One Mercy Street

“She pictures a soul with no leaks at the seam.” – Peter Gabriel


Schopenhauer said that “through our deeds we discover who we are”.  He was, no doubt, wrong; but there is something terrifying in the thought, no less.

In every gay or bisexual person’s life, there is a moment where some action has occurred — some deed of discovery — and from that moment nothing is the same anymore.  You might call this the moment of lost innocence, the moment of awakening, the moment of the knowledge of good and evil.  But whatever you call it, that moment colors everything, from that day forward.  You are no longer one of us, but one of them.

My moment was looking at a picture of Jim Palmer, the famous pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles.  But this was not a picture of him pitching, or fielding, or giving an interview.  It was an underwear advertisement, and my interest was focused on one spot, one fold in the fabric of the small white briefs the man was wearing.

I was 11 years old.

And that was it, as far as I was concerned.  Through my deed, I discovered who I was.  I was a pervert.  I was “gay”.  I was doomed.

I did not give up hope that day, but I did begin to hate myself.  And I had no antidote for the hate, because God knows I wasn’t going to tell anyone.  Every word my family spoke casually about gay people dug into me like a knife.  Loneliness enveloped me.  I was loved by my images, nothing more.  They held me, they accepted me, they knew me.

I was my desires, and my desires took me as I was.

This was a beautiful dream, in some ways.  But with it came self-hatred like you wouldn’t believe.  I despised myself for over a decade, silent in my pain and yearning, self-destructive, self-obsessed, and self-negating.  Through my deeds, I discovered “who I was”, and it was not a pretty sight.

Then I fell upon a path quite by mistake, a path that totally turned the tables on me.  One day I was tricked into telling my brother the truth, and he showed me pure acceptance, pure love.  Not a love that said, “Whatever you do is good, Daniel”, but a love that said, “You are good, and you are forgiven.  I will never leave you.  You are safe.”

They came out of my brother’s mouth, but they were my Father’s words.

Since that moment, twelve years ago, the world has been new.  The same horizon looms — the same temptation, the same sin, the same loneliness, the same weakness — but something new rises above it.  Mercy.

In mercy, there is freedom.  Freedom to say, “I like guys” and not feel like a monster.  Freedom to think seriously about how things like pornography can be harmful, not just to think of them as “forbidden”.  And — most of all — freedom to love and be loved, to know and be known, to be seen naked and to get past the shame.

Oh, but there is so much more freedom just around the corner!  And it all begins there: on the path of mercy.

Schopenhauer, then, was gravely wrong.  It is not through my deeds that I discover who I am; it is through God’s mercy.  God has one name for me: beloved.  I did nothing to earn it, and I can do nothing to live it down.  His name is Mercy; and my named is Loved.  This blog will be by turns serious and silly, passionate and casual, inspired and obtuse — but behind it all it is only one thing: a witness to what God is doing in my life.

If I can live up to that, then I may boast that it will be an excellent blog.  Not because I can do anything worthy, but because God can.  Through his mercy, I discover who I am.