the Missouri Branch of the Southern Baptist Convention. Now I do not know what Dr. Tollivers personal views are on the repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” but I can tell you that I remember these words coming from his mouth at the pulpit.
“Homosexuals CAN not get into heaven, they will burn eternally in hell.”
I remember that moment, and I will never forget it. That was the moment that my personal relationship with what I now call, “so-called” god began to fade.
I continued to attempt to grow as a strong christian. I was good friends with David's son, and actually sang in a praise band with him. His wife Myra was the Choir Director for the church, and I thoroughly enjoyed participating in her productions. I loved the missionary trips that we went on and leaned on this family for a while.
I sometimes wonder if had the people in that church known that I was gay would they have treated me as they did? Would they have treated me badly? I know my parents never thought they would have a gay son, and they did not know how to deal with it at first, but they feel much different today. I think, or hope Dr. Tolliver would do the same if his son Adam were ever to come out as a gay man.
This brings me to the present. I am in the army serving in a war zone staring at pictures of the man who's few words propelled me to become the person I am today. Had he not put me on the journey of self-hatred, I would have never studied so much, or questioned so much, and most likely would still be a member of the church.
But there he is, put me in the shoes that I am now, and still trying to take me out of those shoes, now boots. The Southern Baptist Convention is by far the largest group supporting the effort to stop repeal of “don't ask, don't tell.”

“If a policy makes it more difficult–in fact, discourages–one of the groups that provides one of the largest numbers of chaplains to the military from continuing to engage in chaplaincy ministry, that should raise significant concerns for them about the … spiritual well-being of our men and women in uniform,” said Barrett Duke, vice president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

I do not think that all nor most Southern Baptists are bad people, just as I feel about the Mormon Church, but I do believe that the institution of the Church has way too much political power in our daily lives. I spent many years of my life trying to “fix” myself for god. Then I gave up, on god, and the church. Now I am fighting the forces of the same church to serve my country.
When does it end? When do we quit relying on these fables and myths to determine the laws of our country. I am all for freedom of expression, but to an extent. That extent is when it intrudes on my life. When it encroaches my privacy, and my livelihood.

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Eric Williams

Eric Williams