Rev. T. Paul Graetz

First Met­ro­pol­i­tan Com­mu­nity Church

GA Voice - - Ga Voice -

When and how did you come out?

It was 6 a.m. on a Sun­day morn­ing in May 1989. I was alone in the fun­da­men­tal­ist As­sem­blies of God Church I pa­s­tored. I was pre­par­ing for Sun­day wor­ship and I paused, ques­tion­ing who am I and what am I do­ing as I strug­gled with the in­ner truth that I was gay. I was in a ho­mo­pho­bic world that taught me self-ha­tred and shame and its mes­sage was in to­tal con­flict with my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence with the Di­vine.

I be­gan to pray the prayer I’d prayed all my life since age 9 when I first be­came aware of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. “Lord, make me the man you want me to be,” I prayed and I felt as if a voice in­side said, “I did. You are the man I want you to be — a gay man.”

It was a great moment of self-ac­cep­tance and I be­gan to shout out loud, in the sanc­tu­ary, “I’m gay, I’m gay, I’m gay.” For­tu­nately I was all alone. The power of ac­cept­ing who I am and my truth was so amaz­ing it ig­nited my spir­i­tual, emo­tional and phys­i­cal life.

I re­signed my church that day and be­gan an ex­cit­ing jour­ney of liv­ing, lov­ing and pas­tor­ing just as I was in­tended to. I trans­ferred my cre­den­tials to a one of the old­est in­clu­sive de­nom­i­na­tions in Amer­ica, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Com­mu­nity Church, and never looked back.

How did re­li­gion play a role in you coming out?

I was a preacher’s kid and I knew God loved me in spite of what the church or my fa­ther, a Pen­te­costal pas­tor, said. It wasn’t so much re­li­gion and its rit­u­als that played a role in my coming out but a spir­i­tu­al­ity shared through my re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence that called me to a greater un­der­stand­ing of who I was and my pur­pose in this world.

This spir­i­tu­al­ity ex­pressed in an aware­ness of who and what God really is called me to look be­yond the mes­sages of self-ha­tred, fear and ig­no­rance to ex­pe­ri­ence the power of liv­ing and lov­ing as we are in­tended to be.

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