GCN Radio - February 20, 2004
Transcribed by Vombatus
To listen to this episode, visit http://www.gaychristian.net/gcnradio
JUSTIN: Hello, and welcome to this edition of GCN Radio. I’m Justin in Raleigh, North Carolina. …
BRAIN: …and I’m Brian in Muncie, Indiana. Good to have everyone along for another episode. Justin, so we’ve seen on the boards that you had a presentation recently. Tell us a little bit about that.
JUSTIN: I did. From time to time I go to college groups and speak about homosexuality and Christianity and especially I enjoy going to speak to conservative Christian groups about gay issues, because a lot of them have never heard a gay person talk about gay issues from a conservative Christian framework. I really enjoy doing that, I think I connect well with the audience. I was just invited back to my alma mater, to Wake Forest University to do a presentation. So, it went really well.
BRIAN: So your reputation preceded you in that they knew about you from before when you were a student there.
JUSTIN: Well, yes, and I’m still in touch with some of the folks there and they knew I was doing this. It just so happens that this year—they have themes each year, and this year their theme was ‘dialogue’. So it fit in quite nicely. And as well, the gay student group there had been having some issues that they really wanted to start dialoguing with the campus Christian groups, so I was pleased.
BRIAN: And is this something that you continue to do, and that people could contact you if they wanted to find out about you, “Justin on Speaking Tour”….
JUSTIN: Absolutely. It doesn’t have to be a college group if your organization, a gay group or a Christian group or any combination thereof, wants to invite me to come speak, as long as you have some money to bring me out there I’d be happy to do it.
BRIAN: You’ll take their money!
JUSTIN: I am always happy to take people’s money! You know that’s why I got into this in the first place.
BRIAN: It’s all about… the money.
JUSTIN: Oh yeah.
BRIAN: Well today’s show is all about the James. Yes, all the way from the near-Baltimore area, James, our composer and lyricist in residence who you see posting on the Creativity thread and elsewhere. James, welcome to GCN Radio.
JAMES: Hey, what’s up?
JUSTIN: “Singing James”
JAMES: Yeah, the singing James.
BRIAN: Good to have you along!
JAMES: I’m glad to be here.
BRIAN: I want to just mention, by way of introduction, James actually helped GCN Radio get started. “How?” you may ask… Well, back in December we were chatting with each other and I remember I sent James a little email and I said, “I know you’re a composer and you write lyrics, and I write melodies, and wouldn’t it be fun to collaborate.” And, James, you were working on a Christmas CD…
JAMES: Yeah, yeah, I was just looking for some personal touch kind of gift to give and a Christmas CD was always something that I wanted to do since I started singing. So the idea just kind of came along, you know: there was a musician, there was some music that I had written up and it just happened.
BRIAN: And here’s a little bit of our little Internet collaboration, this is just a little bit of “Christmas to Me”, lyrics by James, music by Brian:
‘Snow is falling, and lights shining bright
Carolers are singing from out on the street
And all these thing just go on by
When you look into my eyes
Showing me your heart of gold
That’s Christmas to me.]
JUSTIN: Very cool!
JAMES: Yeah, it was really awesome. I think the best part about it is that we didn’t have to get into some expensive studio and didn’t have to go into all these elaborate productions. He did his end, and I did my end, and we just kind of meshed the two together. Well, actually, Brian did all that.
BRIAN: Well, right on our computer. It was pretty easy and it helped us… it taught me a little bit about file transferring over the internet and from there we kind of spring boarded into what we’re doing with GCN Radio with our sort of modern day tape sync operation which you can listen about on our first show.
JUSTIN: Well, I just have to interject here, I’m so impressed with you guys!
JAMES: Yeah, music is something I’ve always loved since I was just a little kid and to find somebody that’s really easy and wonderful to work with like Brian is just a rare, once-in-a-lifetime find. I’m glad that he made the effort to reach out to me and I think that we’ve got a great musical partnership going there.
JUSTIN: You found Brian easy to work with?
JAMES: [laughs] Yeah, actually!
BRIAN: You’re the first person that has!
JAMES: After the first point, I really didn’t talk to him.
JUSTIN: Okay, well…
JAMES: It was just you sending me music on the Internet, so all I had to do is sing to the piano.
BRIAN: I paid him well to say that, everybody, you know.
JAMES: A new leather jacket, thank you Brian.
BRIAN: You know, James, in addition to the music, we’ve gotten to talk a little bit on the phone and I’m really thankful that we’ve gotten to become friends, too, and you’ve shared with me a little bit of your story. You grew up in a very Christian setting but then something happened and that is you came out.
JAMES: Right. I have a very unique perspective on the whole gay thing, the whole being who I am. My personality has always been very unique, very different and that’s what I take pride in. I don’t want to be the same as every billboard gay person. I don’t want that, I want to be who I’m supposed to be. So when I was becoming more free and able to do that, people started noticing, “Hey that’s different. Maybe I should put him in a group, a label.” And that’s unfortunately what happened with my church, and things just kind of started going downhill after that happened. But luckily I was able to come out of it and learn a lot of lessons from everything that’s happened.
BRIAN: And you were singing in your church, you were a pretty active person. I remember you told me that one day you had to just leave.
JAMES: Yeah, it was kind of out of the blue, we’d finished a two week Christmas musical and probably two weeks after that I was going up on the platform to sing with our regular group that sang every week and our pastor just asked me to step aside and he wanted me to not sing anymore until he had a chance to quote-unquote “meet with me about some of my lifestyle-choices.”
JUSTIN: Oh man…
JAMES: So, yeah, it was kind of an interesting shock, but I did what I thought was the best thing to do and just resigned that morning and didn’t go back. I couldn’t be in a place that’s not going to—well, I found out later that there was a lot of rumors and gossip going around so that just made things even worse. But it was hard, the hardest part about it was that I had been at that same church since I was two, and it was like a family. And when they start losing faith in you and start putting doubts in you, it just kind of hurts.
JUSTIN: Yeah. That’s such a shame. I hate to see the church be that way, and I hear stories like that all the time. It’s terrible.
JAMES: I try to always keep a good, positive attitude about everything. So, whatever reason that happened to me, or whatever reason that period of my life had to go by and I have to be where I’m at now… I think it’s all for a reason. I know that if I was there, if I would have continued to stay there, if I was there right now things probably wouldn’t be as good as I would like them to be. So I think that that was the time to step away from that has been good for me. Because I was always in the spotlight, I was always the ‘star singer’, the one that got picked for all the ‘specials’ and everything else. I think that a step back was what I needed. And it took something kind of drastic for it to happen, but it happened and now I think I’m doing a lot better because of it.
BRIAN: What’s your faith in God like now, now that you’ve had this experience and it’s been a couple of years since it happened?
JAMES: More importantly than anything else, faith is just taking your life a day at a time, and you can’t sit here and say, “Okay, today from this point forward until 5 years down the road this is what I’m going to do”, step by step by step by step. I mean, it’s good to have a guideline, but you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. So, the best thing to do is to worry about what you have right now, today, this very moment, and the things that are in the past are your lessons. That’s what you go by, that’s what you say “Okay, I’ve done this before, I’m not going to get back into that kind of situation.” You learn your lessons, and you take today, and when you wake up tomorrow it’s a brand new day and you have a whole 24 hours to make that day important and the next day and the next. If you just take it a day at a time, and I think that was one of my biggest problems, trying to get ahead of myself and get ahead of God. And of course, that’s not what He wants. He wants us to be patient and wait for Him to give us the direction. And we have these signs pointing us to which way, every single day. It’s not always the easiest thing either, especially with me. I’m 21, and I have my whole life ahead of me, why should I have to wait on this miraculous sign that going to come from God. Well, sometimes the most powerful things are the really small things, the small little hints that He gives us. Being rushed is not a good thing.
BRIAN: Here’s another experience: You’re just recently out of a pretty long-term relationship. It got tough at the end… how were you able to break out of that situation that was a little bit toxic for you?
JAMES: Um. The relationship was long-term but it was off and on. Within the first couple of months I think I knew that that wasn’t what I was supposed to do. I think I knew that that wasn’t a health situation for me, but for whatever reason, ‘love’ or ‘caring’ or whatever you want to call it, I just kept going back. It was back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth. This last time, I think, things just kind of hit me in the face and I finally realized, “Hey, I’m the one who’s making the decision to go back into this knowing that I really don’t want to be here, knowing that this is not the healthiest thing for me.” I think I was tired of putting myself in that situation, and I realized that the only way to really make a change in my life, to really get things going to the next level for me was to get rid of that, and to stick by my decision to get rid of that. And it’s hard because I do care about my other half, but that’s a part of my life that has to be behind me. It’s another one of those lessons that, okay, I learn from this and need to take what I learned and go on to the next day. It was hard, but I’m making it through. My family is being really supportive and wonderful to me. And I have some really good friends, GCN and work friends, so it’s really good.
JUSTIN: That’s good to hear.
BRIAN: You seem so inspiring to people, especially when you post things, there’s such a warmth about what you say to people. What encourages you, James, what do you do when you get down and depressed.
JAMES: Well, as everybody knows, I’m a singer, I love to sing, I love music… that’s just my world. When I get discouraged or when I get something that’s in my way sometimes the best relief for me—and I know this sounds really silly, but—I love to get in my car and put on a CD and just sing. Sing to the top of my lungs, I don’t care… just sing. It really just—I lose myself in the music and something just happens. Everything else just kind of falls away. That’s one of the things that has really helped me through recent experiences, past experiences is that I’ve had something like that. God’s blessed me with a talent of music and I know that and I’ve been able to fall back on that. When I come into a dark place, He shows me that, “Hey! This is your gift.” It just always kind of lifts me up, I can be singing and suddenly I start smiling again.
JUSTIN: That’s great, because I love to do the same thing. I will sing in my car and I really get into it and I’ll do it when I’m driving and people in other cars—
JAMES: They look at you! It’s like “Oh my gosh, is he trying to be, like, the Backstreet Boys or something?”
JUSTIN: They really do! It’s funny, and they give me weird looks and I just smile sweetly at them and point out that the light has turned green on their side and they need to go.
JUSTIN: That really did happen to me the other day. Of course the difference is that I’m not a singer, so I only sing in my car.
JAMES: Well, the Bible says make a joyful noise, it doesn’t say make a pretty noise.
BRIAN: That’s a good thing!
JAMES: Some of us just make prettier noises than others. But no… if you’re heart is in it, just about anything, really, if you put your heart into it and if you’re doing it for the right reasons, I think that’s what God’s really wanting, anyway.
BRIAN: James, thanks for being on GCN Radio.
JAMES: You’re welcome! It was a lot of fun!
BRIAN: That concludes another edition of GCN Radio. Thanks to James and Justin and as always you can listen to us online at www.gaychristian.net/gcnradio/. We’ll look forward to seeing you again next time. So, from Muncie, Indiana this is Brian…
JUSTIN: …and from Raleigh, North Carolina this is Justin. Have a great day.
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year
And please remember to your heart I’m near.
I hope that your memories are happy
Of this holiday time we share
‘cause when we are together
In love forever
When you’re here with me tonight
I feel you love
And that’s the greatest Christmas gift
That’s what Christmas means