on: Graham Douglas-Me yer’s ‘You Shall Walk in the Dark Places’ (Love of God Publishing , July 2014)
This could easily have been Graham Douglas-Meyer’s story. He too suffered persecution – from feral students and some of their equally-feral parents, and also from a few school supervisors who were supposed to be supporting and protecting him. My hunch is that his Christian faith kept him strong enough to avoid a total breakdown, even though he suffered severe depression – and was occasionally suicidal – for years.
‘This too will pass’ was his survival-mantra. And Monty Python’s ‘I’m not dead yet!’
I had the privilege of reading some of Graham’s story in draft form. As a high school English teacher in another life, and more recently as a chaplain to LGBTI-ers, together with my sojourns to many pastors’ conferences in varying faith-traditions, I resonated with so much here.
Graham’s faith-journey went from his Catholic upbringing to a Pentecostal community and back to the Catholics again. For some years he forsook the church, but is now a pastor of a small charismatic fellowship in Perth, Western Australia.
I couldn’t put this book down. Yes, I’ve heard many stories by-and-about gay people ‘coming out of the closet’ and being judged and misunderstood by their families and churches and friends. Graham’s story is unfortunately fairly typical – ie. tearful and traumatic. But there’s a happy sequel: his father was the first to his feet commending Graham and Damien at their ‘trial wedding’. Very moving. (And, surprisingly, front-page news for the usually conservative West Australian newspaper!).
[Note to folks living in NZ, the UK, Canada, some US states and European countries where Same-Sex Marriage is legal: Australia hasn’t caught up with this inevitability yet. See my take on all this: http://www.jmm.org.au/
Graham’s professional journey took him to Bible College, then via a Catholic University degree in creative writing and literature into teaching English. He describes this vocation as a ‘descent into hell’. When an aggressive teenager says aloud for all to hear, ‘You’re gay aren’t you?’ where does one go with that? Fortunately some of his students and peers and superiors were accepting. But others weren’t. And this sort of thing happened in several schools, so it’s no wonder Graham was ‘on the move’ from one place to another. And it’s also no wonder he needed medical and psychological assistance – which was mostly helpful. Graham is very honest about these episodes.
As he is, also, about the strong sexual temptations he faced (and sometimes succumbed to). His sojourn through a positive HIV diagnosis led him to be involved in several organizations which sought to help others face their demons in these areas…
Readers of a book like this can come with varying predispositions (and presuppositions – conservative to progressive). My suggestion: read with an open mind. Graham’s incredible honesty is disarming. Oh, and if you’re an English-teacher as Graham was and I was, ignore the 50+ typos sprinkled throughout the book and appreciate this gripping saga of a survivor. I hope you’re as inspired by his surviving the dark places as I was.
To purchase your copy contact Graham direct: [email protected]. Or visit the openarmsaustralia.org website. AlsoÂ available in Hardcover from Amazon.com. and Kindle from all Amazon sites globally. Additionally it is also available on iBooks as well.Â For a signed copy contact Graham direct via the Bookshop on the openarmsaustralia.org website. These are limited in number.