Walking around in a black clergy shirt and cross necklace in the midst of the rainbows flags of Montréal’s gay village raised a lot of questions today. Some people who apparently came to gawk at and condemn the deviants, unaware of the hypocrisy inherent in the very question, asking what a real Christian would be doing in such a place. Some people who have been hurt by religion, or who assume religion can only hurt, wondering how dare I be there.

I believe in Christ crucified and risen and coming again, and I believe the unrelenting love and grace of God seeks us all, that the God who made us all our diversity knows who we are and who we are called to be. I call that being Christian, and I call my calling being a pastor. And so I dress the way I dressed. And so I walk into churches confident that I belong.

And I know every time I’ve ever heard a description of what men are supposed to be or presumed to be, whether from conservatives advocating “Godly manhood” or critics hoping to smash the patriarchy, it never has felt familiar. I know that when my heart has struck me with those frustrating and exhilarating pings of infatuation and attraction in life, it has sometimes been as I looked at a woman, and sometimes as I looked at a man. And I call that being queer. And so I walk into that neighbourhood and that Pride community day confident that I belong.

I’ve heard plenty of “hate the sin, love the sinner” language, I heard plenty of talk about agency and accountability, that it was not about who anyone is but what they choose to do, and let me tell you, be an effeminate sissy sensitive boy in the world of James Dobson and Boyd K. Packer fans as I was, and all the chaste celibacy in the world cannot shield you from bigotry from the pulpit and neighbouring pews. I grew up in churches that taught me they hated who I was. That at best I could behave myself into not being excommunicated, but nothing I could do would mean acceptance.

I am Christian. I am queer. It is not a contradiction. These sides of me are often provoking a conflict of stereotypes and presumptions in others’ minds, but I am at peace. I am who God made me, and I living the life to which God is calling me.

Today I offered hugs. I offered candy. I invited people to Mass. I invited people to Bible study. I testified of the work of Christian love my LGBTQ+ friends are doing in the church, and how denying their gifts would be a blasphemy against the God who made those friends and sent them into my church’s life. I told stories of how kids with same-sex parents have turned out into the finest people I know. I received a few marriage proposals. (I turned them down.)

I hope the day comes when all of us can dress how we dress and be who we are and walk where we’re called to be. That is what I did today with my colleagues and parishioners at Christ Church Cathedral, Montréal. And I pray we can shape a world where that becomes ever less comment-worthy or extraordinary.