(Trigger warning: LGBTQ Christian voices being silenced)
In September, I was invited to speak at a Christian conference out of Vancouver. I was really excited, because they wanted to include LGBTQ Christian voices, and I love speaking about such things! Their conference is in January 2021, and due to Covid, all virtual. Because of that, they asked the speakers to film their 30 minute workshops so they could stream them the day of the conference.
In October, I wrote what was on my heart to share: owning my gay Christian story. They approved and were really encouraging about my outline. In November, with the help of my pastor and friend Bradley, I filmed and edited the workshop (no small feat), and sent it over.
In mid-December, the founder of the conference reached out to me to say that they have come to a very difficult decision: they have to cut the LGBTQ workshops out of their conference. (I believe there was one other one besides mine.)
Since then, we have exchanged emails, and had a very honest and lengthy conversation on Zoom. (Which was tough – but encouraging too. People these days tend to not want to have hard conversations, so I really appreciate that openness.) They are a fairly new conference, and I know this has not been an easy decision for them. It has caused grief and heartache. I say this because I want to point out that I don’t believe there are clear cut “good guys” and “bad guys” in these situations. We are all imperfect people, trying our best to love each other and navigate this journey of life. But yes – this still hurts.
I want to be really careful about speaking on their behalf. So I’m going to share their official announcement in regards to cancelling the workshops here: (this was posted on their Facebook page)
The reasons they decided to cut the LGBTQ workshops are not the main focus for me here. The focus for me is this: I was invited to the table to share because of who I am. And then I was asked to leave for the same reason. In December 2020, in (liberal Canadian) Vancouver, this still happens. LGBTQ Christians are still being asked not to share.
As a gay Christian, this strikes a painful chord that resonates deep, almost like that feeling when you bite on tinfoil. Like so many gay people, I have a long history of being hurt and silenced by “the church” and by some “Christians”. This situation brings a lot of that past trauma to the surface.
It dredges up the same old fears:
Is my voice not valued?
Am I not valued?
Do I not belong?
Should I stop sharing?
On behalf of myself and the LGBTQ Christian community, I have this to say: I am angry. And that is good. Anger is necessary here. This is unjust. This is not okay.
But I refuse to use this energy to destroy, or to be malicious. I will let it fuel me towards the greater good, and I will forge ahead. Because I have and will make missteps and hurt people, and I need to practice radical grace for others, if that’s what I hope to receive. Even though it’s hard, I want to keep talking, keep learning, keep growing.
I will choose to forgive, because as someone who follows Jesus and not a specific institution, I believe it’s the best thing for my heart, my faith and my integrity. But I won’t rush to fix the hurt, because I need to feel this.
For those of you for whom this also brings up past hurts, please hear me: I am here for you. I will stand up for you. When I am quiet, and I let the fears calm, there is a louder and steadfast truth that reverberates from inside: I AM valued. My voice IS valued. I DO belong. God is – in fact – proud of me for sharing.
But. Make. No. Mistake.
I will not be silenced. I plan to release my video workshop in January when I am ready, and on my own terms. I think it may actually hold more meaning because of what has transpired.
This has happened to me before, and it will no doubt happen to me again. This is why I wrote my book. This is why I will continue to speak when asked. This is why I choose to be visible.
I cannot call myself an advocate, and then shy away from these situations. I will stand up. Because it’s needed. Because many other LGBTQ Christian people are asked to be quiet, to leave, or to change who they are – and they may not have the energy or will to keep going.
There is still much work to be done. And I am here for it.
Is what I’ve been told
But it must be a lie
‘Cause the Spirit inside says I’m so much more
So let them say what they want
Oh I dare them to try
I’m gonna run
No, I’m gonna fly
I’m gonna know what it means to live
And not just be alive
The world’s gonna hear
‘Cause I’m gonna shout
And I will be dancing when circumstances drown the music out”
At the tail end of 2018, I joined the amazingly talented and tiny crew at Doberman Pictures in Vancouver, to work on this adorable DreamWorks preschool show, “Rhyme Time Town”. I threw myself headfirst into the beautiful-ness of this little show, and ever since then, I have painted my heart out on all the various locations. (Many of which are in this trailer – please, I beg of you, pause it on that town overview map, just to acknowledge my many hours?! I promise I will feel it, haha.)
I think this is the 13th or 14th show I have worked on – I think after ten you just stop counting, right? But this production may be the most beautiful one yet. I’m really proud of all my brushstrokes (that will be onscreen for 0.4 of a second, oof), and to work alongside this incredible crew.
It premieres on Netflix June 19th, and if you have or know any toddler-like or preschool children, I promise they will like it! And maybe, just for me, can you notice how carefully the trees were painted?!
So proud to have my name in the credits among this amazingly talented crew! 😀
My dear sweet little bean,
You don’t know it yet, but you are so entirely loved.
These past few weeks, the word miracle has taken shape inside of your Mama, and I have had the honor of having a front row seat to the unfolding of it all.
Let me tell you a little bit about how you got here. After all, your Mommies are a bit older and bound to forget some of the details one day.
My sweet little one, this road to bring you into our lives has not been the easiest, nor the most traditional. But as you will find in life, some of the most incredible things in life require the roughest road to getting there.
Your Mama and I went to a fertility clinic and tried six times to bring you into our lives. Each time, we were hopeful and our hearts filled with visions and dreams of what could be… until we heard “Sorry, not this time.” Little one, we shed many tears wondering why we had to wait, and what we were doing wrong. I have to be honest that my heart started to wonder if you would ever come into our lives.
We decided to try a very complicated process called Invitro Fertilization, or IVF, for our seventh – and final – try. [Maybe I will draw a story to explain how it works for you one day!] Your Mama gave herself many needles of medicine for many days, had two procedures, and then we waited and we prayed.
Photo of two fertilized embryos implanted on July 26, 2015: [the day after my birthday :D]
The day we were to find out if you were going to begin your journey to us, your Mama and I met over lunch time when we were both at work. We pulled over to the side of the road, and in the car we called the clinic and held our breath. When we heard those words: “You are pregnant!” – well my sweet child… that was the moment that our hearts burst with a joy I cannot properly put into words. Those tears were oh, so very sweet. And without the lows of the six no’s, the high of this seventh yes would be so much less sweet. And for that, little one, we are so grateful.
On this Thanksgiving weekend, we reflect on this season of waiting. It has brought your Mama and I closer together, and forced us to trust that the God we believe in, has it all under control, despite what we can see or feel. He has been so faithful to us through each step of this process. So in the end, we are thankful for this season of waiting, and for the tough lessons our hearts have learned. What a gift it has turned out to be – the slow and hard waiting, in this world of rushing from point A to point B. We are so thankful, knowing that the waiting will allow us to cherish your arrival that much more. For how can we enjoy the mountaintops without the valleys?
Your Mama and I have been together for many years, and we love each other so much. You will soon find out how incredible she is – she gives the best warm hugs, she cooks the most yummy meals, she will laugh at silly things with you, and she will have a calm wisdom for you when you don’t know if things will be okay. You will be so proud to share some of her genes, and I can’t wait to see how your little face bears an adorable resemblance to hers.
Your Mama, not me, is the one who is carrying you in her tummy right now. But my child, I am carrying you just as gently in my heart until we get to hold you in our arms. We just can’t wait to hold you, dance with you, stay up nights with you, pray for you, wipe the tears away and laugh alongside you.
My precious little bean, you should know that some people have their own opinion about the love your two mommies share. But my sweetheart, the world is sometimes scared of things that are different. I believe that the God who is knitting you together in Mama’s womb right now, is the same God who holds us together, and has blessed the life we have led together so far. We have made mistakes, but we have tried to love, and love well – and we believe that is the most important thing. The love we share is so ready and waiting for you. And through the years of loving each other, maybe we can all show the world that love is love, and family is family, no matter what it looks like.
Maybe you won’t remember, but I have been dancing with you already. I put my hand on Mama’s belly and then I may or may not listen to the latest Justin Bieber song and dance. I am sure one day you will put music on that I don’t understand, but I promise to dance with you anyway.
I pray that you will know what true compassion is, that you would see someone and not question whether or not to help. I hope that you will lead the sort of life who idolizes the Malalas, and not the Kardashians. I hope that you awake each day with a sense of hope and wonder, and embrace beauty in all things. I pray that we can share with you how love can heal, how forgiveness is powerful, how grace should always be the goal, and how to live a life that puts love first.
I know the label Christian is a scary one sometimes, but believe it or not, your Mommies still hold onto that label. Yes, we have been hurt and misunderstood by a lot of people who bear that label, but please keep in mind my little bean, that where the Kim Davis’ of the world exist, there are also the Mother Teresa’s. We have been hurt my little one, but we have also been loved so very well. We can’t wait to share with you why our faith is so important to us, and to see where your journey of life and discovery takes you.
We are trying to be patient these last few months… but we just can’t wait to meet you, Baby Chomiak.
Until then, my little one, keep growing strong.
6 week ultrasound:
8 week ultrasound:
13 week ultrasound: [Oct 2015, already sucking his/her thumb]
I was asked to do a few exploratory character designs for a project, and here is what I came up with! I tried a few different styles, and it was fun just to draw a few different versions of the character I had in my head.
Brush pen and pencil crayon:
**UPDATE: A shorter version of this story made it into Rachel’s book “Searching For Sunday“, so keep an eye out for it! So grateful to her for sharing so many important stories.
Since our little church Cove closed in May 2013, I have been wanting to write about it. Once I got past the shock, heartbreak and frustration… I felt this seed of hope and gratefulness welling up inside of me, until I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I kept feeling God asking me to write about it, but it was always, “Soon. Not yet but soon.”
Then we went to the GCN Conference in Chicago (my thoughts about our experience here) and I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel Held Evans in the flesh, as she was one of the keynote speakers. It was a fleeting moment of the weekend that I found myself sharing with her what happened with Cove, and she asked me to write a guest post about it. After believing I had misheard her, I enthusiastically nodded my head and began thanking God in advance that He arranged the story to come out in this way. On her blog. For her thousands of readers and 38.7K Twitter followers to see. What a tribute to these people of Cove and their real love.
So often there have been stories of LGBT members being kicked out of their churches, and this one is so different. It needs to be heard.
She posted the story yesterday morning, and I have since been blown away by the amount of positive encouragement people have gotten from it, and how they have responded. [Not to mention the 1600+ Facebook shares????]
For such a small church in a suburb of a Canadian city – this is a BIG DEAL. At least… to me it is. I wanted to tell this story for all my LGBT brothers and sisters who are losing faith in the church, and more importantly – in God. There is hope, friends! God is FOR you. Just give his people a chance to prove that. Just like these beautiful people did. I am in awe at this kind of love lived out in such a real way.
This is God’s story of hope, and of unconditional love, and I truly hope that comes through.
What an honor.
Rachel, my sister in Christ, I cannot thank you enough.
This past weekend I was asked to participate in a panel discussion at the Canadian Youth Workers Convention – an annual conference for youth workers both in the church, and outside the church. But primarily, this is mostly attended by youth pastors, and those who work with youth at church. This year it was held in downtown Vancouver.
Now, let me preface this with saying that after many years of turmoil in my soul, and finally receiving the gift of complete peace regarding my sexuality and faith fitting together — and truly coming “out” in 2010 — I did feel a sense of responsibility. I have said this before, but I know I fall into a minority of a minority. While we hear a lot more from the gay community these days… we don’t hear too much from the gay CHRISTIAN community. Let’s face it, in most people’s eyes, those two communities are at odds.
I have felt strongly within, that God has asked me to 1 – be authentic, and 2 – give grace, grace and more grace. And if that means telling my story when asked, then do it. If that means just living my life and not being ashamed to bring up “my wife” to other Christians, then do it. Or conversely, if it means bringing up “my faith” to my gay friends, then do that as well. In the last few months, God has opened some doors for me to speak a bit more about my experience growing up in the church, and struggling with my sexuality.
And sometimes, that’s pretty stinking scary. If I am being totally honest – the scariest crowd for me to speak to is Christians. Sadly in my experience – they have been the most hurtful. But I have so much compassion for that – because I know where it is coming from. That’s where I used to be. What a gift that is, actually. I can not judge, because I was once there. And God has grace, patience and forgiveness for every step along this journey – so how can I not also extend the same? That is literally the least I can do.
I am so thankful for Iona Snair and Carmen Rempel who extended the invitation for me to lend my voice to a panel talking about marginalized youth. I was representing the struggles our LGBT youth can have, especially growing up in the church. I knew, looking out into that crowd, that most likely they would fall into the Conservative category. That perhaps the issue of LGBT in the church was still quite black and white to them. That’s why we made the decision that I wouldn’t reveal my own sexuality until the end of the panel. We didn’t want them to discredit everything I had to say before they could hear it. I know many people who wouldn’t listen after the word “gay” is hanging in the air. After all, it’s not about me – it’s about loving the struggling youth in our churches better.
I stood up there and realized that in minutes I would come out to this entire room of strangers. After so many years of hiding in these exact settings, this was both a very terrifying and liberating feeling. But I knew God would walk me through this, as He always has this whole time.
Afterwards, I had quite a few people come up to me, that had some great feedback. They had youth in their youth group that had just come out, and they wanted to know what NOT to say, or how to support them better. That is awesome. You know, even if we don’t all agree on this, I think we can agree that we all need to love each other better.
I did have one person afterwards, and what she did say, well it hurt. She asked me if I was still gay today, and how I got to that conclusion. She said that she felt very strongly that God has told her there is no grey on this issue – that God is against it. And we should not be “preaching” to support it. She was very nice about it, I could tell she was very sincere, but she told me that she needed to caution me. She said that if I keep speaking, I will be building a gay army, and one day God will judge me harshly for that.
Now, while I had maybe 5 or 6 very positive people giving me feedback, of course this was the one that stuck in my heart. I spent so many years asking God about this, is this wrong, I want to do the right thing. And the thought of me building an army basically against God… there’s is nothing much more terrifying than that.
But after talking with close friends, my wife, and praying about this, I realized something. None of us know for sure if what we are doing is right. And we can all feel strongly that God is telling us something. My only responsibility in this is 1 – love others better and 2 – speak the truth I feel in my soul. And so I cannot fault this girl for doing that either.
I just don’t feel that God will judge me harshly for my life today. He sees my heart, and He knows my intentions. There is a tension and a struggle in putting myself out there, and putting a face to the gay Christian community. I know I may be putting myself in the cross-hairs. But someone needs to be a face for it, if even so the church doesn’t say “we don’t agree with that” but “Oh, that’s the girl we don’t agree with – let’s talk to her.”
I hope I can help build an army. An army of people who want to love better. Who want to use their talents for others and not just for themselves. Who extend grace, compassion and patience to those who don’t deserve it. Who are not made up of gay or straight, but just PEOPLE. We are all in this together, you guys.
Let’s keep the conversation going – but above all – at the end of the day, let’s make sure we are loving better.