At 6:45 this morning, I woke up from a nightmare.

In my dream, I was back in Vancouver, visiting the Downtown Eastside, where I used to live and work.  I soon ran into a former colleague of mine in the neighbourhood who had also recently come out of the closet.  We sat down on the sidewalk to catch up.

Soon we saw a large group of younger white suburban people walking toward us, and I knew it was one of the ever-present short-term youth mission teams who parachute into the neighbourhood to evangelize.

One of the young girls, whose appearance was more androgynous, ran ahead of the group, approached us and asked if we were "the lesbians."  She seemed to be seeking advice.  But soon  the rest of her team caught up, and many of them jeered at us and insulted us for being gay.  One said, "No men will ever be interested in dating you," and I retorted, "That's good, because I'm not very interested in dating them."  He seemed offended at this, and ran to tell some of his buddies who were doing a construction project.  They came back and threw their hammers at us, though I don't remember it being painful - I was just appalled that they would resort to violence.

We thought they were gone, but then an adult ran back from the group to talk to us.  He seemed to be the pastor or group leader, and I assumed he was going to apologize for the behavior of his group.  Instead, he began evangelizing and preaching to us, explaining why his group's actions were necessary to help bring us back to God.  

I got so angry at this that I woke up, immediately very alert, my body coursing with adrenaline.

I know that dreams can be inspired by real events.  Case in point: I also had a dream last night about being in line for pizza, only to find the last piece had been claimed right before I reached the front of the line, which I believe was my brain's attempt to process the fact that the pizza place where Billy, Danice and I tried to have dinner last night ended up being closed for maintenance.

In some ways, I can understand where my nightmare came from, too.  I worked in the Downtown Eastside for several years, but what I remember most is the year I spent there after fully coming out.  At Jacob's Well, where I worked, we taught workshops for many visiting teams of suburban students (like the one in my nightmare), and sometimes even hosted them for a whole week of neighbourhood immersion.  Every time I taught a group like that, I wrestled with whether or not to come out to them, to tell them I was gay and engaged to marry a woman.  Would it add to - or distract from - my message to them?  Would my teaching lose or gain credibility in their eyes?  Would it cause them to ask important questions or get sidetracked into useless debates?  Would my coming out perhaps offer hope to an isolated, closeted kid in the group (like the androgynous girl in my dream)?  I hated how the process of coming out never seemed to end, and how I'd always second-guess whatever decision I made with a particular group.

But here's the thing... I can count on one hand the number of times I've been publicly insulted for being gay.  And I'm grateful that no one has ever been physically violent toward me because of my sexuality (though there are moments, walking through sketchier neighbourhoods or rural towns, when I've been tempted to drop Danice's hand).  Despite never having these experiences, my subconscious fears these things enough to let them seep through into my dreams from time to time.  Apparently I still have fears yet to be driven out by love.  

Sadly, this particular fear is a fear of some of my fellow siblings in Christ.  And I know there are members of other minorities this week who may be waking from similar nightmares induced by fear of Western Christians who hate them enough to harm them.  

My prayer today is that the love of God would drive out both our fear and our hatred.  Come and fill our hearts with your peace...