Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America

Jeff Chu

Book cover

I was interested to read this as the author, Jeff Chu, is an acquaintance of mine from church. The intersection of homosexuality and Christianity is not an issue I have given a lot of thought to–although my best friend is gay, he is a non-observant Jew, and the congregations I have been a part of have been generally accepting of homosexuality and not really talked about it much.

One of the main things I took away from this book is an impression of how beneficial the existence of the internet can be for a young person trying to come to terms with his or her homosexuality. Of course, it is unfortunate that the internet needs to play a leading role, as opposed to the person’s friends and family themselves. But Jeff’ interviewees repeatedly describe the experience of, one day, just typing “gay Christian” into a search engine. There are so many resources available, in stark contrast to maybe just 20 years ago when a young person, especially living in a small town, might have had almost nothing helping them. One of the organizations that comes off most positively from the book is the Gay Christian Network, GCN.

When I once took a literary nonfiction writing class, one of the topics we discussed was how to insert yourself into your story “the right amount”–not maintaining the guise of some disinterested observer, but at the same time letting the story take the lead. I thought Jeff did a good job of this. He talks a fair amount about his personal story without making it “all about him,” and also lets you know his own opinions on the different people and places he is profiling. I also liked the way that he integrated modern communication into the book by transcribing some conversations conducted by email, Twitter, or text message.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars