A LETTER I WISH COULD BE SENT TO TYLER CLEMENTI:
I am so sorry about what happened to you and for the fact that you felt like you had no other options but to take your own life.
And as a Christian, I want to say sorry on behalf of the Church for the role we played in this tragedy…
I am sorry that the message you have received from so many churches is that being gay makes you less than God planned for you; I am sorry that the message you have received from so many Christians is that how and whom you love is somehow wrong; I am sorry that we have not created a safe place for you to talk about and discuss and explore what your sexuality means and also to encounter Jesus and discover how to love God and love yourself at the same time. I am sorry that you have had to hear the lies that God is against you or is disappointed in you or that you are somehow fundamentally flawed simply because you are gay. I am sorry that you never heard the truth that your Heavenly Father loves you as you are. Period. No exceptions. Of course, you know that now as you live in his embrace… but still, on behalf of Christians everywhere and the church universal, I am sorry.
And as an American citizen, I want to say sorry on behalf of our country for the role we played in this tragedy…
I am sorry that the message you have heard from our government is that being gay makes you less valuable as an American citizen. I am sorry that our government practices legal discrimination against gays and lesbians under the guise of making a stronger military, sending the message that gays are weak, less valuable and less capable. I am sorry that the official policy of our government encourages hiddenness and secrecy — and that in staying hidden, you felt you had no choice but to take your own life. I am so deeply sorry.
And as a fellow gay man, I want to say sorry on my own behalf for the role I played in this tragedy…
I am sorry that i did not model better for you. I am sorry that in keeping my own sexuality a secret I affirmed that being gay is something to be hidden and ashamed of. It is not. I am sorry that I reinforced a culture in the church that hurts gay people like you. I am sorry I was not brave enough to be honest about who I am — and in that maybe of given you the hope that it was okay to be who you are. I am sorry for the ways I fail to speak up, speak out and stand up for what is right and just. My prayer is that somehow I can make it right moving on… in honor of your life and so many others who struggle silently. I am more sorry than you could ever know and pray you will forgive me.
It saddens me that two of the greatest institutions in our land — our Government and our Churches — have failed you so deeply. Again, I am sorry and ask your forgiveness on my own behalf, on behalf of the church, and on behalf of our country.
Under His Mercy,