Christian opens up on homosexuality
For Wez van der Linde growing up gay was one challenge, but being Christian was something different again.
Born into a Christian household, he spent his teenage years wrestling with his sexuality while maintaining involvement in a Christian community that perceived same-sex attraction as sinful.
He desperately wanted to be straight, and furiously questioned why he wasn’t born like the majority.
‘‘I’m a perfectionist, I want things to be right, I want things to be perfect. And for me perfect was not being gay.
‘‘I’d wake up early to memorise scripture and hoping that when those thoughts came into my head I had scripture to block it out.
‘‘Because you’re trying to follow Jesus, you’re trying to follow this guy who epitomises compassion and love and grace but yet for some reason you are excluded by the very people that should be including you.’’
Originally from Durban in South Africa, van der Linde used his faith for many years as a means of distracting him from his sexuality.
‘‘The church was definitely an escape from my feelings,’’ he said.
Things began to change in his early 20s when he started to take seriously the Christian concept of grace - the idea that everyone is loved and accepted by God regardless of who they are or what they’ve done.
His auntie in particular would discuss it with him without even knowing about his sexuality.
Around the same time a friend, also unaware of van der Linde’s sexuality, started to share with him the idea that God loves all regardless of who they are.
‘‘That was the beginning of going ‘maybe God just loves me and that’s it, maybe there’s nothing wrong with me, maybe it’s all ok’.’’
This was the start of a process of self-acceptance through which he eventually went on to come out to his family.
‘‘I’m at peace with who I am, I’m not afraid to tell people.’’
Van der Linde, who moved to New Zealand last year and began teaching English at Auckland Grammar, has now written Space for the Spectrum, a book which follows his experiences growing up with feelings towards the same sex while maintaining a Christian faith.
Van der Linde now intends to fund the publishing of his book through a Kickstarter page.