Here are some of my favorite, popular posts from the last couple years. Feel free to peruse them and leave any belated comments! I love time capsule moments.
I recently published a book. My first. You might have heard. It’s all about struggle and redemption, and I titled it Struggle Central: Quarter-Life Confessions of a Messed Up Christian.
But that’s almost not what it was called.
I spent many weeks brainstorming the perfect title. The “Struggle Central” portion emerged without much conscious effort thanks to last summer’s hearty camp experience hiding in bathroom stalls – my centralized Struggle Headquarters of four flimsy walls and a toilet.
The main title was easy; figuring out the subtitle, however, required more time and brainstorming.
Among many potential ideas, one was “Quarter-Life Confessions of a Gay Christian.” Ultimately, I switched out “Gay Christian” for “Messed Up Christian” since the book wasn’t entirely about my struggle with homo–
Oh, what’s that? You hadn’t heard?
Well then. Let me explain. Ever since I published Struggle Central two months ago, it’s been the purple bedazzled elephant in the room that I’ve been desperately wanting to kill.
So, let’s kill that elephant already.
My name is Tom. I’m 26, and I’m a Christian.
And I’m also gay. (Read more…)
I was baptized last week.
It was more “unconventional” in the sense that the event did not occur within the traditional confines of a Sunday morning service of a standard church building.
I kinda like that.
But though occurring on a non-churchy Tuesday night at a non-churchy water park, my baptism most certainly occurred in the truly Churchy presence of a dozen and a half dear brothers and sisters in Christ. (Read more…)
I have few influences greater than Donald Miller, both inside my “real life” and out. His works have certainly impacted me as a writer; you could’ve played a drinking game with all my Donald Miller references in Struggle Central (drinking milk, of course).
Beyond the mere sphere of writing, though, Donald Miller has impacted my very life. I owe much of my California journey to Through Painted Deserts, and meeting him at Storyline last fall was such a thrill.
Donald Miller is not new to controversy, and lately his blogs have taken some heat. The snowball started when he said he doesn’t connect with God through singing, further confessing that he doesn’t even attend church regularly. Connects with God and others elsewhere.
Needless to say, evangelical America pounced on him. A so-called “Christian” who doesn’t go to church? And an influential one at that?
I also probably would’ve blasted Donald Miller a decade ago, good little Christian though miserable little church-goer I was.
Well, I think I’m kinda with Donald Miller on this. I think I hate going to church, too. (Read more…)
One of my first big “hits” on this blog was an innocent little top-11 countdown I posted in 2011. The countdown featured my very favorite Hillsong United songs, and to say it was difficult paring down Hillsong United’s million offerings of awesome to just 11 is a total understatement.
To date, that post is far and away my most viewed post here at The Other TMZ. Alas, in the year and a half since that post, Hillsong United has since released several albums, and thus, introduced many more phenomenal new songs to the fold.
Thus, I’ve realized my list of favorite Hillsong United songs badly needed tweaking.
So here I am: tweaking a top-11 list that will undoubtedly be tweaked again within the next year or two to come. My amended list of Hillsong United favorites includes three new songs from the last post, including a new #1! (Read more…)
Dear Camp Ridgecrest:
For seven months, the surface of my laptop has worn a sticker of your name; coffee shop sojourners 2,500 miles west of your borders see it everyday.
For seven months of routine mornings, I slipped on a blue bracelet etched with the Indian name you gave me. A name nobody but you or I really understands. Wore it every day for six months until it literally snapped off my wrist.
For seven burdensome months, I wondered whether I’d ever again cross your gate. Your intimidating altogether inspiring gate. (Read more…)
By now it’s an almost certainty that you’ve seen this controversial “religion vs. relationship” video. But on the off-chance that you’ve been fasting from the Internet (then how are you reading this?) or have stubbornly refused to update to the newest version of Flash these last 7 years, here it is for your viewing pleasure.
(Uh, you’d have to update to the newest version of Flash…)
It’s a polarizing video, whether you’re one of the 165,623 people who like it or one of the 20,234 who dislike it. When I first came across the video, I only made it halfway through before stopping and moving onto another Internet chore.
Why didn’t I finish the video? Because I knew it was just another wearying religion vs. relationship debate in the making.
And I can’t stand arguments. Especially among Christians. (Read more…)
I’m 26, soon to be 27, and I have never dated. This fact used to elicit great shame; at times, it still does. Looking back, however, I don’t believe I’ve ever been “ready.” Somebody in an online group recently posed a question that awakened me as to why:
“How do you know you want to be with someone, that you’re willing to have them invade your space and time?”
I’d never quite thought of romance this way. Something about the question’s phrasing really resonated. Especially that $50 verb: invade.
In 26 years, I’ve never dated for a plethora of reasons. But I now realize the primary reason is not my sexuality. At this juncture in my life, the notion of being in a romantic relationship — man or woman — simply seems so very awful.
Like an unceasing invasion upon my very existence. (Read more…)
Tom Daley came out yesterday. Maybe you didn’t hear, or maybe you don’t even know who Tom Daley is. He’s an Olympic diver from Great Britain, and he won a bronze medal in London last year. He’s only 19 years old.
Tom Daley is also an incredibly fit, attractive dude; needless to say, I’ve known about Tom Daley since last year’s Summer Olympics. His big YouTube announcement yesterday certainly caught my attention and gave me lots to think about. Take a watch:
Because of all the trending tweets and articles, I already knew the video’s basic content matter before I even clicked play. As I watched, though, I was curious to see how exactly Tom Daley would come out.
Would “I’m gay” be the very first line out of his mouth?
Would he even use the word “gay” and spell it out so plainly?
What brought him to this pivotal moment? (Read more…)
I don’t often “vent” on this blog. I usually reserve such emotional outpourings for my journal. Or if I’m feeling courageous enough, with a trusted individual or two.
To all who have personally suffered amid the snotty sniffling presence of a Tom-meltdown, I vigorously apologize.
In these two-plus years of blogging, I’ve often considered the “point” of my blog. Is it to be funny? Am I thatquirky writer guy?
Or am I here to be super emo? Am I that uber-vulnerable blogger who doesn’t know his boundaries?
Clearly, I’ve tended more toward the serious than the silly in recent months. Writing a book about your personal struggles will have that effect on your blog, I suppose.
My messy memoirs aren’t completely contained within a 162-page book. Indeed, in the wake of Struggle Central, I have struggled.
I am struggling. And I want to run away. (Read more…)
I’ve been blessed by a fantastic family. I love my parents, and I adore my two siblings. One has flown overseas multiple times for missions work, and the other has found a natural niche in youth ministry. They are my younger siblings, and they are my heroes.
I am the oldest Zuniga kid (adult?), and for 26 years onward I have enjoyed the many perks of coming first: of graduating high school first and then college first, of owning a vehicle first, and of moving out first.
As childhood and adolescence have morphed into something resembling adulthood, however, I have grown weary of being the first root in this family tree. In recent years, I have often longed to be wedged somewhere in the middle or even the youngest of all.
I have yearned for an older brother. (Read more…)
Today is National Coming Out Day. It would have been easy to let this day escape my attention, blogging or otherwise, especially since I’m currently venturing through Nashville for Storyline as you read this post.
Alas, I cannot let this day pass without some attention paid it from my unique perspective. It’s been a landmark year of “coming out” on many levels, but this post starts nearly seven years ago with the pivotal night I came out to my very first person — myself.
For nearly 20 years, I’d write in my journal cloaked expressions of “it” and “that thing” without ever explicitly referencing my same-sex attractions — not so much for fear of others stumbling upon my forbidden thoughts, but for fear of my own eyes digesting such impenetrable words.
Then, on the horrid night of November 17, 2006, I finally did it; I came clean. With tears staining my soul, I picked up a pen and wrote down the string of words I’d never fathomed penning for anyone’s eyes to see, mine own included.
I finally looked in the grim mirror and came out to myself. It was a vital first step that preceded this long winding path of vulnerability to come — a path that still very much proceeds to this day. (Read more…)