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Todd Clayton Headshot

Dear Evangelical Church, You're Wrong About The Gays.

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At 5:50 a.m., like aural lava, my alarm started erupting from my bedside table and burning my ears. It was still dark, so I pulled my hand from under the sheets and reached left, searching for my phone. Apparently, it had fallen during the night, and wasn't where I'd left it six hours earlier, so my palm met the bare, cold wood of my nightstand, and I grunted.

"Come on," I protested. The screaming continued, ceaselessly slicing away at my patience. I threw the covers from my body, and shivered as the early morning air taunted my bare chest. When I finally got my phone, which was smirking at me from under my bed, I decided I didn't want to write that morning anymore.

"Screw this." I reset my alarm for 7:30 and settled into my well-deserved slumber. I resolved to write that night after work.

Like sweet, spring songbirds, the chimes gently woke me two hours later. This time, the phone was right where I'd left it, and I stayed snugly wrapped in my blankets while my hand snuck out, silenced the alarm, and came back to the warmth. I grabbed the headboard behind me, and arched my body -- stretching, sighing: the sun was pushing through my blinds, and the room was peppered with light. I sat up, threw my legs over the side of my bed, grabbed my towel, and walked down the hall to the shower.

After breakfast -- Froot Loops and French press coffee -- I finished getting ready, grabbed my lunch from the fridge, threw my messenger bag over my shoulder, and walked out the door.
Few times in my life have I been so surprised, so excited that I've stopped moving, planted my feet, and felt my jaw rush toward the ground. On my porch, across the burnt red floor and next to the wrought iron fire pit, my boyfriend was sitting, his back against one of the columns, reading the book I'd gave him the week before.

"What are you doing here?" I grinned as I walked over to him.

"Well, you told me last night you were going to go to a coffee shop and write, so I thought I'd come with you." I grabbed his face with both of my hands, pulling him closer, and kissed him. I could feel him smiling.

"And then I never came outside, because I decided not to go this morning, so you just waited for me." He coyly nodded, and handed me two bags of cookies and buttermilk biscuits.

"I made these for you last night." I kissed him again, this time slipping my fingers around the back of his head and scratching his hair.

"You are the sweetest boy," I said.

"I'm glad you think so," he said. "You better get to work or you're going to be late." We walked down the steps toward the street, and when we got to my car he gave me one more go-get-'em kiss.

Two years earlier, I was sitting in my friend's office, my friend who happens to be a pastor, and we were talking about a lesbian couple he had counseled.

"They kept insisting that they were in love, Todd, and that nothing was different about them. But I told them, I said, 'You might be in love, I don't doubt that, but gay people can never experience true intimacy.' You know what I mean?" He sat back in his chair and sighed, not knowing his words cut through my ribs and scarred my racing heart.

"Huh," I responded. I'd tell him 10 months later that I was gay, and that those words were some of the most hurtful I'd ever heard.

Kirk Cameron recently stated that homosexuality is "unnatural... detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization."

This last year, I've learned something incredibly important: that my friend was wrong, profoundly, painfully, perfectly wrong: we can experience intimacy. Real, challenging, transformative intimacy -- the kind that fights, and cries, and wrestles, and laughs. The kind that sits on porches, waits, and sends you, speechless, into the morning light. I'm still searching for the parts of my life that tear at the moral and social fabric of this country.

"Have a good day, Todd," he said, before closing my car door. I rested my head on the top of the steering wheel and beamed, the corners of my mouth creeping toward the sky like they do when maybe -- just maybe -- you're falling in love.

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