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Christian Youth Leader Uses Grindr To Recruit Gays

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 4.53.46 PMGrindr has been working hard to keep those unstoppable spambots at bay, but now the app is being infiltrated by another group of gay men with ulterior motives: Gay Christians.

Photographer and filmmaker Christian Hendricks has interviewed Michael James Alexander Szalapski, the gay gem to the right that uses Grindr to lure other gay men to mass at his Methodist church in Clarksville, Tennessee. He says the only reason he uses the gay hookup app is to “let people know that you can be gay and be a Christian,” because he claims most gay people think God hates them.

Szalapski says he attended 15 different churches before settling into Fellowship Church, and managed to become a youth leader to help kids “that were having these feelings too.” His responsibility to and acceptance from the church are what drives him to recruit even more headless torsos from the social networking app.

The interview is part of Hendrick’s latest project, “South of Ohio”, a journey that will “discover and document the hidden queer south.” You can follow his journey on Twitter.

By:           Matthew Tharrett
On:           Aug 22, 2013
Tagged: , , , , , , ,

  • 42 Comments
    • Ogre Magi
      Ogre Magi

      Rotten proselytizing vermin

      Aug 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Badger88
      Badger88

      While it’s always good to see Christians who preach acceptance instead of homophobia, I highly doubt the type of gays who use Grindr are also interested in spending their Sunday mornings in a church.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MikeE
      MikeE

      ummm, no, most gay people do NOT “think god hates them”… most gay people think right-wing christo-fascist born-again scum hate them. and rightly so.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 5:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Badger88
      Badger88

      @Ogre Magi: You regularly proselytize atheism in your comments on Queerty. You spread a message that religions are harmful myths and that people should abandon faith, so I don’t see how your any better than him.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 5:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alterego1980
      alterego1980

      i’m guessing his faith isn’t the only thing he’s spreading for boys on Grindr…

      Aug 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 2eo
      2eo

      I don’t think god hates me, god quite literally does not exist. The misinformed belief that people like me aren’t christian because we feel they are against us is a complete fallacy.

      We are not religious because we know it is false. It genuinely is that simple.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 5:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Palmer Scott
      Palmer Scott

      I don’t think Protestant churches hold mass. They have “services”.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 5:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Badger88
      Badger88

      @2eo: That may be true for you, but there are also plenty of gays who left Christianity because it vilified and shunned them. And that’s the type of gay people that this man is reaching out to.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jared MacBride
      Jared MacBride

      Dude is fishing in a dry hole.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 6:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wingfield
      Wingfield

      Well at least he’s gay and not just some closet case trying to convert people.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 6:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jynx
      Jynx

      Grindr is a medium used to find sex not god.
      Besides, who even believes in God anymore?

      Aug 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ogre Magi
      Ogre Magi

      @Badger88: I don’t proselytize atheism, I just hate christians (and muslims)

      Aug 22, 2013 at 7:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • etseq
      etseq

      Ugh – I checked out his facebook profile and not only is he a christian but his politics are “mostly conservative” – so we have a log cabinite self-loathing gay man who “doesn’t believe in labels.” At least he isn’t selling that ex-gay crap (as far as we know) but this Christian “no labels” crap sounds like good ole internalized homophobia…

      Aug 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • imperator
      imperator

      I wouldn’t be receptive to someone trying to draw me in to their church because I think religion is absurd superstition. But y’know, my partner of 10 years is a Christian whose pentecostal church (unsurprisingly) ‘exiled’ him from his involvement (which was extensive) shortly after we became involved and other congregants who saw us around town ratted on him. At the time, that loss of the biggest support system he had combined with other stress had him contemplating suicide. I may think he’s better off in the long run if he divests himself of beliefs I find nonsensical, but if it’s always going to mean something to him, and if another Christian invited him to a gay-friendly church and that helped bring back some of the meaning and happiness he felt that he lost a decade ago– even if I think it’s ridiculous hokum– I wouldn’t begrudge ‘outreach guy’ for it.

      Even if it was via grindr, where we both still have profiles that we use to look at cute guys’ pictures.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Larry
      Larry

      Well he doesnt read the Bible because it plainly says God loves everyone and hated churches and denominations.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 11:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MK Ultra
      MK Ultra

      Like others, I think his marketing strategy may not be too well thought out.
      But as long as he isn’t pushing chastity/ex-gay therapy, which is just a form of mental (often physical as well) abuse, then I think it’s ostensibly harmless.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Katbox
      Katbox

      Creep.

      Aug 22, 2013 at 11:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel-Reader
      Daniel-Reader

      The Methodist church upheld their teaching that “Homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity” (apparently paying your ministers to work on the Sabbath is okey-dokey despite the bible). One third of Methodist churches in the USA are rightwing and combined with the 2/5ths of Methodists overall who are in Africa will never advance equality in the denomination. He could at least pick a fully-welcoming denomination such as Episcopal, ELCA, Disciples of Christ, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ, Community of Christ.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 2:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jake357
      Jake357

      @Jynx: Hierogamy lets you do both. :D

      Aug 23, 2013 at 7:44 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • liquidskyny
      liquidskyny

      @Jared MacBride:

      …nothing a little lube will fix ;)

      Aug 23, 2013 at 8:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tallskin2
      tallskin2

      Ogre Magi -“I don’t proselytize atheism, I just hate christians (and muslims)” – you sound like a person after my own heart!

      as for the idea that atheists are equivalent to religious twats is just crap, we are not remotely as stupid as religous fools, which is why we are not believers in invisible friends

      for us trying to wake people up from their religious nonsense is like telling a kid of 12 that he/she should stop believing in father christmas, as they’re far too old. That’s not proselytising it’s trying to wake the stupid up to reality.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 11:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      I was sitting in our local gay coffee shop the other day (most people think it is counter culture instead of gay despite having gay ownership and staff), and everyone around me was talking about religion. I felt like I walked into a GOD DAMNED bible study. I wanted to yell at everyone there and tell them they were disturbing my right to escape religious stupidity in a GAY coffee shop. The sad thing is that most of them were gay. Its truly sad that the gay community has willingly taken on the very chains of oppression that our gay ancestors worked so hard to throw off.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @alterego1980: I tend to agree. This reeks of a youth minister that was caught with a Grinder profile and came up with a really interesting excuse that some religious nutcase was willing to buy into.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 12:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @Badger88: Many of them also contracted a brain. Its a lot harder to check your brain at the door every Sunday when you are getting taught to hate yourself. After not checking your brain at the door and actually using it long enough you quickly realize that Christian mythology is so out of touch with reality and actual truth based evidence that you need to run far, far away from it.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @Jared MacBride: I’m sure his hole is getting plenty of attention on Grinder, and maybe he really does invite his one night stand to church the next day!

      Aug 23, 2013 at 12:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @Daniel-Reader: Do some more research. If you think for a moment that every single one of them is fully welcoming you have another thing coming. The closest you get is Episcopal, and that is ONLY if you remove all the ties they have to the Church of England (which are quite numerous) which refuses to perform same sex ceremonies. There is NO major denomination that is truly gay friendly and the ones that allow gays do so only because they see the amount of tithe they can offer. Churches are multi-million dollar businesses that often exist just to allow a pastor and her staff to live in a life of luxury. The average starting salary for an Episcopalian Minister is $100,000. $100,000 for warping the hell out of human minds. It would be nice if the counselors that took the time to fix the crap these people caused could make anywhere near that.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sportsguy1983
      sportsguy1983

      It does my heart good to read guys complain about vile hate towards gays by expressing their own form vile hate.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 1:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • the other Greg
      the other Greg

      @tdx3fan: “Daniel-Reader” is probably more on target about the *possibly gay-friendly* side:

      – UCC is definitely way further along than the Episcopalians.

      – You’re maybe thrown off because the Episcopal church is so full of gay ex-Catholics who just like the ornate liturgy, intense etc. (“smells & bells”), losing the Catholic child-molesting and adding gay marriage. … $100,000, really? (Cite, please?) If you’re right about that, they’ve come a long way since the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” where poor Father McKenzie was darning his own socks.

      – The Unitarian Universalist sect literally doesn’t even regard itself as “Christian” – i.e. they started by rejecting the Trinity, & now reject the Bible as anything other than a mythological story book. (And no doubt most Christians don’t consider UU’s Christian!) Quasi-neo-buddhist-agnostics or something. UU’s are the ones with the “Coexist” bumper stickers on their beat-up Volvos at the organic food co-op. They like to have “spiritual” talk groups to discuss that intense acid trip back at the Phish (or Dead) concert back in the ’80s.

      @Daniel-Reader: Yeah, the Methodists right now are all over the place on gay stuff. They have a lot of openly gay clergy too, but they haven’t been able to “reconcile” (their favorite word) the conservatives to s/s marriage yet. But the conservatives are so mad about the gay clergy, they’ll probably leave anyway.

      In American history, Methodists’ big claim to fame a century ago was foisting Prohibition on everyone else. They were SURE Prohibition was gonna work! They couldn’t figure it out, they were really surprised it turned out to be such a disaster. Nowadays of course, there are plenty of Methodists who drink – see the “King of the Hill” cartoon full of beer-swilling Texans. … Which is probably a good sign for the long run.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      UCC is definitely way further along than the Episcopalians.
      —No, I am drawing on personal experience from the United Church of Christ. Sure, their more urban congregations are much more liberal, but they still have a great deal of churches in rural areas that practice the “celibate gayness” model as put forth by the Catholic Church. I have talked to pastors in these areas, and I have done research in my current area. Rather those churches in rural areas are in line with the national and international church is a different question, but they remain part of those organizations and funnel money to them.

      I am also well aware of what our ex-minister was being paid in her contract. She was brining down $100,000 a year (total overall compensation) in a small urban congregation. I am willing to guarantee you that pastors in mega churches make A LOT more.

      A more realistic figure has them earning a minimum of $39,000 straight out of seminary with raises coming (almost impossible in the public sector anything resembling therapy short of psychiatry). That being said, it depends on the diocese, and I am not aware of her level of “experience.”

      http://www.ehow.com/info_7756206_average-salary-episcopal-priest.html

      The Unitarian Universalist sect literally doesn’t even regard itself as “Christian”
      –Which is why I made no mention of them. They are a small sect and not a Christian sect. If they were large and Christian, they would most definitely be the most progressive Christian sect.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 2eo
      2eo

      @tallskin2: The countless studies and real world evidence that back you up are a true testament to our taking over the world.

      Atheists and Anti-Theists make up 98% of scientists, and less than 1% of convicts. Says it all doesn’t it. We are the winning team, reality will always beat indoctrination in the end. The game of attrition is already won, they’re losing in every demographic in every educated nation.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • the other Greg
      the other Greg

      @tdx3fan: I only mentioned the UU because Daniel did. Thanks for the Episcopal cite, and wow. Way beyond what I’d have guessed.

      Re: UCC – Okay, if the rural, gay-negative congregations “funnel money” to the somewhat gay-friendly national HQ, how is that a bad thing? (That’s the exact opposite of most denominations where the few liberal churches help enable a gay-hating HQ.)

      Aug 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mpwaite
      mpwaite

      If the guy’s heart is truly Christian and he is TRULY doing all this with a loving heart and mind the WHO ARE WE TO JUDGE HIM???!!
      And the whole conversation about how horrible Christians are…. Well I’m a GAY CHRISTIAN..and I happen to think that I’m a good person who respects people and loves ALL…..I’ve learned that from attending the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas Tx. The largest (2000 plus) all-inclusive (we stopped calling it GAY because we accept EVERYONE) church in the world! LGBT as well as straight people and families attend.. And ALL get along! We go on mission trips to Mexico and have great outreach programs to straight as well as LGBT charities all around Dallas and the state of Texas. We are a church of LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE! We have live church on-line programs as well as a cable television program. I have been a member since 1998 and the church continues to grow and thrive because they got it right! We preach God’s love and acceptance throught Christ’s payment on the cross.. No one is discriminated against!

      Aug 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ogre Magi
      Ogre Magi

      @mpwaite: So you go down into Mexico to prosletize huh, as if the people of that nation did not have enough troubles already!Yo make me sick

      Aug 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gjg64
      gjg64

      @Ogre Magi: What about Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, et. al.?

      Aug 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gjg64
      gjg64

      @tdx3fan: Speaking as a devout agnostic, I have no problem with people of faith as long as they do not have a negative impact on my life. I even have fairly devout gay religious friends not to mention family who are plenty gay friendly. So, to find a group of gay people discussing religion doesn’t mean they were planning on a mass conversion or Inquisition. Besides, coffee shops are places for talking, unlike bars which are for crusing. So, chill out.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jmmartin
      jmmartin

      As an atheist, some might expect me hostile to the notion that a person can be both gay and Christian, but I think it depends on what sort of Christian you claim to be. If you are a member of an evangelical, Catholic, or most of the mainstream Protestant sects, your Christianity is actually incompatible with homosexuality. The O.T., in Leviticus and other passages, such as the story in Genesis of Lot and the Sodomites, condemns homosexuality, or appears to (that’s another story: take a look at R. Crumb’s illustrated bible, where he properly depicts the sin of the Sodomites as xenophobia, their ill treatment of nomadic peoples seeking hospitality in a city of the plain). The only place the N.T. condemns homosexuality is in the epistles of Paul, now generally acknowledged to have been not only a homophobe but a self-loathing gay man who also hated women, buying into the old Semitic crap about females being “unclean.” Saul-Paul the Tarsan was the founder of organized Christianity, the religion made “official” by Roman emperor Constantine during the 4th century C.E.

      If, on the other hand, you are a non-aligned Christian in the sense that you try to live up to the values and ethics of whoever it was gave impetus to naming a prophet “Jesus Christ” (most surely a rabbi named Joshua; hence Reb Yeshua, although many aspects of his myth were culled from ancient paganism, mainly the resurrection deities such as Osiris/Horus, Attis, &c.) it is entirely possible that your Christianity is NOT incompatible with being gay. That is why I applauded Terry McNally’s bravery in writing a play about a man called Jesus, ironically titled “Corpus Christi,” after Terry’s hometown, where I, too, was born. McNally portrayed Jesus as a gay man; the disciples, twelve other men (duh!, what kind of prophet goes about with 12 men and, possibly, one woman — a common prostitute?). The compassion, empathy, and sensitivity to the problems of others are characteristic many gay men and women.

      Even though I am atheist, I have what Pier Paolo Pasolini (filmmaker, director of “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”) called “a nostalgia for religion.” My nostalgia is for the non-Pauline Jesus I came to know in my childhood. The televangelists, megachurch pastors, and almost all of the evangelicals of today are a disgraceful bunch who, along with most Catholic bishops, besmirch the collective memory of that other Jesus: the one followed today by too, too few, including lgbt-queer people.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 7:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jersey2013
      Jersey2013

      Just keep your religious conviction to yourself. If I want to know I’ll ask you and I actually might and I may find your answer interesting and start a dialogue about your tennants, customs and history ect. I work with Muslims and Buddists and various Christian denominations and some Hindus a few Sikhs and Wiccans and even a Jain and enjoy hearing about the reasons they believe what they believe and especially traditions associated with their religion but don’t come at me trying to convince me yours is the “right” way. This is the big problem I have with xtians, none of the others I’ve mentioned try to coerce you into thier way of thinking. And for the record I’ve never had a Muslim try and push thier beliefs off on me, as with many Buddists I’ve only ever found they like to tell you of the very rich traditions incorporated into thier religion.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 7:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BlogZilla
      BlogZilla

      @MikeE: But why would any gay person want to be involved in a organization of which the majority constantly speaks about disdaining and damning a specific group of people. That is not loving, kind, generous or accepting.

      Aug 23, 2013 at 9:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • grero
      grero

      @Jared MacBride: The only hole that’s dry on Grindr is the church hole :-)

      Aug 25, 2013 at 1:10 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Goforit
      Goforit

      I may not have found god on Grindr but I have come pretty damned close a couple of times…..

      Aug 25, 2013 at 2:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • pauleky
      pauleky

      I don’t think any god hates me. I don’t think they exist. I simply don’t think about it until the crazy people discriminate (which is so Jesus-like, don’t you know?). Yeah, I know not all religious types are crazy. I just wish they’d work a little harder to rein in the crazy ones. I sure don’t see much of that.

      Aug 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BlogZilla
      BlogZilla

      @imperator: Finally someone who is thinking. It is absurd superstition, the fact that so many are devout and follow it with such zest and aren’t aware of what it really is, is what’s frightening.

      Aug 27, 2013 at 8:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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