Keri and Cindy Mac had been planning a vacation for weeks. They were looking forward to escaping for a few days, relaxing and enjoying the sights of Southern California.
One day, several weeks prior to their vacation, one of Keri’s aunts asked, “Are you two going to get married while you’re out there?”
“We had never given it much thought until then,” Keri said. “But it seemed like the right thing to do.”
“And since we have been together for 15 years, and as much as we love each other, we knew this was the time and the place,” Cindy said.
On August 29, Keri and Cindy Mac were married on the beach in San Diego, Cali. It was a beautiful ceremony as they stood before their pastor, Cindy Andrews-Looper of Nashville’s Holy Trinity Community Church, and sealed their commitment to each other and to their heavenly Father.
Keri and Cindy both grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta where they attended the same church and the same school. Cindy’s father was her pastor, principal and basketball coach. Her mother was a teacher at the Christian school she attended.
“My parents were really strict," Cindy said. "Movies were not permitted and the only version of the Bible my father would allow was the King James Version."
Keri’s father was a deacon in the same church and her mother also taught at the same Christian school, but her parents weren’t as strict.
Cindy is the introvert. She will think about every minute detail and then rethink it until it can be thought no more.
“I love Cindy’s passion for truth,” Keri said. “Plus, she makes me laugh every day.”
Keri is the extrovert. You can’t miss the energy she brings into a room.
“Keri is the most compassionate person I know,” Cindy said. “She brings new people and new experiences to our lives.”
For years, Cindy struggled to reconcile her faith and sexuality. As a young child she played “war” every day after school complete with camouflage apparel and face paint.
During high school, she played basketball and was called a lesbian by her fellow Christian school students because her best friend, who happened to be Keri, came to all her basketball games.
“I was horrified!” Cindy said. “That was the worst thing you could be called in that environment. I knew I was engaging in gay activities, but I never thought I was actually gay.”
Cindy’s struggle was complicated by her faith. She had been taught to love God and to seek His will in every facet of her life.
She loved God. She loved the church. Yet, the church was telling her that gays were not acceptable to God. And there was no way you could be gay and be a Christian at the same time. So she went into denial.
After high school, Keri and Cindy moved in together and attended Kennesaw State University just outside of Atlanta. It was then that Cindy began dating men.
“It was time to grow up, and stop engaging in these gay activities," she said. “It was so foreign to me, so uncomfortable, but I felt I had to find a boyfriend.”
Despite her attempts to deny her homosexuality, Cindy continued the sexual relationship with Keri.
“It was infrequent and always accompanied by heavy guilt," Cindy said. "But there again, I kept telling myself that I wasn’t gay, and just needed to stop engaging in gay acts.”
Oddly enough, Cindy’s partner Keri never experienced this guilt.
“The whole thing never bothered me,” Keri said, “Even though I grew up with the same religious background as Cindy, I simply felt there was a very clear path that God was showing me. And that path said this was perfectly okay.”
Keri wanted to commit to the relationship but felt as though she had nothing to commit to.
“How could I commit to something I had no real concept of?” she said.
Cindy and Keri decided to remove sex from their relationship. Cindy was determined to find a man to commit to, and Keri, without any other option, decided it was better to have a sexless relationship than to lose what they had altogether.
Those years were admittedly awkward at best, the couple said. But it allowed Keri and Cindy to connect on a deeper spiritual and emotional level. And from that, eventually came a stronger relationship.
After graduating from college, both Cindy and Keri moved to Nashville to work in the Christian Music Industry.
They landed jobs at EMI, Keri working in the sales division and Cindy working in the marketing division. After a few years, they both realized it wasn’t quite what they had hoped it would be.
"We moved to Nashville for the glitz of the Christian Music Industry, but we both found out, they just don’t pay well,” Cindy said.
Additionally, as the years passed in Nashville, Cindy found out she was increasingly pleased with herself for not being involved in any homosexual activities.
After all, as far as she was concerned, she wasn’t gay. However, she would soon realize that being abstinent did not “de-homosexualize” her. It only meant she was an abstinent gay person.
Despite their disappointment with the Christian Music Industry, there was one very strong positive benefit. While Keri was working at EMI, she met Roy Culver.
He was a great co-worker and a tremendous amount of fun to be around. Unfortunately, he had moved out of state, and Keri had lost contact with him. An internet search quickly revealed he had moved to Los Angeles. While living there, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Nashville Scene detailing how difficult it was to be a gay Christian in Nashville.
Keri and Cindy had no idea that Roy was gay. But they were overjoyed to have someone to connect with. Luckily, he included his e-mail address with the letter. So Keri contacted him. Coincidentally, they had already booked a flight to LA in a few weeks. So a meeting with Roy was arranged.
Once they got to LA, and before they met with Roy, they decided to attend a Sunday morning worship service at the Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood.
“We were both overwhelmed throughout the whole service,” Keri said.
“I cried through most of the service," Cindy said. "These people loved Jesus, just like I love Jesus. They were genuinely living out their faith and worshipping God.
"I left with so many thoughts swirling through my head. I wanted what they had. Could it be that someone could be a homosexual and love God? I thought those things were mutually exclusive! But God was showing me something different.”
Later that same evening, Keri and Cindy met with Roy. Cindy expressed her difficulty in reconciling her faith and the sexual part of her relationship with Keri. Roy told them many people never reconcile these two areas. But he also focused a lot on Keri and Cindy’s love for each other.
“It was such a relief to verbalize our love and commitment to a trusted friend," Cindy said. "We found it to be such a relief, so affirming, and so touching to be able to tell someone else how much we truly loved each other.”
This conversation also firmed up some other concepts in Cindy’s mind.
“I had always viewed homosexuality through the lens of it being all about the sex," Cindy said. "The better, more accurate way to look at it, in the context of a monogamous relationship, is that it is about whom one loves and wants to spend their life with. It is about connection, nurturing, learning, sharing, laughing, giving, forgiving, and becoming one with another person.”
Their friend also suggested they read and gave them a variety of books, internet sources and movies to consider. This opened Cindy’s mind and allowed her to consider the possibility of living as a gay woman and still authentically loving God.
More than anything, their desire was to please their heavenly Father. Once their priorities were in order, Keri and Cindy began to fully enjoy their love for one another. Peace accompanied their relationship. Frustration and guilt were gone.
“I think this relationship is a tool by which God works to refine us," Cindy said. "God uses Keri to sand off my rough edges and vice versa.
"After the infatuation part of a relationship is over, the real work begins. The really good stuff is years down the road, but if you are willing to work hard to get through those tough years of merging lives, then the best stuff is on the other side.”