Local doctor reconciles his faith and sexuality

Dr. Michael MacQuarrie is approachable, articulate and relaxed. The type of person who makes a first-time conversation feel as if you're catching up with a high school friend.

Although physicians are usually the ones asking the questions, MacQuarrie is very open about his life and his love for God.

MacQuarrie grew up in New Brunswick, Canada, where he attended a United Church of Canada with his parents and three brothers. 

“My mother taught us to pray every night," MacQuarrie said. "Dinner conversations were always polite where we never talked about anything bad… we only talked about good things.”

As early as 1988, The United Church of Canada made significant progress in including the GLBT community in the life of its church when few, if any, denominations in the U.S. were even considering it. 

“I knew I went to a fairly liberal church," MacQuarrie said. "My entire family had gay friends at church, but again, we just didn’t talk about it.”

When MacQuarrie was 21, he entered Dalhousie University and Medical School in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At 22, he married and his wife later had three sons.

“Though I struggled with my identity, I felt since I found a woman to love, and had three children, I was convinced I was not gay,”  MacQuarrie said.


After graduating in 1986, he worked at a medical clinic in a fishing village for nine years and in 1995 moved his entire family to Middle Tennessee. 

“I wanted to live somewhere with less snow," he said. "So the climate and especially the people of Middle Tennessee were just right.”


Despite finding an agreeable setting, MacQuarrie and his wife eventually divorced in the late 90’s. The tumultuous process continues to put a strain on their relationship.


Though they had agreed to collectively tell their children about their MacQuarrie's sexuality, his ex-wife did so while he was not present. He said it wasn't ideal, but he made the most of the situation.

“My kids have met anyone I have been serious about, and when those relationships have ended, my oldest son has proven to be a great source of comfort,” he said.


As the new millennium approached, MacQuarrie opened a private practice in Murfreesboro - it quickly became like home to him as he began to relish the long hours of doing what he loves.


But somehow, something was still missing. MacQuarrie began searching for a new church home and after visiting many churches in middle Tennessee, he discovered Holy Trinity Community Church in Nashville in 2007. 

“I’ve never had a church family like this where I can be so honest," MacQuarrie said. "Every Sunday when I walk in, there is someone who smiles at you. Pastor Cindy’s sermons always have the clear message that God loves you and that we should be more open to sharing our love for Him with others.”


One way in which Dr. MacQuarrie is showing his love for God is a ministry he has developed at his church. Once a month, he and Dawn Myers, a nurse from Vanderbilt, set up a free health clinic for members of Holy Trinity who do not have health insurance. 


Since finding a church home, MacQuarrie says his relationship with God has grown. 

“I grew up in a Christian home, but we never talked about God," he said. "I hated going to church as a kid because I didn’t 'get it.' But now that I’ve got it, I realize that God loves me and I want to be more open to others about how I love Him.”


Realizing that so many in the GLBT community have a negative feeling toward God and the church, MacQuarrie added, “I can understand why people feel that way, although I feel those feelings come from associations with the church... not God. We need to open our hearts and minds to hear what God is saying. Keeping a closed mind is the very thing the GLBT community often complains about in the straight community. Why should we keep a closed mind toward God? He loves us. We just have to listen to Him.”

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