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The Kinship Blog

Most of what characterizes my life today—work, family, and faith—looks little like what I thought it would when I graduated from college in 1980. Because of my sexual orientation, nothing is as I expected. I still identify as Seventh-day Adventist, but I do not have the same relationship with my church as I once had. I am open about my...

Most of what characterizes my life today—work, family, and faith—looks little like what I thought it would when I graduated from college in 1980. Because of my sexual orientation, nothing is as I expected. I still identify as Seventh-day Adventist, but I do not have the same relationship with my church as I once had. I am open about my orientation to most people, and I have been in a relationship for nearly twenty-five years. Don’t let that fact, however, lead you to make assumptions about my theology. That I am a professing Christian is applauded by some and questioned by others. LGBT acquaintances and some heterosexual friends often ask me why I continue to associate with a faith community that has had a checkered relationship with its LGBT members. Others wonder how I can consider myself a Christian while in a relationship.

In addition to the why-do-I-continue and the how-can-I-consider-myself questions are a multitude of other questions that people have asked me over the years.

Naturally, people want to know when and how I first became aware of my orienta­tion. Others are interested in my spiritual experience and how my faith and my orientation intersect and perhaps collide. Many questions revolve around my reparative therapy journey and how that impacted my belief in God and my relationship to the church. I am often asked about the pivotal moment I decided to stop trying to change my orientation and the events that led up to that moment. Related to that decision is the question of short- and long-term consequences. I’ve been asked about where I see God in the whole journey—before counseling, during counseling, and since accepting my orientation. And, finally, others want to know about my relationship, how it has evolved over the years, and the impact it has had on my life.

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JOURNEY - CHAPTER 23

 "Robert & Reading"

BY JERRY MCKAY

I assumed 1983 would bring change, but I didn’t expect it to begin on January 1st.
 

After New Year’s dinner with some of my mother’s friends, I felt restless. Socializing with people who knew nothing of my present experience made me tired. I called a friend and went out.

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JOURNEY - CHAPTER 22

 Adrift in Ottawa

BY JERRY MCKAY

At age 26, instead of entering a stable period of my life, I was moody, often distraught, and my behavior changed significantly. It didn’t help that I was unemployed, sleeping on a pull-out sofa in my mother’s small apartment, mourning the loss of a meaningful life in Japan, and facing an uncertain future. According to James 1:6, the person who doubts is like a wave on the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. While I was dealing with far more than doubt, in the fall of ’82, the text pretty well summed up my experience. When I wasn’t being tossed about, I felt adrift on a windless sea.  

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JOURNEY - CHAPTER 21

 Christian Maturity Manual

BY JERRY MCKAY

For me, an article or a book can be an event. With respect to my orientation, I always found the Bible a challenging event. I found the chapter on homosexuality in the Adventist Health Encyclopedia, You and Your Health, a negative event. The Colin Cook interview in Ministry magazine was a life-altering event. To this list of published events, I would add a chapter I came across shortly after returning from my second visit with Colin.

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JOURNEY - CHAPTER 20

 A Week at Quest Learning Center

BY JERRY MCKAY

By the end of the first week of September 1982, I had decided to relocate to Pennsylvania for counseling. The first thing I had to do was to call Perry in Japan, because my decision would require his finding a teacher to replace me on short notice. At $3.00 per minute, our call was brief. Perry said that any inconvenience my decision might cause did not concern him. Rather, he was concerned for me. After sharing a few details about my visit with Colin, I thought I had put Perry’s reservations to rest. That was not the case. Two days later, Perry called back.

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JOURNEY - CHAPTER 19

A Wedding and a Vacation

BY JERRY MCKAY

On August 10, 1982, barely a week after my first weekend visit with Colin Cook, my sister and I loaded up a rented Capri station wagon and set out for Alberta where I would be a member of the wedding of a college friend. The difference between this trip and others Marilyn and I had taken together before was that she now knew about my orientation. I told her the night I returned from my first visit with Colin. Her knowing about my orientation was significant, but it didn’t mean much. Without access to my experience, how could she know what I was going through? Often during this trip, I was lost in self-reflection about my past, present, and future, all through the lens of reparative therapy.

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Journey - Chapter 18

 The Rest of the Reading Story 

BY JERRY MCKAY

DISCLAIMER: The material in this chapter deals with sensitive issues with respect to the author's experience when he was in counseling with Mr. Cook. Some may find this section upsetting. At the same time, the author would like to stress that these events were in 1982 and that a lot of time has passed since then. The author has a long history with Mr. Cook. Over the last couple of years, he has been in contact with Mr. Cook about these incidents. This, however, is for a later chapter.

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Journey - Chapter 17

 First Visit with Colin

BY JERRY MCKAY

Once I named my experience—acknowledged my homosexual orientation—a predictable side effect emerged. I found myself wanting to meet others with a similar experience. The only way I knew of doing that was through an ad on the back page of The Japan Times.

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Journey - Chapter 16

The Day After

BY JERRY MCKAY

After years of suppressing relationship longings, fearing and over-analyzing every thought and feeling, my world seemed different the day after reading the Ministry magazine interview; even the sunlight was different. Naming my experience instantly altered my perception of the world and divided it into before and after. While most prior themes remained and/or evolved, new themes emerged. Overnight, I became preoccupied with changing my orientation.

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Journey - Chapter 15

The Year of Before and After, Part II 

BY JERRY MCKAY

It was midnight when I finished reading the Ministry interview and headed home. The familiar residential streets of Tokyo seemed different that night. My trance-like walk home was broken once by a brief exchange with a passing policeman whom I knew. I remember this odd detail because his greeting jolted me back into the present. Although my head was filled with the hope of healing from homosexuality, when I saw him I was once again aware of how attractive I found him.

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Journey - Chapter 14

The Year of Before and After, Part I 

BY JERRY MCKAY

As my graduation approached, I should have been contacting conferences in Canada for a pastoral internship position. I was not. Instead, I returned to Japan, the only place I felt I could serve God and avoid the stress my yet unacknowledged orientation was creating. While my return was an acceptable option, it did not come from a place of strength. Distress was a common private component of my life. However, this trip to Japan would be unlike any other. Halfway through my two-year term, a life-defining moment occurred.

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Journey - Chapter 14

 The Year of Before and After - Part I

BY JERRY MCKAY

As my graduation approached, I should have been contacting conferences in Canada for a pastoral internship position. I was not. Instead, I returned to Japan, the only place I felt I could serve God and avoid the stress my yet unacknowledged orientation was creating. While my return was an acceptable option, it did not come from a place of strength. 

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Journey - Chapter 13

Finished with College, Part II

BY JERRY MCKAY

Despite everything that was going on internally, I made wary attempts at dating. My very confused state of mind affected everyone around me including Donna who continued to hold out hope for a relationship. But her hope was constantly frustrated. I was all over the map when it came to Donna and other female friends. A seemingly insignificant event could ignite my fight or flight response.

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Journey - Chapter 12

Finished with College but Not My Orientation

BY JERRY MCKAY

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
If you are reading my story for the first time and you feel you are missing some context, I suggest you start at the beginning with the May 2015 issue of The Connection. Why I am writing my story in such detail? In short, I am answering questions while hoping to educate. Over the years, I have been asked the same questions over and over by friends, family, and church members. The answers to those questions are found in different decades of my life. I'm grateful to the Connection for giving me this space to share my story. Publishing as I write is a great motivator!  –Jerry McKay

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Journey - Chapter 11

Japan in 1978: My Spiritual Life

BY JERRY MCKAY

When I left Japan in 1976, I never thought I would be back except, possibly, at some point far in the future. I don’t remember any­thing about the return trip except landing in Tokyo. This time, I had no anxiety about living in the land of emperors and atomic bombs. Everything foreign that had concerned me the first time, now reminded me of a place I loved. 

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Journey - Chapter 10

Continuing with Studies and Attempts at Dating

BY JERRY MCKAY

In the introduction to my story, I mentioned that people have asked how my faith and my orienta­tion intersected and collided. During that first year at CUC, there was a spiritual “event” that conspired against me to create great expectations on one hand and disillusionment on the other. Those expectations intensified my internal conflict and would carry forward to the time when I was in reparative therapy. Because my spiritual formation was profoundly influenced by that event, I will explore it at some length. Bear with me, as I get a bit theological.

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Journey - Chapter 9

Back in Canada and Alberta Bound

BY JERRY MCKAY

The return to Canada hit me hard. A lot of energy is spent preparing people for the shock of a new culture, but little is spent on preparing them for the return home. I left Tokyo late one evening, and I was back at my parents’ home the next and in my old bed the next night.

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Journey - Chapter 8

Awareness of My Orientation

BY JERRY MCKAY

My orientation continued to manifest on a daily basis, and there were times when it in­truded noticeably. As in high school, it sometimes caused me to modify my be­havior. Four examples have stayed with me all these years.

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Journey - Chapter 7

Missionary to Japan

BY JERRY MCKAY

I finished high school in 1974 with bet­ter grades than expected and more confidence in my academic abilities than when I started. I attribute that to an environment in which I felt safe and con­tent. There was no comparing my years at Kingsway to my first year of high school back home. Graduation, however, did not mean I had to relocate to con­tinue my stu­dies. Because Kingsway of­fered the first two years of a bachelor in theology, I start­ed my degree in Oshawa that fall.

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Journey - Chapter 6

You and Your Health 

BY JERRY MCKAY

You and Your Health is a three-vol­ume set focusing on concerns and questions related to health. I don't remember the first time I pulled it off the library shelf; but, when I did, I did so sur­reptitiously to avoid being asked what I was reading. I know I looked at it several times during high school and col­lege. Browsing through it was not a good expe­rience. Before I look at the article, I have two questions.

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Journey - Chapter 5

Sources of Distress

BY JERRY MCKAY

Before continuing with the chronological part of my story, I want to look at two written sources that compounded my confusion and distress: the “homosexual” passage in Romans chapter one and an article in the Adventist health encyclopedia, You and Your Health.

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Journey - Chapter 4

Awareness of Orientation during High School

BY JERRY MCKAY

Earlier, I mentioned my roommate Kelvin, and that we were roommates for almost four years. Speaking gen­erally about our friendship, Kelvin said that, “from the start, at Kingsway, I never thought of you as being anything but a regular guy. I admired your spiritual status on campus and felt honored that you would consider rooming with me, an un­derclassman. I will always be grateful for that and recall many pleasant memories of our times together. We enjoyed similar activities and friendships.”

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Journey - Chapter 3

High School Years at Kingsway

BY JERRY MCKAY

As with my childhood, themes characterize my high school years. The things I did as part of my spiritual discipline at home continued and evolved. My orientation was always present; and, like before, there were many times when it forced itself into my awareness in ways I could not ignore. In high school, naturally, the expectation to date increased; and I tried.

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Journey - Chapter 2

School

BY JERRY MCKAY

Memories of my early school years are generally positive, but adolescent memory is selective. As might be expected, it is the rare and bizarre events that have stayed with me.

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Journey - Chapter 1

 Introduction

BY JERRY MCKAY

Most of what characterizes my life today—work, family, and faith—looks little like what I thought it would when I graduated from college in 1980. Because of my sexual orientation, nothing is as I expected. I still identify as Seventh-day Adventist, but I do not have the same relationship with my church as I once had. I am open about my orientation to most people, and I have been in a relationship for nearly twenty-five years. Don’t let that fact, however, lead you to make assumptions about my theology. That I am a professing Christian is applauded by some and questioned by others. LGBT acquaintances and some heterosexual friends often ask me why I continue to associate with a faith community that has had a checkered relationship with its LGBT members. Others wonder how I can consider myself a Christian while in a relationship.

Continue reading