I would like to preface this post by saying I have full consent from said friend. This is not to exploit him in any way, but rather to bring light to the approach in which Christians are taking to the LGBTQ community and possibly why previous approaches haven’t been working.
I met Tyler during this odd event that often occurred at ORU called Roommate Date. Ah, the good ole roommate date. Roommate Date is when your roommate chooses a date for you and vice versa. Unless you are already dating someone, in which case your date is already chosen of course. And if you don’t have a roommate, someone on your floor is given the opportunity to choose your date. My current roommate’s date was Tyler.
My first impression of Tyler was this tall, skinny, white boy with the thickest Alabama accent I’d ever heard. I was raised in Florida and had only been in Oklahoma for about 2 months at this time so southern accents like his were not very common in my world. Regardless, he was super fun to be around and I wanted to make an effort to make sure we stayed friends. I later invited him to my friend Tielor’s birthday dinner and the rest, as they say, is history.
As Tielor and I got close, Tielor and Tyler got close. (Now imagine me telling this story out loud. Lots of confusion.) And because Tielor and Tyler were getting close, by default, Tyler and I got close. The closer I became with Tyler, the more I realized he had feminine mannerisms. But, I didn’t think twice about it. Maybe he’d struggled with it in high school and is overcoming. It wasn’t my business.
As the years went on, the three of us became pretty much inseparable. It didn’t affect Tielor and my relationship at all. It was basically like hanging out with my two best friends all the time, except one of them I just happened to be dating at the time.
One day, Tyler and I went to go get food late at night. We were sitting in the parking lot of this fast food restaurant (I wish I could remember which one) and Tyler came out to me. I wasn’t surprised. He’d hinted at it a lot and I’d always brushed it off. Maybe something in me always knew and just didn’t care. I wish I could remember exactly what he said or how he said it but I just remember looking at him, nodding, and saying, “Okay.” I didn’t scream and say how he’d go to hell. I wasn’t mad. I just accepted it. And I think that’s where my struggle began.
From then on, he became more and more open about his homosexuality to me. In some cases, it made me feel uncomfortable. But, as time went on, I simply brushed it off. He knew what the Bible had to say about homosexuality. He knew how God felt about it. He knew how I felt about. He’s a grown man and I wasn’t going to tell him how to live his life.
Tyler later came out and told me he was considering transitioning into a woman. THIS is when it became real to me. I’m not sure why his coming out as gay didn’t bother me but him transitioning did. The night he told me, I went back to my room and my mind began to race. Hormones are reversible, yes but surgery is not. What if he doesn’t come back to Jesus before he commits to surgery? If he does come back to Jesus after surgery, will Jesus take him back? Surely… maybe…
So what do I do when I have questions like this? I pray. So I did and God’s response was, “I love him.” Okay God, duh but like what do I do?
Love him like I love him.
So that’s what I did. Tyler knew where I stood in all of this, yet I stuck by his side. I didn’t shy away from his transition. I didn’t embrace it either. However, I wasn’t ashamed to be his friend. Jesus wasn’t ashamed to hang out with prostitutes and tax collectors so why should I be ashamed to hang out with someone who I’d been best friends with for 3 years?
However, my prayers became a little lackluster. I went from fervently praying on Tyler’s behalf to basically being like, “Jesus, you know what’s up.” I eventually stopped praying altogether.
June 12, 2016, I woke up to get ready for work and instantly got on Twitter. (I was addicted to social media, okay. Judge me.) I instantly was flooded with news and articles of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. I wept. I wept like a baby. I want to weep writing this right now. So many lives. So many innocent people. And a horrific thought came to mind.
“That could have been Tyler.”
I wept even more. My heart began to race at the thought of my best friend never being able to spend eternity with His savior.
That’s when the prayers became more fervent. I slowly, but surely, shied away from talking about his relationship and transitioning because it started to genuinely make me feel uncomfortable. Not in an “ew, this is disgusting” way but in an “I can’t allow my best friend to continue to live like this” way.
Fast forward to last month when he decided to rededicate his life to Jesus 🙌🏾. I’m not sure if it was anything I did besides pray and be there. And having him respond to my excitement with “I couldn’t have done it without you…” is what makes it all worth it. It’s what makes the night of prayer, the waking up in the middle of the night because Jesus told me to pray, the crying over the Pulse Nightclub shooting all worth it.
My whole purpose of sharing this is because so many Christians abhor the thought of going out with those who aren’t saved. I can’t even walk into the bar area of Buffalo Wild Wings without someone from ORU shooting me a dirty look. News flash: I’m 22 and graduated. And your opinion of me never mattered anyway. But I digress…
My point: Tyler is my best friend. Gay. Straight. Bisexual. Transexual. Black. White. Purple people eater. He’s a human being that Jesus died for. Just like He died for you and me. And Jesus loves him. Just like He loves you and me. Just like He loves Caitlyn Jenner. Just like He loves RuPaul. And yes, I hear you. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Got it. And yes, there is a balance to it without compromising your faith. But it’s so amazing how so many people stopped being friends with Tyler after he became Courtney. So many people talked bad about him behind his back. Some even to me! Yet, when he decided to come back to Jesus, those very same people congratulated him, calling him and commenting on his facebook about how proud they are of him.
You can be a Christian and still have gay friends. Though Tyler has rededicated his life, I would still love him regardless of his sexual orientation. You can still love Christ and love people. But, you can’t claim to love people if you’re homophobic. Trust me when I say that members of the LGBTQ community respect your views. But in 2017, can we put the homophobia away and just love? Is it too hard to ask?
I want to give a shoutout to the Breedloves, Serena, and everyone else in my life who continually challenged me to never give up on Tyler. Love y’all ❤️