GCN Radio - April 23, 2004
Transcribed by Vombatus
To listen to this episode, visit http://www.gaychristian.net/gcnradio
BRIAN: Welcome to another edition of GCN Radio. In Muncie, I’m Brian…
JUSITN: …and I’m Justin in Raleigh, North Carolina.
BRIAN: And here we are, it is show number ten
JUSTIN: Number Ten?!
BRIAN: I can’t believe we’ve already done ten shows, that’s really cool. So, we started in January and here we are in April. We’re up to show number ten, and it’s a great day in Muncie. It’s beautiful, about 63 degrees, sunny, and I hope it’s nice wherever you all are out in GCN. But Justin, I have to tell you I am so ecstatic about my new toy.
JUSTIN: What’s your new toy?
BRIAN: Yes, yes, I bought a 15” Power Mac G4 and it has monopolized my life. I haven’t done anything except play on this computer. And I’ve just been… I’m like a twelve year old boy here, just enjoying it like it’s a Christmas gift. And it’s not a Christmas gift, because I bought it and don’t know quite how I’m going to pay for it yet.
JUSTIN: Uh oh.
BRIAN: Maybe a fundraiser… nah, just kidding. Well, we have a very special guest today, I’m very excited to welcome Bill, Giveawayboy from the message board from… what part of Florida are you from, Bill? I forgot to ask that.
BILL: Oh, Tampa.
BRIAN: Okay, well welcome to GCN Radio.
BILL: Good to be here!
JUSTIN: Hi Bill!
BILL: Hey Justin.
BRIAN: Now, you two know each other from a couple of GCN gatherings past. Why don’t you guys tell us—Bill, tell us a little bit about how you found GCN and how you guys met and that sort of thing.
BILL: Well, how I found GCN was basically I had found this group called Bridges Across. It was a place where different kinds of people came and talked about being gay from different perspectives and that’s how I found out about GCN. I guess somehow through the links I found it. Then the way I met Justin was I had planned to go see my friend, Scott, in Oklahoma and he’s someone I had met through GCN. And the way it all worked out was, I guess behind the scenes a bunch of people had arranged some kind of meeting the same week that I went and when I got there I was kind of surprised. Standing at a restaurant, actually, and here this guy walks in with this huge smile on his face and I was like—I just had no idea—and I said, “That looks like Justin!”
BILL: And it was Justin. So, it was kind of a surprise.
JUSTIN: I forgot about that, because it was a surprise that I was going to be there.
BILL: Yeah, it was a huge surprise. I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea.
JUSTIN: I wasn’t going to be able to go. It was the first ever get-together for GCN.
BILL: Informal gathering, yeah.
BRIAN: About what year are we talking about on this?
BILL: Oh maybe two years ago. It was fun.
BRIAN: That’s great.
JUSTIN: Bill’s been with the group for forever. He’s been at GCN from ‘olden days’.
BILL: I’ve seen it grow from, like, eighty-something members to six hundred or something members, maybe more now.
JUSTIN: I think we’re past 850 now.
BRIAN: We’re close to, we’re closing in on a thousand.
BILL: It’s extrapolating.
BRIAN: So, Bill, you’ve come to GCN. You’re very, very involved. You’re one of the most creative writers, I think, that I’ve seen. What is it that you do?
BILL: Well, the real exciting story of my life is that I work in a book store.
BILL: I work at Barnes & Noble, but I’m an artist.
BRIAN: That’s every gay boy’s dream, to work in a book store or a coffee shop. Do you enjoy it?
BILL: Yeah, it’s fun. I’ve been working in books for over ten years and before I worked at Barnes & Noble I worked at three different Christian book stores. So, I’m a book boy.
BRIAN: That’s great.
JUSTIN: I used to go to Christian book stores all the time to get some Christian music. I have a huge collection of contemporary Christian music, Christian rock bands and alternative bands and all that kind of stuff.
BILL: Oh yeah, that’s one thing about Justin when I first got into GCN. We had a string, at one point, about old alternative Christian bands or contemporary Christian bands. And one thing about GCN that was so unique was that here’s the group of people that of course we all have being gay and being Christian in common but a lot of us had a lot of that old contemporary Christian music. It was kind of interesting.
BRIAN: What are some of the groups that you like?
BILL: I was thinking of alternative bands and stuff…
JUSTIN: Right. Like, the Choir? Did you listen to the choir?
BRIAN: It’s really cool that you have that connection. Bill, now if I understand, you grew up being Christian, correct?
BILL: Yeah, Methodist.
BRIAN: Methodist, okay. Now, when did you come out?
BILL: It was probably five or six years ago when I became fully aware to myself, but I didn’t really come out to my family until about two or three years ago. And that was in conjunction with this art show that I did. It was at a gay coffee house, so they kind of needed to know why my art show was there.
BRIAN: I got ya’.
BRIAN: How have you done so far, how have things gone for you with that process?
BILL: I admit to a lot of… there’s still a lot of things that I haven’t reconciled, and I don’t know that I ever will reconcile everything. And I don’t know that you always have to. One thing with me is the struggle with being gay and being catholic. So for me, it’s something that I have that I can think about it a lot and drive myself crazy, or a lot of times it’s just take a breather and think, “You know, there’s a lot more things in life than just figuring this one issue out.”
JUSTIN: I know that struggle is not fun at all, I went through it for many years. But for the sake of the group, I’m glad that you have struggled as you have because you’ve been one of the primary influences in making sure that the group is a place that is welcoming to people, no matter where they are theologically on this issue. Because you’ve always encouraged us to stay focused on helping both sides: both the people who come out in favor of same-sex relationships and marriages and those who want to be celibate, as well as those who are somewhere in the middle still trying to figure things out.
BILL: Yeah, I think God calls us to a standard of truth and a standard of living that is way outside of what we would do on our own. He’s called us to something that is a challenge. And a lot of times we take the top of the mountain, so to speak, and say that’s where God wants us to be and we condemn everyone who hasn’t made it to the top of the mountain yet, because you have to take every step in between to get there. I think for me, I feel like people at GCN or just people in general are on that mountain trying to get to the top, but they may be falling every now and then, or stumbling, or getting lost on their way. But every one of those steps is valid, I think. And I don’t know if that’s helpful or not!
BRIAN: Oh, I think it is, and I think that it just reinforces that everyone is on a journey and that all of us are at different points on that journey. And if we can support each other in that, I think that that’s a very, very good thing and I think that that’s one of the best things about GCN.
BILL: One thing I like about GCN is that Justin has always made it really clear that I was welcome there, because felt like I never really fit into… I never really did the ex-gay thing because it just didn’t make sense to me to start with, but then there were other groups, maybe gay groups online that I didn’t fit into because of my Christian beliefs or maybe even my moral beliefs which, you know, I’m still trying to figure that out. But at GCN I always felt like I could sit there next to somebody who had very different beliefs than myself and I never once felt forced or manipulated by anybody, I just felt welcomed. And I’d even seen people learn from each other, and on other groups, they might just have a wall between them. But on GCN they’re tolerant and friendly and such good folks.
JUSTIN: The community is amazing to me. It’s a wonderful group of people. I’m always surprised about how many people first come to GCN and one of the first things they say is “I don’t know if I’ll fit in here.” Because so many of us, we’re used to not fitting in in any other Christian group, any other gay group, we’re somewhere in the middle, we’re struggling with different issues, we don’t exactly know what we believe on this or that. People come to GCN and hopefully are overwhelmed with the way that they are loved and embraced by the community and that you don’t have to agree with this or that doctrine in order to be part of the group. And you don’t have to be most typical gay person or whatnot.
BRIAN: Another question I had for you, Bill, is what advice would you have for some of our newer folks or younger folks who are just coming out, dealing with parents, reconciling their religion and trying to just grapple with this whole thing? What would you tell them?
BILL: There’s so much of it that I’m still grappling with myself that I don’t know if I’d be the one to be able to point the clear path for them. But there’s a couple of things that I’ve learned. Part of it is having a couple of good friends, especially like through GCN. That’s just been wonderful in terms of your own sense of who you are. Bumping up against a couple of other people helps so much. The other thing would be that a lot of times we’re offered easy answers from the gay camp or the Christian camp, and I don’t know that we need to settle for those answers. I think that what we need to do is learn to ask better questions, give ourselves a lot of time and a lot of patience, and not beat ourselves up if we don’t know the answers. It’s okay not to know. And I guess another thing is just practicing loving our neighbor in all the different forms of love that God gives us, and not making finding a ‘romantic partner’ or something like that the be all to end all. You know, we can find our satisfaction in Christ and then if we can find something else, if we can find a love relationship that’s great, if we can find friendship to support us, that’s great. But I think maybe sometimes we don’t reach far enough in loving, that we think love is finding a partner and I think sometimes that can be a little limiting.
BRIAN: So have you found that satisfaction from your relationship with God and other friends? Have you found contentment in what you just described?
BILL: I am finding it through my friends and even more through my family than ever before. We’ve gotten very close. But I want to be with someone too and I haven’t figured out how all that works. But I’m not giving up.
BRIAN: Me neither!
BILL: I’m not giving up, and being Catholic too, there’s all kinds of apparent contradictions involved. And I have to put it all in God’s lap. I don’t know where I’ll end up or who I’ll meet, but if I’m seeking God then I think God will bring me something.
BRIAN: Do you like your church? Is it an accepting church?
BILL: I would say for the most part, yeah. They accept me where I’m at, and…
BRIAN: Are you out there?
BILL: Oh, I’m out to everybody. I’m out to everybody but I’m not flying flags, or…
BRIAN: You’re not wearing rainbow t-shirts?
BILL: Yeah. Like, if somebody knows my and they’re my friend, they eventually know that about me. I don’t hide my orientation from people, but I don’t flaunt it or anything.
JUSTIN: For me, that’s incredibly healthy, because it’s saying, “This is a part of my life, a part of who I am. And if you know me well enough to know things like this about me, then you’ll know it. But it’s not what defines me and it’s not what I need to let the lady in the line behind me in the grocery store know.
BILL: Exactly. Plus, I don’t really come off that way for the most part. There’s a couple of telltale Bette Midler CD’s in the house somewhere, but… [laughter] I think for the most part, most people who meet me don’t know anything about me, but they get to know me and they’re like, “Oh, you’re gay.” Oh yeah, I happen to be gay, and they’re like, “Okay, well, a new thing about Bill.”
BRIAN: Well, we’re running kind of out of time. As we go, Bill, anything that you’d like to add?
BILL: Oh, one thing I’d like to say. There’s a lot of people who maybe come to GCN and read the posts or maybe hear about the chats and the get-togethers and feel for some reason that they can’t post or maybe they’re shy and something like that. I would encourage you if you want to get to know us to take a step, maybe do an Intro post, make a couple of friends that way.
JUSTIN: There are certainly a lot of great people on the site and I know that anybody who joins is going to be welcome. And if for any reason they’re not, feel free to e-mail any of the three of us, I know we will all help welcome people.
JUSTIN: Well, Bill, thank you so much for joining us today.
BILL: It’s been great talking to you guys.
JUSTIN: Kill Bill is in theaters right now.
BILL: It was so funny how people made such a big deal about the violence in The Passion of Christ and yet they turn around and just praise Kill Bill and run out to see it! I think that’s kind of an odd thing. I don’t know.
JUSTIN: Well, it has Uma Thurman in it.
BILL: I know, I want to see Uma Thurman kicking butt, but…
JUSTIN: I’m not much for violent movies…
BILL: Me neither!
JUSTIN: … but I thought I would help promote your film there.
BILL: Cool. I think my next films are going to be Troy and Alexander.
JUSTIN: Well thanks very much for being on the show, and you can listen to us on the web at www.gaychristian.net/gcnradio. And send your comments and suggestions to Brian at email@example.com or to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRIAN: Absolutely. And we’ll look forward to seeing everyone next time. So from Muncie, Indiana, I’m Brian…
JUSTIN: And from Raleigh, I’m Justin. Have a great one!