I first came to the realization I was gay when I was about 22.
In retrospect the signs had been there for a long time but I was way too naive and ignorant to recognize them.
It was my home group leader who confronted me about it. God told her I was gay in a dream and He was spot on!
Suddenly the penny dropped – I realized the emotional entanglements I had got myself into with some of my girl friends were confused and misplaced and the huge expectations I had of our friendships were totally unrealistic.
It was the early eighties; homosexuality was only ever talked about in a derogatory way, and my sheltered Christian background led me to be very ill equipped for the bomb shell that had been delivered. I walked away feeling dirty and disgusted with myself. I felt ashamed with who and what I was. I hated myself. These feelings were all consuming and ever present.
I went back to my home group leaders and asked for help – I think they were about as ill equipped as me. They laid hands on me and prayed over me and tried to cast out the spirit of homosexuality. This was, without a doubt, spectacularly unsuccessful.
Over the next seven or so years I tried to deny and bury my sexuality. I struggled with depression and low self-esteem. There was a deep black abyss within me and sometimes I would spiral deep down into it. I carried this huge secret inside of me that I tried not to look at and shared with no one.
I subsequently went through a similar period of time actively pursuing God to ‘heal’ me, to make me ‘whole’, to change me into a heterosexual. I put all my hope in God that He could and would do this – after all He didn’t create me as gay. His desire for me was to be whole and healed and heterosexual. If I was ‘broken’, as I was led to believe, then I could be ‘fixed’.
I went to counselling, I attended a Living Waters course (a 30 week course for those struggling with same sex attraction and other sexual issues) and I took every opportunity to receive prayer. But nothing really changed. The same old feelings persisted. Feelings I continually had to suppress and felt I could never pursue or voice with anyone.
I was desperate to understand why I was gay. Out of all the people in the world why did I have to be one of them?
Through the teaching I received and the literature I read I was led to believe it was my mother’s fault. She was to blame as she didn’t know how to express her love to me either physically or emotionally (I couldn’t remember her ever hugging me or telling me she loved me). As a result I never ‘attached’ to her and consequently have been looking for someone of the same sex to fill that missing void in my life.
So all I needed was for God to fill that love deficit created by my mother’s inabilities and I’d be healed and made whole. (Even though I knew deep down that my mother had loved me – she simply didn’t know how to express it!) Somehow this never quite worked.
Then about ten years ago, through meeting another gay Christian woman, I learnt to accept ‘this is me’, this is what I am. I am gay – maybe God will change me, maybe He won’t. Whatever happens, in the here and now, I need to learn to live in the day to day tension of being gay and being a Christian. Sometimes this was and still is all consuming.
There remained in me a desperate unfulfilled need to love and be loved, that I didn’t know how to fill in a ‘legitimate’ way. There were feelings and desires within me that I could never openly express, depths of relationship that I could never hope to pursue, words I could never be free to speak out, and expectations that could never be realised.
How then should I live? Sometimes I wandered close to the cliff edge – I needed to move to safer ground!
To continue to pursue God to change me scared me. I felt on shaky ground; that my faith could unravel, that I could unravel. I’d been disappointed too many times. It was safer not to go there again.
So there remained a struggle. Sometimes the struggle was harder than other times. But always there remained a struggle. I was afraid, afraid of growing old, afraid that things would only get worse, afraid that because sometimes I barely coped now – how was I going to cope in the future?
It was the day of the Destiny Church and ‘Enough is Enough’ marches; gays were often singled out by the church as immoral and an abomination. Where did they fit into the church? Where did I fit in? I certainly didn’t want to be judged like that. I might not have been a practising gay but I thought like one, I felt like one, I reacted inside like one – the desire and potential was ever there. There was such a thin line separating us. A line at times I desperately wanted to cross.
Then a couple of years ago I read this statement: “If you had the chance to change something in your life would you, or would you continue just the way you are?” After reading it, it struck me: I am now at the point in my life where I no longer yearn to change who I am. My sexuality, or in my case, my homosexuality, is so much a part of me – it’s who I am, it’s what I identify as and to change would be like changing my identity. I realised I couldn’t imagine being any different.
Since then I have been on a search to discover the truth. What does the bible really say about homosexuality? Are there certain things that I have accepted without question but which have no truth in my life? I needed to take the responsibility to find out the truth for me and then to live that truth: that is integrity.
This path of searching has finally led me to the conclusion that at the end of the day I don’t believe there is anything intrinsically wrong with two people of the same sex being together in a loving, committed, monogamous relationship. What possible harm is it doing to anyone? Sometimes I think we get so consumed with the unimportant and trivial things in life. What is God really concerned about? What is on His heart? I suspect it is more about how we treat other people than the gender of who we are with.
So what are the choices before me? 1) I could live a life of celibacy – alone, lonely, unfulfilled, repressed, devoid of intimacy 2) I could reject God and Christianity and embrace a gay lifestyle or 3) I could actually believe that being gay and being a Christian are compatible and just maybe God is OK with that and with me.