In between my discharge from the Army and getting married and starting my time at seminary (about a nine year period), I must have worked a half-dozen jobs. Among my favorites, and among the ones I was the best at, was restaurant management. I worked primarily in the quick service end of the industry, but I spent some time in the casual dining end of things as well.
There are some things you just can’t escape in the food business – nasty customers, thieves, robbers, and gay waiters/employees are one of them. I have always suspected that they number of homosexuals is disproportionately high in the restaurant business for reasons that I’ve never been able to discern. In some ways, much of my life has been spent, quite unintentionally, tearing down the gay communities negative stereotypes of Christians, and this was never any more true than it was as a manager for two different QSR chains.
At one of my stores, I had a phenomenally reliable and capable employee named David. If David had stayed with us, I have no doubt that David would have been my boss within a couple of years; without question, he was corporate management material. David was a 40-something gay man, and he developed a massive crush on me.
For my ubër-conservative Christian readers, you shouldn’t be nearly as horrified as you likely are; if you work with people of any sexual orientation, eventually someone, some time is going to have a crush on you. It’s just going to happen, and there’s not a thing you can do about it.
So what do you do in this situation? As a Christian, especially a consistently biblical one, we believe that homosexuality, both acts and desires, are sinful. Clearly, given Christ’s admonitions about love and concern for the unconverted, simply screaming “Faggot!” and punching some other dude repeatedly in the face is deeply wrong. Here some thoughts on how do respond.
First, realize that just like everyone else, your gay friends realize that a crush is a transitory thing. It will pass eventually. In the mean time, be very gentle with them, make it perfectly clear that you do not reject them as a person, and state your position very clearly. In other words, act exactly the same way you would if a young woman developed a crush on you.
Second, and I mean this with all sincerity, you should be flattered. If there is a gay man with a crush on you, more likely than not, it is because he recognizes that you are filling a need for male-male intimacy that gay men have wrongly made sexual. In my situation with David, what he and I both realized rather quickly was that I was filling the role of the strongly masculine role-model he never had in his father.
Third, there is absolutely no reason to end this friendship. David and I are close to this day. He and I email once a week, and I love to hear from him. I had to let David down easy, so to speak, and tell him that his desire for a romantic relationship was just never going to happen; at the same time, I didn’t become unavailable. And it meant the world to David that I didn’t. We both wound up learning a whole lot; David learned that a lot of the negative views that he held of Christians were because the Christians in question were really bad examples of Christianity. I learn a massive amount about the homosexual subculture, PFLAG, and the Human Rights Campaign. I learned a lot about the pain David felt over his rejection by his father. I learned that one of the most meaningful things I ever did for anyone in my life was inviting David over to play catch. I love baseball (intensely), and David was always the last guy chosen for every team sport in elementary and high school. For the first time he could ever remember, a strong masculine figure was affirming his masculinity in a was that was non-sexual.
Clearly, playing a game of catch isn’t going to change a gay man’s orientation; it might, however, open the doors to a great friendship, and give you the opportunity to right some awful wrong perpetrated by other professing Christians. You may even gain a wonderful friendship from it!