And this is Kieran.
Kieran who is cisgender, who is 30, who is gay, who is a man, no specific order, no small talk, just a strong commitment.
Kieran was raised in and by church. The Anglican church. His father happens to be a priest. His father has ministered in several parishes throughout his life, leading Kieran and his family to live in different parts of Cape Town. Always reaffirming the importance of a pastor for a community. And what would a good pastor be without a loving wife and a big family?
So, growing up, Kieran was well surrounded. Church was like home. Home was like church. Worshippers were extended family members. Worshipping was a way of a life. Everywhere was safe. Everywhere until. Until 4 years old Kieran asked his mother if he could take ballet classes. Why would a little boy dance like a little girl? Nothing wrong with religion, technically. But a harmful thing for the family’s reputation. For his mother, a woman endowed with the role of the priest’s wife, anything that would not fit the socially accepted would be frowned upon.
But because Kieran wanted to, and because his father, perhaps surprisingly, supported the idea, she said yes. And she warned little Kieran: “Don’t come crying to me if people call you a moffie.”
Since then, everywhere but anywhere you could find gossip was safe. Narrow minded, shortsighted individuals became Kieran’s worst enemy.
When 20 years old Kieran, comfier with himself and with the way he loved, was rushed by a few peers into coming out as gay, he knew that he owed nothing to nobody, especially regarding his sexuality.
For some reason, on a personal level, Kieran coped well with being gay. But what worried him was what could happen to his father’s ministry. Should he leave home? Should he stop being active in church? The answer is no. And Kieran did not have to ask God to know. Kieran is gay. And of course, if he had had a choice, he would not be gay. But he is. And if in the first place he had to deal with it, everybody also has to.
His very presence at church became a crusade. His very existence, as the pastor’s gay son, became a vocation. He has never stopped being an active member of his church.
Kieran says that he knows too many LGBTI people who keep going to church and keep apologising for who they are. If you are not comfortable with who you are, maybe you should not go to a place of worship. But if you are, you should not stop going to church. Don’t prove right those who say there are no lesbians or gays in church. Do not apologise.
Queer people belonging in churches is a hot topic. Because churches are meant to be safe spaces for everybody. Yet they are not. When people advise Kieran to tone down his ‘gayness’, worried for his safety, Kieran likes to recall that anger has no purpose. He could be the least flamboyant gay man and still be a target.
So when less good-intentioned church members remind Kieran that he’s gay, he forgives even less. In the Anglican church, the peace greeting ritual has all members shaking hands together. Many people, on too many occasions, refuse to greet Kieran. So he’s stopped extending his hand to them.
If you cannot acknowledge his faith and achievements just because who he loves. If your bigotry makes you forget Kieran was born and still is a christian, has assisted for years in ministry, don’t expect him to apologise. He knows where his place is while you should question yours.
On a broader level, Kieran believes that churches and church leaders are having the wrong conversation. When they do not officially reject the LGBTI component of their followers, they treat them as a niche market. When they choose to focus on same-sex marriage, they’re oblivious to real issues. Churches are empty, and keep losing members. If they want to win back people’s faith, they should talk about commitment and marriage in general. How can two men, just like a man and a woman, worship God together? Kieran believes that the answer matters.
Churches’ attitude regarding sexual minorities is a timebomb. Queer people have long started deserting. Straight people are on a similar path.
When there’s nobody left, who’s gonna get kicked out ?
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