I recently finished reading Gregory Coles’ memoir, Single Gay Christian. It was recommended to me by my friend and colleague, Lauren. She said it was a very quick and engaging read, and I completely agree with that assessment. Even as a slower reader during a busier time of the year, I managed to finish this book within ten days of borrowing it from the library. A total of about 2.5 hours of reading time. And I thoroughly enjoyed the story — both for its writing style and for its candor in approaching a challenging topic.
The book’s title may actually be one of the most provocative points. It’s a label of self-identification for the author. But it’s not an easy tension, for him or for others. Some will find greater offense in the “Single Gay” combination. They’ll say that it’s unhealthy for someone with clear sexual desires to not act on those desires. Others will find greater offense in the “Gay Christian” combination. They’ll say it’s unhealthy for someone to claim identity or membership in both the LGBT Community and the Faith Community. But I found Coles’ thoughts and experiences on these matters to be highly persuasive. I appreciate what he’s trying to do in marking out these tensions.
I think it’s important to remember that this book is a memoir. It’s not a research volume (though it’s well informed). It’s not a theological treatise (though it’s full of spiritual content). The story being told is one man’s perspective regarding his own, personal journey. But I personally feel like that’s the perfect way to approach a topic like this, and I commend Coles as a humble, authentic, empathetic story-teller. He doesn’t claim to speak for a wider community. He just seems to be putting his perspective out there for others to consider.
But for whatever it’s worth — coming from a straight, cis-gender man — I really resonated with a lot of the points that Coles makes in this book. A surprising number of his musings jive with my own musings, through the years. In particular: the way that the Church may be uniquely positioned to provide a sense of family and belonging to people from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities who want to follow Jesus without feeling like they’re exiling themselves to a life of loneliness. We all have an important role to play in loving our brothers and sisters, as they pursue holiness. And I think this book does a good job of sketching out some of the hopeful possibilities for the future.
Coles is still quite young (in his 20s). Consequently, it’s hard to know exactly how the bigger story of his life will turn out. But I pray that he will continue seeking God through all the twists and turns of life. At the very least, Single Gay Christian is powerful reference point. I’m glad, in any event, that I got the chance to read this book. And I highly recommend it to other Single people, Gay people, and/or Christian people.