Good News for Gay Christians

By Joel P. Engardiowriter, documentary filmmaker There’s an online group of 13,000 gays who profess their belief in Christ. The … Continued

By Joel P. Engardio
writer, documentary filmmaker

There’s an online group of 13,000 gays who profess their belief in Christ. The Gay Christian Network is a bit of a miracle, given how hostile some religions are to gays.

While fundamental ministers decry the “homosexual agenda” and gay activists deplore “ex-gay treatment,” the members of GCN must live the tug-of-war over their sexual identity and faith. That’s why gay Christians will benefit from a recent report by the American Psychological Association that says efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation don’t work.

This isn’t news to the many GCN members who are survivors of the programs that failed to turn them straight. But it might be comforting to a number of teens in the online network who fear being sent to a “reparative therapy” camp by their parents. A new generation of gay Christians could be spared pointless misery now that the word’s largest association of psychologists has definitively declared ex-gay therapy is quackery.

With that cleared up, why then are there 13,000 gays at GCN – some traumatized by the ex-gay movement and others afraid of being subjected to it – who still want to be gay Christians? Because they believe God has room for gays who want to worship him. The conversations at GCN, online and at in-person conventions, don’t ignore the scriptures that admonish same-sex attractions. Leviticus and Corinthians are discussed and debated. Weight is given to the fact Jesus himself never spoke directly about gays. The dogma matters to them because these gays care what the Bible says. They just want to be able to practice their faith without denying who they are.

How gay Christians navigate this divide varies. Many at GCN embrace healthy, loving and monogamous same-sex relationships as the ideal. Others wonder whether celibacy is the best course for a gay Christian. And a few wish they weren’t gay. That’s where the American Psychological Association’s report is especially helpful. Beyond demonstrating how reparative therapy is ineffective, counter-productive and harmful, the APA offers some added solace for the person of deep faith wrestling with their sexual identity. The APA makes it clear that an ethical therapist should inform gay clients that being gay is not a mental illness, gay relationships can be fulfilling and there is no treatment that will make a gay person straight.

For those who want to stay in a religion that doesn’t allow sexually active gays, the APA instructs therapists to “explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation, reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality, respect the client’s religious beliefs, and consider possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life.” In other words, rather than an all-or-nothing approach, therapists can work with clients to live within the rules of their faith through celibacy, find new interpretations of their existing faith or explore other faiths that accept gays more fully.

The APA’s focus on the ethical treatment of gays with strong faith is noteworthy because it provides options for Christians struggling with their sexuality. It tells them they are not sick or broken and that they do not have to abandon God because they are gay. Perhaps most important, the APA guidelines make it harder for the deeply religious parents of gay kids to find a licensed therapist willing to provide harmful reparative therapy.

For the Gay Christian Network, that’s 13,000 answered prayers.

Joel Engardio is a writer, documentary filmmaker and civil liberties advocate. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today and on NPR and PBS. Engardio directed the award-winning PBS film KNOCKING about Jehovah’s Witnesses. He currently helps the American Civil Liberties Union communicate its message and issues through online video.

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  • jehovahinfo

    Hmmmmm,, does the Watchtower society that ‘arranged’ for the Knocking PR puff piece allow Gay & Lesbian in the Jehovah’s Witnesses church?Danny Haszard

  • Climacus

    Saying that the APA has “definitively declared ex-gay therapy is quackery” is misleading at best. For the sake of accuracy, the report doesn’t say that sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) “don’t work”. It indicated that available evidence suggests that SOCE is unlikely to work in any individual case. Second, the report makes quite clear that this is in no way a “definitive” assessment. The report refers several times to the lack of rigorous studies and how this means there is unfortunately a shortage of data “that could clarify whether SOCE does or does not work in changing same-sex sexual attractions.”

  • JJ2014

    The following SUMMARIES OF OVER 1400 JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES CRIMINAL and CIVIL COURT CASES will provide the BEST and MOST ACCURATE info about Jehovah’s Witnesses, their beliefs, and how they ACTUALLY practice such day to day.The following website summarizes 900 court cases and lawsuits affecting children of Jehovah’s Witness Parents, including 400 cases where the JW Parents refused to consent to life-saving blood transfusions for their dying children, as well as nearly 400 CRIMINAL cases — most involving MURDERS:

  • petertaylor

    HOMOSEXUALITY AT WATCHTOWER BETHEL GAY PLAY AT THE FARMThere are lots of closeted Gays at the all boys Watchtower Jehovah’s Witnesses world headquarters.

  • Dale8

    CLIMACUS,Don’t be sour. Just cause you don’t like gays doesn’t mean that gays need to change to suit you and others like you. The APA report was quite firm on their stance…. there’s nothing wrong with gays and there’s nothing wrong being gay.We’re all growing up, we suggest you do too.

  • ccnl1

    And the odd and strange probability wave named Homeland1 again infects a thread!! The probability wave detector has identified the following as possible waves:Observer12,

  • Climacus

    Dale,Who said anything about gays needing to change or there being anything wrong with gays? I was factchecking the column’s description of the report against the actual report. Knowing the facts is a good thing.

  • coloradodog

    How disappointed the Mormons will be about this news. For years and years, they combined electroshock, ex-communication and a high rate of suicide to “cure” or rid themselves of gays.

  • homeland1

    Dear C-C-N-L-1 , “WAPO-COP” et al: i [WE] Confess WAPO/Copper!Ya Ya! “homeland1” is i TRUE (opposite MYTH)!Ya Ya! “SECULARGURU” is i another monicker. Not Susan Jacoby Et Al! O’, O’ C-C-N-L-1 et al; O’ O’ MON, 2 [Monickers] out of 34 is a Bad Gues, not Good.Sir/Mam; It all Means that Ye art a “Cyber Space Paranoid Schizophrenic” Sirs , Mams!?????????

  • homeland1

    oooppss. i felt guilty for omitting also [Moniker]”New World””Anti David Waters”At Least i [WE] are trying to be “Candid” (not Sweet)!Note: It still means Ye art a “Paranoid” Cyber-Cookoo Cockaaa!!

  • willemkraal


  • FamillePetersen

    Justifying and rationalizing a persons impurity is not good news and won’t lead anyone to “freedom”.

  • manderson7

    It is amazing to me that so many articles posted On Faith are about the relationship between homosexuality and religion. It has got to be at least once a week.

  • Delongl

    This “On Faith” series is a joke. It has nothing to do with religion. It is just the Washington Post trying to stir up people. First a post on whether listening to Rush Limbaugh is a sin, and now yet another fight about GLBTs. This series is a blatant attempt to attract trolls, not journalism.

  • spidermean2

    “Likewise, their men have given up natural sexual relations with women and burn with lust for each other. Men commit indecent acts with men, so they experience among themselves the punishment they deserve for their perversion.” (Romans 1:27)Nobody can change this verse coz it will be brought out at Judgment Day. “Psychoatrist” will be judged and not the Judge.

  • eaglehawkaroundsince1937

    Remember the song Sammy Davis used to sing. “It ain’t necessarily so, It ain’t necessarily so, the things that your liable to read in the Bible, it ain’t necessarily so.” There is only one Judge and His name Ain’t Religion. He created all people everyone as He chose. Thank God for religionless afterlife. Oh how boring it would be floating on clouds with so called christians of no diversity.

  • eaglehawkaroundsince1937

    Hey Mr. Spiderman below, never quote Romans 1 without reading Romans 2. Judge not for as you judge so shall you be judged. Sorry to burst your bubble. Study both with an open mind even tho this is not the “born again” way. Try praying first.

  • ConcernedMom4kids

    WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES REFERENCES?Simple- Joel P. EngardioHe is NOT disfellowshipped (excommunicated,shunned,kicked out,treated as dead)or less severe even considered an ‘unapproved associate'(like the thousands of gay and lesbian JW kids who have been disfellowshipped.The fundy Watchtower society USES him to promote direct & star in their PBS knocking promotional flick and also uses him as a major spokesman for 4 other outlets on the webhypocrisy big time baby

  • onesugar1

    God loved King David, whom also was a murder , had his girlfriend’s husband put in front of the battle field so that he would be killer, King Davifd also loved a man the way in which you would love a woman, is this not so , God |Loved King David, whom was bisexual and a murderer,does that not show that God loved a Gay, (Bisexual) person.What does that tell you about God and Gay People?

  • homeland1


  • katavo

    there seems to be specific anti-homosexual stuff in the doctrine and dogma of the christians. The bible spewers never hesitate to puke it all over this forum whenever they get the chance.So why would gay people want to be christian, if christians hate them so much? Maybe there really is something to the claim that being gay involves a lot of self-loathing.I do have to laugh at times though. These two groups, gays and christians, both suffering from a similar mental illness, hate each other for not loving each other.What a crock.

  • bobmoses

    KATAVO, EAGLEHAWKAROUNDSINCE1937 & WILLEMKRAAL – Say what you want, but your own comments demonstrate what a hateful person you are yourself. It’s fine to worry about the bigotry of others, but don’t forget to reflect on your own bigotry.

  • hipshot

    It may be an abomination, but its their abomination, not mine. Besides, homosexuality is a wonderful means of population control.

  • coloradodog

    Why does “On Faith” have so many columns and features on gays? It’s become kind of a “religious Fox News Channel, constantly stirring up this issue so rabid Huckabees like Spidermean can get off spouting their vile ignorance and hatred. Enough already – leave gays alone. They are no threat to your marriage unless you yourself are bi-sexual and attracted to them.

  • ccnl1

    And the odd and strange probability wave named Homeland1 again infects this thread!! One wonders if there is a cure for this apparent text disease???

  • Dieterman

    The American Psychological Association’s announcement is nice but somewhat pathetic too. Sort of like the American Geologists’ Association announcing that the earth isn’t flat. A half ounce of common sense is all that’s needed to recognize that no one would be gay in a society as filled with anti-gay hatred as ours if basic sexual orientation were at all malleable. Given that so many “straights” feel so threatened by gays and the persistence of their belief that gays could be just like them if they really wanted to be it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Kinsey got it right fifty years ago – that there’s a broad middle of bisexual orientation between absolute homosexual and absolute heterosexual. Hence the psychological threat that same-sex attraction clearly presents to so many in a society where to be “normal” is never to feel such a thing. Hence also the insistence on their part that gays have a choice when, it seems, they’re only projecting their own bisexual choice onto others.

  • katavo

    Hey bobmoses, christians hate gays. Do you actually listen to what your kind says about them, do you read the things your kind posts here in this forum?I don’t have to have a positive attitude about that, I don’t have to prove or disprove any claims of bigotry on your part. You’re a True Believer, you are mentally ill and unable to discern the difference between bigotry and distaste for another’s insanity.You can watch me reflecting on my bigotry at the same moment you are pulling your head out.

  • KathyWi

    I am distrustful of the APA. It may be a large psychological association. It may be an ineffective psychological association as well.

  • hyjanks

    “The Gay Christian Network is a bit of a miracle, given how hostile some religions are to gays.”Hmmmm. Wait a minute, here. Who is providing the miracle in this case? Is it the Christian god who finally has come to his senses? Is it a minority of Christians who have given THEIR blessing to gays?The Log Cabin Republicans are a bit of a miracle, given how hostile most if not all Republicans are to gays.

  • Momsarev

    It’s a bit problematic to identify “Christianity” as a “religion that doesn’t allow sexually active gays,” since there are so many different OFFICIAL interpretations of Christianity and even more UNOFFICIAL ones–gay Christians aren’t asking to be included in a religion that doesn’t want them, they are asking their peers in faith to repent and return to the message that should underlie ALL of the Christian denominations: the grace of God that is greater than our sin and even greater than our understanding, which reaches out to include anyone who “loves God with all [your] heart and [your] neighbor as self.” It’s just that hate comes more naturally to unredeemed humanity…

  • SteveBurns1947

    Regardless of those who try to dilute the APA’s late but helpful statement, being gay is simply a sexual derivitive and is quite normal. As a clinical psychologist in private practice for many years, the most damaged GLBT patients I have had are those who have tried to be something they are not.As for the religious aspect, if your God hates all the same people you do, then the chances are you have created him in your image rather than vice-versa.

  • HassanAliAl-Hadoodi

    The Christian Churches could be helpful to gays by exempting them from religious services.

  • SavedGirl

    As Christians we only have love for the homosexual PERSON, but we hate the SIN as we hate all that offends God. Jesus can heal the homosexual and prevent them from spending eternity in Hell. We oppose the homosexual agenda so that these people KNOW they are sinners and will seek the everlasting forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the greatest gift that our Redeemer Jesus offers to all the accepts Him.

  • ravitchn

    Why would any gay person be a believer? He ought to curse God for having made him gay.

  • FromtheDeskofSusanJ

    Bottom line is…God’s reference was to ADAM and EVE…not ADAM and STEVE.

  • paris1969

    Gay Christians and Gay Republicans have one thing in common, in my opinion, they are begging for acceptance outside of themselves. It’s the old, “look, we’re just like you!” thing. No, gay and lesbians are not just like straight people, if they were they would be straight. Get over yourselves and quit begging for the scraps from the table.

  • Draesop

    The Bible on which much of this hate is based does have its faults. There were challenges. At that time the sun was thought to move around the earth. It appeared to have been okay to breed a young teen. Advice to slaves and masters was not one of condemnation. This primitivity carried through to this century when many chuirches did and still do discriminate against people who are female and non white. Jimmy Carter just ditched his Southern Baptist group for one of these reasons. Many of these so called christian groups (churches) are also racist…a far more deadly affliction than any I have mentioned. Unlike lying, stealing and all forms of bigotry, homosexuality is a part of the normal human sexual spectrum. The poppycock about changing someone’s homosexuality through counselling is even sillier than black folks trying to appear white through the use of bleaching creams. Human sexuality is a spectrum based on DNA. Hate, so called christian based or not will never change that.

  • chatard

    Isn’t it wonderful how Meacham and Quinn use their “On Faith” column to promote homosexuality?

  • Loudengtrs

    The Bible and the APA’s stance are in conflict. The challenge for these Gay Christians is to determine which source they will allow to inform them most when it comes to their sexual behavior. As a heterosexual, I believe gays struggle with same sex attraction the way I struggle with opposite sex attraction. The desire is always there, but I don’t always have the freedom to act on that desire. I have great empathy for those who wrestle with their sexual identity and can only pray that Christians will treat homosexuals with grace and respect through the context of friendship. Too often Christians shout their condemnation from a great distance without truly knowing and loving the object of their wrath. This bigoted behavior is an offense to Jesus and a desecration of a sacred human being.

  • Dieterman

    This article has been featured on the home page of the Washington Post, generally regarded as the second most influential newspaper in the country, for 24 hours now and has elicited a grand total of 42 comments and not all by different people. That can only mean good news for gay people. It indicates to me that the majority heterosexual population must be fairly tired of the subject. That’s good news for gay people because same-sex orientation has always existed throughout human history but attitudes towards homosexuality change and have been quite varied. Gays aren’t going away but it seems the will to fight the fact that homosexual orientation is a natural part of human variation is on the decline in this society.

  • stevenleonghawaii

    Come on … only a GAY person can speak the TRUTH about being Gay. GAYS ARE BORN GAY! All others who say they are not, are speaking “judgements”. God created Gays for God’s reason. Perhaps the overpopulation of the world (look at India’s problem), or maybe to find good parents for children abandoned by straights. Why question or doubt God’s plan? Instead of working together to help the world’s hunger, homeless, poverty problems … some Christians are pouring OBSCENE amounts of money towards stopping two people, born different from themselves, from sharing equal marriage rights. Hypocrisy in it’s highest … and probably not what Jesus would prefer. Straight people have no more rights over God than Gays. I know! I spent most of my life hating who I was, till I accepted myself as the Gay man God created me to be. My life since, have been showered constantly with blessings and wondrous miracles!These hurtful, ugly comments will only be reaped by those who have sowed them! I pray that they see the connection. Steve Leong

  • CalSailor

    SavedGirl:You say: “As Christians we only have love for the homosexual PERSON, but we hate the SIN as we hate all that offends God. Jesus can heal the homosexual and prevent them from spending eternity in Hell. We oppose the homosexual agenda so that these people KNOW they are sinners and will seek the everlasting forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the greatest gift that our Redeemer Jesus offers to all the accepts Him.”Why do you so immediately follow the first sentence with the second? I hope your statement of forgiveness means ALL SINS…the ones we are guilty of as much as any other…And, did you not read the statement from the APA, or do you just disagree? And please, don’t claim to speak “as [for] Christians”, without using the word SOME between the two words.As to gays, not all Christians distinguish gays from any other people. Some Christians realize we have enough of our own problems without trying to place someone else’s without trying to put them on a “sinfulness” scale.And something to ponder, should you be fortunate (given our society’s attitudes…) enough to consider yourself “straight”: WHEN did you choose to be straight? If you cannot name a time and date, then consider that gays might not be able to, either. EVERY SINGLE GAY/LESBIAN I have known in more than 60 years, did NOT choose to be gay. It was chosen for them before their birth. Most would do almost anything not to be gay. And so, I count them as I do myself; a child of God. Gays, like women used to be thought to be(and some people still do…) are NOT “defective” human beings. Pr Chris

  • Mexjewel

    Jesus defines sin as lack of love (Mt 22:39-40). What is unloving and therefore sinful about a homosexual relationship? Christian judges don’t have an answer for that one.

  • ccnl1

    But did the simple preacher man aka Jesus really say the words of Matt 22: 39-40? No he did not according the exhaustiv study of many contemporary NT exegetes.e.g.(1a) Mark 12:28-34 = Matt 22:34-40,46b = Luke 10:25-28″Gerd Luedemann Luedemann [Jesus, 85f] suggests that Mark was handing on the tradition he had received without any significant change, but he sees the two fold summary of the law as a reductionist and anti-cultic development from the early Christian community, rather than as a saying of Jesus:The historical yield of the tradition is nil, since it is firmly rooted in the community and is to be derived from its needs. This community has detached itself from the temple cult and justifies this with reference to ‘Jesus.’ Moreover at another point Jesus gives a completely new definition of the term neighbour (see on Luke 10.30-37).”

  • gmc4jesus

    God does not make mistakes. If He made you a man, you are not a girly man. If He made you a woman, that is what you are. Trying to change the law or ignore the teachings of Scripture to justify sexual immorality will not free homosexuals from the guilt and pain of their sin. Government is not God and does not make God’s rules. God said that sex of any kind outside of marriage between a man and a woman is wrong. Homosexuals are people who need to recognize that God made them right and they need to live by His standards.When we do it our way, we end up in sin, selfishness and all of the problems that come with that sin. Sexual immorality, including homosexuality is wrought with AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases, damage to body parts that were not designed for how homosexuals use them and most pedophelia. Our challenge is to love those who practice homosexuality and help them to see God’s perfect plan for their lives. We cannot rewrite or ignore what the Bible teaches. We can only do it God’s way if we want God’s blessings.If you learn how much Jesus loves you, you will desire to do what pleases Him. Getting To Know Jesus is a Bible study that will teach you how you can become more like Christ. It will change your life.

  • ccnl1

    Hmmm, the NT says nothing about gay sex? Au Contraire!!! Thou shalt Not Commit Adultery and Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbors Wife/Husband/Partner with the corollary of Thou Shalt Not Fornicate pertain not only to heterosexual couples but also homosexual couples. This probably is no concern to non-Christians or non-Jews but it should be a major concern to those religious types that believe in the teachings of the OT, NT, the Commandments and all of its corollaries. So we have a Christian God who supposedly created all of us to include homosexuals. Said God is therefore responsible for the defective gene/mind-set that causes homosexuality? One might conclude from this that the Christian God would therefore approve same-sex marriages since that is the only sin-free state where any type of couple-sex can be performed.And just a reminder, reiteration is a fundamental learning method.

  • homeland1

    Mr. ENGARDIO & CO:Regards To Mr. Norman Seigell et al @ ACLU & CO.You wrote, “… why gay Christians will benefit from a recent report by the American Psychological Association that says efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation don’t work…”Note: My inlaws Father, Mr. B.K. [pbuh] was/is a Psychologist. And what the so-called “A.P.A.” failed to Study or Explore is the fact THATWhen ‘Non-Straights’ adopt a Kid/Child, and ofcourse Non-Straights Couples or Single, get payed good money to adopt or foster kids; That the A.P.A. failed to show that When Kids in a Not-Straight (forget Alcholic or Drug Users) house/home are EXPOSED to Same Sex Prefrences or Orientations; That even though these potentially , Du-To-Be Straight-Kids/Childs are also influenced, to their Nature via such Settings/Enviroment.Concusion: It is a Fact that “Non-Straights” can corrupt an otherwise ‘Staright” Child into doing what their ‘adoptive Parent” or Parent is doing.Yes; Not only tell kids ‘watch who your Friends Are’ but now kids must be told ‘watvch who your parents are.” Adoption & Foster Parenting Agency’s (private & Public) should research this Phenomena (straights thinking their QUEER or performing in same sex acts ). Hint: The Holy “HORMONES” potential Causes & effects via sexual Fantacy Thoughts & urges, of a young Lad/Kid/child, can cause one to deviate from the NORM or go sexually astray; and this depends on Who their Friends are and or Who Their Parents are. Think further Please. Theres a Deeper Prophecy here!Question: When will the QUEER-Movement, in America; forget the Abroad; END? Will they quit? Will they Disolve? Or is it too big of a business & a attention getter? Hmmmmmmmmm! PS: Interestingly: i [WE] once proposed [on WAPO here] that All non-Straights Establish something like a “QUEER-CHURCH-Of-AMERICA” seems they followed our advice. And now the ‘Rich’ , Middleclass, & poor ‘Non-Straights’ alike are working on creating a QUEER-made BIBLE. Hmmmmmmmmmm?

  • homeland1

    Ooooopppppsss”SEX” is NOT-LOVE! i Repeat;”SEX” is NOT-LOVE! instead;”LIFE” is LOVE! or “LOVE” = LiFE! or “PHOTONs” is LIFE, THEREFORE: “LOVE” is not Sex!Note: Whether 1-one is married or not married; planned or not planned; THAT”SEX” a.k.a Coochy-Poochy is how [i] WE gots here STUPIDs.LOVE had nothing to do with it. Note: Many people Do-NOT know what LOVE is! So besides a good philosophy, theres nothing like RIGHT thinking! In LIFE one needs to use Ye HEAD first; Not Ye Hearts, nor Oss’ 3rd!

  • homeland1


  • outragex

    When I was a kid growing up in the deep South, fundamentalist/conservative churches found Biblical laws against:Today intolerant Christians have lost these battles. Gays are one of the last groups they can get away with condemning. Today young Christians find my recollections of recent Christian history hard to believe. Someday, I predict our children and grandchildren will be just as incredulous about today’s fundamentalist/conservative theology and unloving treatment of gays and lesbians.Maybe it’s time we Christians voluntarily segregate ourselves into churches that either accept or do not accept gays. Once we do that we can stop the incessant arguing about this issue and get on with our own understanding of proclaiming the Good News, feeding the poor, visiting the imprisoned, etc.

  • ccnl1

    And yet again Homeland1 infects these commentary pages with his/her insidious gibberish!!! Must be one lonely, delusional person to continue down this road of insanity.

  • tony1964

    Adam & Eve = NOT Adam & Steve !!!

  • coloradodog

    YawnMore Huckabee nut cases quoting cherry-picked scriptures to judge and condemn others in the name of poor old Jesus.

  • Dale8

    TONY1964 wrote:”Adam & Eve = NOT Adam & Steve !!!”——————–So, here’s the deal. IF there was only Adam and Eve, where did the next, 30 or 40 people come from?That’s right, incest!

  • JDSidney

    I am a Christian with a homosexual tendency. I don’t say that I’m gay, because I find my identity in Christ and not in my sin.The media is painting an ugly portrait of Christians as being hateful toward homosexual people. God is accepting of everyone in any condition. However, He accepts YOU and not your sin. I’ve never experienced a Christian treating me with contempt because of my orientation. The majority of the conflict is between fellow Christians who are teaching that you can follow Christ while living in sin, which is not consistent with the Bible.I don’t believe that my condition is the result of some genetic trait expressing itself. I distinctly remember my Mom being more of a presence in my life than my Dad. She even told me herself that she wanted a daughter after having my older brother. I pretty sure that messed me up in many ways.