Matt Nightingale

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I knew I was gay as a ten year old boy. I had always felt "different" from the other boys, and then one day on the playground, I heard a kid talking about (and making fun of) "homosexuals." I finally had a name to describe myself. It made sense. I knew it was true. But I also knew I had to hide this part of myself.

I grew up in northern Indiana in the 1980s. I had a very loving family and church community, but they were very conservative. I heard that gay people were broken and sinful. The AIDS crisis was just beginning, and most of the people in my life believed that it was a punishment or consequence from God, that gay men were "receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error" (Romans 1:27). I believed that I was somehow damaged or broken, and I prayed nonstop that I would somehow be delivered from my sexual temptations and that God would make me straight.

It took a very long time for my beliefs to change, decades in fact. It took my getting married to a woman for 23 years and fathering four children. It took my serving in evangelical churches as a worship pastor for sixteen years. It took my coming out for the first time in 2002, into years of "ex-gay" therapy. But slowly over time, I evolved in three ways: First, I realized that I was never going to experience real orientation change. Second, I began to identity as "gay" and not just "same-sex attracted”. This brought so much relief and peace, as I learned to let go of the constant struggle to deny reality. And finally, I got to the point where I could affirm the goodness of LGBTQ+ identities and relationships.

I'm so grateful for Q Christian Fellowship (then called the Gay Christian Network) and Justin Lee. That was my first introduction to people like me who were gay and also loved Jesus. And Gay Christian Twitter changed my life forever. I actually had an anonymous Twitter account (@anothergayhubby) to help me connect with other people and process my life. I met so many helpful and loving people there, including Pastor Fred Harrell of CityChurch SF, who offered to meet with me and my then-wife and help us through our transition. Annie Steinberg-Behrnman, the senior pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, became a dear friend and guide for the journey. She herself had come out of a long-term marriage to a man and pastoral career. Finally, I'll always be grateful to Candice Czubernat of The Christian Closet. I worked with her for several months to try to decide what I should do with my life.

Today, I’m a gay Christian educator, pastor, and spiritual director living and working in the North San Francisco Bay Area. I am a pastor at The Quest, an “evangelical-ish” church in Novato, and I work with The Christian Closet as a spiritual director and group facilitator.

I am passionate about the intersection of sexuality and spirituality, and I work to create safe, sacred space for people exploring these identities. I have a special connection to people who find themselves in mixed-orientation marriages.

In 2016, I had the privilege of giving a TEDx talk with my former wife called Choosing Gratitude and Hope. It tells our story of a mixed-orientation marriage, our evolving understanding of faith and sexuality, and the painful but necessary choice of divorce, all within the context of gratitude and hope. It’s been viewed nearly 20,000 times, and I have had the privilege of meeting and working with many others in similar circumstances since then.

I have appeared on several podcasts, including Kevin Garcia’s A Tiny Revolution, The Airing of Grief, The New Family, Dates with a Jesus Gay, Bravemaker, Share • Inspire • Repeat, and Holy Cannoli. I love to share my story, helping Christians find peace with their sexuality and helping queer people embrace a spiritual path.

In my spare time you might find me in San Francisco at a concert or musical. I also enjoy wine and food, hiking, good TV and reading. Most of all, I love being with my friends. Laughter and deep conversations fuel my soul.

Last but not least, I am the grateful and proud father of four amazing kids: Joshua (24), Jacob (21), Emily and Zachary (17).