Wow. What an incredible experience the Gay Christian Network (GCN) conference was for me this past weekend. Traveling to Pittsburgh, PA last Tues, my wife and I both went with anticipation in our hearts. This was not my first time attending a GCN conference, so knowing what it was like from previous experiences, my expectations were high. Thankfully, I did not return disappointed.But first, let me give you a little background. I grew up in a musical family that performed frequently together from the time I was young. It was not uncommon during my growing up years for people to comment to me about my natural stage presence, my warm smile, or the way they saw/felt God through me. I never took that for granted. I always considered it an honor that God would use me to reveal his nature and presence to others. But when I came out, I feared that was lost. I feared that perhaps God couldn’t shine through me the way he once did–that the presence and spirit of God once evident in my demeanor was now made void in light of my sexuality. It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve been involved in leading worship in any capacity. Even though I’ve only been out for the past five years, the five years previous to that, I was struggling. And I knew enough to know that if the church leaders knew I was “wrestling with same sex attraction” that my presence in leadership or on the worship team would no longer be welcome the way it was prior to that information. So I sat back…or shrank back. I put my talents on the back burner while the Enemy continually whispered into my ear that I was worthless and that God could never use me now. I was deemed untouchable, an abomination by these Christian standards. I’ve been involved in music a small handful of times since coming out, but they’ve all been in secular arenas. My deep heart for worship has continued to sit dormant–hoping and waiting that someday it would be invited back into the light. And then that day came–the day that GCN began assembling the worship team for its 2017 conference. I was invited, along with a handful of other outcasts and misfits to pool our talents together and form a worship team for this year’s conference. To be honest, when I accepted the invitation, it was more out of recognition for the need of healing in my own heart than with a focus of ministering to others. Yet both those things took place in Pittsburgh this past weekend. Gathering together with this incredibly talented group of musicians and artists who, like me, had been cast aside as something unusable in light of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we led over 1,400 people in worship throughout the weekend sessions. And it was powerful. Songs about redemption, songs about belonging, songs about the truly unconditional love of God drew us into a place many of us had not experienced in quite some time. I think it brought each of us on the worship team to tears at some point, if not multiple times during the weekend, to see God redeem something in us that we thought had long been lost. We heard countless stories of the people in the audience that were touched as well. People that, for perhaps the first time were able to bring their whole selves before God in worship without the barrier of a message telling them they weren’t good enough or didn’t belong. One gentleman told me that, though he loved hearing the keynote speakers, the worship meant just as much if not more to him, because he hadn’t experienced a freedom like that in worship in such a long time. Yes, God’s freedom and love were present and obvious. And then came my own little miracle–my whisper from God to redeem an even deeper part of my soul. Following one of our worship sets, a man came up to me and said, “I just want you to know how much I saw and felt God through you while you sang this morning. Your smile radiates the joy of the Lord and I could really sense God’s presence through your worship.” Though I’m sure I’m paraphrasing his words, all I could hear was God whispering through him, “I’m still using you. Nothing that I’ve placed inside you has been lost. What you thought was nullified by coming out, will instead be the very thing that sets people free.” And then I was reminded…that God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and he chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong, and the lowly things of the world and the things which are despised those God has chosen, and things that are not–to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no one can boast in his presence. (1 Cor. 1:27-29) It is His nature. It doesn’t change. God redeems every time.
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Just before attending the Gay Christian Network conference this past week, my interview with Kevin Garcia in his podcast entitled, A Tiny Revolution was aired. I’m so honored to not only be interviewed by Kevin, but also to have the opportunity to lead worship with him at GCN this past weekend. More on that to come later this week! But for now, enjoy the podcast. My interview starts at Minute 26:00. 🙂
I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast. This was definitely not on the list of opportunities I foresaw for myself when going public with my story almost exactly one year ago. But doing this interview turned out to be an honor. In reality, I think there needs to be a little agnosticism inside each of us-the space of wonder and mystery where we are free and humble enough to say, “I don’t know.” Certainty leads to arrogance; a willingness to learn and grow, comes from humility.
I had a great conversation with these two men, and though there are things we disagree on, there are also things with which we share a very common belief and view. Doing this interview gave me the unique opportunity to talk to a group of people about the evolution of my faith, and why I’m still a Christian. The full interview just released this morning, and you can listen to it here.
I was honored to be featured on this episode of The CanCast podcast with Candice Czubernat. We had fun recording this session a few weeks ago and it just released today. Audio on my mic isn’t the best, so turn it up and then enjoy the ride we take together! It’s a fun one 🙂
Last night, I was honored to hear I was the inspiration for this wonderfully written article by Peter Thurley, entitled “Mom, Day, I’m Gay”. I encourage you to give it a read. It is well done indeed.
Big things are on the horizon and I covet your prayers as I walk through the process. When things are solidified, I will fill you in on all the details. Until then, stay strong in the faith.
God is good and faithful,
This morning I am humbled and honored at all the ways God is using my story to reach others across the nation and, in some instances, even around the globe. This blog is one I received last night from someone who heard my recent interview on Benjamin L. Corey’s podcast “That God Show”. It comes from Darrell Lucus at LiberalAmerica.org. You can read it here:
If you missed the full podcast interview with Benjamin L. Corey and Matthew Paul Turner, you can click the link below to listen as well:
Thanks to each of you who are helping to make my dream a reality by standing in the gap with me as we try to change the culture for LGBT Christians. Just a reminder that I am also booking speaking engagements for this calendar year. To book me for a conference, retreat, workshop, teen event, etc. please visit my Contact page where you can fill out a Booking Request Form and submit it to me via email.
Blessings to you all in the name of our wonderfully diverse God,
I am so honored to have been featured on Benjamin L. Corey’s blog this week and interviewed by him and Matthew Paul Turner for their most recent episode of That God Show. Read the article below:
Or listen to the full interview by clicking this link:
By Amber Cantorna