Time for a hard truth. If you’re a single LGBTQ Christian who would like to be in a relationship with someone who shares your faith, you’ll have to move. Like every rule, this one has exceptions. But if you’re pinning your hopes and aspirations on being the outlier, you’re setting yourself up for a battle that is sufficiently uphill already.
When I met David I was living in New York City and he in Los Angeles. I’d visited Los Angeles and had fun, but I’d never had any desire to live there. The sprawl, the cars, the freeways, the constant sun—it’s just not my thing. We first came across each other online, but to me he was just some good looking guy who sounded like a faithful disciple, whom I’d never consider dating. Things changed when we met in person. I’ve written before about the weekend we met, so I won’t go into details here, but my Facebook check-in at JFK airport when I returned from that trip read “I’m back, NY. I love you. We need to talk.” I wasn’t about to make any reckless life-altering decisions, but suddenly the thought of heading west seemed enticing.
At that point, David and I were very explicitly not seeking a relationship with each other. I said I was thinking of leaving New York and looking for jobs in California. He encouraged me as a friend, but kept me emotionally at arm’s length. (Well, sort of; I received snail mail from him devised to keep me interested.) I didn’t want to start a relationship while we lived apart, but I also didn’t want my move to come with an expectation that we would start dating once I got to L.A. I thought moving under the presumption that we’d be together would create too much pressure and would most likely prevent anything meaningful from actually developing.
So why did I move, if there was no promise that we’d actually end up together? If there was no commitment? I had a job I truly loved, with co-workers I cherished. I had good friends, and had found a great church. I was even involved in starting Grafted NYC, a group that has fostered a vibrant, warm LGBTQ Christian community in the city. In many ways, New York City and I had never been happier together. It was hard to break up, and foolish to do it for a guy who, from what little I knew of him, had nothing but hang-ups about being in a relationship.
I moved because I slowly became convinced that as much as I still love New York City, and as much as I still belong there, I wasn’t going to find there the kind of relationship I was seeking. I didn’t know if that relationship was to be found in California. I had a good feeling about David, but wasn’t sure we’d continue to like each other upon closer inspection. In short, I wasn’t sure where I would ultimately end up—in all honesty, I thought I would eventually find myself back in Manhattan. All I knew for certain was that I felt God calling me to go forth, trusting that He would somehow bless me. And He has, beyond my expectations.
Our story is backward in that I moved before we were dating. More realistically, moving starts with long-distance dating. The idea for this article came last weekend, when we met for breakfast with a couple we know in Seattle. One of them just recently moved from Houston, where he still owns a house and has a good network of friends. They’re still in the dating stage of their relationship, but their willingness to make that move got David and me thinking about all the other friends we have who are married, engaged, or in serious relationships. Almost every couple we know started out, in one way or another, long distance. And I don’t mean Hollywood-to-Santa-Monica or Harlem-to-Brooklyn long distance:
There are our friends in Nebraska who were only able to visit a handful of times before one of them moved from South Carolina the week of their wedding. There are our friends getting married in Kansas City next year who still live 400 miles apart. There’s a guy we know in Texas who’s getting serious with his boyfriend, who is local, but by local we mean in the same state—and that’s a really big state. And then there are our friends here in Portland who met when one of them was living in France—they’re now raising a beautiful child together.
The list could go on. The point is, the dating pool when you’re a gay Christian is small. Limiting it to your town makes it miniscule. Even in cities that have a thriving gay Christian community, your chances of dating and marrying someone local aren’t great. What ends up happening in those cases is that you develop a strong, and much-needed tribe—a tight-knit fellowship of people who understand you better than anyone. Your gay Christian friends become your family, especially when you’ve only recently begun to reconcile your faith and sexuality. You automatically friendzone each other because no one wants to hurt the dynamics of the group or make it unwelcoming to people who aren’t ready yet to go on dates.
So let me repeat. If you’re a LGBTQ Christian who wants to date another LGBTQ Christian, you’re gonna have to move. “But only one of us has to move,” you’ll protest. “I just need to find someone who wants to move to where I live.” You have a point, but no. Relationship, I’ve learned, requires a great deal of risk and a great deal of effort. If you’re already heaping all of the risk on the other person while you’re only willing to dish up the reward, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. The possibility of you moving must be on the table.
It may be that other considerations make it impossible for you to move. You may decide that in the end, what you’d be giving up would be too high a price to pay for a relationship. And that’s fair. Moving is also no guarantee that you’ll meet the guy of your dreams and fall in love. But if being in a relationship is something you prioritize, perhaps it’s time to step out of your geographical comfort zone and start racking up those airline miles.
Photo by Hernán Piñera used with permission through Flickr Creative Commons.
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram: