Text & Photography by D. Giles Clasen
For most of Nick Brown’s life the thing standing between him and true love was a deep belief in God.
“It occurred to me that the word ‘gay’ might apply to me when I was fifteen,” Brown said. “I was terrified. Just terrified. I’ve never prayed so much in my life. ‘God, take it away, take it away, take it away,’” he said. “I’d known that I was attracted to guys. I’d just never really realized that that attraction was also sexual.”
For Brown, who is deeply religious, being gay and Christian became a defining struggle in his life, a source of confusion and empowerment, but the process has not been perfect. Nor is it complete.
Brown’s life is like a narrative exploration of one question: is it possible to be gay and Christian? According to a 2009 Gallup poll, 78 percent of Americans identify as Christian, putting this question at the heart of many people’s lives.
And churches fall on all sides of the issue. A Canadian organization called the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance (OCRT), which publishes the website religioustolerance.org, have been following the debate closely. Their website lists the positions of 47 Christian denominations in North America. “Of the thousands of Christian denominations in the United States, it is the mainline faith groups who are most actively discussing homosexuality,” OCRT said.