By Christian Brown // February 16, 2016
I remember very clearly the first time I got called a nigger.
I was in the third grade playing in an evergreen field when a lanky white boy decided that teasing me would draw a laugh from classmates standing nearby.
He was right, and in an instant what I already suspected was reinforced.
I wasn’t like everybody else. I was different.
For the last 16 years I’ve tried my best to not stand out, to fit in and adhere to the homogeneous standards placed on me, but I’m starting to realize that God may need me not be normal. In fact, he never uses anyone normal.
Whether you know it or not, I’m a triple minority.
Yup, I’m black, gay, and disabled living in a predominantly white, straight, able-bodied country. There’s nearly ever a moment that goes by without me thinking of one of my anomalies. While I’m undoubtedly blessed to live in the United States where I have many opportunities and privileges, I often wonder which anomaly will kill me first.
As a black man who has faced unjust discrimination from police in the past, I am always on heightened alert, careful of my dress attire, my demeanor, and response to white authorities.
In fact, a friend recently asked me why I’m always dressed nicely. His face turned somber when I revealed that I’m afraid of what would happen if I’m ever pulled over and not dressed nicely.
It’s an unfortunate reality as a minority in this country, always pandering to the highest power, unable to express yourself freely without the fear of retaliation.
I was prepared for maltreatment as a black man by a black mother, who spoke (and still speaks) in real terms about the setbacks and challenges awaiting me simply because of the color of my skin.
However, nothing prepared me for discrimination my sexuality brought.
Last June, the day after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, I came out as a gay Christian man. The punishment was swift as 90 percent of my friends walked away from me and/or never stood up to defend me.
My ministry collapsed and I had to start my life over from scratch.
Maybe that’s why I ran from my sexuality for so long. I didn’t want another minority mark on my forehead. I wanted for at least once to be in the majority.
However, God has revealed to me in recent months that He always uses special people, outcasts, weirdos, freaks to build His kingdom. Let’s not forget, the Jewish people are the minority group in the biblical narrative, constantly oppressed by larger, richer nations.
Esther was an orphaned woman that saved her people from almost sure genocide.
Abraham was an immigrant who traversed foreign lands on God’s command.
Hagar was an African handmaid and concubine who eventually became a single mother to Abraham’s first-born son, Ishmael.
Sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph went from being a Jewish prisoner in Egypt to second in charge of the entire city-state.
Daniel and his friends were prisoners of war in Babylon, forced to serve an unjust king.
Mary and Joseph were refugees in Egypt for nearly two years as King Herod, a Roman, sought to murder Jesus.
The woman at the well that Jesus later redeems was also a Samaritan with no husband.
And Philip baptized an African eunuch who wanted to know Jesus despite his darker skin and odd sexual identity.
I repeat, God never uses anyone normal.
So while the world gives me every reason to fear my minority status, I’m thankful that I serve a God who celebrates my diversity and never intended for it to be a crutch of fear and oppression, but rather something that adds color, character, and courage to His kingdom.
Christian Brown is an award-winning multimedia journalist, specializing in print and radio reporting around topics of politics, faith, and emerging communities. In 2015, he graduated from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism with an M.S. in Journalism.