All in the same boat – Telling the story
A member of the Hong Kong team reflects on their Indaba journey
Gay people don’t easily reveal their sexual orientation to others, for fear of being ostracised or discriminated against. This is certainly the case for gay people in Hong Kong, where, while no overt violence or discrimination against sexual minorities exists, this is something people would not discuss publicly. As a gay person, I have revealed my sexual orientation to some clergy and some members of my parish church, but they are only a minority.
Interestingly, I could express my sexual orientation and share the stories of myself and other gay people in Hong Kong to my Indaba friends during the Encounters easily and comfortably. In my church life in Hong Kong, even though I wish to share that important part of myself with others, I am also very cautious about how this may negatively affect myself and my family. Often, I have to make “assessments” before I can feel safe enough to make the move. . But during Indaba, all these considerations were gone!
In Hong Kong, I’ve had different opportunities to talk to other people on the issue of sexuality. But they were either “debates” or discussions which involved only an exchange of views without deeper discussion or sharing. I appreciate the experience of Indaba, as it allowed me to humbly listen to the views of others. Understandably, other participants’ views on sexuality may not be the same as my own. But it is due to the relationships and bonding formed in the Encounters that I was able to listen to others with respect and understanding, and vice versa. And because of that bonding, I did not feel offended at all by whatever negative comments I heard, because I knew those comments were genuinely made by brothers and sisters I love and care about. And deeper conversations could develop which may be more difficult to take place in Hong Kong.
After the conversations I had during the Indaba Encounters, I found that homosexuality is in fact an issue which affects all of us, whether we consider ourselves as a liberal, a conservative, or a Christian who has no particularly strong stance in this issue. Society and church are both changing in this regard, and Christians are understandably puzzled by what we believe and what we should do in response. Before Indaba, I would regard myself to be someone “in a mission” to seek to change the church to be more gay-friendly. To the extent that the Church has to listen to the stories of sexual minorities, there is nothing wrong with that, and that is something I will continue to seek to do. But at the same time, after Indaba, I increasingly consider all of us (whatever our position on homosexuality) to be in the same boat, as we are all seeking to find a way of accommodating ourselves to our faith, our church, and society.