My first contact with the Christian faith was in a Catholic kindergarten. My impression of this period is vague, but I do remember a particular incident.
I basically did not have any contact with church activities during my primary and secondary school days as my all time and mind was on studying. During high school, a choir mate introduced me to join a fellowship group, but I was thinking - why are these fellowship people so enthusiastic, especially even when I was not even close to them. Because of my odd personality, of course I didn't go, and I would gossip about them with my good friends in private.
I had applied for the university music department, but because my high school results were not good enough, I ended up in the music department of Christ College, which was where my relationship with God began.
After entering Christ College, in addition to joining a fellowship group, I also joined the Aboriginal Gospel Team and went to trips that still remain fresh in my memory today. We visited the Smangus tribe to spent time with our aboriginal friends and parishioners, and stayed there for three days. During the trip, we had to take a cart from Zhudong to the hillside of Snow Mountain. It was a scenic journey, and several aboriginal brothers who took us up the mountain were very cheerful. We sang and enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery on the 3 hour journey until we arrived at the Smangus village. The local residents were all devout Christians. We lead their Sunday worship service and helped with their children's schoolwork. That night, we sang and drank and danced with them.
At that time, it felt that life like this was really good. The next day, three of the young tribesmen took us to the Shenmu ( Holy Trees) Forest through a mountain trail. I thought this was one of the best mountain scenery in Taiwan. Many of the ancient trees here had trunks thick enough to be wrapped around by a few people. I really marveled at the greatness of God's creation when I was there. I had previously injured my ankle playing football. They took me to a mountain stream to soak it in the cool stream. What I thought most about this trip was the experience of serving together with the team and living with the aboriginal friends, which until today is still fresh in my memory.
A few years ago, I left the fellowship group and the church because of personal emotional problems. I couldn't accept that some Christian brothers replaced their ability to think with the Bible! They would casually use Bible verses to condemn others! Their minds may be filled up biblical verses and yet they did not understand their own relationship with God! ( I shouldn't swear here, but those who know me would know what I would say) But God still continued to sow seeds in my heart, so that when I was preparing for the graduation concert in my senior year, I found strength, confidence and everything that I lacked through prayer! This incident, and not through anyone else or any external coercion, solidified my determination that my decision was completely based on my relationship with God! This was how God brought me back to him.
Even at a young age, I’ve always known that I would pay more attention to guys, especially the lively and outgoing ones who played with me. But it wasn’t until middle school when I realized was attracted to them, that I might be gay, but still I didn’t dwelled too much on it as my priority was to concentrate on my studies. After that, I attended a all boys' high school (where there were no vixens ), where my natural same sex sexual orientation grew. At that time, I was just looking and appreciating (like village girl), and I didn't think much about the issue of identity. Maybe because I didn't questioned much about self- identification, my sexual identity just progressed naturally.
At college, I began to date guys, and had progressed to physical intimacy. I also dated a girl, and it was through that experience that made me more sure that I liked boys and enjoy the interaction with them more.
After graduation, I began to teach piano. At the same time, I was baptized in my original church, but I couldn't share too much about my sexuality there. I only told a few Christian brothers who were close to me. I realized that I had been deceiving myself for a long time. The church was not suitable for me. It's not that the church members didn't love me, but I didn't want them to only know the me who was wearing a mask, which was unfair to both parties, so I left church and began a life without a church. It wasn’t until by chance a friend wanted me to accompany him to Tong Kwang Church that I came into contact with Tong Kwang for the first time. But at that time I still could not comprehend what you all were so enthusiastic about, so I still maintained my distance. After two years, I took the initiative to contact Haohao and joined Tong Kwang Church( Other details will be explained later). My experiences during this period of my life life confirmed my identity of being gay and a Christian, and I was very comfortable with this.
During this period in church, I served in the worship team both as a pianist and a backup singer. I was the guidance counselor with the student youth cell group. The reason for taking up these roles was very simple, my hope was that the youngsters who came to this church would choose the right path in life through the sharing of our life stories. And there were many life stories. The sharing of the members’ life stories, relationships and church experiences all lead us to get to know each other better.
Friends would often say I live my life like a robot, as I tend to hide my real emotions, which made me lacking in my ability to communicate with others. The main reason I lead the cell group was to provide companionship and care. Through the discussion of various topics, I got to know how each member thought and their sense of logic. This also facilitated the members to get know each other better. If you were to ask what I gained as a councilor, I would say I learned how to communicate better with other people and how to be a better listener to others. And so the the previously self-centered me got to understand humanity better.
Every youngster who comes to Tong Kwang Church have a different background and expectations! Some have been Christians for a long time, some want to find a sense of belonging, some hope to find their other half here, and some are just curious about the gay church. One thing they all have in common though, is that they all hope to find people which whom they can build relationships with! More importantly, they could also build a relationship with God here! During our meetings, we discussed about the Bible, and various topics, eg the concept of love. Through these discussions, our members deepened their communication with each other and formed deep bonds. When anyone was facing life or relationship problems, we were there to accompany and support each other through it.
Different people at different stages of lives come here, and each group represents the characteristics of an era. The youngsters I led during the initial two years of my service were more likely to face conflicts with their families or with their own self identification. They all worked and studied hard, but would sometimes withdraw from their interpersonal interactions due to a lack of self confidence. At this time, we hope that the church and the cell group would allow them to build their confidence through some forms of simple serving in church. On the interpersonal level, we hope that they can rebuild their confidence and trust in people by interacting with the other church members.
The youngsters I met in the middle part of my two years as cell group counselor did not have many obstacles in their self identification (maybe because they came out too early). But they didn’t have much direction for their life, or they were dissatisfied with their current situation, or they always felt that what they have is not what they want. This group was really difficult to guide. It’s not that they were not smart, in fact they seemed to be too smart. But because there is too much available information, they didn’t know how to sift through to the correct ones. This made them see only the gap between what they have and what they want, and only that between fantasy and reality.
Towards the end of the two years, I began to step down from my roles of service in the church. Through my intermittent interactions with these youngsters, I’ve found that they not only possessed impressive academic backgrounds, but more then that, they also have the courage to admit their sexuality, and would openly and actively participate in the gay movement, and were especially willing to communicate with straight Christians so as to let them see the presence of the gay community.
From an overall perspective, today’s younger gay community is no longer a tragic, sad, unable-to-show-their-face group. They have their own ideals and views on life, on their right to exist, and they are far more willing to fight for and stand up and speak out for their rights. As for their ability to experience and deal with things in life, they are still young, so let’s give them more leeway. They still have room to grow. Their futures are still filled with possibilities.
In addition to serving in the cell group, I had frequent contacts with members of the worship team, where we got to know each other and became friends through our service to God and through shared crises. Other then supporting each other, we also developed deeper friendships. Outside of church, we would have meal gatherings and help each other in life. What I learned most was to put others before myself and to serve others, and only by this we could demonstrate the true essence of the worship team.
I have previously been with a traditional church, and I’ve been in Tong Kwang Presbyterian Church for nearly eight years. With regard to faith, there isn’t much differences between the two. Both believe in God and pray in His holy name, both read the same Bible. Where we differ is that we are a group of gay Christians. We are also part of God’s beautiful creation. We too work hard, face the same ups and downs in our search for love, have the same joys and sorrows, have family and friends and loved ones. So under the premise that we’re not that different after all, I hope that more people can get know more gay friends. I have watched straight Christians brazenly attack gay Christians, and gay Christians attack each other in order to protect their rights and self interests. Have we forgotten God’s greatest commandment is to love each other. I'm saddened to see such a situation. There are many people that are different from us in the world, and if we always only view them through our present narrow minded lens, we would lose a lot of opportunities to know new people and things. And doesn’t this narrow our vision even more. Try to accept people who are different from yourself. Similarly, I hope that the youngsters in our cell group can learn this simple thing so that they can stand firm in this area of their Christian faith.
Lastly, I want to say again - that I am gay and I am a Christian. I am very comfortable with this identity. I hope that most gay friends too can be like this, so that we may confidently and joyfully say to the world that we are proud of who we are.