I find it incredibly sad that one of the biggest misconceptions regarding gay people is that all of them are sleazy. Something is very wrong when a whole group of people is labeled because of the actions of a few. This doesn’t happen only with homosexuals. It happens everywhere, we fail to look at the individuals. We fail to get to know people and to realize that they may not fit the box that we have placed them in. We don’t care about their needs, we don’t regard them as equals, we have no interest in knowing what they have been through that has changed their perspectives in life. I have been through this. For a variety of reasons I have avoided certain people because of what I thought they were, to then realize how wonderful they really are. Things changed when I challenged myself to be open. I asked myself: What’s the worst that could happen? And to my surprise, only goodness came out of it. One of the reasons many religious people avoid homosexuals, and only allow the topic if condemnation is involved is in part because they don’t know better. They have been told all the reasons why homosexuality should be condemned. Their image of gay people is a clip they saw in the news of someone almost naked dancing in the street in the middle of a parade. My question is… How can a simple image determine your perspective on a complete group of people? And if so, why stop there? If that man dancing on the street is “perverse and an abomination”, are all gays “perverse” too? Would that mean that because a woman on a skimpy swimsuit, drinking a beer on a TV ad fits the “slut” label, are we to count all women as sluts? I think not. I don’t think we care enough. I don’t think that the almost-naked man dancing on a parade is more of a sinner than I am. I don’t get naked on parades or party every night. I can actually be pretty boring, but that doesn’t make me less or more of a sinner. I was a preacher for several years, I have a diploma in Practical Theology, I traveled to other nations to help others, but at the end of the day, there I was, someone in desperate need of true love and acceptance. Through all my years in Church I saw people condemn homosexuals time after time, the same people that shortly after were found to be in adulterous relationships or some other ugly scenarios. I could easily call them hypocrites and label Christians as a whole as hypocrites, but I believe I have learned. People are just that, people. Humans in need of affection, love and understanding. Individuals who have been through a great diversity of scenarios, some of them good, some of them horrible. But to typecast a group of people as something because of the deeds of one individual is plain wrong. I learned not to do it while being a Christian, and now that I am openly gay and still holding on to my Christian beliefs I believe I can see both sides a little clearer. If I as a gay man decide to be intolerant against all Christians because of the opinion of a few I too end up becoming a bigot. I believe that in order to see a positive change in the relationships between gays and Christians we need to start with ourselves. We need to choose to love. We need to elevate the discussion from “the things that we disagree on” to “the things we can agree on”. We need to understand that not all Christians are homophobic that want to send us to hell, and we need to show them that not all gays think that they are bigots who think they are better than them. I know this is an uphill battle, but I have decided to be optimistic.