Befriending the Marginalized at the Happiest Place on Earth
Life Lessons of a Loving Gay Christian
Ever since I universally came out as gay, I have been increasingly experiencing compassion and supplying mercy. I notice the marginalized — even at the Happiest Place on Earth. And this event was unforgettable!
Magic in the Magic Kingdom
In the fall of 2020, America was in crisis. Covid-19 was continuing to take lives. Loves ones could not be there for the final breathe, nor even hold a funeral service for their deceased loved one. And Americans had virtually run out of patience for being necessarily isolated from other people and human touch.
During this intense period, America had also experienced rioting in numerous major cities. Black lives indeed matter. And such oppressed people were fed-up; even more, they were enraged at the injustice toward racial minorities. Venting their anger, some burned down and destroyed establishments. Masses of people unleashed wanton fury, pissed-off at America’s longstanding cultural injustice. Some Black Americans vented retribution, while some white Americans gaped with horror at the destruction of America.
So it was in that context that the Holy Spirit invited me to enact Jesus’ “look of love.”
In November of that excruciatingly turbulent 2020, I provided a relieving vacation to Disney World for my daughter’s family of five. This gift was in fulfillment of, literally, my wife’s deathbed request: “Take our family to Disney World in celebration of my life.”
And, of course, that is what I did. During Covid-19 isolation, in the aftermath of a summer of race rioting, I provided my family an all-expense-paid vacation to “the happiest place on earth.” And boy-oh-boy, we certainly were having a joyous time there!
We purposefully scheduled our final day at our collective favorite theme park in Disney World: the Magic Kingdom. Accordingly, we relished each minute in that park as our vacation came to a close. And we wanted to cap off our festive time at Disney World by watching the park’s nighttime light show. The perfect way to end a perfect vacation.
Well, Mother Nature had other plans.
At precisely the start of the light show, we experienced a lite but continual, drizzling ran. Unfazed, we huddled together, put on our raingear, and staunchly looked into the wet sky at the spectacular lights. But, unfortunately, the rain only proceeded to get stronger.
Much stronger. A deluge.
Within minutes, deep puddles of water arose from nowhere. The torrent of rain was relentless. And everyone in the Magic Kingdom was either glad they brought a raincoat or umbrella — or lamenting that suddenly they were thoroughly soaked and shivering.
My family headed to the exits — surrounded by tens of thousands of other disappointed tourists. While the frantic crowd walked underneath every awning they could find, my own family purposefully maneuvered into the deepest puddles. Accordingly, all of us adult kids and our respective kids enjoyed an absurd, playful opportunity to get as wet as possible. We repeatedly jumped into the pools!
Furthermore, I remember fantasizing about being Gene Kelly in the hallmark scene from “Singing in the Rain” [And if that reference escapes you, go watch that scene. I promise you will feel joy in doing so!]
And that is when it happened.
I noticed the older man in his electric wheelchair moving extremely slowly down Main Street. Clearly, this man’s vehicle was not built to be a pontoon boat. Mired in foot-deep puddles, his only means for moving was creeping along at a speed of inches at a time. Inches. Meanwhile, Disney visitors sprinted by him on all sides — desperately rushing to get to their buses to return home.
But suddenly, I felt compassion for him. An ache in my gut. This precious man had been handed a shitty life script for how to live out his “golden years.” Creeping along in a monsoon flood of water, stuck inside a wheelchair, drenching in a cold ran. A man who was hurting.
And a man who had no raincoat.
I turned around from the forward-moving masses. I retreated the 10-yeard distance back to this senior, lame, marginalized man. Facing him, I knelt — so I could look into his black face.
Me: “Hey buddy. It’s pretty slow-going in all this rain, isn’t it? I don’t think I have ever been outside in this much rain before?” I laughed to ease the tension. I continued, “My Brother, I see you don’t have a raincoat. Would you like to have mine?”
Him (surprised and becoming relaxed): “Oh, I’m doing fine. I’m making it — so kind of you, my Brother. You keep your jacket. Thanks, though.”
Me: I leaned up and into him. I hugged him. Then, I walked away, attempting to relocate my family. They were now half-a-football-field ahead of me — pressing-on, and joyfully continuing to stomp out the deepest puddles. I moved to quickly catch up.
But then, I stopped. I turned around one last time to see how my Brother was doing. And then I saw it.
A huge smile on his face.
Jesus’ Look of Love: Befriending the Least of These
Jesus called His closest friends to sit near Him. He had a story He wanted them to appreciate.
Jesus: “My friends, I was hungry, and you gave me bread to eat. I was thirsty, so you brought water. I was a stranger to you, and yet you allowed me into your home. I stood naked before you; you gave me your clothes. When I was sick, you cared about me. You even visited me when I was imprisoned.”
Jesus’ dearest friends were skeptical, wondering what on earth this story had to do with each of them. Finally, they looked at each other and mouthed the word: “Huh?”
Then one of Jesus’ most intimate friends meekly but bravely dared ask the question that all of the friends were puzzled about: “Lord, when did we do all of these things to you? We have been with you for three years, and yet you were never naked and needing our clothing. You were never in prison and needed company. So, what’s up?”
Jesus always recognized “the least of these.” The people who lacked food, the diseased, physically broken, demonically oppressed, and grieving. Furthermore, Jesus grasped every type of physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. And Jesus’ look of love generously provided concrete mercy to the marginalized.
God willing, I will meet many new gay Christians and develop authentic friendships. And for the least of these Brothers, I hope I have eyes to notice his pain, a heart that aches like Jesus, and hands that touch and heal.
Would you like to join me in that loving pursuit?
Jesus is love. Love wins.
Dr. Mike Rosebush has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. He is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor who has mentored thousands of gay Christian men.
You may want to read a short synopsis of his story here.
Today, he provides friendship support to gay men across the U.S. and can be contacted via Facebook.
You may read his many other Medium articles here.