“Hey are you guys hungry?” Don asked the group after SPF7.
“I’m always down for food,” I said.
“I’m in,” Ken said.
“Great Ken, we never get to spend time with you as a group,” Don said excited.
“I’m in,” Bill said.
“Café Brazil?” I chimed in.
“Why don’t we go to the Gay Café Brazil? We always go to the straight one,” Don said.
“I’m game,” I said. “This could be outreach night.”
“Hey men, if we go there, we aren’t going to lead everyone to Jesus, let’s just make friends,” Bill said.
I was surprised that when we entered café Brazil with all 12 of SPF7 in tow. We sat down, ordered, and then started laughing and being loud. Steven and Don got into a heated debate. Ken noticed a guy reading an economics book and went over to talk to him. I just enjoyed the evening listening and watching and taking in the fact that Don had in a sense brought in the Trojan Horse. Just our presence was daunting. Rough men who loved Jesus.
Don and Steven sat across from each other and the debate began. Don had been emailing gay theologians from around the country including Ralph Blair from Evangelicals Concerned and combined that with our weekly gay bible study knowledge to go against Steven. Bill and Scott Michael talked about Scott Michael’s relationship with Sandy.
Somehow Bill noticed Ken talking to the student and called them over to join us. I soon found out this kid’s name was Bobby and he was taking economics classes which is what Ken had majored in and was now working in sales with HP.
Bobby didn’t know what to make of us. “So you guys are a church group?” Bobby asked. “Are you a Liberal church?”
“No, we’re not. I’m about as conservative as it gets in my beliefs, but probably live it out differently than you are used to,” I said.
“So do you believe being gay is wrong?” Bobby asked.
“What do you think, Bobby?” I asked.
“Well, I think that it is a sin and so I guess that is why I left the church, because I would just rather be accepted than try to be something I can’t, and if that means I go to hell, so be it.”
“What, you think being gay is a sin?” Don asked. “How can you be gay and ever say that?”
“I don’t know, I guess I’ve always been taught that. And it has been that way for hundreds of years. The traditional church hasn’t exactly gone back and forth on this one until recently. I’m not really religious so I don’t care. I mean I accepted Christ and was baptized and all that when I was younger, but a part of me feels like that was a kid thing. Life is just different.”
“I’m just shocked that you would ever think that being gay is sinful,” Don said.
I sat and watched the evening continue to unfold. Politics mixed with religion and things were talked about in a bizarre non-offensive way. I watched Don and his uncanny ability to connect with anyone. He used his ornery sort of way that rubbed up against you to make an emotional point and then he had the ability to compliment the person in another way to make them feel valued. It was a gift and something that I admired.
A couple days later Don called me.
“Hey Chris, I’m going to send you a couple emails between Bobby and me—you know the guy from Café Brazil. It would be great if we could get him to come on Monday night.”
“Yeah, send them. That would be awesome.”
“Oh hey, I got a customer, I will call you later.”
I went online and downloaded the emails. It seemed there was quite a chain.
Subject: hey this is bobby!
Just thought I’d touch base with you and say hello! have a good day!
11:46 AM, Don Dent wrote:
Bobby, Good morning. Having you join the guys for dinner last night was great. I'm glad you could rearrange your schedule to meet us. Ken, the guy you were talking with about economics is really cool. He lives close by and we get together for coffee or lunch occasionally. Listening to your opinion of Christianity was extremely interesting. You’re very open to observations. When you spoke of basic human tendencies regarding what was right or wrong or sin—WOW I've never heard that opinion and you make a good point. I look forward to hearing more of that discussion. I’d like to see it progress to some point I would be comfortable with. I don't k now if comfortable is the right word. You know I’m very new to Christianity and your knowledge of this and everything else overwhelms me. You’re very intelligent. I guess that's no secret to you.
Steven , the guy who was more or less the person you were debating theology with is very intelligent but he is so far removed from anything that I’m familiar with—I think that's why he’s so interesting. Most of those guys aren't close to any gay men. I've been the token gay guy. We have these studies every Monday night at 7: 00 you are especially welcome. It’s not anything you have to join, some guys just show up once in a while—some every week. I have attended every week since the week before my conversion.
Are you dating anyone? Just wondered. My lover and I have been together 18 years. It’s really good to hear from you, Bobby, Thanks. Hope your day goes well.
Subject: Re: hey this is bobby!
Subject: Re: hey this is bobby!
Thank you for the complements that you gave me. I really enjoyed hanging out with you guys, too (although I stayed too late LOL). I really enjoy discussions like the one that we had. I think that intellect, like democracy, depends on a variety of opinions and views and weighing them out for yourself, and I don’t think it’s intellectually healthy to only study or hear opinions within your own sphere of influence so I enjoyed it. I think it would be cool to get together and watch films or have a book club or something—though I am really busy—I’ll make it when I can.
And I'm single. 18 years is a long time, I always like to hear about a relationship that has been together for a long time. I would like to meet him sometime—why doesn’t he come to the meetings? Maybe if they were more oriented towards just a social gathering?
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 8:57 AM
Subject: FW: hey this is bobby!
Subject: FW: hey this is bobby!
Bobby, thanks, you are so right about opinions from different sources. For years I have been around gay liberal democrats or independents, but it’s been healthy to listen to other sides and get to know some of those people—to leave my comfort zone. I have been pissed off, hopefully it’s been reciprocated. LOL, I’ll get over it.
This group that I’m with in the study of Matthew is incredible. Those guys are so real and that’s infectious. I mentioned earlier, you would be very welcome, I have had questions most seem pretty juvenile, but they are things I don’t know or understand. Some of these guys even with the enormous age difference have become very close to me. It’s very cool having some straight friends. If Christians would take the initiative and leave their comfort zones without being coerced it would make a difference.
At the same time, some of these Christian’s have been so secluded form non-Christians they would freak out in the non-Christian world—I just don’t think Jesus intended Christians to isolate—I’ll get off my rant.
Thanks for your number. It’s appreciated. I’ve invited my lover to church and to the study group. My conversion has been strange for me, but for him it’s unbelievable. He has liked the guys he’s met through coming into our shop, but he’s not a “meeting” person.
I sat back and pondered Don for a moment. He had turned into the most on fire evangelist and he hadn’t fully accepted Orthodox Christianity. Here is a guy that continued to face antagonism from the men in the group for his lifestyle, but he started to enjoy them so much, that he wanted to share that with others. Don’s observations on Christians were right on. I smiled. Somehow we started to figure out how to be salt and light to people who were supposed to be our enemies.