With Mo*Con quickly approaching and with our main conversation centering on the issue of homosexuality and the church, I thought that I would encourage some guest posts from some of our guests as well as interested observers.  One such observer would be Mo*Con VI Guest of Honor author Lucien Soulban weighing in on his journey with the church.

Mo*Con VI:  The Lowdown

Mo*Con VI:  Return of the Mo?

Guest Blog by Lucien Soulban

Don’t adjust your monitor… I am not Maurice. In fact, drop us in the same room and we’re a sitcom about opposites in the making. He’s African-American, I am neither. He is straight and can camp it up something fierce and I’m… the opposite of whatever that all means. He is religious and I less so. But we are both spiritual and we both respect each other. It’s those few commonalities that make our differences so precious and vital to our friendship.

My name’s Lucien Soulban and among the many qualities that describe me, I’m also gay. Most people wouldn’t know that meeting me for the first time, but I’m happy and proud with whom I am. I am generous (to a fault some say) and despite what you may have read, I am not looking to wreck the institution of marriage like a serial killer at a sorority party.

The thing is, I was also Catholic. Was. My family wasn’t particularly religious—you couldn’t be living in Saudi Arabia among Muslims. My parents had me baptized in Egypt (and even had to blackmail a priest to do it, but that’s another story), I attended Pope John Paul II’s Christmas Day Message at St. Peter’s Square,  and I underwent the various rites of Church when I attended Catholic schools in Houston, Texas. I’ll be honest. I can’t say I attended Church frequently, but St. Thomas High School was the focus of my spiritual growth with mass, prayer, theology classes and retreats. But I knew I was gay and I was too afraid of getting more deeply involved.

My relationship with the Church slowly ended when I graduated High School, however, the year I came out publically. It was one of those meet-in-the-middle situations when people started asking if I was gay and I simply stopped lying about it. Teachers told me to keep quiet because I was scaring the livestock, or something like that, and I began noticing the rhetoric about me being damned to hell. Some of the students were surprisingly cool about me being gay; others shied away from me. A few went out of their way to torment me.

It wasn’t until after graduation that I started meeting other gay men and women–that I no longer feared connecting because of who I was. I never felt that level of inclusion and acceptance in the Church. That year, there was a vote in Houston to try to give gays equal rights, and I saw the literature being passed around by the opposition. It claimed we were damned to hell. It claimed that 9 out of 10 pedophiles were gay. It claimed a number of horrible lies, and slowly I began realizing that what was driving me from my own faith was other Christians.

This notion got cemented in University, when I made friends with a girl named Caroline. I thought we were getting along great for a couple of semesters. I found out she was Catholic, and I asked if me being gay bothered her. She told me she thought I was damned to Hell, but that she loved me. I was shocked. I shouldn’t have been—I’d seen it before, heard it before from priests and those of Faith or those who upheld the Bible as absolute and without interpretation—but I was. I was also no longer impressed with such nonsense and it took me years not to equate all Catholics and Christians with the ones I’d met.

The sad thing is that while I never lost my faith in God or in Jesus, I did lose my faith in the Church itself. And that’s a pity, because I know I’m not the only the person of faith to walk away from his or her community of believers, be it Christians, Jews or Muslims. I call it a pity because I think the Church is missing out on chances for fundamental growth and understanding. Diversity exists to teach tolerance, not to hammer us into a homogenous paste. Let’s say, though, that we set aside that line of thinking, that rainbows are only awesome because of all the striations in them and a box of crayons would be awfully empty with only a handful of colors. It’s a pity because Christians are missing out on the opportunity to practice what they preach… tolerance and a recognition that we are all on the same road, traveling toward self-improvement.

See, I stopped believing I was damned when I realized a few fundamental and personal truths.

1)      If I believe that God is of infinite capacity, of infinite love, of infinite hope and understanding, shouldn’t I then also believe He is greater than my expectations in Him?

2)      If one truly believes themselves Christian, then shouldn’t they love me for who I am regardless and leave it to God and me to discuss my actions in life?

3)      I have been loved, unequivocally, for who I am by my parents, my friends, my peers, my family. Why should I believe that these human beings possess a greater capacity for compassion and understanding than their creator?

Once I embraced those three precepts and took them for my pillars, my faith in God grew stronger. It grew stronger in the patience and tolerance I have in others and it grew stronger in the faith I had in myself. Conversely, it pushed me away from the Church. They were no longer my shepherds. In fact, I should have learnt these lessons from them and not that God would hate me as much as they claimed.

It came down to this: how am I supposed to follow a system of belief and a Church that says I am damned both as a gay man and as a human being? I can understand that the underlying messages of Adam, Eve and the Apple are ones of knowledge of self in regards to personal responsibility and that we are all equal, but to treat ourselves like bad dogs, to rub our noses in our frailties is not worthy of our belief in God or the spirit of His words. No worthy parent rubs his child’s nose in shit to teach them a lesson, and I refuse to believe that God is an unworthy parent.

So, who am I after 44 years of life, over 30 of those years exploring who I am? I am uncertain in some measure; scared in others; hopeful, eager, sometimes beaten down, sometimes elevated. I pray for the souls of others, not because I believe they are condemned to Hell, but because we could all use a little cheerleading and faith. I judge when I shouldn’t. I apologize when I should. I love and I hate. I am gay. I am geek. I am writer. I am friend. I am a gamer and comic collector. I am generous with many things and I can be stingy with that which is most precious. I believe and I sometimes fear there’s nothing out there to believe in. I am son, brother, friend, cousin, nephew, confidante, enemy, misunderstood, disliked, beloved, trusted.

Problem is, some people only see this:

So, who am I after 44 years of life, over 30 of those years exploring who I am? I am uncertain in some measure; scared in others; hopeful, eager, sometimes beaten down, sometimes elevated. I pray for the souls of others, not because I believe they are condemned to Hell, but because we could all use a little cheerleading and faith. I judge when I shouldn’t. I apologize when I should. I love and I hate. I am gay. I am geek. I am writer. I am friend. I am a gamer and comic collector. I am generous with many things and I can be stingy with that which is most precious. I believe and I sometimes fear there’s nothing out there to believe in. I am son, brother, friend, cousin, nephew, confidante, enemy, misunderstood, disliked, beloved, trusted.

Problem is, some people only see this:

So, who am I after 44 years of life, over 30 of those years exploring who I am? I am uncertain in some measure; scared in others; hopeful, eager, sometimes beaten down, sometimes elevated. I pray for the souls of others, not because I believe they are condemned to Hell, but because we could all use a little cheerleading and faith. I judge when I shouldn’t. I apologize when I should. I love and I hate. I am gay. I am geek. I am writer. I am friend. I am a gamer and comic collector. I am generous with many things and I can be stingy with that which is most precious. I believe and I sometimes fear there’s nothing out there to believe in. I am son, brother, friend, cousin, nephew, confidante, enemy, misunderstood, disliked, beloved, trusted.

Problem is, some people only see this:

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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——————————————————————————————————-  I am gay.  ———————————————–

And that’s too bad, because they’re missing out on everything else.

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Lucien Soulban (www.luciensoulban.com) splits his time as a Narrative Designer for videogame companies and as a novelist living in beautiful Montreal. Of the former, he’s worked as narrative designer and scriptwriter for AAA titles like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Rainbow Six: Vegas and Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War. He’s also worked as a tie-in scriptwriter for DS Games like The Golden CompassKung-Fu PandaMonster House and Kim Possible. On the fiction side of things, he’s written five novels including Dragonlance’s The Alien Sea andRenegade Wizard, and Warhammer 40K: Desert Raiders. His proudest accomplishments, however, have been his numerous contributions to anthologies like Horrors Beyond 2, Dark Faith, and to all three HWA comedy-horror anthologies, Blood Lites I, II & III. Currently, Lucien works at Ubisoft Montreal as a Story Designer on a soon-to-be announced title.

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OTHER CONVERSATION STARTERS

-Road to Mo*Con VI: Guest Blog by Zoe Whitten
-Road to Mo*Con VI: Guest Blog by Lucien Soulban
-Road to Mo*Con VI: Guest Blog by Brad Grammer