Speaking the Truth in Love
Gary came to New Haven in the summer of 1989 to say a proper farewell. My best friend from undergraduate years at Yale was dying of AIDS.
During the week he stayed with my family, we went to films together, we drank wine and laughed, we had long, sober talks about politics and literature and the gospel and sex and such. Above all, we listened to music. Some of it was nostalgic music: the record of our college singing group, which Gary had directed with passionate precision; music of the '60s, recalling the years when we marched together against the Vietnam War -- Beatles, Byrds, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell.
We prayed together often that week, and we talked theology. It became clear that Gary had come not only to say goodbye but also to think hard, before God, about the relation between his homosexuality and his Christian faith. He was angry at the self-affirming gay Christian groups, because he regarded his own situation as more complex and tragic than their stance could acknowledge. He also worried that the gay subculture encouraged homosexual believers to "draw their identity from their sexuality" and thus to shift the ground of their identity subtly and idolatrously away from God.
For more than 20 years, Gary had grappled with his homosexuality, experiencing it as a compulsion and an affliction. Now, as he faced death, he wanted to talk it all through again from the beginning, because he knew my love for him and trusted me to speak without dissembling. For Gary, there was no time to dance around the hard questions. As Dylan had urged, "Let us not talk falsely now; the hour is getting late."