"Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community" by Andrew Marin. IVP Books, 2009.

Andrew Marin describes himself as "a straight, white, conservative, Bible-believing, evangelical male" who "wanted absolutely nothing to do with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community." In his book "Love Is An Orientation," he reveals, "Homosexuality just grossed me out," and he "used derogatory language about gay people without ever thinking twice."

So why do I like Marin so much?

When three of his best friends came out to him within three months, he told one, "I believe that being gay is a sin. It’s a choice. You can change. You’re going to hell."

But his attitude began to change in May 2007 when Jerry Falwell died. After hearing a barrage of negative comments on CNN from leaders of the LGBT community, he says, it didn’t matter whether what was said was true. What was important was the perception.

"Perception is reality," he says and the impasse between the LGBT and evangelical communities would "never be breeched unless Christians are the first ones to humble themselves." To close that gap, he decided to move to Boystown in Chicago and created a non-profit organization to build bridges between the two sides.

He says he learned that Christians are completely wrong about what they think gays and lesbians believe. Through his experiences, he gains an understanding of how Christians have hurt the LGBT community.

"Christianity hasn’t historically given many GLBT people the warm and comfortable feelings about being safe," he says. And despite his religious background, he says that he "never met a more loving community than the GLBT community."

Marin became involved in LGBT churches in Boystown and says he never tried to change anyone’s orientation. But he claims that after awhile people came to him, claiming that God caused them to question their orientation. God or a lifetime of religious guilt, I wonder.

So why do I find Marin so likeable? I’m not entirely sure. Maybe I like his humble approach, his belief that his side needs to bend first. I appreciate his honest assessment of the Christian right’s mischaracterization of the LGBT community. I admire his gutsy move into a gay neighborhood and participation in it to foster understanding. Gutsy? Well, I could never move to Plano.

But maybe I can appreciate these things about him only because I grew up in an accepting, loving, liberal Jewish home. I am a curious, but ultimately indifferent, outsider from his evangelical world that he now understands has hurt so many in our community.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 21, 2009.
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