Growing up in the late ’90s and early aughts, I didn’t know a single girl who didn’t try to learn every move to the “Bye, Bye, Bye” dancer, or who wouldn’t have given her right arm to run her fingers through Justin Timberlake’s spring-curled hair. (The arm/finger thing might have presented a problem, but that only illustrates our commitment.) ‘N Sync was to our high school experience what the Backstreet Boys was to junior high and, from what I hear, what Michael Jackson was to those of you unfortunate enough to grow up in the ’80s. But I digress.
When Lance Bass came out in 2006, he had a great deal of support. His bandmate Joey Fatone said “I back him up 100 percent,” and his friend Christina Applegate told People Magazine she’s “always accepted him as who he is. It’s about his own serenity at this point.”
The support that was closest to home, though, came from Bass’s parents–especially his mom. A devout Christian, she had a hard time with the news of his being gay at first. But, in a transcript from a recent talk she gave at a church, she says “the ﬁrst thing I did was fall to my knees and ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’ I almost immediately knew the answer… love my son. And that is what I have done.”
With great vulnerability, Diane Bass reveals that her journey in accepting her son as he is has not been an easy one. I would imagine this is the case for a number of Christian parents — not to mention gay Christians themselves. I admire Bass for speaking so honestly about how difficult this news was for her, and always coming back to the most important thing of all — loving her son. She says that, for some time, she prayed for a miracle, for God to make her son straight. But that wasn’t the miracle she got:
“The miracle is that I learned to have unconditional love and compassion for my son and others in the gay community. I haven’t marched in parades or spoken at conventions, but I do feel that God has led me to speak out concerning the church’s role.”
Bass goes on to illustrate the need for compassion in the church, especially regarding LGBT folks. She tells the story of a young gay man who, visiting church on Easter Sunday, found a note on his chair that said “You know you are going to hell.”
I’m not sure when God died and made us the judge of who gets past the Pearly Gates. When any person comes to church for the first time, there is surely some level of anxiety involved. For a gay person, that level of anxiety may skyrocket at the thought that they are unwanted, unwelcome, unwhole. And as far as I know, it has never been the job of any Christian person to make anyone in the church feel unwelcome. The church can still deal with Scriptural complexities while welcoming every single human being who sets foot in our door. I’m grateful for the journey Diane Bass has been on, and hopeful for the day when no one will be made to feel unwelcome for walking through the doors of a church.