Danny Tullier – #TiredofHate

  As a young child, I wondered what kind of man I would become. How tall would I get? Would I join the circus? Would I live in an old house with the ghosts of its former occupants? Would I be a person that people liked, and maybe even loved?

As a pre-teen, my world was shattered. Realization crept in that I wasn’t like everyone else. I wasn’t the ‘good’ Southern boy. I heard messages of hate from society. People, who were like me, were infested with ‘evil’.

As a middle-schooler, my hormones kicked in. The Lord knows how I fought to be like everyone else. Thought about suicide, but that seemed too theatrical. So I decided to later join the military.

When I was a teen, there was a young man in our church. He was ousted from our church college. We all knew why. His action was abhorrent and we hated and were embarrassed at what he had done. He came back to our church. If he sat on my pew, I made a point to move to another pew. In college, he was caught kissing another boy.

I vowed never to suffer the repercussions of hate that he suffered. So I made it my goal to change. Joining the military didn’t change me. Praying didn’t change me.

When I turned 22, I fell in love and kissed a boy. My first love introduced me to a new world. A world consisting of people like us, and it was beautiful. A world where race, gender identity, political affiliation, religious belief or non-belief, age, economic status, education, profession, none of it mattered. We were a lost tribe that celebrated our differences and our unity.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the AIDS epidemic was ravaging our community. In my early 20’s, it was a time when I was reluctant to ask how my friends were doing. Too many times we heard of friends who were dying or dead. There were too many funerals. We were all too intimate with death. My first love died. Society and churches either closed their doors or at worse, propagated a stigma of hate, ostracism and condemnation. We were a lost tribe.

Though I never was separated from God, I was separated from the church. I built walls so that I would never suffer the repercussions of hate. For 12 years I floundered. Searching for a body of believers that would love me, even though I kiss a boy.

Then I heard of a unique church called St. Elmo United Methodist Church. A community of faith that embodies open hearts, open minds, and open doors. A group of people from various backgrounds who rejoice in our diversity. Who follow Christ’s mandate to love one another. To love one another is our way of life. It is our calling. It is a community where I may celebrate with others as we walk the Gospel road together, without the fear of hate.